Jesse Makoto Herrin

The mind of a half Japanese/American that was born into a family of grizzly bears


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My Battle with a Friend and Foe

I truthfully do not enjoy talking about the monster in my life that once upon a time sent me home early from my LDS mission in Taiwan and almost completely devoured me when I came home. However, I want to write my story not only as a record for myself, but also as a potential fragment of hope to others suffering. Stress and anxiety come in many forms—over 40 million people are affected by some sort of it in the US, some forms healthy and some threatening; I simply lost control of mine and fall into the latter form of it. This illness is very serious if you don’t seek the correct help and appropriate care. This is my story.

I remember it like it was just yesterday. The bedside alarm rang at 6:25am signifying the time for my mission companion and I to get up and go on a morning run before breakfast and studies. This particular morning felt strange…nothing short of peculiar. I was at a very happy point on my mission the night before, but something was slowly eating away at my insides. As I tried to muster up the thoughts which motivated me throughout my low times on my mission—my family, memories of times with friends, finally completing my mission, watching basketball—they all somehow transformed into negativity and created a sensation down my chest I could not contain. Droplets of sweat drizzled down my back, which, for the first time, was not due to the 82% humidity from the island of Taiwan. Days went on and every muscle in my body seemed to clamp up. What was this? Did I catch a virus? Why did it come and go sporadically throughout the day? I only have a few months left of my mission. Nothing is going to stop me from making it to the finish line.

Days turned into weeks, to then months of fighting this unknown. I thought to myself, “Time cures all things, I’ll feel better tomorrow. I’m almost done with my mission.” One missionary told me I had knots the size of a large fist in my back—the pain was excruciating as he tried to massage them out. I became afraid of going outside and teaching lessons that I had been doing happily the past 20+ months. I specifically remember a time right after eating dinner when we had a plan to ride our bikes to a park to contact people and invite them to hear our message. On the way, a cloud of darkness hit my mind and I looked down at my hands on my bike handles. “Should I just let go and fall?” I never had thoughts of suicide, but irrational ones like this often floated to the surface. I describe this specific time as the darkest part of my life and a “living Hell.”

I became nearly bedridden from the aching in every single muscle of my body and all of the fears developed in the short months of dealing with this. I had tried everything to keep myself going; I wasn’t going home. Don’t believe me? My mom packed a large container of multi-vitamins in my bag to take throughout my 2-year mission. I took one and felt normal again!!! This high eventually faded not too long after. I later swallowed 5 more pills just to make myself available to the work and not confined to my bed. In retrospect, that was obviously a foolish decision, but I was THAT desperate to get better. My mind also wasn’t in a healthy state of functioning correctly.

I knew I was just slowing down the work, so I officially retired as a full-time missionary in my heart shortly after. My mission president notified my parents and I received an email from my dad that gave me some clearer answers to what I was fighting. My family, including most of my grandparents, have suffered from a chemical imbalance at one point in their life. I’m not a doctor, but from my understanding, your brain has neurotransmitters that, when unbalanced, can cause psychiatric conditions such as depression, anxiety, etc. My whole family has or is currently taking medications to help cope with the issue. My dad said it was hereditary and was not surprised I was having some of these symptoms.

I wasn’t completely at peace with my decision, however. I felt as though God gave me a trial and I was too weak to overcome it. I remember going into a room in our apartment, locking the door and kneeling in prayer, begging for some form of comfort. When I opened my eyes, I looked up at the sky. It was a rare day in Taipei—the sun was out and the sky was clear and blue. I looked up to Heaven and was overcome by an indescribable feeling…a feeling that was foreign to me for many, many months. The only words to describe it are: special, peaceful, hopeful. I was coming home a month and a half short of two years.

Finally seeing my family after 2 years was obviously an instant high for me emotionally. This high lasted a few days, but, like every single positive thought before, was eaten up and thrown into the pile of negativity. It was scary. I was finally home, but I had no desire to participate in the activities that once made me happy. Every person started to bother me; I didn’t want to be around anybody. All I wanted to do was lock myself downstairs in the dark and watch TV. It took months before I finally felt normal again after seeing doctors and adjusting to medications. I write the word normal in italics because I took this for granted. I was always blessed with a healthy body growing up, so I naturally overlooked the gratitude I should have had before my battle with anxiety and depression. Health, in my opinion, is possibly the most important aspect in our lives because without it, we cannot function properly. And if we cannot function, it affects every other aspect of our life. There hasn’t been a night that has gone by where I haven’t expressed my gratitude for health in prayer after my strenuous battle with depression and anxiety.

My title reads: My Battle with a Friend and Foe. How can such a damaging and exhausting illness be a FRIEND? Well, I, too, took awhile to come around to calling it that. And I’m still trying to fully forgive it for what it did to me. As with many trials, we often look back and remember how bad it felt. How many of us wonder why bad things happen and stay angry because we fail to find the logic to support the answer? How many of us look up to heaven with a fist and wonder, “Why ME?!” On the contrary, there are many who look back and credit the trial for making them who they are today. There are those who can stay positive through thick and thin because they are full of hope and faith that the future will ALWAYS get better. And there are those that can kneel in prayer and thank God for the trials they are given. I want to live my life in line with the second set of statements.

Since dealing with anxiety and depression, I’ve made positive changes to my life that I probably wouldn’t have made if I never were attacked by this monster. I exercise a lot more because it makes me feel better—I have made a habit of exercising 6 times a week. I eat healthier because an apple a day truly keeps the doctor away. I have taken up meditation and breathing techniques to help me cope with hopeless thoughts and to learn how to control my mind. I have also been able to support and counsel with a few people that are dealing with stress and anxiety right now. I have become a more humble and thankful man. Without battling my enemy, I never would have reaped the benefits of making a new friend from this battle. I owe a lot of my development and growth to this horrible, evil, exhausting, wonderful, amazing friend.

