Thursday, November 29, 2012

Another whack at it

This was my farewell to the Hawkeyes 2012 football season in yesterday's paper:


This one is sort a recycled version of a cartoon I did cartoons for The Dalles Chronicle while I was in high school.

Published on Tuesday, November 25, 2003, in The Dalles Chronicle
For three of my high school years, there were two high schools and two school districts in The Dalles. But during my junior year they started the process of merging districts and high schools, and by the time I started my senior year I went to a "new" high school. It ended up being great, but in the build-up to it, I was on a crusade to publicize to the world what a horrible idea it was. I did a handful of cartoons for The Dalles Chronicle, all of them criticizing the district merger (some pretty severely).

It's funny to look back on them and think about what a vendetta I had, but now with the gift of hindsight I know that merger ended up being awesome. I made a lot of new friends who I still keep in touch with today, and I had a great experience. Go figure.

To see more of my Dalles Chronicle cartoons, click here.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Viernes negro

Another cartoon in today's The Daily Iowan:


Not all that original, but topical.

This week will be my last week of cartoons for the year. My last day of class is Friday, then it's all finals. And Christmas. Oh, and getting ready for my son and daughter to come.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Is it basketball season yet?

As Iowa football has a 4-6 record, and only two games left against No. 21 Michigan and No. 14 Nebraska ... our eyes turn to basketball.

Published in The Daily Iowan today
I was hearing some chatter last year that Iowa basketball was on the rise. And they're 2-0 so far. So we'll see how this season goes.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Resigned

In today's The Daily Iowan:


That's Gen. David Petraeus in the middle, of course. The guy on the right is Peter Gray, a former associate director of athletics student services at University of Iowa. He resigned last week because of sexual harassment accusations... You can read more here:

UI officials unsure how Peter Gray documents leaked

Iowa Regent concerned about 2002 rehiring of Peter Gray

Mason releases statement on Gray allegations

UI officials plan to look further into Peter Gray allegations

Ferentz grows testy when asked about Peter Gray allegations

And, by the way, I'm not suggesting that Charlie Brown ever had an affair, haha. Just that General Petraeus and Peter Gray are probably feeling a little mopey lately.

I don't have a whole lot to say about the Gen. Petraeus stuff. I read a lot about it on Friday when the new first broke, but a lot has happened since then and I haven't kept up with it. I will say that I really admired Gen. Petraeus, and he seemed like one of the few people in government/military who was so universally admired. So it was quite a shock.

I know a young military family who named their first son "Petraeus," and call him "Trae" for short. I wonder how they're feeling right now...




Tuesday, November 13, 2012

How cute

Here's my take on recreational marijuana being legalized in Colorado and Washington, in today's The Daily Iowan:

Like I said in my election reaction post, legalizing marijuana makes me much more worried about the state of our nation than having President Obama in the White House. I know there are legitimate arguments for why legalizing marijuana is a good thing. But I can't just bring myself to support something that I know to be wrong, morally and spiritually. If it ever does become legal all over, it won't make me leave the country. And I'll enjoy the benefits from the added tax revenue. But if it's ever up to me, I won't legalize it.

This is all moot anyway, because marijuana is still illegal by federal law. Hence the cartoon.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Four More Years! until another election

Who's ready for 2016?


This was one of the cartoons I drew last week in anticipation of the election. This one was in The Daily Iowan today.

In case you need help figuring out who's who, from left to right that's Mitt Romney, Gov. Bobby Jindal, Gov. Chris Christie, Sen. Marco Rubio, Sarah Palin and Rep. Paul Ryan.

I doubt Sarah Palin will actually run for the  nomination in 2016, I think her 15 minutes of fame are up (as well as the Tea Party's 15 minutes of fame). But I haven't had her in a cartoon in a while. And even if she's not running for president, she's famous enough that she would be recognizable in a cartoon, and contribute to the image I'm trying to get across of, "Oh, I get it, these are Republicans who people have thought about running for president."

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Election Aftermath

I'll write a little bit about my personal views on the election later. But for now, some cartoons.

In anticipation of the upcoming election, last Saturday I drew six cartoons: one for President Obama winning, one for Mitt Romney winning, one for President Obama losing, one for Romney losing, one for Justice Wiggins being retained, and one for Justice Wiggins not being retained. So The Daily Iowan was prepared.

Of course, only three of those cartoons can be published. But lucky for you blog readers, you can see all six right here!

If Obama wins (and published in The Daily Iowan today)

If Obama loses

If Romney wins

If Romney loses (so I'm guessing this will be in tomorrow's paper)

If Justice Wiggins is retained (so I'm guessing this one will be in Friday's paper). This one still just cracks me up.

If Justice Wiggins is not retained

So, now you have every alternative universe manifested in cartoon form.

Now, I want to say a few words about the election.

