Friday, December 21, 2012

On Faith, Adversity, 26 Lives And Why

On Monday Decemeber 17th, two families met on seperate occassions.  Both families were embraced by loved ones.  They listened to music.  They listened to preaching.  They shared memories.  They were at funerals.  One funeral program reads Jack Pinto. Age 6.  "A Brave Boy."  Noah Pozner's family described him as "smart as a whip."  He called his twin sister, Arielle, his best-friend.  She lived because someone made a decision to put her in a different class at the beginning of the year.

Why did this have to happen? 

Ana Grace was one of 20 students killed. Her family wanted people to know their beloved little girl was "a child devoted to Christ." Charlotte Bacon, 6, was wearing a new pink dress and boots to school. The last outfit she would choose in this life.  Jack was a Giants fan. Receiver Victor Cruz wore his name on his cleats and gloves Sunday in his honor.  He was buried wearing Cruz's jursey.  Noah's Aunt asked of talking to her nieces and nephews, "How do you tell them that's how their brother died?"

Grace McDonnell was 7. She loved art, gymnastics, soccer and her dog 'Puddin'.  Her grandma said "I think everybody should know about these beautiful children whose lives were cut short." 

I agree.  I pray we never forget the lives of all children wherever they are cut short by violence.

I saw someone post on Facebook.  "Where is God in Newtown?"

Earlier this year in Syria video captured a father holding his 5 year old child.  It looked like he was sleeping but the tears in that father's eyes told a different story.  The boy was dead.  Killed in a mortar attack by the Syrian army.  The man wasn't even a rebel, part of the opposition.  He asked over and over, "Why?"

Sunday a CBS anchor asked a guest, "Why did God let this happen?"

This is not the first time someone in their hour of need has asked such a question.  It is often in our trials that we feel the most alone but never once has God abandoned us.  That designation belongs to the Son.  Matthew 27:46 reads  "אלי אלי למה שבקתני" ie. Eli Eli lama sabachtani" which is to say, "My God, My God, why has thou forsaken me?  Jesus Christ, the greatest of us all, has descended below it all so that He might understand.

This mortal life of our was designed to be a test.  To prove us and see what we would choose in even the most horrible of circumstances.  Would we be godlike or not?  Would we follow Him or not?  The Savior of ALL Mankind has his hand stretched out to us and invites us to walk with Him.  "Wherefore say unto the people, Choose ye this day to serve the Lord God who made you.  Wherefore my spirit is upon you therefore all thy words will I justify.  And the mountains shall flee before you and the rivers turn their course and that shalt abide with me and I with you, therefore, walk with me."

The road He traveled was not an easy one.  Yet He allowed his tormentors to persecute Him in so terrible a fashion because He loves us.  That torment caused God, the Greatest of All to suffer and bleed from every pore and desire not to partake of the bitter cup.  But He did partake and because of that, Glory be to the Father, we may all be clean and we may yet live again.

This life is not the end.  Our spirits are immortal.  The same socialities and relationships that we have in this life will continue with us into the next.  My brother Tanner died when he was just 2-years-old.  That was more than 15 years ago yet I am still Tanner's brother as he is mine.

These 20 little children, they will live again.  And when they died their spirits were taken straight home to that God which gave them life.  For blessed are the children for they are innocent before God and have no need of repentence, since they have no need of repentence they have no need of baptism.  All children who die before the age of accountability are saved in the Kingdom of God, and are joint-heirs of Christ.

Where was God?  Weeping.  Comforting.  Bringing a few dozen of His little children home.  He has engraven us upon the palms of His hands.  A father or mother would sooner forget their child than God would forget us.

I work in the news.  I'm not blind.  There is much that is evil and wrong in the world.  Mothers, fathers, teachers, a President, a nation and even God weep because of the choices of one invidividual on Decemeber 14, 2012.  Those choices were evil.

