Friday, December 21, 2007

Family Christmas Newsletter

Current mood: grateful

As promised, here is our family Christmas newsletter! And yes, I put the whole thing together AS ALWAYS. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Nari; January 1, 2008
I loved this!

Christmas Newsletter

Current mood: happy

Here is my Christmas newsletter. If I didn't send you the PDF file and you'd like it, please let me know. I also have a family one that I'll be posting. This one, however, is all about ME!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Sledding fun

Current mood: content

I just wanted to share some pictures from our little sledding trip on Monday, December 17th. My sister Katie and I took two kids she occasionally babysits sledding at the Kent State front campus hill the other day. Katie told their parents we would take them sledding as soon as we got a good snow, so after our crazy snowstorm on Sunday, December 16th, the stage was set. We took Jed, age 6; and his sister Elise, who will be 5 on December 20th. We all had a lot of fun and had cookies and hot chocolate at our house afterwards!

I've uploaded all the pictures on my Facebook page for those of you who have Facebook. I may upload them here as well in my album, but not all of them.


Current mood: thankful

OK, so I've pretty much been absent on myspace most of the semester. As much as I like to keep it updated, it's hard during the semester, especially one like this where I'm getting used to being back at Kent State and being around the family again. I have far less personal time than I did in Rexburg, though that is by no means a BAD thing! I LOVE it!

Now that the semester is over I can post some reflections. I thought a bit about what things would be like if I had just gone to BYU-Idaho and basically surrendered at the beginning of the semester. All things considered, and especially now in light of how the semester has played out, I am SO glad I stuck to what I knew was right and stayed here. I wish I could say that everything is perfect here, but in reality, I really couldn't ask for a much better situation given how this all started. I now am just a semester away from my bachelor's degree and will hopefully begin my masters work this summer. Even if I had graduated from BYU-Idaho, I would've just gotten home this week and would've had to immediately begin getting certified in Ohio, which would've been a hassle and cost more money. This way when I get my masters in 2009, I will already be certified in Ohio and that carries to almost every other state (not true of Idaho or Utah's certification). On top of that I'll have a masters degree (so I'll be ahead of most) and I now have a minor, so I'm a bit more marketable, not to mention a little more knowledgeable!

Of course I couldn't help but compare the two institutions I have spent so much time at: BYU-Idaho and Kent State University. Both have great strengths and weaknesses, but overall I like Kent a lot better because it just has more to offer and is in a much more accessible area for opportunities and growth. Among the things I've enjoyed coming back here:

1. Diversity- While BYU-Idaho touts the fact it has students from all fifty states and like 40 countries, many states and countries are represented by only a few (or just one) students. In reality, the school is mostly white, middle class from the west, especially Idaho and Utah. Kent State students come mostly from Ohio and it too is mostly white, but not nearly as much as BYU-Idaho. In addition, Ohio has a much more diverse population to draw from. Let's not forget the religious factor too: BYU-Idaho is over 99% LDS. Kent State, on the other hand has every religion possible represented, so being LDS is much more novel here than it was there. Because of that religious and cultural diversity, there are a lot more opinions discussed in class, so I feel like I was learning more about the world I'm in. True, it's nice to learn the LDS perspective and how things fit into our doctrine, but seven days a week was a bit much for me.

2. The Rec Center- Kent State has one of the best student recreation centers in the country, while BYU-Idaho has nothing even close. While at BYU-Idaho I really did learn to appreciate the KSU Recreation and Wellness Center (SRWC), so this semester I've gone almost every weekday as part of my routine. I'm already paying the fees to use it as part of my tuition, so why not?

3. Intercollegiate Athletics- I REALLY missed going to games while I was at BYU-Idaho so much so that I'd attend some local high school games or go down to Utah to see the Utah Utes or BYU Cougars play, plus I saw the Cleveland Cavs play the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake twice. BYU-Idaho eliminated intercollegiate athletics when it was turned into a four-year college and instead has an intramural program, aka intracollegiate athletics. Sorry, I just could never get into any game that featured BYU-Idaho vs. BYU-Idaho and the tiny crowds that came to the events made it even worse. I love going to sporting events, so I've tried best I can to go to KSU basketball games whenever they're home. There's just something about the atmosphere and the school coming together to cheer for their team against another school and that wasn't at BYU-Idaho. It went right along with the whole isolationist feel that was there. Anyway, here at KSU, all sporting events are free for students, so again, WHY NOT?!? I even sang the national anthem at a men's basketball game against St. Louis University in November. That was frickin' awesome!

4. The bus! OK, some Kent State students probably think I'm nuts, but I actually did enjoy being able to use the Campus Bus Service again. Even though it isn't the most reliable transportation, at least it was there and it was free. It made my life so much easier getting around (most days!) and not having anything like that at BYU-Idaho, even though the campus is MUCH smaller, made getting from one side to the other a pain, either walking or driving.

