Featured Article #34: Potable Tomatoes for the Passive Gardner

Your Balcony Garden: Potable Tomatoes for the Passive Gardener

 By Chad Robert Parker

Vegetables may not excite you. It takes an extra button or two at the self-checkout to purchase them anyway. And you certainly are not a green thumb. That’s exactly why this article is for you.

I’m not saying we are lazy, or anything, because despite the disadvantages with eating vegetables that you and I both recognize, we like the healthy side effects and everyone knows fresh vegetables are the most tasty. But we keep busy in a fast-paced world. You and I just don’t have time to be farmers. Most of our produce is going to come from them anyway. Besides, if you are like me, you don’t have a yard to have a garden. Even if you do have the space, you might like the option of gardening in pots. I am just starting to experiment with it.

I’ve already had successes and also failure. Gardening from your second story balcony has its unique challenges. At first, you figure that every plant needs enough soil, sun, and water. Then you realize that wind at that height could be damaging, or that certain plants will never have enough soil in the biggest of pots. No, I didn’t plant an apple tree or something like that, but I am struggling with the deep root needs of a zucchini plant. If I block the wind roughing up the zucchini plant, then it doesn’t get enough sun. I watered it more when I learned that balcony plants—due to being so high in the air—may dry out quicker and the extra watering seemed to be working; it flowered nicely for a while, but that is when I think the roots reached their limit. Half of my plant is dying, but new sets of flowers are trying. I’ve heard that it could be a problem where bees aren’t finding my suspended garden and perhaps the pollen isn’t being spread from the male flowers to the female flowers. The solution is said to be to manually do this with a cotton swab for fruit to follow. But again, how involved do you or a casual gardener like me want to be. It didn’t work, in my case anyway.

My advice is to stick with plants that specifically state they are groomed for pots: although one of the two remaining tomato plant’s that was intended for the ground, is still doing quite well (albeit, full grown tomatoes planted in pots become cherry tomatoes basically). The tomato plant for full-grown tomatoes produces a small yield, while the other tomato plant (intended for a pot) is a cherry tomato plant (with an expected small-sized return but more plentiful harvest). Well anyway, I didn’t even bother trying to raise the plants from seeds either, but began with plants that were already started. For my experimental purposes, if I get two successful plants out of three, that’s more tomatoes then I’ve had in a long while. So yeah, I’d say if I am able to grow tomatoes on my balcony, so can you. Give tomatoes a try, and then grow your garden options from there.

Here’s how it worked: a brother of mine found me a couple 5 gallon buckets on the side of the road. No one else was using them, so he gave them to me. The lighter colored the better, so the sun doesn’t overheat them as easily. It’s also good if you know the buckets are clean of chemicals, which could be an outlying factor in my experiment. If cement powder or residue for instance is inside a bucket it could definitely adversely affect your plant by depriving it of the water it naturally absorbs so well. Anyway, I drilled like 6 to 8 one-inch holes in the bottom. You can place the bucket upside down, so as to not drill into your carpet, like I almost did. Not that you would. Gather and place some fist sized rocks in the bottom fourth of the bucket. Then find some good potting soil in a bag you can buy at a dollar store or wherever you buy your plants. Pour the soil in and level it off at the top of the bucket around the plant you place. That’s it! Now water it daily from like a quart jar and be sure it gets enough sun against the shade of your home. Then enjoy the fact that the tomato plant withstands wind fairly well (though you may invest in a wired tomato cage to encircle its growth). At least your minimal garden could provide two affordable types of tomatoes for some great salsa, though it’s growing a little late to test it out this summer.

Featured Article #33: Do-it-yourself Closet Organizer

Build Your Own Closet Organizer

By Chad Robert Parker

You’ve finally got that walk-in closet you’ve always wanted. Now that you can buy all the clothes and shoes you want (Or at least some of them), don’t spend all your money on the installation of a closet organizer. Do it yourself.

Seeing my own closet in disarray, I got online and looked at the possibilities of what is out there. The price range was anywhere from $200 to $500. What I saw was not elaborate or difficult. Seeing the boards on my office floor that I had discontinued plans for building some bookshelves with, I decided that I might just as easily put together a closet organizer for under $125. The boards’ cost just around $100, and then there was sandpaper, screws, stain (Honey gold to match the main bathroom cabinets, which I didn’t choose), a drip cloth, and a paintbrush to buy. I had an arm saw, a hammer, a screwdriver, and a drill already. I got online again and combined some ideas of what I had seen in other closet organizers. Pictured is what I came up with for my closet space, given the amount of wood I had for the job.

(Image here)

Then I got to work. How hard could it be? Well, the poplar boards had laid around long enough to warp some and the saw didn’t quite cut through the entire board widths, making for some unevenness. Weak screws required pre-drilling to keep from breaking off in the stiff boards. Staining the wood over a drip cloth in my garage while listening to the radio went smoothly enough though. With some effort the closet did come together. The neighbors only had to put up with the noise for one Saturday morning and a couple nights after work. All and all it was not too bad and I love the results.

The closet looks nice with its new dimensions. Plus, nicer clothes now have a place, not to mention my unmentionables having a closed in cabinet. And it is kind of fun to see the socks and shoes in their cubbyholes. The changes have definitely expanded my usable area of the closet and made it more orderly; it is both a functional and aesthetic design that fits my needs well.

Next up, my food storage pantry area needs some shelving. One more project before I take on any fine woodworking would probably be worthwhile anyway. I like the final result of the closet organizer, but I did learn that a finer finish would have required more sanding, a more even coat of stain, more notching to conceal screws, better screws (Pre-drilling and using a basic hand screwdriver instead of a power drill when working the screws into the wood sometimes was the best way to go), and a better saw to ensure good square cuts and fits. Can’t wait to build one of those laptop/food trays, or maybe a bedside table. Slowly working my way up, a little woodworking could really enhance my living standard, but I also learn my limits and will probably just opt to buy that office desk and hutch.



Featured Article #32: Global Warming Science: Fact or Fiction

The Science behind Global Warming: Fact or Fiction

By Chad Robert Parker

The tale of Global Warming is explained to us like how a frog placed in boiling water will jump right out, but if placed in cool water that is slowly heated, the same frog will allow itself to boil to death.

Is the common man his own problem?

You probably guessed it: in this analogy, the average person, you and me, are clueless frogs; and there is nothing we can do to control the temperature of our environment. But if Global Warming is as real as the boiling water experiment can be for a frog, then aren’t the scientists and their funders, the government—also the people who are trying to clue us in on our predicament—right there with us? Doesn’t that mean that we are all helpless to do anything about it (just like the frog that has no control on the temperature applied to the pot’s environment)? While the Science is optimistic to turn the tide of global warming, based on factual observations that temperatures as a whole have been raising, the causal application does not necessarily fit. Science may just now be coming to a common agreement that global warming exists according to the temperature stats since about 1850, but no Science can undeniably conclude that the cause is human related.

