Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween 2008...

Another year, another slew of costumes. I usually have two or more costumes for Halloween. This year, I had three.

The first was for the Branch Trunk-or-Treat.

The second came out of a youth activity called "Where's Waldo," based on the popular children's picture books. The adults dress up in disguises and walk about the mall while the youth see who they can spot. "Nate" was easily the best one there.

Two groups never found "Nate" but they did see him. That's a good sign of a job well done.

The third was actually on Halloween for work and a friends party afterward. It was a recycled convict outfit. I didn't do much to it, mostly out of the box and since I'd used it before, I didn't bother much with getting pictures...sorry.

Anywhere, there you have it. In another week I'll be dressing up as a pirate, but for a Geocaching themed event. After watching the Halloween clip of The Office I thought my "Joker" outfit was less original. But in the wake of the Pirates of the Caribbean videos, I still think it was far better than the over-done pirate costume...and here I am doing it next week. Oh well.

Next year, I should raise the bar even more...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

My Fifteen Minutes...

My friend sent me this video. I think it's pretty darn funny. I don't support Obama and even if I wanted to vote for him, it wouldn't matter since I live in Guam where we don't' get a say in the U.S. presidential elections. Still, funny stuff, especially because I'm in it.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Green Tea and the LDS Church...

Hot Drinks... This is a never ending "hot topic" (pun intended). It seems that people out there really love their green tea. Well, I've had it, and I will take the soap box once again, dodging the fiery darts of some fellow members, and hope to lay to rest this debate.

Question: Is green tea against the Word of Wisdom for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints?

Answer: Yes. Justify, avoid, deflect or use any other means you deem necessary to try to make it acceptable in your head. But the fact remains that is is not permitted. You may choose to drink it; we never sacrifice agency. But you will not be following the guidelines of the church. Period.

I wrote a post earlier that mentioned this debate. The comments I got on it were mainly on the tea subject. Here is what I said and two comments from it:

"Anna was in Relief Society during a lesson on the word of wisdom. At one point they spoke about green tea. Suddenly a member of the RS raised her hand and said, "But I drink green tea every day. It's good for me." Kudos to the one Japanese sister who stood up and declared that green tea by any name was unequivocally against church policy. Many others in the room appeared to be on the fence. The tea drinking sister stood firm on her ground. Then to try to keep the atmosphere politically correct, some raised their hands and said something to the effect of, "Well, it may be good for you. And if it is, then that is OK. But that is something that you need to determine for yourself. But just don't preach that to others."

Anna came out of that meeting scratching her head and slightly puzzled. She said it seemed as if they had just successfully justified drinking green tea. Anna is Asian and from tea country. Had she been any less brilliant than she is, she could have walked away from there thinking it was acceptable to drink it. Had I been there, I would have stood up and let them know that any justification is not good enough. The Church is clear on this one. Anyone drinking it should not be taking the sacrament or be worthy of a temple recommend."

"Having read your blog and paying special attention to your stance on 'green tea', I have to plainly say that it is exactly that: 'your stance'. Having been in a bishopric, I can certainly tell you that it is not as black and white as we would often times like it to be. The church handbook is clear only in the sense of 'coffee and tea.' It is just as easy to justify that members not drink herbal tea because it is a hot drink and is called a 'tea' as it is to say that green tea is prohibited because it says 'tea'. Either side can be justified easily. As for the relief society conversation, had I been there I assure you there would have been an intersting debate. You also have to keep the culture of the people in mind. And again, having been in a bishopric 'twice actually' drinking green tea [is] not sufficient grounds for yanking a temple recommend. You have to justify taking it just as much as not taking it away. Unfortunately, not so cut and dry. Like to hear from you about this if time permits. Cheers!"

"Funny that I happened to stumble across this blog article when searching for the churches stance on white and green tea. Guess what, there isn't one. The word of wisdom only specifies not to take in things which are harmful to your body. Green tea and white tea, which are not fermented, do not fall under the category of harmful since leaving out the fermentation process also leaves out all the harmful chemicals. Just as the poster above me has stated, you need to be more clear on what is your opinion rather than stating it as fact. Otherwise you'll upset a whole lot of people who currently drink herbal and green teas. There's no official stance on the matter, so don't try to sound like Mr. High and Mighty by saying you shouldn't drink them."

