Tuesday, July 21

Blog has moved!

As of July 2009 I have switched over to WordPress. Check it out!

Sunday, July 19

May be switching to WordPress - Let me know what you think

Due to ongoing problems with my comments, and a few other more narcissism-related issues, I may be moving from Blogger to Wordpress. Could you take a second and go to the new shenpa warrior blog on WordPress? Click here.

Let me know what you think (you can leave a comment here or there). If we all like the new blog better, I will try to move the url for this blog to that one, so hopefully no one will need to update their links.

Thanks in advance, and thank you for the help in the previous post.

Saturday, July 18

going through some blog changes - please leave a comment to see if everything is working

More than a few people have complained about the difficulty they have had commenting on my blog. One of my best friends even got so frustrated with it he said "I TRULY, TRULY, HATE this blog." Yes, we're still friends of course, but something had to change. I'm not much of a computer genius, but I thought if I completely scrapped the old template with all my inept hacks... perhaps it will start working better now.

On that note, please leave a comment (especially if you have had ANY trouble in the past commenting here - let me know what the trouble has been). Thanks in advance! If I don't get any comments, I'll know that there are still some bugs.

Thursday, July 16

A few thoughts on movies

I saw Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince last night.

I was hoping there would be all kinds of witches and whatnot at the theater, but apparently that's all for the midnight showing the day before.

A few thoughts:
  1. WHO brings their babies to movies? Seriously. If they're still in the womb, fine, but otherwise, PLEASE find a time and a movie that no one else is at.
  2. For those who love to talk THE ENTIRE TIME, please find the parents of #1 and go to movies with them. We had some wonderful teenage boys next to us, who DID NOT STOP talking. And then at the end, one of them said "that movie was stupid!" Really. You know what YOU'RE STUPID! Okay that was harsh, but at least I didn't curse him. (That's a really good link, by the way.)
  3. How in the world did this movie get a PG rating? While it may not have been as intense as The Dark Knight or Pirates of the Caribbean, for example (which both should have been rated R - yeah, I re-rate our dvds, lol. Conspiracy Theory is now PG-13 if you want to watch it at my house), it wasn't PG worthy either. As usual, kids-in-mind helps out a lot more. The Incredibles, and UP were also rated PG...
  4. Despite all that, the movie was really good I thought. More humor and lighter scenes than usual, and the actors seem to be getting better with each movie. Keep in mind this movie is setting up the last two, so just like the rest of the movies it doesn't really feel complete.

Sunday, July 5

The Unfortunate Truth

Most husbands need to step up to the plate.

For those who do, marital happiness stays, or actually increases if the couple has children. About 2/3 don't, however. They end up in relationships where the man works 8-10 hours a day, and the woman works 16 or more. Naturally, those wives (the 2/3 of married women) are not as happy--they experience a significant drop in marital satisfaction with the arrival of a new baby.

Even when both partners work, the woman usually does more housework, and more of the less desirable chores.

A few years ago Nat and I figured out (with some bad math) that she was doing 55% and I was doing 45% (this includes chores, work, and school). Naturally, we were both surprised at how low our percentages were. The only thing I'm sure of is focusing on 50-50 is not a good idea. Both partners need to be striving to help the relationship and each other.

How is the balance in your relationship? Are you focused on doing your share, or do you focus more on what you are doing and less on your partner?

Wednesday, July 1

Roundup: Canadian Healthcare, Gov. Sanford, & Excommunication

  • Steve at The Zombie Chronicles once again reminds us why Obama's plan for health care will not be, for lack of a better word, socialist.
    He also lists a succinct dispelling of the myths about Canadian healthcare. For example, most Canadian doctors do not work for the government, and there are no waits for urgent or primary care. Granted, no system is perfect, but I agree with Steve--we need a major change, and the fear mongering gets us nowhere.

  • Apparently some friends of Beliefnet's Steven Waldman feel that because Governor Sanford was in love with his mistress, he deserves more sympathy. Really? I think that fact makes his affair a LOT worse--affairs are WAY more damaging when love is involved.
  • On Gay LDS Actor, an openly gay and believing Mormon writes about his recent excommunication from the church, as well as his experiences as he continues to attend the meetings and engage in the faith. It is profound, despite your religious (or lack of) persuasion.

Monday, June 29

How well do you know your partner?

For the last seven months of 2009, I am going to work on one principle per month out of The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. Hopefully there will also be some things that stand out for you for working on your own relationships.
Nat and I have made a lot of progress with our EFT therapist during the past 8 months. It has been both exciting and exhausting, and sometimes I have not looked forward AT ALL to going. It has been hard work. Despite that, we are now a lot more understanding and patient with each other, and most importantly to me we know each other a lot better. The connection is stronger, and we don't as easily get caught in those same problems over and over again.

There are a lot of reasons why I want the best relationship possible, but an important one is to be a good example for others in committed relationships, and a positive influence on society in general. We ALL have challenges (sometimes quite significant, sometimes minor). Some relationships just don't work out.

I want to continually learn and grow in my relationship, and inspire others to get out of their comfort zone and get to work as well. Improving one's relationship is not just for "those people" who have "problems"... Also, not to single out men, but so often it seems their hubris is in the way of really getting to work on their relationships. If you're one of those men (or women), GET OVER YOURSELF! :)

The principle for July is to build and expand Love Maps. This is how much cognitive room (space in your brain!) you have for your partner. How well do you know them and their world? Do you know what has been bothering them lately? What have they enjoyed doing this week? Their favorite (or least-favorite) relative? What they think about organic food or how they feel about the book they are reading?

