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Even at my age of appreciable adulthood, I still love and cherish every moment that I get to spend holding my mother's hand, even in silence. As I grow older, I realize more and more that there is nothing that can compare to that of the connection between a mother and her son, even if there are similar bonds that exist in other relationships between family members. I just consider myself to be so richly fortunate to have a mother that I would never trade for anyone in the world. I admire her for her ability to unconditionally love in spite of any circumstance that may give her reason to think otherwise.

Along with that, I also have realized that I sure can learn a lot from her over the several years that I get to look forward to.

Called to Serve

I think time is overdue for me to write about events as of late. There are a few specific things that I want to make sure get recorded that have happened lately, but for the purpose of making sure that I make sure that I catch as much as I can, I may be writing things slightly out of order. As a reminder to myself and perhaps others who may come across this at some point, it's always important to check the dates and the entries themselves to make sure that things are accounted for, chronologically speaking.

To keep my head straight, the following are important and significant events that have happened lately that demand the specific attention of it being recorded:
1.) Finishing up the semester, packing up, leaving BYUH, saying goodbye to Suzie, getting on a plane, leaving the island, and returning home.
2.) Receiving my Mission Call to the Colorado Colorado Springs Mission.
3.) Temple recommend interviews with my bishop and stake president (i.e., "What is it like to live in the W. household?").

I am actually going to begin with #2 and explain how I was called to be a missionary.

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First, a bit of background, and it may sound somewhat blunt – I have not necessarily always wanted to serve a mission. It may have somewhat to do with me having been a somewhat quiet, shy kid growing up. Actually, I don't think that I can ever recall myself telling anyone that I did not want to serve, not even myself, and the conscious decision to not serve had never crossed my mind really. But on the other hand, it seemed so far off in the distant future that it never really troubled my mind. Put perhaps in a more simple light, I knew that I would serve, but I wasn't sure how I would feel about it, at least initially. Fast-forwarding to the middle of my teenage years, I found myself in the middle of a series of experiences that changed my life; I am referring, of course, to my attendance at EFY in Cedar City. Before continuing, I want to make a clear statement about that experience, though: it, meaning EFY, did not change me; the Spirit, and being able to relate to the feelings that He brings, was what changed my heart. I believe that these experiences can happen in a very heartfelt and meaningful manner if we allow them to, and that it does not take something like EFY or Girls' Camp or their equivalent to change a soul. They might help, and they are incredibly useful in fostering environments where an individual can connect with the Spirit, but I think that it is easy to confuse those events with being the source of one's conversion.

Now that I have that established, the Spirit did just that for me – it changed my heart. I felt the love of my Heavenly Father; I became convinced that Jesus Christ lives and that His Atonement is real; I knew that the Gospel of Jesus Christ was true. At one point, it struck me: I desired to share that same feeling with others that I knew. A mission would accomplish just that, and, me being a representative of the Savior, I would be able to have that same Spirit to be with me as I lived worthy of His companionship. I cannot deny the flood of comfort, peace, and warmth that reassured me that that was what I needed to do at that time. There have been a few times since then that I have continued to receive that exact same impression, which I consider to be one of the Lord's many marvelous tender mercies. It was that experience that helped me to not only decide, but to know that I needed to serve a mission. Had it been my way, I would have been serving right then, right there. But individual preparation is particularly key in the mission field these days, and the Lord, again, in His mercy, allotted me with enough time to prepare. Interestingly enough, He has also seen fit to reduce the age at which missionaries can now serve, and I will be involved in that change. I know that the Lord is aware of His children and their desires; that is a great comfort to me.

In the past, I wrote about this change, how I was able to witness this with Suzie, and how it was nothing short of a miracle. Another point that I mentioned in that post was how I loved being able to witness that remarkable announcement with her; there really is no one that I would have rather been with. And I love how we responded to it: that it was something to be excited about, not dreaded or annoyed with, as some perhaps might be. This was an answer to prayer, and nothing less.

I began my papers almost immediately. I met with my bishop. I had my blood drawn. I set my availability date as February 1, 2013. My mother purchased a one-way ticket at the end of the semester.

I checked in with my bishop weekly until my final interview with him. I, then, met with my stake president, a particularly sweet meeting in which we discussed several wonderful things. By that point, it was December, and the rest of the process was out of my hands. A call would be issued shortly and I would be receiving it back home.