Why does God allows His children to make evil choices?  Because that's what Christ died for.  That's what His sacrifice was all about.  Jesus gave us a choice.  Here on Earth during this mortal test of ours we can decide where we want to go.  Do we want to follow Him or not?  Do we do good or not?  Do we go to Heaven or not?  Our choices here will determine where we go because sinners will not be comfortable in the presence of God.  We will go where we feel most comfortable.  If that is in the joyous presence of God or as far from Him as we can get.  Bad things happen.  Sometimes they happen as a Divine punishment but more often they happen because there are horrible people who do even more terrible things. 

Their choices do not define us.  It is our own.  While there is so much evil in the world there is also much that is good.  The twitter hashatag #26Acts is proof.  Kristen Beart wrote, "@kbeard137
donated to New England Equine Rescue in memory of Jessica Rekos who loved horses".  Another man tweeted, "@JRBuckley68 Act #4: Paid for the toll for 26 cars behind me on the Sunshine Skyway Bridge " and again someone else "@bdub969391
Paid 4 Breakfast for the first 26 cars in the drive thru after 9:30 at - match me please $130 - ".  The world is so full of beautiful.  I have faith in humanity.  I have faith in God.  Some may call my faith a crutch that allows me to hobble along through adversity.  I call my faith wings that allow me to rise up and be more than I could be alone.
Today during my morning newscast Kurt Bestor sang "Prayer of the Children" as a tribute to those beautiful little children.  While he sang video of the children played.  Little smiling face after little smiling face echoed across the screen.  May such prayers be answered is my prayer.  Blessed are the children for of such in the kingdom of heaven.  So tragic, so terrible yet death is not the end.  Their families will see their smiling faces again.
This Christmas season I pray that we all may receive the comfort we need, that we may see the light that shines out from the darkness, that we spread the love of God to all man.  May God bless us and keep us and may we all find the courage to allow Him to do so.

Friday, October 26, 2012


Catching Up
I haven't posted in a LONG time and there is a lot that I've been meaning to post.  So here it goes, rapid fire style.
10 years ago..
10 years ago this past August I returned home from my mission.  I served for 2 years for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saint and represented the Lord as a missionary speaking Spanish.  My mission molded me in a way I cannot describe but hope to demonstrate each day of my life.
Special fellowship..
I helped organize a mission reunion and by helped I mean earlier this year I talked Robert J. Grow and Linda Grow into organizing a mission reunion.  They did pretty much everything else.  Tyler and I did go and help them set up chairs and tables on their beautiful lawn.  I got to see so many of my friends.  There is a special bond that you form with those you serve and sacrfice with.  Even a decade apart can't break that bond of fellowship. 
I got to see for the first time in a long time my friend Isaac Altamirano.  At times in his life he has struggled with different life challenges.  It was so good to see him, his beautiful family, and hear they have been sealed together in the temple.  As Isaac said "we will always be brothers".
Choices, hobby style..
Save up a lot some money, what do you spend it on?  Nice problem to have right?  I want to have my own woodshop someday.  To be able to take pieces of wood shaped in blocks and rectangles and turn it into beautiful pieces of furniture, carvings or toys, what an amazing opportunity to create.  Besides, there is nothing more manly than the smell of cut wood and the sensation of looking at a finished product and thinking, I shaped that.  Then there's the chance to buy a nice camera, take pictures with my wife and of my family, record memories of light.  Photography is not simply a recording of an image, it is painting with light, shapes and life.  One choice would take me away from my family for hours, one choice would encourage me to go on adventures with them.  I chose to go on the adventures and paint with light.  I still have a lot to learn but I'm enjoying the journey. 

(no photoshop was involved in the making of these images)

Now I have a hobby I can share with my wife, and that is priceless.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

They Clear the Paths to our Dreams: Thank You

Some people are dreamers.  Their thoughts are consumed with what they hope to accomplish.  The plan, they prepare but they never live it.  Maybe they just don't know how.  Perhaps the path is layed before them but it is covered in the messy vines of day-to-day life. 

I am a dreamer.

At times I am lost in my dreams.  At times my dreams are lost from me.

It helps to have someone come along and clear the vines from the path.  Then, with the way set before me, I can leave the safety of being a dreamer, and enter the unknown of becoming a doer.

My wife helps to clear the vines.  She has helped make so many of my dreams become a possibility.  Graduate college.  Find real love.  Raise a family.  Carve a career.  Get an MBA.  Create.  Write.  Build.  Just live it all.