Take this quiz to find out how well you know your partner. Then, go ask your them an open-ended question (one that can't be answered with a 'yes' or 'no'). Ask them what they think or feel about something, and then listen. Put your thoughts on hold and just get to know their world. Surprisingly, a lot of couples don't ask each other very many questions like this. We should be continually building on what we know about those we care about, and they should feel known by us. This is very important to do over the course of one's relationship because people grow and change.

Love Maps are also the foundation for all good friendships, not just romantic relationships, so this principle applies to everyone!

Thursday, June 25

shenpa warrior: The 2,760,016th most popular website in the country!

According to "Alexa: The Web Information Company" there are only 2.76 million sites ahead of me. According to Technorati, shenpa warrior is also the 498,210 most popular blog. Well on my way to making a living in the blogging world! ;)

Another interesting thing on the site was the "search terms" that have brought in the most traffic:
  1. taken movie
  2. shenpa meaning
  3. salt lake trib
  4. eyring caffeine
  5. eyring caffine
  6. takes to satan
  7. wall-e propaganda apple
  8. my geekines knows no bounderies
  9. joseph smith losing case
  10. stop mormon losing faith
Speechless. It seems that most of those are not intentionally looking to read my blog. These are pretty fun though--check out yours! According to my statcounter, over 60% of visitors are also on the site for less than 5 seconds. :)

Monday, June 22

Money CAN Buy Happiness?

We've all heard that "money can't buy happiness" ad nauseam. Now a study says it can.

In a social psychology class during undergrad we were taught that in general money does not make one happier, with the exception of wealth providing you with basic needs, and helping to fulfill significant life dreams that are in line with one's core values.

A recent study claims that money can also buy happiness in the sense that it provides some sense of control in cases of disaster or material loss. If you can't replace your wrecked car, you may be less happy than the person who can afford a new one. Reading further in the article, it says that what really matters is one's perception that they have an adequate amount.

Some thoughts:
  1. The wealthy, the big businesses, etc. who are driven to always have more may never be able to rest. They may never feel secure. In fact, that sense of material security is indeed false and ephemeral, according to Buddhist teachings. This is also part of the reason for my disdain for capitalism. A free market may be better than s*cialism, but ultimately it runs on greed, fear, and insecurity. You can argue the "lesser of two evils" idea, but it is still evil, in the sense that it ultimately leads to suffering.
  2. In order to be free from this suffering, and be happier, we should learn to find this security and peace with what we already have. Want more? Great, but don't seek more for the purpose of being happier. In the best case it will provide some temporary dopamine-laced thrills which will eventually die and a new fix will be needed.
  3. All that being said, I am loving my new iPhone. Hypocrisy abounds!
What do you think? How is your happiness related to your bank account? At what point do you stop and decide that you have enough?

Thursday, June 18

Let The Holy Spirit Clean Your Kitchen

I have been working at an agency owned by a religious organization. No problems there. In fact, many of my fellow therapists do not belong to said religion, with no reprisals. We all get along pretty well. It's a different story in the bathrooms though.

In all the bathrooms there are automatic towel dispensers. I don't know what brand they are because the logos are all covered up with stickers of the agency's logo. Fine. I guess they don't want any advertising. The amusing part is, the normal part of the dispensers that instructs one to "wave your hand here" in order for a towel to come out, have all been covered with stickers that say "Pray 'N Dry."


Another employee (who was offended by proxy for all the fellow heretics, as well as those souls receiving counseling services) has pulled the stickers off a few times, but they come right back. Just like the WalMart does in South Park.

What do you think is the purpose of the stickers? Perhaps an object lesson on faith? I.e. if I stick my hand under there, a towel will come out? Or is it a reminder to pray to avoid getting sick? If that were the case the sign ought to be by the soap, as in "bless this soap that it will wash those germs off and I won't get swine flu!"

Little did I know, some trickster had beaten me to it. I went into a different bathroom at work today, and there was a sticker (obviously home-made) on the soap dispenser that read:

"Receive the Holy Spirit, then wash the @$%&#! out of your hands!"

That sticker made up for all the others. Now when I see "Pray 'N Dry" not only do my hands dry, but I get a good laugh as well. Thank you Pavlov. You made my day.

Monday, June 15

Some Sex Statistics from The Kinsey Institute

Don't worry, it's just stats--nothing too uncomfortable.

Sex In Marriage:
  • 3% of married women have not had sex in the past year. 1% of men.
  • 13% of married couples have sex a few times a year.
  • 45% a few times a month.
  • 34% 2-3 times per week.
  • 7% More than 4 times per week.
This is about what I have been telling clients (e.g. 2-3 times a week to 2-3 times a month is the "normal" range). One client who was wanting sex multiple times per day is obviously in the extreme, (although, I think that may be due to his not knowing how to emotionally connect in other ways).

Sexual Orientation:
  • 90% of people consider themselves to be heterosexual, ~2% homosexual, ~2% bisexual, and ~4% as ‘something else’.
  • 6.2% of men and 4.4% of women are attracted to people of the same sex.
I think it is important to consider not just the prevalence, but the diversity of experience and attraction beyond the simple gay or straight categories, including the fluid nature for some (but certainly not all).

