Wednesday, March 31, 2010

"Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?"

"Does anybody really know what time it is?
Does anybody really care!"
-lyrics to the hit song by Chicago

This is my United Airlines theme song!

We are scheduled to leave SFO tomorrow at 6:45 pm. Or, would that be 6:04 pm?

The airline doesn't seem to know. Or really care, for that matter!

When I booked our tickets online the screen definitely read 6:45 (I had on my strongest reading glasses so my impaired vision issues are not the problem here). Right as my credit card charge was accepted an email confirmation immediately came to my inbox. Only the email listed United Flight #6148 with a 6:04 pm departure! Huh?

The problem is, due to Andie's teaching schedule, we can make it for the 6:45 time but 6:04 would be impossible! Naturally I called United Airlines to find out which time was right: their website or their email confirmation?

In a way only a behemoth company can do, my phone call inquiry was bounced from one employee to another with no resolution! In the end, no one at United Airlines seemed to know which time should be trusted as accurate or which time is considered the most up-to-date.

So, whether we make it to Utah on Thursday night remains to be seen. If our 6:45 flight leaves at 6:04, we might be spending the weekend at home. Otherwise, if 6:45 is the sancrosanct time, we'll catch a couple of days of skiing, General Conference, Easter, and visiting Paigey!

Forget Chicago! I am hoping for a little "time is on my side" Rolling Stones luck to come our way tomorrow night!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

9 Little Monkeys Jumping On The Bed!

Little kids can be so darn cute!

When I watch Caeden Kwapinski on Mondays I've told Jennifer Bryan she's welcome to leave Emily with us so she can get out on a run (sans child).

It's a good arrangement! At 2 and a half years old, Emily is the perfect age to dote on a younger one! She and Caeden are pretty adorable together. I love to hear Caeden say "Emily! Emily!" That's right, usually it's repeated twice!

True to form, the girls usually like to play "shopping" which means the cart goes from the playroom to Webb's room with the play food strewn about for purchase.

But, all on her own accord, Emily discovered Webb's monkey collection. Now she has a little ritual that she's repeated the last few visits. Emily carefully gathers up all the monkeys and tucks them into bed! This photo is exactly how I find the monkeys!

Ah, little girls and the nurturing instinct taking hold pretty young! In all Webb's years of MamaMama, MonkeyMonkey, etc., I don't recall his stuffed animals ever getting tucked into bed!

Monday, March 29, 2010

You Know It When You See It! (?)

"What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare."
-from "Leisure" by W.H. Davies

I love the story that circulated the internet last year about the Joshua Bell experiment.

In a nutshell, one morning Joshua Bell played 6 Bach concertos on his violin in a Washington, D.C. subway station. During the 45 minutes, thousands of people walked past, only a handful stopped to listen.

When Bell finished, he collected $32, no one applauded, and Joshua Bell took his violin worth over 3 million dollars and went home.

Yet, Joshua Bell, a renowned violinist had played to a sold out audience in Boston just two days earlier with seats selling for $100!

It's a true story! Joshua Bell's free violin concert in the D.C. subway station was part of a social experiment about perception, taste, and priorities. The study wanted to examine whether people in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour would still perceive beauty? Would people stop to appreciate it? And do people recognize talent in an unexpected context?

I've thought about the Joshua Bell experiment many times. All those subway commuters rushing to work missed out! One of the best musicians in the world playing some of the best music ever written. And for free! In our busy lives, how often do miss out on incredible things?

Truthfully, I wouldn't know Joshua Bell if I saw him and I don't have enough musical training to recognize his brilliance. But, in a spiritual context I often wonder if I could miss important things because I'm too busy!

The study reminds me a little being at the Shepherd Fields in Israel and noting that while many people in Jerusalem probably heard the chorus of angels, it was just the lowly shepherds who followed!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Brent's "Trophy" Wife!

Ha! I'll never quite make the "Trophy Wife" category - not by a long shot!

No, I'm just feeling like my 2010 Lent efforts are deserving of some kind of award, trophy, or blog recognition! Yeah, tooting my own horn! Shameless!