I am still dealing with stress and anxiety today and probably will for the rest of my life, but I’m ready to take on the challenge and eager to learn more. And if you are dealing with this illness, please do not give up. There are positive things waiting to happen in your life. There are people and places you need to see and meet. You have more potential than you will ever know. And most importantly, you are NEVER in this fight alone.

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A Letter to Gordon Hayward

Dear Gordon Hayward,

I am choosing to follow in your footsteps by writing a blog, or letter, to you as a response to your decision of leaving the Utah Jazz.  First of all, congratulations on the hefty contract you just signed; I am genuinely happy for you and your family.  You guys were always great family members to us in Utah for the last 7 years.

Your decision to leave has obviously been heartbreaking to the state of Utah and the passionate fans that support the team through thick and thin.  I know it was hard to do that to us, I really do.  And admittedly, I can also understand if you have some negative feelings towards the fan base here.  We haven’t always supported you and your growth as a player, but by the end of your tenure in Utah, you won every single one of us completely over.

Remember when the fans booed you on draft night because our beloved Jazz decided to use its lottery pick to draft a scrawny kid with a bowl cut from Butler?  Remember when fans got impatient with your development?  Remember when lots of us were against matching the Charlotte Hornets’ max offer sheet to you in the summer of 2014?  The fans’ support for you has been a roller coaster ride, but do you know whose support never wavered, under any circumstance?  The Utah Jazz organization.  They took a chance on you, developed you, gave you the keys to run the team, made you an all-star, made you a multi-millionaire.  People like the Millers, Steve Starks, Dennis Lindsey and Coach Snyder never ONCE doubted you.  You were their star.  They chose YOU.

We all read your Players’ Tribune piece on how it was a very exhausting and long decision, but truthfully, when did you make your decision?  After all of the blood and sweat this organization has put into you, the least they could ask for was your complete honesty and integrity about your decision and process of making your final call.  You didn’t owe ANYTHING to the fans, but you owed EVERYTHING to the organization and state.  I have a hard time believing after the first report of you going to Boston came out, you were still contemplating a decision, but somehow wrote out a 2100 word post about picking Boston.  Either you are the world’s fastest typewriter or you just lied to the Jazz organization about coming to your final decision just a few days ago.  People aren’t stupid, Gordon.  You knew you were going to Boston the last time you walked out of the Vivint Smart Home Arena, while the fans chanted, “GOR–DON HAY-WARD!!!”  So why did you wait 4 days after free agency started to tell the organization you weren’t coming back?

I am not mad you left; basketball is just a game and you did what was best for you and your family (as a fan–of course I’m disappointed in losing an all-star), it is the WAY you left.  Paul George gave Indiana his clear intentions of leaving to give them plenty of time to recuperate and make a decision on how to go forward, Chris Paul mimicked George, and the Clippers were able to stockpile some valuable assets in return.  But you left Utah with…nothing.  I am sorry to be blunt, but absolutely nothing.  The 4 days that passed in free agency could have been extremely advantageous to the organization going forward.  Most of the big name free agents were gone by the time you made your decision, leaving the Jazz with limited options to recover from this massive blow.

Can you truly blame the fans for being overly upset?  This franchise has had letdown, after letdown, after letdown.  We’ve been to the Finals twice in the HISTORY of the NBA and never won in any of those appearances, while the Celtics hang 17 championship banners in the rafters.  We believed this was the continuance of something extraordinarily special and you were the one to carry us.  Many of us are very angry, but fans are what help make the game fun and competitive.  Could you imagine how dull games would be if fans weren’t as passionate and emotionally attached to their team and players?  Yeah, it’s just a game.  But the game wouldn’t be making billions of dollars without these aforementioned fans paying money, while investing lots of money and time to support the sport.

You simply left the Jazz, you weren’t honest with us, you didn’t allow us to gain any assets or get a head start in free agency, and you went to a franchise that has won more championships than any other team in NBA history.  You owed something to the organization.  I’m sure many of us would’ve had a much more painless time processing your leave if you would have left a couple of bucks on the table to support us.

Thank you for the 7 years you gave to Utah.  I truly wish you and your precious family all the best going forward in life.  It’s just not fair being a Jazz fan and having your stars taken by big-market teams when you are on the cusp of something special.  Have fun trying to convince the hobbit point guard on your new team to pass the ball and give you a chance to run the offense.

Disappointedly,

Jesse Herrin


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The Art of Winning

I do not claim to know everything about winning a basketball game or championship, but I do have a convincing opinion on what it does take to sustain a teams’ success. My confidence is derived from my playing years, as well as watching, reading and researching the history of the NBA. If you have searched the web and YouTube to hunt down NBA games dating back all the way to the 50’s, to ordering old paperback books online, to memorizing each player on every roster from playing the NBA Live and NBA 2K series, and also have years of personal experience playing on teams with opposite personalities, then you should understand I’m not just pulling stuff out of my you-know-what. (Replace those three hyphenated words with whatever word in the English dictionary that comes to your mind. Heck, I’ll even let you insert a foreign word. The rating of this post could vary from G-PG-PG13 (not to be confused with Paul George)-R depending on what you select. Let’s do this! #BuckleUp

 

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I’ll first start out with my personal experience of winning and losing basketball games, more specifically my high school career. I had the pleasure of being part of West Jordan High School’s 2008-2009 championship run as a junior; that team was so talented with a closeness that built every fiber of the chemistry on the court. We all had certain roles and nobody selfishly tried to step over what they were capable of doing. When somebody was featured on the front page of the sports section from a well-played game the night before, they heard praises from every single person in that locker room. In other words, there was no animosity because we all enjoyed the camaraderie and success WE had developed over the years.