I will give BYU-Idaho credit though: their parking was WAY cheaper ($5 per YEAR for a student pass while Kent State was $140 per year for my C-Ice Arena pass meaning before 4 PM I can only park at the Ice Arena). I also loved not being able to smell cigarette smoke on campus at BYU-Idaho since smoking wasn't allowed. Ohio passed a smoke free ordinance last year, but it only covers the areas inside and near the buildings and near the buildings is hardly ever enforced.

As far as teachers go, I'd say they were pretty much even. I've had some great professors at both institutions, though my least favorite was at BYU-Idaho, while my least effective prof was at Kent State. Oh well.

More blogs to lots on my mind and time to write! Watch out!!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Follow up

Current mood: contemplative

OK, so no sooner did I post my last blog did I get a response from Kent State the very same day that I had been re-accepted (big surprise there...) AND that the late registration fee had been waived! So, all last week I got my schedule set and I also planned for next semester too. As it stands now, since I have to take 30 credits these next two semesters, I figured I might as well make something of them, so I'm going to have a minor in Political Science along with a BA in Music. I'll then go into the Master of Arts in teaching program.
I finalized my schedule before leaving Friday morning to go to my brother's wedding in DC, so I have 15 credits and 6 classes. Half my classes are Political Science and the other half music as I really don't have much to do to finish my BA in Music. Basically I just have to fill in the parts that I didn't have to take when I was a Music Ed major and that's a whole 9 credits or something.
For those who may be interested, I sent my formal termination notice to BYU-Idaho last week in a brief e-mail to everyone I dealt with over the three-week ordeal.

Here is the e-mail:
"After much thought and prayer, I have decided to terminate my relationship with BYU-Idaho. There will be no deferrment, no postponement, and no delay in my education at BYU-Idaho; it is simply over as I have already transferred to another university where I will continue my undergrad work and begin a masters program. I can no longer be associated with an organization that does not view or respect me as the adult I am simply because I am not married yet. While I, as much as anyone, want to graduate and move on with my life in that regard, I cannot just sit back and allow myself to be subject to the treatment I received at the hands of BYU-Idaho's administration, particularly from a school that touts itself as the "Lord's University." In being denied I have not been given sufficient reasons as to why the University's housing policy MUST be applied even outside of Rexburg and have been treated as some kind of unruly teenager in the process. This is a far deeper issue than simply not "getting my way." Had the University been able to supply some sort of logical arguments on their behalf, I may have been convinced to go ahead as originally planned as I have in other instances regarding policies and rules that I did not agree with. Unfortunately, the arguments that "it's policy" and "it's been that way for xx years and isn't going to change" aren't arguments at all; they are excuses for a policy which cannot be defended.
The bottom line is that BYU-Idaho has many policies and cultural ideas that are simply that: cultural ideas that are not doctrinally based principles. They are customs brought with the pioneers from 19th century America that the rest of the nation moved past, yet these customs and ideas persisted in the isolated western settlements and have been confused with gospel truth simply because they have been around for generations. There is no doctrinal support for the idea that someone is not an adult until they are married or turn 30 and thus should not be able to choose his or her own housing and should be treated like a child. Yes, marriage is important and something I am working towards, but my adulthood and maturity are not determined by when I have that opportunity.
I hope one day those at BYU-Idaho and in the Rexburg area will be better able to see the difference between the "foolish traditions of their fathers" and true gospel principles and have the courage to question why a policy is in place and be prepared to change or adjust it if necessary. Until then, BYU-Idaho is little more than a modern incarnation of the Pharisees, who were so concerned about rules that they didn't even know where they came from or why they did them, yet they still vehemently defended them.

Kent, Ohio"

Sent 4 September 2007.

The replies I got were actually pretty graceful. My former advisor Kevin Brower said:

"The decisions you have made over the past few weeks must have been extremely difficult. I do wish you well and hope to hear of your success often."
It's worth noting that Kevin Brower was very much of a support to me, though we didn't have contact until right after I got my final rejection from President Clark. It's because of him I don't utterly despise BYU-Idaho right now.

Even the secretary to President Clark sent me a short e-mail that said:

"Thank you for letting us know your plans. All of us who have been involved with and followed your situation over the past few weeks wish you well in your future endeavors."

So really, I guess we depart in relative peace. I don't absolutely HATE BYU-Idaho, though I have a very low opinion of their administration now and I have always had a low opinion of many of its policies and the culture. This experience has just cemented what I already knew. I had always hoped I was wrong about those people, but I was totally right. At least things are working out here and seemingly for the better. These first few days back have been interesting and weird too...being back at Kent State and all. I've also been comparing the two schools and looking at things I wish KSU did that BYU-I does and vice versa. So, time to move on and enjoy it! I will say I'm REALLY excited to have FREE access to KSU sporting events and the KSU Wellness Center again...I really missed those while I was at BYU-Idaho!

Oh, in case you were wondering, my brother's wedding to Heather Aamodt was WONDERFUL as was the reception in Harrisonburg, Virginia. The only thing was it was pretty hot and humid that day, but thankfully we didn't have to stay out TOO much! Look out for some of the pictures that I'll be posting soon!