It can mostly be summed up by what I said on Facebook yesterday morning:

"Whoever wins today's election, I hope the people who didn't vote for him can still support him and call him your president. Whether the Republicans continue to be 'The Party of No,' or the Democrats assume that role and identity, it will only result in more gridlock, and more bills and laws haphazardly thrown together at the last minute and jammed through. Tomorrow morning, if the guy you voted for isn't president, I hope you can still be optimistic, patriotic, and respectful of the office of president. If you follow the sentiment of Rush Limbaugh four years ago, when he said of President Obama, 'I hope he fails,' then we all fail."
Now that we know President Obama has won, I especially hope those words resonate with people. The Republicans in Congress (and in the country) will either think, "Welp, I guess the people like him, so we might as well work with him and get some things done," or they will dig in their heels even deeper. I really hope they take the first option.

Of course, being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and having a lot of friends who are members, it means I have a lot of friends who are conservative and are big Mitt Romney fans. Which is perfectly fine. But what's not fine is to think that reelecting Barack Obama means the country is facing imminent doom. I really don't think this is going to accelerate Armageddon.

As a Mormon, you might be thinking of this scripture from the Book of Mormon:

"And if the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgments of God will come upon you; yea, then is the time he will visit you with great destruction even as he has hitherto visited this land."

It might came as a surprise to some of you, but that scripture doesn't apply to the United States and President Obama.

President Obama has a few personal ideas and philosophies that do conflict with Latter-day Saint doctrine. But that doesn't mean he is leading our country to fire and brimstone. No matter who is president, you can still be just as good (or bad) a Mormon as you were before. President Obama would even encourage you to keep being a good Mormon. Electing a liberal or Democratic president per se does not make me worried in the slightest about our country's standing before God. If I were to list all the things that made me worried about our nation's spiritual welfare, having President Obama in the White House would not be on that list. (For instance, legalizing same-sex marriage or legalizing marijuana are way more troublesome to me than a Democratic president. But even with those new laws, I don't think God will send a hurricane to punish us.)

Also, in what also might be a surprise to some of you, the gospel of Jesus Christ and the platform of the Republican Party are not the same thing. (The gospel and the Democratic Party platform aren't the same thing either.) True, the official Republican positions on abortion (but not Todd Akin's or Richard Mourdock's) are probably pretty similar to the Church's position. I'm also pretty sure nowhere in the Book of Mormon, the Bible, or church handbooks does the church extol or condemn health care reform, financial regulations on Wall Street, green energy, climate change, Medicare, or immigration reform. I know a lot of conservatives who treat some political issues as if they are spiritual ones. But they're actually just political. You can be for or against some political ideas, and still be a faithful Latter-day Saint. There is some overlap among a handful of religious beliefs and political beliefs, but not as much as some people have convinced themselves there is.

Even though politics is something I'm really interested in, and one of the reasons I came to law school, the recent surge of confusion between religious conviction and political ideology has made it hard for me to share that interest. Lately I have to keep it to myself. Some of it is me just trying to be polite, and my natural tendency to passively avoid conflict. But it seems like there is way more potential for conflict for me to watch out for than there used to be. I hesitate to bring up politics these days, especially around members of the church, because I worry that people will think I'm stupid, or a bad Mormon, or both. I'm sure most of these church members would be civil and avoid offending me if they were to find out that I might actually disagree with their political beliefs. But a lot of church members carry on as if it has never occurred to them that they might be in the presence of someone who thinks differently than them.

Finally, I just want to say that I choose to be optimistic about our nation's future. I know Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck make a lot of money by scaring people. But I'd rather not be scared. It's just not that fun for me. Fear is not an emotion I particularly enjoy. I'd much rather be positive and wish our country's leaders the best. It makes me a happier person.

Being positive and taking the high road also means I'm following the prophet.

"The First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued the following statement Tuesday:

"We congratulate President Obama on winning a second term as President of the United States.

"After a long campaign, this is now a time for Americans to come together. It is a long tradition among Latter-day Saints to pray for our national leaders in our personal prayers and in our congregations.

"We invite Americans everywhere, whatever their political persuasion, to pray for the President, for his administration and the new Congress as they lead us through difficult and turbulent times. May our national leaders reflect the best in wisdom and judgment as they fulfill the great trust afforded to them by the American people." (emphasis added)

And, ironically enough, it also means I'm following Mitt Romney.

"I have just called President Obama to congratulate him on his victory. His supporters and his campaign also deserve congratulations. His supporters and his campaign also deserve congratulations. I wish all of them well, but particularly the president, the first lady and their daughters. This is a time of great challenges for America, and I pray that the president will be successful in guiding our nation. ...

"The nation, as you know, is at a critical point. At a time like this, we can’t risk partisan bickering and political posturing. Our leaders have to reach across the aisle to do the people’s work. And we citizens also have to rise to the occasion. ... We look to our pastors and priests and rabbis and counselors of all kinds to testify of the enduring principles upon which our society is built: honesty, charity, integrity and family. We look to our parents, for in the final analysis everything depends on the success of our homes. ...

