Friday, May 18, 2012

New Website

Hey everyone, some friends and I just started a collaborative blog.  I will probably start posting there more and will only use this blog to complain about them if they ever cross me.  Don't worry though I'll still keep updating this blog with very intimate details about my personal life.  Go check out the new site:

Brad Earl

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day

3 Reasons Why I Love My Mom

Her Constant Support 

My mom is my #1 fan. I've known this since I was young and have never questioned it. She has always encouraged me to develop my talents (even if there were none) and always encouraged me to try everything even though it made her life so much more hectic. She raised seven very active children and it would have been easy for her to limit our activities for her convenience but she never did. Even when I wanted to quit certain sports or activities, she would politely remind me that we aren't quitters and encourage me to try harder to get over my frustration. I will always remember playing basketball and hearing my mom yell from the bleachers (at the quietest moment in order to be heard by everyone) "Brad! Brad! He's our man! If he can't do it no one can!" I used to act so embarrassed by it but I secretly loved it. I still find myself saying it sometimes when I need a boost of confidence.

Side note: I was so bad at basketball when I was younger that we generally came to the conclusion that no one could successfully play basketball)

She Has Taught Me

I have never questioned that my mom loves me. I have always known that I was her special guy (sorry Bryan) but even though she has always loved me unconditionally, that didn't mean that I could do no wrong. She has always been quick to point out my weaknesses or correct my often poor behavior. If I was ever talking back or not treating my sisters with respect, she made sure that I knew that that was not ok. Knowing that she loved me, I always knew that her discipline was out of love and intended to make me a better person. I am so thankful for the way mom has shaped me into the person I am. Had she not loved me enough to discipline me at times, I would have never learned a lot of valuable traits that I needed.

She Exemplifies Everything a Mother Should Be 

A lot of people say that their mom is their best friend. I wouldn't say that. Not that I don't consider her my best friend at times, I would just never limit her to one role. My mom is my best friend when I need support, but also my worst enemy when I am not behaving as I should. She knows when to give advice and act as a mentor, but she also knows when to let me make my own decisions. She is my spiritual leader and is constantly reminding me to live up to sacred covenants and my church responsibilities.  My mom fills so many roles in my life and is always there to help no matter what the situation is.  Having such a strong mom in my life has been such a blessing.  Thank you so much for everything.  Happy Mother's Day.  I love you mom.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Learn to Fly

I recently accomplished a life-long goal of going skydiving.  I have always wanted to do it but have never put any effort into making it happen. Thanks to the support and company of my girlfriend Julianna, that dream was finally realized.  Here is a running diary of those events.

(Sometime in April)
11:05 Jules and I are riding in the back of a friend’s truck on our way to Festival of Colors.  For the record, this was not my idea.  I have been before and swore to myself that I would never go again.  Not that I hated it, I just inhaled enough colored chalk to last a life-time and didn’t need to experience that again.  So far Jules has talked me into doingthree  things that I swore I never would; willingly listen to LMFAO’s Party Rock Anthem, hike the Y, and go to festival of colors.  I’m not sure I like how easily she can persuade me. 
1:37 We are back in the truck on our way home from festival of colors.  With inches of chalk in our lungs, we start talking crazy and somehow skydiving comes up.  I say I’ve always wanted to go. Jules says she wants to go too.  I say, “This might be the colored chalk talking but seriously I think we should go skydiving… soon.”  She agrees and says we should look into it.  At this point I can’t tell if she is serious or just trying to act tough and adventurous.  Either way, she just agreed to jump out of an airplane. 

(A Few Days Later)
2:35 I am bored at work after having already read every article on I remember our conversation about skydiving and decide to look into it.  I see a few places, they are all around $200.  I then look on and there just happens to be a deal for skydiving in Moab.  I buy it immediately and it’s official.  We are going skydiving. 

