Wednesday, September 30, 2009

"Centenarians I Have Known!" or "What Is A Good Age To Retire?"

"My feeling is that people who stop working die. Coming to the office daily keeps me interested, it keeps me alive, and that's why I continue to do it." -Richard Bird, from a Deseret News article that appeared on Mr. Bird's 100th Birthday (April 13th, 2007)

Mr. Bird passed away over a year ago but his life is a marvelous example to our family! He was active and vibrant to the end! My Dad and Mr. Bird were law partners so I knew him my whole life and I'm really glad my children were able to enjoy this darling man through our annual summer trips to Sun Valley.

Mr. Bird graduated from Harvard Law School in 1933 and practiced law in Salt Lake City for over 75 years! When asked the secret to his longevity he said he wasn't really sure but thought that exercise helped and added: "I have a good diet. I don't drink. I don't smoke. And I've done a lot of church work and community work." (Deseret News article)

One of the highlights of past Sun Valley vacations was Mr. Bird. We loved to ask him questions like: "Did he drive up? (it's a 5 hour drive) "Was he going to Golf this year?" (at age 100) "Does he still come into work every day?" Answers: "Yes," "Yes," and "Yes!" Remarkable! Webb loved to check out Mr. Bird's pants annually (see photo). It's the fashion polar opposite of sagging jeans! The waistband nearly reaches his shirt pocket! What is it about elderly men and their high rise pants?

Whenever my Dad (age 80) was asked about retiring from his law practice he would joke that his two senior partners, Mr. Richards and Mr. Bird, were both still practicing in their 90's and beyond, so retirement didn't look like it was an option in their law firm! But, seriously, how lucky my Dad was to have men who kept working because they enjoyed staying active, busy, and learning their entire lives! Now, Mr. Richards and Mr. Bird are gone but my Dad has continued the legacy. My Mom likes to joke that "slowing down" for Gramps is working six days a week instead of seven!

"Retirement kills more people than hard work ever did." -Malcolm Forbes

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Disposition of Truth....

"Boiling Water Hardens Eggs but Softens Carrots!"

In teaching the Book of Mormon I'm suddenly reading verses that jump out at me with new meaning! I'm fortunate to be assigned to prepare lessons since it forces me to spend more time reading scriptures!

There is a verse in 1st Nephi 16:2 that ends with this statement: "...wherefore, the guilty taketh the truth to be hard, for it cutteth them to the very center."

A comment I read about this verse was the quote above; that while boiling water HARDENS eggs, it SOFTENS carrots! It sounds silly but if you think about it, the TRUTH is going to either cause people to "soften their heart" (and listen) or "harden their heart" (and turn away). As a teacher I can almost "sense" the countenance of a student and which way they feel when they encounter truth.

The challenge for me lies in helping the students have a DESIRE to be softened. It all starts with an honest desire. It's hard to explain to teenagers that I KNOW that a moral life will bring them greater happiness than seeking worldly pleasures. My class age range is 14-18 years and I realize that life looks different from their vantage point. But, there is something to be said of time plus experience (equals Wisdom... at times).

Perspective comes when we can look back over our life and the lives of friends and family. 50 years of hindsight does give some dimension and insight to life's events! And from where I'm sitting, living what we know to be TRUE brings PEACE while fighting it brings a restless, empty, and unsettled existence! Unfortunately, many people discover this too late - hopefully none of my Seminary Youth!

Monday, September 28, 2009

"Getting Off My High Horse!" ..or... "Practicing A Little Humility"

"You shouldn't gloat about anything you've done; you ought to keep going and find something better to do." -David Packard (as in, Hewlett and Packard)

I'm a little embarrassed about tooting my own horn in yesterdays blog! I got a little carried away by the thrill of actually winning my age group. I didn't mean to give myself a Shout Out! Or did I?

I'd be better off to learn from President Lincoln who is credited with saying that "what kills a skunk is the publicity it gives itself."

I've heard people criticize Bloggers calling them/us "Narcissists" so maybe it was inevitable that the Me-Me-Me Talk would takeover at some point!

Well, in the interest of full disclosure....the 5K alum run was subtitled a "Fun Run" which is code for this is not the elite running crowd! Before the starting gun the announcer went over the rules and the course. And I have NEVER in any race in my life heard a race official define the route using words like "....after a few jigs and some jogs you'll curve to the left....." Jigs and Jogs? See what I mean! This was not a hard core crowd; no one even flinched when he said jigs and jogs at least 3 times in his course description! In other words, serious runners don't do Jigs and Jogs; they Run!

But all's well that ends well! And Paige won 1st female fair and square and she had a great run! So, I'll try to tone it down a notch on the self promotion but as a Mother I still reserve the right to brag about my children!

"Humility is like underwear, essential, but indecent if it shows." -Helen Nielsen

Sunday, September 27, 2009

It's A Clean Sweep!