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A few weeks later, I found myself in my home ward. I had returned home for the end of the semester to spend the holidays with my family and to prepare. I was also call-less. After saying hello to several friends in the ward, my home ward bishop greeted me and informed me that my call had been shipped in the mail as of December 14, that past Friday. I was surprised! My mother was, perhaps, doubly so. Something that would come to change and direct the entire rest of my life was in the mail; now it was just time to wait for it to arrive. As time passed by throughout that meeting, I will not forget the impression that I received. It was, more or less, the exact same feeling that I had received at EFY all of those years ago, but with it was accompanied some extra specific reassurance.

Your mission call is inspired from me. I know and love you. I know of your desires to serve. Know that you will be serving where you are supposed to be serving. This is not random. This is not chance. You are my son, and you are meant to be there.

In a very real way, I had become convinced that my call was where I needed to be. I felt at peace and calm about it, and the only thing that remained was to find out where I would be serving. I loved feeling that way because I knew that I wouldn't have to wrestle with the inspiration of it when it would come; I already knew that I was supposed to be there.

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The week went by and the envelope did not come. I felt that I did a decent job of not being overly disappointed as a result, but by the end of the week, I was starting to be somewhat distracted. Several worries flooded my mind. "Did it get sent to my old school mailing address? I double-checked it before I sent my application…" "Perhaps it got lost in the mail. What then?" "Was it even mailed out on the 14th, or was it a mistake?" All throughout this time, I prayed to know that I would be at peace about the entire process and that I would know that everything was progressing according to God's will. But at the same time, I wondered.

Saturday the 22nd came, and so did the mail, but with no call. I recognized that it could very well be that the next time that the mail would come would be on the Wednesday right after Christmas, four days away. I tried not to dwell on this thought and did my best to keep myself busy. The family decided to go and see The Hobbit that afternoon, which was fun. We decided to go up to Rohnert Park to Costco and Target to do some last minute shopping, and we wound our way back to In 'N Out in town for dinner. When we pulled back into the driveway, we began to unload the groceries, but out of the corner of my eye, I saw Chris walk over to the mailbox. My mother called out to him, "The mail already came today and it wasn't in it!" He acknowledged that he had heard her and proceeded to walk to the mailbox. He opened it as I was grabbing a handful of groceries, and as he did, his eyes began to get wider. To my amazement, he pulled out an envelope wordlessly and held it up to show me what he had found. The family began to exclaim in excitement and at that point, nothing else seemed to matter. Still confused about how it ended up in the mailbox, I gratefully took the envelope from Chris and read something that had been written on the front in sharpie. "Delivered To Wrong Address," it said. But I didn't care. I had received a call to serve a mission, and the world seemed a lot more brighter for those few minutes.

My mind was like several hurricanes being hurled at one particular destination, with pieces of it being flown miles apart from their original destination. I no longer wanted to eat, despite having been extremely pleased about us going to In 'N Out. I called my grandparents and told them that it had arrived, and that if they wanted to be with us when I opened it, I would be doing so in fifteen minutes. My father called Allie to get them on Skype, and I also called Suzie to tell her the news. I was so thrilled that she was able to be as close as was permissible at that particular moment; I loved sharing that with everyone, especially her. After getting settled, I opened the call and it contained the mission, the language, and the reporting date.

Colorado Colorado Springs Mission, English speaking, February 27, 2013.

I was blown away, and that is an understatement. I began looking through the packet that was contained in my envelope and started to familiarize myself with all of the details that I needed to know. I loved that time, and I was so glad that I was able to spend it with the people that I cared so deeply about. Again, more than anything, I was reassured that this is where I am needed to be. It is as simple as that, and I am so excited.

Another direct result of this is that I will likely be finding myself through the Temple by the end of the week. Today's Christmas festivities found me with a brand new pin-striped Temple bag. I am humbled and excited for this opportunity; I have never felt that the Lord trusts me as much as He does now, and that is such a remarkable feeling.

I am counting my blessings. There is so much to be excited about and to look forward to, and I know that that is how God intends for it to be.

Nauvoo Brass Recording

I set my alarm this morning to go off at 9:00 a.m., after which I would prepare to get ready for the day and for a very important meeting at 10:00 a.m.