Is the Science behind Global Warming accurate?

The message of Science appears to be taking the high road, offering us the hope that we are in charge of our surroundings, but in reality, if Science—based on hypotheses, and always moving toward truth, but rarely coming to absolute conclusions—requires our money and effort toward a cause that never could reverse Global Warming anyway, then Science is just taking advantage. Even if Scientists believe that Global Warming is inevitable and it is better for us to do something rather than nothing, regardless of whether the trend is unalterable by us or not, they are not helping our cause with these good intentions, but adding to the ill-effects that the Global Warming phenomenon can cause us. In fact, Science has surely benefited as a whole from our funds, much more than we have gained from their hard facts. Some of the Science behind Global Warming includes:

Sea levels have risen 4 to 8 inches in the last century; greenhouse gases are at their highest percentage in its recorded history (no more than 200 years); air bubbles trapped in ancient ice suggest that water levels are higher than they have been in 420,000 years (though melted ice should displace less water, not more, questioning the conclusion that there is less ice than ever before; not to mention, we know the Ice Age would have had more ice if that period of Global Cooling existed as commonly accepted to be the case); plants and animals are being displaced from their so-called natural habitats; and more severe storms and droughts are said to be occurring (which ignores the origins of the term: biblical proportions).

So it would appear that the Earth is undergoing significant Global Climate change, as Science has acknowledged the Earth has undergone just as severely in the past.

Does Science provide a solution for Global Warming?

But aren’t these just observations of the environment from our fellow frogs, rather than a causal relation that can be attributed to anything we do? More than likely we overestimate our effect on the Earth, if we think we caused a trend of Global Warming that will never ever level off (or cool off), if left unchanged by us. Scientists have not been able to agree on whether human activity is significant enough to impact climate change for the worse. Since this causal relationship can’t be verified, it is impossible to suspect that we could reverse our habits for the best, either.

Even if it becomes indisputable that the environment around us is getting too warm—by incremental degrees—our proverbial pot, basically has a lid on it; because we can’t all join the space program and leave earth. Or can we? Although we could pour a lot of money into the effort of finding a way for everyone to become astronauts and flee the planet, no one is jumping at the opportunity to waste more money on the space program over the threat of Global Warming. Maybe the space program should consider this marketing campaign and give Science a competitor for our Global Warming tax dollars. Sound like Science fiction? I think so. But if we really believed death on this planet were imminent, then a solution of leaving Earth for a more suitable planet may be just as viable as any solution Science has offered for reviving this planet.

In other words, while Science—along with everyone else, mind you—may be able to detect natural changes in our environment observed—that may be a threat to us—they can’t predict the future (and what effect we can have on it) with certainty. Since Global Warming is something we face for the first time in charted history, Science has no way to observed how to fix it. They can hypothesize, but by the time they would be able to make observations on their experiment, their predictions of how to change Global Warming better be accurate, because we will have already reached our boiling point.

Can the Government prove Global Warming is inflicted by man and therefore resolved by man?

How did Global Warming become politicized before the burden of proof was ever resolved, anyway? If Science were sure about Global Warming, then shouldn’t the political debates be focused on what we should do about it, rather than whether it exists? Proponents of government policies are exacerbated by the latter part of that question, but should first be concerned with the first part as well. Why should government be united on solving a problem conjured up by only half of the scientific community? When Global Warming is an exact Science then maybe an imperfect political science can tackle the issues this doom and gloom scenario would present.

My opinion about Global Warming

Don’t get me wrong: if Global Warming is unalterable, due to the path of our human behavior, we also have the power to reverse the trend and we should. But here are the facts: 1) Science has not unanimously concluded that Global Warming continuing its course indefinitely, is a reality at all; 2) Temperature extrapolations from the past are not as precise as today, and definitely less credible to be basing dire consequences in the future; 3) Normal climate varies wider than once expected; 4) Even if it were true that the Earth is slowly burning up, Science is not convinced that people should hold any significant blame; 5) Computer model simulations can only project so far, and their credibility is not an exact Science, so-to-speak; 6) And even if we could change a global climate with our habits for good or worse, there is definitely not enough proof to suggest that we would know how or have any significant effect in doing it.

Weather and climate are similar: proving to me periods of both Global Warming and Global Cooling

I am aware of areas of the world that have experienced a trend of hotter climate. But I am also aware of areas of the world that have experienced the opposite now, as well as at different times. I have heard the claims of Science on both sides. The most substantial Science predictors behind further Global Warming are based on a couple hundred years of recorded temperature (Though some scientists claim that a trend of Global Warming from these records isn’t even accurate in itself.). Had the same assumption been made about periods of a couple hundred years during the Ice Age, we would be convinced of death by Global Cooling. If climate were to continue at a pace of extreme cooling or warming (depending when our Science applied this limited time frame being used today), then the temperature would have been off the charts several times throughout our history and we would have already been extinct from heat. So it kind of goes back to the question: would you rather suffer through extreme heat or extreme cold conditions? Ecuador or Canada?). But weather—a shorter time frame, within reason of a lifetime’s scope—is actually a good microcosm of what climate really does. If it got progressively hotter each day in July, we wouldn’t assume that the weather would be hotter than ever in December. We should realize that just like weather, climate patterns go up and then go down. If the Ocean is heating up due to whatever, maybe we should enjoy it while it lasts. The Pacific Ocean has always been too cold for me. Take a lesson from the coral and thrive in warmer conditions.

Nonetheless we should do something about Global Warming

But seriously: even though some of us need an excuse like Global Warming, we should be good stewards of the Earth that we’ve been given. If the conservative result is more recycling and less polluting, then maybe there is a point to liberal scare tactics. Going green is a great solution for taking better care of our environment, regardless. In reality, I’ve found the hardest part about recycling, is the lack of government programs supporting the idea (not the opposite). I would gladly recycle plastic, and cardboard, and newspaper, and metal, and glass, all separately from my trash, on an individual basis, if that program were collectively made available. We can only do so much. Instead of preaching about global changes in our habits, governments should first talk about providing the capabilities to do so. Instead of talking carbon credits—Al Gore’s excuse for polluting as much as he wants and then paying for it—we should be eliminating excesses altogether, for the sake of better air quality, not just to make a buck on Global Warming while essentially leaving the same amounts of pollution in the air. We should also realize though, that carbon dioxide is not all bad; it helps plants thrive, which provides us oxygen. Besides, farmers have grown more crops than ever before with the help of modern technology we want to make the villain. If there has been a threat to the ground being farmed in the lifetime of a farmer, it has been increased housing development across the landscape (hardly a problem these days with the housing market), but never has too large of a variation in temperature in one direction or the other displaced a farmer’s croplands. They’ve learned irrigation in the time of droughts and dust bowls. And as far as I know, even when it appears that water is running low, water, at least on this planet, is still a renewable resource; it has been available to man throughout all of time. Man succeeds in their ability to adapt to life on Earth, not in their opposition to the changes of a living Earth (it provides us life, not the other way around).