 

Fast forward to a year later—my senior year. Even though we lost a lot of talent, we still had a batch of talented underclassmen and seniors that were capable of giving us another good run. After just the first game, I could sense tremendous change within the locker room. An individual’s fantastic performance did not reverberate nearly as much enthusiasm from other teammates as the year before. Being the player featured in the newspaper or interviewed after a game became an obsession. Outside of the basketball court, there weren’t too many of us spending time together. And as a team captain that year, I became aware of much more internal conflict than I ever wanted to know about.

 

By the middle of the season, it became apparent that we weren’t the fun and cheerful team we had hoped to mimic the year before. Some players would balk at the success of another, while others would become apprehensive on the court in fear of being ridiculed for mistakes. My last game as a high school athlete was losing in the quarterfinals to Davis High School. I always envisioned myself being very emotional after my last game, but to be completely honest, it was relieving to finally get away from the conflict and uneasiness that year put into my heart. In a sense, we were still successful—we were an above .500 team that made it to the second round of the playoffs. However, if you ask any player on that 2009-2010 team, we would all agree that we slightly underachieved; we SHOULD have been better. My love of the game will never be destroyed, but that year was hard for me. It was hard to “have fun” playing the game with a partially divided team.

 

And that brings me to the subject of “the art of winning.” Although my high school teams were probably better than any 1950-75 NBA team (go read my The NBA Wasn’t the NBA Until the 80’s post), I will use them as the steak style fries and large Coke of my argument, while the more modern NBA examples will take the main course. (Think DP’s Garlic Cheesesteak with jalapeños or The Apollo Burger… I won’t be offended if you pause your reading to go and devour one of these wonderful, mouth-watering, delicious delicacies)

 

Kobe Bryant receives the plaudit of being the closest resemblance to Michael Jordan in regards to a basketball player that we’ve seen. Personality wise, though, is a different story. In Phil Jackson’s 11 Rings book, he compares the two by saying, “Michael was more charismatic and gregarious than Kobe. He loved hanging out with his teammates and security guards, playing cards, smoking cigars, and joking around. Kobe is different. He was reserved as a teenager, in part because he was younger than the other players and hadn’t developed strong social skills in college. When Kobe first joined the Lakers, he avoided fraternizing with his teammates and had an inclination to keep to himself.” Before winning a championship, both players had to learn how to be “good teammates.” I could write another post about why I believe some other coaches could have been just as successful as Phil Jackson, but I will save that for another time. The one aspect that I truly admire of Phil is how he got Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant to buy into playing within the boundaries of a structured offense, as opposed to trying to beat the other team solely alone.

 

It took MJ 7 years before winning his first title. Before then, he had some remarkable personal feats. Nevertheless, he could never make it to the next step until Phil Jackson coached him and enforced a new way of thinking into his game. An example and another comparison Phil makes of the two is by stating, “Jordan was also more naturally inclined to let the game come to him and not overplay his hand, whereas Kobe tends to force the action, especially when the game isn’t going his way. When his shot is off, Kobe will pound away relentlessly until his luck turns. Michael, on the other hand, would shift his attention to defense or passing or setting screens to help the team win the game.”

 

The variance of both players finally winning was related to TEAM chemistry and trusting their teammates. If you watch MJ or Kobe in the years when they won the championship, their style of play was very different—they were involving their teammates more and more. At the beginning of MJ’s career and the years Kobe tried to individually dominate games, those were the seasons that didn’t end in an NBA Finals appearance. An example is Kobe’s 2005-06 season. He had an absurd usage rate of 38.8%, while averaging just above 35 points per game, but his team only won 45 games that season. I’ve come to respect the heck out of the position of a coach and become less critical of them because their job is extremely difficult. Not only do you have the job of winning and writing up X’s and O’s, but you also have to control internal and personality issues of your players. The job in and of itself has a lot of hidden requirements that you must fulfill in order to sustain success. And when you have figured out how to effectively do that, that’s when a team culture is built that resonates all throughout an organization, top to bottom. (Coach Sloan and Popovich with the Jazz and Spurs)

 

NBA: Playoffs-Oklahoma City Thunder at San Antonio Spurs

May 29, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) dribbles during the first quarter against the San Antonio Spurs in game five of the Western Conference Finals of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

 

Russell Westbrook is another prime example of when your competitive drive could be a detriment to your teams’ success if you can’t contain it like Phil Jackson did with MJ and Kobe. I want any reader to understand that I am not saying being competitive is bad. In fact, if every player cared about the game as much as the aforementioned players, then the game would be much more enjoyable. But when your competitiveness leads to selfishness and leaving your teammates out to hang dry, then you’ll have an issue with winning. Check out this box score from a few days ago when the Thunder lost to the Blazers.

 

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Westbrook shot the ball 39 times, while nobody else on his team shot over 10 times. How would it be to be his teammate? You bust your butt on defense and basically sit in a corner and hope Westbrook passes you the ball. I mentioned how absurd Kobe’s usage rate was at 38.8%, but guess what? This year Westbrook has a 42.3% usage rate. So if a player has the ball in his hands that much, is getting 10 assists per game really that impressive? Would passing the ball more help his team win more games? Would the Thunder have beaten the Blazers if he would have passed the ball to a shooter with a higher shooting percentage that wasn’t hounded by the defense like him?

