well, this is it! it seems a little odd to me that i'm writing about concluding my blog because i'm not! i've had this blog for a little over a year now and i have posted quite frequently on it. so it was a big change to suddenly have required topics and posts whereas in the past i just came up with stuff i felt was interesting enough to share with the world! even though i would call myself a pretty good blogger, one who is aware of his audience, it never occurred to me some of things that we talked about in class. i've always been very on top of the design and feel of my blog, trying to keep an overall theme and staying consistent. the things i learned were about content. keeping it short. making it brief. getting in and getting out. but not so much so that you stray away from letting your thoughts flow into beautiful long sentences filled with description and depiction. i've learned to say as much as i can with as little words as possible.


it was a marvelous general conference, really. i enjoyed going home for the weekend and spending time with my family, listening to the Prophets speak, soaking it all up. what a great time to be with the people that you love and care most about. the theme of conference rang in tune with that feeling. the message that i derived tilted toward many topics at first but as the conference went on and speaker after speaker, i finally came to a rest on a central message of families. now, if you've been reading my blog lately you'll remember a majority of my recent posts have been about my family. you can imagine how delighted i was to hear what the Lord wanted us to know most for the next six months. 

i can never pick a single favorite talk from the more than thirty given. most of the speakers used the same tools to deliver their messages. conference never seems short on stories—a great way to connect with the members on a more personal level. when the prophets and general authorities tell stories from their lives or the lives of others, we are naturally drawn to their message because they appear more human, more relatable. i've always enjoyed the stories shared in conference and continue to enjoy them as they are talked about and shared in meetings in church and in school. these are men and women that we trust. we've, a lot of us, grown up with them in homes, in our church magazines, and in our meetings. we've been able to listen to them a number of times and as we exercise faith and do they things that they ask of us, we gain a personal testimony of the truthfulness of their guidance. Thomas S. Monson has an incredible amount of ethos among the members of this church. i noticed that most, if not all, of the speakers made reference to him in order to align themselves with the ethos that each one of has for him. we know we can trust the guidance given to us over that weekend. i have a testimony of that; as we follow the guidance given to us we will see a change for good in our lives. life tends to be fuller when following the Prophets. i know that to be true.