Internet Pornography:
  • 25% of men report* visiting a pornographic website in the last 30 days. 4% of women.
  • 8% of men and women who use the Internet for sexual reasons reported significant problems associated with compulsive disorders.
I wonder if in more conservative or religious cultures this is a bigger problem because of the secrecy and greater amount of shame involved (which seem to make an addictive cycle worse). I would be curious about studies on this topic done on a cross-cultural/religious manner.

  • 5% of men and 11% of women have never masturbated.
  • 35% of men ages 18-39 do not masturbate, 37% 'sometimes', 28% more than once per week.
For those who believe masturbation is something that needs to be abstained from, how do you teach your kids while at the same time not instilling them with excessive guilt and feelings of isolation, when in fact more than 90% do at some point?

  • 62% of women in relationships are “very satisfied” with the frequency of orgasm.
This seems to be in stark contrast to men, whom except in rare cases almost always have an orgasm during sex. Nature's cruelty to women!

  • More than 120 million couples a year have an unmet need for contraception.
Think about all the unwanted pregnancies that would not occur if these people had this need met!

  • 14.8 % of women in the U.S. are raped at some point during their life.
This stat is scary. I had no idea it was so high. My wife actually thought it was low. Scary.

*Keep in mind, these are all self-report statistics. Some could be higher or lower.

What do you think? Anything surprising here (on the low end or the high)?

Thursday, June 11

Fun with Deity & Billboards

Not believing in God is the cause of war.

God doesn't like the Big Bang Theory. I don't know why. Anyone have an idea?

Which sign came first I wonder...

This one's a classic. Watch out for that atheist family next door. Their son may shoot you. Then again, I can see their point. If you believe that people are inherently depraved and evil, without God they certainly would turn bad. What's wrong with believing in God AND the inherent goodness of people?

Monday, June 8

A Middle Way for Anger

"What is called for today is NOT the ungoverned gush of raw feelings, but a new civility that accommodates the expression of angry emotions."

For a marriage class I am teaching, I have been reading Anger: The Misunderstood Emotion. Apparently there is indeed a middle ground between suffering in silence and unbridled self-expression, and it is a myth that we have "bottled up" emotions that have to be let out. Not surprisingly, finding a balance in the middle is best.
  • We have a choice regarding what to do with our anger. “We do not need to deny our mammalian, primate heritage, but we do not need to reduce ourselves to it, either.”
  • Ventilating our anger just makes us more angry, especially if we can't really make a change. Want to hate ____ (liberals, George W. Bush, militant atheists, CEOs, Hollywood, Evangelicals, Utah, Mormons, war, gays, anti-gays, broccoli, WalMart) even more? Continue to talk about your dislike, as passionately as you can. It really works!
  • Controlled use of angry expression or catharsis can indeed be beneficial and promote change, only when certain circumstances are in place: 1-It must be directed at your target, 2-It must give you a sense of control, 3-It must change your target's behavior OR give you new insights, 4-You must speak the same anger language as your target (i.e. both parties at least understand the way the other side is using anger), and 5-There must be no retaliation from your target. If there is, contention will usually ensue and the problem will only get worse.
  • Emotions almost never occur alone. When we are angry about something, there are often other emotions involved, such as hurt, fear, sadness, loneliness, etc. Expressing only anger will exclude and drown out the other emotions. In relationships, a key is to express your other feelings, which may be more likely to lead to fixing the problem, rather than defensiveness from your partner.
  • Rage or venting is not a biological imperative, but rather a learned and habitual way of dealing with anger.
I think it is important to realize that not all anger is the same, and that it can be beneficial. Again, moderation.

How do you deal with your anger? How do you respond to your kids when they are angry? How is anger in public (online, in politics, protests, arguments) used, and when is it effective--or not?

Friday, June 5

Why Criticizing Obama for Choosing a Hispanic Woman is Racist

I am a product of white privilege. While I don't feel guilty about it, I do believe it is my responsibility to help those who have not been as fortunate to be successful, and that includes people of other cultures and backgrounds.

Where do you stand on this issue? I think what irks me the most is people like Pat Robertson who claim "reverse discrimination." Seriously, he thinks white people are not fairly treated. Where is "REALLY? with Seth and Amy" on this issue when I need it? White people have been getting theirs since the beginning of time. Please, don't worry about me. I'll be OKAY without the minority scholarship.

Should race or gender have any influence in the nomination something like of a supreme court justice or employee of the month? Obviously anyone would be accused of playing the race card if they chose the one Hispanic out of a group of white people. But that accusation itself smacks of racism.

Wednesday, June 3

Sometimes the "future" really does look like BTTF Part 2

I totally want this game.

When I saw this it totally looked like something from a movie 10-20 years ago, where someone (perhaps Marty McFly) goes to the future and they see all kinds of strange, yet very cool, things. Still waiting for the hoverboard.

Monday, June 1

For some kids, life is REALLY bad

Being a CASA volunteer a few years ago, and for the last two years working with foster children has opened my eyes to the reality that some children in our society face. I had no idea how bad it really gets for some. We should not be burying our heads in the sand.

Has anyone read A Child Called "It"? It was required in the CASA training as a sort of "welcome to the field, read this to prove you have some empathy" test. An acquaintance of mine wrote a critical review of the book a while back. While there is certainly nothing wrong with that, it really shows how many of us are completely unaware of what the lives of many children are like. Here is part of what she said:
"I classify this under non-fiction with tongue in cheek. The author claims it is the truth, but that's been called into question by the media and literary groups, and pretty much anyone reading it would have a hard time believing all the things happened which the author claims."
Whether or not the book is factual is really not the point. The author may very well have fabricated or sensationalized his early life in order to make a profit. Who knows? The point is that while the stuff that the boy's mother inflicts on him in the book is not a pretty sight (mostly emotional and some physical abuse), his story is not abnormal for the foster care field, and probably anyone I have worked with for the last two years could offer you a dozen case examples that were more horrific than that of the boy in the book.

