Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Ring Out the Old, Ring in the New

Well. Somehow each year seems to speed by ever faster. Ironically, the earth has apparently slowed down by one second, which necessitates a "leap second" being added at midnight tonight. I wonder if anyone has calculated the rate of slowing, and has projected just when the earth will stop spinning altogether? (The moon doesn't spin on its axis. Technically, it turns once on its axis each time it goes around the earth--about once every 28 days. Just imagine the earth doing that around the sun!)

Seriously, it is alarming how fast this year has gone by. Every month I was amazed: "What? The month is over already?" I expect the same will be true in 2009. -- What?? 2009?? What happened to ... the last decade?? As time zooms by, I am ever more aware that I should be using my time wisely and well.

The poet Alfred Lord Tennyson had a cheery optimism as he bid farewell to the old year and welcomed in the new. In his poem, part of which follows, I find inspiration for creating a truly happy new year.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;

Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
. . . .

I know that what Tennyson envisioned and hoped for can happen. One person at a time. Tennyson's words paint a vision and plant a desire in me to have a larger heart and a kindlier hand, to drive out any darkness or lack of faith in my life, and to value and uphold truth and right and goodness.

Happy New Year to my family! I love you all.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008




Monday, December 29, 2008

Brain Games

I found some games online that are supposed to keep one’s brain able to "leap tall buildings at a single bound"—Superman-like, you know. Believe me: at some point you, too, will begin to worry about the health of your own brains.
Alzheimer’s researchers seem to think that certain kinds of games are the mental equivalent of doing push-ups and sit-ups and lifting weights. These games are supposed to actually create new brain cells or neurons to make up for those that are lost due to aging.

Since I value my intellect, I decided to try out a free trial offered by I explored several of their games. One game was like Concentration which requires you to remember what is hidden beneath the tiles on a grid. Another game was called bird watching and required you to pinpoint a bird that appeared briefly on screen and simultaneously remember a letter that appeared briefly in a box at the same instant, and then reproduce both, and then deduce the name of the bird.

Although these games were entertaining, I quickly became bored. My trial membership expired after a week. Good riddance, I thought. I next tried out the free games found by Googling “brain games.” One game called “colored lines” was quite addictive, and I quickly became pretty good at it. In all, I have probably invested at least a dozen hours to “exercising my brain” with these so-called mental calisthenics. I probably won’t continue. Here is why:

Today I read two lengthy articles by David Berlinski. One of them was called, “On the Origins of the Mind.” (You can read it yourself at ). In this ten page article, Berlinski discusses three similes that have been used to scientifically describe or explain the human mind. Berlinski is a mathematician and a philosopher. He is at ease with and quite proficient at vigorous mental calisthenics.

It was not the content of Berlinski’s articles that dissuaded me from playing brain games anymore, although the content helped me come to my conclusion that the brain games were a scam. It was the mental sensation I got as I read and contemplated and analyzed what he was saying. Talk about vigorous mental calisthenics!

I concluded that I will better utilize my time, as well as exercise my brain and add new neurons, by reading challenging material and learning new things. The plus side: Doing so is exhilarating! In the process, I may even add to my stores of wisdom and discernment. Sounds like a win-win to me!

New Year's Resolution number four . . . .

: D

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Worst Movies of the Year

Jeff Vice, the local (Deseret News) movie and TV critic, today published his list of the nearly two dozen 2008 films that he “genuinely loathed.” I personally like these Best/Worst lists because it usually saves me time and money in the long run. Here are Jeff’s picks for bad flicks:

1. The Happening
2. The Spirit
3. Meet Dave
4. Everybody Wants to Be Italian
5. The Love Guru
6. Four Christmases
7. Delgo
8 and 9. (a tie) Hancock, Seven Pounds
10. Sex and the City

There were so many other bad movies that Jeff listed “The Rest of the Worst” as follows: An American Carol; The Day the Earth Stood Still; How to Lose Friends and Alienate People; Miracle at St. Anna; The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor; Punisher: War Zone; Speed Racer; Star Wars: The Clone Wars; What Happens in Vegas; X-Files: I Want to Believe.

I watched two of these turkeys: Hancock and X-Files. I also would nominate “Mama Mia” to be added to this list.
Sad to say, we are the duped owners of two movies from the above lists. Hancock and The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, as well as Mama Mia. (Sigh) I was persuaded to go along with the purchase of Mama Mia before I had a chance to research it first. My Bad—as they say. I keep issuing moratoriums on buying DVDs . . . unsuccessfully obviously. (But, “tomorrow is another day!”)

New Year's Resolution number three . . . .

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Mirror Neurons: Happiness is a terrific gift to share with others

Did you know that you have “mirror neurons” in your brain? I did not know that until I read it in this morning’s newspaper! : D

Mirror neurons are what make you smile when someone smiles at you, or make you laugh when others laugh. Actually, you may not even crack a smile for your mirror neurons to still be doing their magic, making you happier.

“A happy face is one of the first lessons a mother teaches her own creation,” says the writer, Dr. Cramer. “Happiness is not a finite commodity; it is constantly created, it is continuously shared. We are members of the emotional-industrial complex of manufacturing happiness. Yes, it is a personal responsibility or, better, an individual opportunity. However, those who favor the philosophy of sole personal responsibility for all individual feelings forget that perhaps their actions in the social network are contributing in some way to the sadness of the others in their environs. And for those who think happiness is something owed to them by society or that it is there or not there due to some genetic mutation or income, they are also wrong. Happiness is both. It is self-generated and collectively distributed. All of us have both the obligation to others and the opportunity to ourselves to produce happiness.”

While reading this article, I made a New Year’s Resolution to spread more cheer in the coming year. I plan to:

Ac-cent-u-ate the positive
E-lim-i-nate the negative
Latch onto the affirmative, and
Don’t mess with Mr. In-Between

I know, I know, I sound like a silly song-and-dance routine reminiscent of old Broadway, Bing Crosby, and Frank Sinatra.

But Dr. Cramer made some good points. He suggested a metaphor: “to become emotion-efficient we may need to swap out some old wasteful incandescent light sources and seek other kinds of illumination. Maybe instead of the glow from the TV screen or the silver screen we should receive our light from the beauty around us, or that brightness that is reflected from millennia of accumulated wisdom or scripture.”

I know that after spending several hours on the computer, if I go outside and look at the snow-capped mountains and the blue sky, I feel wonderfully cheery and suddenly have a better focus on reality. Additionally, I recognize that I am really cheating myself of wonderful inner joy if I forget to read a little scripture everyday. And I get great uplift from reading other things that are true and edifying.

Dr. Cramer pointed out some emotional hangups that are real joy-killers: “There are worn-out energy-sucking appliances in our lives, like old exhausted memories. Repeatedly opening up the door to these freezers of past pain just burns up power better suited for personal progress, and it wastes chances of giving back to others.”

I think his last observation boils down to forgiveness and compassion. It is a gift to ourselves as well as to others. Who enjoys being around others who are endlessly nursing old wounds? Or are cranky at every slight and offense that occurs around them? (Like fuming about other drivers on the road, for example.) Being angry, or even a little cranky, is terrible thing to do to ourselves and to others. Obviously, our mirror neurons not only spread happiness, they can also spread unhappiness, too.

So, my most important New Year’s Resolution will be to try to remember that any unpleasantness in my life is not an excuse or a license for being a grouch. “All things shall work together for my good if I walk uprightly.” Challenges to my cheeriness are opportunities for me to be a better person.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Angel Baby--Happy Birthday!

Christmas fell on a Monday that year. We lived in Garden Grove, California, so the weather was sunny and warm on Christmas day. Grandma Mead had been visiting in the morning, but left after lunch.