There's a popular saying that you "Learn More From Losing Than Winning." So it looks like the Knudsen contingency representing the family at Parents Weekend didn't learn much yesterday!

Here are a few stats from the "BYU Alum Run" (which we happened to run the inaugural run in 2000 when Andie was a freshman). The race is in it's 10th year and has gained some momentum and a reasonable following.

The 1st Place OVERALL Female Runner was (druuuuum rolllllll) - Paige Knudsen!

The 1st Place 50-59 Male Runner was Brent Knudsen!

And (yes, this is the shocker), the 1st Place 50-59 Female Runner was Kathryn Knudsen! Okay, so the competition wasn't that challenging. I was 51st overall and the #2 woman in my age group placed 110 overall. Gotta love this new age group!

There is more: The 1st Place Father/Daughter Team Division (you could only enter as 1 team and we thought our chances were highest in this configuration) went to Brent and Paige!

So the BYU Alum Run was A Clean Sweep! 3 Knudsens entered and 3 Knudsens WIN first place medals! WooHoo! In fact, Paige got so excited she heard the wrong number for one of the raffle prizes and went up to accept another prize! Whoops! I guess since we've been embarrassing Paige all weekend it was okay if she embarrassed us!

I was thinking this might be our last Parents Weekend but now we might have to return in 2010 to defend our titles!

In other (slightly more important) winning statistics of the day: BYU beat Colorado State 43-23. Overall, a winning day for the Cougars and Knudsens in Provo, Utah! Rise and Shout!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

BYU Parents Weekend! The Happening Place for Cool Parents!

"It kills you to see them grow up. But I guess it would kill you quicker if they didn't." -Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams

Looks like Paige can't quite get rid of us! She tried the "I've-Got-an- Anatomy-Midterm, Lots-to-Study" Excuse to see if we'd bow out of our scheduled visit to Provo this weekend! ....Not a chance!

We arrived Friday with our Cougar Blue duds to cheer on the football team and join the other Hovering Helicopter Moms and Dad in town for BYU Parents Weekend!

Paige may as well resign herself to the fact that as the last child we will happily "Be There" for any & all events! I still remember when it occurred to Paige that while Andie and Webb were in high school we had to "divide and conquer" events but by her time we could BOTH show up at meets, school functions, etc.! This undivided attention wasn't exactly what she had in mind!

Now I feel like an endangered species! At risk of possible parenting extinction! This may well be our very last college parents weekend! Although Paige will have to admit that there are perks to hanging with the rents on a Friday night. Perks like fur-lined Sanuks and a Dakine backpack! Yeah, Paige knows how to work the system!

With parenting power and control steadily slipping away who can I boss around? Maybe I should actually consider Webb's (strong and oft repeated) suggestions that we replace Kona! A new puppy to train!? Hmmmm?.....that might be more Parenting Responsibility than I'm up for. Besides, I don't think they have "Parent's Weekend" for Dog Obedience Schools! And what fun is parenting without weekends like this!

Friday, September 25, 2009

"Primary, Seminary, Institute" or "Good, Better, Best"

"Good, Better, Best!
Always Do Your Best,
Till Your Good Gets Better,
And Your Better's Best!"

Jacque Hegstrom, my Seminary co-teacher, gets the credit for inspiring thought and discussion among the Seminary youth about the following topic:

In Seminary we get a lot of tired kids who gives us the 1-2 words answers to questions. So, on the whiteboard, Jacque wrote "Primary Answers" "Seminary Answers" and "Institute Answers" and asked the class for a few definitions.

Of course, the youth know the difference: Primary answers are the very basics. The scriptures. Pray. Go to Church. Listen to the Prophet. The Seminary answers are a little more developed and thought out (hopefully). Then, with Institute Answers, Jacque explained that students would have read/studied the material and be able to give a "for instance" or a relevant question to clarify what they've been pondering.

Jacque encouraged the youth to at least aim for Seminary answers and if they want to shoot really high, to go for the "Institute Answers." I think it's a good template!

Listening to Jacque share her presentation with me, I realized how much I can learn from her (even though I've taught longer). Experience doesn't mean that we can't learn new tricks of the trade! It wasn't exactly "new" information for me but I do like the way Jacque got the youth thinking about their responses (and which category their answers fall under). And then she "Raised the Bar" encouraging them to give Institute Answers while still on the Seminary Level! Not bad for a 1st year Instructor!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

21 miles on Paige's 21st Birthday! Sweet! (or Sweat!)

"The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And MILES to go before I sleep,
And MILES to go before I sleep."
-Robert Frost

On Paige's 21st birthday I looked back at her 1st birthday celebrating (a 20 year stroll down memory lane). So, I wanted to update (or give a shout out) about the Knudsen Girls Adventures for this year's birthday!

Andie flew to Utah as the family courier delivering birthday presents for Paige! And, in the spirit of their marathon training, they'd planned a 21 mile run up Provo Canyon to celebrate 21 years for Paigey!