Yes, perhaps "pretty much anyone reading" the book "would have a hard time believing all the things happened." I agree. It is hard to believe, until you realize they are really happening.

Not everyone is cut out to work in the foster care field--I've only been doing it part-time for two years, and have probably had enough. If you know any foster parents (who are not just doing it for the money) or counselors who work with children and trauma, they deserve your upmost admiration and respect. In terms of deserving praise on a national scale, they should be on par with the military.

Friday, May 29


Who doesn't love hugs?

Who doesn't need them? Touch and closeness with others is in fact necessary for survival. It also lessens the intensity of pain and strengthens the immune system. According to a 2003 study, more hugs are related to better cardiovascular health and less reactivity to stress.

Apparently some high schools have banned hugging, while others embrace it. If appropriateness is a problem there is always the safe "side-hug" to fall back on.

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

Here's probably my favorite music video. Music by DMB and a lot of hugs by a guy with some sweet sideburns.

What is your stance on hugging? Close friends and family only? New friends? Weird guys running around on the street? Trees? Personally, I like any opportunity for a good hug, as long as it feels safe. Granted, hugs with my wife are more frequent and last a little longer, but being able to hug someone is a sign that there is comfort there--some kind of positive connection.

Sunday, May 24

Your Favorite Children's Books

Among the many children's books we checked out yesterday at the library for our toddler was Bud and Gabby. I was thinking, "great, two cats, nice artwork, what could go wrong? It was all downhill from there. The idea for the story was decent--the cats are friends, one gets sick and has to go to the vet. Eventually it returns and they are reunited. Almost Zen-like in simplicity.

However, the writing is awful, which is quite unfortunate because my son really likes the book. Again it seemed the author was going for simplicity, but it's quite disjointed and almost painful to get through. I almost wanted to send a note to the illustrator that she should find a new writer, but it's the same person... Even more inexplicable is it received some kind of "Teacher's Pick" award. Has anyone else read this book? Perhaps we are missing something.

There are many great children's books, however. Goodnight Moon won me over with the existential "Goodnight nobody" page. I also like Moo Baa La La La. What are some that you grew up with, or like(d) reading to your kids?

Friday, May 22

LDS-related posts are still moving

I recently deleted my "best and worst Mormon quotes" post, because it has moved (and been improved quite a bit) to Mormon Matters. I realized that one of the reasons I started posting there was that I have many friends and readers of this blog who are not as interested in the Mormon stuff (just as I had earlier moved my personal stuff to a different blog, as well as all the baby photos (if you want links those, send me an email).

So, for the future, I will try to keep the solely-LDS posts at Mormon Matters, although I may at least announce here when I have a new post there. My new MM most: Best and Worst of Mormonism: Quotes!

So, if it's a purely LDS topic, it will be there. If it's a mixture Buddhism, Mormonism, Science, etc. then it may still go up here.


Tuesday, May 12

Home Theater Addiction

I've been slowly building the best inexpensive home theater possible. By best I mean not a set from a box at Wally World, and by inexpensive I mean on a grad student budget. I have also used a lot of credit card points. I also put everything on my Amazon wish list, then monitor the price for a while.

What I currently have:

37" Vizio LCD

Panasonic DMP-BD35 Blu-ray player

Yamaha NS-C225 center speaker

Yamaha NS-333 speakers - these are currently in front, but will move to the back surrounds in the future. There is also a pair being used for regular surrounds.

Yamaha RX V663 7.1 Receiver

Still to come:
Yamaha NS-777 speakers (for the front).
Yamaha 10 inch sub. This will have to wait until we're done with apartment life. Someday the Vizio will also be upgraded to a 1080p projector. Someday when I have something called a salary.

Anyone else have any materialistic proclivities?

Tuesday, May 5

What is a person?

Next week I will be "defending" my Personal Theory of Counseling paper. Defending is in quotes because it's not a thesis. I have been working on the six-page monstrosity for a year and a half though. You can see some of the evolution of this section (progress?) by checking out a similar post I wrote at Mormon Matters last year. If anything this will give you all some insight into my view of earthlings (self included, of course!).

Here is my first section, on what a person is.
I. Nature of the Person
All human beings have individual minds, which vary in temperament and are capable of independent thought and action. These minds are called intelligences, and are eternal and without a beginning. In a natural yet mysterious process our Heavenly Father and Mother gathered these intelligences and combined them with their nature in embryonic form, creating our spirits. This nature includes a basic goodness and the ability to grow and become perfect like them. Our spirit enters our physical body when we are born.

Human Beings:
1. Seek out safety and exploration.
2. Are growth-oriented.
3. Have free will.
4. Are born with heredity from their biological family.

5. Experience happenstance.
6. Have meta-cognitive and meta-emotional capabilities.
7. Seek out structure and values.
8. Get stuck in habitual ways of regulating emotions and managing stress.
9. Are able to create meaning.
10. Have the ability to forgive others and repair relationships.

What do you think? Anything not make sense? What would you add (especially to the numbered section, as there are obviously going to be different views on the opening paragraph)?

Graduation is Saturday!!!