It was her picture, not mine, that flashed up on the screen. I couldn’t see them, but I’m sure that my friends who had come with me started gearing up to comfort me. A double take to the screen confirmed that that long blonde hair was not my normal short brown cut. A balloon began expanding in my throat—I needed to leave. Every face that I saw was cheering—I couldn’t hear them, I couldn’t hear anything, except the balloon echoing the throb in my chest. I imagine that it was what shell-shock feels like. Someone landed sharply on my foot just as an elbow jabbed my ribs. Everyone had started jumping out of excitement. Blue vests, blue dresses, blue ties and sweaters. The room looked like a turbulent ocean with everyone wearing our school color. Through the sea of people Lisa Castelberry came rushing towards me.
“It should’ve been you,” she started to say. I’m sure she had more to say but I turned away quickly and coldly. Avoiding the emotions seemed like my best option to survive the night.
“Dude, that’s not right. They probably messed up!” A thick hand landed on my shoulder. I could only catch the outline of the face, but I’m sure it was McKay—no one else has hands that big. As much as I wanted it to be true, I knew it wasn’t. There was no way they could’ve put the wrong picture on the screen. And what was I supposed to say to that? Yeah I’m sure it’s a mistake. Let’s just go talk to Mr. Beck and straighten this thing out. Then it’ll all be alright. Then I’ll feel accomplished. Then this balloon will pop. Then I’ll— No. I had lost, Kati Briggs had won. It was over and I needed to leave.
“You should run for Student Body President!” Lisa told me.
My fist went to my mouth to block the swig of chocolate milk I almost sprayed across the table. I swallowed, barely. “You’re crazy, why would I do that?”
“I don’t know, I just think you should. It would be cool. Clay Ellis: Student Body President.”
“It’d be cool but I don’t really want to. Who’s even running?” The sound of the title was enticing. My mind started racing thinking of campaign slogans and button designs.
Cole chimed in, “I heard Kati is.”
“Yeah but I can’t against her—I work for her mom!” Suddenly the title didn’t sound so good compared to ‘Clay Ellis: jobless.’
“Man you could totally do it. Plus, what do you have to lose?”
McKay’s remark sounded much better months earlier. What do you have to lose? I had lost the election, for starters. The thing that mattered most to me was suddenly permanently out of reach. My hearing came back to me. They were chanting and cheering for Kati. Somewhere in the wash I could hear a voice yelling my name. I didn’t care to seek out the source. I didn’t care about much at all. I headed towards the double doors regretting my decision to run. The hallways were better. They were quiet. Not silent, but better. Someone took a drink from a fountain a few halls over. A single tear blazed a wet trail down the landscape of my cheek. My hand fumbled in my pockets. Instead of the plastic casing of my car keys, my fingers brushed against the back of my vibrating phone. I don’t know if it was due to a reaction built up over the past years or a small hope that it was my mom calling, but I instantly pulled out my phone.
A single line text was centered on the screen. “Still want to go to the iPad launch? -N”
No matter what position I contorted myself into, the small rock never seemed to leave me alone. I’d be up all night. I wouldn’t be sleeping on a sidewalk if I had won. I would be at the ‘winner’s party’ right now. If only I had won. Nate, a long-time friend of mine five years my senior, was still up. The light from his laptop shone brightly into his face and bounced around our tent adding to my list of things keeping me awake. It was a sharp contrast to the starry night sky just on the other side of the flimsy canvas. Surely he was tweeting about our position in line. It’s not every day (or night) that you’re first in line for a product as revolutionary as the iPad. My sleeping bag peeled apart as I rolled over, still trying to get off of the rock, letting in the chill outside air. Frustrated, I sat up and rubbed my eyes looking for my glasses.
“You still up?” Nate asked, not even looking up from his tweets.
“Couldn’t sleep,” I replied. “How much longer do we have?”
“Five or so hours. That is if they still plan on opening the doors at 8.”
“It’s only 3? Egh—” To be honest, I already knew what time it was. I had just looked down to my iPod to start a song over for what felt like the hundredth time that night. I had been exclusively listening to Lost by Coldplay. The night’s events played over and over and again in my head in sync with the song. Blonde hair, not brown. Kati, not Clay. Balloon in the throat. Lost. I listened for the one line that seemed to be written for me. Just because I’m losing doesn’t mean I’m Lost! 
Over the next few hours I listened to the song on repeat, each time feeling a spark as I heard my line. Slowly but surely the bitter morning air was replaced with a warmer, more manageable (but still chilly) temperature. The first streaks of deep reds and pinks painted themselves on the horizon. Time to get up. As if I wasn’t up all night already! We were greeted by a camera crew just outside of the tent. They were clearly curious as to why a bunch of nerds had all slept in a line on a sidewalk behind the mall. Glancing in the direction of the end of line, I was a little surprised to find that I couldn’t really see the end. I was the first of about a hundred people all waiting to get their hands on the iPad. That made me a special target for the camera crews. Reporters followed me around all morning asking me questions, assuming that since I was first in line I probably knew the most about it and depended on me to tell the viewers at home why it was so great. For a brief moment I forgot all about losing the election. My voice was reaching far beyond the student body of Pleasant Grove High School and into the homes of every Utahan. That brief moment expanded with every minute I spent in front of the cameras. I had never felt more important. It was hard to imagine that I was here when just hours earlier I felt like had lost everything.
Later I would be asked by a young, energetic reporter, “Why did you and your friend here sleep out for this? I mean it’s just a computer! Was it worth it?”
I wasn’t sure of his motives, but I knew mine. I had lost the thing that mattered most and needed to keep moving. I lied: “I just wanted to hold it! And yes, it was worth it.” Yes, it was worth it. In my mind it was absolutely worth losing the election. Just because I had lost, didn’t mean I was losing. This never would’ve happened had I won and stayed for the party. Because I lost, I was able to win. I wouldn’t have it any other way.


this is a very short, very rough draft of a research paper that i'm starting on. we were asked to post our progress on our blogs to receive feedback. so if you are in my class, feel free to pass along some constructive criticism! if not—participate as well! or not. your choice.