Well, okay, so I didn't wake up until 9:30. But still, I set a pretty good record for having gotten dressed and ready for the day as quickly as I did. The focus of today, Saturday, was getting Suzie's Nauvoo Brass Missionary applicant DVD filmed, recorded, and squared away. I happen to have the equipment to take care of all of the above, and I wanted to be as involved in the process as I could. Of course, she came to me to inquire if I would be willing to assist her with this, and I could hardly contain my excitement. I guess I just love doing this.

I'm going to now illustrate how the setup went to I can reference this potentially in the future if I need to be called upon for another recording.

1.) Set up on one stand was the MacBook Air, plugged in to the power outlet and ever content with the work that it was about to perform. As a side note, never forget to bring a mouse when recording (I didn't forget this time, but I can't help but think of the horror story that would've resulted had I forgotten).

2.) On another stand was my Canon digital camera, serving as the visual witness to the whole recording session. I could have just as easily recorded a movie from the MBA, but I could honestly care less about the quality of the video. Don't get me wrong – in this case, it's an important and necessary element, so I was sure to make certain that it would be presentable quality, but I was interested in having extraordinary audio clarity. As far as I am aware, there is no way to doubly record from the iSight camera and from Garageband at the same time (actually, now that I think of it, I'm sure it's possible, but the last thing that I would want to have happen is have Garageband freeze up on me because the MBA is trying to manage too many tasks at one time). It just seemed like a safer process to have the two be separate.

3.) On a third stand progressively closer to the soloist was the Blue microphone. I used a USB extension and set it on the second cardioid setting, thereby reducing the volume of the soloist immediately; I find that this is extremely important if I am using that mic to record brass, particularly if the room is small. I increased the overall volume in Garageband, and had Suzie point her bell in a direction that was off-set ever so slightly, but not too much. I was very satisfied with the result.

After doing a few tests and getting everything set up, we started the process. After several start and stops, we took a few breaks and settled on what we had. What came after was tricky: the assembly.

First, because I was an idiot, I left my SD card reader back at the dorm, but lucky for me, Suzie brought a mini-USB cable that was compatible with my camera. I exported the movies over to iPhoto. Then, I listened to each of the necessary videos, one at a time, and referenced it between the audio recordings. Based on what I saw and heard, I was able to pair each of the videos to the proper audio track. After it had been determined which video went with each audio, I took that video and edited it in Quicktime to the proper orientation (we took the videos at a 90-degree angle to fit an appropriate color for a background). I, then, began importing these videos into iMovie, separating each segment with an appropriate transition that included some introductory text to tell viewers what each piece was about to be performed. All throughout this process, Suzie assisted in pairing the videos to the audio, as well as providing captions for each piece that she played. I also trimmed off the beginning and end's two or three seconds of each video to make the ending more smooth and connected.

After the whole video had been assembled, I exported it as a movie file. I took that movie, which had been exported into iTunes, and imported that into Garageband. Although I've learned to love the openness and freedom of Logic, I've found that Garageband has its uses with movie/audio pairing, as well as working on files between Apple's creative applications like iMovie, iDVD, etc. After that, it was a matter of pairing the clean audio that was recorded from the Blue mic to the precise millisecond that it took place in the video, and muting the audio that the camera had picked up. Once that was finished, some last minute tweaking of audio clarity to prevent hissing and overblowing on the volume was all that was left, aside from actually burning the DVD.

In total, it was a good day's project. And I also realized that it would've taken a fraction of the time if I didn't have to take so much time to relearn some of the process. All in all, it was a fun project to undertake, and an honor to be involved in – I really can't think of a better way to spend a Saturday.

Notes for Future Reference

Suzie told me something that I never, ever want to forget tonight.

She seems to be in some sort of pain with her back lately, and earlier this week, she was overwhelmed with the magnitude of things that she needed to accomplish in the next few weeks. While I was trying to console her, I offered to give her a Priesthood blessing – something that is so instinctual to me simply because of how I have been raised. To my delight, she said that she would like one (earlier this week amidst the overwhelming force of all that needed to be accomplished), but we had to immediately report for a pep band game, and I promised that she would receive one immediately after the game. As circumstances turned out, she was naturally feeling more relaxed by the end of the game, and the offer, though it had been made, seemed not as pressing as it had been earlier (that's not to say, of course, that a blessing was uncalled for or anything; it just meant that she had, in fact, received some spiritual healing in that time period that was sufficient to assist her).