Saturday, May 2

Laser Tag and Shopping Carts

Last night I played (read: attempted to play) laser tag. Other than the exasperating experience of running into packs of 4'0" gun-toters, it's quite fun. I would recommend one game anyway. The second starts to get a little redundant. Kind of like bowling, or kick ball.

I thought I was pretty clever with my code name (yes, you get code names). I was "The Others." I thought for sure that I would win with that name, but no such luck. 11th place out of 24. Most of the rest of the party were law students with names (that only law students would really laugh at) like "J. Scalia."

This experience got me thinking... what else from our younger days have we abandoned? We may not get a thrill from kick-the-can anymore, but in this blessed country of ours, do we still find time to experience some child-like thrills?

I LOVE riding on the back of shopping carts at the grocery store. I don't plan on stopping until I'm no longer physically able. One of my heroes, the chemist Henry Eyring Sr., used to do standing jumps onto his desk in the middle of meetings with students. Even up to late in his life he would challenge other students to a 40-yard dash.

Anyone up for a game of kickball? What do you like to do that produces the same unbridled joy of youth? What do you like to do for fun when you don't think anyone is watching?

Thursday, April 30

100 Days of Obama Spin. What else is new?

For the first 100 days, President Obama has stuck to the facts--mostly. Except for a few very small and meaningless deceptions... nothing wrong with dishonesty as long as it's not huge right? Republicans have struck back with some of their own spin. Chain e-mails are apparently the worst culprit. Is anyone still giving heed to these emails for anything other than amusement? The medium has been completely invalidated.

Fact Check: 100 Days of Spin.

Once again the truth can be found somewhere in the middle (as long as that middle is free from bias). I do not think it is possible to get reliable facts or accuracy from either side.

This is a problem I have seen with interpreting history as well. Are the writers of the so-called history books we are reading free from any kind of agenda or bias? If they are not, are we aware of the lenses through which they are writing or even gathering their information?

Monday, April 27

Bible: Some Have Enough, Others Can't Get Enough

***This post is a continuation from the thread on Prop. 8, which became a discussion on the Biblical interpretation and Christianity, among other things.***

A few biblical questions:
  • What kind of role does the Bible play in your life?

  • Do you view the Bible to be infallible? If so, do you believe the words or the message to be infallible?
  • With so many people (even in the same religion or faith group) disagreeing on interpretation of verses in the Bible, is an objective and "true" interpretation possible? How would you propose it?
  • Where do you get your interpretation from? Do you rely on scholars, commentaries, feelings, or a combination of the three?

Saturday, April 25

Would you let this man read to your kids?

Even for non-Lost fans, this clip is a must see. I'm hoping for a whole series of creepy nursery rhymes...

Tuesday, April 7

BYU and the difference between Apost(l)e and Apost(at)e

This may be old news now, but it's too good to pass up. Somewhere, I think God had a good laugh.

The caption below the main photo above reads "Members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostates..."

Bad spell-checker? Nefarious prank by smarmy BYU IT guy? Freudian slip? Divine intervention? Or perhaps just fodder for a good laugh.

Tuesday, March 31

Guns & Fast Food

Angry customer blasts McDonald's drive-through
Man fired sawed-off into window after being told menu was breakfast-only.
The Salt Lake Tribune
"A McDonald's drive-through was shot up early Sunday after a customer was angered that the restaurant had shifted from the lunch menu to the breakfast menu, police said. The driver of a white Dodge Intrepid pulled into the drive-through at about 2 a.m. at McDonald's at 210 W. 500 South in Salt Lake City and ordered food from the lunch and dinner menu, police said.
When a clerk told her the restaurant was serving only items from the breakfast menu, the woman drove to the second window, police said. Two men got out of the car, and one pulled a sawed-off shotgun out of the trunk, police said. He fired once or twice into the drive-though window before the two men and the woman left on 500 South and turned north on 300 West, police said..."
What is it with fast food and guns? Just a few weeks ago a guy with a concealed permit stopped a robbery at a Burger King, killing the robber in a shootout... and then there's the young reactionary who "accidently" destroyed a toilet (and was injured by dangerous toilet shrapnel) while zipping up his pants at Carl's Jr.

The most important question: WHO on this planet prefers the so-called lunch/dinner menu at McDonald's over their breakfast? Big Macs over the delicious bacon egg and cheese biscuit? Really?
Perhaps Obama has inadvertently caused an increase in fast-food gunplay, in addition to free NRA memberships.

Thursday, March 26

New Group Blog: LDS Psychology

I have joined a group blog, ldspsychology.com, and will be posting there in the near future! It's just getting started, but if it fits your demographic and/or you are interested, check it out.

Saturday, March 21

Your Brain and Sex

...was the topic of a great presentation I went to today. Granted, when you have a choice between "Your Brain and Sex" or "Ethics in Counseling Management" the choice is clear.