Others have helped along the way as well.  Every dreamer needs those people.  I pray every dreamer receives them.  They're a gift.  Like a good wind on the sea, a fuel in an engine, an outstretched hand, they lift, propel and inspire us to move ever closer to our dreams.

Recently I have had several guides along the way.
As they clear the vines, I've moved forward.
I just passed the 48k mark in the story I am writing.  That's 7k more than last month and I only get a few hours and sometimes a few minutes to write.

I recently built a bed for my son.
I earned a 4.0 my first semester in my MBA program.

None of those things would have been possible without fantastic parents, amazing in-laws, wonderful children, my incredible bride and above all else, God.

Thank you all who clear the vines for those around you.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Finding My Style

Writing fiction is a lot like writing broadcast news.  Rule #1: Never let the facts get in the way of a good story. 

Only kidding.

Seriously, my work as a news producer has heavily influenced my style as a want-to-be published author.

It's A Diamond Ring!

In a news script, you begin with the most interesting part of the story.  Forget the slow reveal.  You want to hook the reader/viewer immediately.  A professor of mine gave this analogy: you wrap up a present, put it in pretty packaging and then hand it to your wife only to say "It's a diamond ring!"  She'll unwrap it right because she wants a diamond ring.

Let me show you what I mean when it comes to news stories.  Here are a couple of hook lines, or as we call them in the news biz, lead lines.

"One of the most powerful Mormons in America supports gay-marriage."

"The LDS Church broke ground on its second temple in Provo"

"The LDS Church is throwing a lot of money at the U's new law school"

"Less people are racing for the cure"

The idea is to tell people exactly what is inside the present.  You can then get to the details later, namely the Who, What, When, Where and Why.  Or if you prefer, the plot.  You hook/sell the reader and then you tell them your story. 

Who Says That Anyway?

Write conversationally.

I love reading.  News, non-fiction, fiction, editorials, blogs, scriptures, etc.  I devour the written word.  Sometimes though I read something and think, "Who talks like that?"  It pulls me out of the message the writer is trying to communicate.

If a character would talk like that, great, you've given him/her a unique voice.  Reading out loud is the best method for making sure you are writing conversationally. 

I would never say, "It was the best of times it was the worst of times" so you probably won't see me writing it. 

Save Me :03

I often will fish for extra time by tweaking a script.  I remove any repetitive lines.  After all, if you say it once, you don't need to say it again.  Let me repeat, if you say it once you don't need to say it again.  (Yes, I do find myself funny)  I also will phrase things differently.  Ideally I am making it more simple and as a result, more conversational. My goal is to save time.

"Really Tyson, you cut that line?  What?  It is going to save you three seconds."

"I know, if I do that enough I can fit in several more stories into my newscast."

I found it fascinating that publishers want "copy"(a news term) also known as the manuscript, as concise and precise as possible. 

Play Well With Others

Writing (fiction) is a hobby of mine.  Writing (news) is also a huge part of my career.  That's part of the reason I love what I do.  My training in news writing definitely has helped shape my fiction writing.  I try to write clearly, conversationally, concisely and compelling-ly(I know, I made that word up).

Do any of your hobbies play well with your career?

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Building A Bed: The Project I'm Almost Finished With

Buy A Bed?  Why?  I Can Build That

It took a little convincing but I was able to talk my wife into letting me build a bed for our son.  The plan was/is to build him a bunk bed but because of time constraints, I just built him the bottom half for now.


I looked up several bunk beds and bunk bed plans.  Then in the end I came up with my own plans/design, inspired by a design I liked.  Specifically the one you see here.

There weren't any plans available for this bed, so I just figured it out on my own.  They're not pretty but they make sense to me.