I was worried about the heat for both girls. So, like any good Mom I insisted they take the water belt! I also expected the high altitude change to bother Andie. But both the birthday girl and her big sis were in their zone and feeling good! It turned out to be an Excellent Adventure and Memorable Run!

The distance run should give both girls the CONFIDENCE they'll need to run the full 26.2 miles when our Nike Women's Marathon date arrives on October 18th.

Bill Rodgers, American marathon runner said: "Your Training Partners are your key to success, and friendships based on your runs together are strong." (sounds like something you'd read on a fortune cookie!)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Kate Finlayson is Really Struggling! Keep Her in Your Prayers!

"Miracles, in the sense of phenomena we cannot explain, surround us on every hand: life itself is the miracle of miracles." -George Bernard Shaw

Kate Finlayson needs a miracle!

During our Boston years in the 1980's , the Finlayson Family were our dear friends! Kate was born in 1984, very premature, and weighed less than 2 lbs. Her undeveloped lungs required oxygen but that caused hemorrhaging in her brain and left her with hydrocephalus. They inserted a shunt in Kate's brain to drain fluid.

The technology for shunts is amazing but still a work in progress. The shunts are easily infected or they break and need to be replaced; each time requiring Brain Surgery!

Kate has endured major health challenges through her entire life and numerous surgeries. Despite continual hospitalizations she graduated from high school and has been studying nursing at St. Mary's College.

Sadly, Kate's life is in grave danger. Shunt failure caused a stroke which left her in a coma over a month ago. Kate's been battling infection and is partially paralyzed from the stroke. The Finlaysons feel like this is worst they've ever been through with Kate (which is saying a lot - since Kate has had so many close calls).

Pam has been bedside with Kate at an Arizona hospital. Grant and Peter visit Kate on weekends. Sam is serving a mission. The Finlaysons are praying for a MIRACLE and if anyone deserves a miracle, it is Kate!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

"The Queen of Romania!" or "That's Life!"

"Oh, Life is a Glorious Cycle of Song,
A Medley of Extemporanea;
And Love is a Thing That Can Never Go Wrong,
And I am the Queen of Romania!"
-Dorothy Parker

This is an great poem! The sarcasm is pure Dorothy Parker. I need to require all of my kids to commit this to memory! I know I get a little obsessed with poems but this is a classic and it's easy to learn and recite!

Even though the poem is intentionally caustic and a little bitter; it has an important message. No one has a life that is an ongoing glorious cycle of joy and everyone has troubles with love (whether it be plutonic, romantic, familial, etc). Opening your heart to love others is instant vulnerability! Somewhere along the line, love of one sort or another is going to come back and bite you/hurt you! Guess this explains Pagie's Tshirt that reads: "Love is a Battlefield!"

In a few clever lines Parker confirms that no one goes through life unscathed! Rabbi Harold Kushner has written several books on this theme. In Overcoming Life's Disappointments, Rabbi Kushner comments that "It may be that instead of giving us a friendly world that would never challenge us and therefore never make us strong, God gave us a world that would inevitably break our hearts, and compensated for that by planting in our souls the gift of resilience." I like that explanation!

Here is Woody Allen's description of what it means to love: "To love is to suffer. To avoid suffering one must not love. But then one suffers from not loving. Therefore to love it to suffer, not to love is to suffer. To suffer is to suffer. To be happy is to love. To be happy then is to suffer. But suffering makes one unhappy. Therefore, to be unhappy one must love, or love to suffer, or suffer from too much happiness. I hope you're getting this down."

See how confusing this all becomes! You can see why Dorothy Parker had to lament about life and love!

Monday, September 21, 2009

"Tolle Lege" "Take Up and Read"

St. Augustine's conversion to Christianity is a great story that he shares in detail in his book "Confessions." He is sitting in a garden and hears the voice of a child from beyond the wall, "Tolle, lege," (Latin for "Take Up and Read,") and he opens the Bible he had laid aside to a random page. His eyes light on a passage from Romans that reads, "Let us walk honestly, as in the day, not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying; but put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh, in concupiscence." (Romans 13:13). Augustine's reform and conversion is accomplished at that moment!

In a similar vein, I always remember when our Prophet, Ezra Taft Benson, made the promise that WITHIN the scriptures we can find the answers that speak to our soul! St. Augustine's experience (around 386 AD in Milan) when a child's voice prompted him to "Take up and Read" is a good recommend. I'm amazed at how often the scriptures enlighten my thoughts on topics that are weighing on my mind. It is often uncanny when I "take up and read" how much the message on the page aligns with what I am needing to hear or learn at the moment. There's an old adage that goes: "When all else fails, read the directions" so, my spiritual version might be, "When all else fails, Tolle Lege."

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Coin Flipping Psychology!

A poem I read years ago presents a good trick for anyone who has a hard time Making Decisions! It's by the Danish poet, Piet Hein, and it's titled: "A Psychological Tip."