After all the presents were opened and the three children were playing outside or napping, I crawled around on my hands and knees, picking up the toys that were scattered all over the living room and the sun-room. I was pregnant. See the pregnant 27-year-old mommy in the photo below. (Twelve days past my due date.)

In the afternoon, Paul was feeling nostalgic, so we took the kids for a drive to Carbon Canyon to see his boyhood neighborhood. During the drive, I began to have contractions. I was not overly concerned— But, I knew!! (At last! Hooray!)

In the evening, Paul and I played games (Monopoly?) after putting the children to bed. We were patiently timing contractions. Around 10 p.m. I finished the laundry, and then took a shower. At 11 p.m. Karl Farnsworth and his wife Jackie came over to sleep on the sofa while we went to the hospital.

David was almost a Christmas baby; he was born about 28 minutes past midnight. A day later, he came home in a red and white striped “Christmas stocking”: a late Christmas gift! David was named after his great grandfather David Edwards, and the City of David, and also the Angel Gabriel because it was Christmas. For a long time, I referred to David as “my Angel Baby” because he was so unfussy. He only became “Crazy Dave” later. : D

My favorite photo of David:

So full of life!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Sing sweet as the flute,
Sing clear as the horn,

Sing joy of the children
Come Christmas morn!

Little Christ Jesus
Our brother is born

Wishing you peace on earth and good will toward men.

* * *

I saw on the snow
when I tried my skis
the track of a mouse
beside some trees.

Before he tunneled
to reach his house
he wrote "Merry Christmas"
in white, in mouse.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Way We Were

Time Capsule: 4 January 1988
(Nearly 21 years ago)

(Dad age 45; Mom age 42; Becky age 20; Jen age 18.5; Chris age 17; Dave age 15; Missy age 13.5; Emily age 9; Dara age 6.5)

1. Biggest fear or worry
Dad: my daughters won’t get married
Mom: Satan will get the upper hand because I forgot to pray
Becky: not being married
Jenny: not having enough money to pay all my “bills” (dying with dirty underwear on HA! HA!)
Chris: that I might not get my eagle before my time is up
Dave: loss of money
Missy: nuclear war or an earthquake or house burning down
Emily: Nickey getting killed
Dara: Melissa keeps on scarying me

2. Greatest/most important desire
Dad: to be found worthy to get back into the Celestial Kingdom
Mom: enough Holy Ghost to keep the miracles coming
Becky: to be married or engaged within the next 18 months
Jenny: spiritually—exaltation; physical—New Car
Chris: to get a date for the senior prom
Dave: join the Navy
Missy: to be a model
Emily: I want to be a pet shop owner
Dara: my friend Jenny

3. What I hope to improve this year
Dad: my writing skills
Mom: lose 10 pounds, hike 15 miles to the sea, Holy Ghost constantly
Becky: to be a full tithe payer
Jenny: 1. not beating up on Dave & Chris 2. controlling spending of money 3. loose 10 lbs
Chris: everything
Dave: be stronger
Missy: self control and loosing 10 pounds and look better
Emily: clean my room more often
Dara: learn to color

4. Favorite friend [note: full names were omitted due to privacy--I thought it unwise to include full names on the internet]
Dad: my wife
Mom: Nancy B....
Becky: Katrina L..., M...
Jenny: Amy N....
Chris: Agent X
Dave: David B....
Missy: Stacy D...
Emily: Kaylynn
Dara: Jenny next door

5. Thing that makes me happiest
Dad: overcoming great difficulties; coming off triumphant
Mom: pleasant helpful children in an orderly house
Becky: a letter from ....
Jenny: Payday & being with Amy & beating on Chris & Dave & Food
Chris: living (I guess)
Dave: food
Missy: having money and clothes
Emily: food
Dara: the family

6. Favorite memory
Dad: laying flat on my back on a wind-swept, grass-covered hill
Mom: hiking my first mountain
Becky: going to the snow with [a friend]
Jenny: I don’t remember
Chris: my dreams
Dave: I lost it
Missy: when we moved from Indiana to here; dreams
Emily: when I got Kris Mutt
Dara: reading story books

7. Favorite food
Dad: flan
Mom: fudge brownies
Becky: turkey breast sandwich
Jenny: anything that tastes good going down (and doesn’t pack on weight) POTATOES & CHIPS & SalSa
Chris: Steak--medium
Dave: all you can eat shrimp
Missy: angel food cake and seafood
Emily: cake and ice cream
Dara: ice cream, banana splits

8. Favorite book
Mom: Robert Frost poetry
Becky: the new RS book “Come Unto Me”
Jenny: haven’t read any good ones lately (Lehr Cats—Kathryn Kurtz)
Chris: The “Myth” Series (Myth adventures, Myth Alliances)
Dave: Lord Foul’s Bane
Missy: Are You There God It’s Me Margratte
Emily: about animals
Dara: The Little Match Girl

9. Favorite TV Shows
Dad: ST New Generation
Mom: NONE!! Yeah!!
Becky: Cosby
Jenny: anything that makes me space out; LOVE CONNECTION & MTV
Chris: Sledge Hammer, Max Headroom
Dave: Sledge Hammer, Moon Lighting
Missy: MTV
Emily: Sledghammer
Dara: cartoons

10. Favorite movie
Dad: Out of Africa
Mom: One Flew Over the CooKoo’s Nest (among others)
Becky: Hiding Out and Made in Heaven
Chris: Back to the Future
Dave: Once Upon a Time in the West, Summer School
Missy: Buckaroo Banzai
Emily: any cartoons
Dara: Robin Hood [Disney]

11. My hero
Dad: [? illegible]
Mom: Jane Fonda because she is 50 years old and looks like 35
Becky: Dad
Chris: Sledge Hammer, Max Headroom
Dave: Thomas Covenant
Missy: Bugs Bunny HaHa, Dad
Emily: Bugs Bunny
Dara: Bugs Bunny

12. Favorite song
Dad: Bright Eyes
Mom: Lord I Would Follow Thee or any Tabernacle Choir song
Becky: Behind the Water Fall
Jenny: Could’ve Been (Tiffany), Hazy Shade of Winter (Gangels)
Chris: Expose & Money for Nothing (Direstrats—video)
Dave: White Snake, Here I go Again
Missy: Mony Mony—Billy Idol—George Richerd
Emily: This is God’s House and any church song
Dara: Really Rosie

13. Favorite teacher
Dad: Jack McKendrick
Mom: Brother Hyde
Becky: none
Jenny: I don’t have any—all my teachers are rejected at Moorpark! (Mrs. Martin last year)
Chris: Mr. Maddox, Mrs. Martin, Mrs. Blizen, Mrs. Crandall, Mr. Agular
Dave: Mr. Hairless (hairess)
Missy: Mr. Voris
Emily: Mrs. Elison
Dara: Mrs. Beeler

14. Favorite joke or comic strip
Dad: comic strip Bloom county
Mom: comic strips Rose Is Rose, Garfield, Nancy
Becky: Wide Mouth Frog
Jenny: Garfield, BloomCounty, CHRIS & DAVID
Chris: Sledge Hammer, X-Men, the one with the “brick-plane” & Dick Tracy, Brenda Star, Spider Man, He-Man, Garfield, etc.
Dave: Sledge Hammer, Dick Tracy, Brenda Star, Spiderman
Missy: Brenda Star & Garfield & Rose Is Rose
Emily: My Little Pony
Dara: My Little Pony

15. Favorite hobby
Dad: stamp collecting
Mom: hiking, fitness classes
Becky: stitchery
Jenny: SLEEPING, Watching TV, eating, tacking men to my ceiling
Chris: collect trash—all kinds
Dave: models
Missy: modeling
Emily: collecting stickers
Dara: going to the park