(April 28th 2012)
8:52 We arrive at Canyonlands airport right on time for our 9:00 appointment.  When scheduling the appointment, I was told to call when we are in the terminal and they will come get us.  Everything about this company feels unorganized and unprofessional.  Most people would be worried about this but something about this feels right to me.  If I am gonna be jumping out of a plane I want everything leading up to that point to feel just as crazy. 
8:54 I call and someone says to wait in the terminal and they will be there shortly to give us the release forms. 
9:00 A guy named Paul comes in and hands us two documents to fill out and says he will be back in 15 minutes.   We fill out the information quickly.  Something about signing release forms just feels intense.  I have only had to do this a few times in my life and it has always been a memorable experience. 
9:15 No sign of Paul yet.  Jules is starting to get a little worried and questions the legitimacy of this operation they are running.
9:23 Paul comes back and leads us to their hangar.  We have the following conversation:
Paul- “So how did you hear about us?”
Me- “We bought the deal on groupon.”
Paul-“Oh you saw us online? Did you see our reviews?  They are TERRIBLE! Everyone seems to hate us! I don’t know why.”
            I had seen their reviews, and just to give you an idea this is what people were saying about them:
“This was the most unprofessional business person/company I've ever had to deal with. The man, owner, Paul was so rude. I watched my friends jump. They were told they could jump out of the plane together, when they got there, it was only 1 instructor and a very scary looking airplane. My friends were scared and Paul didn't help calm them down. I noticed the other skydiving center next to this one and it was busy, they had a nice plane, ping pong table, tv's computers, etc. I almost told my friends to get a refund and jump next door but I didnt say anything. This place is very scary. Do not go there.”
“Paul is a piece of work! A skilled craftsman on the one hand, a zany jokester on the other, Paul made my first skydiving experience one of the most scary experiences of my life. He messed with me at first telling me he hadn't had a lot of experience jumping, then later I found out that he's done anywhere from 8-9 thousand jumps.”
9:24 Reading reviews like this would scare most people, but I think if you are gonna go jump out of a plane then a guy like Paul is exactly who you want strapped to your back.  Sane people don’t dedicate their lives to jumping out of planes.  That’s why you need a crazy guy like Paul.  I’ve only known him for a couple minutes but I already trust him with my life. 
9:27 We get over to the hangar and there are about 7 people there to jump and a few staff members packing parachutes.  Paul sits us down in front of a tv and turns on our “training video.”
9:28 I can already tell that this isn’t a training video at all.  It is just someone’s video that they purchased.  It shows them in the plane, jumping, and then interview them after. 
9:31 The training is over and I somehow know less about skydiving than I did before.
9:32 Paul tells us to sit tight and it will be our turn after they get these people up.  We have a seat and wait our turn.
10:00 The first two jumpers have jumped and it’s obvious something has gone wrong.  We look out and see a parachute falling with no one attached to it.  The staff seems a little worried at first but then calm down and say that they had to do a “cutaway.”  This means that the parachute didn’t properly deploy so they had to release it and then use the reserve chute.  No one seems worried by this. 
10:20 One of the staff had to go drive a jeep to pick up the divers who had the cutaway.  They landed a couple miles from where they were supposed to.  They get back and everyone starts asking Alec, the instructor about what happened.  He says after he deployed the first chute something wasn’t right and they started spinning so he released it and then landed with the backup chute.  The staff seems pretty impressed and one even says, “Man I’m jealous I still haven’t got to do a cutaway.”
10:21 One of the staff members sees the concerned look on some of the people preparing to jump next.  He offers the following words of comfort: “Don’t worry about that.  This is skydiving.  S*** happens.”

I decided to help them out and create a flyer that they can start passing out to generate more business.

10:23-1:00 Nothing eventful happens in this time.  We are just sitting around waiting our turn.  Only two people can go up at a time and so it takes a while to get through this group in front of us. 
1:20 Foo Fighters’ Learn to Fly comes on the radio:
I'm looking to the sky to save me
Looking for a sign of life
Looking for something to help me burn out bright
I'm looking for a complication
Looking cause I'm tired of trying
Make my way back home when I learn to fly high
Fly along with me, I can't quite make it alone
Try to live this life my own (and)
Fly along with me, I can't quite make it alone
Try to live this life my own. . .
I'm pumped! Let's do this!!!
1:45 It is finally our turn to start getting ready so we get into our jump suits.  They are actually quite comfy.
1:50 Now we put on our harnesses.  They are not comfy.