 

Everybody is blaming Durant for leaving the Thunder. (I, too, have beef with him going to the Warriors) But honestly, have we ever thought about what it would be like to be in Durant’s shoes playing with Westbrook? You are the reigning MVP and a better shooter than Westbrook, and yet he takes more shots than you every game and has the ball in his hands twice as much. Was Durant leaving really THAT surprising? I truly beg to differ if you think Durant sincerely enjoyed playing the game of basketball with a dominant personality like Westbrook.

 

Closing Thoughts

 

I’ve heard some people say that winning is just about “putting the ball into the hoop.” As I have analyzed the game and grown to reflect on some players’ personalities, it is much, much more than that. When you are unhappy on the court, you have less motivation to give it your all, especially on defense. Unfortunately most players aren’t blessed with a natural competitive nature about them like the three players I mentioned. Some players need to score a basket to get them going, some players need to feel like they are involved, others just simply want somebody to give them some words of encouragement. The true challenge of any successful team is being able to adapt to every single player and find out what keeps their motor going. This is the art of winning. There are 4 other players on the court with you going into battle, all with different personalities and roles to assume. Google became the #1 place of work not because they found out how to keep their CEO or President happy, but because they created and found a culture that spread a contagious amount of enjoyment across ALL of their employees. As so with any successful basketball TEAM—you don’t have to play 1-on-5; you have 4 other teammates on the floor to help you achieve the final goal of winning.


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The NBA Wasn’t the NBA Until the 80’s

We have recently heard the likes of Oscar Robertson and other historic NBA players come out of their little caves and spew about how the Warriors and their unprecedented star Steph Curry would never be valid if they played in the ‘olden days.’  Oscar then went onto advocate stretching the defense out to the 3-point line in order to stop Steph Curry.  Two days later, he went 12-16 from beyond the arc, including a game-winning 3-pointer from well beyond 30 feet with significant ease.  Let’s just say Oscar Robertson isn’t being offered a coaching position any time soon.

The purpose of this post is to help portray how the NBA game has changed from a talent and cognitive standpoint.  Some of these records in the past have no relevance in today’s game because there is simply no opportunity to challenge them; e.g. Wilt’s famous 100 point game, Oscar averaging a triple-double for an entire season, Wilt’s 55 rebound game, Bill Russell’s 11 championship rings, etc.

Shots Taken = More Rebounding

According to http://www.basketball-reference.com/leagues/NBA_stats.html, we can see that the average of FGA (using Excel) through 1950-1979 is about 95.3, with the highest being in 1960-61 at 109.4 and 83.7 from 1980-2016, with the highest being 89.7 in 1982-83.  From those averages, there were approximately 11.6 more shots taken in the 1950-79 era of basketball and an astronomical 19.7 more shots taken comparing the two highest FGA seasons.

Next, we have to evaluate the FG%.  If you are making more shots than you are missing, then that changes the argument—but that is not the case.  From 1950-1960, the average FG% was 37.4%.  If you look into the 60’s and 70’s, the percentage steadily increases year after year until we get into the 45 percentile.  Any percentage exceeding the 1970 season remains fairly steady at 45% and no year comes close to matching the 1950 season with the lowest FG% of 36%.

Wilt Chamberlain grabbed 55 rebounds in a game on November 24, 1960 against the Boston Celtics. (The only relevant team back then, which will soon be dissected into why Bill Russell won so many rings.)  I couldn’t find any box scores with the FG% and FGA for that game, but we will just go off of the league average (41%) and (108.7 FGA) for that season.  Now let’s compare that to last year’s FG%—(45%) and (84.5 FGA).  As a result of these findings, Wilt had a 4% advantage of a shot being missed and 24.2 more field goals being attempted. (WHAT?! 24.2!!)  Now if you take the 41% of field goals made, along with the 108.7 FGA, it results in Wilt having about 64 chances to rebound the ball.  Alternatively, you do the same thing with the percentages from last year.  The result is that a player on average can rebound the ball 47 times.  Wilt had 17 more chances to rebound the basketball.  That also means he had more chances to shoot when he set the 100 point record, but the ensuing point is an even bigger reason why he accomplished that.

Talent Level

Let’s first watch this YouTube clip of the 1961 NBA All-Star game because some people have to see things in order to believe them: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=09xvhy9paR0  Set shots, no ambidextrous dribbling, unathletic white players, and nobody coming close to Wilt in weight or height.  When Oscar Robertson averaged a triple-double for the entire 1961-62 season, there really wasn’t much competition.  This was the All-Star team that year: http://www.nba.com/history/allstar/1961-all-star-game-recap/index.html.  Unless you are a basketball junkie like me, you probably have only heard of a few players on that list.  You append that with the fact that players shot the ball a lot more back then and missed more shots, therefore giving Oscar a substantial advantage over any modern day player of padding his assist, rebound, or point stats. However, I believe the talent level is the most valid argument in this case.  I give Oscar all the credit of being way ahead of his time and setting the record, but there is no chance he could accomplish that in the modern NBA game.  Can you imagine if LeBron James, a similar player in regards to triple-doubles, played back then?  Could he even average a quadruple-double?  What about Wilt’s record?  Check out the New York Knick team he was playing against on March 2, 1962: http://www.nba.com/sixers/news/wilt_boxscore.html.  I would be willing to bet my life savings to a random person I saw on the street that could name a player on that Knicks team.  When is there ever going to be an NBA team that lacks any talent whatsoever?  Today’s worst team, the Sixers, would be a playoff contender back then.  Who is going to stop the crafty, offensive weapon in Jahlil Okafor?  I would even go as far as saying that almost every single player on that Knicks team wouldn’t even make it to a Division I college level today.  Once again, I would like to emphasize that I am not blaming Wilt or Oscar for being way ahead of their time in the NBA.  But I would like to emphasize that in retrospect, their records aren’t nearly as eye opening as they appear.  Would Wilt or Oscar still be good players in today’s game? Sure.  I’m sure, like any other adept player, they could adjust their game.  Nevertheless, Wilt would be playing against a 7 footer every game (finally picking on somebody his own size) and Oscar would be playing against bigger and more talented wing players every night, with less shots being taken to get assists and rebounds.  As much as I dislike Kobe Bryant, his 81 point game (the 2nd most in NBA history) is miles more impressive than Wilt’s 100 point game.