Nari; September 10, 2007
Terrific letter! :)
I was going to ask how the wedding went...I'm glad all was well.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

MAJOR change of plans

Current mood: relieved

I posted this on my Facebook profile first, so if you read it there, save youself some time!

I decided I better get this written to give an update on my always eventful life and offer an explanation for my recent bulletins like "looking for legal advice."

For starters, yes it's true; I am all but officially withdrawn from BYU-Idaho and I have transferred back to Kent State. This has all transpired in the last 2-3 weeks, so it's been somewhat emotional and VERY stressful. While this was really developing, I was house-sitting for a family in Cleveland Heights (which I really enjoyed). Basically, I have left BYU-Idaho over a major dispute involving where I was supposed to live while I student taught in Taylorsville, Utah this fall. This is much more than a case of "not getting my way" but more a case of not being treated fairly (married students do not have to get permission to live in housing of their choice) and respectfully.

BYU-Idaho's housing policy states that all single (unmarried) students must live in "approved" housing until the age of 30. In Rexburg this isn't a big deal since all the housing near campus is "approved" anyway, plus there are several complexes to choose from (like 40-50). In my student teahing case, though, we were given one choice (a complex in Draper, Utah) and were told because of numbers we'd be sharing rooms. First, I have my own room at home and have had my own room in each apartment I've lived in at BYU-Idaho. I'm someone who needs my space and a place I can collect my thoughts and relax in peace. It's just the way I am. Somehow I made it though my mission sharing a room and being "attached" to someone 24/7, but I couldn't wait for the day I could have some alone time again. In addition, the distance between Draper, Utah and my school in Taylorsville is 14 miles. While that may not seem like much, anyone who's lived in the Salt Lake area knows that the commute can cause 14 miles to take near an hour. With the price of gas on top of the fact that I wouldn't be able to work while student teaching added to my desire to find alternate housing.

I started looking for my own apartment in April after finding out my school assignment and the fact that I wouldn't be able to have my own room in the "approved" housing. I found a place just two blocks from my school that had everything I needed: my own room, furnished, washer & dryer, and Internet, plus it was rented by a member of the Church and was rented only to guys. I filled out the exception form and sent it in around July 17. The initial denial was somewhat of a surprise, though I kind of expected it. When I first started exploring the possibility of finding my own housing, I was told they didn't "approve many exceptions." Going into this I figured since this was in Salt Lake and not Rexburg, plus the fact that not all distant-site student teaching sites have "approved" housing available that getting an exception wouldn't be a problem. I was wrong.

From the first denial (August 8th) I was met with a series of cop-outs and fingerpointing. The office of Continuing Education, who oversees distant-site student teaching, claimed they were just following procedure (it was "out of their hands") and that the housing department is who I need to talk with. I spoke with the director two days later and she was one of the most condescending people I have ever spoken to. She basically said the same thing "that's the rules" and she was just following the rules and I'd have to talk to someone higher. At this point I was pretty frustrated. I had been treated like a child in talking to her and as soon as I became more assertive in my tone, she said "I'm not going to talk to you while you're hollering at me." After working at Geauga Lake for two years, I know what it's like to really be yelled at by someone who is irate, and trust me, I wasn't yelling or "hollering." I had a similar experience near the end of this fiasco when I spoke with the secretary to the University President after he denied my request too. Condescending, no logical explanation as to why following the policy would benefit me in ANY way, and as soon as I got assertive in my tone I needed to "calm down" (I told her that telling me to calm down "wasn't helping" and that "I could be ballistic right now").

Anyway, so after speaking with housing I filed a discrimination grievance against housing and the university. I was being discriminated against because of my marital status. This was responded to by the Vice President of Academic affairs. His response was probably the closest to being logical, but still wasn't quite there. Basically, they needed more "compelling" arguments to allow an exception. Me being an experienced 25 year old adult, saving gas and time by living closer, having my own room, etc. weren't "valid" reasons. I ended up saying that I had already laid my case out twice to Continuing Ed (initial request) and in my grievance, plus if I were married I wouldn't have to do ANY of this. His response was another denial, but he made it sound like he sent it back to Continuing Ed and they denied it again (which made me laugh because when they first told me it was denied and I called about it, they made it sound like they would've approved it but Housing said no). Continuing Ed made it sound like the Vice President denied it in e-mail I got the next day. I also started looking into legal avenues I may have had, but those proved to be for nothing since BYU-Idaho is a private school.

At this point I mounted my last effort, but I had little faith that the President of the University would overrule his associates. To his credit, he did respond the next day via his secretary, but as I already mentioned, things went pretty much as expected from that point. I had hoped his 35 years of being at Harvard would influence him on my behalf in understanding that the policy itself was not helping me, but alas, it didn't. Before this final denial came I had started talking to KSU about transferring back.