1:55 Some pictures before we jump:

Jules wasn't so sure about this plane.  I kept telling her if the plane did have some issues we would just make sure to wear parachutes so we could jump before it crashes.

This would be the last time Jules smiled until we were safely on the ground

2:02 Alec (my instructor and also the guy who had to land with the backup chute earlier) takes us over to the plane and explains what we need to do when jump from the plane.  Put your feet over the edge and hold on to your harness.  That sounds simple enough. 
2:03 We load into the plane and this thing is tiny.  I go in first with Alec and then Jules and Paul.  So that we can shut the door of the plane, Jules has to help lift Paul’s leg to bring it in.  We are cramped and this is not going to be a comfortable ride.  I'm starting to doubt I'm even going to get a drink and peanuts on this flight. 
2:05 We take off and start climbing.  After a few minutes Alec shows me his altitude reader and says we are at 1,000 feet. It looks pretty darn high.  I ask him how high we go and he says 10,000 feet.  We got a ways to go.
2:15 We are getting close to the jump zone so they start attaching our harnesses.  This requires some awkward shifting in our tight space. 
2:18 We are ready to jump and the door is opened.  Crap just got real. 
2:19 Paul and Jules get ready to jump and just disappear.  Watching someone jump out of a moving plane is one of the weirdest things you will ever experience.  The only thing that is weirder is jumping out yourself. 
2:21 Alec and I shimmy over to the door and prepare to jump.  He counts to three and we are out.
2:21 I’m not even going to try to put in words what the next 30 seconds felt like.  All I can say is that it was the most thrilling experience I have ever had.
2:22 Alec pulls the cord and our chute deploys properly.  The view over Moab is pretty incredible.  Definitely chose the right place to go. 
2:23 Alec has me grab the handles for the parachute and I am in control.  He explains how to go right, left, and slow down.  I have the feeling that he is holding the lines just above where the handles are, so I kinda feel like a little kid sitting on his dad’s lap to “drive” but I don’t care, I’M ON TOP OF THE WORLD!
2:25 We are approaching our landing and I realize that I don’t know a thing about landing.  Somehow they didn’t cover that in our 5 hours of “training.”  I ask Alec and he tells me what to do with my legs.  We come in a little hot on the landing but if I can jump out of a plane at 10,000 feet and the only thing that happens to me is a sore bum then I’ll take it!
2:27 We gather our things and check out with Paul.  Jules bought a video and pictures but I didn’t.  She always makes fun of me for not taking pictures of stuff.  I’m just not very nostalgic I guess, either that or I’m just cheap.  I like to think that I live in the now. 
2:30 We get in the car and drive off to see Arches National Park.  I can already feel a loss of excitement from driving my car.  I have a feeling that everything I do from here on out will feel less exciting.  I guess that’s the price you pay for going skydiving. 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Soul Of A Lion

This last weekend I had the pleasure of attending an MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) event at UVU (Utah Valley Day Care).  Here is a running diary of some of the thoughts and impressions I had that night:

6:30 Headed to the UCCU center with some friends.  I think the last time I went here I was going to a Utah Flash game.  I got chosen to do a contest where I launched a wadded up t shirt at a target in the stands while blindfolded.  I nailed it and won $1,500 off LASIK eye surgery.  I wonder if I will win anything tonight.

6:35 I'm mad that I didn't have time to go buy an Affliction or Tapout shirt.  I'm wearing Nike.  I hope this doesn't get me beat up.

6:50 We get in and find some seats.  Not very many people here yet but the set up actually looks pretty legit. Ring in the middle surrounded by floor seats and people in the stands.

6:51 People sitting ringside have some pretty smug looks on their faces.  One guy in particular thinks he's such a baller for sitting so close.  Calm down dude this isn't a Laker game, you probably work for the city.