"[T]he nation chose another leader. And so Ann and I join with you to earnestly pray for him and for this great nation.

"Thank you, and God bless America."





Thursday, November 1, 2012

Vote for Justice

Another cartoon based on a local story:


One of the measures on the Iowa City ballot this election is to vote yes or no for a new "justice center," which I think is basically a nicer-sounding name than "jail" or "prison." Voting yes would mean adding a few more jail cells to the ones already existing at the courthouse.

Here's what it would look like. The new justice center is the glass, rectangular addition to the courthouse.
Here are some articles on it, if you want to learn more:

A history of the proposed Johnson County justice center

Vote yes for Justice Center

Vote no for new jail in downtown Iowa City

Justice Center proposal needs three changes



Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Divvying up the candy

How Barack Obama and Mitt Romney handle their loot after a successful night of trick-or-treating (published in The Daily Iowan today):


Friday, October 26, 2012

Keep Out

My prediction from yesterday was correct. Today The Daily Iowan published one of my cartoons about the Wagner v. Jones case in the U.S. Court of Appeals.


Just to recap from my post yesterday:

The federal case is between Teresa Wagner, a part-time employee at the University of Iowa law school, and Carolyn Jones, the former dean. Wagner claims she was denied a full-time job because of her conservative ideology.

The case has attracted a lot of media attention.

Verdict could alter hiring in higher education

This week, the jury reached a ... non-verdict. Hung jury, mistrial.

Judge calls mistrial in conservative's lawsuit claiming liberal bias in hiring at U. Iowa law

I had drawn two cartoons in anticipation of the verdict: one if Wagner won, another if she lost. Even though it was a mistrial, the cartoon of Wagner losing still can apply, I think.

To see the other possible cartoon, click here.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Performance Review

Today's cartoon is another cartoon about the judicial retention election.


Here's an update on that story, by the way: New poll shows more Iowans plan to vote against Wiggins' retention

Now, there's another big news story going on in right here at the law school. There's a federal case between Teresa Wagner, a part-time writing adviser at the law school, and the old dean of the law school, Carolyn Jones. Wagner applied for a full-time instructor position, but was denied the job. She claims it's because of the law school's anti-conservative bias.

Verdict could alter hiring in higher education

It's a really interesting story.

Anyway, the verdict was expected to come this week. So, being the cartoonist who goes above and beyond, I provided The Daily Iowan two cartoons: one if Wagner wins, and another if Wagner loses.

But I didn't draw one specifically for a mistrial!

Judge calls mistrial in conservative's lawsuit claiming liberal bias in hiring at U. Iowa law

I found out about the mistrial at about 6 p.m. yesterday, which was too late to draw a new cartoon. But I did email the opinion editor to suggest that my "If Wagner loses" cartoon could still work. I never heard back from him, and this morning I found the judicial retention cartoon instead.

But, lucky for you blog followers, you can see both of my Wagner v. Jones cartoons right here!

If Wagner wins
If Wagner loses
The paper could maybe still use the "If Wagner loses" cartoon tomorrow. In that case, you just got an exclusive sneak preview of tomorrow's edition.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Safe!

I was actually a little surprised The Daily Iowan published this cartoon, because I wasn't sure if it expressed an overall consensus about Monday's foreign policy debate or if it was just my own opinion.

It seems like all the commentators were saying Barack Obama won the debate hands down. But I actually think Mitt Romney did a good job. I didn't agree with all of his positions (and a lot of where I did agree with him, he also agreed with the president), and of course there were a few inaccurate statements, but he seemed to know what he was talking about.

President Obama definitely had the best zinger of the night. But other than that, I think the main thing that benefited him in the foreign policy is that he's done this before.

Plus, it combines political news with news in the sports world, and Game 7 of Cardinals v. Giants.
 Just imagine if it were Herman Cain. Or Donald Trump.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

It's a mudbath

In searching out local stories to turn into cartoons, I looked up the current U.S. House race in Iowa City. I'm glad I did, it was very educational. Iowa City is in District 2, out of four districts. After the 2010 Census, Iowa actually dropped a representative in the House. (Utah gained one after that census.) The current representative is Democrat Dave Loebsack, and the Republican running against him is John Archer.

There doesn't seem to be a whole lot of interesting news going on between those two, other than some negative ads. So it turned into a pretty generic cartoon. (One thing I did to make it unique was to give Archer a bow and arrow. He uses a bow and arrow as part of his logo on all his signs. 'Cause his last name is Archer. Get it?)


Friday, October 19, 2012

The Elephant on the Field

Iowa plays Penn State this weekend. Awkward... (maybe not, but it makes for a cartoon anyway.)


I wrote an editorial for The Daily Universe last year when the Penn State scandal broke. If you'd like to read it, click here.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Tie goes to ... partisanship

It's nice that the debates between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama are making it a closer race. Before the first debate, a lot of people were saying Romney had already lost. So, even though I'm not sure if I'm voting for him, it's nice to see him be more relevant again.