Only Two Relevant Teams

Have you ever heard of the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers?  Me too.  Have you also heard that Celtic legend Bill Russell has 11 championship rings?  (It still bewilders me that the major jewelry stores haven’t invited him to be the face of their advertising schemes.)  From 1950-1979 the Lakers or Celtics were in 21 out of 30 Finals.  They always had 3-4 all-stars every year and somehow continued adding great players via the draft.  (The draft lottery was not established until 1984; they had coin tosses back then.)  A modern day example would be like the star-studded Miami Heat team that included the three all-star players of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh.  You take those three, then add players like Jimmy Butler, Paul George, and Damien Lillard to fill out your bench. (They would only pick three players to represent your team in the all-star game to make it fair for the other teams.)  Lastly, every opposing NBA team would be depleted and filled with Division II type players besides one other team (The Spurs).  So in essence, you have a cake walk to the Finals every year.  The Celtics made the Finals 14 times within that time period and Bill Russell was a part of 12 of those appearances.  Give him credit for beating the only other relevant team every year in the Finals 11 times, but don’t say that is more impressive than the Chicago Bulls’ dynasty of 6 championships.

Give Credit Where Credit is Due

I would like to say that I have watched as much or more basketball games than most people.  I’ve even watched countless games from the 1950’s all the way to the current day from Internet sources and websites that provide broadcasts of the games.  Aforementioned in the title, I claim the ‘NBA wasn’t the NBA until the 80’s’ simply because I know wholesome basketball when I see it.  I spent my entire childhood up to my senior year of high school playing the sport. The talent level, game efficiency, defense and amount of relevant NBA teams didn’t add up to a full course meal until the 80’s.  I give credit to all of the NBA pioneers that paved the way for modern day players that have naturally brought the game of basketball to another level.  However, when Oscar Robertson or any other grouchy NBA geezer can’t respect what Steph Curry or LeBron James is doing in today’s game, I roll my eyes.  The game has elevated to another level; it is a harder game to succeed at.  Zone defense wasn’t introduced until 2001, to help with defensive strategizing.  LeBron James’ best attribute is not shooting, so the Dallas Mavericks used that tactic against him in the 2011 Finals in order to expose that—it worked.  LeBron struggled the entire series and Miami lost.  Imagine if the zone defense was used back in the olden days with players already shooting 30% from the field.  I think just like LeBron, other historical players would have also suffered from such strategies, thus concluding that the game is a lot more challenging now.  So as “great” as these historical NBA players think they are, they need to appreciate what these modern players are doing.  The game is better, more talented, more difficult and more entertaining.  If these old NBA players can criticize modern basketball, then they are a third-party candidate trying to win an election.  You simply will not win.


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It Tastes Like Crap…Literally

I apologize to all of my fans and sponsors including: Cascade Dishwasher Detergent, Wrangler Jeans Co, Hostess, and of course Pee Cola (bottled in Ghana) for the delay of my blog posts.  I regretfully state that it has been since November 8th of last year that I published my previous blog post.  Because of this, I owe it to the fans and friends; I am apprehensively going to share a deep dark secret of mine that I’ve kept since my years of high school.

I was young, delirious and lacked an Eagle Scout status.  At the time, I felt I already had enough on my plate; I was on the high school basketball team, a full-time student, and had a reputation to uphold within my group of friends.  Nevertheless, my dad made me get a job…some nerve, right?  I ended up getting my first job at what they call “The Big K”, known as Kmart to most Westerners.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but this was one of my dad’s revenges that he played on me in disguise.

My responsibilities while working there were to cover the check stands and also provide customer service on the floor.  On average, I worked a 6 hour day from 4-10pm.  Within that time frame, it was reasonable to say that I hit the restroom about 2-3 times a day.  If I drank a slurpee before work, I would most likely stand and urinate.  Alternatively, if I had two frozen burritos with melted cheese and sour cream, I would discharge it hours later.  And that’s where this story takes a turn.

I’m just going to be blunt; there’s really no way to church it up.  We all have to take dumps.  If you are a girl reading this…puh-lease.  You take poops, too!!  For the sake of reading this, you need to please use your imagination and picture me taking a crap.  It’s not like I’m all proud to share this experience with anybody, but I’m doing it in the hopes of receiving forgiveness for being lazy and not writing for a long time.  I thought this would be like the Big Bang and have a “Big Bang”, minus the argument of disproving the existence of God.  When I take poops, I don’t waste time.  I’ve never understood why people spend half of the day reading material or doing other various things while on the toilet.  Seriously, unless you have hemorrhoids, it doesn’t take a century to release your waste; you poop, wipe, and go on with your day.