Some highlights:
  • Marriage counseling is basically trauma work. "People say marriage counseling doesn't work, but statistics aren't very good in trauma surgery either." This is yet another case for PREVENTION! Work on your marriage before you need counseling.
  • Addicts, at a basic level, are addicted to dopamine. The presenter opined that "orgasm is the largest naturally occurring rush of dopamine. The initial heroin high is similar to a two-minute sustained orgasm... now I don't want anybody running out looking for heroin!"
  • Often women are blamed (or blame themselves) for a lower sex drive, and may be diagnosed with low sexual desire, but "How can you diagnose someone with decreased desire, when there’s not much there that is worth desiring?”
  • People get caught in the "Dopamine/Prolactin Rollercoaster" which occurs when a desire for a new partner increases dopamine, which can begin an addictive cycle of increasing amounts of dopamine followed by bursts of prolactin.
  • The "Coolidge Effect" - New sexual stimuli creates a quick fix that may start the cycle over again. More types or more frequency of sex for couples may actually make things worse in the long term. Variety to deal with sexual lulls are not enough. Couples need to know how to deepen their intimacy and bonding (which is associated with Oxytocin). Oxytocin facilitates stability in the desire/orgasm/resolution cycle shown below. This effect also suggests that moving quickly into a sexual relationship may result in a faster dissolution of the relationship.
  • People often interpret the dopamine rush with a new person as "there's something here" when there is really not. The presenter suggested that people should interpret is as "I need to do something more in my own relationship."
  • Regarding sex ed, if we are just teaching abstinence, or just that sex is bad, we may actually make the problem worse! When something is taboo it becomes more biologically enticing. He suggests that we teach our children what is happening with their bodies, and encourage them to find other ways of getting dopamine that involve bonding and commitment, such as through sports.

Wednesday, March 18

No God in School

...apparently leads to all kinds of things, including abortion, violent music, and the cessation of spanking your kids. Watch out! Anyone else get this email?

  1. God says he didn't save all the kids who have been killed in school shootings because he isn't allowed in school? Wha? What kind of God is that?
  2. We shouldn't have organized prayer in public school. Keep it personal, or keep it in seminary. No one should be subject to be around open religious practice in a public school if they don't want to be, especially when they're a minority. I don't want my son to feel like he has to pray to someone else's Jesus just because everyone else is doing it.
  3. The video tries to suggest that the Bible is only full of common sense and wisdom, and therefore should be allowed in schools. Really? The intention here is not to Christianize public schools? Actually, I think the Bible should be allowed in school, right along with every other religious text, but in that case it should be used for academic purposes.
  4. Did Dr. Spock really say spanking would warp our kids' personalities? It may not do that but it may make them more aggressive. This point really lost me. Is the cessation of spanking really a sign of the downfall of society? How about just better parenting?
  5. Teacher's shouldn't touch students? Isn't that a good idea? If you need to touch a student it better be an emergency and require a restraint. Otherwise, does the video suggest that smacking them around a bit is a good idea?
  6. ... and no spanking of the kids leads right to... ABORTION? wow where's the missing link there?
  7. Giving out condoms is a bad idea? Granted, I definitely believe in abstinence for high-schoolers, but I believe even more in not making babies in high school! As a poster in my supervisor's office says, "Become a High School Grad before you become a Quality Dad!" What the school nurse needs to do is tell the kids that the condoms may not work, and you may get pregnant anyway, so here's where you can get other forms of protection.
  8. It doesn't matter what people do in private, unless it affects other people. In that case I agree. Like if our POTUS was doing meth in the closet.
  9. BUT, this leads right to child porn right? Hmm.
  10. And child porn leads to bad music? Wow we're taking a step back here.
  11. And this leads to our kids killing strangers. Now that's a slippery slope!
Do you think organized prayer should be allowed in public schools?
Do you think not spanking is a bad idea?
What think ye?

Sunday, March 15

Marriage Sunday School Class

I am teaching a class on marriage and relationships at church starting next month... Please go to Mormon Matters and offer some sage advice!

Thursday, March 12

Poll on Marriage Counseling

Since my wife and I have started seeing a counselor (trying to make that 8/10 marriage into a 9.8 out of 10), we have had various reactions from friends and family. Some think it's a good idea for anyone, some are a little jealous, and some recoil with horror and try to make excuses for why we would need to do such a thing. "Surely it must be for your training, Adam." Little does that third group know, we like going. We are actually regular people with regular problems, and don't want to settle for anything less that pretty much amazing. Which is important because contrary to popular belief, people who have higher standards and expectations for their marriage have the best marriages, not the worst.

While I certainly don't think everyone needs to go, even if they have the opportunity, it is a great resource, and I am curious why many of us don't. Time for a poll!

For those voting "other," feel free to leave a thought in the comments. :)
NOT "Just Friends": Rebuilding Trust and Recovering Your Sanity After Infidelity NOT "Just Friends": Rebuilding Trust and Recovering Your Sanity After Infidelity by Shirley Glass

My review

5 of 5 stars

Excellent research/clinically based overview of infidelity, how to prevent it, and how to get over it. The first few chapters are helpful for any committed relationship, regardless of whether an affair has occurred or not. I recommend the rest as well to anyone who needs help, or is interested in understanding how affairs happen in good (and bad) marriages, and what the unfaithful spouse, betrayed spouse, and even the affair partner go through.

While I have often heard the idea that married couples should "never be alone with a member of the opposite sex" and in some cases going so far as to say you should not even be friends, Glass outlines a much more practical yet still safe way to work with and have relationships with those of the opposite sex (or same sex, depending on one's orientation):
  1. Be completely open with your partner about what is going on between you and the other person.
  2. Don't have lunch at work with the same person alone every time. If you have to travel with them, meet in public rooms, and never in a room with a bed.
  3. "Avoid emotional intimacy with attractive alternatives."
  4. If you need to talk to someone else about your marriage, be sure that person is a "friend of the marriage," i.e. they support your relationship. Make sure your friends are supportive of your relationship.
  5. Discuss your online friendships with your partner. (Currently my wife does not have facebook, for example, so we talk about my online friends occasionally.)
Facts about infidelity:
  • It is normal to be attracted to another person, but fantasizing about what it would be like to be with them is a danger sign.
  • A happy marriage does not prevent infidelity.
  • Emotional affairs are characterized by secrecy, emotional intimacy, and sexual chemistry. They can be more threatening than brief sexual flings.
  • Only 3% of unfaithful spouses end up marrying their affair partners.