Anyway, here's this cartoon.


Monday, October 15, 2012

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Sunny days, sweepin' the clouds away

Here's yet another take on Mitt Romney downsizing Big Bird and PBS.

(click on it to make it larger)
My original idea was to have Big Bird and the gang do all these lame jobs. But somewhere in the brainstorming session my ideas turned into things these characters would actually enjoy. Which I think works for a cartoon a week after the debate - it can work as a sort of "reaction to the reaction." And maybe it's a little softer on Mitt Romney, which I'm noticing a lot of cartoonists have done. Maybe it's because he's ahead in some polls now? After the debate last week, President Obama is the easier one to make fun of.

Anyway, because this cartoon is basically seven cartoons combined, it's really tiny in the paper. Lucky for you, you get to see it on my blog!

On a related note...here's Big Bird visiting "Weekend Update."


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Next Big Thing is Already Here

This one was cool to see in today's paper, because I drew it and sent it in a couple of weeks ago. It's nice that they're still hanging onto the cartoons they don't publish right away and finding a use for them!


In case you don't know where this joke came from, it's based on these Samsung commercials:


I was partly inspired by this The Daily Iowan editorial by Benjamin Evans:

Don't vote early

I wanted to do something about Iowa early voting, but I didn't know what until I read this column. It's pretty interesting and funny.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Public Intoxication

Early Saturday morning, Iowa cornerback Micah Hyde was arrested for public intoxication. Instant cartoon!


It wasn't until this morning that I found out it was actually three players arrested over the weekend for alcohol-related incidents. I wish I had known, I would have drawn two more teammates/cellmates. But I think the cartoon still works, since the three arrests all happened separately and in different places, and Micah Hyde is one of the team captains.

Maybe this is bigger news to me than to the average Iowa student, since I'm from BYU where there hasn't been an athlete in trouble for drinking for at least eight years. But, it was something to do with Hawkeye football that happened during a bye week, so it worked for me.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Livin' on a Prayer

Bon Jovi is coming to town to put on a free concert for the Obama campaign.

Another hyperlocal story to cartoonize. So I thought of ways to combine politics and a rock concert, and my first thought was to have Jon Bon Jovi singing about budget figures or something boring like that. But as I thought about it more, I invoked my inner Weird Al and came up with something of a song parody.

In case you haven't guessed it: it's to the tune of the chorus in "Livin' on a Prayer."
This was also a chance to exaggerate and make fun of President Obama. So for any of you who think I'm a hopeless Obamaphile, don't worry, I can mock both sides of the aisle.

Whoa, that rhymed. Maybe I should look into the song parody business.

http://30.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lnhvjnPUsw1qdezf9o1_500.gif

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Wiggins Comeback

In some states, state judges are appointed. In other states they are elected. In Iowa, they are appointed and then regularly brought up for a retention election. Basically, you don't get to vote them in, but you do get to vote them out.

This year, Justice David Wiggins is up for retention. His retention is a big deal because he is one of the justices who participated in the unanimous decision to make same-sex marriage legal in Iowa, Varnum v. Brien. Conservatives from around the country, including Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and former Sen. Rick Santorum have been touring Iowa to campaign against him.


Hence the cartoon in today's The Daily Iowan.

What's funny is that I've actually met Justice Wiggins. I have a funny story about him that I don't want to put it on my blog. But if you're curious, let me know and I'll send you an email.

I'll just say that my encounter with him, plus my own position on same-sex marriage, means he's lost my vote.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Debating With Himself

I did another cartoon for The Daily Iowan about tonight's first presidential debate:


The joke has been thought up well before now that Mitt Romney could fill a whole hour just debating himself, or at least debating his former Governor of Massachusetts self. So I combined that idea with President Obama overpoliticizing his success in hunting down in Osama bin Laden, attempting a balanced mockery of both candidates.

These are all actual quotes from Mitt Romney. I found them compiled at this website (and, in case you're wondering, they have links to President Obama's own flip-flopping as well).

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Almost Harmony

I love when I can combine more than one news story into one cartoon.


I actually drew this cartoon last week, as a possible alternative to this one. But it also worked for this week since Iowa beat Minnesota, 31-13. (See, I don't always need Iowa to lose to advance my cartooning career.)

Friday, September 28, 2012

Happy Homecoming!

It's Homecoming Week at Iowa, and the big game is against Minnesota. So I came up with this.


I drew another cartoon yesterday that combined homecoming with a couple of national stories, but it could also work for Monday's paper after the game. As long as Iowa wins...

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Digging himself into a hole

With his lack of a post-convention bounce, his quick-trigger criticism of President Obama after the Benghazi riots, and his apparent dismissal of 47% of the country...the Romney campaign is not going so well.


That's three cartoons in The Daily Iowan in one week!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Greek Tragedy

Another cartoon in The Daily Iowan, about a local story! Score!


