Category Archives: Random Ramblings

Random posts not falling under any particular category

Nobody Ever Accomplishes Anything Great Alone

Nobody ever accomplishes anything great alone. Earlier this summer I had the opportunity to participate in a presentation at the Utah Podcast summit. The topic of the presentation was how to build a great team, or the benefit of building a great team. The host from the summit introduced as and mentioned something along the lines of nobody ever accomplishes anything great alone, and I have been thinking about that a lot since then. Like, I really can’t stop thinking about it, and it seems to be a theme that has repeated itself in the things I have binged and watched since then. This whole idea won’t leave me alone. Which I guess is good, because if I want to accomplish anything great, I can’t b e alone.

Let me give you an example. After the summit, I watched, binge watched really, all of Avatar: The Last Airbender for the first time. And this concept stood out to me. Hang was the Avatar- he was supposed to bring balance back to the nations, and help bring down the Fire Nation and all of that. That’s a lot of pressure for what was basically a kid. And he was untrained. And had no experience or confidence. The only thing he had going for him was that he was the Avatar. Which ain’t nothin’. But he wouldn’t have gotten very far without his friends. They help him all along the way, and each one was important for his success- either training him in bending the other elements, or standing by him as he battled the Fire Nation. Aang was a hero, but he accomplished what he did only because he was not alone. Even when he was alone against the Fire Lord, he wasn’t alone. Nobody accomplishes anything great alone.

As I have been spending more time at home, as I think most of us have been, I have been trying to read more. One of the series I have wanted to read is The Lord of the Rings, by JRR Tolkien. I have read the series a few times before, and I love it. I love the films. I love Middle Earth. Period. End of story. But as I have been reading the series, again this whole idea of not accomplishing anything great alone has been slapping me in the face. The Fellowship needed each other, Aragorn couldn’t return as the king without help, Rohan helping Gondor, and of course where would Frodo be without Sam. I don’t think he would have made it all the way. He needed Sam to make it and to destroy the ring. Nobody accomplishes anything great alone.

One last example. I just finished watching The Last Dance on Netflix. It was a sweet trip down memory lane. Michael Jordan was the NBA when I was a kid. The Bulls dominated the 90s, and Jordan was obviously a central reason why. The Bulls would not have won a championship with Jordan, but Jordan also wouldn’t have won a championship without the Bulls. And here it was, this whole idea smacking me upside the head one more time. Jordan was amazing, incredible, the greatest of all time.The GOAT. Don’t come around my house with any of that LeBron James stuff. It’s not happening here. But as incredible as Jordan was, he didn’t win a championship until Phil Jackson helped him realize how he could work with the rest of his team. Once he learned how to elevate his game by elevating those around him, he , and the Bulls were unstoppable. That’s not opinion, that’s fact. And that’s painful to say as a lifelong Jazz fan. Nobody ever accomplishes anything great alone.

So why am I so fixated on this right now? And why am I sharing it with you, dear reader? Those are both very good questions. I think for me personally, I have been thinking a lot about where I am in life, and where I want to be. Someone I follow on Twitter asked the question- if you could go back in time and meet your 10 year old self, what would he or she think of you? Something along those lines. My response was pretty short and sweet. I basically said Huge disappointment. I would never want my 10 year old self to meet me right now. This sounds super harsh and negative. Here’s the thing though, my 10 year old self had dreams of me being a WWE Champ, or maybe a football player or something crazy like that. He also wanted to be a writer. I have always loved stories, and at some point, I found out I was pretty ok at putting words together. My dream has always been to be a writer. Instead, I am a customer service manager who sometimes feels like kind of a big deal on my podcasts. It’s kind of sad really. Again, though, please understand, I don’t regret my job choices, because somewhere along the way I had new dreams- I wanted to be a husband and a father, and I have accomplished those things, and the work I have done has helped me to do that.