This evening, when Suzie said that her back was not treating her so well (it got to be particularly unbearable for a short period of time that I can recall, at least), I offered to give her a Priesthood blessing, if should would like to receive one. She replied by saying that if she was not feeling better by tomorrow, she would like to receive one. However, as this evening went on, she mentioned that she did not feel any pain in her back.

She, then, made a comment to me, saying something to the effect that she loved how she was impressed with me, that as a Melchizedek Priesthood holder, I honored what I bore; that she knew that daily I was striving to be worthy; and that, interestingly enough, it had an effect on her. She went on to say that in those two particular instances, and others, as the offer of a Priesthood blessing was extended to her, she was already feeling the effects of healing and peace that would come through a blessing normally without having received it. It was enough to relieve her of her anxiety about the apparent looming of an insane few weeks ahead of her, and it was enough to remove the pain of a overextended and taxed back that she was suffering from. In short, the Priesthood was having a positive effect on her by me living the way that I was supposed to.

I should make clear that I do not believe that these experiences are meant to replace Priesthood blessings. Rather, I believe that that Priesthood has a far-reaching effect for good in our lives, that it is meant to bless. Also, I think of the sick woman who believed that if she but touched Jesus' garment, she would be healed – an example of an individual with such extraordinary faith that the Priesthood was able to bless her in that instant. To me, it says a whole lot about Suzie's character, and it gives me something to never forget and to always be aware of.

Catalog of Gratitude

Today, I am grateful.

I am grateful for friends and the sense of individual purpose that I feel when I am around them. I am grateful that they, perhaps unconsciously, help me to strive to be a better person.

I am grateful for my ward, and the individuals in it. I sure do miss seeing their faces when any of them are unable to come. I am grateful for ward leaders who are an example to me; I am in awe of their humility. They inspire me and help me to reach higher to claim the blessings that the Lord offers to those who honor Him.

I am grateful for music, and the way that it speak and touches my soul.

I am grateful for family, and the knowledge of their love for me. I am grateful that I never need to doubt that knowledge.

I am grateful for the Sabbath, and to be able to rest and recover from a long week. I am especially grateful for the Sacrament, and to have been able to bless it in our ward today with a great friend.

I am grateful for the Temple and for the blessings of faithfully attending. In today's case, I am grateful to be able to simply walk on the grounds with wonderful friends.

I am grateful for my gifts and talents.

I am grateful for the scriptures, and that I can learn and continue to grow as I read the words contained in them.

I am also grateful for the blessings that I receive daily from the Lord, despite my weaknesses and imperfections. I am grateful for the knowledge that I can overcome my weaknesses and, in fact, turn them into strengths. I believe that He can help me in this rugged life of mortality.

I am grateful to know that He lives.

Excess of Insomnia

There's just not that much to be said tonight.

Man, I need to sleep more.

Tags:

Losing Track of Time

I've been home for so long that I have lost track of the days and time that I've been away from school. When you get into that kind of a mindset, it makes it that much more difficult to leave it.

But I'd rather be feeling that longing for home than I would not feel so. It all points back to the fact that I love my family so dearly.

Overdue

To my frustration, I haven't had much to say these days. I wonder if it is because I am now in a profession that requires the immediate skills of my writing, which can have a tendency to sap my enjoyment out of it. I hope this is not the case, and if it is, I hope that I learn quickly to break free of it. Having my tongue tied in a knot and not being able to express myself is a frustrating existence that I do not now how to handle.

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However, there is something that I will never tire of expressing – the love for my Savior. Even now, I feel His influence in my life at a time when some things are going smoothly and other things test me. Needless to say, He understands me perfectly. He is my Redeemer, to whom I will praise for taking upon Him all of my sins; for extending comfort to my soul in all distress; and for providing me with the ability to perfect my weaknesses.

I know that He lives.

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Perhaps that alone is enough to say for tonight.

Sunday Happs

Went and travelled up to RP today with mother to attend two ward conferences, as she needed to be there to represent the stake Relief Society. It was great to see some familiar faces and to catch up with some good friends. While I love my ward in Hawaii, I sure do miss my home stake sometimes.