Only since late last Monday (Aug 27) did I make a final decision to transfer after meeting with KSU reps. The sad truth is that Kent State has treated me WAY better and much more like an adult than BYU-Idaho did. How sad but true: the heathen liberal public school with 36,000 students treats me better than the smaller church school. Basically I will change my major to a BA in Music (instead of Music Ed) and then I'll go into the Master of Arts in Teaching program so I'll student teach as a grad student. This way I'll be in school a little while longer, but I'll finish with a Masters Degree (which I really need anyway) and still be licensed to teach in Ohio.

I seriously debated whether I should just "bite the bullet" and get my student teaching over with. Believe me, I had some pressure from certain family members to do just that on top of my own thoughts. As much as anyone, I just want to graduate and get on with my life. But in the end, I decided to transfer back because not doing so would undermine all that I did the last two weeks and everything I stood up for. This was more than just not getting what I wanted. I was treated like a child and was also not given any logical explanations about the housing policy purely because I am not married. How can that be justified in any way? Out in Rexburg and many parts of the west (like Utah), people don't regard you as an adult until you get married no matter how old you are. It has nothing to do with LDS (Mormon) doctrine, but is in fact a carryover of the 19th century American culture brought to the west by the early LDS pioneers. Living in relative isolation for generations, most of these traditions have become associated with the Church and with Mormon beliefs even though they have absolutely no basis in doctrine. The most common answer I got when I asked "why" was "it's policy" and "it's been like that for xx years." These aren't arguments, they're excuses for a policy that cannot be defended. No one could tell me WHY living in "approved" housing would be beneficial or WHY granting the exception would be detrimental to me or undermine the overall policy. It' just like the Pharisees in Jesus' time. They had so many rules, but never bothered to ask why they did them, yet they still vehemently defended them. TIME IS NOT A TEST OF TRUTHFULNESS!

In practice the policy says that single students are not capable or mature enough to find their own living arrnagements simply because they're single. The university also practices "loco parentis," the idea that they are the local parent of students, again regardless of the age of students. As soon as they're married, they don't need their "local parents" anymore. Can we say BACKWARDS?!? While talking with the secretary to the president, she said "we treat married students differently" (I said "I know you do. As soon as they have that marriage certificate they're deemed adults.") She said the university treats them as "separate familes." Funny. When I fill out my FAFSA form to get federal aid, they consider me an "independent" student, meaning I don't have to answer questions about my parents' incomes because they don't consider me part of that family anymore. Hmmmm.

Let me just close this out by saying there ARE some great things going on at BYU-Idaho and some awesome people. I really hate to see it end this way. My academic advisor (and new director of the Dept. of Music) called me the evening after my final rejection to voice his support for my position and to let me know "that someone in Rexburg was on [my] side." In the end though, changes in the way people think up there have to start somewhere. Since I first transferred to BYU-Idaho in 2004 I always wonder why Heavenly Father had me go there. Now I finally have my answer why I was sent there.

Any questions, feel free to ask. I'm glad it's over and I can move on with my life and I'm confident things will work out from here. I AM glad to be back in Ohio for good now too.


LDS Drama Queen (Becky); September 4, 2007
I give you credit, that couldn't have been an easy decision, but you ARE right. That is the dumbest rule I have ever heard and somebody sometime is going to get that through their western Mormon backwards brain and make some changes. Good for you for not taking their crap. You had everything all worked out and it sounds like you had a pretty good deal all set up if the university hadn't been so retarded. I hope you enjoy working at Kent and maybe you can student teach in a place that isn't so....Utah-Mormon brainwashed. At least in Ohio you can be a Mormon and part of the real world at the same time.

I'm proud of you!!

Emily; September 4, 2007
Stupid rule. You were right to fight it. If the only answer to why you can't do something is "because I said so" it should always be pushed. I feel awful about what happened to you but I am thankful that I'll get to see you more (tomorrow in fact). Take care!

Dorese; September 4, 2007
You might consider how your comments about the "backwards Mormon brainwashed culture" may sound to someone, say, who isn't a member of the Church but may be reading this blog. You have a right to be frustrated and angry, and it sounds like things are actually going to work out really well for you, but try not to put the Church in such a negative light. BYU-Idaho is a church school, but, like you said Jon, the policy is not doctrinally based and therefore I feel a distinction ought to be drawn between the policy of the school and the Church.

JRid (Jon); September 4, 2007
I see your point. I did my best to differentiate between the Church and BYU-Idaho as I have done throughout my time at BYU-Idaho and especially through this (that's why I'm still active in the Church!!) =). Becky's comments do add "western" and "Utah" to "Mormon" to show these are not universal LDS beliefs (nor are they taught), but rather something incorrectly associated with the Church by members and non-members alike in that part of the country. Not once do I criticize the Church itself for what has happened. All my criticism is directed at BYU-Idaho and the culture of the Rexburg area (and much of the intermountain West) that has influenced BYU-Idaho's policies. I'm also trying to show the danger of not being able to separate cultural traditions from doctrinal truth, which is a HUGE problem for much of the church membership in the mountain West.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Fun weekend!

Current mood: happy

Getting ready to leave Friday morning!