View all my reviews.

Wednesday, March 4

Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love by Sue Johnson

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hold Me Tight presents an attachment-based view of adult romantic love and relationships, based on the author's own Emotionally Focused Therapy... a lot of great info on working with emotions in your relationship, and not getting caught up in the same patterns up conflict that plague pretty much all of us. However, I think that the attempt at putting the highly interactive and experiential (not to mention effective!) therapy into book form was not a complete success--if it is even possible.

Read the book, especially the parts you can relate to (there will be plenty). Then if you have the inclination, find an EFT therapist. My wife and I have been to 8 sessions now, and are loving it. It is quite liberating to have new emotional experiences in therapy that allow for new ways of dealing with old problems and cycles of conflict.

View all my reviews.

Movie: Taken

"I don’t know you who you are. I don't know what you want. If you're looking for a ransom, I can tell you, I don't have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills acquired over a very long career in the shadows, skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now, that will be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don't, I will look for you, I will find you. And I will kill you."
It may not be Oscar worthy, and the above line from Liam Neeson in the film (as a retired spy, but who cares) sums up the entire plot, but no matter, the movie was full of the bad guys getting their express version of karmic payback. No ransom negotiations, well, no negotiations at all after the warning above. Sometimes I love movies like this. You don't have to think much. You can just sit and feel the cathartic bliss that is Liam Neeson opening up a can on the bad guys--who aren't always black and white, but Liam doesn't care!

You know in movies when the protagonist goes into a building full of bad guys, and you start to worry about your hero--what might happen to him, will they catch him--well, in this movie the good guy goes into that building, and you start to laugh in a disturbing kind of way, because you know the bad guys are soon going to be kicking the bucket. Highly recommended if you like action, Liam Neeson, and shock and awe-ish revenge on kidnappers. Or any of the above.

Saturday, February 21

on "bigot" and "hate" and practicing peace

The words "hate" and "bigot" seem to get tossed around freely. Personally, I don't think using them is good for anything (other than for expressing anger, which has been shown to generally make people even more angry, and thus more divided), and hurts the user more than anyone.

For those of you who don't care, and are going to continue to call people hateful or bigoted, are you at least using the terms accurately?

  • "obstinately convinced of the superiority or correctness of one's own opinions and prejudiced against those who hold different opinions"
  • "feel intense or passionate dislike for someone"
  • "have a strong aversion to something"
Perhaps the words are being used accurately. I suppose under the definitions above, many of those who are against gay marriage (for example) could correctly be called bigoted or hateful. At the same time, however, it seems that many of those on the other side are often bigoted and hateful in response. What to do? Where is this cycle taking us?

Whatever side you may be on, whatever your opinions may be on any number of issues, how do you stand up for them, and work for what you believe is right, without resorting to the same aggressive and self-poisoning modi operandi that your so-called enemies use? 

On a related note, how can we condemn war and international aggression when we can't even curb it in ourselves? I believe we must first practice peace within and around ourselves. We must find a way to express ourselves in productive ways. Or not.

Tuesday, February 17

Not so creative headlines

So are ESPN and SI both owned by Disney now? Or is one of them just having a hard time coming up with an original headline?

Sports Illustrated:


Sunday, February 15

"Trillions" of inhabitable worlds

God, to Moses:
"And worlds without number have I created; and I also created them for mine own purpose; and by the Son I created them, which is mine Only Begotten... For behold, there are many worlds that have passed away by the word of my power. And there are many that now stand, and innumerable are they unto man; but all things are numbered unto me, for they are mine and I know them."
According to this article, there are "trillions" of planets similar to earth on which life could exist. Whether life on these other planets is intelligent or not is another matter entirely, but many of them may contain bacteria.

According to this article, the fact that I believe in science and religion is "doomed to fail":
"A true harmony between science and religion requires either doing away with most people's religion and replacing it with a watered-down deism, or polluting science with unnecessary, untestable, and unreasonable spiritual claims."
I'm not sure why, but apparently this smarty-pants (I'm only saying that because the article is in the New Republic) professor thinks that I will have to do away with most of my beliefs, or pollute my science with unnecessary spiritual claims. I don't see why that is necessary. Any thoughts?

Granted, I don't make spiritual claims in science class. But I know enough for myself.

Friday, February 13

Salt Lake Trib comments that make me smile

From "sandyboy" on fixing the immigration problem in Utah:
The only immigrants Utah should send packing are the ones that arrived es masse in 1847 bringing their ridiculous religious superstitions, litters instead of families, and cluttering the landscape with their architectural abortions....I think they called them "temples". THEN Utah might be more inhabitable.

Tuesday, February 10

How 'bout it Utah?

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not oppose civil unions (officially, the church "does not oppose civil unions or domestic partnerships.") Repubican Governor Jon Huntsman Jr. said yesterday that he supports them. Oh yeah, sorry, I forgot to mention that Esteemed Sen. Chris Buttars is against them.

For those of you still against them, what say ye?

For all of us, is this a possibility, or are we wasting our breath?