Featured Article #31: Answering the Gay Question

Answering the Gay Question: Defining both sides of the debate

By Chad Robert Parker

Is it a question of traditional values or civil rights? Or both? Defining gay rights is possibly the key issue of our day and deserves attention to both sides of the argument, in order to rightly examine and define who we are as a people and what is acceptable to us as a society.

The United States of America’s Declaration of Independence, proclaims, “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness.” Our government acknowledges God-given rights and even urges us to our duty to declare independence from any government that takes away from these fundamental rights. However, seeking freedom does not justify infringing upon another’s freedoms. How we define ourselves will determine whose rights are being infringed upon, when answering the questions that must be raised in this debate. As marriage is at the center of the argument (but assumed in reference to either group), for purposes of this article, I will refer to one side as gay (marriage) activists and the other side as traditional (marriage) advocates. I will present the argument of the activists first, as they are the proponents for proposing changes.

The first question: what is marriage? Gay activists argue that marriage should be defined to include unions between persons of the same sex. Their claim essentially is that marriage is simply a government institution where a document issued will legally recognize the union of two individuals. They acknowledge that traditionally these unions have been between a man and a woman, but do not see the purpose behind such a precedent (as gay unions aren’t then given the added government benefits extended to married couples). Traditional marriage advocates value the original definition as much more. They see it as the forming of a family—the basic unit of society—and maintain that broadening the scope of a societal definition will undermine the original sacred purpose, which societies have historically been upheld by. (Government benefits are considered added perks to these unions, given due to a measurable benefit to society over many years, but are not considered a mandatory handout that can’t be reassessed).

Both sides recognize that the definition of family is changing according to usage, but neither side would claim that broken families becoming the norm is a good change.

Available studies prove traditional families—where loving parents raise children together—are the best environments for children to grow up in. Nonetheless, gay activists suggest they be given more of a chance to prove equally capable of raising children, but naturally they have to depend on the trend of broken families to perpetuate offspring for that experiment to even take place. Instead of perpetuating the problem, traditional advocates request that we consider what the children—who granted, are the future of our society—deserve, and then work toward providing it for them at the outset.

Regardless, gay activists argue that marriage is a right that gays are entitled to. Their argument is that society is already broken and needs to be redefined. But again, another definition beyond that is being called into question here. Is marriage a right or a privilege? Many persons, who are not married (singles—which by the way, already accept gays as a part of that group, if they choose not to reject this class), consider themselves as having all unalienable rights, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, but they either choose not to be married (as it is defined with the opposite sex) or someone else (of the opposite sex) chooses not to marry them.

But gay activists go a step further and argue that the freedom of choice of whether to get married or not is directly being taken away from them. Traditional marriage advocates claim that whether marriage is a right or a privilege doesn’t matter when it comes to freedom of choice, as marriage is not being withheld from anyone under the traditional definition anyway. In other words, if you don’t want a union with someone of the opposite sex, then you are not seeking marriage as it has typically been defined, but you are seeking something entirely different, and you just want to call it marriage for your convenience.

Now this finally brings us to the real question: the reason gay activists want to redefine marriage and redefine family and redefine rights and redefine freedom of choice and basically redefine society, is because current definitions don’t fit how they define themselves. As a result they either have to redefine their own definition of themselves or redefine everyone else. The real question is whether or not you or they have the choice to be who we are. I choose who I am. But are gays born gay? At the core of any question of discrimination, is always whether or not the people themselves are being discriminated against for who they are, or for what they choose to be. Blacks (for the color of their skin, which they were obviously born with and did not choose) and women (for their gender, which they were obviously born with and did not choose) are good examples of groups who were being discriminated against for things out of their control. So that is what this debate boils down to as well.

But it is not even clear what defines a person as gay. There’s so much variation in what is considered gay, but it is important in order to determine if it is an innate trait from birth or not. Some argue that simply an attraction towards the same sex means a person is gay, but people are inclined to think things although that doesn’t necessarily mean they were born to act according to those inclinations. Some examples of this are all proven by behavioral choices: such as a liar, a thief, a cheat, and a murderer or on the other hand, an honest person, a caregiver, or a model citizen. Persons who fit any of these descriptions may have been inclined to be what they are, but until they actually act on it, they really aren’t considered any of these titles. Considering that gay activists would like marriage to encompass the most extreme behavior and examples of being gay, that’s the definition that needs to be considered. In other words, unless gay activists can prove that gays from birth have no choice but to act on sexual inclinations they say they have toward persons of the same sex, it can’t be said that that is the sole definition of who they really are, and then these activists of change really have no argument left for change.

Until then, sexual preference, as it was first aptly named, is exactly that—it is a choice. So far, gay activists are unable to provide any conclusive evidence to the contrary. Science will never state that a person is born without the ability to choose whom they will have sex with. And as long as it is a choice to be different than society, it is also a choice made to have different standards associated with those choices. While the color of your skin, your gender, or your race set you apart as a different class, choice (the key word here) does not grant you your own class. Everyone has the freedom of choice in this life, but there are consequences to every choice. While society may tolerate people making choices they themselves would not make, they do not have to deem others choices to be just as acceptable for society as the choices they themselves choose to make. That would not be calling a spade a spade, for calling day night and night day still does not make it so no matter how many stand in the shadows unable to adequately define the truth of the matter.

Featured Article #30: Classifying Christianity

Christianity Classified

By Chad Robert Parker

An editorial on Christian Religions: grouping them into 3 categories

In the Book of Acts, chapter 11, verse 26, of the New Testament of the Bible, we read:

“And it came to pass that a whole year they assembled themselves with the Church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.”

What is a Christian?

The disciples, or followers of Christ, were therefore first designated Christians at this time in Antioch: obviously the word, Christian, being a derivative from the word Christ, whom they followed. Being Christian appears to at least mean that they believed Jesus of Nazareth, was indeed the Christ, or the Savior who was prophesied to come into the world. The origin of the term Christian does not seem to suggest any further requirement, however.

Any religion that believes Jesus of Nazareth to be Jesus Christ, the only name that brings salvation, qualifies as much today, to be called Christians, as members of Jesus Christ’s original church did. It is important to reference the scripture again when noting that it was an established practice of the disciples of Jesus to assemble with the “church”; therefore, specifically stating that a church was actually founded. Nearly 2,000 years later instead of one Christian church there are many Christian churches.