And, I haven’t given up my dreams to be a writer. I am going to write a book. I am going to get it published. I am not giving up on that stuff, even though I haven’t accomplished it yet. And who knows, maybe someday my podcasting will pay off, or my blog or whatever. All of these things are possible, but I won’t be able to accomplish any of these great things alone. I need to surround myself with my Katarra and Sokka. Even a Zuko who challenges me to bring out my best. I need to find my Legolas and Gimli, Merry and Pippin, and especially my Sam (probably have that already in my wife). I need to surround myself with a mentor like Phil Jackson, a sidekick like Pippen or other player like Paxson, Rodman, or Kerr. I need my Bulls. And I look around and I think some of them are there, but some aren’t.

And I guess I am sharing all of this with you, dear reader, to encourage you to go out and assemble your squad. Whatever your goals in life are, find the squad to support those goals. That should be your squad goals- to find the people you can support and who can support you. You will accomplish great things. You were put on this earth to accomplish great things, so find your team, find your family and do those things. Because nobody ever accomplishes anything great alone.

Iroh and Zuko

In February of 2005, a new animated series debuted on the kids’ network, Nickelodeon, called Avatar: The Last Airbender. It was something totally new for the network that had been all about cheesy kids drama and over the top comedies, and their Nicktoons, which were funny, but totally unlike Avatar. I’ll be honest here, I didn’t catch this show the first time around. I was busy being a young single guy, and this was a time in my life where I was distancing myself from a lot of “nerdy” stuff. I didn’t think the girls I wanted to date would find it too appealing. That is all very shallow and dumb, and I know that now, but I didn’t then because I was a lot younger and stupid. In any case, I missed the Last Airbender train at that time, and didn’t really know much about the series.

Fast forward to now, 2020, and the series is available in its entirety on Netflix. Again, honesty here, as I tell you that I still didn’t know much about the series when I started watching it, except that everyone I know who had seen it, loves it. Like a lot. So I only really knew that it was pretty good and had a strong fan base. So I decided to give it a try. Best decision I ever made, because I love this show. It is probably top three for animated series for me. The animation is clean and crisp. The voice acting is solid, and the storytelling is fantastic. It made me sad that I wasted 15 years not loving this show. 

One of the parts of the show that I love is the evolution of the characters and their relationships. Especially the characters we meet at the beginning of the series, and see throughout the show and see their growth. None of them are the same and their growth and development feels natural, and not forced, and I love that. It makes sense. None of them, though, touch me or mean as much to me as the fire prince Zuko. He is one bad dude at the beginning of the series, and in the end he becomes one of Aang’s close friends. How does this happen? Well, I would argue he wasn’t all that terrible to begin with- his motives were not bad. He was hunting the Avatar to restore his honor, and gain the respect of his dad. That is something I can relate to. There has been a lot in my life that I have done to earn my dad’s respect. In a lot of ways, I’m still trying, and feel like I have fallen way short.

It makes me wish I had my own Uncle Iroh, because Uncle Iroh is the greatest uncle/mentor that exists in pop culture. His relationship is the reason why Zuko comes around and ends up helping the Avatar in the end. And Uncle Iroh is the guy I want to be when I grow up. He is constantly trying to help Zuko see there is more to life than honor and fighting. He teaches him about destiny and love finding ways to have your life wherever you are. Life happens where you are is such an awesome concept about making the most and best of where you are, instead of wishing you were somewhere else.

What I love about these two, is how Zuko responds to his uncle, and how Iroh responds to his nephew. In the beginning, Zuko can’t stand his uncle, who is basically babysitting him as he hunts the Avatar. He thinks Iroh is weird, and old and weak, and honestly in the beginning he seems that way. Maybe quirky is a better word than weird. He basically responds like any teenage boy would He is too cool for his uncle. He knows better than him and doesn’t need him. As they get stuck in the Earth Kingdom, he comes to appreciate his uncle more, but it’s out of comfort and really despair. Then, when they return to the Fire Kingdom, he doesn’t need his uncle anymore and turns his back on him.

Until he realizes he does need his uncle. He realizes his uncle was the only family, besides his mother, who loved Zuko. Who saw what Zuko could be, and what destiny he could write for himself. And he fears he won’t ever see his uncle again and ask for his forgiveness and let him know how much he loves him. All of this seems natural. All of it is in line with Zuko’s character and his development. None of this feels forced in the story, and as I was watching, I wanted him to find Iroh again. I hoped Iroh would forgive him.