I had a great weekend getting away for a few days and finally meeting my soon-to-be sister-in-law Heather. Let me just say I already love her! She's so much fun to be around. I only wish we had had more time to spend down there, but alas, we all have schedules and since they're not married yet, she's still in Baltimore while my brother is in their new apartment in Laurel, MD, in between Baltimore and DC (closer to DC though).

Heather and Andy...what a couple!

This is just a funny picture. Seriously!

My Mom, sister Becky, and I left Friday morning and got back Sunday night. While I did enjoy a visit to RFK Stadium with Becky to see the Cleveland Indians play the Washington Nationals on Friday, visiting the DC LDS temple and the International Spy Museum on Saturday, the real highlight was Saturday night as Becky, Andy, and I stayed up until like 5:45 AM talking about virtually everything. It was so much fun. It's such a rare occurrance that we're all together with that much time, so none of us wanted to go to bed! The only thing that could've made that better was if my sister Katie had been there. THAT would've been PERFECT!

At RFK Stadium in Washington, DC, supporting our Cleveland Indians with about 10,000 other Cleveland fans who made the trip!

But anyway, I had a great time and it seems everyone else did too. We found out on Wednesday that my sister Becky lost her baby (she was about 2 months in), so it was good to get our minds on other stuff and have some fun. We should see Andy and Heather again in July when they come here for a weekend, and the wedding is September 8th. About the only thing I didn't enjoy about the trip was driving along the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Not only was there construction project after construction project, but traffic jams galore (especially on the drive home) for no apparent reasons and total toll cost eastbound is $11 while westbound was $8. RIP OFF!! I can tolerate a few construction projects and slow-downs here and there, but the PA Turnpike was ridiculous!

Becky, Me, and Mom in front of the Washington, DC temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Kensington, Maryland. It is a STUNNING building along the Capital Beltway (I-495)!!

Be sure to check out the pics I posted from this weekend in my pictures section, under "My Photos" album. Other than this, the play is still coming along, though Becky and I both enjoyed our little break from rehearsal. The show opens July 5!! I'm also still unemployed and have virtually lost all hope of finding any kind of job for the summer. I hope I'm wrong, but it doesn't look good. Oh yeah, I have a cold too. ICK.


Nari; June 27, 2007
First of all, I am so very sorry for Becky. What a difficult time this must have been for her.

On a lighter note, congratulations to your brother! I didn't know he was getting married, and so soon! Also a cool wedding date 09-08-07
Your soon to be SIL is very pretty and she and Andy look happy together.

Monday, June 18, 2007

End of an era

Current mood: contemplative

An era came to an end for our family this past Sunday morning as our cat, Topaz, died around 12:50 AM. It marked the end of almost 15 years of having pets in our house as Topaz was the last. For the first time since December 1992 we have no pets here, so it's kind of weird and the house definitely has an empty feeling to it. Topaz had been very sick the last few days to the point where she was hardly eating or drinking at all. The last day, Saturday, June 16, she was to the point where she could hardly move or even stand up. We ended up doing something we haven't done in awhile: taking her with us to run errands, mainly to see my grandpas here in Kent to deliver our Father's Day presents. Topaz (and cats in general) never liked riding in cars, but you couldn't tell that on Saturday since she was so out of it. She died on my bed with both Mom and I sitting on either side of her. It was sad to see her gasp for her last breaths and know there was nothing I could do but pray that she be taken quickly, which I did. Seeing that has been on my mind the last few days. Before that I don't remember ever seeing something die right in front of me like that. Ironically, the place she died was virtually the same place our dog Kipp died at in November as I moved my bed over the spot in my room where he died.

We got Topaz in May of 1993 when she was about 6 weeks old. By then we had had Kipp for a few months. Those two had quite an interesting relationship and it seemed the cat never let an opportunity pass to harrass the dog or jump out from behind a box and attack. Every once and awhile you'd see her little arm swinging out to get something from under a door or something. Sometimes she'd sneak into the lower cupboards and we wouldn't see her until we heard things crashing and moving around in there, opened the doors and she's walk out. Of course too there were the times we'd open the back door and she'd walk in having escaped without our knowing. Topaz also didn't care too much for visitors. At the first sign that someone was coming in the house, she'd hide until she either knew who it was (like if it was one of us) or stayed hidden until any visitor left.

Even though her loss isn't quite the drastic change that losing Kipp was, it is still a change that will take some getting used to. Cats are so much more independent than dogs, but I was still attached to her and was used to her routines and habits. I do miss her and honestly still miss Kipp too and he's been gone now for almost 8 months. I know I'll see them again someday, but it's still hard not having them here anymore.

Bye you and see ya later!

Topaz: April 20?, 1993-June 17, 2007


Nari; June 19, 2007
Jon, I am so sorry for the loss of your kitty. It's just awful losing a pet as you know they become a part of your family. Although it was tragic watching her take her last breath, I imagine there's something peaceful about watching her go to a better place. Topaz is at the Rainbow Bridge now.

LDS Drama Queen (Becky); June 19, 2007
Remember when she jumped into the fridge while Mom was cleaning it? Hahaha...we had to be careful not to shut her in there.