Tuesday, January 27

Sunstone Essay

As you might have guessed, things have been pretty busy lately with school and flying all over the place for doctoral interviews. 

To tide you over I wanted to post the final version of what I wrote on Prop. 8 for Sunstone Magazine in December.

It is an adaptation of my post here a few months ago, so it's not required reading. ;)
I Love You, Period.

I tried to remain as neutral as possible on the gay marriage debate, passing it off with, "Well, I don't live in California, so I don't have to make a decision." However, as the saying goes, "the personal is political."

My sister is gay. That has made this debate personal.

Just a few months ago I was talking with my sister’s friend (who is also gay) defending my LDS friends who believe the “I love you even though you’re gay” sentiment. I was arguing that one could love a gay family member and not accept (or even like) his or her sexuality.

My thinking shifted when she explained that for many people (possibly even me), their sexuality is a fundamental part of their personhood. So to truly love any kind of person, gay or otherwise, you cannot say, “I love you even though…” you have to say, “I love you, period.”

If my sister is gay, and God made her that way just as He made me straight, then I love that she is gay. For me, to be against gay marriage is to be against my own sister. How can I tell her, "You know, I love you but I really hate this particular fundamental part of who you are." I refuse to do that.

If that attitude is in conflict with the teachings of my faith, then it is something that I will have to just sit with, perhaps for the rest of my life. I love my sister too much, and I love my faith too much (which, paradoxically, has become more personal and more inspiring than ever in my life).

I hope my friends and family who disagree with me will be understanding and not decide that I have lost my testimony or am not following the prophet, both of which miss the point. There are simply some things you cannot reconcile or explain into neat categories. You just have to sit with them.

The best I can do is to allow this tension to make me a little softer, a little more humble, a little more patient. A little more like the One I claim to follow.

Friday, January 16

Different culture, or just barbaric?

A mother in so-called "progressive" Northern Iraq, on the practice of castrating young females:
"This is the practice of the Kurdish people for as long as anyone can remember. We don't know why we do it, but we will never stop because Islam and our elders require it."
Note how the article refers to the practice as "female circumcision." Now there's a euphemism! Let's call it like it is. [Insert slam on liberal newspaper here].

Apparently up to 60% of Kurdish people in the area have had this horrific practice visited upon them by their mothers. I don't blame them, they are caught up in a vicious cycle, and the mother's quote above spells that out.

Where do we draw the line with our own beliefs? At what point do we say, enough is enough? That is up for everyone to decide for themselves, but like my father said recently, if the prophet commands us to slaughter another wagon train from Arkansas, I'm out!

What kinds of faith-related things have been difficult in your life? Obviously "faith" is not really knowing, but where would you draw the line? If there has already been something too much in your life or religion, what made you say "okay, this is too much"?

Sunday, January 4

Mistakes Were Made (but not by me)

Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts Mistakes Were Made (but not by me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson

rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was the best book I have read in the last few years. Highly recommended. It was so informative and engaging that I think I wore out my welcome reading it out loud to anyone who was nearby.

Written by two social psychologists and based on years of research, it provides a fascinating overview of cognitive dissonance, and how it applies to prejudice, memory, law, marriage, and war. The most chilling point is how we are all subject to dealing with dissonance (usually in self-justifying ways), what we think we know or remember is probably not the case (regardless of which side we're on), and most of our leaders and public figures shirk responsibility for their mistakes.

A few highlights:
  • Reasoning areas of the brain "virtually shut down" when we are confronted with dissonant information, and emotion circuits light up when consonance is restored. Basically, this shows that there is a neurological basis for the fact that once we make up our minds, it is pretty hard to change them.
  • Naïve realism - the "inescapable conviction" that we all have, that we see things as they really are. If someone has a different opinion they obviously aren't seeing things clearly.
  • Being "absolutely, positively sure" a memory is correct does not mean it is. We can have vivid false memories full of emotion and detail. People can recover memories of abuse, which is shown to be dubious, and even experience alien abduction without it actually happening. Basically, we can have experiences that we think are real, especially in the past... yet they never happened. Without some outside confirming source, we cannot trust our memories too much.
  • Parent blaming - a convenient form of self-justification; it allows people to live with regrets or mistakes because all the mistakes were made "by them."
  • Both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush have been guilty of self-justification and failure to admit their mistakes. The last president to clearly admit to a major mistake was John F. Kennedy. The two presidents to use the phrase "mistakes were made" the most were Richard Nixon (of course) and Ronald Reagan. What is so insidious about the phrase (which Clinton even joked about using so much) is that it is a complete avoidance of responsibility.
  • Finally, resolving dissonance is not completely bad, and does serve to preserve our beliefs, confidence, and self-esteem. However, it also gets us into trouble. Hence, the authors suggest that it is possible to remain committed to a religion, political party, or partner, yet understand that "it is not disloyal to disagree with actions or policies" that one believes is inappropriate, misguided, or immoral.
May we all recognize when we are feeling dissonance, and rather than justify our actions or those of religious or political leaders, and stand up for what we believe. We do not disown a best friend when they do something we disagree with. But that does not mean we have to agree with them. "A friend is still a friend, and a mistake is still a mistake." May we all learn to resolve dissonance in healthy ways when possible, and when it is not possible, learn to sit with it.

Read this book! It is not very long, is very engaging, and you will learn a LOT about yourself and society.

There is also an NPR podcast on this book and cognitive dissonance: Why It's Hard to Admit Being Wrong.