7:05 The show starts with three rappers in the ring.  The lights are still on because people are coming in.  These guys are like The Beastie Boys if they had grown up in a trailer.

7:06 This is a painfully awkward concert.  Like TJ Fredette at BYU games awkward.

7:08 These guys actually aren't that bad, but if they tell me to put my hands in the air one more time I am gonna lose it.  I came here to see two idiots beat the tar out of each other, not a rap concert.

7:10 Lookin around at the crowd we have here and this line from Happy Gilmore immediately comes to mind:  "Quite a large and economically diverse crowd here at the Michelob Invitational."

7:30 The fighting is about to get underway.  The name of this event is WCFC.  I can only assume this stands for White Chrash Fighting Confederation.

8:00 It is actually pretty quiet during the actual fights and you can hear individual people yelling stuff.  Some guy behind us isn't too concerned about strategy and keeps urging the fighters to "Hit each other in the face!!!"  I'm with you buddy.

8:05 Guy in front of me tells his friend that the ring girl is "the hottest girl I have ever seen."  This would only make sense if his next statement was, "Oh yeah, also my eyes just started working."

8:20 Dog fighting is viewed as one of the most vile things a person can do but we televise and applaud UFC. I will never understand this.  Maybe if we gave the dogs money?

8:25 They just announced that one of the fighters is going to be a grandpa.  He can't be older than 32 but everyone cheers.  There is no hope for this crowd.  

8:40 Before every fight we are making predictions on who is going to win.  My two rules on betting on UFC that I just made up: 1) Don't ever bet against the guy with neck tattoos.  Neck tattoos are crazy and you never bet against crazy.  2) Don't ever bet against the guy wearing booty shorts.  Fighting is all about confidence.

8:50 This tournament is set up with 8 fighters each in welter and heavyweight divisions.  One five minute round for each fight and winner advances to the end.  Kinda like the movie Warrior but all in one night.  I'm just hoping that two of these dudes are brothers and will be fighting for the championship.

8:55 Guy in front of me says, "You know what, actually that ring girl is pretty gross." Yes she is and she is in for a rough life.  There is hope for him.

9:00 After winning, one of the fighters is asked about his training and future plans.  He says he does other things now and this is just a hobby.  I love it.  "I don't even take this very seriously and I'm still gonna kick your guys' trash."

9:10 While listening to one of my friends talk about how he could probably beat a few of these guys, I have a great idea.  Anyone talking like this can hop in the ring and fight another self-proclaimed tough guy between fights.  Winner gets $100.  We get to see some tool get dominated and the world has one less tough guy.  Everyone wins.

9:15 Lady near us just yelled, "Give him a shot to the face!!!"  I have never been so unattracted to anyone in my life.

9:16 UFC fans= Nick Cage fans= Nickelback fans

9:25 This heavyweight fighter who looks about 40 pounds overweight attempts a move that can only be described as a spinning ultimate punch.  Had he connected, it might have been the coolest thing ever.  He didn't and got knocked out quickly after.

9:40 A heaveyweight comes out dancin to Party Rock Anthem.  Awesome.  Just awesome.  I immediately like this guy.

9:50 Just noticed there is a guy that comes in between fights and cleans up the blood in the ring.  What a life.

10:00 Thinking about the best fight I ever saw.  I was in 8th grade and we were walking to science class.  For some reason our teacher's class was over in the 7th grade hall so we had to walk across the whole school with empty hallways.  Two kids passed each other in front of me, started arguing, and began fighting.  They grabbed each other by the front of their shirts and started trading punches to the face.  Neither of these kids weighed over 90 lbs and didn't have the strength to actually do any damage to each other, so they continued to trade punches for a couple minutes.  They finally tuckered themselves out, pushed each other, exchanged profanities and went to their next class like nothing ever happened.

10:10 Just realized that our cage is only a heptagon.  Where are my other 180 degrees??? I feel jipped and this event just lost a lot of legitimacy.  Is the octagon proprietary to UFC?

