Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Nintendo was right on

Again something that just must be quoted.

"Computer games don't affect kids; I mean, if Pac-Man affected us as kids, we'd all be running around in darkened rooms, munching magic pills and listening to repetitive electronic music.
- Kristian Wilson, Nintendo Inc, 1989

What 747?

This is worth reading.  Or maybe I think so because this is my field, but I think you'll enjoy it. 

There's a very odd procedure in the FAA Air Traffic Manual 7110.65.  This is the official Federal Government manual containing all the Air Traffic Controller procedures, rules, and phraseology.  It's a good 600 pages deep. Thrilling reading let me tell ya.  It's the stuff that has probably come about due to many many errors and hard lessons throughout aviation's history.  It has become more legalese over the years and gets updated all the time as a result of lawsuits.      

Here is a classic phrase that makes nose sense, but which as been institutionalized.  It's Paragraph 3-10-7.

This references a tower controller who's sacred duty is to keep aircraft separated and safe in his/her airspace/runways/taxiways around the airport.  

Actual quote is in red, my comments in black)


When an arriving aircraft reports at a position where he/she should be seen but has not been visually
observed, advise the aircraft as a part of the landing clearance that it is not in sight and restate the landing runway. 

Even that paragraph heading smells of trouble.  But it gets worse.  As part of the landing clearance?  Really?  Shouldn't we find out WHY an aircraft isn't visually observable WHEN THEY SHOULD BE before we clear the poor pilot to land on a runway?

"___________ NOT IN SIGHT, RUNWAY (number) CLEARED TO LAND."

Notice it says a plane "that should" be seen but isn't. So we're not talking about an aircraft that you can't see due to something like fog or bad weather. As stated in this official government document, if you should be able to see an aircraft, and you can't...... the procedure is to just go ahead and clear them to land.  ha!.  Ya, that makes sense.  

The FAA lawyers lost a lawsuit a while back after a controller cleared an aircraft to land and that aircraft landed at a wrong airport.  The pilot landed just fine but landed at a very nearby yet incorrect airport.  In response to the lawsuit, the FAA changed the manual and gave controllers the proper phraseology to transmit an absolutely ridiculous instruction to a pilot (above quoted in red). 

To quote my instructor: "In effect the FAA has institutionalized a controllers terrible error."

I've been told this paragraph has remained unchanged for 40 years.  This is funny not only because of it's nonproductive application, but by it's longstanding.  To sum this up "When you can't see a plane WHICH YOU SHOULD SEE, clear them to land, restate the runway, and here is the proper and legal phraseology to do so.

One of my instructors gave a first hand example of this procedure applied perfectly by a new controller.  Sure enough a pilot landed at Los Alamitos Naval Air Station instead of his intended destination of Fullerton Municipal.  But everything was OK because the controller used proper prescribed phraseology by the book.  

A perfect example of being DEAD right.

May the lesson carry on.  Don't institutionalize an error!

"What 747"?

"Oh you mean THAT 747 ......

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A portion of my testimony

I share a few things in the Spirit of testimony and respect for that which is sacred.

My birthday is in the Spring. I was born at home, surrounded by family in the comfort of my parents bedroom.  I was born to loving, kind, and lovely parents.  I'm sure I cried some newborn tears. I was 'born again' in the fall, many years later, this time interestingly it was at a hospital, again surrounded by what I would come to know as family, in the comfort of a parental presence that defies all description. At first I did not understand or know how to describe what had happened.  Something inside me underwent a change that I lacked words for but it was deep, and expansive and "mighty" for lack of a better word.  Words like humility, pride, submission to God and our own nothingness became an experience rather than just words.  Nothing I could do could express the warmth, love, joy, and peace I was overwhelmed by.  It was enveloping.  I found my strength exhausted.  I found a new beginning, a new world, and a new relationship.

Scripture speak of things that had never entered a persons mind or heart.  This was like that for me.  Despite years of religious upbringing my vocabulary failed me.  In an overpowering wave of light and knowledge this experience made all else of this world look like foolishness and vanity and pride.  Compared to the reality and character of the Divine.  Scriptures say that knowledge of God serves like an anchor to the soul.  This is true. It's a joyous part of my testimony and I prize and treasure it above all else. It imparted light that filled my soul, eternal words provided comfort.  These are things I ponder and treasure always. Gifts of the Spirit were immediately present. Within minutes I was asked to minister to the broken hearted, suffering, and hopeless.  The experience grows and gains clarity with time and study. It's like it a moment in time, yet independent from time.

I believe what happened or the details are not useful to other people other than to testify that it happened and testify of the teachings and process that helped bring it about.  And I would rather understate the experience than over state.  But what I want to state is it came as a result of God's grace and believing in and following the teachings found in scripture.  One resource was particularly helpful.  It was a book titled The Second Comforter Conversing with the Lord through the veil.  God is real.  I sought for further light and knowledge and messengers with a message from God pointed the way.  Anyone can do this.  For me it started with finding a truth that settled deep into my soul and stole my focus and determination.  I believe it starts with your own desire to fill the void inside us all and being humble and willing to keep God's commandments.  Not religious standards or religious commandments, but God's commandments.  I'm a regular person with no special education but found success re-looking at the scriptures without religious lenses on.   