"Whenever you're called on to make up your mind,
and you're hampered by not having any,
the best way to solve the dilemma, you'll find,
is simply by spinning a penny.

No - not so that chance shall decide the affair
while you're passively standing there moping;
but the moment the penny is up in the air,
you'll suddenly know what you're hoping."

I think there is excellent logic behind Hein's observation that when the penny is in the air, our preference will likely be apparent to us. Even if we didn't THINK that we had one!

Give It A Try!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

National Enquirer.: "Horrified Mother Helpless as BABY reaches LEGAL AGE!"

Paigey-Pants is turning Twenty One today! How could this be!? Has it really been 21 years since I our #3 child arrived at Sharp Memorial Hospital in San Diego?Our SoCal Baby!

For a little nostalgia, a recap of Paige's 1st Birthday - celebrated 20 years ago in La Jolla! The photo at right is sporting our Topless Towheaded Daughter receiving instructions (and a little help) from an excited Big Bro on blowing out that 1 candle on her frozen-yogurt-birthday-cake-pie!

Paige's 1st birthday was celebrated with her collection of Fans of ALL ages at the YMCA! Since Andie and Webb were on the "Swim San Diego" team they had daily workouts which meant that Paige was a Poolside Fixture. Which meant that the swimmers who adored babies were constantly asking to hold Paige, and, as she got older to carry her around, and then to play with her. Paige was like the local Torrey Pines YMCA Celebrity!

Another Mom brought her baby with siblings on the team but this baby was a little lacking in good nature and personality (as in, she'd SCREAM if ANYONE tried to hold her). Her fussy nature just aided Paige's popularity as the Friendly, Smiling Baby (whose Mother (Me) was happy to let others enjoy her! Meaning: "this is my 3rd kid... you can return, whenever....but No Rush!) Even Andie and Webb were pleased with all of Paige's notoriety at the Y - since their status was raised by mere sibling association.

So, today Paige is celebrating 21 years in a new setting (new city, new school, new apartment, new friends). With all the "new" she might not garner all the attention of 20 years ago at the other "Y" (YMCA and the new "Y" - BYU). But the good news is that Paige is still the happy, smiling, good natured, well loved, and adored person! And she's learned a few things in the past 20 years too! Like the etiquette to wear a shirt at the dinner table! Birthday Greetings to our 21 year-old "Baby" Pooge!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Jelly Bellies and Celebrating Imperfection!

"In the process of making Jelly Belly beans some of the beans stick together, are too large or too small, making them not meet the standards of quality. These imperfect beans, rather than being scrapped, are repackaged as BELLY FLOPS!" from Jelly Belly

Early in our move to Northern California we went with the Hatch family to visit the Jelly Belly Factory in Fairfield. The highlight of the field trip was discovering "Belly Flops!" Julia and I bought them by the bag full! Belly Flops spoke to me and all my imperfections!

Perfect Jelly Beans are fine but Belly Flops are so much more endearing! They have more character! They're unique and original!

I think our culture makes us fearful of making mistakes, there is pressure for competence, excellence, and perfection without acknowledging the learning curve while we progress! The expectation that we can't mess up makes me nervous/unwilling to try new things!

Anna Quindlen has a great line on accepting ourselves and thriving. She said: "The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself."

Belly Flops represent more than a odd, misshapen Jelly Bean! They can remind us that imperfections can be more interesting! Our imperfections can define us by humanizing us! Trying to appear perfect is far less interesting than acknowledging our shortfalls and doing our best in spite of (or maybe because of) frailties. The sooner we can accept the adage by Salvador Dali when he said "Have No Fear of Perfection - You'll Never Reach It"; the sooner we will discover the beauty in ourselves, others, and yes, even in Belly Flops!

Thursday, September 17, 2009


No, I am NOT announcing that I am pregnant! Just confirming that my 3 best CRAFTS PROJECTS yet have definitely been My 3 Children!

As far as the Martha Stewarty crafts, I am a little hopeless! Well meaning, though! Still, most of my attempts turn out looking like a Kindergartener's art project! Or Worse!

It's hard to step foot into a Michael's Store and not go a little cuckoo! Inside Michael's I actually get a little delirious and start to think that I could DO some of the jewelry making, scrapbooking, mod podging, whatever!

It looks so FUN & EASY in the store! So my 1st rule of thumb: Don't be deceived by claims the craft is SIMPLE! Fat chance! Simplicity and Crafts do not belong in the same sentence. 2nd Rule: Recall/Visualize a few of my past (lame and mostly unfinished I should add) attempts at craftiness!

I'll never know the feeling of being a Craft Queen! But given the choice I'd sooner raise three great children than handicraft any fancy quilts or projects anyway! I think I'll always feel more pride in my kids than anything else I produce anyway!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Time Out! Adults Who Act like 2 Year Olds!