On Monday night I happened to come across a story about Sigma Alpha Epsilon shutting down at Iowa because of hazing gone awry. I was happy to see an easy opportunity to draw a cartoon for a hyperlocal news story, because I don't know if it will always be that easy.

I originally thought of comparing Sigma Alpha Epsilon to the Greek economy being in shambles. Maybe not everyone who sees the cartoon will think of the economy in Greece, but I think the cartoon still works if someone just thinks of ancient Greek ruins. It might work even better.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Game? What game?

Another cartoon in The Daily Iowan!


For all the Hawkeye fans who agonized over Iowa's one-point loss in the final 45 seconds to Central Michigan...at least you got your drink on.

I actually had this idea for a cartoon a long time ago, but was waiting for an Iowa loss before I could use it. So in a way, I've been actually rooting for Iowa to lose so that I could draw this cartoon, haha. And, it seems like a Big 10 loss to a Mid-American school was a good opportunity for this.

Over the weekend I finished two other cartoons that should appear in the paper this week. So keep a lookout!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Dr. Freeze

Another cartoon in The Daily Iowan!


The opinions editor Benjamin Evans especially liked this one, because it was super local. Super local cartoons are a challenge, since I'm new to the campus and being a law student makes me less connected to the campus as a whole anyway. But that's more of what they're looking for at The Daily Iowan, so I'll keep trying to come up with more.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Hot Air

Just because I graduated from BYU and left The Daily Universe doesn't mean my days of political cartoons are over.

I have a cartoon in today's The Daily Iowan!


I emailed the paper a couple of weeks ago asking if they had any interest in having their very own cartoonist, and I shared with them some of my greatest hits from the Universe. Turns out they were interested, and I did a few cartoons over the weekend. This was the one they published first! (If they don't publish any more from that original batch, I'll post them on the blog later.)

The challenge has been coming up with cartoons specific to Iowa. Since I've only lived here about a month and a half, I'm not caught up on Iowa news. But I have definitely seen firsthand the campaign ad fervor in a swing state, something I never got in Utah. So that was a fertile source for a cartoon.

Now with a cartoon in The Daily Iowan, my name has been in 10 different newspapers.* My media empire continues to expand. I'm the next freaking William Randolph Hearst.

*That's if you count journalism websites, and if you count being quoted in a newspaper or web article. For those of you keeping score: My byline or cartoons have appeared in The Dalles Chronicle, The Daily Universe, the Deseret News, KSL.com, The Brooklyn Paper, the New York Post (on the website) and The Daily Iowan. In addition to that, I've been quoted in the Hood River News, The Oregonian and ESPN.com.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Why I Root for BYU

(Obviously, this cartoon doesn't apply to this football season. This is from 2009, the year of Andrew George.)
I don't know why anyone would root for the Utes.

Obviously, people do root for them, so there must be some reasons. And I'm sure some of the reasons, maybe even  most of them, are good. I certainly understand if someone grew up in Salt Lake City and the Utes are their hometown team, or if someone's family has been going to the University of Utah for generations.

Of course, if all you care about in choosing a football team is if it wins, then Utah would be the clear choice. Utah has beat BYU three years in a row, for the first time since 2004, and since the rivalry started in 1896 Utah has won 60 percent of the time. And now, Utah is a BCS school, which by default makes its wins more valuable in the eyes of many beholders.

But it's hard for me to imagine how someone would consciously choose to support the Utes, when so much of what they stand for is the polar opposite of what BYU stands for.

What makes BYU football unique is that it doesn't even stand for football. Tradition, spirit, honor, character, morality, service, intellect, faith, family, friends and everything else aren't just marketing buzzwords. I have seen evidence of it time and time again. Coach Bronco Mendenhall doesn't just pay lip service to these ideals because otherwise he would be fired. It is honestly a part of who he is and the program he runs. And the grand majority of BYU's athletes are exactly the same way.

It makes BYU pretty strange, I'll admit. And probably even annoying to some. BYU sports won't play on Sunday, and the Honor Code severely limits BYU's recruiting possibilities.

Maybe another football program and its fans are glad or relieved to not have those additional hoops to jump through. But programs outside of BYU at the very least should admire BYU's methods, even if from afar.

Many, if not most, college football programs across the country are also admirable and deserve their devoted fan bases. But there is also an ugly side to college sports. With the inexhaustible drive to increase profits, campuses with football stadiums on the side are increasingly mutating into football stadiums with a campus on the side. From my vantage point, it seems like President Samuelson is the only university president who has duties other than dealing with conference realignments and clashes with the NCAA. The zeitgeist that puts football on a pedestal and says it can do no wrong has caused a lot of wrongs. Penn State isn't the only college culture that needs a reality check.

In some ways, Utah isn't any more at fault than a typical university, because it is a typical university. It tries to build a football team that will win championships any way it knows how within NCAA rules (begrudgingly or not), largely because that's what fills the coffers. But Utah has made a deliberate effort to contrast BYU.