Thanks for writing that, it was nice to read....I'll miss the weasel, too, in my own special way.


Thursday, June 14, 2007

Maybe next year...

Current mood: disappointed

Maybe next year...the motto of all Cleveland sports teams since 1964!!

Well the Cavs have just been swept. It was quite a painful thing to watch really. Yes, the Spurs were DEFINTELY the better and more experienced team here, though even they would admit they didn't really play their best this series. But really, did they ever have to? The Cavs played SO BAD this series and not all of it was solely because the Spurs were playing such good defense or stuff like that. It really felt like watching the boring Cavs teams of the 1990's that were decent but incredibly boring because they wouldn't (or couldn't) score very much. Especially tonight's game...yikes. They couldn't hit a three-pointer to save their life or get a freaking rebound! Oh and let's not forget the careless unforced turnovers! GEEEEEZ!! Even with all that, outside of game 2, each game was pretty close and by no means a blowout. Had the Cavs played as well as they did in the fourth quarter of game 2 for that whole game, they could've won that one too! Really, they had a good chance to win all four games, but especially games 3 and 4, but their inexperience showed and the Spurs got the job done when they needed to and showed why they have been so successful the last eight years.

I'd like to also point out to all those who keep bringing up the Cavs "easier" road to the Finals. I agree for the most part; the West definitely has the greater teams like San Antonio, Dallas, and Phoenix. But don't forget that Dallas, who won the division that San Antonio is also in and beat the Spurs 3-of-4 this season, was upset in the first round by Golden State, so San Antonio was matched up with Utah in the Western Conference Finals, a team they match up way better with than the Mavericks. So, it is fair to say that while the Spurs did have a "tougher" road, it wasn't nearly as tough as it could've been.

I did enjoy listening to part of the game and the halftime show on WTAM 1100 AM on my way back to Kent from Kirtland. They interviewed a writer from Sports Illustrated who correctly pointed out that the Spurs went through a period as their current dynasty was being built where they couldn't get over the hump (aka the Los Angeles Lakers) and that it wasn't an overnight event that they became the great team they are now. He also said the Cavs are just at the beginning of a long run here and I believe that too. As my friend Daniel (who is by no means a Cavs fan) has said several times, "you better enjoy beating LeBron while you can." Oh well, it was an exciting run, though it would've been nice to get even one lousy win in the series. True, no one even expected the Cavs to make it this far. Sports Illustrated picked them to lose to New Jersey in six games and no one thought they could beat Detroit, especially they way they did! I am proud to be a Cavs fan though and it was nice to see the region finally have something to cheer about and be excited for. See you in the Finals next year! Cavs WILL be back!! At least the Indians won tonight!

Monday, June 4, 2007


Current mood: ecstatic

WOW...that's all I can say. WOW. I am SO thrilled about what the Cleveland Cavaliers have done so far!! Because all of the games were on TNT and we don't have cable, I either listened to them on the radio (WTAM) or followed them online ( But for game 6, I made sure I was near a TV so I could witness history, so I watched with my sister at my Ridinger grandparent's house here in Kent. WHAT A GAME!! It was exciting to watch and a little nerve-wracking, but I had faith. In all honesty, I always thought the Cavs would win the series, even after the first two games. I thought the Cavs really would lose the first two on the road and then win the next four. Why I thought that I have no idea, but I thought it nonetheless. I figured it would be a great series after the first two games, and a great series it was. The real kicker was game 5 in Detroit. Once the Cavs (well, LeBron) won that game, I knew they'd win game 6 in Cleveland. It was great seeing how excited everyone was and still is everywhere here. Keep in mind, Cleveland pro sports teams haven't won any overall titles since the 1964 Browns won the NFL title. The last World Series title for the Tribe was 1948, though they were oh so close to winning it in 1997. This will be the Cavs first appearance in the NBA Finals EVER, and they've been around since 1970.

So yes, I have faith the Cavaliers will win the series. I know it flies in the face of reason, but everything just feels different now. GO CAVS!! BEAT THE SPURS!!!

By the way, congratulations to Lebron James (hometown hero!) for an INCREDIBLE series (especially game 5...WOW) and to Daniel Gibson for an excellent series, especially game 6. STUNNING!!

And hey, let's not forget about the Cleveland Indians. Even though they lost the last 2 games of their series with Detroit (these two cities have been seeing a LOT of each other the last 2 weeks!), they still split the series and lead the AL Central. GO TRIBE!!!

Game 5 in Auburn Hills, Michigan. Can you count how many Pistons are watching LeBron FLY?!? I know, it is FREAKIN AMAZING! (from the Detroit Free Press

Game 6...Cleveland fans rejoice behind LeBron in the Q. (from

Outside the Q (Quicken Loans Arena) in between it and Jacobs Field, fans watched on a big screen and celebrated at the end. The Indians-Tigers game had let out about an hour earlier with an attendance of over 38,000. It is estimated between 80,000-100,000 people were downtown for all this. (from

Sunday, June 3, 2007

All in good fun...