"People Who Fly Into a Rage Always Make a Bad Landing!" - Will Rogers

The past week brought three interesting Adult Temper Tantrums! #1. Representative Joe Wilson screaming "You Lie" during President Obama's Health Care Speech! #2. Serena Williams goes loco in a US Open Tennis Match after she's called for a foot fault! #3. Kanye West, yanks the microphone from Taylor Swift accepting her music award and rudely endorses Beyonce Knowles as the best female vocalist! I missed seeing the actual rants in the Sports, Entertainment, and Political arenas. But it appears we are sinking to a new low; no venue is immune to Adult Tirades anymore!

All three of the Angry Celebrities have Apologized! So, I'm certainly not planning to vilify their character (or lack of) any further. Seems like they can handle that on their own! Personally, I think it might behoove Americans to heed President Obama's charge at his Inaugural Address when he quoted Paul's wise counsel to the Corinthians "that when we grow up, we must put away childish things." The current onslaught of Public Temper Tantrums seems to be exactly the kind of Bad Behavior he was referring to!

There used to be a Modicum of Decorum in the Tennis World, in Awards Shows, and especially respect when our United States President is speaking! The outbursts make me wonder where we went wrong that people feel above good manners and polite behavior! Clearly everyone has moments of anger and frustration but when so many adults struggle to keep there emotions in check in public, it might be time to question why! My personal guess is that too many people Never Grow Up in a world that coddles immature antics!

In parenting toddlers thru the "Terrible Two's" we were taught to IGNORE them or put them in "Time Out" to quell a tantrum! Unfortunately, in the Adult World it seems that the media perpetuates the concept that "there is no such thing as bad publicity." By focusing so much attention on Kanye, Serena, and Rep. Wilson I think society might be in for more explosions! As copycats see the endorsements come in for Joe Wilson and watch Kanye and Serena parading the talk show circuit offering yet another "mea culpa" it starts to seem like good business to lose your cool! And I don't think that is very cool!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

"Some People Dream of Success...While Others Wake Up and Work Hard At It." -Author Unknown

"The heights by great men reached and kept,
Were not attained by sudden flight,
But they, while their companions slept,
Were toiling upward in the night."
-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

This is a follow up to yesterdays Gorilla Glue post! Maybe I feel guilty that I dissed my husband's handyman skills! It turns out that Brent posesses something much greater than abilities to doodle on projects around the house (which I did state he IS willing to try). Even better, Brent has an AMAZING Work Ethic! I honestly don't think I know ANYONE who works harder!

I think most people don't realize how hard Brent works! Starting up a company like PCG was no small task and staying at the helm is more than full time! On top of that, his calling as Bishop of the Los Gatos Ward is incredibly time consuming! It amusing to me when people whine about adding an extra church meeting or having to go to an added event. Unless someone has been a Bishop, I don't think they have a clue! As the wife of a Bishop I see the coming, the going, and the willingness to serve and sometimes the exhaustion after a long Sunday of meetings!

In between job and church commitments, Brent ALWAYS finds time for exercise! Mostly running, lifting weights, or swimming; he MAKES TIME for fitness every day! And he makes time to be a great father and husband! Brent is excellent at staying in touch with all the kids. He's connected 24/7; emailing, texting, phoning, etc!

The quotes I share by Edison and Longfellow really do remind me of Brent! He's a great example of a Tireless Work Ethic! I believe that willingness to work hard is better in the long run than a great mind! I've known plenty of smart people whose laziness gets the best of them! While Brent is smart enough, his real gifts are his ENERGY and PERSEVERENCE, hands down. He is a lucky guy but like Thomas Jefferson said: "I'm a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it."

Monday, September 14, 2009

Our Handsome Helpful Handyman!

Brent will gladly fix things around the house! He is more than happy to help! There is just one small detail that we are still working through regarding his idea of homefront repair!

Brent has decided he only needs one item in his toolbox arsenal. His equipment is a One-Size-Fix-All! Yep, Brent is there on-the-ready with Gorilla Glue to repair and restore!

Whether the job calls for nails, screws or spackle, Brent likes to give it the "old college try" first with Gorilla Glue! And surprisingly, it often works!

But the most insidious problem with Gorilla Glue is that it expands as it dries. Visualize a hardened beige ooze surrounding the periphery of any item that has just been repaired. So, the job HAS TECHNICALLY been done and it will probably hold... but the aesthetic look or "curb appeal" can be a little disturbing!

If #25 Alpine is in need of a quick fix and cosmetics aren't a big concern, then Brent is definitely the man/gorilla to call! But, when appearance is important, then it is probably best not to mention the project to him! And keep the Gorilla Glue hidden!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Running Utes and A Special Tribute!

"The simple secret is this: put your trust in the Lord, do your best, then leave the rest to Him." -Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin

Since we have good connections to a San Jose State University Dean (Tim Hegstrom), we were invited to the U of U/SJSU football game Saturday night in the Spartan Stadium! As Ute Alums hobnobbing with the SJSU elite crowd we were politically correct and left our RED attire at home! And once you've been pampered with Football Viewing with the Jet Set (special parking, pre game reception, the box, fancy food) it's hard to think about returning to stadium seats with the Riff Raff!