16. Favorite holiday
Dad: Christmas
Mom: Valentine’s Day
Becky: Valentine’s Day
Jenny: Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Halloween
Chris: Halloween & Christmas
Dave: Halloween
Missy: Thanksgiving
Emily: Christmas
Dara: Halloween

17. Favorite game
Dad: Skip-bo
Mom: whatever I can win at
Becky: Aquire
Jenny: Skip-bo
Chris: chess, snake byte
Dave: Risk
Missy: Skip-bo & Uno
Emily: Christmas Game
Dara: Christmas Game

18. Favorite activity
Dad: reading
Mom: sleeping, eating
Becky: Bowling
Jenny: Hanging out w/Amy & Teasing the cat, beating on Chris & Dave
Chris: read books, write things
Dave: reading
Missy: going to the mall and buying clothes & wasting time
Emily: playing
Dara: scratching Dad’s back

19. Favorite place
Dad: on the water bed
Mom: any place quiet, peaceful and beautiful
Becky: in the snow in the mountains in a cabin with a fire
Jenny: Amy’s house, Shopping malls
Chris: Earth
Dave: Sear’s Tower
Missy: home or my friends houses. Any where fun
Emily: the Park
Dara: 7-Eleven

20. Most proud of/ most important accomplishment
Dad: my reference books
Mom: growing up
Becky: getting an A in speech; getting a job at G.W. Bank exactly one year tomorrow
Jenny: High School graduate
Chris: School (I guess)
Dave: beating up this geek!
Missy: being the fastest runner in the 7th grade (girls)
Emily: getting “A’s” 3 times in a row
Dara: cleaning my room

Jen added # 21. Favorite Words: Spiffy, Waygay, Special
Missy added #21. Favorite sports: all but Golf! #22. Favorite colors: black—white—blue—red

NOTE: This is the last Time Capsule that I will be posting.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Third Time Capsule

Time Capsule January 6, 1985 (Simi Valley, California)

1. Biggest fear or worry:
Dad: that my family won’t be the example they should be
Mom: my children
Becky: not having a boyfriend ever
Jenny: getting lung cancer from the Smokers at Royal High School
Chris: I am afraid of my alarm clock going off at a good dream I have
David: robbers
Missy: getting into trouble
Emily: wolfs
Dara: spiders

2. Greatest desire:
Dad: to live with my posterity with Heavenly Father
Mom: to have sufficient for our needs
Becky: to be married in the Temple
Jenny: getting an orange kitty
Chris: to get straight A’s for a scholarship
David: J.N. (Jenny N.)
Missy: Stickers
Emily: Mommy Cat & Baby Kittens
Dara: French fries, ketchup & hamburgers

3. What I hope to improve about myself this year:
Dad: be more patient
Mom: being sweet and kind
Becky: I would like to become kinder and sweeter
Jenny: better in sports
Chris: sports and grades and making friends
David: better grades
Missy: being friendlier
Emily: homework
Dara: learning more rhymes

4. What makes me happiest:
Dad: when my wife is happy, especially about being and talking with me
Mom: when every one in the house is happy
Becky: going out on dates and going to Stake dances
Jenny: kitties
Chris: bringing home good reports and doing good things
David: [first response was Money, crossed out] Dads [?]
Missy: Stickers
Emily: playing Barbies
Dara: frogs

5. Favorite friend:
Dad: Mom
Mom: Vera
Becky: everyone is the same, but I prefer boys to girls
Jenny: Brenda Mo...
Chris: Philip L..
David: Chad Prov.....
Missy: Jennifer Wil....
Emily: Jenny
Dara: Kirna

6. Favorite memory:
Dad: listening to the wind in the pine trees in the mountains
Mom: buying ice cream cones and fritters at the BYU Dairy (when we were first married)
Becky: going on the band field trip to Nashville and going to the New Years Eve Dance
Jenny: when we used to have cats & Toby
Chris: remembering all the things that happened in Indiana
David: being with Chad
Missy: when I was on the train
Emily: Toby
Dara: ---

7. Favorite food:
Dad: Prime Rib
Mom: anything that I haven’t fixed
Becky: fruit, especially bananas and grapes
Chris: Steak, Hamburgers, French fries, pancakes, egg sandwiches, jello, potatoes, fruit, bananas, oranges, apples, lemons
David: Big Mac, Fely Fish, Corder pounder, French fries, icey cock thick shake Sunday and apple pie
Missy: Hamburgers and Ice Cream, fruit
Emily: jello
Dara: French fries & ketchup & hamburgers

8. Favorite book:
Dad: Magician; Book of Mormon
Mom: Robert Frost Poetry
Becky: Where the Red Fern Grows; Weathering Heights; Jane Erye; The Last Unicorn; etc.
Jenny: The Looking Glass Factor; picture books of kitties that I looked at at the bookstore
Chris: Monster Maher [? ]
Missy: Snow Queen
Emily: Pink Panther
Dara: ---

9. Favorite TV show:
Dad: Star Trek, Masterpiece Theater
Mom: Bill Cosby Show
Becky: Happy Days; Laverne & Shirley; Love Boat; Charles Is in Charge
Jenny: Charles Is in Charge; Private Benjamin; Get Smart; DTV
Chris: Disney Channel
David: Inspector Gadget; Get Smart
Missy: Disney Channel and Scooby Doo
Emily: Pink Panther
Dara: Scooby Doo

10. Favorite movie:
Dad: 2010
Mom: Starman; Chariots of Fire
Becky: Red Dawn; Heaven Can Wait; Dune; Chariots of Fire
Jenny: Scary Movies= Carrie; The Shining; Psycho II; Red Dawn; House of Long Shadows
Chris: Starman
David: Indiana Jones, R.O.T.2A.
Missy: Amityville Horror! Carrie! Halloween Two; House of the Long Shadows
Emily: Superman III
Dara: ---

11. Favorite hobby:
Dad: computers, music
Mom: calligraphy; piano; painting plasterware
Becky: art work and music; working on crafts and collecting things
Jenny: anything to do with kitties
Chris: computers, sports, reading, collecting cards, music, models
David: models, TV
Missy: collecting stickers, Barbies
Emily: collecting things--marbles
Dara: yellow blanket-carrying and finger-sucking

12. My Hero:
Dad: Heavenly Father and Jesus
Mom: anyone who brings out the best in me
Becky: Heavenly Father and Jesus
Jenny: ---
Chris: Heavenly Father, Holy Ghost
David: The Greatest American Hero & Inspector Gadget, Heavenly Father
Missy: Madonna, Prince, Purple Rain, Tina Turner, Cyndi Loper; Frico
Emily: Superman
Dara: My Daddy

13. Favorite song:
Dad: Voyages; Pardon Me; Jerusalem
Mom: Rhapsody in Blue; O Divine Redeemer; Break My Stride
Becky: all the songs by Chicago, Air Supply, Lynol Richie, Wham, Chariots of Fire
Jenny: Careless Whispers (Wham); You’re All I Need (Frisco Jones on G. H.); Everybody Run the Home Coming Queen’s Got a Gun (Abraham’s Theme)
Chris: Spirit of God Like a Fire Is Burning
David: Inspector Gadget
Missy: Girls Just Wanna Have Fun
Emily: Superman
Dara: I Am a Child of God

14. Favorite teacher:
Dad: Jack McKendrick and Ivan J. Barrett
Mom: Mr. MacVey (HS English teacher)
Becky: Mr. Smailes & Mrs. Sullivan; Mrs. Rose; Mrs. Cocrew. Mr. Merkel.
Jenny: Mr. Treece & Mr. Yochem, Mrs. Dougherty
Chris: Mr. Viscus, Mrs. Rehm, Mrs. Bitner
David: the scriptures; Dad
Missy: Mrs. Henck; Mrs. Bitner; Mrs. Chastain; Mrs. Bowerman; Mrs. Witman; Mrs. Kowalas.
Emily: Sister Tholen
Dara: Sister Rogers

