23 August 2016

I ride my bike to work most days. It’s usually a 50-60 minute ride each way. When I don’t ride a bike I take a bus and train that takes roughly the same amount of time. On the bus and train I used to read all the time, but you can’t do that on the bike. Years ago I started listing to podcasts through one earbud while I ride (keeping the other ear free to listen for traffic - I’m not totally crazy).

Over the last couple of days I’ve found myself talking about what podcasts I listen to most frequently. I tend to rotate through some NPR news and storytelling episodes, some Mormonism episodes, and some lefty political episodes. In the spirit of scaling my communication, I thought I would put a list of the general entertainment, news and religion podcasts I subscribe to here so I could just point people to this post. For the list of developer shows I subscribe to check out my AgileCoder blog.

So, here it is. My list of favorite podcasts:

News, Politics & Storytelling

Religion & Mormon Culture

  • Maxwell Institute Podcast: 2-3 times a month - Incredibly deep and wide ranging Mormon Studies topics.
  • Leading LDS: Roughly Weekly - Former bishop interviews people in a diverse set of leadership role about common challenges and suggestions to become a better leader.
  • Latter-Day Left: Roughly Weekly - Produced by the LDS Democratic Caucus, center-left politics discussed by active LDS members.
  • Mormon Discussion Podcast: Roughly Weekly - Lots of “dealing with doctrinal, historical and cultural difficulties” episodes. Similar to the Maxwell Institute, but without the restrictions of being sponsored by BYU. So they will have guests and “faith transition” topics occasionally that many mainstream Mormons would consider questionable, or even apostate. That said, the N.T. Wright lectures on The Historical Jesus, episodes part 1, part 2, part 3, & part 4, are quite possibly the best 4 hours I have ever spent listening to a podcast.

Cheesy Potato Soup

12 February 2016

We’ve made this simple slow-cooker creamy and cheesy potato soup a couple times lately so I thought I would add it here


8-10 Medium Potatoes - peeled and diced
2 Tbsp Minced Dried Onion
2 Tbsp Celery Flakes
2 tsp Minced Garlic
3 C Water (may need a little more to cover the potatoes)
2 Cubes Chicken Bouillon
2 1/2 C Milk
3 Tbsp Butter
1 - 2 Tbsp Flour
1/2 tsp Dried Thyme
1 - 2 C Grated Sharp Cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste.


Place potatoes, onion, celery, garlic, water, and bouillon in a 4-5 quart slow-cooker. Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours until potatoes are tender. Use a potato masher to coarsely mash the potatoes.

In a small pan create a roux by melting the butter and whisking in the flour until smooth. Add the milk and continue whisking until the milk is warm.

Stir the milk into the mashed potatoes slowly. Add cheese, thyme, sale and pepper and cook on low another 30 minutes.

Creamy Tortellini Soup

15 January 2016

I don’t know if I will ever build a consistent habit of posting updates here, but at the least I want to occasionally add some of the recipes that Jenna and I are making and enjoying.

Today’s recipe is for an incredibly easy but very tasty Tortellini Soup with spinach.


1 Pkg Frozen Tortellini (16 - 20 oz)
1 Bag Baby Spinach (6 - 10 oz)
2 14oz Cans Italian Style Diced Tomatoes (do not drain)
4 C Vegetable or Chicken Stock 1 Block Cream Cheese

Stovetop Directions

In a large saucepan or pot combine the stock and tomatoes with juice and bring to a boil. Add tortellini and reduce heat to simmer. Dice the cream cheese, add to the soup and stir until blended. Add spinach slowly. Simmer for another 10-20 minutes.

Slowcooker Directions

Put all ingredients into a slow cooker, dicing the cream cheese. Stir well. Cover and cook on low 5-6 hours.

Stepping Away From Basketball

09 November 2015

Once again it’s been months since I last posted. Let’s get caught up.


In July I went through a work transition again. I accepted an offer to move from supervising a sub-team working on Utah’s internal Unemployment Insurance processing system. The team I supervise now is commonly called “the Web Team”, but a better title is Enterprise Services Team. We are responsible for the overall look and feel of both the external internet and internal intranet sites for the Utah Department of Workforce Services. We also build and maintain about 50 web applications or web services that form a number of the core services provided by DWS.

On top of that work, we also have a contract to revise a “schools-to-careers” site called UtahFutures for a consortia of state and education agencies. This puts me in a position where I am essentially supervising two teams at once.

If that wasn’t a large enough challenge, the move also represents a big change in development technology for me. All of my past development has been done in the Microsoft stack of technologies. All but a few of the projects I now oversee are in the Java stack. It’s not a huge transition, but there is a bit of a learning curve before I will be fully productive.

Basketball Coaching

With all of the changes at work, and after 8 years of heavy involvement, I am stepping back from an active role as a HS Basketball Coach. Some of my favorite memories over the past years have been watching the growth and development both on and off the court of the over 100 players I had the privilege to coach. I hope that this is not the end of my coaching, but I felt like there was no way that I could devote the kind of time required to be successful at my primary career and also devote the kind of time and attention needed to be valuable to the coaching staff.


I’ve been cycling to work again this year. At least I had been. That was before I crashed on a recreational ride on 9/17, breaking both my wrists. They have since healed, and I am cast free, but they remain weak and sore. Hopefully I can get back to consistent riding soon.