I read up a bit on Youtube's partnership, and the offers that they include that correlate to the number of hits a video receives to the amount of money that it will earn. I also went looking for ways to host podcasts via iTunes, and I think I am going to need to look even more into that in the near future. I found it to be really intriguing.

Made dinner tonight, with some assistance from my mother. I boiled the water for corn on the cob, made rice, cut onions, and started cooking the steak when I put it on the stovetop. I felt pretty content about it all at the end, and I think I could do something similar on my own if I do end up moving off-campus this next semester.

I had the honor of anointing and participating in Priesthood blessings this evening for a family that I consider to be very dear. Needless to say, it was a comfort to know of the faith that an individual can have in the Lord, and that, regardless of anything a Priesthood holder might say, the blessing comes from the Lord which becomes activated by that person's faith. It was a humbling experience. It reminds me of the reality that, as I offer to provide those blessings in the lives of others, I will, naturally, be more willing to keep the commandments, shun temptation, and become even more like the Savior. That is a cool knowledge.

But I'm tired now, and I think I should probably sleep.

Returning Home Emotions

It's a different existence, being in a position where you don't need to necessarily fight for your survival like you do when in college – when you're on your own. I love being home; I love the comforts and familiarity of this place. Most importantly, I love being with my family and seeing their smiles. I love the bond of brothers and the goofiness that my younger brother and I can no doubt project when together. I love my mom, being able to hold her hand and not even hesitating about hugging her. My dad, I love the righteous influence as a Priesthood holder that he continues to show me, as well as see him become excited over things like new cars.

I love being around friends, though I cannot help but recognize that, even through the small time that has elapsed, I am simply in a different place than they are. This is not a bad thing. It's just different.

The weather is so different here, yet somewhat similar. It is chilly at night, even during summer. Back in Hawaii, it is steamy during the night, and I anticipate that I will struggle a bit when I go back to be able to adjust to that.

But at the same time, I recognize that it is only natural that I feel slightly uncomfortable with the whole treatment of being home, simply because adulthood means going out on your own and making a name for yourself. If you feel absolutely comfortable with the notion of not having to tend to things the way that you're supposed to when you're on your own, something is probably wrong. That is not to say, by the way, that I do not appreciate it when dinner is made for me; it just means that I am automatically going to have a impulsing desire to help out with dinner. It means that when the trash is fully, I need to take care of it. Those weeds on the side yard? Same idea. Besides, to not do so would be selfish as to the kind of treatment that I receive from being home.

It's been strange being home… But I have a feeling that, while it will also be strange when I get back on the island, I will fall right back into place.

6:09

Ironically, some of the individuals who have inspired me to have my love of music are not musicians. But like other forms of enjoyment, music provides entertainment. Our emotions respond and connect with it, sometimes in a way that surpasses the connectedness one can receive from words or language. It would be natural to assume that the majority of one's appreciation of music comes from the emotional aspect: what one feels as a result of listening to that song; what one believes that the song is telling them personally. I won't deny that this is important since music should always come with sentimental application. I would bet that a large amount of the music that is purchased today comes solely from that point of view.

But I see things a little bit differently. Having studied music for over ten years now, and being in a position to pursue music as my major of choice, different perspectives become opened – how one can view a song. Emotional? Structural? Historical? Style? Themes within the song? WIthin these perspectives, even more ways to evaluate a song come into play. Looking at a song from a structural perspective, for example, could include evaluating accents on specific notes – what is the composer trying to say by playing a certain note a certain way? Or what about the structure of the chords? The tempo? The dynamic levels? The length of the piece? The use of certain voices at specific times? All of these things, and so many more, help contribute to the appreciation and love of music.

Individuals who are swayed only by the emotional aspect of music subconsciously base their decision of whether they like a song or not by a miss-mash of all of these perspectives, never connecting with any one in particular. I believe that they wouldn't know it, and wouldn't be able to explain it, and would lack the ability to look at a piece in as many ways as possible on their own.

Yet, it strikes and fascinates me that those who have influenced me to love music love are not musicians. This means that their love for music has to come from a strong, intense adore based mostly on the emotional appeal, simply because they have not been trained to identify with music in a way that would allow them to look at music in a structural light, or a stylistic light. This takes a large amount of sensitivity and connectedness to song, which, by extent, says a great deal about the character of those individuals that I happen to be referring to.