Diesel And It’s Effects On The Environment And Our Health
Despite the fact that the majority of our products (and commercial/construction uses) are transported by vehicles powered by diesel, the short and long term adverse effects of its continued misuse far outweigh the benefits. Although new types of diesel have been implemented, it has been found that this diesel’s, as well as older diesel’s, exhaust contains carcinogens dangerous to our health. Certain occupations which are more readily exposed to diesel exhaust have shown a higher number of health related issues. A basic understanding of the types of diesel fuels, the malpractices of those who operate diesel powered machinery, and the ways we can positively alter those practices, will help make it clear that diesel is a fuel that should be more restricted.
Types of diesel fuel

Carcinogens and other particles found in diesel exhaust
Diesel exhaust contains millions of very fine particles which are toxic air contaminants. These toxic particles are known as diesel particulate matter. To analyze the contents found in the diesel exhaust, it is important to know how diesel engines operate. Diesel engines differ from gasoline engines in the fact that they don’t rely on a spark-ignition system. Diesel engines compress air which through the process heats it up, and then inject fuel into the compressed air. This is called a fuel-mixture. When there isn’t enough oxygen for the engine to burn, the unburnt fuel is ejected in a cloud of exhaust. In general, this unburnt fuel is referred to as black carbon.
Studies have shown that diesel particulate matter can be made up of a variety of different chemical components. Many of these chemical components are cancer causing agents, which are called carcinogens. The most common carcinogens found in diesel exhaust are arsenic (a lethal poison,) benzene (which is often found in coal tar and petroleum,) and formaldehyde (a preservative used on cadavers.) All of these carcinogens are floating inside of the dark cloud of exhaust spewed by diesel machinery. 

Effects on specific occupations

Malpractices of operators and their solutions

Old adage says that a diesel vehicle must be left running in order to keep the engine on. This is false and is actually a violation of the law in Chicago. When a vehicle is left running at a stand-still it is said that this vehicle is idling. A report from the Chicago Tribune targets this behavior and found that outside of baseball games where the charter busses were waiting to transport the teams, the level of diesel particulate matter was much greater than the surrounding air. The City of Chicago has implemented laws in order to discourage idling your vehicle. A fine of $250 is issued for idling. There are, however, exceptions to this rule which are: cars in traffic, and when the outside temperature is above 80 degrees Fahrenheit or below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. In the State of Oregon, another malpractice is being deterred.
When a diesel operator gives the engine too much fuel, not all of it can be burnt up quick enough resulting in a dark black cloud. This cloud can be conjured up on accident or by the intent of the driver. Clearly there is an issue when a driver is purposefully spewing carcinogens and black carbon into the air around us. Oregon State law states that if a cloud of smoke is visible for more than seven seconds then a fine is issued.


finish this sentence: only at byu do you... i'll give it a shot. only at byu do you get the chance to casually run into an Apostle of God. i was on break at lunch at the broadcasting building studying in my scriptures for a quiz when Elder Bednar walked into the room. we talked for a while and i told him that i had just finished my mission papers and am planning on submitting them in march. he then continued to testify to me that every single mission call is delivered by a member of the Twelve by revelation. i will always remember his words.

in class we were asked to read a talk given by Elder Bednar in which he shares his thoughts on "things as they really are". the following is a video of the talk he gave.