Now onto the wiping stage.  When I wipe, I like to go with the “two pull, wrap around, and rip” method.  In other words, pull the roll twice, wrap it, and then rip it off the roll; that usually always gives you a substantial amount of toilet paper to wipe with.  To be precise, 3-4 times usually does the trick.  (I’ve found that if you use less than three, you may or may not find discoloring in your underwear.)  As I was using the go-to formula in the Kmart lavatory, I pulled, wrapped, ripped, and then wiped.  What happened next may be not suitable for young audiences. As I wiped, one of my fingers tore through the toilet paper and into my crack.  Keep in mind, this was on the first wipe, so it was still wet and fresh.  Needless to say, my finger was covered in feces and there was nothing I could do.  My respect for the Kmart company instantly dissipated for stiffing out its employees and customers by buying the cheapest toilet paper on the market.  Honestly, it was thinner and more fragile than a piece of glass.  To get a good wipe, you needed to use at least half of the roll of toilet paper for it not to rip through.  I’m still on the verge of filing a lawsuit and taking this into court; I just haven’t gotten around to it for the past 4-5 years.

As the title states, “It Tastes Like Crap…Literally”, well, this is where the story takes another apex.  I regretfully admit that I am associated with the 10 out of 18 population of people that develop a nail biting habit.  You can probably guess where this is going now…  I can promise you I washed my hands numerous times that day, but I guess I didn’t realize that the feces got deep inside one of my nails.  After months and months of growing longer and longer, it became conceivable that it would one day reach a point where I could clean it out fully.  That day came when I least expected it; the memory is still etched inside the right side of my brain (since I am a right side thinker).  I was watching Seinfeld in my basement and I unknowingly was biting my index finger’s nail.  The taste, I cannot describe.  Was it nasty?  Yes.  Did it make me puke?  Just about.  Was there anything nutritious about it?  Far from.  And finally, would I do it again?  Absolutely not.

So the next time you say, “It tastes like crap”, please use it wisely.  There may be people around you, like me, that has actually tasted real crap.  And honestly, it’s a bit offensive using it otherwise.  We often overuse terms too much as Americans.  That is crap… figuratively.


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Modern Day Pharisees

Since coming back from my LDS mission in Taiwan and being a bit more mature within the church, I feel inclined to say a few things on my mind that I think need to be addressed about members of our church.

What does being a Christian mean?

We know that being a Christian is believing in Jesus Christ and choosing to follow His perfect example through our actions and words.  Let me emphasize that Jesus was perfect.  He was the only being on Earth to walk without sin; he took upon everyone’s imperfections and suffered for us so that we may be able to receive reconciliation through His Atonement.  There was not and is not an individual that has been able to follow his perfect pattern of life.  He loved everyone, He forgave everyone, He never spoke ill of anyone, and He led by example in the most perfect way.  We all, as Christians, try to pattern our lives like His; we strive to reach perfection.

Being a Latter Day Saint

There are many people who don’t fully understand the LDS Church.  Some claim that it isn’t included as being “Christian” and others believe that it’s a just a created church that seeks riches and glory.  But there are those who believe that the LDS church is just filled with snobs and judgmental members who think they are better than everyone else.  And this is the topic that I want to hit on most.  To clarify, we as LDS members believe that Jesus is the Christ and we also strive to follow Him in every pattern of life.  We are taught to treat others as we would like to be treated; that is a fundamental concept even outside of the church.  As President Uchtdorf quoted last General Conference, “The Church is not just for perfect people, but it is for all to “come unto Christ, and be perfected in him.”  Additionally, everybody on Earth isn’t perfect, including members of the LDS church.  We are taught to strive to become more like Christ, even if some members of the church do not represent this to the outside community.

Judging 

When I was younger, I often heard the phrase “Utah Mormons.”  At the time, I didn’t fully comprehend what that meant; I was born and raised in Utah and didn’t know otherwise.  When I had the opportunity to attend church services in other states and also on my mission in Taiwan, that phrase slowly began to make more and more sense to me.  As most of the world knows, Utah is known as the “Mormon State;” you drive past a chapel as much as a McDonald’s restaurant.  When you live within a society that has a surplus amount of something, you begin to sometimes overlook it until it is gone and you don’t have it anymore.  This goes for money, jobs, etc.  I want to apply this to the LDS church in Utah.  We grow up around the Gospel, roughly 60% of the population is LDS and nearly 90% are accounted for its total growth.  We have this everyday, you are guaranteed to pass by a member in Utah wherever you go.  Is it possible that we have a surplus amount of the Gospel in Utah?  Metaphorically speaking, yes.  The Gospel isn’t cherished as much as it should be here.  If you go to church in a different state, you can definitely feel the difference of the members there.  They cherish the Gospel in every aspect of their lives because they aren’t surrounded by it everyday.  If a visitor walks into the church to investigate, they don’t stare at them in disapproval because their “skirt is too short” or “they have tattoos on their body.”  I say this with personal experience.  I won’t use any names, but a great friend of mine is afraid to come back to our church because of the feeling of disapproval they received when they walked in with a skirt that didn’t match the LDS standard for a missionary farewell.  Nobody chose to go and sit with them, nobody smiled, nobody cared that another precious soul walked in that maybe God was leading into His kingdom.  It’s fine; you are just content with your life.  You are being blessed with a family, you go to church every week, and you have a well paying job.  You don’t need to do anything.  You’re better than other people because you don’t dress like that.  You learned that we are all God’s children, but that doesn’t mean much.  Seeing another soul enter the church isn’t a big deal or anything, they should just know our church’s standards… This sounds ludicrous, but this is how lots of people think.  The Savior has always taught us: Love one another as I have loved you.

Parenting

Another story of a close relative I know of has been scarred from her childhood because of one big event that happened all the way from elementary school.  One day at school, there was a new student that joined their class.  She was a very shy and timid girl.  As the days went on, this person I am close with saw that the girl didn’t have anybody to play with or associate with out at recess or lunch.  So this sweet girl went over to the new student and attempted to befriend this new classmate, only to be stopped in her tracks by her LDS friends who clamored out, “Hey!  You can’t go play with her!  She is wearing a necklace with a cross on it.  She doesn’t go to our church.”  This close relative of mine is not active in the church now and admitted to me that this event has always followed her since that day.