Here’s the thing, Iroh had lost everything. His standing in the Fire Kingdom, a throne which should have been his, his own son. He lost all of it, but somewhere along the way he realized he didn’t need all of that. It didn’t define honor, and it wasn’t his destiny. He saw something special in his nephew, and took the opportunity away from the Fire Kingdom to try to teach his nephew what was really important, and what it meant to find your destiny. Iroh becomes so endearing throughout the series. I always found him quirky, but as it went on, I really legitimately loved him. 

There is one moment, one moment in the series that just made the whole show for me. It was the moment when Zuko finally finds his uncle in the Order of the White Lotus. He goes into his tent, unsure of whether his uncle would forgive him, and take him back. And I was nervous he might not. Maybe Zuko had pushed him too far. I wasn’t totally sure. I should have been, but I wasn’t. But that moment, when before Zuko can say anything, Iroh takes him and embraces him- it broke me. My heart just melted. Iroh in that moment showed me what a parent should feel for their child. The love that know no boundary, no end. He just took Zuko in and just forgave him and loved him.

It reminded me of the parable of the prodigal son. It was just portrayed so beautifully. And it made me think of the love my Heavenly Father has for me. The times when I have been far away from him. When I didn’t think I needed him. The times when I ran from my own destiny. And it reminded me of the love he has for each of us. The love that knows no end. It was a beautiful moment for me, and it makes me smile whenever I think of it. 

That moment alone may be the top reason why I love this show.

If you haven’t seen Avatar: The Last Airbender, I highly recommend it. It is on Netflix right now, available for your streaming pleasure.

Jake Goes to the Movies

What an interesting world we live in that something like going to the movies is worth writing a blog post about. I mean, going to the movies was never really a big deal before, and like so many other things, it was something we took for granted. But, like so many other things, movie theaters throughout the country are starting to open up and show films again. Many studios are making some of their classic films available to show in theaters again, since there isn’t a lot of new stuff coming out yet. So, there are a lot of really great classic films you can go see right now. Locally, Megaplex opened toward the end of June, and my wife suggested I take some time to go see a movie since it has been a while, and things have been stressful. Trying to decide what to see was tough. There were quite a few movies that I have seen dozens and dozens of times, but never on the big screen. So how did I decide? And what was the experience like? Well I am going to tell you.

I picked The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring. I know, that might be surprising that I picked that one. I love Lord of the Rings, and I saw Two Towers and Return of the King multiple times in theaters while they were there the first time around. Fellowship came out while I was on my mission, so I missed the theatrical run completely. The first time I saw it was on a DVD on a small TV. This was before HD was really a thing. Since then, I have watched it on Blu ray and 4K digital streaming on much bigger televisions, but it still doesn’t compare to the big screen. So when I thought about going back to the movies, this title was appealing to me. 

About a week later, I went back to Megaplex- a different location- and saw Ghostbusters, another classic I have never seen on the big screen-but I have always wanted to. So, since it is the 35th anniversary of the film, and because this version was supposed to have 8 or 9 minutes of bonus footage, it sounded cool, so I went to that one. So now I have been to two different movies in the post COVID19 world. And how was the experience?

Let’s talk about the facilities first. From everything I saw and encountered, it seems like Megaplex is doing everything they can to keep their guests safe. The two locations I attended were the District in South Jordan and Valley Fair in West Valley. Both seemed very clean when I walked in, I could smell the cleaner at the District. Neither was crowded. This will probably change over time and is probably a combination of people not going out as much and there not being anything new in the theater. There were hand sanitizing stations throughout both locations. At the end of all the concession stands, there was an automated dispenser, and just past both ticket podiums there was another station. At the District, there seemed to be a table set up with hand sanitizer outside each auditorium. At Valley Fair, it seemed to be fewer- maybe every other one. Either way, there was plenty to go around.All of the employees were wearing face coverings, and the concession employees were wearing gloves. I was pretty impressed all the way around.