The Utes won but it should have been a blowout and SJSU held their own. Utah is ranked 17th in the nation, has a 15-0 winning streak and won the Sugar Bowl last January. SJSU was crushed by USC last week 56-3 and then had to face Utah...tough times! The whole culture of College Football can be pretty fun! I like to follow BYU and Utah (my alum schools) and Stanford (especially now that the McNally brothers play for the Cardinal). Other than those teams, I stay slightly tuned during the Season and get a 2nd wind of enthusiasm when the Bowl Games start up.

But I wanted to post about a Touching Tribute the Running Utes gave LDS Apostle Joseph Bitner Wirthlin after he passed away in December 2008. Elder Wirthlin played football for the "U" in the 40's and remained a lifelong fan. President Monson called Elder Wirthlin the Self Appointed Chaplain of the Utah Team! Cute, huh! He'd speak at firesides and talk about Integrity on and off the field! He was respected and loved by the coaches, the players, and the fans! When Elder Wirthlin died they had decals with initials "JBW" printed for the team helmets! I couldn't find a good picture of a REAL team helmet with the "JBW" decal to post, but it's easy to visualize.

Elder Wirthlin's talks are always some of my Favorites! His last talk before he died is called "Come What May and Love It" (October Conference '08) and it is a CLASSIC! Seriously, worth rereading! All his talks are uplifting and inspiring! And you gotta love a team of big bruising football jocks who will proudly wear the initials of a Mormon Apostle on their Helmet!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

"CLEISIOPHOBIA 101"! or "RU Afraid?"

Cleisiophobia: The Fear of being Locked in an Enclosed Place!

A Phobia is a fancy name for a Fear. But a phobia is not just any kind of fear since it is perfectly normal to be afraid of things and some situations. A phobia is different because it is an Extremely Strong Fear that doesn't go away.

Luckily, there is a very effective treatment for phobias: Exposure. Exposure involves allowing yourself to confront the feared stimulus and noticing that nothing catastrophic happened. In learning that no harm befalls them (other than their own physical anxiety) people can rethink their fears: " the plane DIDN"T crash...maybe I CAN relax a bit."

Webb and Anna had some good Exposure to Cleisiophobia on Thursday night! It's hard to visualize the strange scenario but apparently around midnight they left a warehouse where Webb had been working. But the office door behind them locked as they walked out and the lobby door to exit the building was also locked. Suddenly, they were locked in! Imprisoned in between two enclosed spaces with just one working cell phone with waning battery life. Is your heart beating faster, palms getting sweaty, panic setting in??

If either Webb or Anna HAD Cleisiophobia, they should NOW be cured, or certainly see improvement, after Surviving their Wild Ordeal! After various failed attempts to get out (unanswered phone calls to the boss/owner, marginal interest from the LAPD - thanks guys!) the Rescue came via a Locksmith who made sure it was worth his while $$wise!

So, All's Well That End Well! One day soon they'll LAUGH about how bizarre it was. I mean, how many people can claim they've been locked up in a ghetto LA warehouse?

Probably the most common phobia is the Fear of Going to the Dentist! Even though Dr Hoover is the nicest dentist around I still suffer from dental phobia! A few other well known phobias include a fear of heights, spiders, snakes, and confined (as opposed to locked) spaces. Claustrophobia...maybe a close cousin to Cleisiophobia?

There are all sorts of "are-u-kidding-me?" phobias too. Like, Anatidaephobia: the fear that you are being watched or chased by a duck! I can understand the anxiety of being chased, but who cares if a duck is watching you? Really Now! And, then the Mother of All Phobias would be a Panaphobe: a person who is Afraid of EVERYTHING! Yikes! Panaphobics clearly missed Franklin Roosevelt's 1st Inagural Address where he stated: "the ONLY thing we have to FEAR is FEAR ITSELF!"

Friday, September 11, 2009

Nine Eleven.....In Memory!

"All of a sudden there were people screaming. I saw people jumping out of the building. Their arms were flailing. I stopped taking pictures and started crying." -Michael Walters, a free-lance photojournalist in Manhattan

September 11, 2001 - the day that shook the entire world and left so many US citizens dead at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the Pennsylvania countryside! None of us will EVER FORGET that day because we saw the UNTHINKABLE!

The twin towers were imposing symbols of US prosperity - who would ever imagine two planes slamming into both and within minutes they collapse! A third plane is flown into the defense headquarters of the Pentagon and a fourth plane (speculated to be heading to The White House) crashes in a field when the passengers rush the hijackers.