I have yet to call myself a father in my life, but I am knowledgeable enough to know how important parenting is.  Parents are in charge of raising their children; their parenting is conspicuously seen in young children.  If a parent is careless, the child is raised carelessly and develops bad habits.  But if a parent is TOO strict, then there are also negatives that follow.  The story above portrays a “monkey see, monkey do” from a parent to a child.  Does a child just automatically think they can’t associate with someone outside of the church without their parent’s influence?  Absolutely not.  And these are the most crucial times to teach children- while they are young!  How dare you teach your beautiful offspring to discriminate against another child of God.  The truth is, there are also many individuals outside of the church who are MUCH better people than some within our church.  If you’re afraid of your child being negatively influenced, then open your eyes to all of the “Utah Mormons” who are now addicted to crystal meth and marijuana.  And how could a member of the church ever do such horrible things and leave the church?  I have an idea of why, please listen up.

The key term of a how a parent can influence their child to leave the church is simple: Strict.  Am I advocating the opposite of using a strict method to parent?  Absolutely not; all children need to be disciplined or they will become what they call in the South, “Little Sh**s.”  I have learned that there is a balance to everything in life.  A balance in your job, a balance in your marriage, a balance in your personal time, and especially a balance on how to parent.  As aforementioned, if you are too strict or too lenient, then things don’t go too well.  I know some parents that just want to keep their children in a cage and never let them out because they think it’s safer.  “If my child is never around temptation, then they will never turn out bad.  I’ll make a billion rules so they can’t sin!  I’m a genius!”  But do you know what happens?  Curiosity not only kills the cat, but also the child who has been caged up their entire childhood.  I love the principle of learning from your mistakes.  Every person in the world is going to screw up; this is inevitable.  But it’s how we pick ourselves back up that truly matters.  I wasn’t always the greatest member of this church; I had more of an interest in being popular and being a star basketball player.  Needless to say, I wasn’t all too thrilled about ever serving a mission either.  One of the greatest lessons and counsel I received from my dad was how he made the correlation between parenting and God’s Plan.  He told me earlier in his fatherhood, he tended to be very strict and constantly paranoid about my sister or brother making mistakes.  He related this to Satan’s plan- to control us, to not let us have the power of choice or agency.  I don’t claim to be the greatest kid, but I never got myself into huge trouble.  My dad simply loved and trusted me; I never felt pressure to live up to what he knew I could be one day.  Instead of fearing or wanting to be rebellious towards my parents, I wanted to make them proud and not disappoint them.  This is God’s Plan.  He uses unconditional love and trust to all of His children on Earth and gives us the opportunity to repent, learn and grow from our mistakes.  I know what it feels like to be happy and full of light now.  I know what it also feels like to mess up and not have that light.  Just as it states in 2 Nephi 2:25: Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.  Are you a parent trying to take away your child’s agency and stop their growth as Satan wanted?  Or are you trying your best to be the best example you can for your children and use the power of love to parent?  You make the choice.

Being a Missionary

As mentioned before, I served an LDS mission in the Taiwan, Taipei Mission.  These were the greatest two years for my life, not of my life.  I learned and gained experiences where I never could have anywhere else in my life.  Alternatively, there were some of the toughest days I ever faced in my life.  Plain and simple, I became a man after the two years I spent serving God.  What does a mission have to with any of the issues I’ve stated?  Well, let me get started…  I learned on my mission that lots of people who don’t know a lot about the church know everything about missionaries.  “They are the ones who are riding bikes and wearing suits!”  “They are always very nice and welcoming.”  Just because you put on a suit and a name tag, doesn’t mean you’re all the sudden perfect.  There are varieties of missionaries: Boring, funny, strict, lenient, disobedient, lazy, tired, and all other adjectives you can think of to describe a person.  And just as parenting, too strict or too lenient can leave consequences.  Some missionaries will disagree with this; they think it’s more important to challenge the Savior’s perfection and become a robot in the process who loves to use obedience as a way of pride.  Some even forget their purpose as a missionary to “Find, teach, and baptize.”  Our mission was special; we had an additional 72 rules to the “White Handbook” that were implemented at the time I served.  These rules caused missionaries to become people they weren’t, to lose all personality in missionary work.  Imagine not being a member of the church and finding a missionary chasing you down on his bike shouting “Baptism!” “Jesus Christ!”  Personally, that would scare me.  Missionaries already look like creeps wearing a full suit while riding a bike anyway.  Why would you add more insult to injury?  There was a missionary my first transfer that was so positive he was going to do everything in his power to gain his “obedience” merit badge on the mission that he chose to cut a lesson short because the investigator was late so we could be home exactly by 9:00 pm.  When we got home, he ran into the apartment, dove to his desk, onto his knees, and begged God for forgiveness for being 2 minutes late.  Can you imagine how I was feeling as a young missionary at this point…?  “I signed up for THIS?!”  Sometimes we forget that God also blessed us with a brain.  The Savior suffered for us so that we may repent because it is impossible to reach perfection in this life.  Just as Adam and Eve, the prophet Joseph Smith, and many other wonderful leaders in our church, we all have weaknesses and have sinned.  The missionaries that come home from being a stiff for two years are the ones that come back and judge people because they aren’t on the same obedience level as them.  I’ve even heard of some that come home and even start calling their family sinners!  Do you see how this adds to the pool of judgmental members?  If you were a missionary who was on a mission to follow rules instead of baptizing, then I’m sorry to break the news to you… you wasted 2 precious years that God gave you to use your talents and personality to help others come unto Him.  If we all were expected to be robots, then why would it matter where we served our mission?  Some of the biggest regrets that I had from my mission was stressing over frivolous things and not making fun of these types of missionaries to the point that they would be in tears… See, I’m not perfect either.  But I meant every word that I said.  Nobody likes a stiff or a judgmental person.  I pity you.  And if you want to argue with me of how being a d-bag for two years isn’t a waste of time, then I welcome it.  And I will put you in your place, trust me.  Thanks.