The university and the athletic department go out of their way to hire coaches who aren't members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It's in the name of "diversity," but it also gets all those pesky standards out of the way. (The school made an exception for Kyle Whittingham, mostly to keep him from accepting a job offer at BYU. And I'm sure Whittingham does keep those standards. But he isn't exactly forthright with it, even to the point of mocking BYU's no-Sunday play that you would think he would hold some respect for.) The athletes are more at the mercy of the university, where they and their coach don't have as many conflicts. No one has a problem with playing on Sunday or selling beer around the sporting events. The campus community makes money, no one complains, everybody wins.

Whittingham and the University of Utah don't hold back in appreciating their "flexibility" in recruiting. When a coach only has to look for players with talent, character and maturity optional, it does make his job easier. They join the ranks of other schools to whom laws and bylaws are no longer the bare minimum of decency, but bothersome inconveniences. (And even then, it's only a bothersome inconvenience if a cover-up is uncovered.)

And then there are the fans. I know there are rude and ruthless fans on both sides of the Point of the Mountain, which I'll talk about in a minute. And I also know that many Ute fans are respectable human beings. A couple of my favorite mission companions are Utes. But when a fan base is, again, cheering for all that BYU is against, it causes embarrassing, immature, senseless and extraneous outbreaks. I know a few BYU fans, including my own mother, who were hit with beer cans for no reason other than they were wearing blue at a football game. A few journalists two years ago were pegged with ice and snow, ice and snow that was aimed at coach Mendenhall. (If you click on the link, go to page five.) It's one thing to have a snowball fight with another fan. But to hit someone just trying to do their job, while aiming at one of the most well-known figures in the state of Utah? These kids might as well have thrown ice at Gov. Gary Herbert or Larry Miller. And these are just the few incidents that I am distantly connected with. Add to it the breadth and depth of all other blows struck by Utah fans, and it becomes more and more natural to sympathize with Max Hall.

I know BYU fans can be just as harsh, although from another direction. I would guess that a lot of Ute fans' animosity toward Cougar fans is caused by the perceived "holier-than-thou" attitude coming from Provo. And I'm sure there are a few BYU fans who exemplify that. I apologize for their behavior and don't condone it at all. BYU fans shouldn't step down from their higher ground and rub it in the faces of Utah fans, and when they do I believe they are no longer true BYU fans.

But I still believe a true BYU fan is on higher ground.

BYU isn't perfect or beatified by any means. The school still does things that I disagree with and that get on my nerves. But when a football coach's routine the night before a game is to give a fireside and spiritually uplift the community (if you click on the link, go to the bottom of page one), or a basketball program keeps its standards even at the risk of cutting short its run in the NCAA Tournament, or a women's rugby team forfeits a tournament because a game is scheduled for Sunday (go to page three), I am grateful for a university that makes an eternal perspective part of its very core. There are plenty of Utes with that same perspective. But when the eternal scheme of things is a part of a university's DNA, the sinews that hold it together, the fibers of its being, it makes a difference.

---------------------------------------------------

Whether these words consoled you in the wake of a heartbreaking loss, or only fueled your fire of rage against BYU, you gotta admit: the two-year hiatus in the rivalry after 2013 might help everyone just simmer down.

Monday, August 13, 2012

One Day Down

Well, I did it. I'm here in Iowa City, with Erin and Allisyn, and I'm going to law school.

My first day of school!

At the University of Iowa, 1L students start nine days earlier than the rest of the law school. It's for more than just orientation or "welcome freshmen!"-type activities. I had some of that yesterday. (Yeah, on a Sunday. Weird.) But I also actually take a course, Intro to Law and Legal Reasoning. It's a week-long class, with an exam on Saturday. It counts for one of my 15 credits this semester. It seems like a pretty good idea. I feel like with this "mini-semester" before the real semester starts, I get a lot of the "first time" stuff out of the way. Law school is challenging, and different from any type of education I've had before. But a lot of the jitters that 1Ls get is simply because they haven't been 1Ls before.

I've heard from multiple sources that this first week at Iowa is the worst week ever, and the rest of the semester is a breeze by comparison. But from what I can tell so far (admittedly, it's only been one day), it's nothing I can't handle. Where the exhaustion comes is that I'm in class all day, and in one class all day. When the real semester starts, I'll have four classes that are more spaced out through the week.

The reading takes more effort than what I'm used to, but it's interesting so far and it doesn't usually go over my head. For this first class, we read "The Case of the Speluncean Explorers." Have any of you read it? It's a fictitious case that takes place in the year 4300 in a made-up country and made-up judicial and legislative system. It was written in 1949 and published in the Harvard Law Review. Besides being an allegory of the law and how ambiguous it can be (and how flawed it can be in the hands of the judges charged with interpreting it), it has a real dystopian, dark humor kind of feel to it. It actually reminded me a lot of Dr. Strangelove, Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.