3 Types of Christian Religions/Churches

It is easier to quantify the various faiths, knowing that all Christian religions can be classified into three groups. If you believe in Jesus Christ as the Savior, then you belong to one of these groups. Forgive me if I don’t mention the church you are specifically a part of. I will at least give one comparative example from each of the groups. Just as the disciples acted for and in behalf of Jesus Christ in administering to His church after His death, the question is which of the Christian churches does Jesus Christ authorize today.

Group 1: Sustained Truth

Catholicism claims that authority was passed down from Jesus Christ throughout time. It claims that the Pope is authorized in the same way that Peter was given authority to lead the Church. There is debatably a large gap in the record of who would have had authority between Peter and the first Pope. Catholics believe that truths were also passed down undefiled—even throughout a long period of illiteracy—known as the Dark Ages. Religions in this category emphasize the need to maintain the truths (as given by Jesus Christ, the Savior, himself), because even though the Pope purports to speak in place of Jesus, revealed truths of Jesus actual words—in addition to what is known to be said of him in times past—is not necessary with sustained truth. To my knowledge, only branches of Catholicism claim to have retained all authority and all truth.

Group 2: Reformed Truth

Most churches and religions are Protestant, meaning they broke away from the first group (or Catholicism). Their claim is that Catholicism lost truths, and that it did not have the authority from Jesus Christ to lead His church. Many Reformers even lost their lives trying to recover—for fellow Christians—truths they knew had been lost. Puritans were persons of many beliefs who wanted an even more pure religion than reformers were ever able to attain to. But without authority to set up Christ’s church, who is to say whether God favors the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) more than Baptists, Lutherans, Methodists, Evangelicals and/or others. It is more likely that every church has some truth, but that no one church, which rose from the reformation, was able to regain all truths, much less the authority from Jesus Christ to be the second coming of His church in it’s fullness. Nor do these religions claim to have been authorized, but rather acknowledge the Apostasy (the Dark Ages), or the great falling away, that was prophesied of in the Bible: and Reformers just did their best to get as many truths back as they could. The good news is that if Jesus is the Christ, then He lives, and will come again, and any Christian faith at least points its members to receive Him and His gospel the best that they know how, for when He does come again.

Group 3: Restored Truth

The last group claims that Jesus has restored His authority, His truth, and His church. While it is important for this group that other Christian faiths recognize how it also accepts Jesus as the Christ (and is Christian), it is more important to its founding that it is always accepted by Jesus Christ as His. There may be other churches with the claim that Jesus has restored His gospel directly to such church, but the only church that comes to mind with the claim that the living Jesus is indeed orchestrating the acts of His one and only self-proclaimed church again today is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons). Just as God chose Prophets to lead His church when Jesus was not on the Earth before, the claim here is that Prophets have been chosen again and given the priesthood of God to lead His church today by His word. With the restoration of priesthood authority came the restoration of revealed truths. Mormons believe in both the New and the Old Testaments of the Bible. They also believe another testament of Jesus Christ of Nazareth is found in the Book of Mormon: a scriptural account said to have come from part of the Lost Tribe’s of Israel that were scattered upon the face of the Earth, according to the Bible. The purpose of another testament (and scriptural account) would not be to take away from the Bible, but to support the Bible (and one interpretation of it), just in case many various interpretations of the Bible ever got confused and possibly even divided the Lord’s people (which happened, as evidenced by the many churches in the other categories).

Nothing but the truth

If true, the restoration of God’s true gospel ahead of the Lord’s second coming would be the most important news since His first coming. Logic only goes so far in discovering what category and Christian church, if any, could possibly have God’s whole truth, however. In order to understand truth of a spiritual nature it must be discerned by developing a sense of the Spirit. Is anyone so far removed from their conscience so as to not even recognize the feelings distinguishing between good and evil? I doubt it. As long as a person is living as close to what they know to be right in their heart and in their mind, that person can come to know more truth by the light of Christ they have been given. The way that a person comes to know that Jesus is the Christ is through reading the scriptures and through prayer (and then living accordingly helps the experiment).

All truths that are of Jesus Christ can be tested in the same way, because they will result in the same feeling. If God has revealed to you that Jesus is the Christ and that the Bible is true, who is anyone to discount your belief in that? But you still have not narrowed the field down. Every Christian religion believes that, but realize that no more than one religion can be right (or fully in line with God’s ways), and with how each religion contradicts another in some way, no two differing faiths can both be completely correct. God does not contradict himself. He has one truth. He has one church.

The test I would suggest for Christians is to give the Book of Mormon the same chance you gave the Bible (For non-Christians—give Christ a chance, first. Pray, and see if He does not answer your life for the better [then live according to His word, and this is joy].). Ask God if it is not true. If after sincere study and prayer you find that the books of scripture in the Book of Mormon aren’t as true as the Bible, then at least you have narrowed the field of religions down by one faith (and maybe by one whole category [that of God restoring His truth]). But if you find that Jesus the Christ in the Bible is the same found in the Book of Mormon testament, then you have narrowed the field of religions down to one.

I don’t know how to put the other religions to the test, if the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not the one church authorized by Jesus Christ to represent Him and His truths. I haven’t had to worry about it. Every church out there has truths, but I’m glad that I don’t have to sort through them all to find out what truths were retained, or reformed correctly, when instead I rely on my surety that I’ve found complete truth from one source. I know Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, whose birth and life was recorded in the Bible, and I know He is the same Savior of the people who lived elsewhere during that time. Jesus Christ is the Savior of people before, during and since His ministry. He is the Savior of us all. From two witnesses of two peoples, Jews and Gentiles, both the Bible and the Book of Mormon, comes a firm and full belief in Jesus Christ, the entire essence of what is my Christianity.

Featured Article #29: Law vs. Illegal Immigration

Law is a part of the Illegal Immigration Debate

By Chad Robert Parker

Law-abiding Citizens are not convinced that Law has no place

America was built on Immigration. American citizens as a whole, therefore, accept Immigration. There really isn’t a debate over Immigration itself. What is in question, however, seems to be whether to follow the law.

Illegal Immigrants plain don’t agree with what American citizens have voted into law. Legal Immigrants at least recognize and show respect for America’s governance. They followed the rules to become a citizen and most respect the process even more after having obliged. In fact, these new citizens are like most American’s, who want at least some standards of law and order attached to Immigration. And yet, the arguments I hear for Immigration, whether intended to come across so poorly or not, argue against having an Immigration law at all. The arguments against upholding current Immigration laws, that I come across, don’t offer a solution for the problem of Illegal Immigration, either:

Argument 1: Where is your compassion for these people?

Many arguments made are just appendages to this one. They have a bad government where they come from. They just needed a job. Wouldn’t you have done the same thing for your family? They have nothing and they are poor. We can’t put them in jail. We are breaking up their families.

Answer: Are these really arguments against having an Immigration law? None of that justifies breaking the law. These may be good arguments for us to consider changing the law to accepting more legal Immigrants, but does that mean we should have no law at all for who can become Americans?