15. Favorite waste of time:
Dad: TV; hoping for Purdue to win something
Mom: TV
Becky: laying around & writing letters & Day Dreaming
Jenny: Reading, Playing outside; watching TV
Chris: Sleep, watch TV
David: TV
Missy: Sleep; Day dreaming; TV
Emily: sleep
Dara: 2 fingers & a yellow blanket

16. Favorite holiday:
Dad: Spring Break
Mom: Christmas
Becky: Valentine’s Day & Christmas
Jenny: Christmas; Summer Vac., Spring Vac.
Chris: New Year’s Eve because of the New Year’s Eve Dance
David: all of them except for Labor Day
Missy: Christmas
Emily: Halloween
Dara: Christmas

17. Favorite joke:
Dad: Taco Bell / Pardon My Roy – type (Nacho Cheese)
Mom: ---
Becky: Don’t have one; Practical Jokes on others not on me.
Jenny: Putting toothpaste inside of Oreo Cookies instead of the filling and Bishop Nuttall & Kevin Janeway ate them and thought it tasted good.
Chris: Joshua Hunt......, and about brick laying joke
David: Dad-Mom-Becky-Jenny-Chris-Missy-Emily-Dara and Me The Comedian.
Missy: the Airplane joke
Emily: Knock Knock, Who’s there? Boo. Boo who? Why are you crying?
Dara: ---

18. Favorite game:
Dad: Monopoly; Trivia Pursuit
Mom: Clue; CIA; Trivial Pursuit
Becky: Trivial Persuit; Aquire & Scrabble
Jenny: hand ball; basket ball; volley, soft, tag, jump rope, C&C
Chris: Trivia Pursuit
David: ---
Missy: Mystery Mansion; Clue; Chaos
Emily: The Christmas Game
Dara: ---

Monday, December 22, 2008

Put On Your Thinking Caps!

“In Other Words”
Can you guess the names of these Christmas songs?

1. Tucked into a desolate point halfway to spring.

2. Winged beings belonging to effulgent kingdoms.

3. A chocolate-covered cake blithely floating above.

4. Questions come to me while I aimlessly rove.

5. A special winter day devoid of any color.

6. Ascend, Oh crook user and come after.

7. I won’t be off in some distant place when it’s time to open presents.

8. The smog-less bewitching hour arrived.

9. Leave and do an elevated broadcast.

10. That exiguous hamlet south of the holy city.

11. Oh, member of the round table with missing areas.

12. Cup-shaped instruments fashioned of a whitish metallic element.

13. May the Diety bestow an absence of fatigue to mild male humans.

14. Obese personification fabricated of compressed mounds of minute crystals.

15. Tranquility upon the terrestrial sphere.

16. Listen, the celestial messengers produce harmonious sounds.

17. Nocturnal time span of unbroken quietness.

18. An emotion excited by the acquisition or expectation of good given to the terrestrial sphere.

19. Diminutive, masculine master of skin covered percussionist cylinders.

20. Move hitherward the entire assembly of those who are loyal and devout in their belief.

21. The Christmas preceding all others.

22. As the guardians of wooly animals protected their charges in the shadows of the Earth.

23. In a feeding trough for farm animals placed in a distant location.

24. 288 hours of Yuletide.

25. Do you perceive the same longitudinal pressure which stimulates my auditory sense organs?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Blast from the Past (part 2)

Time Capsule Jan 1, 1984 (West Lafayette, Indiana)

1. Greatest concern (or worry or fear):
Dad: that my children and their children are successful in the Eternities
Mom: the righteousness of my children
Becky: solving “differences”
Jenny: the house burning down
Chris: getting good grades in school
David: when Jesus comes
Missy: that the house will catch on fire
Emily: bears
Dara: Where’s my blanket / bottle / Mom?

2. What I want most:
Dad: the knowledge that I am making a contribution to humanity
Mom: to live up to my potential, to live life to the fullest
Becky: I don’t know
Jenny: everybody having what they need
Chris: a new coat
David: to live with Heavenly Father
Missy: a big stuffed bear
Emily: candy
Dara: to go outside and play

3. What I hope to improve about myself this year:
Dad: I am going to try to live without sin
Mom: to forget myself and think of others
Becky: cutting my hair better, better makeup, be nicer to everyone
Jenny: getting along with people better
Chris: to he helpful around the house and to be nice (since I’m a teenager—heh, heh)
David: be a better student
Missy: that I’ll have more friends
Emily: being good
Dara: get along without my bottle / blanket

4. What makes me happiest:
Dad: quiet peaceful times after moderate successes and achievements
Mom: using my talents and abilities to help others
Becky: music
Jenny: being with friends
Chris: I don’t know
David: funny jokes and when holidays come
Missy: having a lot of things to do
Emily: Missy playing Barbie dolls with me
Dara: lots of attention

5. Favorite person or friend / most admired:
Dad: my wife / most admired: Joseph Smith
Mom: those who have overcome hardships or drawbacks and have become successful (Neal A. Maxwell, Helen Keller, among others)
Becky: Ruth Wi.... [beautiful, white-haired Primary President in our Ward]
Jenny: Elizabeth; Marci Berg....
Chris: Philip—my best friend, he’s nice
David: Chad Prov.....
Missy: Jenny Car..., Becky L...., Jenny Wil...., Stephanie Mis..., and family
Emily: Joel (he’s in my class at school)
Dara: anyone who loves me

6. Favorite memory:
Dad: lying in my bed in the cabin at night listening to the creek
Mom: carefree childhood days on the farm
Becky: my second year at Youth Conference
Jenny: winning the essay and poster contest in fifth grade
Chris: going to the Kirtland, Ohio Encampment
David: when we went to visit Santa in the mountains in California
Missy: a dream about stuffed animals
Emily: Grandma Mead gave me candy
Dara: Santa gave me an orange and a candy cane!

7. Favorite food:
Dad: huevos rancheros
Mom: high calorie gooey or crunchy desserts, also fried foods (chicken, etc.)
Becky: McDonalds or KFC
Jenny: corn, spaghetti, rice, steak
Chris: steak
David: corn, pizza, hot dogs, hamburgers, French fries, casserole, shepherd’s pie, rice, etc. etc.
Missy: shepherd’s pie, pizza
Emily: jello
Dara: candy, gum, popcorn, ice cream, McDonalds

8. Favorite book:
Dad: other than the scriptures, Moby Dick and Tolkien’s works
Mom: ---
Becky: Where the Red Fern Grows
Jenny: Mrs. Pigglewiggle books
Chris: The Bible
David: Garfield Eats His Heart Out
Missy: The Girl with Silver Eyes
Emily: Tigers
Dara: Childcraft

9. Favorite TV show:
Dad: Star Trek
Mom: All My Children
Becky: none
Jenny: Webster
Chris: Automan
David: Automan
Missy: Manimal
Emily: cartoons
Dara: commercials, the Muppet show

10. Favorite movie:
Dad: Lawrence of Arabia
Mom: Chariots of Fire
Becky: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang; Sound of Music; E.T.
Jenny: Superman
Chris: The Last Unicorn
David: Beast Master
Missy: The Last Unicorn, The Fog
Emily: Dark Crystal
Dara: ---

11. Favorite song:
Dad: anything by Debussy or Rimsky-Korsakov
Mom: currently: “Romance” played on the oboe
Becky: all sorts of songs
Jenny: Michael Jackson songs
Chris: Celento Lindo [Cielito Lindo?]
David: The Spirit of God Like a Fire Is Burning
Missy: ---
Emily: 10 Little Indian Boys
Dara: “Jingle Bells” sung by dogs: “arf-arf-arf”

12. Favorite activity / hobby:
Dad: learning, knowing, understanding; being creative
Mom: learning new things
Becky: art and music
Jenny: collecting things
Chris: mostly Scouts
David: building things
Missy: collecting marbles, Barbie dolls
Emily: playing games
Dara: having fun

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Time Capsule: January 3, 1983

Family Home Evening activity for Monday, January 3, 1983 (nearly 26 years ago). Dad was 40 years old; Mom was 37; Becky was almost 15; Jen was 13.5; Chris was 12; David was 10; Missy was 8; Emily was 4; Dara was 18 months old.

