A Visit from the Church

Today was the first day I can recall being visited by two Elders from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. That’s the Mormon Church for those not up on their religion. Needless to say I was quite excited to open the door and extend a welcome to them. Hard to believe it has been some 23 years since I have been to Utah and the BYU campus in Provo. Thankfully I have many fond memories and seeing these two young faces brought many memories back.

I made it known quite early I would not be a convert to the Church. I talked about the hours I spent listening to the lessons that missionaries teach those who want to listen and learn. Being at BYU, it was really difficult to NOT see missionaries, even on campus, some of whom were my dorm mates at one time. I ended sitting through their lessons about 7 times in a 2.5 year period. For me, it was more of a learning experience, since I did not grow up with any form of religion, nor was I asked or forced to go to church, even on “special” occasions.

Thankfully I was raised in a good environment with loving parents who taught me right from wrong and raised me well. Maybe that is why it wasn’t a real culture shock when I applied and got accepted to BYU as a non-LDS student. I recanted some of my stories that are vivid in my mind about my experience at BYU, with the Mormons and why I chose that school over any others.

I extended an open door to the two young men, one from Wyoming, the other from New Caledonia. I figured it’s the least I could do. I would welcome them into my home and talk with them, feed them if needed. To me, if felt like the right thing to do. Maybe  it’s one of those “good deeds” or maybe it was “destiny” but why? I don’t know.

Regardless of why they rang my doorbell I am glad they did because the LDS were a big part of my life for 2.5 years while in college. Many of the people I met, experiences I had were good ones, even though I never finished out my education at that institution. Hopefully the Elders return for a future visit.


*queue Peaches & Herb’s song, Reunited from 1979*

I am sure I will catch flak from my sister regarding this news piece since I am not a real avid fan of the social networking sites, like Facebook or My Space. I am more of running and maintaining my own personal site, with my own domain name. Now granted I have had quite a bit of help over the years from individuals, but the content is solely mine.

With that declaimer out of the way, I have been rather impressed with Facebook (yeah Steph, you told me so…) so far. Just last week I was reacquainted with a college buddy, Kyle who I went to BYU with for 2 years. It was rather exciting to get a response back from the message I sent to him on Facebook to find out it was the same individual I was in college with from 1987-1989.

There have been some other individuals, outside of my sister and Kyle I have found, such as former co-workers at United Airlines, some alumni from Poway High School where I graduated in 1987. Of course missing the 20th year high school reunion was tough, as I wanted to see many of my friends from years gone by. Who knows maybe I will find a few long lost friends through Facebook.

So, with that said, I guess I must give Heather her props for prodding me to get active and get on Facebook. While I only have about 17 friends I am sure there will be more as I post a few more images of my son and whatever else is special in my life. But I won’t make it my primary site for general information. I will always have T6F.

Learning Spanish

During my educational years I attempted to learn two different foreign languages. The first was back in my pre-high school days, when it was Spanish. Needless to say, I did not like the class and did not do well in it. So I never went back to it. During high school I made it though 2 years of German. I attempted to continue this during my first year at college, while attending BYU. I was taken back by the “level” of teaching. Maybe I wasn’t prepared. But the first day of class, not a word of English was spoken. I guess this is the “immersion” style of teaching a new language.

Now some 20 years later I return to learn a foreign language to learn. I decided to start with Spanish (Latin America) because we ARE in California and it makes sense, as this is sort of the basis for other similar languages such as Italian and Portuguese. I had been looking at Rosetta Stone.

The only setback to learning with this program, which received some excellent reviews was the price of all three levels, $549 based on their website. A steep price no matter how you look at it or attempt to justify it. So talking to another ham operator on IRC the other day and I was able to “obtain” the language packs. I was also able to find the core Rosetta Stone program.

After about 30 minutes of decompressing, installing and configuring I was able to get Rosetta Stone up and running as well as all three levels for Spanish. Interesting to note, while at BYU, they did have one of the best linguistic centers in the Missionary Training Center (MTC), where young men and women are sent prior to going on their “Mormon Missions” in order to learn their new language. Rosetta Stone uses a similar “immersion” process in order for someone to learn.

I started Spanish Level 1 last night while at work and was able to learn some basic words (nouns) and actions (verbs) as well as some simple sentences. I was rather impressed to see what I retained and could say in 30 minutes. Again, this is an immersion process, where you read, write and speak in Spanish, there is no English to supplement the learning process.

As for my reasoning to learn a new language, it was somewhat perpetuated by the fact I play soccer with seven Mexicans and the running joke was I had no idea what they were saying when we were on the field. I would like to see my son grow up knowing a second (or third, Morse Code counts as a language, right?) language. It can only be beneficial as they grow up.

So hopefully three months from now, sooner possibly, I will be fluent in Spanish and be able to read, write and speak Spanish. Once learned, I do hope to try Italian as well.