Each film is only being shows maybe once or twice a day. This gives the employees quite a bit of time to thoroughly clean each auditorium, which is good. When I walked into each auditorium, it smelled like it had been cleaned pretty deeply. It was strangely comforting. In addition to fewer show times, they only sell seats on every other row, with a max of 50 people in each theater. There is also a requirement that there are at least three seats between each group. They have their online ticket purchasing set up to account for this. And I totally recommend purchasing online. The ticket then gets emailed to you, and then I added it to my digital wallet on my phone, and they just scan you through instead of needing any kind of a paper ticket.

When I walked into the Valley Fair location, they had a sign saying that face coverings were required. I didn’t notice the same sign when I went to the District, but when I went there it was before the county order requiring face coverings in public, and my trip to Valley Fair was after the order went into effect, so I imagine that is why there was a difference. I don’t know how well they are enforcing it. I wore a mask in, so I don’t know what they would have said if I hadn’t had one. Overall, I felt comfortable going to the theater, and I was excited to do it.

How was the experience, though? This is a little harder to describe. I was very excited to get out of the house, and to be going to see a movie. I know there are a lot of people who don’t want to go out for something as small as a movie- and I get that. I also know there are many that think I shouldn’t go out, and I understand that as well, but I also feel like I try to go out responsibly. And I also believe that if we go out and socially distance and wear face covering, we can open up safely and get to a new normal more quickly. As I was saying, I was very excited to go out and see a movie. I was excited about the popcorn and I was excited for the trailers and for the whole experience. 

As I went, though, something was lacking. It was more noticeable at Ghostbusters than Fellowship. I was there in the theater. The lights went down, the movie started, and then it just almost felt right. The problem? The lack of a crowd. Especially for a movie like Ghostbusters. I didn’t realize how much I would miss being with a crowd at a movies. Ghostbusters had been scheduled to have a limited run in theaters before COVID19 hit for the 35th anniversary. So, I thought about what it would have been different if the theater had been packed with long time Ghostbusters fans, it would have been much more enjoyable- laughing together, cheering together, just experiencing it together. Movies in the theater are better experienced in a big crowd. Unfortunately, we can’t do that right now, and I am ion board with that. In the mean time, I will probably go again, and long for the days when we can all be together again and experience these kinds of things together.

In These United States

This last weekend was the 4th of July. This is a day normally spent with family and friends and maybe large crowds watching spectacular firework shows. But this Independence Day, like everything else this year was different. Or maybe it wasn’t. It really depends on how you are approaching this whole global pandemic thing. For us, it was different. Not just because we are trying to socially distance ourselves and keep our family safe in a state and area where cases are surging, but also because it’s hard this year, at least for me, to want to celebrate our great country.

Now, here is where I need to stop for a minute, and just say, I am sure there are going to be people who are going to be offended by this post, and I’m sorry. This blog is becoming more and more of a personal outlet for me, and the problem with something like that is that I might feel differently about something than you do. This doesn’t mean I am trying to convince you of anything, I am just sharing y thoughts. Feel free to comment whatever you want, in support of or against my post, I am fine with it either way.

So back to the topic. I really truly believe that this country is great. Some have called it a great experiment. The documents upon which our nation our founded, I truly believe they were inspired of God. These include the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. When these documents were created, there was nothing like them in the world. And the country our forefathers founded was unlike any other in the world. I really believe that. At the center of our nation are the ideals of Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Life and liberty seem to be the two most centric themes to everything we believe our country stands for. 

As a result of this new infant nation, founded with these ideals in mind, many other nations would come forward with similar documents and similar ideals. Now the world is filled with numerous nation states that believe in life and liberty, following our lead. It’s awesome. We have been this beacon of hope and freedom and liberty for nearly 250 years.But how are we doing in our own country? That’s a loaded question, and I don’t have all the answers, so I’m not pretending to. But I think I would look around and say we have some problems. Some issues. Some areas where we could improve. That’s said with all the patriotic love in my heart. And I have a lot.

That’s part of the problem, though, as I see it. Somehow, if I say something critical about the United States, or if I write about something we could do better, then I hate this country. I am ungrateful for my freedoms here, and maybe I should move somewhere else. Which blows me away. As a parent, I love my kids, but it doesn’t mean that I turn a blind eye to any areas where I can help them to grow and improve. In fact, I want my kids to hit their potential, so sometimes I have to have tough conversations about issues they are having, and then we work together to figure them out and help them improve. 