our world is one that we can touch and feel, manufacture and manipulate. it exists in reality and we experience it through our senses. but in the past half century, we as a human race have embarked on a crusade to create a digital copy or, a representation rather, that we have more control of and control over. this digital representation of the world we live win and the lives we lead is so accurate and convincing that some minds have been tricked to believe that they are an actual reality. as we improve and become more advanced in the replication process, more and more minds will fall victim to the idea of an alternate reality replacing the actual reality-- the higher the fidelity, the more convincing.
satan has been busy replicating reality since the beginning of the world. he isn't taking satellite images to create and stitch together a digital globe, no, he is instead imitating the purest forms of happiness. his technique and process have been revised and refined and the result is devastating. the greatest joys Heavenly Father intends for us to experience are romance, love, marriage, and parenthood. satan has created high fidelity imitations of these feelings and experiences that lead away men and women at an alarming rate.
i find this idea very interesting because i spend a lot of time studying how to create these experiences that mimic real life interactions. there is an increasing trend to create software that looks and behaves like their real world counterparts. take these two applications, Address Book and iCal on the Mac.

they have been designed to look and behave just like a real book or calendar would. there is a benefit in software to building user interfaces like this: users instantly know how to use your application because they can draw on the experiences they've already had with the objects. by doing this, the designers can help users overcome steep learning curves. these experiences are high fidelity, but does iCal actually provide you with an experience comparable to a real calendar? i argue that it will never will. you can flip through the months all you want, but you'll never actually use your body to physically interact and manipulate the pages. it might be similar and convincing enough to get the user to think it's real, but it will never be real. this is exactly how satan works. he creates experiences that imitate and mimic the real thing, but he will never be able to actually achieve the perfection and pure form of joy that Heavenly Father provides for us. he tricks people into believing that they are feeling the real thing.
by listening to the counsel of the leaders of our church we can avoid deception and live our lives and experience those joys. by seeing things as they really are we live our lives in a way that aligns us on the straight and narrow. follow this prophetic advice from Jacob 6 and you'll never be led astray.
12. o be wise; what can i say more?


the leaders of our church are amazing men. i would be so bold to say that they are the most amazing men. they have led extraordinary lives and have gained great insights through the perspective of their callings. here at byu, we are so blessed to be able to hear from them on what seems like a weekly basis. when one of them speaks, we listen.

i just finished reading a talk that was given by elder eyring in october of ninety-seven. 

"you are under mandate to pursue- not just while you are here, but throughout your lives- educational excellence." -henry b. eyring
we are not only great students, but great people here at byu. but more importantly, we are children of God. elder eyring presses this plain, yet prominent point upon us as he outlines how we ought to pursue our formal education. he warns us, as does every great prophet, of pride and the negative role it can play in our education. humility is not achieved easily. in fact, one day as i was driving down state street i passed one of my favorite signs which always displays a blunt and often humorous religious statement. on this particular day the sign read 'humility: once you know you have it, you've probably lost it'. that has always stuck with me along with a statement from elder uchtdorf who stressed that 'humility is not thinking less of oneself, but thinking less about oneself'. don't you just love that? elder eyring continues, there is something we can choose to do in our daily life that will provide a constant protection against pride. it is simply to remember who God is and what it means to be his child. i believe that by knowing who we are, we jointly come to see what role we play in His plan. by remembering our potential, we are reminded of how far we have to go. throughout my entire life i've always seen myself as somewhat of an intellectual. i have always loved to learn and invent. i have a deep desire to know things. so it came to me as a shock when i was having a conversation with a dear friend that even i, a self-proclaimed inventor and tinkerer, was not taking on the load that she was. it made me want to learn more and work harder. humility is amazing in that way. it makes you want to be better by making you feel small in the presence of great people. by always remembering our Savior, we can receive that boost that humility provides. by avoiding pride in our education, we avoid the laziness and comfort that has claimed so many great thinkers before us. when we are humble we try to be better and work harder. and the greatest humility comes by remembering that we are children of God who sent his Son to atone for us. it says in d&c 130: 

18. whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection. 
19. and if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come.

so keep on learning. be wise. remember the words of the prophets. and remember elder eyring's counsel to be humble.

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