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February, 2010

  1. An Appreciation of Olympianic History

    February 28, 2010 by Ryan

    Once every Olympiad (that is four years for those who are counting in the ten-digit Latin-based number system), we all come together to have contests of strength, speed, and elevation. It is said that Heracles (son of Zeus) first called the games “Olympic.” After Heracles completed his twelve labors, he built the Olympic stadium. Then, following its completion, he walked in a straight line for 200 steps and called this distance a “stadion.” And finally, to make other nations feel more welcome, he asked his good friend Ronald McDonald to come and sell Chicken McNuggets™ and French Fries at the refreshment stands. Thus, the official languages of the games became English and French. Things went very well from 776 BC until old fuddy-duddy emperor Theodosius I declared that all pagan cults and practices should be eliminated in 393 AD. Little known history reveals that this was just a ruse; he was actually mad because the teenager at the refreshment stand messed up his order and gave him “Sweet and Sour” dipping sauce instead of BBQ.

    In the late 1700’s the French tried to get L’Olympiade de la République going. Unfortunately, only the French knew what those words on the billboards meant, and so nobody else came. Things sputtered along until the International Olympic Committee was organized, and in 1890 they announced that they would begin accepting bribes. The modern Olympic games were held again in 1896, and the movement was now unstoppable!

    That is, up until the next Olympiad came around in 1900. The games were held in Paris, France. Again, no one could understand the language. This time, a few tourists accidentally happened upon the games when they were trying to find the World’s Fair. They found that the French were using the metric system and quickly left.

    The games sputtered along for a few decades until the organizing committee found that it could raise additional bribe money from television and corporate advertising – then things really picked up. At lunch one day, a committee member doodled those five circles on the back of a napkin (roughly circling points in the curvature of the letter “M” insignia on the paper), and decided they could print up some t-shirts with the design. With money now flooding in, the games could really afford to succeed.

    So as you cozy up to the big screen and enjoy the closing ceremonies, today, appreciate where we’ve come from in the world!

  2. Reality Check

    February 19, 2010 by Ryan

    It is easy to get too close to things that you no longer recognize them (This advice is coming from the guy who loves to escape to Disneyland and blur the line between reality and fantasy). People confuse their wants for their needs. So today, hope to do a reality check, and momentarily put life into perspective.

    My reality: If I miss lunch, I am starving.

    My reality: It is inconvenient to wait a minute for the hot water to start flowing in the shower.

    My reality: My world looks for ways to create physical activity in order to exercise.

    Reality check: Other people in true poverty are fighting for a scrap of food. I really don’t know what true hunger or discomfort is. And I could stand to lose some weight. I don’t haul bails of hay, milk 250 head of cattle, or plow a field for survival. Through his prophet Joshua, the Lord reminded Israel, “I have given you a land for which ye did not labour, and cities which ye built not, and ye dwell in them; of the vineyards and oliveyards which ye planted not do ye eat.” (Joshua 24:13) I should be immensely grateful for the blessings that I so often take for granted.

    My reality: Communication and interaction with others is virtually unlimited.

    Reality Check: Interaction with others is limited virtually. People are more important than pixels, yet it is easy to forget and lose time and self in the safety of hiding behind the keyboard. It feels foreign to deliver a message by voice over a telephone, or to go to a front door, knock, and speak in person.

    It is ironic that I write this thought without touching a writing utensil at all. Rather, I electronically manipulate black specs of light shining against white specs that surround it. This missive does not actually exist; rather it is the alignment of zeros or ones, which are converted to positive and negative polar extremes existing on a magnetized round metal disc.

    Entertainment is rarely ever presented live and “unplugged” – rather it is recorded, edited and enhanced, and digitalized. Who would ever think to meet with their friends and neighbors to sit together and enjoy a performance together? My MP3 player will never deliver the human connection that comes from entertainer and performer looking into one another’s eyes and sensing how much each is enjoying the experience.

    My reality: My society is smarter than and superior to the past generations.

    Reality Check: As a society, we have done a tremendous amount of good. We have paved the wilderness. We have carved out large nooks in the land and created cities of grandiose spectacle. We have eliminated some diseases, quarantined others, and dare to dream that we can continue to defeat more still. We have an nearly unlimited reservoir of knowledge and the benefit of the experience of the ages.

    My ancestors hauled their possessions across the country by foot in a hand-pulled wagon. They weren’t highly educated, but they worked the land and sweated by their brow to made their living. They didn’t operate with safety nets of government assistance or mandated health care. They weren’t advised by boards or warned by lawyers of what was good or bad for them. They attended the school of hard knocks. Through sickness and health, good times and bad, they had to tough it out. If they failed, they fell hard.

