Thursday, January 28, 2016

Constructive and Destructive People

I've seen two extreme poles of people lately. Those that are constructive, and those that are destructive. I would say that the average person is making decisions that are both constructive and destructive, and as shown in the graph in a previous post, are following trends more towards one than the other. I think it distracts from personal reflection to name individuals at either pole, but there are those whose actions build those around them, and encourage those around them to reach higher levels of character. On the other hand, there are those that hurt the people around them, and influence the degradation of their character.

In my opinion, this has got to be a matter of ideology, and strength of character. Where there is no form of proper emulation, or expected recompense, however distant, and in whatever time frame or form, there cannot be accountability, or measurement of actions. People are essentially brought to an animalistic level, regressing socially. On the other hand, there is a wide spectrum of will, character, disposition, and discipline, or the lack thereof, that can contribute to the constructive or destructive tendencies of individuals, intentional or not.

Ideally, and in my opinion, individuals should be reducing their animalistic, destructive tendencies to constructively influence families and communities. Pop culture definitely wouldn't agree with me here, but that is an animal to be tamed, not respected.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Discovering Good Goals

I've always had really high goals and standards for myself. I have only accomplished a few of those goals though. I think they're actually meaningless goals. They are goals like getting a PhD, working at such and such place, being published by this journal, etc. These are things irrespective of my growth as a person, whether I'm becoming a man of greater integrity, kindness, love, conviction, or happiness. I don't think they're good goals, and I think this was an important lesson to learn.

Instead, the goals that I've been successful keeping, and that have been impactful, are goals for how I should act, and who I should become. While I can only do what's within my power as far as education and work goes, I have much more control over my response to circumstances, my interaction with others, and activities I choose to engage in. I can choose to be a man of little substance and try for lots of accomplishment, or I can make another choice to ensure that I'm a man of character, and am able to find fulfillment and happiness regardless of accomplishment or not. Ultimately, everything seems to be hollow and meaningless unless a framework is in place to articulate the significances of life's unfolding mysteries.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Resin in the Air - San Clemente

The world lived eons before your birth.
The Word established, persecution, and sovereignty reached.
Iberian influence communicated in utopian schemes,
To bring about a city hidden deep in California’s threading.
Though close to the womb quickly your heart does age,
A life that’s been lived, unique despite time, despite entropy.
You’re a sanctuary to the mighty, and also the weak,
A presidential retreat, an oasis for wandering feet.
Within your loins dwells a myriad of personages, and routines,
Threatened with expulsion by grafted limbs, and appendages.
Through growing times your belt tightens wider, thickening,
In pivotal years decisions signed, virgin sangre.
The salt will forever flow in the air directly from the sea,
But the resin may dry, then crack, unable to withstand pressures unseen.
The appeal turned crucifier, fatally pleasant, obscene.
Unidentified identities or mid-life crises?

Saturday, December 12, 2015


Sunday, November 1, 2015

If Mankind is Perfectible...

It dawned on me that if you believe humankind is perfectible, you can then make the argument that others are at a lesser state of natural development based upon whatever criteria is reached. If you believe however that the basic nature of humankind is consistent, then you identify things that enhance or detract from an individual's, or collective experience.

With this reasoning, progressives could make the argument that suburbanites are at a lesser stage of development spatially than urbanites because they lack the communal awareness of urbanites. Conservative suburbanites could just as easily come back and explain the enhancement of individualistic tendencies humankind experiences in less dense living areas.

Just a thought that caught me today.

Thursday, October 22, 2015


It strikes me that each individual is constantly making yellow and blue decisions. While a person will be making correct choices that result in a win, they also engage in blue decisions, are given another chance, and then choose wrong decisions again. Ideally the magnitude of blue decreases as the magnitude of the yellow increases. It's only when the magnitude of yellow decreases, and blue increases, does spiritual death begin to occur.

Hence, "by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise (Alma 37:6)."

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

My New Love - San Clemente Cycling

I have found a new love. I went over to Cycle Werks on El Camino Real, in San Clemente, and got myself a bike pump to get the sweet bike in my garage into working order. The guy that helped me was from Manchester, UK, and not only being a cool guy, he was a real Brit. I pumped up the tires, and once out, didn't want to stop. From the Reserve I crossed Vista Hermosa on down to Seaside Summit. I crossed the new trail and down to North Beach. I followed the beach trail past T-Street, in somewhat of a race with another cyclist, and ended up at Calafia. I followed the same course back and am ready for me. It is legit!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Thick Skinned but Contrite in Spirit? A Paradox in Demands

Current events in my life have made me ask a question I'm sure many Mormon members ask: "It's clear that the Lord expects me to be tough, but how can I be appropriately thick skinned while having a broken heart and a contrite spirit?" Aren't these two antithetical? I don't have a complete answer here, it's an extraordinarily complex question, but the following passages from prof. Richard Bushman's book, Rough Stone Rolling, provide insights from Joseph Smith's life that have been important for my study in this.



Bushman writes that "[Joseph] lashed back at critics and could be a bulldog when contradicted (177)." In response to one adversary, "he brushed off the jibes of his enemies. 'Their shame shall be made manifest,' he would say of opponents, sure he was in the right (ibid.)." Bushman notes that this "kind of strength may have been a requirement of Joseph's position. He had to be tough. A weaker, gentler soul could scarcely have survived the incessant hammering he endured as head of the Church (ibid.)."

It's a personal matter whether a position or situation requires this toughness spoken of, one that should involve scripture study, prayer, and being ready for the Holy Ghost. What can be applied with less difficulty is what professor Bushman wrote to close this section: "Only by shrugging off criticism and maintaining rock-hard resolve could he keep going," or broadly, can each of us keep going. This becomes a matter of conviction rather than crisis, bearing criticism while promoting faith, and not allowing sickness to the soul.

The main take away I got here is that it's important to have the toughness to stand by convictions regardless of forces acting against that resolve. Maybe Joseph's bulldog tendencies were a weakness, or maybe he acted appropriately. What seems important is the condition of his heart, and the work he had dedicated himself to. He worked to construct, not destroy; save not condemn. Toughness that destroys is not toughness, it's the numbness of soul associated with sin. I would think hiding sin in toughness, devoid of a broken heart and contrite spirit, is one of the biggest perils in having thick skin. This condition of being past feeling is not what I'm referring to at all.

Even with a broken heart and contrite spirit, "strong as he was," Bushman writes, "the burdens of office were sometimes too much (178)." Whether by office held, sickness and affliction, or deprivation, burdens arise that are nearly too much. The Lord sends tender mercies as our skin is appropriately thickened, hearts broken, and spirits made contrite. This paradox I can bear witness of personally.


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Mission San Juan Capistrano

Three of my favorite things: Latin American history, exploring Catholic chapels, and spending time with my mom.



Thursday, June 11, 2015

More Architectural Drawings