1. Biggest worry:
Dad: not being at the right place at the right time to make the best contribution.
Mom: meeting obligations (financial-matters and the Ward Dinner-Dance)
Becky: that I won’t be righteous enough to live with Heavenly Father
Jenny: the house burning down
Chris: paper route, getting ready for things
David: when its time for the Last Judgment
Missy: my enemies
Emily: [none]
Dara: losing my yellow blanket

2. What I want most:
Dad: materially= to be trouble-free financially; spiritually= contentment (“at one”)
Mom: good kids, nice family, less worries
Becky: Temple Marriage
Jenny: to win the sweepstakes
Chris: lots of things
David: mansion to live in
Missy: to sleep upstairs
Emily: [nothing]
Dara: to be paid attention to

3. What I hope to improve:
Dad: understanding the scriptures better and narrowing the gap between what I know and what I live
Mom: how I handle stress
Becky: impatience
Jenny: control temper
Chris: doing good
David: remember the times-table
Missy: grow taller
Emily: [nothing—just happy to be here]
Dara: grow taller, talk better

4. Things that make me happiest:
Dad: when the family is growing and improving
Mom: being successful
Becky: music
Jenny: when people don’t tease me
Chris: lots of things
David: I forget
Missy: a clean room
Emily: Santa
Dara: my yellow blanket and my two middle fingers on my left hand

5. Favorite people:
Dad: Mom
Mom: good people
Becky: friends—anybody who doesn’t bother me and is cute and intelligent … Kendall
Jenny: friends—Carolyn, Beth Baldwin, family
Chris: Ken, Andrew, Robbie, Joel, whole family
David: Shannon, Roy, Travis
Missy: Misty, Kim, Mom and Dad and brothers and sisters
Emily: Cali
Dara: Mom, Dad, Becky, Jenny, Chris, David, Missy, and Emily

6. Favorite memory:
Dad: the week we got married
Mom: past successes (like the recent classes I taught in RS)
Becky: Roadshow—1st year in Mutual; Tim’s Valentine gift (Garfield)
Jenny: going to Utah
Chris: don’t have one yet
David: [none]
Missy: ABC—Numbers
Emily: birthdays and Christmas
Dara: ? [what’s a memory?]

7. Favorite food:
Dad: round steak and vegetables with garlic
Mom: anything fattening or anything I don’t have to cook
Becky: fruit
Jenny: baked potatoes, spaghetti
Chris: all kinds
David: cheese and crackers
Missy: pizza
Emily: pizza
Dara: milk

8. Favorite book:
Dad: Leaf by Niggle
Mom: Robert Frost’s Poetry
Becky: And Then There Were None
Jenny: Ghosts I Have Been
Chris: Bible, Book of Mormon, funny books, scary books, mysteries
David: [none]
Missy: Bible
Emily: Childcraft—Life Around Us
Dara: ones I can scribble in and tear up

9. Favorite TV show:
Dad: M.A.S.H. or Barney Miller
Mom: All My Children
Becky: The Quest, Bring Em Back Alive, The Gold Monkey
Jenny: Mork and Mindy, Greatest American Hero
Chris: Gold Monkey, Dukes of Hazzard, Greatest American Hero, The Quest
David: Bring Em Back Alive
Missy: Wonder Woman
Emily: Scooby Do
Dara: commercials

10. Favorite movie:
Dad: Last Unicorn; Being There
Mom: Chariot’s of Fire
Becky: Last Unicorn
Jenny: Rocky III
Chris: Last Unicorn
David: E.T.
Missy: Dark Crystal
Emily: E.T.
Dara: life all around me

11. Other favorites:
Dad: reading, learning
Mom: Spring, Minnesota summers, winning at Chess (or other games), laughing at Dad’s jokes (if they are really funny), bird song, spring peepers, teaching (inspiring others)
Becky: drawing, thinking, playing piano, crocheting, knitting, reading
Jenny: wood burning, roller skating, swimming, track (sports), eating
Chris: [none]
David: friends, my Dad
Missy: Stephanie, toys, E.T., Last Unicorn, Jigsaw Puzzle Book, tap dancing, unicorn collections, lots of dresses and nice clothes
Emily: books, books, books
Dara: climbing, running, laughing, being held, animals, toys, dancing

(Which ones should I post??—Are you interested??)

Jan. 1, 1984
Jan. 6, 1985
Jan. 4, 1988
Christmas 1989—Predictions for 1995
Christmas 1995—to be opened Christmas 2000
Jan 1, 2000 (only Jen’s, Chris’s, Missy’s families)

Friday, December 19, 2008

He's My Brudder!!

"Who's the Bad Guy?" five-and-a-half-year-old Jenny asked.

"David's the Bad Guy," said seven-year-old Becky.

Two-year-old-Bad-Guy-David galloped around the livingroom on his invisible horse.

Four-year-old Chris, shaking his head, put in earnestly, "David NOT a Bad Guy! He's my Brudder!!"

True story.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

"Come Thou Fount of Every Blessiing"

Here is my Happy Thanksgiving message for you. You (my family) are among my greatest and most cherished blessings.

Another of the things I am deeply thankful for this Thanksgiving time is this hymn. It reminds me that all of our blessings are gifts from a loving, merciful God. It is a prayer that speaks for me -- one who is prone to wander; prone also to be constantly distracted and to forget from whence the blessings flow.

Won't you pause a moment to enjoy . . . .

"Come, thou Fount of every blessing,
tune my heart to sing thy grace;
streams of mercy, never ceasing,
call for songs of loudest praise.

Teach me some melodious sonnet,
sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount!
I'm fixed upon it,
mount of thy redeeming love.

Here I raise mine Ebenezer;
hither by thy help I'm come;
and I hope, by thy good pleasure,
safely to arrive at home.

Jesus sought me when a stranger,
wandering from the fold of God;
he, to rescue me from danger,
interposed his precious blood.

O to grace how great a debtor
daily I'm constrained to be!
Let thy goodness, like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to thee.

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
here's my heart,
O take and seal it,
seal it for thy courts above."

Music: American Folk Hymn
Text: Robert Robinson
Arrangement: Mack Wilberg

Thursday, November 20, 2008

"I Dunno!"

Bill Cosby is so funny. Partly it is due to the funny faces he makes. Partly it is due to the truth he tells. For example: "parents . . . want QUIET!"

" . . . MINE!!! MINE!!! MINE!!! ..."

"Mental Health Break"

How fun is this?

The tune is Mozart's Symphony No. 40

Makes me want to go roller-blading!

Monday, November 17, 2008

"What's the Big Deal Anyway?"

In a comment in the previous Blog, Davola said...
"I'm not for gay marriage and I'm not against gay marriage. If they want it let em have it. Who cares? They are going to have sexual relations either way. There is no financial benefit to getting married. It is just a slip of paper. What is the big deal anyway?"