Argument 2: But the children they had born here are American citizens. We can’t split up families.

Answer: no one is splitting up another’s family. A child may be American, but if persons have to return to a country of their citizenship, then they have the choice to take all of their children with them, to raise them there. If they refuse to take the child with them, then it is they who are splitting up their family, not us.

Argument 3: They generally are law-abiding people

Answer: That may be generally true, but whether they engage in more criminal behavior, once in America, or not, is not the point. They didn’t follow the law in coming in the first place and that is the consequences of the law being executed here. As long as they are here unlawfully, that is not considered law-abiding. If they wanted to prove they are law-abiding, then they should leave on their own. Law-abiding people debate to change laws, rather than disobey the law until lawmakers’ give-in to their transgression. America should be responsible for its own citizens, not policing everyone else’s. If you are in America unlawfully, it should come as no surprise if we exercise the law in forcing you out.

Argument 4: We need them in order to run our economy

Answer: Do we? Then shouldn’t we work on an Immigration worker’s program? Maybe we would work on that, if we weren’t too busy tracking down those who took it into their own hands to force a worker’s program on us. So many of these end up on street corners hoping someone will drive by and choose them for work that day. Is this the best worker program that could have been created?

In our history, there has been a problem once or twice with a shortage of jobs, but never ever has there been a problem of not enough workers. There is no proof that this will ever happen. Companies that can’t find workers to work for a competitive wage haven’t been looking. If you are willing to work for a non-competitive wage, then you are not doing anyone any favors, because you bring down everyone’s wage and/or put people out of work. People should hold out for the money they are worth, because if you are a good worker then companies will make enough money off of you to justify having you (at the pay levels we are talking here); otherwise, neither you nor the company should be in business anyway.

Closing Arguments

I understand that the vocal minority does not approve of the Immigration process, but where are the intelligible arguments of how to fix it. That is all I am asking for, before we change Immigration laws or get rid of them altogether. Whether we are concerned for the well being of the people, who illegally cross our borders, or if we are concerned with the strain it places on our government to have them here, or if we are concerned with the difficulties involved in sending them back, we all agree on one thing—this is a problem.

How are we going to fix the problem? The blame of our Immigration problem is often placed on the laws created, instead of the people who don’t follow the law. But if people followed the Immigration laws that are already in place, there would not be a problem. I think the Immigration laws and process in place don’t need to be changed, just upheld. If the government on a federal or a state level is made aware of any illegal Immigrant they should be able to turn those individuals over to authorities who will then send them back to their countries (preferably at the expense of that other country’s government). But the government could mostly control this by holding employers to the law of not hiring people who are not citizens of America. It really would not be that hard to do, and we would lose the problem by attrition, as illegal Immigrants came for reasons of opportunity they will also leave for the same reason. Maybe then they will have incentive to try to become legal citizens like the rest of us.

America is built on and runs on the backs of legal citizens. Legal Immigrants came here not only to make a better life, but also to make a better America. I respect our Ancestors. Maybe the legal process of immigration could be changed for the better, currently however, illegal Immigrants not only disrespect America but the problem’s they pose exceeds the benefits they may offer. In catering to them we would disrespect ourselves as well as our Immigrant ancestors who went through the process the correct way. Where is our compassion for the many people who want to come to America, but can’t get admitted while we are stuck considering amnesty for so many of the less deserving? None of the arguments I hear are compelling reasons to automatically make illegal immigrants citizens, at the expense of citizenship for others who would do it legally. I haven’t heard arguments that make me stop and think that better laws could be made. It’s time we execute the law and require people to follow the legal process of being an American.

Featured Article #28: Simple Solution for Healthcare Reform

A Simple Solution for Healthcare Reform

Government healthcare priorities

The government prioritizes a few problems with the current healthcare system in this way: 1) It doesn’t cover everyone and every condition, 2) It is too expensive; 3) It is inefficient. While anyone who has dealt with healthcare or insurance knows that any one of these areas could use improvement, the greater problem is which priority is getting the most attention first.

What should the first priority of healthcare be?

The first priority recognizes how healthcare lacks to cover the gamut of problems for all people in need, which is a good thing. But while focusing on fixing the overall outcome, the government fails to put enough emphasis on what led to the egregious expenses that burden people in the first place. The way to reduce expenses, the second priority, has to do with the third priority. Can you see how focusing on these things out of order leads to more bureaucratic postulating and less ability to do anything about it?

Correcting costly inefficiencies is the easiest and best way to start the process of healthcare reform. But the government is the worst entity to get involved when it comes to reducing red tape. Let’s review what healthcare has become, and why it is a problem, before we determine how involved government should be with where the healthcare system goes from here.

Healthcare’s Old System

The old system of healthcare was very basic. Medical practice used to bill directly before costs got out of hand. When it became too expensive for the average person to afford every possible healthcare need that could arise in a person’s life, insurance saw an opportunity to enter this lucrative market as a third party. We turned to insurance not so much for the routine healthcare that most could afford, but to reduce the expense of possible unforeseen healthcare conditions that might arise that we could not otherwise afford. In other words, we spend more for routine visits to the doctor but spend less for other visits that may come up, when using insurance instead of paying a doctor directly. More cost overall is introduced when a third party is involved.

Healthcare’s Current System

But when the option to have insurance is there, it is not worth the risk for the average individual to not have that extra coverage afforded an average income. The medical field often requests that insurance be involved to mediate costs anyway, because it assures them of their money, as long as they verify that the patient is covered by the insurance for a given treatment. And while insurances would lose money if everyone had more than routine visits, they make money on the fact that the majority of people (for the majority of the time) stay healthy, and so it is worthwhile for the insurance to cover costs on the exceptions to the majority rule. Thus, under the current system of healthcare, all three parties have a vested interest. But suddenly the costs of medical equipment, of doctors, of their staff, and of insurance are becoming too much for the average person, whose income has not inflated as greatly. With another rise in cost a fourth party seeks to get involved, but would that lower costs for individuals, or raise them?

Follow the money

The law of supply and demand grants doctors and other medical practitioners the right of a higher wage than the average person. We need their education and their skills. The medical field is smart enough to know that if one person can’t pay there will be others who can. If given the choice to perform an expensive treatment for someone who will not pay what it is worth or for someone who will pay, the choice is obvious. But who keeps doctors from over inflating costs? Insurances negotiate a cost, but doctors know that insurances can cover more than the average person, so they ask for more than they would ask of an individual. If people are generally healthy then the wages garnished by insurances give them a pretty good margin to work with. Competition with other insurances drives the price up. In other words, our general good health and your good doctor have naturally negotiated for higher medical costs. Then your insurance charges you more to cover the expense of staying in business.