    In real life, there is no “undo button.” No “continues,” “extra lives,” or “God Mode” cheat codes. We are free to choose our actions in life, but our consequences might remain with us for a long time after. Our trials are different. Our stresses come from different influences. I believe that, if given the opportunity, my ancestors would NOT choose to trade me places – they would look at the world of crazy priorities that I live in, and have wanted to stick with what they had. Our priorities are based on a much higher standard of comfort and living. Yet the skills that got then through and will take us through have not changed. The Boy Scouts called them being trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent. The Mormons say to be honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and do good to all; at all times and in all things, and in all  places that ye may be in. Those attributes won’t fail us. They are truths that will hold us up and keep us strong.

    No matter what reality we live in.

  3. California (Hearts) Iowa

    February 8, 2010 by Ryan

    The Goven-a-tor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, made a speech proclaiming that no one wants to take a vacation in Iowa.

    Being the governor, his job is to promote his state. And from the financial news reports I’ve been hearing lately, his state could use some promoting.

    Said Arr-nold, “There’s no one screaming like, ‘I can’t wait to get to Iowa.’ That I can guarantee you. They want to come here to California.”

    All three residents of Iowa were outraged when they heard the news. “Why, who does’n he a be think’n heis?” said one. The Associated Press declined to provide a better translation.

    One of the Iowa residents determined to call their own Hawkeye State governor, upon which it was discovered that they had plum forgot to elect one since 1984. The resident, still infuriated over California’s accusation, located a pen and paper and began writing a letter to the California governor. The Iowa citizen could not finish the letter, however, because he was unaware how to correctly spell “Schwarzenegger.”

    In an apparent change of heart, Arnold apologized the next day, wearing to the press conference a baseball cap that read “California (Heart) Iowa.”

  4. Do they have French Fries in France?

    February 3, 2010 by Ryan

    Today, I’d like to make a comparison of two popular hamburger chains that have been around for a while, but are fairly new to my area. I’ve finally had a chance to taste them both, and so I offer my review of In-N-Out Burger ( vs. Five Guys Burger and Fries (

    Let’s start with comparing the burger…


    Their claim is that their ingredients are never frozen. The burger tastes very fresh. The patties are smaller than Five Guys, but satisfying. The price is considerably lower than Five Guys too.

    I made a mistake of ordering a cheeseburger with onion. The onion was just fine, but I wasn’t expecting it to be as thick as the beef patty! I found that a very unusual tactic to serve it that way, and was turned off by too much of a good thing.

    Five Guys:

    Their claim is that everything is cooked in 100% peanut oil. In fact, you will find warnings on the doors advising you not to enter the building if you have peanut allergies. Their prices are almost triple what In-N-Out charges.

    The beef almost seems hand pressed to me – not consistently cut and measured. I could be wrong on that, but I can certainly say that their serving is more generous. It also seems juicier. Five guys serves the burger wrapped in aluminum foil, and it retains its juices. The peanut oil gives it a good, unique flavor.

    Other thoughts – Carl’s Jr. serves a “Ranch Burger” for $1, of comparable size to In-N-Out. It doesn’t taste as fresh, but my experience with the onion overload may have turned me off a little and built a bias against In-N-Out.

    My Vote: Five Guys has the better tasting burger. For the money, In-N-Out is the better bargin. Just hold the onions!

    And how about the Fries…

    Five Guys:

    They offer two kinds of fries – regular and (my favorite) Cajun (Cajun is not really spicy, just seasoned). Their potatoes cooked in 100% peanut oil. These are the kind of fries I really get into. Fresh Cut. Thick. Seasoned just right. A very nice touch is that they have a white board in the store telling you where the potatoes came from. It doesn’t enhance the product necessarily, but is kind of fun to know that the spuds being served today came from Sugar City, Idaho.


    I was not impressed with their fries at all. There is very little substance – shoe string potato fried up so that it seems like you are eating some processed food.

    Winner: An easy choice for me: Five Guys.


    While Five Guys features approximately five pleasant but typical fast-food employees running the restaurant, I was fascinated to watch about 30 people scrambling around like worker bees at In-N-Out. Everyone facing the public had a smile on their face (though I noticed a few in the very back of the kitchen that were not smiling – perhaps they were concentrating). I saw one employee stop for about 10 seconds and visit with another employee, and they both still maintained their cheery smile. They wear white clothing, and a couple people just keep patrolling the place, picking up trash and keeping it spotless. It reminded me of Disneyland. I’m sure the payroll is higher, but their attention to detail and service was phenomenal! I’m pretty certain this comes from their being a private company, rather than a franchise.

    Customer Service: In-N-Out

    Overall – If cost is no concern, Five Guys has better tasting food. But because I’m a cheapskate, I’d pick up the Cajun fries at Five Guys, head over to In-N-Out, and enjoy some burgers and the show.