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I'd even recommend it to someone outside of law school.

Another reason this intro course isn't overwhelming is because I was lucky enough to have a professor who's more benign than average when it comes to the Socratic method. For those of you who don't know, the Socratic method is what law students will tell you is the most terrifying thing about law school. In the most nightmarish scenario, a snobby professor will choose a student at random to interrogate about the reading assignment, in front of the whole class.

I'm sure I'll have a real run-in with the Socratic method later on, when my real semester starts. But for now, I have a professor who simply calls on students in order of where they are sitting, starting with the back row. I sit in the middle, so I haven't been called on yet. But so far, every question I've been able to answer pretty well in my head. And a few times, I felt like I could give a better answer than the student who was called on. (One observation: if the reason someone gets nervous about being called on is because he or she wants to sound confident in front of the professor and not mess up, don't you think that person would want to not answer with an upward inflection in his or her tone, like he or she is asking another question? It seems like a lot of classmates did that today.) I think as long as I come to class prepared, I won't feel like I'm handcuffed to a chair under a dangling light bulb.

"We can either do this the easy way, or the hard way." 
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Again, it's been just one day. So I'm no expert and I still don't know what I've gotten myself into. We'll see if I change my tune a little later in the semester.

One thing I was not prepared for was the information session about the bar exam. I don't know how it is in every state, but at least for the Iowa bar exam I'm supposed to sign up for the bar exam before November 1 of this year, even though I wouldn't be taking the bar exam until 2015. (I can register later, but the fee will double every so often.)

I didn't expect to even think about the bar exam before my third year. Part of what made choosing a law school difficult for us was that we don't know where we want to settle down long-term. We thought we were putting off that decision for at least three more years, and that with a high-ranked school like Iowa I would still be likely to land a job where I wanted, wherever that may be. But if I need to plan for the bar exam now...

What I might do is just register for the Iowa exam, as a back-up at least, and because it's less expensive to pay the registration fee without taking the test than it is to pay late fees when it turns out I want to take the Iowa bar exam after all. After a couple of summer internships, maybe one will lead to a job out of state, in which case I'll forget the Iowa exam and chalk the Iowa registration fee up to just another education expense (it's cheaper than buying another textbook). And passing the bar in Iowa could count for other states (although it costs a lot of guita), and some of my scores could transfer to other states, so taking it here wouldn't rule out the other 49 states automatically. And I could always take more than one state's bar exam. (Although, after learning more about the bar exam's format, I wonder how the whole exam can fit into a single day. It seems so intense. Two bar exams in proximity to each other might give me a heart attack.) And, who knows? Maybe I'll want to spend the rest of my life in Iowa and I'll want to take the bar here anyway.

Any other ideas, fellow law students?

Anyway, time to get to tomorrow's homework!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Double Big News

Big news, everyone. You'll want to sit down for this one.



WE'RE PREGNANT!


WITH TWINS!!!

We're not kidding either.

Ultrasound from June 1. That's two sacs with a baby in each of them!

Ultrasound from June 20. The bottom photo is the baby on the right, the center photo is the baby on the left. In the top photo you can see both of them together.
That's two babies in there! We still can't believe it.

Erin is due January 10, 2013. But, since it's twins, it's very likely they will come much earlier than that. Maybe even around Thanksgiving.

We had been hoping a new baby would come around now. Allisyn is almost two, and we wanted about two years in between her and our next baby. Erin took a pregnancy test on our last day of staying with her grandparents in West Valley, and it was positive! Erin did the calculations and figured out the baby was due on January 10.

Our first Sunday after arriving in Texas, we told Erin's parents in person and then called up my parents, to tell them the news as a Mother's Day gift. It was a little earlier in the pregnancy than the last time we told our parents we were pregnant, but the chance to share it on Mother's Day was too opportune to pass up. Plus, since we would be staying with Erin's parents, it would be helpful for them to know. We needed to find an OB/GYN in Texas, and we needed to explain why Erin would be sick and have to hide in the bedroom every time there was meat cooking in the kitchen.

So knowing another baby was already coming was factored into our househunting in Iowa. But during our trip, we didn't know yet there were two babies coming. So the house we found was even more of a blessing and an answer to our prayers - an answer to prayers we weren't even saying yet.

Our first OB/GYN appointment came after we returned from Iowa. And we were lucky enough this time to get an ultrasound during our very first appointment. It wasn't long after the ultrasound machine was up and running when Dr. Itam blurted out, "There's two in there." We couldn't believe it, especially Erin. She kept asking, "Are you kidding?!" and "Are you serious?!" Dr. Itam told her, "If I were kidding, I would have stopped by now." And there they were, two adorable blobs, right there on the video monitor. We could tell that they are in separate sacs, which was good news. We don't know if they are fraternal or identical twins yet. Also, we still need to find out if there is one placenta between the two of them or if they each have their own, and we'll find out at an appointment tomorrow. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

I told Erin that it could be fun to keep the twins news from our parents, so that when we told our siblings we were pregnant there would still be something to surprise our parents with. But Erin said there was no way she could live with her mom and dad and keep a secret like that. So Erin showed her mom the ultrasound photos right when we came home. She's like, "Mom, count!" Her mom, of course, couldn't believe it. She said, "I always wanted twins in the family! And I'm glad it's you and not me!"