Medical practitioners argue that expenses have gone up for them when their staff has to work with insurances. But we all know that medical staffs are not getting richer for the work they have to do with insurance companies, while doctors are getting paid more than ever before. Still, it brings up a good point. Are there costs in doing business with an insurance that could be reduced? The middleman is supposed to make it less expensive for the other two, after all. I think the answer is, yes. The problem comes in the interaction between doctor’s offices and insurances. It’s inefficient and it is the biggest extra cost in the process.

The cost of the biggest problem with healthcare today

Today doctors still fill out forms for their records, but insurances ask for an extra step. They don’t only want a copy of the medical records to verify covered services, but they require the doctor to fill out their forms and to submit a bill. At first glance, patients think that insurances are to blame for this inefficiency. But would you pay anyone for services performed on your behalf without proof of the services and a bill? Neither would I. It is sound business practice. Admittedly, it is a headache for the doctor’s staff to decipher the doctors writing and put it legibly on the required insurance form. Have you ever tried to read a doctor’s writing? Yeah, they don’t have a good reputation for their writing scrawls. Other than the fact that insurances have to go back and forth with doctor’s offices to get clear reports, the original doctor form does not often conform to the information insurances need. If you are going to pay someone for services they performed for you, then they are not in a position to not give you the basic information you require of them before payment. Insurances have to legally pay for things they have agreed to cover, but not until documented proof verifies that services were even done. The harder that insurances make it for doctor’s offices to complete this vital step, and the more difficult doctor’s offices make it on themselves, the more expenses will be incurred in this alone. Some insurances are worse than others. Some doctor’s offices are worse than others. And suddenly the patient becomes the middleman trying to get the other two on the same page. Finally when it gets resolved, the cost in time spent by the doctor’s office, the patient, and the insurance were still an unnecessary hassle and the expense of hourly paid individuals involved gets passed on to patients as a whole.

A Reformed Healthcare System

Benefits could far exceed costs

I’m not saying I have the entire solution for healthcare. If you want that to be said, then listen to a politician. I am more realistic than that. But what I am saying is that there is one big solution that is the most simple, and yet would bring the biggest reform to the system. I have worked in the healthcare industry. And I have seen private companies try to implement what I suggest, on a localized scale. They do it in order to carve out there own niche in the industry because they know it is a service that will work, but also a way for them to make money off of the inefficiency already there. I suggest the government’s motives be more pure and that they help to universalize the process without becoming a moneymaking entity leeching onto the system.

The upside to the problem of high healthcare costs today is that the benefit of universalizing doctor charts and insurance paperwork would far exceed the cost. Don’t get me wrong. It is not an easy fix. But we have computers and the Internet today, which makes it possible to share the same information globally. One chart that could be used for all doctors and all insurances must be devised and then used. And all other charts should be prohibited. If the government, being a federal outfit, is the best organization to implement this nationally then that, and nothing more, is what they should do, at least to start. Then see how far that takes things.

The Government should govern, not rule

We already pay the government for their service to govern. They have a place in universally reforming healthcare, but without (essentially) getting a cut of the healthcare dollars by raising our taxes. If our taxes are raised more significantly than the nominal decrease made in healthcare expenditures, then it isn’t worth it. Sure, if the government taxes the wealthy then the rest of us will feel the benefit of better healthcare without our pocketbooks being directly affected by the greater expense this would incur as a whole. But under the circumstances of our economy we can’t afford to be so shortsighted. Pushing the cost of healthcare reform onto the wealthy will diminish their ability to help our market recover overall, which is a bigger problem for us, as the little guys.

When the government makes choices about spending money, it is money they took from society, crippling the economies efforts to create jobs and solve its own ails. The government doesn’t create money and jobs; it redistributes money and jobs. But if it takes the money from the job producers, then it becomes the wealthy power, instead of the people who worked for the money. The government needs to look at the current healthcare system and see what inefficiencies can be fixed universally. Without charging the taxpayer more money to fix things is the only way the government can be involved for the people as a whole without causing us to lose more money to what would then be a government healthcare system (not a place government needs to be). The government needs to help eliminate inefficiencies between the entities that are already a part of the healthcare process, not become another divisive entity itself.

Featured Article #27: Becoming a Mentor

Why you could be a Good Mentor!

You may gain from being a mentor with a program like Big Brother/Big Sister as much as it needs you. Whether you realize it or not, you likely have more great qualities to offer than you don’t. But either way, it will be a fun learning curve.

Getting Started

A few months ago, I had the desire to look into a mentor program myself. I found the Safety Net Mentor program. I signed up, committed to at least one year, and have been mentoring weekly, ever since. Actually, a year prior, I started looking for some way I could offer service in the community. It was a casual idea at first, as I expected I would find some kind of one-time service activity sort of commitment. But when I came across the service of mentoring it resonated with me. Even though it was a longer-term service, I couldn’t help but give it more consideration. Things came up and I got busy, but it was back then that the idea of becoming a mentor sparked something in me that stuck.

An Epiphany

I came to a realization that I was at one of many crossroads that come in life. And though the direction of my life hadn’t taken the exact path I had hoped it would—as often dreams aren’t realized in the timing we would have it anyway—the thought came to me that even if I couldn’t necessarily accomplish everything I wanted for myself, perhaps fulfillment would come in doing what I possibly could give for another instead. That is what has motivated my service. My life has been blessed in many ways that I often take for granted, but I can’t deny the upbringing and the influence good mentors have been in my life. And I concluded that I could be a good mentor.

The Circle of Life

We are all mentors. Someone looks to us to act at many different points in our life. The only question is whether you are a good mentor or a bad mentor. If good thoughts lead to good actions on other’s behalf, then you could find yourself becoming a good mentor.

My Mentoring Experience

In becoming a mentor for the Safety Net Mentor Program, I have a concrete application to see how mentoring can affect someone’s life. The challenges I face are unique to the situation I was assigned, but I want to share some of the experiences I’ve had that may be of interest for someone considering what it would be like. In order to protect the trust of my agreement with my Mentee and with the Safety Net Mentor Program, I won’t mention names and I will be conservative with the details I share.

First Visit

My Mentee was placed in foster care a couple weeks before I met him. I figured that in itself would make him timid about everything. He was much more outgoing than I expected he would be. In fact, he was rather talkative. He was even waiting outside to meet me and excited at the opportunity to get out and to have someone to go and do activities with. Most kids may take longer to warm up to the idea, but I guess he kind of thought it was cool to have a “Big Brother” so to speak. He doesn’t have any siblings. It was a night of breaking the ice and becoming comfortable with one another. I brought him to my parent’s place where he could enjoy a nice family environment, but also a place where we could play some pool, and watch an animated movie in the home theater. We had a great time.