It is funny to me, though, that my music tastes can be completely different from the people that have inspired me to love music. So for this purpose, I am going to attempt to explain to a certain degree exactly what goes through my mind from strictly a structural perspective as I listen to a certain song – what exactly appeals to me in one clean listen – to accentuate the difference that goes through my mind as I decide whether or not I appreciate a song. Yes, just because I'm a goofy musician who gets giddy at the sound of a well-put together chord in a single track, I, naturally, decided that I would write up an analysis on a song that impressed me this evening – one that I have already heard several times. In my book, if a song continues to impress me well beyond the first listen, then the artist certainly did something right. It should be noted that some technical musical terms may be omitted and replaced with other words, as they may not come to me quickly enough (it may be better that way, if for nothing more than for the sake of having non-musicians understand what I am saying in this post).

Here goes.

Artist: Acoustic Alchemy
Album: Arcanum
Song: Casino
Total Run Time: six minutes, nine seconds


Track Breakdown:

0:00 – 0:30 = introduction at unset tempo
0:30 – 1:15 = typical, smooth though strict Acoustic Alchemy plucking; solo guitarist with bass line being played in lower register by acoustic guitar; backgrounds on another guitar complementing main line, sharp; 4/4 time
1:15 – 1:30 = same "section, same style, strumming continues; tricky chords to identity; accents well placed on "1, 2" and the "and"s
1:30 – 1:42 = back to similar style (0:30 – 1:15); more backgrounds; strum cutoffs on 2 and 4
1:42 – 1:50 = tempo increase; guitar string strums, no chords (percussion); guitar "gliss" down (1:45); good style and placement with congas
1:50 – 2:35 = entrance of bass; beginning of main theme; bass moves to a "latin" style of moving notes (on 1, and of 1, & the and of 2)
2:35 – 2:54 = transition to "chorus"; new electric guitar has backgrounds that hold all the way from 1 to 4
2:54 – 3:11 = "chorus"; guitar on backgrounds (1=16ths; after 2, all hits are on afterbeats); I heard a snare somewhere! I thought most latin songs rely mostly on auxiliary percussion…? When did the set enter, if I missed it?
3:11 – 3:49 = enter bass solo, with plenty of energy (he must have been anticipating this solo…!); only guitar(s) has backgrounds – inverts "traditional" soloing with bass providing the root; the root is missing here, but it is made up through the grove of the bass solo itself; occasional slapping with perfect placement
3:49 – 4:43 = guitar solo, bass resumes traditional groove; got some tricky chords and runs; transition on drum set from this section to next is through descending toms (there is definitely a set)
4:43 – 5:00 = cut out, strumming, (reminiscent of 1:42 – 1:50); only guitars, no bass (yet!)
5:00 – 5:05 = same "section", though the entrance of an electric guitar takes place – trading fourths; strumming continues
5:05 – 5:07 = my favorite part of the entire song; perfect consistency of bass slap to bass depth; power at its core; deep, rich root, and a clean ascent up to finish it off
5:07 – 5:10 = guitar screams, ending the trading fourths section to transition into the main theme
5:10 – 5:27 = we've heard this part; similar descent of toms with sixteenth notes (beats 1–4) to "transition to chorus"
5:27 – 5:46 = bass begins section with octave jumps; this has to be similar on the other choruses (I just didn't notice it until now!)
5:46 – OUT = "chorus"

After a second listen, I found out where the set comes in – 1:50 with the high hat being played on. Duh.

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Please know that everything in this post has been me simply speculating and that there is no official data or musician that I would bother to find to back up what I think about all of this. These are just the thoughts of an upcoming musician – nothing else.

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I should probably study for finals.

Termination Analysis

I defy anybody's claim that the process of firing an employee does not affect the supervisor in charge for that employee.

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It just doesn't make sense to me. I have come to value the nature of legitimate, hard work; work that I can take pride in; and work that builds self-esteem. The way I see it, I am excited by the notion of proving to an individual that I am capable of the work that they have tasked me to do. If I fall short, I have a tendency to be harder on myself than even my supervisor would be on me, and that motivates me to, firstly, rectify my mistake, and, second, try harder next time to ensure that such mistakes do not repeat themselves. I give all I can to provide a professional image. I take pride in my ability to be prompt in communication, particularly in a world where instant communication is of growing necessity.