As you'll be able to see by the finished product, I didn't add the vertical 2x4 board in the middle of the head/footboard.
Materials List

I'm proud to say that I was thurough enough with my materials list that I didn't HAVE to buy any extras after I made the initial purchases.  I spent an approximate total of $250.  That includes the stain, varnish, some new drill bits, my work-gloves, and eye protection.
Just the Bottom Bunk
2x4x10 (2) $7.40
2x6x8 (3) $25.14
4x4x8 (2) $15.84
4x8 Plywood (1) $17.50
1x4x8 (2) $8.50
2x1x8 (12) $20.04
2x2x8 (2) $3.04
Wood Panel (2) $23.90
¼” 6” Lag Screws + washers (24) $19.68
5/16”6” Lag Screws + washers (8) $7.76
¼” Wood Dowels (8) $1.98 (1 pack)
½” Wood dowels (4) $1.98
3” Deck screws (12)
2” Deck screws (48)
Finishing nails (20)
Estimated total cost $200 (as of 2012)

Both Top and Bottom
2x4x10 (10) $37.00
1x3x6 (2) $9.00
2x6x8 (6) $26.28
4x4x8 (4) $31.68
4x8 Plywood (2) $35.00
1x4x8 (4) $17.00
2x1x8 (24) $40.08
Wood Panel (4) $35.85
¼” 6” Lag Screws + washers (58) $47.56
5/16”6” Lag Screws + washers (16) $15.52
¼” Wood Dowels (16) $4.00 (2 packs)
½” Wood dowels (4) $1.98
Hook things (2)?
3” Deck screws (24)
2 ½” Deck screws (10)
2” Deck screws (96)
Finishing nails (40) $3.00
Estimated total cost $350.00 (as of 2012)

This was the plan before I built.  I learned that there really isn't a need for the larger lag screws.  Use them if you want though.

My Design

I used 4x4's for the posts because I wanted it to be really sturdy.  In the end it also added some character to it.  Slight splits in the wood give it a more rustic feel but I feel the integrity of the structure is still there.
I used 2x6's for the beams because I wanted it to be sturdy.
2x1's are used for the bed slats with a 3/4 plywood sheet over that.  We won't need a boxspring so the design is more ideal for an eventual bunk-bed.

Bead board sheets were used for the headboard/footboard.  I could have used grooved pieces a bead board but they were more expensive a would have taken a little more to get to the exact right size.  Looking back now I wish I would have because it would have made the back side a little nicer.

I made them identical for a couple of reasons.  It made it easier to build, it was just a matter of following a pattern and repeating that.  I also just liked the look.  I wanted the beadboard to make it a little nicer looking than your average bunk bed.  If you wanted to save some money/time, you could do my exact headboard/footboard without the 2x4 across the bottom and the beadboard panels.  To turn the bed into a bunk bed, I'll just drill dowell holes into the middle of the 4x4 posts on top of the head/footboards and on the bottom of the top bunk. 

I ended up with a very sturdy bed, one I feel an adult man could use safely.

I will eventually be able to add a trundle bed that will slide out from underneath, and a top bunk. 

I had access to a great woodshop, but because of the limited amount I could get in this woodshop, I had to focus on building just the bottom bunk for now.
I did a couple of things to make building a little easier.
After cutting one length, I used that as my measuring stick.  The reason being, I didn't need every piece to be exactly X long.  I needed particular pieces to be just as long as each other.

When I cut, I tried to leave a little extra wood on.  I was then able to take this off with a planer/edger or sander to get it to the right size.

For drilling I created a template rather than measure out exactly where I wanted each hole. 

In the end the tools I used were: Miter Saw, Table Saw (though if you use a box spring and don't use beadboard panels you wouldn't need one), Drill Press, Router, Planer, Edger, and a Power Sander.  I also used lots of clamps.  My new wood working theory: you can never have enough clamps.

This is what the pre-stained, nearly finished bed looks like

I chose a stain with a bit of red to it.  I forgot to stir the stain and was about half-way done when I noticed the headboard was brown, and the rest of the bed I had stained was red.  I waited for it to dry, sanded off the red, and restained it.  I added one coat of satin varnish (I thought the other options were too shiny).

The white piece of wood is the sheet of plywood.
Just Waiting On Bedding

Once we have the bedding, we'll buy the mattress.  I'll take off the side beams (rails) and haul everything up to my son's room where I'll put it all together, complete with head/footboards, beams, the slats you saw in my pre-staining pic, and the sheet of plywood that will replace a boxspring. 