The horrific events brought tragedy to thousands of families. The al-Qaeda network led by Osama bin Laden planned the evil attacks in excruciating detail. The aftermath brought amazing stories of survival in the rubble and inspiring heroics from firefighters, bystanders, and victims. In the ruins of the World Trade Center, Ground Zero emerges! Patriotism in our country is visible everywhere; we come together through profound emotion and disaster.

President John Adam's wife, Abigail, once said that "Great Necessities call out our Great Virtues." And, it is true that during the year after 9/11/01 we came together as a nation to challenge terrorism! Eight years have passed. But we still need to stop and remember: those who lost their lives, the families who were so deeply affected, and the many HEROES of the day!

We can honor the day by making sure we live up to the words spoken by Colin Powell when he said "You can be sure that the American spirit will prevail over this tragedy."

Thursday, September 10, 2009

And You Think You've Got TROUBLES! or SPEAK no Evil!

Question: What do you call a Veterinarian with Laryngitis?
Answer: A Hoarse Doctor.

Paige's first week at BYU was relatively smooth! Smooth enough to lull her into complacency before the deluge that hit on week two! It started with a Backed Up Toilet, followed by Car Problems, and culminated in Losing Her Voice! Trouble Travels in Threes; in case you haven't heard that superstitious fact!

The Toilet was an easy a Plunger and get to work! And thanks to Triple AAA, the car was a hassle but turned out to be a dead battery; a short term issue. But, LARYNGITIS, when you are trying to meet new people at a new campus - this can be a Big Frustration! Particularly for someone like Paige who prefers the Smooth, Unruffled Life Path! Not one to complicate things if she can help it, Paige does not take kindly to complications beyond her control! This is my kindhearted way of stating that Paige can get Easily Annoyed!

Hopefully by the time Paige reads this post her vocal cords will be fully functional! If not, I think she might be enlisting the Surgeon General... taking her case straight to the top since she doesn't appreciate my opinion that a doctor will only tell her to Rest Her Voice. Or Quit Smoking! (Ha)

Lest Paige think I am uncaring; I actually have more compassion for laryngitis than most. I happen to have Chronic Vocal Nodules which I'm stating just to acknowledge that I do know something about this condition! See, I have more than sympathy, I can actually EMPATHIZE...I've Been There, Done That!

Like any good trial in life, Paige will certainly gain new admiration for those Vocal Cords that she usually doesn't give a 2nd thought to! That's the beauty of challenges: when we lose something we generally took for granted we suddenly realize how lucky we are to have had it in the 1st place!

In the meantime, we'll all look forward to hearing Paige's voice return! No one can utter PaigeSpeak quite like Paige! We'd hate for that language to become extinct like Latin!

Question: What would you call Sir Lancelot if he lost his voice?
Answer: Silent Night.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Name Your Favorite Favorite!

We had our Seminary students fill out lists of some favorites! Favorite color. Favorite ice cream flavor. Favorite cartoon character. Favorite school class. Etc. They loved comparing notes with each other. It was a fun diversion activity and their responses were a kick to read! We definitely have some diverse tastes in the group.

Personally, I get frustrated when I have to HONE something down to a specific "favorite." It feels too confining. Too restrictive. Too subjective to my mood at any given moment. A favorite book one summer will be replaced by another read in the winter. Or, PURPLE was a favorite color for years which phased into plum and periwinkle hues leading to more blueish tones. And now, BLUE is my favorite color. Who can pick a singular favorite in various categories when we are constantly changing and evolving ourselves? I certainly can't!

For most of the things I REALLY care about (like BOOKS) it feels completely OVERWHELMING to try to narrow down to a favorite novel or a favorite biography, etc. If I choose "A," then what about "B"? And we I can't forget "C!" I'm forever second guessing my answers!

Having an overabundance of FAVORITES (or reluctance to commit to a sole #1) is probably NOT A BAD THING! Indecisive, maybe. But better to have MANY favorites (in most categories) than NONE! Right? Or am I just more FICKLE than the rest of the people on the planet?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

My Name is Kathryn and I am an "ISH"oholic!

Lately I am constantly using "ISH" after words! I think I'm reluctant to completely commit and "ish" gives me some wiggle room.

Am I hungry? Hungry. ish.
How about full? Full. ish.
Was the movie funny? Funny. ish.

Were the students tardy? Tardy. ish.
Is she pretty? Pretty. ish.
Was it pricey? Pricey. ish.

I guess I can make something APPROXIMATE as opposed to EXACT by "ish"ing it! And, like any addictive behavior, once you start "ish"ing words, it becomes difficult to stop! You find yourself responding with ISH STATEMENTS all the time! Which starts to seem a little immature and juvenile. Ish. At least for someone who is fifty! Ish.

Monday, September 7, 2009

"Welcome To My World!" or "Grocery Shop Till You Drop!"

Andie was kind enough to bring home 2 tubs of Ice Cream to the Old Folks on Saturday night. Then, on Sunday she was complaining that it was half gone already! And I smugly thought, "Ha! Welcome to My World!"