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I have thoroughly enjoyed taking my Business Management class for this summer term A, and I foresee that the concepts that we have been taught will help me in most areas of my career, present and future. The class focuses on teaching real-life business concepts and strategies by putting students in a simulation/web-based experience called Foundation. By working with a team, your group inherits an electronic sensor company with a decent amount of cash. This online simulation involves students in making decisions in R&D, marketing, production, financing, human resources, TQM, and other such areas. The point of it all? To make a profit, as well as increase stock prices and margins, meet inventory goals, and other goals. As CEOs of your company, you make these choices to bring in a profit. If you lose money through bad financing or any other area, you can get into some serious trouble. The simulation takes place over a course of 8 rounds, each round equaling a year. Generally speaking, I have found it to be not only useful, but truly satisfying!

However, there has been one factor about it that I dislike, now more than ever. The entire simulation seems has no emotion. Don't get me wrong – it is a smart simulation! Real life decisions are taken into effect sometimes without your company being aware of it. And yet, no matter how enthusiastic your company's marketing department might be, the decisions that you make are all that will affect your profits. Pricing products will affect customers' decisions to buy your products, sure. But the choice of making a sensor $34.99 as opposed to $35 will have only a penny's difference, unlike the increased amount of sales that would be facilitated in real life just by the emotional justification of it being that much cheaper. No psychological consideration. No emotion. Period.

In Foundation, the process of automating a factory, for example, is simply a matter of plugging in numbers according to the amount of financing that can be given to automation. This, of course, means that machine replaces man. And yes, the process of firing an individual is just a matter of subtracting a number from the current employee roster, thereby maximizing margins and retaining profits. The company's best interests are the priority – like any company – and terminating one's employment is barely considered. While the charges of firing an employee do show up on the financing section of Foundation, it is so minimal compared to the millions of other dollars that are being put towards the promotion and sales budget, or the expansion of a factory. It is so insignificant that it barely gets noticed.

But that's just not how I see it.

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This is a different situation, though, where the level of motivation within an employee that I supervise is so minimal that I could not even measure it. It's not like I am trying to automate a factory and need to raise money to do it, or where this individual is getting replaced by a machine. What baffles me, however, is the fact that so many individuals are without work in this world. How can it be that anyone – anybody – would feel so indifferent about the prospect of retaining work?

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I suppose I shouldn't get too carried away here. Just some mullings that can't seem to leave my mind right now.

Commemoration

Though it panned out to be a rather ordinary day, the thought couldn't leave me that there was something significant – something commemorative – about this day.

I have officially lived in Hawaii for a full month.

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In that time, I have moved into my dorm room, changed rooms, bought textbooks, paid a chunk of my expenses, acquired a student loan, and began eating at the Caf. I began attending classes, aced several exams at the Testing Center, performed several online assignments, and purchased my first e-text.

I found a copy editing job at the school's magazine, Ke Alaka'i, and have spent the majority of my time doing more musical composing and arranging for their videos and less writing.

I attended several Sacrament meetings in the Aloha Center, having the distinct privilege of being able to administer the Sacrament a few times. I have gone to FHE as much as I have been able to and consider it a blessing to be in the company of those individuals.

I have walked along the soft, warm, windy coasts at Hukilau and Temple Beach. I have spent several hours in silence, stillness – in simple pondering. I have spent much time considering what all this means, attempting in complete vainness to foresee the future and how things will pan out. I have thought of my family; I have missed their smiles and their hugs and their presence. Though I love each and every one of them so much, I particularly miss being able to see youngest brother growing and maturing. But then I realize that perhaps it is best for him to flourish without having the constant influence of older brother around. I have missed my friends, those whose influence on me has become everlasting. I think of them, recreating their faces from the memories in my mind one by one and hoping that they are happy in whatever circumstances that they are in.

I have attended devotionals and heard the testimonies offered by the speakers. I am grateful for their willingness to come here and share that Aloha Spirit with us.

I have almost fallen asleep on the Temple grounds for the Laie Temple. I have walked around the grounds just as much as I have spent time at the beach, and I never regret the fifteen-minute walk to it. I understand more about the blessings that come through obedience and faithfulness as I spend time there.