Way before we were pregnant, Erin had a great idea for how to announce the news. She wanted to make a shirt for Allisyn that said, "Promoted to Big Sister, Effective [whenever the due date is]." But now, we had more news to put on that shirt! So Erin's idea was for me to draw Allisyn holding two babies and put it on the back of the shirt. We didn't know if they were two boys, two girls, or a boy and a girl, so I gave their baby blankets the gender-neutral colors of red and green. Which, Erin pointed out, was perfect, because these babies might be born around Christmas.

We had already told Erin's parents this T-shirt idea, and we went to work in making this shirt immediately so that we could use it to tell Erin's dad we were expecting twins. After our masterpiece was done, we showed him and told him, "Look, this is how we're going to tell Braden and Dallin." He said something about how very nice the shirt was, and then when he saw the back, he asked, "Why are there two babies there?!" Haha. Success.

Next up was my family. Erin, Allisyn and I went to Oregon for two graduations, my sister Chrysta's from high school and my sister Kandis' from Oregon State University. Lucky for us, even though my family is starting to grow up and spread out, all of us were there at the same time for Chrysta's graduation, including my brother and his wife and my sister at BYU, and my grandma from Colorado. Some of my sisters figured out that Erin was pregnant, with both their feminine intuition and with Erin having her own ginger ale in the refrigerator. But they still didn't know it was twins!

Everyone was gathered together for a family home evening, and we put the shirt on Allisyn and let her loose in front of the fam. We were hoping for a big reaction, but nothing really happened. I think some of my family saw the shirt, but for some reason they thought they weren't supposed to say anything - when we were hoping for the opposite! Finally I announced that everyone should look at Allisyn's shirt. Then they got it. And of course everyone was excited. (And it was nice to have a whole house of people who were in on our secret!)

We got back from Oregon this week, so then it was time to tell Braden and Dallin. We put Allisyn in the shirt again, and called the boys over to see her new shirt. They were both so happy for us. Dallin's birthday is December 18, so he's hoping to share a birthday with them. "I'll pay you $20 if they're born on December 18," he promised.

Then, Erin called her grandparents. Her Grandma Ayers has a tradition of making a new quilt for each of her great grandchildren. So Erin brought up our news by asking her Grandma, "I was wondering if you could make me a couple of baby blankets for me for Christmas." It took Grandma a second to realize that Erin was asking for two. But then she was so excited, and like Erin's mom she said "I always wanted twins!"

Then today, we had another appointment with Dr. Itam. We got another ultrasound, as well as heard both of their little heartbeats. The ultrasound was really cool, because even though it had only been three weeks since the last one we could really see how much they had grown. We could see that one of the twins (the one on the right in the photos above) even had the hiccups! And Dr. Itam kept telling us how adorable they were, haha.

Tomorrow we will get a radiology ultrasound, which will tell us if the twins are sharing a placenta or if they each have their own. Either case would be fine, but two placentas would help things go a little smoother during the pregnancy and birth. We still won't be able to tell if they are fraternal or identical twins (but if there is just one placenta, then we'll know for sure they are identical).

Wow, can you believe we're having twins?!?! In one fell swoop we are tripling our number of children. And we will have three children under the age of 2 1/2.

We're lucky the twins will probably be born before December 31, so then we should get an extra big tax refund that we can put toward getting a new used minivan or something! Because three car seats in the back of our Taurus will be pretty cramped. And now, we'll need to get a double stroller, and another crib, and who knows what else! All of a sudden, just using the stuff we got for Allisyn won't be enough.

Like I said earlier, how lucky for us that we found that house! The townhome we found would have been nice, but it would have felt real tight real fast if there were five of us living there. Now we'll have three bedrooms and a fenced-in backyard to raise our young but big family in.

At least Erin will be out of school this time, so in that way things will be easier. But of course, three kids instead of one will fill in any free time that a college graduation gave her. I won't be working for a little while, but law school will take more of my time and energy than my undergrad studies did. Fortunately, I get about a month off in the winter between semesters, so I'll be around more. This does mean that we won't be going anywhere for Christmas this year.

As you can see, there's a lot to think about! If any of you have had twins and have any tips, we would love to have them!

Even though there will be a lot to figure out, a lot more to pay for, and a lot of hard work and stress, we couldn't be happier. We're just a young family, but we already know that family is the greatest source of happiness and joy we could have in this life. We love our little Allisyn so much, and we love being her daddy and mommy. So we know we are going to love being a daddy and mommy to two more.
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