My World, of Brent and Paige handily polishing off the entire Ice Cream Container in 1 sitting! My World, of returning from Costco, only to have 3 new items added to the list faster than I can unload the car! My World, of Never-Ending-Shopping-Lists!

Many years ago, in a galaxy not so far away....I made a Fatal Error when it came to Grocery Shopping! I took Input from Family Members on Preferences! What kind of Mother Does That? Preferences, meaning they like Crystal Geyser Water over the Arrowhead Brand. Preferences, meaning the Boar's Head Turkey makes better sandwiches. Preferences, meaning, the produce is better from Cosentinos Market.

The huge problem with all these Preferred Items is that One-Stop-Shopping is No-Longer-An-Option! To keep everyone happy (and well fed) I have Ongoing Lists for the ALL of the following stores: 1. Whole Foods 2. Trader Joes 3. Costco 4. Smart and Final Iris 5. Costentinos 6. Target. Yes, that would be 6 Stores! Six stores just to cover the Basics! And aside from the staples, I'll even drive to Asian markets or multiple Safeway stores just looking for somebody's treasured item or specialty brand! All for the same reason people bother to climb Mount Everest, I suppose! (in case you aren't familiar w/the quote: "Because it is there").

And once you create the monster.....well, you know the drill! Now, I'm all over the Bay Area to get specific brands from one store and some unique item only carried at another store and organic this or that at yet another store!

So, when Andie was frustated that her Dad (it wasn't me, I promise - I prefer Haagen Dazs) consumed half the ice cream she purchased envisioning it might last the week; I could definitely feel her pain! But, for me personally, it was quite nice to see it happen to someone else this time! So, in a twist to the famous Descartes statement: "I Grocery Shop, Therefore I Am!"

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Up At Sunrise Seminarians....Because Seminary makes Us STRONG!

"Teachers not only teach history, algebra, and science, but what we call the intangibles: all about life, love, leadership, and happiness - you know, the things that really matter." -L. Swanzy

Check out the '09-'10 Los Gatos Seminary Crew! What a great group of youth. Not a single annoying one in the whole bunch!

We had to photoshop Kevin Harrington into the picture since he missed class. And in our "Act Crazy" photo Jared and Aaron's heads were hidden so Trevor Hegstrom helped us decapitate them from another picture and rest their heads on Kevin's hands! The end result is quite a unique shot!

Our class is a total mix of talents and abilities. We've got everything from a semi-pro Kite Boarder (Blake) to our 3 point Basketball Ace (Michael) to Running Speed Demon (Rose) to School Band Star (MaryAnne playing the Tuba), etc. They're a multifaceted group for sure! Their main commonality is definitely the church. But they are all kind hearted; albeit not the closest of friends (yet anyway).

I've been impressed that most of this group attends Seminary because they WANT to be there! I don't think there is a single one that is forced by their parents to come. They are just good kids! And I think (I hope) that they can see that starting their high school day with a little dose of Seminary just makes things go better generally! I can honestly say that teaching Seminary gets me off on better footing for my days! It's a relentless calling in terms of preparation but pretty rewarding both in learning AND enjoying a cute group of kids! I mean could you resist the rascals pictured here? And, yes, that is ME on the far right with a look like: "What have I gotten myself into?!"

Saturday, September 5, 2009

"Your Call Is Very Important To Us!" .....NOT!

Rule #1: The Customer is Always Right!
Rule #2: If the Customer is Ever Wrong, Reread Rule #1.

Since I posted about the great customer service at Jack in the Box I should be allowed to vent about lousy customer service too. I've been procrastinating a list of phone calls I need to make (insurance, Mastercard, airline reservations, etc). And it hit me, why the delay....I can't stand the run around, getting put on hold, voice recordings to press 1 for "this", press 2 for "that", and press 3 if you want to strangle someone!

Is there anything more annoying!? I'm not an incessant whiner but if I'm put on hold and told that "My Call is Very Important" it is highly unlikely that I'll believe it! I'm a VIP to you...Yeah, Right! So pick up the phone!

I'm curious who had the harebrained idea to record the dumb "your call yadda, yadda" spiel in the first place? Who started it and why did it become so popular when customers abhor it? I'll have to look into the history behind the phenomenon.

It turns out that research validates my emotional frustrations! Data shows that people are more willing to wait when they feel like there is movement. This concept makes sense to me. If I'm stuck in traffic, airport security, or even a line at Disneyland, I tolerate the wait better if I am at least moving. And, on a phone call "hold" it is hard to know whether you are making any progress. Although some companies now give "time of wait" estimates for the call (which customers like, especially when the estimate time is updated, showing movement/progress).

In today's fast-paced world there is even more reason for businesses to LISTEN to their customer base. As Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO, said: "If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell 6 friends. If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6000 friends." And, conversely, "A Happy Customer is like a Walking Advertisement!" I'm not sure who said that but they probably answered their own company phone.