Davola has expressed exactly what a lot of ordinary, regular people think and feel: “Who cares? What’s the big deal anyway?” I would guess that many people not only don’t care one way or another about gay marriage, they would rather not have to give any thought whatsoever to gay lifestyles. Their stance might be summarized as: hey, it’s no skin off my nose—we should just look the other way—it seems like such a silly thing to get worked up about—live and let live already! What’s the harm?

As it turns out, redefining marriage to include same-sex marriage really IS a “big deal.” And the potential harm could mean more than just the “skin off your nose.” Although the major media outlets have largely ignored this side of the story, lots of other really smart people have explained the issue quite clearly.

If you are interested in learning why anyone should care a fig about gay marriage (redefining marriage) v. protecting traditional marriage, a thoughtful examination of some of the following articles may prove insightful.

Same-Sex Marriage Is About More Than “I Do”

Catholic position on protecting traditional marriage published in the San Francisco Chronicle on October 1, 2008

“Why Our Society Should Preserve Marriage”

Saturday, November 15, 2008

I Can't Believe My Eyes (or Ears)

Are you bewildered and bemused by the ongoing Prop 8 battle? Are you wishing this problem would just go away? Are you shell-shocked by the ugly scenes on TV and the amazing spin by news reporters telling you that what you just saw didn’t really happen the way you saw it?

News anchor: "Quite honestly, a lot of anger and a lot hate on both sides!"

Are you appalled that threats and intimidation being poured upon Yes on 8 supporters is acceptable in today’s America? Are you frightened to speak up for fear that you will be their next target? Are you hoping that the No on 8 supporters will get tired of protesting and go home? Do you really think that since “the voters have spoken” that eventually the gay marriage proponents will accept it with grace?

I have news for you. They have the collective weight of the California Supreme Court (majority), the Governor of California, the Democrats of the California Assembly, the Mayor of San Francisco, most Hollywood celebrities, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, the major news networks, and legal precedents in Massachusetts and Connecticut behind them. And Americans today are easily cowed. The NAACP, in an act of repentance for the 70% of black voters who voted Yes on 8, is joining the No on 8 gang in appealing to the courts to nullify the amendment. I am sure that some who previously voted Yes on 8 would gladly change their votes today just to restore the peace.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

America's Most Smartest Models

Ben Stein is so funny in this clip.Don't be put off by the slow beginning; at about minute 2 he begins a hilarious anecdote about a couple of teenage or young adult "models."

I think he makes a good point at the end about what today's TV shows teach kids: knowing stuff takes a backseat (a WAY, WAY, WAY, back, back, backseat) to singing, dancing, and fighting. I might also add, a backseat to texting, and all kinds of electronic gimmickery.
INCIDENTALLY: Stein's first teaching stint was as an adjunct professor, teaching about the political and social content of mass culture at American University in Washington, D.C., and then at University of California, Santa Cruz. He also held classes on political and civil rights from the United States Constitution at UC Santa Cruz. At Pepperdine University in Southern California, Stein taught libel law and United States securities law and its ethical aspects. He was a professor of law at Pepperdine University Law School, from about 1990 to 1997.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Christmas Ponderings (by a Jew)

Me: Dara has put up her Christmas Tree; Ben brought up the Holidays and is dreaming of Christmas (or at least Thanksgiving). I guess I started it by talking about "Presents or NOT" a few Blogs ago. So, continuing in that same vein, I thought you might enjoy the following video of Ben Stein, who is Jewish, talking about Christmas.

Sorry you have to endure the 30-second advertisement before you can view the video.

[Now turn off (pause) the video's next ad, so you can read on: ]

More of Ben Stein's Ponderings on Christmas:
Herewith at this happy time of year, a few confessions from my beating heart:

I have no freaking clue who Nick and Jessica are. I see them on the cover of People and Us constantly when I am buying my dog biscuits and kitty litter. I often ask the checkers at the grocery stores. They never know who Nick and Jessica are either. Who are they? Will it change my life if I know who they are and why they have broken up? Why are they so important? I don't know who Lindsay Lohan is, either, and I do not care at all about Tom Cruise's wife.

Am I going to be called before a Senate committee and asked if I am a subversive? Maybe, but I just have no clue who Nick and Jessica are. Is this what it means to be no longer young. It's not so bad.

Next confession: I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees Christmas trees. I don't feel threatened. I don't feel discriminated against. That's what they are: Christmas trees. It doesn't bother me a bit when people say, "Merry Christmas" to me. I don't think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn't bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu. If people want a creche, it's just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.

I don't like getting pushed around for being a Jew and I don't think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can't find it in the Constitution and I don't like it being shoved down my throat.

Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship Nick and Jessica and we aren't allowed to worship God as we understand Him?

I guess that's a sign that I'm getting old, too. But there are a lot of us who are wondering where Nick and Jessica came from and where the America we knew went to.

Me: It's refreshing to get a Jewish perspective on Christmas as it's celebrated in the US, isn't it?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Speaking of Thinking

On Saturday, The Knight and I watched the DVD "Expelled." It was surprisingly interesting and even slightly humorous in places. Ben Stein is the "star" or narrator of this movie. You may remember him as the really boring teacher in "Ferris Beuller's Day Off": ". . . anyone? . . . anyone?"

The following is the super trailer for "Expelled." [You might want to pause the music box at the bottom of the page before you start.]

I was particularly interested to see that I was already familiar with one of the featured Darwinists, having read a 16-page critique of his latest book. I am now looking forward to reading another book mentioned in the film: written by a brilliant philosopher with whom I was previously unfamiliar.

Monday, November 3, 2008


Well, Jen and Dara and I just had a confab about Thanksgiving—dividing up the menu and various activities. The noun “confab” is a colloquial word that means chat. The dictionary’s first definition of the verb, “confabulate” means talk together in an informal way—which we did. The second definition of confabulate is more interesting and perhaps even insightful: “to fill in GAPS in the memory with detailed accounts of FICTITIOUS events believed to be true by the narrator.”

So, this morning, Jen, Dara, and I had a confabulation about Thanksgiving future (this month) while remembering Thanksgivings past. Enter from stage left, confabulation2—filling in the gaps in my memory with accounts of fictitious events, believed to be true about past Thanksgivings . . . . “No one likes jello. … No one will eat any cooked vegetables. … Nobody wants leftover turkey . . . . Didn’t we have a scavenger hunt last year? . . . We USUALLY need a GALLON of cranberry sauce . . . .” (sigh)

When we were done with the confab, Jen had a confabulatory document which she plans to duplicate and email to everyone with their respective assignments. If your assignment won’t work, you might be able to trade assignments with someone else. We trust that everyone will be a good sport about their respective assignments, because our Confab, which I thought could be completed in 15-20 minutes, took TWO HOURS…. I think…. . . . I DO have gaps in my memory . . . . It MIGHT have been 3 or 4 hours . . . .

But, in any case, it sounds yummy and a lot of fun. We have the Church from noon until 5 pm. We plan on eating around 1 p.m. Games and Crafts for the kids.

Postscript: I really appreciate Dara and Jen hammering out the details and shouldering so much to make sure things go smoothly. See you there!!!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

2 Sizes Too Small?

Hi. I hope I am not rushing the season . . . and I certainly don't want to be a Grinch and steal anyone's Christmas . . . but ......

Can we talk about presents . . . or not presents?

What would happen if we didn't have any presents? Wouldn't it be just like what happened in Whoville? Christmas came anyway! There was singing and love, and Christmas came just the same!

Can we establish some new traditions? What do you think? How do you feel about this?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Lessons Learned from Coloring on the Wall by John J. Lee, Jr.

I thought you might enjoy the following tender story about a little boy who scribbled with his crayons on the wall and was sent to bed without his supper.