Closing Thoughts

These are some of the small things that I’ve seen since being home from my mission that I wanted to address and vent about.  We are all children of God that values the family unit.  We can’t be selfish in this church.  We just can’t be.  I hope with all of my heart that you and I can try our best each and everyday not to be perfect, but to represent The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

P.S.  As you can probably see, I didn’t try to cover up my feelings.  I know I may have not said things the right way or the most “righteous” way, but I believe and am passionate about what I’ve said.

 


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The Buzz Cut- Most Frugal Haircut in the World

What is a buzz?  Is it Kevin’s older brother from the movie Home Alone? (Might I add that Buzz coincidentally also had a “buzz” cut.)  Is it the supposed feeling that smokers and chewers get when they devour and inhale tobacco?  Let’s have a look at the dictionary, shall we?  According to the Oxford Dictionary, the definition of a buzz cut is: a haircut in which all the hair is cut very close to the scalp.  

I understand that I have decimated the majority of the female gender with this topic but don’t go!!!  I promise it will be entertaining!  Trust me!  Just like Magic Johnson trusted the women he cheated on his wife with that promised to keep his blood more purified than Aquafina drinking water.  Wait, what…..?  Magic Johnson has HIV?  I’ll be darned…  Well this just got kind of awkward.  Just please take my word and read my spiel about buzz cuts!

Why is the buzz cut the most frugal haircut in the world?  Because it doesn’t take a hairstylist to make it happen.  In fact, you can purchase your own hair clippers and go to work on your own head.  You don’t have to worry about it being crooked, bald patched, or messed up.  It’s all one length!  If you are currently equipped with the buzz cut and going to a hair parlor to get it cut, then I suggest you save your money and start cutting it at home.  Especially with the way the economy is going.  Sure, the hair parlor might tell you that “their” buzz cuts are more quality than you could ever find.  But guess what?  It’s still a buzz!  They aren’t fading your hair, they aren’t curling it, they aren’t putting extensions into it, and they sure as heck aren’t putting any hair accessories in it.  They are just trying to scam you, just like the time my friend was going on a diet and made a goal to drink Slim Fast every morning for breakfast, but instead got duped into buying the throw-off brand Slim Swift.  Needless to say, he lost money, gained more weight, and his neck started getting really fuzzy.  Yes, I too was curious as to why his neck got fuzzy.  It just did.  So you can drop it now.  Bottom line, don’t get scammed.  #Preach

Do I have any personal experience with the buzz?  Absolutely.  I wouldn’t be credible to write this post if I didn’t have prior background experience.  Allow me to tell you one of the most vivid memories I have of my childhood.  Believe it or not, I had rolled with the buzz cut my 4th grade year.  Here is a picture as evidence:

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…..I know.  Shut up.  After I had buzzed my head one day, my brother tried to convince me that if I went the extra mile and bicked my head (shave every last bit of hair off) that I would look like MJ.  At that time, Michael Jordan was one of the most renown figures in the world.  Who wouldn’t want to be like Mike?  After watching this commercial, you just wanted to BE him:     http://youtu.be/b0AGiq9j_Ak

So you can probably guess what happened next.  I took my brother’s suggestion and let him put shaving cream all over my head and shave it completely off.  The following occurred shortly after:  My head instantaneously dried up and I had to put lotion all over my head.  Since the top of my head had not seen sunlight, it was whiter than an albino.  It also didn’t help that I am half-Asian.  Instead of looking like Mike, I looked like the resurrected new Buddha and became the laughing stock of my family.  (except my mom, who yelled at me for a few hours for doing it)  Anytime I went outside for the next few months, I wore a hat.  There was also a time within that period that we had a huge family reunion.  Keep in mind that we NEVER have family reunions, so I was convinced that I was cursed by Buddha for mimicking his appearance.  I had spent nights crying myself to sleep and constantly asking my parents when my hair would grow back, therefore I ASSUMED my dad wouldn’t make a fool out of me at the reunion.  Right when we get there, my dad bellows out, “Jesse!  Come here and show everyone your Buddha haircut!”  It took years of reconciling with my brother and dad.  We’re good now.  We’ll just leave it at that.

I will now list out the pros and cons of the buzz cut:

Pros-

  • cheap/affordable
  • no maintenance required- get up out of bed and you’re already ready to go
  • showering may not be required everyday because you have a buzz; you just feel cleaner (I am not advocating either, just saying!)
  • you can play with your hair all day and give yourself a nice hand massage
  • save money not having to buy hair accessories

Cons-

  • you look cheap and people may question your hygiene
  • random people will come up to you and pet your head like a dog
  • cover-up for baldness
  • gives another place for the sun to attack on your body
  • if you grow your buzz out too long it becomes a “puzz” (puffy buzz)

I’m not saying EVERYBODY looks bad with a buzz haircut.  Let’s just take a look at a few pictures, shall we?

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You see my point now?  David Beckham and Brad Pitt look awesome with buzz cuts, but Matt Damon and the other dude look like complete crap.

So when considering the buzz, I hope you consider all the options.  Don’t get one just because it’s “easy” or you are trying to save money.   You should get it because you actually look good with a buzz and your wife/girlfriend will still find you attractive.