Hiawatha, Iowa

Life is funny sometimes isn’t it? Next month I will be traveling to San Diego to celebrate my 20th year high school reunion. But that is a story for another day. I received a phone call today and out of the blue I get a call from my college roommate when I attended BYU from 1987-1990. Right when my wife mentioned the name of the caller, I knew who it was. I only know ONE guy named Luke!

It has been close to 17 years since I talked to the guy, last I heard he got married and was living in Utah. But as I found out today that had changed. He was back in Iowa, where he was born and raised (Marion, IA), just north of Cedar Rapids.

It was great to hear his voice as I had thought about him many times over the years, wondering what happened to him and a few other friends I had in college. I do know another college friend from BYU is the City Manager of my hometown. Small world, eh?

There are many stories I could share about the times we spent in the dorms, the “hell” we raised. Okay, so it was BYU, not sure that hell is really raised there, but I spent quite a bit of time on probation for one reason or another.

Anyway, hopefully I can keep in contact with him more over the next 20 years.

World Cup Fever

No sporting event in the USA has the appeal that the World Cup does. The Olympics might come close in terms of excitement and viewership, but for me, the Olympics just don’t excite me. Unfortunately soccer, as it is known here in the states really suffers because of the more well known and rooted sports such as football [American style], baseball and basketball. Youth soccer seems is where the excitement is when you are young. “Today, AYSO has more than 50,000 teams and more than 650,000 players” (source). But between the time kids learn the sport and grow up, the fun and excitement wear off for many.

As a youth I grew up playing soccer in AYSO, along with baseball and football. I believe I even suffered through one season of basketball. My parents were heavily involved, coaching, organizing and supporting myself and sister through many seasons. I took my interest in the sport to high school and while I was only able to successfully make one team, I continued playing organized soccer outside of high school until age 17. After my freshman year in college at BYU in Provo, Utah I tried out for the team and made the squad as a back up goalkeeper [2 years in a row]. I never had aspirations to play the sport professionally, but enjoyed the many years I played

The USA has seen outdoor and indoor leagues come go; American Soccer League [1933-83, 1988-1989], Continental Indoor Soccer League [1993-1997], Major Soccer League [1978-1992], North American Soccer League [1968-1984], World Indoor Soccer League [1998-2001] and the United Soccer League [1984-1985]. By far the most popular league was the North American Soccer League [NASL]. “The biggest club in the league and the organization’s bellwether was the New York Cosmos, who drew upwards (while aging Brazillian superstar Pelé played for them) of 40,000 fans per game at their height. However, the overall average attendance of the league never reached 15,000.”

The league has challenges, such as selling the game of soccer to Americans, known as “football” to fans worldwide. The rules of the game were “Americanized” in an attempt to make it more exciting and comprehensible to the average fan. “These changes included a clock that counted time down to zero as was typical of other timed American sports, rather than upwards to 45 minutes as was traditional, a 35 yard line for offsides rather than the traditional half way line, and a shootout to decide matches that ended in a draw.”

Many big name foreign players were brought in, but were frequently left on the bench for lesser known American players. But the main reason behind the demise of the NASL was over expansion [hockey, basketball and baseball are you listening?]. This caused the talent pool to decline spread out over 24 teams. Many new owners were quick to get out, when the popularity started to decline because they were not “soccer people.”

The World Cup is truly one of the events that needs to be experienced, in a country outside the USA [1994]. Sorry USA, you just can’t host the event to a level of a Germany [2006], France [1938, 1998], Italy [1934, 1990] or England [1966], just to name a few. The game is unique that is brings about the best on a world stage for one month and pits nation against nation. I have seriously caught World Cup fever this year, as to years past. Even more so than in 1994 when it was in the USA.

If you have not caught any of the games, I suggest you check out the highlight videos at the FIFA World Cup web site. I know many Americans don’t like the game because it is slow and there is not much scoring. Some great games yesterday as Saudia Arabia and Tunisia had a final score of 2-2, with Tunisia scoring with Radi Jaidi scoring at the 92′ mark [into stoppage time] to draw even. Very exciting. Even more exciting was the following match featuring host’s, Germany versus Poland, who have never beaten Germany in 85 years. At the 91′ minute, Oliver Neuville found the lower corner of the net as Germany won! Simply amazing footie yesterday!

These start time work out well too, because I get off work, drive home and spend the next 6 hours watching footie. I don’t recall when I spent so much time in front of the television! Surely is was not for the Superbowl, World Series or even the Olympics [zzz]. Saturday is a big day, match 25! Italy takes on the USA in Kaiserslautern at 21CET/15EST/12PST. Being a huge Italia fan, I look for the Azzurri to shut out the Americans who will fall again and fail to move on to the second round.