Current mood: jubilant

To all my liberal and Democrat friends, I'm sorry, but I just think this is HILLARIOUS!!


Nari; June 4, 2007
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

LDS Drama Queen (Becky); June 5, 2007
Copycats...can't they come up with anything original?? Stupid democrats...:-)

Thursday, April 5, 2007


Current mood: excited

OK, so first to update on my letter to the editor, it was published in the Record-Courier today. Yesterday I got an e-mail from Roger Di Paulo basically thanking me for the support and explaining why he writes historical columns. Here is the text of that e-mail for those interested:

Mr. Ridinger:

Your letter, with the correction you noted, will appear in
Thursday's R-C.

Thanks for your support. I walked a very fine line when
writing this column (especially given the fact that
descendants of some of the members of the lynch mob are
very much alive and among my readership) and did my best to
put the incident into an historical perspective. I have no
problem when my work is criticized, but I thought the
letter writer's remark casting asperions on Joseph Smith's
revelations was especially offensive.

I learn something every time I write a history piece, and
in this case, I think what I most appreciated is that many
people are not fully aware of the importance of Portage
County, and especially the Johnson Farm site, to the
history of this worldwide religion. I hope that I helped to
"educate" people a bit with what I wrote.

Again, thanks for writing.

Roger Di Paolo

It was cool to get that note. I also heard from my sister Becky that a co-worker of hers told her that she (the co-worker) thought my response was very professional. ANYWAY, today I also took my last final EVER at BYU-Idaho and then just completed my last assignment for one of my classes that I'd been putting off. SO, my semester is OVER!!! For now I'm packing up my room and am planning on leaving tomorrow morning for Utah before beginning my trip home Saturday morning. I am SO EXCITED to be coming home and to be FREE of the semester and DONE with Rexburg. YEAH!!! And in case you're wondering, all of my finals went GREAT! I even surprised myself!

Here's what my letter looked like in the was the only letter published today.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Letter to the editor

Current mood: productive

Well, I did finally write a letter to the editor of the Record-Courier, but it ended up being about something else instead of the recent acts of vandalism and cries of racism at Roosevelt High School. In fact, it was about my religion. On Saturday, March 25, the Record-Courier ran a great article by Roger DiPaolo in his "Portage Pathways" section about the tarring and feathering (and near lynching) of Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon in Hiram, Ohio in 1832. The article was very objective and I felt it was very accurate. Most people don't even know the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) was headquartered in Ohio for seven years (1831-1838) and a few of those years were headquartered in Portage County at the John Johnson farm in Hiram. Anyway, some lady named Dianne Centa sent a letter to the editor that was published in today's (April 3) paper which was very negative about the Church and basically seemed to justify what this mob did back in 1832. Well, I have about three things I could write the newspaper about, but my own religion always takes precedence, especially at home. Well, I just sent my letter in, so it probably won't be published for a few days, but here's what I wrote. My mom helped with some editing too =). Here is her letter and below it is my response.

Response to Column
"I'd like to make a few comments about the Portage Pathways column of March 25, in which Mr. DiPaolo writes about the attack on Mormon leaders in Hiram in 1832. He mentions "theological differences" as the basis of the dispute between Smith and Rigdon and the local community. However, the cause of the mob action was more specific than that. Joseph Smith had (in the words of his biographer Fawn Brodie) begun to find monogamy "an intolerably circumscribed way of
life." He was frequently attracted to women other than his wife Emma. While staying with the Johnson family in Hiram Township, Joseph had purportedly "bedded" their 15-year-old daughter Marinda. This is why the mob had been set on castrating — not just tarring and feathering — Smith. The column also says the Johnson home is a shrine because "(Smith) received 16 revelations there." Let us be clear: what should have been said is that Smith claimed to have received revelations there. He no more actually received revelations than did any of the other so-called prophets scattered through our history."

Dianne Centa

"In response to the letter by Dianne Centa ("Response to Column," 3 April 2007), the basis for Roger DiPaolo's well-written and objective article was to point out the significance of an historical event in our county's history and to show where intolerance and hatred can lead. It was not to make a Mormon doctrinal statement or support Latter-day Saint theology in any way. Further, there are many biographies written on the life of Joseph Smith. Fawn Brodie's should not in any way be considered authoritive. Her book is noted for its antagonism towards Smith and the history of the LDS Church and her scholarship is questionable. I advise anyone trying to learn about someone or something not to rely solely on a source that is biased against the subject, but to research a variety of sources with a mind to fairness and balance.

Ms. Centa's letter seems to suggest that the mobs were justified in their near lynching of Joseph Smith and Sydney Rigdon. I agree with Mr. DiPaolo when he said this was a dark period of our county's history. Mob rule makes it too easy for emotions to rule and for fairness, truth, and justice to be completely ignored. It is, in essence, lawlessness. There is no justification for Portage County residents taking the law into their own hands, either then or now.

As for the John Johnson farm in Hiram being considered a "shrine," Mr. DiPaolo simply stated a fact: the house is considered an important and significant religious site for some 13 million members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, roughly 12 thousand of whom reside right here in Northeast Ohio. Hundreds of thousands of people visit the site each year. Your personal feelings on Joseph Smith and whether or not he received revelations are irrelevant to that fact."