That’s love. What we seem to be talking about with love of country is more like infatuation or having a crush. We are supposed to put our country on this pedestal and blindly love it. That doesn’t work. That’s not love. I love this country. I truly believe that this country has the foundation to be the greatest country in the world. But we aren’t there yet. And when I look around at social media and news sites, and especially in an election year, it is hard not to feel like we are far from it. But, we can get there. 

We need to have real and frank conversations about race, about poverty, about health and well being, about violence, crime, drugs, etc. And we need to break ourselves from the plague of bipartisanship. Having competing parties, I think, is fine, but we are more loyal to our political party affiliation more than anything else. This has been apparent in the last few elections we have had. We stop judging candidates on their moral character, and instead simply vote for the one who has the right letter after their name.

The whole point of this post, believe it or not, wasn’t to complain. I am an optimist. I think that right now, it is easy to look around and see how everything feels like it’s all falling apart, but if we take a moment to listen to those we disagree with, if we take a step back and understand that most people want things to get better for everyone, if we can understand that and talk to each other instead of at each other- that would be amazing. America would be great again. America would shine even brighter in the darkness. And I think we can get there. I know we can.

More listening, more studying, more understanding, and more learning. Less shouting, less assuming, less apathy, and less ignorance. This is the only country in the world where to be “American” is not determined by where your family came from or the color of your skin or your religion or anything else. And it is only through embracing this diversity that America truly reaches its potential. Then- then we are unstoppable. Then we conquer the evils that are holding us back. But we can only do it together. Until that day comes, until we rely so much on the divisiveness that is so prevalent, we won’t get there. But I think we can. I hope we can, and I am trying to do what I can to get there. 

So, happy belated Independence Day. I hope you were able to celebrate responsibly and safely wand remember with gratitude those who have gone before, and consider what you can do, what we all can do to move us forward in greatness.

The Final Post…For Now

It has been a constant back and forth for me over the last month or so on where this site and the podcast fit in my life. I know that sounds weird, since I just started the podcast, but hopefully I can sum up what my thoughts are and where I am with everything and maybe, just maybe explain a little bit about why this will be my final blog post, at least here. And for now.

Life is a whirlwind of change. That’s what I have decided. Circumstances are in a constant state of flux. When I started this blog four years ago, I saw it as an outlet and a way to get me writing, something I enjoy. It was supposed to be a place where I could write whatever I wanted, and make no apologies. It was supposed to be a hobby. Then some people started reading, and I started caring. I still enjoy writing, and to a certain extent, I still enjoy writing on this blog. It’s just not as much as it used to be. It has become a weekly task to put together a post, and I feel pressure to get it in on a deadline, and I stress myself out when I don’t and that makes me freeze, and basically, I have issues.

That is to say, that this was never what this was supposed to be for me. I want to write what I want to write, and I want to do it when I want to do it. I guess, the biggest problem is I never really established upfront what this was all supposed to be about. I never had a vision. If I were to do this again, down the road at some point, I would have in my mind a firm vision of what I wanted it to be.

That’s not to say there haven’t been things I really enjoy about all of this. I have enjoyed the interactions with other people, other geeks and the conversations I have had and the relationships I have built through all of this. That has been the best part, the people. You guys are all awesome. That’s the biggest reason I have kept it going for as long as I have, and the biggest reason it is hard to walk away right now.

But, I am walking away. I am still going to write, but I am going to focus on writing fiction. I will probably post it on my own personal blog, and maybe I’ll share that with people. Maybe I won’t. Maybe I won’t really share it a lot at first, but then I will later when I have more of it and I feel like I can. Not when I feel comfortable because that will never happen. In any case, I have always wanted to write stories, and that’s where I am going to focus my spare writing time at the moment.