I've already received several compliments from neighbors that have seen it sitting in my garage.  I want to put it together now but have decided to wait until the bedding arrives.  That way we'll be able to celebrate the brand-new, newly completed bed.

Estimated time it took me to build (includes shopping/cutting/constructing/staining): 30 hours

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

My Projects

I have a couple of projects I've been working on.  One I'm just starting out on, one I've nearly finished and one I am just past the half-way mark.

The One I'm Starting Out On

I've been in MBA school since January but you already knew that, right?  So my project just isn't to graduate.  I want to make the dean's list, I want to get a 4.0. 

Why is this so important to me?  It's because I've never really worked hard in school.  I breezed through High School and graduated with Highest Honors.  In college I was average, not because I didn't understand but because I was lazy.

I want to prove it to myself that I can do it.  How can I describe how I feel about this?  Maybe this way: I want to conquer this demon.

I literally just learned that I got an "A" in one of if not the hardest class I have ever taken!  IT in the Entrepreneur.  The concepts, business terminology, etc were so completely foreign to me.  Who knew what ROI (return on investment) or RFP(request for proposals) mean?  I certainly had never heard of them.  Then throw in the topics ranging from asset management, help-desk, not to mention the work load.  I'd never read a case-study before now, at least not that I know of.  Now I've read nearly 100.

This is just the beginning and I feel like I can sprint the rest of the way.

The One I've Nearly Finished

I'm building a "big boy" bed for Tyler.  It's a twin that I can eventually turn into a bunk bed.  As soon as the bedding arrives and we buy a new mattress I'll be able to move it into Tyler's room and declare it finished.  Because even though it's done, doesn't mean it's finished.  (I need to clean out the garage first).

I'll post more in-depth on my "big boy" bed project later. I have pics, and video, and a materials list, etc.

The One Where I'm Just Past The Half-Way Mark

I've been attempting to write a YA Fantasy for years now.  I've learned a lot along the way from starting and restarting, then editing, etc.  Now I have written more than 41K words in a story that seems to be making sense.  Since the plot is more than half done that must mean this particular project is as well, right?  Oh, now the story gets really fun!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Stand In Holy Places

This is the talk I prepared for Sunday March 11th.  I wanted to share it in case you missed it.
He prayed us there

While serving my mission in California I spent much of my time in Stockton.  Once, while out doing missionary work my companion and I felt the impression to go see Hermano Palacios, the ward mission leader.  We arrived and he was laying down in obvious pain.  That man of great faith had prayed that the missionaries would arrive and give him a blessing.  We were happy to do so and left feeling we had done the work of the Lord.  But the more important lesson is this, “and whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you.”

The prayer of Hermano Palacios was answered because he, as a disciple of Christ, stands in holy places.

 Know where you stand

When we stand in holy places we keep the commandments no matter what.  We don’t sacrifice what matters most to us for a moment of pleasure or gratification.  Our vision is lifted up, we see afar off and realize what others view as a mountain is really a mole hill.

When we stand in holy places we follow the Father’s admonition given to Enoch.  “Behold my spirit is upon you, wherefore all thy words will I justify.  And the mountains shall flee before you and the rivers shall turn from their course; and thou shalt abide in me and I in you; therefore walk with me.”

We cannot walk with the Savior if we are not willing to follow God’s commandments.  The Lord’s commandments have not changed, will not change.  God does not change.  He is an immovable anchor we can use to steady our ship even as the moral storm rages around us.

Don't value the  Super Shredder

We are responsible for our actions.  At the end of the test here in this life, however long our test may last, it is our own thoughts, words and deeds that will condemn us.  Or, if we have sought the Lord diligently, then we will find him at that day.  Don’t give up what you value most for a trivial momentary pleasure.

When I was about 10 years old I went to Toys R Us with my family.  It was about the time that one of the teenage mutant ninja turtles movies had come out.  I had watched it and there at the toy store, just like in the movie, was the villain the super shredder.  I had a little money in my wallet.  I also had a two dollar bill in crisp condition.  My grandmother had given it to me.  With that two dollar bill I had enough money to buy the super shredder.  I asked my parents what to do, they left it up to me.   I bought the toy.  A boy behind me in the checkout line said, “You spent a two dollar bill on that?  I would have given you 20 dollars for your two dollar bill.”  Don’t give up what is precious to you for some trivial thing.