Like most children, ours enjoyed drawing and coloring. At three-and-a-half, our son created a masterpiece on a large portion of our living room wall. These were oil based crayons and only went completely away by painting over them. When my sweetheart and I discussed the problem with our artist son, he felt bad and did his best to help us spread a fresh coat over the area.

A week or so later, he did it a second time on the same wall. He was so sad and embarrassed he cried, shrugged his little shoulders, and said he wasn't sure why he had done it, but he would surely never repeat the petty crime. Hoping it would help motivate him to be true to his word, we explained if it happened again he would go to bed early and without supper. He loved both our evening family time and food. He solemnly promised to restrict his canvas.

About a week later, I arrived home to find his biggest masterpiece ever on the same wall. It was the end of an especially trying day for me and I had been looking forward to the safe haven of our home. I allowed this incident to become the focal point of all the abuse and pressure I had received that day. In an angry and insulting voice, I called our young friend to stand before the wall with me.

When he came in he was already crying, but I was so angry it hardly touched my hardened heart. After all, he had cried the last two times, hadn't he? That didn't seem to affect his ability to keep the edict we had issued and prevent us from having to once again move the furniture and repaint the wall.

I asked him the silliest of questions. Why had he done this? Didn't he remember what we had talked about the prior two times? Did he know what was going to happen now? I knew our son was aware of the answers to these questions. The truth was our little friend was very bright. He loved us and didn't color on the wall to aggravate our relationship. He remembered it was wrong. There were other things that momentarily provoked his creative outburst.

I asked him those questions in an angry, loud voice, being three times his height and perhaps four times his weight. I further stripped him of his dignity and self respect, falsely relying on this abuse of my already humble friend to somehow make me feel better. It did not.

I sent him to his room for the evening and not long after was at our table with the rest of our atypically quiet family for dinner. I do not recall who offered thanks for our food before we began dinner, but I clearly remember my conscience being seared as soon as I bowed my head.

Immediately, I knew it was not acceptable that I was eating and our son was not. I remember considering what I should do and it coming clear to me, “I was in prison and ye visited me.” I told my wife and our other children I wouldn't be eating and excused myself from the table.

I entered his room and sat next to our son on his bed. He was still sniffing a little and his expression revealed he thought I had come to expand his embarrassment. I was quiet for a moment, collecting my thoughts. I knew what I was supposed to do and say.

I began to explain to him that it was a much greater sin to yell at someone and humiliate him than it was to color on a wall. There in our son's room, me so huge and him so small, I saw more clearly our relationship, and my heart swelled wide with remorse at my selfish and destructive actions. I confessed that the kind of damage for which I was responsible was much harder to clean up and sometimes almost impossible to be made right again. Deeply humble and ashamed, I told him I was sorry.

Our little lad responded by trying to explain to me that he deserved to be yelled at, and that his crime justified such abuse. It was a terrible indictment of his experiences with my prior mistreatment and pierced me to my core.

I assured him that neither he nor anyone deserved such cruel treatment. I explained that yelling was always evil, one of the meanest expressions of selfishness, and again asked if he would forgive me.

He threw his tiny arms around me, and with a fiercely honest child's passion, told me he loved me, and to my tender astonishment, that I was the best dad ever. He hesitantly moved away from me so he could look in my face. I could tell he had something to say that was important to him but was choking the words. Then they simply tumbled out. “Can you forgive me?”

I folded my little friend into my bosom and wished I could express to him the feelings in my soul. He was innocent, sweet, and lovely before God. There was only one person in the room who needed serious correction. I was determined to have learned the most important lesson. Yes, I told him. All was forgiven. We would paint the wall together, with mom. All was well.

We spent the evening together, playing with action figures and then reading until he fell asleep. To his queries of wasn't I going to go eat and didn't I want to go out with the family, I said assuredly I could not eat if he didn't and that I wanted to stay and keep him company so he wouldn't be lonely.

I didn't really miss dinner and it was one of the most contented nights I have ever had. As is so often the case with giving and receiving, I was more blessed in the giving than our son.

I do not recall if he ever colored on a wall after that. But if he resisted future temptations, I like to think it wasn't for fear of what would happen that persuaded him, but his concern that his dad would miss his dinner.

This appeared on the Meridian Magazine website today. If you'd like to read the whole article that is where you will find it.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Brutal, Unspeakable Truth

The following article was published in Meridian Magazine this morning. I'd like to thank Orson Scott Card for daring to speak the unspeakable truth. The lack of journalistic honestly during this election, and during the current financial meltdown, has really disturbed me. (On the other hand, the lack of honesty by politicians is just part of the game they--many or most of them--have always played: nothing new there.) The lack of honesty, in general, in this country--or at least the widespread disinterest in honesty, is appalling--and bodes poorly for all of us.

For those who have no idea who Orson Scott Card is, he the writer of several best-selling novels, such as the "Ender's" series. He is also LDS.