I continue growing, continuing to seek the Lord and His righteousness, though most times I feel totally inadequate, or unable to succeed.  Some things in life inherently are "no going back" type events. This has been one of them for me. The scriptures, and gospel ordinances reveal and now speak of Jesus Christ in personal ways to me.  They will for anyone willing to accept and begin the path. A relationship began that day for me in the fall which is one must experience for themselves.  Spring and Fall, home and hospital, God and man reconciled through Christ.  These symbols have profound meaning to me.  I believe you, reader, will and can find your own personal proofs and awe and relationship with the divine that will fill you too.  The Gospel brings beauty and patterns to life that can't be experienced anywhere else.  I hope anyone who reads this will try, and exercise even a little faith in God.  Scriptures confirm it is within man's privileges to exercise faith to the fullest extent and come to Christ.

Challenges have become more difficult since that day.  I'm no exception to life's pain and disappointments, moments when all seems lost, totally failed, or a waste.  But blessings of strength and assistance also come.  There is peace that goes beyond my ability to describe.  The love of God that overwhelms and will cause every knee to bow is not of this world. I wish I could share it and have others taste of it as well. It is now one of my deepest desires, however it rarely, if ever, it is able to be expressed.  Dear reader, I hope you sense something in these words, something that will spark your faith or point you to Christ. 

My Patriarchal blessing says I'm to record the significant events in my life and bear my testimony for my posterity. It says it will be of benefit and strength.  This post is intended to speak to that assignment.

What I've referenced in this post is a significant event.  It doesn't include everything, there is more I yet look forward to experiencing.  I'm no one special or of any reputation, and would not deny the worst you could say about me. My hope lies elsewhere.  My hope is in the Lord. I've shared a few key parts of my testimony and crammed it into words I spent a quite a while choosing.  So, there it is.  This blog is a portion of my journal.  So I share this in hopes of fulfilling what the patriarchal blessing asked of me.  The Lord is a being of perfect love.  I would not know this of myself had it not been revealed.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Lay up treasures

Lay up for yourself treasure in Heaven -

Here is a quote from K C Pilai from the book Light From an Eastern Window. I first found this on a great blog found here.

"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." Matthew 6: 19-21

"These verses are not really talking about what to do with your money or jewels, or your stocks and bonds. The common Western interpretation is this: Do not hoard your money and goods while here on earth. Moths and rust will get to your goods, and thieves will break in and steal your money. Rather, give your money to the church, or do good deeds, so that you lay up a store of treasure in heaven.

The Eastern interpretation has a deeper meaning:  Treasure = Thoughts. We are urged to keep our thoughts on spiritual things rather than on earthly things. The moth and rust represent fear and worry. If we think about earthly matters, fear and worry will creep in, and we will experience defeat and frustration. The 'thieves' represent 'doubt', which steal our thoughts. But if we think on spiritual matters, there is no doubt, worry, or fear.

Here is the literal translation of the above verses. "Let not your thoughts be centered in material things where fears and worries breed defeat and frustration, and where the doubts break through and steal your thoughts: But let your thoughts be centered in the Spirit, where neither fear nor worry breeds defeat and frustration, and where doubts do not break through and steal your thoughts. For where your thoughts are, there will your heart be also."

Monday, February 6, 2012

Tithes and offerings

Noticed today as I went to pay tithing that the "tithing and other offering" slip has undergone some small changes but has some bigger picture consequences.  This is the first time in my lifetime I've noticed the slip has changed.   This is the old slip:

The fine print below the totals box reads "All donations to the Church's missionary fund become the property of the Church to be used at the Church's sole discretion in its missionary program."

Today while filling out a slip I noticed there is a new version now in use (see below).

The new form has fewer donation option boxes.  The following donation boxes are now absent from the form:
-Book of Mormon
-Temple Construction
-Perpetual Education

And the fine print has been changed in a not so insignificant way.  More on this in a second.

Some other minor changes are that now instead of your address, the form now asks for your membership record number (if your one who takes to time to memorize such a thing).  There is still an "other" box on the form where you can specify what you would like your donations (separate from tithing) to be used for.

But what struck me the most was the new fine print below the totals box.
"Though reasonable efforts will be made globally to use donations as designated, all donations become the church's property and will be used at the Church's sole discretion to further the Church's overall mission."

The previous fine print applied only to missionary fund donations, and the statement made sense to me.  But now the donation boxes are hardly relevant as the new fine print extends the Church's ownership until there is no longer any boundary.  It encompasses any of the donations (whether tithing, missionary, humanitarian...) and makes it all property of The Church.  And will be used at the Church's sole discretion. Technically the "Church" is not a legal entity.  It's actually "The Corporation of the President" if we want to be technically accurate.