Lifeguarding and restaurants

Temptations are all around us.  With advances in technology exposure to some of the filthiest things this world has to offer are inevitable.  Don’t look at it.  Turn away.  Keep your thoughts pure. 

In high school I worked as a lifeguard at a local pool during the Summer.  All day long I was exposed to women in swimsuits and bikinis.  I kept my thoughts pure by focusing on my wife, a woman I did not then know, and how I wanted to marry her while wearing white, in a temple of God.

When the swim season was over, I needed some extra money to save for a mission.  I got a job as a waiter at a Chinese restaurant.  The pay was good.  But in the kitchen where I often had to go, was a large poster of a naked woman.  I refused to look.  But the poster was always there.  I quit after a few days.  I decided that the money wasn’t worth it.  I didn’t want to risk  looking.  When you are exposed to such filth, you run away and you do it fast. 

Where did he go wrong?

My seminary teacher once asked me to point out the verse where King David made his life changing mistake.  My classmates and I pointed out verse after verse, finally Brother Anderson made his point, which I have never forgotten.  King David’s mistake was that he did not decide beforehand what he would do.  Decide now that you will always stand in holy places, that when life’s moral storms rage around you, you will be in a sea of calm.

Though the storms may rage...

Once before my mission I went to do some thinking on the grounds of the Mesa Arizona temple.  There is a spot between the visitor’s center and the temple where there is a reflecting pool, and a garden with a couple of rows of trees and flowers.  I was there praying while a monsoon raged around me but in my little spot the wind was calm, there was no rain.  If we will make sure that we are in communication with our Lord and that we can enter His holy temples, we will never be in doubt as to where we will end up.  The world’s moral compass may spin like a top but we will know.

How do I know if I will go to Heaven?

If you want to know where you are going, ask yourself one question, am I worthy to enter the temple?

Friday night as I entered the chapel of the Bountiful Temple I felt an immediate light, life, love and relief.  The Spirit poured out blessings, instruction, and comfort upon me.  I give you my witness that if we will stand in holy places, we will be in communication with Heavenly Father and shall receive the invitation, therefore walk with me.  This I testify in the name of the Redeemer, amen. 

Friday, February 3, 2012

Leadership Lessons From Bobsled Field Producing

Today I was able to switch it up a bit and instead of just producing the morning news, go field produce a piece.  The story was just a fun one on the bobsled rides at the Olympic Park in Park City.  We had our anchor team: Dan Plante, Ann Sterling and Glenn Willey.

I Can Predict The Future

I printed off directions and gave everyone my cell phone in case they got lost.  I knew Dan was going to get lost.  Not because he can't read directions but because he would try and figure it out on his own.  So I told everyone to be there by 4:30 and to get there early.  They didn't need to be there until 5:00pm.  Good thing too, Dan didn't arrive until about 4:50pm. 

I'm Bossy

I told everyone what to do.  I had a vision for how this final product would look and so I made sure we had everything we needed.  I told the anchors what questions they should ask the silver medalist bobsledder.  I told the photographer the exact shots we wanted.  I told the anchors exactly what kind of promos we needed and would use.  I wasn't micro-managing, I would just tell them what I wanted and why I wanted it and let them do their thing.  I'd watch to make sure it worked out and it alway did.  It was fun.  I won't see the final product for another week. 

Bobsledding Is A Good Team Building Experience

On the drive up to the top of the bobsled run, the camera was rolling and everyone was partially chatting.  So I started asking questions and joking around with them.  I realized I needed to manage the moment, the emotions and bring them together.  I think they became more relaxed and natural because of it.  I don't think they even realized that collectively they had tensed up. 

There Is An End In Sight

Once we had what we needed I went through my mental checklist at least twice.  Wrote the story in my head from the video that we had gathered and realized we were okay.  I then called it a day.  It worked out wonderfully.  The final product should air on Good Morning Utah on Feb 10th.