Defending The Family

31 May 2015

For the last several years I have been one of the Sunday teachers in our Elder’s Quorum (for those unfamiliar with LDS Church practices, that’s like a Men’s Group Sunday School Class.) My assignment about 10 times a year is to prepare a lesson based on an assigned sermon delivered during the most recent General Conference.

In the four years I have been teaching these “Teachings for our Times” lessons, I had never been assigned a talk by one of the church’s female auxiliary leaders. So, when the lesson schedule was released and I saw that May’s lesson was a talk given by one of the sister leaders, I was initially excited. Then I realized that rather than being the talk by Sister Wixom that I found incredibly inspiring, I was assigned a talk titled “Defenders of the Family Proclamation” by Sister Oscarson.

This was the most difficult lesson for me to prepare in years. I feel like I have to be completely authentic when I teach, and I am not a huge fan of the Proclamation, particularly the way it gets used in some LDS circles. At the same time, if I wanted to be completely faithful to my personal feelings, I would argue that “protecting the family” requires traditionally progressive ideas like:

  • living wages,
  • family friendly leave policies,
  • single-payer and socialized health care,
  • expansion of subsized higher-education.

Ideas that don’t find a lot of support in the heart of conservative Utah, and not really in line with the points Sister Oscarson was trying to make.

It seems likely given Supreme Court cased being decided this summer that this talk will be assigned in numerous other congregations, and several friends have asked how I taught this lesson and remained faithful to both the orginal by Sister Oscarson and to my own feelings and testimony. With that in mind, I have decided to share my notes from that lesson. Hope they will be helpful to someone in the LDS Blogosphere.

Defenders of the Family Proclamation


I bristle a bit when I hear the Proclamation described as revelation, revelatory or see it elevated to a status equal to scripture. I know I am not the only one. As an example, over the pulpit in the 2010 October Conference President Packer stated that The Family: A Proclamation to the World, “qualifies according to definition, as a revelation…” The printed version of that talk released in the Ensign a month later include a revision. It states that the proclamation “is a guide that members of the Church would do well to read and to follow.”

That does not mean that I lack any conviction that it contains valuable principles and guidance for our lives. However, I have found that the furthest I can go is to accept the description of the Proclamation given by President Hinckley when he introduced the Proclamation at the Women’s Conference in October 1995, He said, “the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles now issue a proclamation to the Church and to the world as a declaration and reaffirmation of standards, doctrines, and practices relative to the family which the prophets, seers, and revelators of this church have repeatedly stated throughout its history.”

What does it mean to say that the Proclamation is a “a declaration and reaffirmation of standards, doctrines, and practices relative to the family”?

Sis Oscarson: May I point out something obvious? Life rarely goes exactly according to plan for anyone, and we are very aware that not all women are experiencing what the proclamation describes. It is still important to understand and teach the Lord’s pattern and strive for the realization of that pattern the best we can.

Sis Oscarson: Heavenly Father has a mission and plan for each of us, but He also has His own timetable. One of the hardest challenges in this life is to have faith in the Lord’s timing. It’s a good idea to have an alternative plan in mind, which helps us to be covenant-keeping, charitable, and righteous women who build the kingdom of God no matter which way our lives go. We need to teach our daughters to aim for the ideal but plan for contingencies.

When Sis Oscarson says we should “have an alternative plan in mind, which helps us to be covenant-keeping, charitable, and righteous women who build the kingdom of God no matter which way our lives go.” what kind of plan is she talking about? What kind of plans can we help our sons and especially our daughters develop? How do we help, support and encourage those whose lives have only include the contingency road?


Sis Oscarson proposes that there are three principles in the proclamation that are in need of steadfast defenders.

  • Marriage between a man and a woman.
  • Elevating the divine roles of mothers and fathers.
  • The sanctity of the home.


(Explain the concept of a dog whistle) The request to defend marriage between a man and a woman is sometimes used as a dog whistle to rally the troops against the legalization of same-sex marriage. We as members for the Church of Jesus Christ most certainly believe in and preach the divine nature and purpose for the relationship between husband and wife. Yet at this moment 71% of the members of the church live in states or countries where same-sex marriages are legally performed and recognized, and another 11% are in countries where same-sex civil unions are legal.

In the face of these conditions, what is Sis. Oscarson asking us to do when she asks us to defend the principle of marriage between a man and a woman?

She says “We need to continue to model righteous marriages, seek for that blessing in our lives, and have faith if it is slow in coming. Let us be defenders of marriage as the Lord has ordained it while continuing to show love and compassion for those with differing views.”


In discussing the divine roles of Mother and Father, she makes two points:

We eagerly teach our children to aim high in this life. We want to make sure that our daughters (and sons) know that they have the potential to achieve and be whatever they can imagine. We hope they will love learning, be educated, talented, and maybe even become the next Marie Curie or Eliza R. Snow.

Do we also teach our sons and daughters there is no greater honor, no more elevated title, and no more important role in this life than that of mother or father? I would hope that as we encourage our children to reach for the very best in this life that we also teach them to honor and exalt the roles that mothers and fathers play in Heavenly Father’s plan.

How do we best balance those two goals?


Sis Oscarson:

*What do you think of when you hear the term “homemaker”?

We need to take a term which is sometimes spoken of with derision and elevate it. It is the term homemaker. All of us - women, men, youth, and children, single or married - can work at being homemakers. We should make our homes places of order, refuge, holiness, and safety. Our homes should be places where the Spirit of the Lord is felt in rich abundance and where the scriptures and the gospel are studied, taught, and lived.