10:30 Heavyweight title fight and my boy comes out shufflin' to Party Rock again.  While I hate this song, I can't help but root for him.

11:00 Party Rock dude wins easily.  He gets a large trophy equivalent in size to a 6 place finish at a dance competition and gives it to a make-a-wish kid in the crowd.  I knew there was a reason I liked this guy.  This tender moment isn't lost on the crowd.  There may be hope for these people.

11:05 While we are getting ready to leave, some people up front start arguing. I can't help but think how funny it would be to see these idiots, pumped-up from having just watched 3 hours of dudes punching each other, get into their own fight.

11:06 They get seriously close to a fight.  There is no hope for these people.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

I Tried, Therefore Nobody Should Criticize Me

Let me tell you a quick story.  About a year ago, our ward held a talent show.  I was curious to see what kind of talent my ward had to offer.  I also wanted to see the show  Hey Oh! (That is my Mitch Poth impression)  I was pleasantly surprised at how talented many of my ward members were.  Then they announced the next act was going to be stand up comedy.  I immediately had a bad feeling.  Stand up comedy is incredibly difficult which is why not very many people do it.  I was expecting the worst but hoping for the best for this kid as he walked up the stage and grabbed the mic.

 He opened with some lame joke about being nervous.  Crickets.  Then he rattled off a few more zingers.  Silence.  He continued to tell jokes with the comedic timing of a shot clock as we all realized that this was going to be baaaaad.  Eventually, some of the more Christ-like members of the ward started filling in the silence with some nervous laughs to try and help the situation.  This went on for 20 MINUTES.  This poor kid struggled to get anymore than sympathy giggles from the crowd before he finally finished and sat down.

I, seeing an opportunity to laugh at someone else's misfortune and thereby feel better about myself and my own failures, leaned over to my friend and whispered, "Either that kid's parents are way to easily entertained or they loved him to much to be honest with him." 

How does something like that happen?  He's 20 years old for goodness sakes.  How can you live that long without anyone ever telling you, "Hey, you're not that funny.  You should probably stop doing stand up and find a new hobby."  I just think about the years of neglect by his family and friends to not be honest with this kid.  They probably thought that loving him meant encougarging him in everything he does.  That's not what love is, that's what like is.  When you like somebody you try not to hurt their feelings with brutal honesty.  Loving someone is caring about someone so much and being so close to them that you can offer criticism that will be for their benefit.  Unfortunately for this kid, his parents liked him too much.

Since that night I have noticed a lot of people whose parents also liked them too much, for example, the kid at the RB who obviously hasn't played basketball throwing up a shot with the game on the line.  What is so wrong about constructive critiscism?  Since when did it become rude to be honest with somebody?  Now I understand that you can't shoot down everyone, and I also realize that I overestimate a lot of my own abilities.  The title of my blog implies that I am never wrong for example.  I feel that in today's world constructive criticism has disappeared and has been replaced by meaningless compliments and unwarranted encouragement.  This creates people with irrational confidence and leads to problems later in life when complete strangers (or a full group of strangers as previous discussed) must be the ones to offer criticism.  Criticism from a stranger rarely comes across as constructive, even when it is meant to be, which is why it is up to us to encourage true talent in those close to us and to be honest when the talent is not there. 

This SNL clip is a funny example of what I am talking about.  Enjoy.

Now go out and show someone you love them by telling them they are terrible at something!

P.S. If anyone tells me I should stop blogging I will be very offended.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Happy Birthday To Me

Last Wednesday was my birthday.  I'll assume all your presents got lost in the mail...  For our birthdays, my mom writes a special birthday blog about how great we are.  Here are some of those posts.

**WARNING** My mom is totally biased and tends to over exaggerate my awesomeness.  If you are looking for an impartial article about how cool I am you should probably look elsewhere.

21st birthday

22nd birthday

23rd birthday

24th birthday

Thursday, October 13, 2011

My Name Is Brad and Apparently I'm Not A Christian

There has been a lot of discussion lately about whether Mormons are Christians.  I would like to share some of my thoughts on the subject.