Would the Last Honest Reporter Please Turn On the Lights?
By Orson Scott CardEditor's note: Orson Scott Card is a Democrat and a newspaper columnist, and in this opinion piece he takes on both while lamenting the current state of journalism.An open letter to the local daily paper — almost every local daily paper in America:
I remember reading All the President's Men and thinking: That's journalism. You do what it takes to get the truth and you lay it before the public, because the public has a right to know.
This housing crisis didn't come out of nowhere. It was not a vague emanation of the evil Bush administration.
It was a direct result of the political decision, back in the late 1990s, to loosen the rules of lending so that home loans would be more accessible to poor people. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were authorized to approve risky loans.
What is a risky loan? It's a loan that the recipient is likely not to be able to repay.
The goal of this rule change was to help the poor — which especially would help members of minority groups. But how does it help these people to give them a loan that they can't repay? They get into a house, yes, but when they can't make the payments, they lose the house — along with their credit rating.
They end up worse off than before.
This was completely foreseeable and in fact many people did foresee it. One political party, in Congress and in the executive branch, tried repeatedly to tighten up the rules. The other party blocked every such attempt and tried to loosen them.
Furthermore, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae were making political contributions to the very members of Congress who were allowing them to make irresponsible loans. (Though why quasi-federal agencies were allowed to do so baffles me. It's as if the Pentagon were allowed to contribute to the political campaigns of Congressmen who support increasing their budget.)
Isn't there a story here? Doesn't journalism require that you who produce our daily paper tell the truth about who brought us to a position where the only way to keep confidence in our economy was a $700 billion bailout? Aren't you supposed to follow the money and see which politicians were benefiting personally from the deregulation of mortgage lending?
I have no doubt that if these facts had pointed to the Republican Party or to John McCain as the guilty parties, you would be treating it as a vast scandal. "Housing-gate," no doubt. Or "Fannie-gate."
Instead, it was Senator Christopher Dodd and Congressman Barney Frank, both Democrats, who denied that there were any problems, who refused Bush administration requests to set up a regulatory agency to watch over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and who were still pushing for these agencies to go even further in promoting sub-prime mortgage loans almost up to the minute they failed.
As Thomas Sowell points out in a essay entitled "Do Facts Matter?" (] ): "Alan Greenspan warned them four years ago. So did the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers to the President. So did Bush's Secretary of the Treasury."
These are facts. This financial crisis was completely preventable. The party that blocked any attempt to prevent it was ... the Democratic Party. The party that tried to prevent it was ... the Republican Party.
Yet when Nancy Pelosi accused the Bush administration and Republican deregulation of causing the crisis, you in the press did not hold her to account for her lie. Instead, you criticized Republicans who took offense at this lie and refused to vote for the bailout!
What? It's not the liar, but the victims of the lie who are to blame?
Now let's follow the money ... right to the presidential candidate who is the number-two recipient of campaign contributions from Fannie Mae.
And after Freddie Raines, the CEO of Fannie Mae who made $90 million while running it into the ground, was fired for his incompetence, one presidential candidate's campaign actually consulted him for advice on housing.
If that presidential candidate had been John McCain, you would have called it a major scandal and we would be getting stories in your paper every day about how incompetent and corrupt he was.
But instead, that candidate was Barack Obama, and so you have buried this story, and when the McCain campaign dared to call Raines an "adviser" to the Obama campaign — because that campaign had sought his advice — you actually let Obama's people get away with accusing McCain of lying, merely because Raines wasn't listed as an official adviser to the Obama campaign.
You would never tolerate such weasely nit-picking from a Republican.
If you who produce our local daily paper actually had any principles, you would be pounding this story, because the prosperity of all Americans was put at risk by the foolish, short-sighted, politically selfish, and possibly corrupt actions of leading Democrats, including Obama.
If you who produce our local daily paper had any personal honor, you would find it unbearable to let the American people believe that somehow Republicans were to blame for this crisis.
There are precedents. Even though President Bush and his administration never said that Iraq sponsored or was linked to 9/11, you could not stand the fact that Americans had that misapprehension — so you pounded us with the fact that there was no such link. (Along the way, you created the false impression that Bush had lied to them and said that there was a connection.)
If you had any principles, then surely right now, when the American people are set to blame President Bush and John McCain for a crisis they tried to prevent, and are actually shifting to approve of Barack Obama because of a crisis he helped cause, you would be laboring at least as hard to correct that false impression.
Your job, as journalists, is to tell the truth. That's what you claim you do, when you accept people's money to buy or subscribe to your paper.
But right now, you are consenting to or actively promoting a big fat lie — that the housing crisis should somehow be blamed on Bush, McCain, and the Republicans. You have trained the American people to blame everything bad — even bad weather — on Bush, and they are responding as you have taught them to.
If you had any personal honor, each reporter and editor would be insisting on telling the truth — even if it hurts the election chances of your favorite candidate.
Because that's what honorable people do. Honest people tell the truth even when they don't like the probable consequences. That's what honesty means . That's how trust is earned.
Barack Obama is just another politician, and not a very wise one. He has revealed his ignorance and naivete time after time — and you have swept it under the rug, treated it as nothing.
Meanwhile, you have participated in the borking of Sarah Palin, reporting savage attacks on her for the pregnancy of her unmarried daughter — while you ignored the story of John Edwards's own adultery for many months.
So I ask you now: Do you have any standards at all? Do you even know what honesty means?
Is getting people to vote for Barack Obama so important that you will throw away everything that journalism is supposed to stand for?
You might want to remember the way the National Organization of Women threw away their integrity by supporting Bill Clinton despite his well-known pattern of sexual exploitation of powerless women. Who listens to NOW anymore? We know they stand for nothing; they have no principles.
That's where you are right now.
It's not too late. You know that if the situation were reversed, and the truth would damage McCain and help Obama, you would be moving heaven and earth to get the true story out there.
If you want to redeem your honor, you will swallow hard and make a list of all the stories you would print if it were McCain who had been getting money from Fannie Mae, McCain whose campaign had consulted with its discredited former CEO, McCain who had voted against tightening its lending practices.
Then you will print them, even though every one of those true stories will point the finger of blame at the reckless Democratic Party, which put our nation's prosperity at risk so they could feel good about helping the poor, and lay a fair share of the blame at Obama's door.
You will also tell the truth about John McCain: that he tried, as a Senator, to do what it took to prevent this crisis. You will tell the truth about President Bush: that his administration tried more than once to get Congress to regulate lending in a responsible way.
This was a Congress-caused crisis, beginning during the Clinton administration, with Democrats leading the way into the crisis and blocking every effort to get out of it in a timely fashion.
If you at our local daily newspaper continue to let Americans believe — and vote as if — President Bush and the Republicans caused the crisis, then you are joining in that lie.
If you do not tell the truth about the Democrats — including Barack Obama — and do so with the same energy you would use if the miscreants were Republicans — then you are not journalists by any standard.
You're just the public relations machine of the Democratic Party, and it's time you were all fired and real journalists brought in, so that we can actually have a news paper in our city.
This article first appeared in The Rhinoceros Times of Greensboro, North Carolina, and is used here [Meridian Magazine] by permission.

Thursday, October 16, 2008



On the tenth floor of a high-rise building....


You open the door.....




Scroll sloooooooowly.....

Would this mess up your mind?

Would you be able to walk into this bathroom?

(Brought to you via Email courtesy of Richard Baker)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

And now a message from Richard Baker: The two-story outhouse

I'm sure you will remember Richard Baker.
He sent me this photo in my email box today.

Says he: this picture is worth 10,000 words!
Says I: it's so easy to get cynical during an election year.
That's why it's nice to have a friend like Richard who makes you smile.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Looking Forward to General Conference

With the state of things as they are in this country and in the world at this time, I suspect that many people are looking forward to General Conference this weekend and will be listening for counsel and inspiration that will help them navigate through the treacherous financial-economic-political-global/personal-crisis maze that confronts all of us. Conference is always a time of revelation. The Spirit unfailingly whispers to us answers to those things that trouble us.

I have lately been plagued by troubled feelings and disturbed dreams. I quite enjoyed the spirit of the RS Broadcast last Saturday. It was comforting and uplifting, full of hope and faith. I need more of that every day of my life! I know I will feel better from listening to Conference.

Monday, September 29, 2008

A Passing Glimpse

I often see flowers from a passing car
That are gone before I can tell what they are.

I want to get out of the train and go back
To see what they were beside the track.

I name all the flowers I am sure they weren't:
Not fireweed loving where woods have burnt--

Not bluebells gracing a tunnel mouth--

Not lupine living on sand and drouth.

Was something brushed across my mind
That no one on earth will ever find?

Heaven gives its glimpses only to those
Not in position to look too close.
~Robert Frost

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Favorite Astronomy Photos

Here are a few of my favorite astronomy photos:

This photo, "Quad Sky," was taken at the Great Salt Lake. Venus, the moon, and Jupiter (left to right) are above the people. The light on the right side of the photo is an airplane. The star Spica is also in the photo below Venus but you need a larger size picture to see it. (Try clicking on it for the larger size) The reason I liked this photo was that it was taken near here and because it conveys the peacefulness that accompanies stargazing.

Monument Valley and the constellation Orion. The brightest object on the left is Mars. The next brightest, in the center, is reddish star Betelgeus. Orion's Belt is lined up vertically. Lower and to the right is the Orion Nebula. Above and to the right of the Nebula is the bright blue star Rigel.

This solar eclipse photo was taken during the latest eclipse which occured in August this year. The bright dot to the left of the eclipsed sun is the planet Mercury.

Beautiful Saturn and its rings were photographed by the Cassini space craft in 2004.

This photo is of the "Giant Nebula" or NGC3603 and its stunning star cluster.

These nebula are known as "The Heart and Soul Nebula" located near the contellation Cassiopeia (the W shape).

This is the Orion Nebula. Can you spot the horsehead nebula in the lower left part of the photo?

Part of our local group of galaxies, Andromeda is our "sister" galaxy. Andromeda is found between Cassiopeia and Pegasus (or the Great Square) and can be seen with the naked eye in very dark skies. I had that amazing experience in New Mexico.

Two galaxies, a giant spiral, M81, and a dwarf irregular galaxy, Holmberg IX (that is its true name, I am NOT making this up!). This pair are located in the constellation Ursa Major which includes The Big Dipper.

Galaxy Abell 1689 is one of the most massive galaxy clusters known. The gravity of its trillion stars, plus dark matter, acts like a 2-million-light-year-wide "lens" in space. The gravitational lens bends and magnifies the light of galaxies far behind it. And this photo would be the equivalent of less than a square centimeter on the night sky.