Second Visit

At the next opportunity I brought him to my apartment. After buying a couple different brands of pizza, we had a blindfold pizza test. Dominoes won over Little Caesar’s with him. Big surprise! Only I actually chose Little Caesar’s. Maybe his palette is better developed than mine but surprisingly the Dominoes pizza just seemed too salty. I got a better idea of what has influenced my Mentee’s likes and dislikes. It seems he has a propensity to lie, especially about his age, depending on whether older or younger suits him best for the occasion (older for the movies, younger when we need to buy a fishing license). He has developed a desire to get tattoos when he gets older, as well as drink beer. But he hasn’t thought about going to college or what he is going to be when he grows up. He likes rap music and his choice of reading material would be revealed at our next visit.

Other Visits

There are times I include my Mentee on just basic routine things. They need to see that mentors lead a normal life and should be involved with some of those activities. We had an interesting time visiting a store. I really had to watch him. When I was busy asking a store clerk where to find an item, my Mentee disappeared. I found my Mentee looking through magazines of women. The kind of magazines stores display are embarrassing, but it was a good opportunity for me to tell this thirteen year old boy that I didn’t think it was an appropriate magazine to be looking through. Later, I had to convince my Mentee that I would personally turn him into the security guard; if he didn’t return a drink he had stuffed down his shorts. I’m not sure how he thought he would get away with stealing it, but like the magazine, I think he was testing his bounds, or more likely, my bounds. As I have been upfront with each standard I hold, he has come to respect me more and more.

We have played bocce ball together and soccer with some friends. I invited him to watch me perform a song and juggle in a talent show. We’ve gone to watch a baseball game together of one of his friend’s playing. I love baseball. We have simply gone to have an ice cream cone or went to have dinner at Taco Bell—his favorite. I invited him to come to family dinner, a rodeo, and to help with service in moving a friend’s mom. We have just had fun, whether running errands or joking around.

Missed Visits

 Mentoring a child in foster care is a unique challenge. There have been weeks where his foster parents were unable to look after him, whether they are going out of town or something else comes up. Then the foster children go elsewhere for a while. I’ve missed some opportunities to visit my Mentee, as a result.

There have been other times when my Mentee’s own parents are in and out of his life more or less than other times. It has been understandable when he and his dad want to spend more time with each other, at the expense of times we had set aside. But I have let my Mentee know that I will be visiting him even if he returns to his parents and that I’m not replacing them. When I talked to my Mentee about it, we together came to an agreement that as long as he lets me know when something comes up, that it is not a problem if we can’t fit in time together in a given week, but that he will come to know that I will make myself available to him each week. This is the key to mentoring. I will be a consistent person in his life and have committed to be his Mentor for at least one year.

Just Being There

If a parent has to go to jail or to rehab or whatever else that prohibits them from freeing him from the foster care system (even if the other parent overcompensates for a while for that failing) my Mentee is beginning to realize that mine is just a steady influence. And I am beginning to realize that my charmed life is a great source to provide a good influence.

Enriching Lives

Hopefully my Mentee will find that his life is enlivened and enriched as much as learning from this experience has done for my life as a Mentor. There is definitely a need for good mentors. If you have enjoyed a stable upbringing with good parenting, or have observed good mentors, from teachers, to coaches, you might consider extending that influence in officially becoming a mentor yourself. Someone out there could use your influence for the better, and the service you give will do a lot for you as well. You will be happier and filled with more purpose as you connect yourself with improving others lives.


Featured Article #26: Factors for At Risk Youth

Factors from Birth for At Risk Youth

A study of a professor and Sociologist Renata Forste of Brigham Young University implicates three factors from birth that are early indicators of at risk youth. They are: low education of the parents, parents who had children young (while in their teens or early 20’s), and single parents. The percentages of children identified as at risk were such that 8% had none of the three risk factors cited, while 26% had one factor, 48% had two, and 79% had all three. Almost half of the children in the study had at least two out of three of these factors from birth and most had all three factors against them. These factors therefore, create disadvantages that cause a youth to be at risk.

What are the disadvantages?

I recently attended a seminar regarding at risk youth, where Renata Forste was the guest speaker. Besides relaying the above statistics as found by her study published in the most recent issue of the journal Fathering, she cited other sources in meeting with us, that verify some grim facts. Youth in at risk circumstances grow up in homes where one or both parents are more often than not under educated and under employed. Many live with a single parent. According to the U.S. Secretary of Labor Statistics of 2007: the average income per week of salary with less than a high school degree is $552, with a 7.1% unemployment rate; with a high school degree is $704, with 4.4% unemployment; with an Associates degree is $856, with 3.5% unemployment; and with Bachelor’s degree is $1,393; with a 2.1% unemployment.

Poverty breeds poverty. Parents have to work more hours to earn less. They devote less time with their children and can afford less opportunity for their kids.

When living at or below the poverty level, it becomes a child’s reference point. Most don’t even consider that life could be better. And the percentage of children attending higher education is starkly related to how much schooling their parent’s attained to. Many disadvantages are economic related and are readily seen, but professor Forste’s study associates some other less apparent difficulties at risk youth must overcome.

How can youth overcome at risk circumstances?

Poverty or less education will lead to less cognitive stimulation and more difficulty in implementing proper parenting. The more children are exposed to books, music, zoos, museums, and other opportunities the better off they will be in developing their cognition. With the lack of parental supervision, other good mentors or adult guidance must take its place, but rarely does. Unfortunately, today there is more of a media influence than ever before in a child’s life. Forste recommends that no more than two hours of screen time (computer or television) be allowed per child per day. She points out that there is less extracurricular activity available, but that it is needed as never before. Kids need a good active outlet. Many at risk kids are forced to be “mini-adults” in many ways. They have to deal with many adult problems they should not have to be in the middle of. They oftentimes are left to take care of themselves and other kids. In talking with children who grew up in this mold and now are single parent’s taking care of their own kids, Forste said that all expressed a wish to have had someone to talk to, to pattern their life and their direction after. They lacked a good role model and now find it difficult, as much as they want to be able to, to know how to be the role model they never had.







Featured Article #25: What Bachelors Think of The Bachelor & Bachelorette Shows

What one Bachelor Thinks of ABC’s The Bachelor/Bachelorette

A guy’s perspective about a show made for girls

An awful dating format but interesting dating examples

ABC’s The Bachelor or The Bachelorette brings new meaning to speed dating. It takes the dating game to a new level. Is it even possible for someone to find true love in this accelerated format of dating? Obviously, the show points to Trista and Ryan Sutter every season—and understandably so—as it’s their only sterling example that it can work. But we could argue that the show was just where these two met, and they succeed despite it, not because of it. However, my review—ending with this season’s The Bachelorette—is more a focus on the microcosm of dating interactions, with all of the good examples it provides to critique.