And that’s where my other really big issue is right now. This is just a hobby, but it has started to feel like a lot more for me, especially with the podcast (which was fun, but may have been a mistake). As of right now, my spare time is at a premium. I don’t have a lot of it. Part of that is my full time job- which pays the bills, by the way- part of that is my family- which is like my whole reason for living- and another part of it recently has been my decision to return to school and get my masters. All of these things are important, and they all take a lot of time. I looked at my calendar the other day, and I realized I wasn’t sure how to fit in my podcast and blog time.

I suppose I could still keep doing this, but the quality would drop, and I don’t want that. Not again, any way. If I can’t put the time in to do it right, then I don’t want to do it. So, it’s time to step away. And, to be honest, it has been fun being the Geeky Mormon, but I have been feeling lately that this particular chapter in my life is probably coming to a close permanently. Not that I am going to stop being geeky, or stop being Mormon, I just think this site, and that persona has run its course. So while my stepping away from podcasting and blogging in this way may only be temporary, if I do come back, it will be something else. I don’t know what that is yet, but this really feels right to me right now.

So, where does that leave the site? It will still be here. I am not going to take it down, at least not for now. All the content will remain. The podcast too, at least for now. How long will my little break be? At least a year. That’s when I will hopefully finish up with school, and I can reevaluate at that time what I want to do. I imagine it will be longer before I come back to regularly blogging like this or podcasting, since currently, I’m not even sure what a return would look like, and I want to have a clear idea before I do it. Like, if I come back to podcasting, I want to do it right with at least one co-host, so you won’t have to listen to just me.

I know all of this seems sudden. I have been thinking about it for a long time. There have been plenty of times over the last four years where I have wanted to just give it all up, but this was the first time when it really felt right. I am so grateful to all the people who have read and visited the site over the years. I have enjoyed interacting with you and I have enjoyed meeting some of you at conventions and what not. It has been fun. I wish you all the best, and I’m not really sure how to end this post, so I am going to share a couple of videos. One is Chris Pratt’s MTV awards acceptance speech with nine pretty solid rules. The other is the music video for Little Changes by Frank Turner, which has been a favorite of mine lately. Thank you all again, and all my best.

Jake Dietz,

The Geeky Mormon

My 10 Favorite Movies: 10 Napoleon Dynamite

Looking back on my life, I have always enjoyed movies. A lot of who I am and what I enjoy is based on the movies I love. A few weeks ago, on Facebook I was invited by a friend to list every day one of my favorite movies, ranking them from 10 to 1. It was hard to narrow the movies I love down to just ten, and then to put them in any kind of order. However, it was also fun to take a look back at the movies I have loved and why. I thought it would be fun to review each of the movies on my list on my podcast and on my blog. Napoleon Dynamite was my number 10.

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Episode 10: Harry Potter

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Are you ever too stubborn for your own good? It happens to me probably more than I would like to admit. It almost happened to me with Harry Potter. It’s hard to say why exactly I was so against the idea of reading the series, what held me back for so long, but i just know that for a long time, I just refused. Until I didn’t, and my whole geeky world changed.

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Episode 9: Counting Down the MCU, Pt. 2

Here it is, the much-anticipated follow-up to Monday’s episode- this part 2 of my MCU countdown. This is where you can find out which movie I have listed at number 1. For those that know me, it probably isn’t a huge surprise. I have talked about this movie a lot. I have even been a guest on another podcast to discuss this movie. It isn’t just my favorite MCU movie, it’s one of my favorite movies. Period.

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Episode 8: Counting Down the MCU, Part 1

Due to technical issues, I had to take last week off. I just couldn’t deliver a good, quality product, so I decided it was better to skip it. But I am back this week, and I have brought with me an epic double episode! And it is all about the MCU. The MCU now consists of 19 films. Some are better than others, and others still stand apart in a class of their own. In this episode, I begin to break down which are which. This is part 1, breaking down numbers 19-11. Part 2- the top 10- will be released on Wednesday.

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Episode 7: Avengers: Infinity War

Infinity War is here, and it was quite a ride. I know there are probably quite a few people who have not seen it. I get it. It is not always possible to get to the theater on opening night, sometimes you have to wait a week or two or a couple of days. I understand. For that reason, let me warn you, this episode has spoilers. A lot of spoilers. Like, seriously, don’t listen until you have seen the movie. But, then come back and listen.

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