Call me "Mr. High and Mighty" if you wish, but here's the straight deal, no more mincing words. Now, anyone can claim anything they want. So I have had to do some leg work as well. For simplicity I'm linking many statements to Wikipedia. I know the site is not an official source of knowledge and without fault. But it's a convent reference point and everything I say can be verified by checking with other sources as well.

This is not a debate on why tea is not allowed. Fermented or not; Caffeine or not, I don't care. I'm not one of those who declare we cannot have a can of cola if it has caffeine in it.

First, let's clarify what "Green Tea" is. Green tea comes from the root of the Camellia sinensis plant. This is the same plant that is used for Black Tea, White Tea, Yellow Tea, and Oolong Tea. Naturally, being of the same plant and basic chemical makeup, all of these teas are also subject to the same restrictions.

Also, we seem to be oddly omitting some basic common sense. When the Doctrine and Covenants says, "hot drinks" what do you think it could be referring to? What hot drinks did they have back then? Coffee and Tea are just about the only two I can think of. They may have had warm apple cider, I suppose. But back then apple cider was generally alcoholic and distinctly different than apple juice. No one can debate whether or not Mormons should be drinking anything alcoholic. Hot coco did exist, but was not as common in that part of the world back then and was limited to relatively wealthy socialites. The drinks Joseph Smith and the early Saints had access to that could fall into the category of hot drinks are Coffee and Tea and was not debated at the time. This is of course, the "common sense" answer.

The old phrase "Common sense ain't so common any more" fits in here. So we need some authoritative word. I know, it would be nice if we didn't have to be "compelled in all things," but alas, it seems many need it on this one.

I did have trouble finding any official published Church material on the subject, as most people have. So I went up my chain of authority. I am a member of the Branch Presidency here in Guam, so I skipped that level. The District presidency agreed, but also couldn't find any written proof. I went to the area's Mission President, who was at the time, President Gary Marshall. He agreed with me, but again, was unable to find something official. He then took the matter to Elder Evans. Elder David F. Evans of the First Quorum of the Seventy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I'd say he's got more experience than being in a bishopric "twice actually."

President Marshall was kind enough to send me a copy of the correspondence. Elder Evans' definitive response is below.

Dear President Marshall,

...Green Tea has long been determined by the First Presidency to be within the definition of hot drinks found in the 89th Section of the Doctrine and Covenants. This misunderstanding was also within the Church in Korea until it was clarified and reaffirmed by the First Presidency a few years ago. Please give this instruction to those within the Micronesia Guam Mission. If there is need for further clarification, please do not hesitate to let me know. Again, thank you for all that you do to keep the Church in order and the doctrine pure.

Elder Evans

Well? I think it'd be hard for naysayers to combat that. This isn't Elder Evans speaking from the stance of a personal opinion. This is as good as official as anyone should need. If this still does not suffice, then no amount of evidence in the world would be sufficient for you. Drink away, but don't mislead others into believe it is a correct action.

I have also spoken with Elder Pita Hopoate an area Seventy who supports this statement.

Yes, I understand that there are other teas that are what we call"herbal". I've know of teas made from rose pedals, etc. And these acceptable teas are the reason why so many feel they can justify teas that come from the camellia sinensis plant. They figure if it comes from a plant and is not fermented, it must be herbal. Marijuana is herbal. So are coffee beans. But we all know we can't indulge in those as well. I'm not an expert of all teas, but this much should be clear. If it is a tea that has come at any point from the camellia sinensis plant, don't drink it. If you are unsure, it's probably best to avoid it.

I'm now descending from my "Mr. High and Mighty" post atop this electronic soap box. I am interested what anyone still defending green tea would have to say on this. I'm ready for personal attacks and the like. But I would be impressed if someone could offer a good counter or rationalization for continuing to drink green tea in light of the evidence at hand.

Lastly, I'll just leave you with one more thought. We all have the light of Christ in us. If we sincerely want to know the truth, the Spirit will be there guide us. It shouldn't be too hard to know for yourself about this issue. In the words of Jacob, "O be wise; what can I say more?" (Jacob 6:12).