Franklin Township

In other news, I got my placement for student teaching today. I'll be student teaching at Bennion Junior High School in Taylorsville, Utah this fall. I'm very relieved to know where I'm teaching, but I still need to resolve my housing. The University is almost insisting that I live in their "approved" housing in Draper, Utah despite the fact that it's $1500 for just over three months with a shared bedroom (by comparison, I paid about $1900 total for two semesters in my current apartment and I have my own bedroom). I have to fill out this "request" to not live in "approved" housing and hope it gets approved. I'm sorry, I just have a problem with the fact that as a 25 year old I have to have permission from my university to live in housing I choose myself. Worse, if I were married, this wouldn't even be an issue (married students aren't required to live in approved housing even here at school; only single students are regardless of age). Talking with the one guy in charge of distant placement student teaching was pretty worthless. It was basically, "well, you can apply, but we don't usually approve requests." ARG...I CAN'T WAIT TO BE DONE WITH THIS SCHOOL FOREVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


LDS Drama Queen (Becky); April 4, 2007
The only thing that isn't right is her name. You spelled it correctly when copying her letter but wrong in your is Dianne, with two "n"s. ANYWAY, other than that, GREAT letter, it is exactly what I would have said!! You should be proud, it was NICE.

As far as student teaching goes, hang in there...BYU-I is dumb but hey, you only have to deal for a little while longer. Trust me, I'm at Kent State. Don't you think I've got a countdown of hours???

HAHAHAHA...seriously, great article. See you soon!

Dorese; April 4, 2007
Great article! And congratulations on getting your placement for student teaching! And if your request gets denied, just know that Draper is a ritzy area and 1500 for 3 months doesn't really sound too bad. And remember, it's only 3 months, so even if things get on your nerves, it will all be over fast! Good luck with everything, Jon, and keep your chin up! Again, great job on the article. It was very well written!

Sunday, April 1, 2007

What a weekend

Current mood: tired

So I've had quite a weekend already and I still have one more day...

On Friday I went down to Provo, Utah for a mission reunion. I was already running late thanks to Utah's WONDERFUL traffic, but wasn't going to be THAT late. Well, as I was going through American Fork on I-15 and suddenly I realized my passenger side back tire had failed! I pulled off and looked it over, then unloaded my trunk to get my spare out (of course this always seems to happen when I have lots of stuff in my trunk). After getting the car jacked up and getting the old tire off, I discovered the spare I had didn't fit my car. Yeah, the dealer sold me a spare that doesn't fit. I got it two years ago and this is the first time I've had to use it. Thank goodness for my friend Manda and AAA! I got the car towed to a Wal-Mart (it was in view from where I got the flat), but they closed 30 mins before I got there. They let me leave the car there overnight and then Manda came and got me, so I was able to catch the very end of the reunion and at least see a few people I remember from the mission ("the mish"). I picked the car up the next morning and came back to Rexburg.

Here's the tire...ya, not sure what caused this really. It was a Goodyear, not a Firestone! On the left is the spare that didn't fit. At least the jack works! This is BEFORE I found out the spare didn't fit...

Manda and me at the American Fork, Utah Wal-Mart when I picked up my car. Manda and I go way back...we both were at Kent State in 2001 before I went on my mission.

Manda and I trying to take a funny picture...

I got back around 4pm and had a date with my friend Mindy. That was kind of interesting too as we went to Olive Garden in Idaho Falls. After waiting about 15 mins to get in, we got seated but no one came to get our orders for like 10 mins. Finally someone came and was very apologetic (he wasn't supposed to wait on us either; just took over). We both ordered my favorite thing, Chicken Alfredo Pizza, only to find they were out (AHHHHHHH!!!!!!!) so we had to order something else. Well, I had a wonderful time talking with Mindy and getting to know her a little better. We were about to leave after we finished and our waiter was still very apologetic about us having to wait, so he had the manager come out and he offered us free desserts!! YES! The weird thing is, we didn't even complain! While we were waiting for our desserts another server came by with two of those pizzas (they had gotten a shipment right as we had gotten there) and was about to serve them to us, but we explained how we had ordered them, but they said they were out, so we ordered something else. Anyway, something was messed up (maybe new people or just busy), but they were really nice about it all and the free dessert I got was WONDERFUL!!!!!!!!!! Plus, the date was a lot of fun too!

It's General Conference weekend in our church too; that's where we can watch or listen to a live broadcast from Salt Lake City with talks from many of our church leaders in four general sessions, each of which is 2 hours (you can go to conference in Utah too...I've done that a few times). It's always a great weekend with lots of good information and a great spirit! I mostly listened on the radio (something I can't do at home) as I drove back to Rexburg from Orem, Utah.


Nari; April 1, 2007
Phew you had yourself quite the weekend there, J. I had no idea that Utah had any kind of traffic, let alone heavy

glad that you made it to your mish reunion!