Yes, I watch The Bachelor and The Bachelorette

Okay, so you still can’t get over the fact that a guy would even watch this show. I feel like that Seinfeld episode where Jerry is given a lie detector test that proves he is following the daily affairs of a soap opera. I could claim that watching the show was strictly for research purposes, but in reading this article, it will become evident that I have become at least a little interested in watching, so there is no turning back now. It has been quite a spectacle. I have my reasons, first out of curiosity albeit, but to my surprise it has been somewhat entertaining. The participants have their reasons too, which aren’t always, or maybe rarely are, about finding love. And of course, ABC has its reasons. The clear winner here has to be the latter—ABC.

Some background related to format may help explain the resulting dating practices

Who wouldn’t want to be part of a dating experience where ABC foots the bill and plans the best dates according to the personality of its lead role? But the whole stage set is for the cameras. To give love a chance, the fairy tale meetings must become real to individuals thrown in as actors. ABC is in charge. The dating game goes by their rules. And their practices are weird at best. Every show moves through phases that supposedly are part of a natural dating process. Forget the fact that one person is going on dates with many different people, sometimes all at once. ABC would like you to forget this momentarily, in fact—as the field narrows, they want you to believe that the main person is in sincere relationships with each intimate date, making him/her worthy of a proposal of marriage with anyone of the dwindling number that remains after each week. But that’s preposterous, you think, and yet we watch. ABC loves it!

ABC interferes only when it profits itself

There’s no way the ABC network could keep out of the dating scheme they are producing, but their relationship with the contestants is unique. As much as ABC is willing to put on elaborate displays and interrupt with appearances by its host Chris, when advice is needed only questions remain. Chris, as down to earth and humble as he very well may be, only poses questions of the “bachelor” or the so-called “bachelorette” that help said person sort through his/her confusion, more than actually help them resolve potential heartbreak. When was ABC going to step in this season? It was as self-serving for ABC to let Wes play with Jillian’s heart, as it was for Wes. They both played it up for as far as it would go, at the expense of the girl the whole season is supposedly about and for. Is it any wonder that previous season’s outcomes resulted in everything ABC could want in the way of money and that love was not ultimately bought for the finalists that I’ve witnessed? And for some reason, we watch.

Some trends I’ve seen

 Okay, let me get down to the details. Jillian Harris started with a record 35 guys to choose from. That’s five more guys dispatched of so quickly in the process that neither, you nor I, or even she were able to meet and get to know these guys. The most critical stage might be the engagement to come but without adequate time meeting and befriending someone, forget any possible future with those persons. Then with the remainder, the bachelor, or the “bachelorette,” in this case, widdles the field down to a core. You’ve got your bad guy/girl—he/she takes center stage. You’ve got a guy/girl who doesn’t seem interesting to anyone but the bachelor/bachelorette—that’s called attraction. You’ve got a couple good guys/girls for all intensive purposes—tidbits about them will be shown, because they will be around for a while, but they are background music. One of them will need to materialize as America’s favorite, who will get spurned and become the next Bachelor or “Bachelorette.” (Why we deem too perfect as not good enough, I’ll never know). You’ve got a couple eccentric guys/girls—their antics keep the main person being pursued a little off-guard, but intrigued for some reason. It’s fun humor for us as an audience, too. It’s all really so predictable, and yet—we watch.

Recap: The Bachelorette: DeAnna Pappas

DeAnna was burned by Brad, supposedly, but promptly turns around and disappoints Jason Mesnick in much the same way. I wouldn’t say Jesse Csincsak was a bad guy, but if marriage is what you want, then you don’t choose the joker who is just having fun with life. If DeAnna wanted another high school fling, that’s exactly what she got. Even she admits she made the wrong choice. Good thing she at least got rid of Grant. It was completely attraction with him. ABC was more than pleased that she passed on Jason, however.

Recap: The Bachelor: Jason Mesnick

Enter Jason, the supposedly down-to-earth single father. But he must have taken lessons from DeAnna. He went ahead and made the wrong choice, Melissa Rycroft, a very attractive, fun girl who will probably make someone happy some day: but did anyone really think she was the picture of instant mom? Small wonder that Jason realized quickly that their dating would be nothing more than a fling. He changed his mind before the finale even aired. The way he went about it didn’t help his cause with Molly Melaney. Their relationship started on shaky ground. She seems nice enough and patient. She’ll need to be. Maybe with a lot of work they can salvage a flimsy beginning. I’m afraid Jason let his best family girl option go when he got rid of the most well adjusted girl who happens to have the most spunk, too—Jillian Harris.

A Rerun? The Bachelorette: Jillian Harris

 We watch because we hope for the best. Yeah, the craziness along the way is entertaining, but ultimately people like happy endings. Love is exciting. It’s fun to watch as it unfolds, and we rarely get an insider view (though maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be). And as much as it is against the odds that true love will emerge, we hold out hope. Will Jillian find a love of a lifetime? Maybe. So she got rid of one token consummate good guy, in Jake. Who knows if they could have been good for one another? But she did get rid of the bad guy, too. Bye Wes. Won’t miss you! I didn’t even care for your music. Your life appears to be one big lie! You keep telling yourself, you’re all that. At least your mom believes you.

Jillian is down to one eccentric guy, Drew, who deems himself a little neurotic (you think?), but there’s someone for everyone, and his eccentricities might prove harmless, if deep down he is as unpretentious (more childlike and less childish) as his outward character sometimes shows possible. She’s got one all around good guy, Kipton, who might doom himself by wanting to fall in love the right way. He is polished and pragmatic, which kind of takes out all of the fun of unpredictable shows of affection, or else has the opposite effect of even drawing questions about whether he could fall in love at all. But he has lightheartedly handled his methodical approach to love, at least to this point. Timing is the trickiest thing with love. He will have to show enough love for her to give her the belief that a future of marriage together is possible for them—but in order for love of a deep nature to thrive, two individuals can’t push for the last step in the process first, before happily enduring the building phases that would lead up to such a commitment. Frankly, I haven’t personally seen the show where two people come together at their own pace, because of (or despite) the pressure of ABC’s format that rushes steps—from being acquaintances right down to the biggest commitment society knows two people can make. The approach definitely diminishes the build up, as persons really only can begin normal dating after the show has aired. And finally, even with the twist, of Ed going away, his coming back is just proof that some interests are built solely on a strange attraction the rest of us just don’t get. So far, the guy has shown next to nothing of personality and yet there he is. Maybe she accepted him back on the notion that he had become someone she couldn’t have, before she had made enough information to make a decision on him. But how long can that last?

That’s a review from a guy’s standpoint

See how petty this show makes even a sensible guy like me. I just couldn’t help myself, and here I am voicing my opinion and adding to the gossip. I could really go for a guys’ night out? I just need to shoot a basketball or something. I promise: no more girl talk. I think I got it out of my system—that is unless you shoot a basketball like Juan, of this season’s episode, when they played with the Globetrotters. Okay, I’m done, really!

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