This argument is not something new.  Ever since the church started, there has been debates on whether Mormonism is considered "Christian."  

I use quotation marks when saying Christian because there are different definitions for that term which is causing this debate.  One definition, which is the one most often used by our critics, is somebody who believes in traditional christian beliefs.  Let's talk about one of those traditional christian beliefs now.  

It seems to me, the first and most important religious question is, "who is God?"  At this first important question Mormonism and Traditional Christianity differ.  The traditional Christian belief in God is in the Trinity, meaning that God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are all one being.  It is described like this:

We worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity. Neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Substance. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Ghostis all One, the Glory Equal, the Majesty Co-Eternal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father Uncreate, the Son Uncreate, and the Holy Ghost Uncreate. The Father Incomprehensible, the Son Incomprehensible, and the Holy Ghost Incomprehensible. The Father Eternal, the Son Eternal, and the Holy Ghost Eternal and yet they are not Three Eternals but One Eternal. As also there are not Three Uncreated, nor Three Incomprehensibles, but One Uncreated, and One Uncomprehensible. So likewise the Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty, and the Holy Ghost Almighty. And yet they are not Three Almighties but One Almighty.

One of my favorite quotes comes from James E. Talmage in The Articles of Faith.  When referring to this definition of God he says, "It would be difficult to conceive of a greater number of inconsistencies and contradictions, expressed in words as few."

Now it is niether James nor my desire to demean anyone's faith in God, we just want to show that this explanation of God by traditional Christianity is not only flawed, but also limits our relationship with Him.  

John 17:3 says, "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent."  According to this scripture, we can know God.  How are we supposed to know God when he is incomprehensible?  

The belief in the Trinity is one traditional Christian belief that I do not agree with.  I believe that God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are three separate beings.  I believe that God has a body of flesh and bone, and I can develop a relationship with him just like I can with my earthly father.  I know who God is, and calling Him incomprehensible would deny the relationship that I have spent most of my life building with Him.  

Now there is another definition for what is Christian, which is anyone who follows the teachings and example of Jesus Christ.  When I say I am Christian, this is the definition I am referring to.  To explain Mormons' beliefs in Jesus Christ I will use a quote from Jeffrey R. Holland, an apostle in the Mormon church.

"I testify that Jesus Christ is the literal, living Son of our literal, living God. This Jesus is our Savior and Redeemer who, under the guidance of the Father, was the Creator of heaven and earth and all things that in them are. I bear witness that He was born of a virgin mother, that in His lifetime He performed mighty miracles observed by legions of His disciples and by His enemies as well. I testify that He had power over death because He was divine but that He willingly subjected Himself to death for our sake because for a period of time He was also mortal. I declare that in His willing submission to death He took upon Himself the sins of the world, paying an infinite price for every sorrow and sickness, every heartache and unhappiness from Adam to the end of the world. In doing so He conquered both the grave physically and hell spiritually and set the human family free. I bear witness that He was literally resurrected from the tomb and, after ascending to His Father to complete the process of that Resurrection, He appeared, repeatedly, to hundreds of disciples in the Old World and in the New. I know He is the Holy One of Israel, the Messiah who will one day come again in final glory, to reign on earth as Lord of lords and King of kings. I know that there is no other name given under heaven whereby a man can be saved and that only by relying wholly upon His merits, mercy, and everlasting grace can we gain eternal life."

Now if someone who professes faith in Christ like that isn't considered a Christian, then something is clearly wrong.

I don't consider myself on the same level as Elder Holland, but just like him, I try my best to follow the teaching and examples of the Savior.  I know that Christ is my Redeemer, and the only way I can return to live with my Heavenly Father.  I strive to live by His teachings everyday, and look to Him for forgiveness when I come up short.  In Christ's gospel, I have found peace and happiness that continue to bless my life everyday.  

If you do not consider me a Christian because I do not agree with your theology, then that is fine.  You can call me whatever you want.  But do not tell me, and millions of other faithful people  that we are not followers of Christ.  That kind of judgement is actually very unchristian.