Monday, October 13, 2008


I can't believe it. I've been hijacked. No, not my car or air plane. My website,! I'm not very thrilled. If you check it out now you'll see what I mean. I still haven't quite figured out the extent of the damage, but I know they've wiped away all of the photos from my site, and who knows what else. I'll have to rebuild my site now. Ick. I'm getting tired of html development.

Anyway, since I'm sure this post will last longer I'll post a screen shot of what it looks like so when I fix my site, you'll get to see what I'm talking about.

A screen shot of what my hacked website looked like

Believe it or not, this is quite common these days. I've been reading about this. The Arab nation isn't the only place these people are coming from, either. And there's not much I could do about it. My hosting server was hacked, not my user account, so I probably should have some choice words with my hosts.

Anyway, be vigilant if you own a site. And make sure you have the whole site backed up, so you can just copy it back when this kind of stuff happens.

Looks like I'll be back to the drawing board...

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Doctor's Report...

I mentioned a few weeks back that I went to see the doctor (and it didn't go so well).

Last week I got a call from the doctor saying she went over my results from the urine and blood work and wanted to see me again to go over the results. *Gulp*

So, met with her this week. I normally don't get uncomfortable in hospitals or waiting rooms. I keep my cool pretty well. But knowing that they called me in to look at my chart, and keeping in mind my family's history of heart disease and potential for diabetes, I was getting antsy. This is naturally why the waiting took longer than usual.

Eventually they decided to call me in. The nurse took some basic stats. I was nervous and my blood pressure was a bit higher to reflect that. Not a good sign.

After 30 minutes in the waiting room, and another 40 minutes in the patient room, I finally got down to the reason I was there. The doc opened up my file and started with my cholesterol. It was good. In fact, it was very good. She seemed very pleased with my results. She also went over my blood sugar, and again seemed satisfied. I sighed relief. I was still dodging those bullets that I thought were marked for me.

But then why was I there? Did I fork over a co-payment to find out I was fine? Nope, she then looked over my white blood cell count. It was 5 times what it normally is. She was worried I had some illness lurking within that my body was trying to fight. We went over my history and I reminded her of the flu shot she recommended I get and that I didn't want. It gave me the flu. The next morning was when I came back to get my blood taken. That's why my white blood cells were up - I was fighting the virus she gave me!

All that anxiety for nothing. This reminded me of the time that I got a call from the Blood Bank of Hawaii. At least I found out that all things considered, I'm still pretty healthy.

There was one other thing she mentioned. My HDL (the good cholesterol) was a bit low. She speculated it was due to the fact that I'm a computer geek and don't get enough cardiovascular exercise. It was recommended that I get more exercise to bring those levels up.

Of course, this is the same doctor who suggested I get the flu shot that made me sick. Can I trust this voodoo medicine of "exercise"? I think I better stick to my regimen of cheese and Wheat Thins coupled with Kitchen Nightmares reruns. I did, however, successfully leverage this advise into convincing my wife to get me the Wii Fit, so this experience wasn't a total loss.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Making 3D Photo Worlds is a Synth...

I'm not one to blindly (and without profit) plug a site or service. But thought this one was cool and I can also show off my work.

Microsoft recently created a new site called Photosynth. Long story short, it takes a huge heaping of photos from a given locale or scene, blends them together where they overlap and creates a "walk through" of them. Not quite a true 3D expirence, but still pretty cool. In order to really get it, you have to go there.

That being said, I've already made two. Both come from Saipan. When I was there I took a lot of pics of The Last Outpost and The Grotto. Check them out.

Saipan's Last Stand
Saipan's Grotto

Also, it should be noted that this being a Microsoft project, there are catches. First, you must download and install yet another plugin. As if having to get Silverlight, Adobe Flash, Adobe Shockwave and all those others wasn't a pain enough. And second, this only works on Windows XP and Visa. Sorry Mac, your cool scruffy image that needs a haircut can't join in the party. Sucker...

Thursday, October 02, 2008

I have CHD, and I'm Lovin' It!

Comedic photo of cover of the newspaper in Saipan. It explains how you have Chronic Heart Disease (CHD) and is brought to you by McDonald's. I'm guessing the editor got some flack for this one.