"Reasonable effort", "all donations", "Church's property" "Church's sole discretion", "overall mission".  The fine print makes the message quite clear.  Or, depending on how you read it, it mystifies a donation until there is zero confidence left as to where the donation will actually end up.  I didn't enjoy loosing confidence and transparency about who the recipients of the donates are.  An "overall mission" verbiage seems to be an umbrella giving allowance for things that would otherwise be excluded.  And which now don't have to be transparent, or even visible to the church members.  Since there is very little transparency with regard to Church financial matters anyway it seems those folks donating, are to a large degree, left in increasing darkness on the matter.

Why only "reasonable" effort being made?  Why not "every" effort?  Who is making that effort?  Accountants?  Lawyers?  Bankers?  Now days reasonable effort likely involves a computer mouse.  The wording takes more control, offers zero transparency, and removes the giver yet another degree from the recipient.  This seems to be a trend.  I'm not finding fault, I sincerely want to believe the Church's financial department is acting with integrity.  However if I take as my paradigm the scriptures which speak of modern Church's being built up to "get gain" and "loving money more than the poor", I have to pause and consider if the scriptures are directing a warning directly at us so we don't get in trouble.

During previous eras of the Church a financial accounting was given in general conference.  We no longer get that.  Instead we are left to assume all is well, without being able to study it for ourselves.  Basic financial transparency doesn't seem like too much to ask.  Scriptures state the church has the authority to collect and distribute tithes.  I have no problem with this.  I pay tithing and have found it to be a true principle as well as a blessing.  That being said it would seem logical and a matter of good practice for an organization to show that their financial practices have integrity.  One day it will be up for divine review, so why hide it now?

The responsibility for what the church does with our donations lies with the Church as they are stewards of the donations.  However I don't think that means we turn on back and wash our hands of what goes on after it leaves our hands. Scriptures in D&C indicate members have at least some duty to be aware and involved in these matters.  But that's a matter to be decided personally.  I"m just writing this post as my view and sharing some facts that I noticed.  

I wonder what prompted them to have to change the fine print.  If we were asking continents to move, I can see how "reasonable effort" would be acceptable.  Moving continents is difficult.  So what was the impetus for this change to now give sole discretion for all donations to headquarters?  Were there lawsuits?  Were people suing the Church over stuff like this?  Are there grumblings which lead to this legalistic wording?  I can't think of very many noble reasons to hide the truth of these things from the public.  Fine print doesn't satisfy peoples need to know basic facts.  It just creates more questions.  I think more publicly available data with regard to donation usage would be welcomed and be a great benefit to members and non members.      

Before I end the post I have to say that I think it's possible to wonder about Church related concerns in a honest way.  Also possible to do so while maintaining a negative, accusatory or critical spirit.  My hope is to investigate and seek answers with a spirit of charity and faith in the Lord.  I want an increase, not a loss of light.  I happily pay tithing, and will continue to as long as asked.  I must say though my preferred attitude is how Christ taught.  "Do your alms in secret" (3 Nephi 13:3-4).  That way, that way the heart, and devotion lie with the Lord, not men or an organization.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Mormon History

((In his office in the LDS Church Office Building in Salt Lake City, Elder Marlin Jensen holds a journal that contains dictated and handwritten entries from Joseph Smith from 1835 and 1836. The journal is part of the LDS Church's Joseph Smith Papers Project. Jensen has been replaced as the church's historian. Monday, February 25, 2008. Steve Griffin/The Salt Lake Tribune) 2/20/08

There was a great article in the Salt Lake Tribune the other day on Mormon History.

Mormon history has it's concerning points.  With the internet you can access some pretty historical stuff.  It can be very challenging to learn new things and discover that what you thought may not be completely accurate.  The article mentions that many members of the Church are facing these difficulties.  The article I think helps point in the right direction, especially professor Givens comments near the end of the quote.  I think Faith in God will always endure.  Because it's in God, not man.  

"I definitely get the sense that this is a real crisis," said Mormon scholar and writer Terryl Givens. "It is an epidemic." 

There is a "discrepancy between a church history that has been selectively rendered through the Church Education System and Sunday school manuals, and a less-flattering version universally accessible on the Internet," Givens wrote in an email from Virginia. "The problem is not so much the discovery of particular details that are deal breakers for the faithful; the problem is a loss of faith and trust in an institution that was less that forthcoming to begin with." 

Another issue is the "veneration for Smith and other leaders that imposes on them an idealized portrait of goodness and inerrancy out of all proportion to Smith’s own self-understanding of his role," said Givens, a professor of literature and religion at the University of Richmond. "Biblical prophets like Moses and Jonah are depicted as accomplishing God’s purposes in spite of personal flaws, misjudgments and downright bad choices." 

Why not take the same approach, he asked, with Mormon prophets?