I acquired a sulu, or lava-lava as they are commonly referred to, in exchange for one of my sweater vests. Every time I put it on, I am shocked to remember how comfortable it is!

I have toured PCC and seen the night show. The screams and drums of the night show seem to have faded from my ears, as they have become more natural to me as I shut my eyes to go to sleep.

I managed to rearrange a song for one of my coworkers, which included backup vocals of himself recorded in the track – my first attempt ever of doing so! – and it was performed last night at a Spawn Breezie concert. I consider it a step in right direction.

I have, and continue to, experience island fever, though it is more accurate to refer to it as "Laie fever". A small and friendly town it may be, it seems to get smaller and smaller as the moments pass. It is a good thing that I will be heading to town this next weekend. I have not gotten sunburnt yet, but I have experienced dehydration during the first week. I quickly figured out how to avoid that by making sure that I drink water at specific times of the day.

I remain content in the knowledge that, regardless of the future, at present, I am more than content.

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The Term A session will be concluding at the beginning of June, and if an airline is able to offer a decent flight home, I will come back to visit for our five-week summer break. If not, then I will stick it out through the semester and break.

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Tomorrow, I will set specific goals that I would like to improve on and get better at in anticipation for the weeks after midterms. I look forward to this.

I Know

Today, my testimony is that Christ is more than capable of delivering each one of us from the trials that we may face, whether they be of a temporal, spiritual, mental, or emotional nature. This knowledge that I possess comes from the reality that He performed the Atonement, thereby taking the sins and pains and weaknesses of every individual upon Himself.

Most importantly, today I Know That My Redeemer Lives.

BYUH - Week One

I am exhausted. But this exhaustion comes from a satisfaction of knowing that the past few days have been brilliant.

I love how the initial worries and uncomfortable feelings of being in an unknown world tend to be washed away in the knowledge of the Gospel. And what is especially miraculous is that BYU-Hawaii accomplishes this in a manner that allows individuals from all kinds of cultures to become unified and strengthened in the spirit of Aloha.

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Day one was an exercise in overcoming Culture Shock, as it is referred to here in Laie. In its simplest form, Culture Shock is the feeling of anxiety, nervousness and withdrawal that one experiences when confronted with the ideals and customs of another individual's culture. Indeed, it is a prevalent diagnosis here, and it can be the source of depression and other such feelings. Upon arriving on the plane to Honolulu (I hadn't even arrived on campus yet…!), I instantly felt the whitest that I have ever felt in my entire life. However, I countered this anxiety with the knowledge that I was going to Hawaii – what better place to live than in paradise?

This alleviated the shock initially. But mental battles against ones self really are quite futile without the assistance of the Spirit and Jesus Christ. And so it was that I arrived on campus and, as soon as I did, Culture Shock whip-lashed in full force. It would only be later that I would discover that of the 2700 students that attend BYUH, only a handful of them are Caucasian, and fewer are from the mainland.

Now when I am confronted with similar feelings or emotions that I do not like, I will make every effort to have them subside; I will be proactive about solving them. I have come to understand that the world in general has little sympathy for these feelings, and that its operation is more focused on ensuring that You Do Your Part. I am usually unable to perform up to my standards if I am busy wallowing in feelings of anxiety or nervousness or stress or anything similar. And so I decided to Do My Part, so to speak. I was interested in finding a legitimate solution to this immediate Culture Shock.

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How grateful I am that there is a perfect plan provided to return to our Father in Heaven! Just as important, how grateful I am that my Savior, Jesus Christ, has shown the path to do so, performed the Atonement, and lives even now. His sacrifice is real, and I can become strengthened in knowing that He has experienced everything that I have, including something as topsy-turvy as Culture Shock.

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I came to Him, not necessarily in the most extraordinary of circumstances, but in my heart. I thanked Him for my blessings; I told Him of my struggles; and I pleaded for His divine assistance. The answer was simple and came, again, in not the most extraordinary of circumstances, but quietly, softly.

Be who you are. Be social.

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I thought this was curious, as I do not consider myself the grandest social butterfly in circumstances that I do not feel comfortable in. But I knew that He has to know me better than I do. So as I went to bed that evening, I decided that on the following day, I would strive to be more social.

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