I'm boasting, but still, this was a big accomplishment for me! I've been drinking diet coke for years; adamantly refusing to seriously consider giving it up!

It's an insidious habit yet I kept filling those big gulps with massive amounts of caffeine! Yet relative to a lot of vices, drinking diet coke seemed to pale in comparison. So that kind of rationale kept quitting at bay month after month!

But addictions of any sort eventually catch up with us! My daily caffeine intake was probably as high as most coffee drinkers. Which really bothered me! While I was technically keeping the Word of Wisdom I wasn't exactly using moderation in soda consumption!

My lack of willpower frustrated me! So, the stars aligned for Lent to arrive when I felt enough motivation to quit. And stick to it!

And I did it! I abstained from all caffeinated drinks throughout the Lent season! *Technically there is a week left but I can tell I'm on a roll! I've got this in the bag!

I think I'll order my trophy inscribed with "2010! Best. Lent. Ever!"

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Birds and the Bees!

Okay, that was a very embarrassing trip to Fry's electronics! I needed a longer VGA cable to connect my projector and computer. My 6 foot cord doesn't give me the extension I'd like.

Shopping at Fry's is a mixed bag: the salespeople drive me crazy! This sounds rude but I feel like I'm in a foreign country! But, I knew Fry's would have the best selection. It's the main reason I tolerate the place!

So, I found my replacement, but, just to make sure, I proceeded to show one of the Fry's Guys the cable seeking confirmation that I'd selected the right one! Apparently, I had not!

So, right there in Aisle 16, Sadik, the employee, gave me a little primer on the difference between a male cable end and a female cable end! VGA Cables are gender specific - who knew?! Yeah, yeah, probably everyone but me!

It's a little pathetic to have this nerdy Fry's guy explaining the difference to me between a girl and a guy! It seems I was about to purchase a male to male cable but what I needed was a male to female cable! And, of course, unlike some of the incompetent Fry's employees, Sadik gave me me more information than I really wanted! TMI at Fry's!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Body Parts R Us!

Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes,
. . . Eyes, Ears, Mouth & Nose!

Body Parts! It looks like my 4 last posts (unintentionally) all dealt with body parts. Ha! I just noticed it yesterday!

Monday was opening our "hearts" followed by Tuesday's "tooth"ache (C.S. Lewis) to Wednesday's "head"ache (mine) and yesterday Robert Frost poems beginning with a lump in the "throat!"

. . . "Hearts, Teeth, Head & Throat!" (my new ending to Head & Shoulders!)

This is just throw away blabbering but I found it odd that I had a patten going and I hadn't realized it! Which got me thinking. . .maybe that happens more than I realize!

For example, as a young mom I got to choose what my babies would wear. And without planning to I'd end up dressing myself and whichever youngster I was selecting clothes for, in the same color scheme! I wasn't purposefully trying to coordinate my ensemble with their play clothes. It just happened! Honest.

Or, I get into food patterns a lot! If I fix soup & salad one night I can get on a soup & salad nightly fixation where that is what sounds good for dinner every night. To me, that is; not necessarily to my family!

Which might explain all the body parts blogs. I start with the heart and it just leads to the head or the tooth or the throat! The next thing I know, I've got a sequence going! Be it clothes, food, or writing, I think I just get a theme going along and variations on that theme emerge!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

It Begins with a Lump in the Throat....

Robert Frost on Poetry: "It begins with a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness. It is never a thought to begin with."

I'm not a poet unless you count making up silly limericks and lame versions of "roses are red." But I love poetry and I adore this Robert Frost quote!

To me it's a perfect description why it's hard to just sit down to write a poem. School assignments were tough that demanded "on call" emotion to emerge on the ready! The great poems seem to germinate from that lump or that longing.

Or rather, I've heard it said: "the poem finds us!"

Sounds about right!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Aches, Pains & Minor Miracles!

"There are two ways to live your life. One is as if nothing is a miracle. The other is as though EVERYTHING is a miracle." -Albert Einstein

I'm generally a little cautious about wearing my heart on my sleeve or parading my deeper feelings. So, I'm sharing this story at the risk of sounding a little sappy.

On Monday night a headache came on abruptly and it was the worst headache I can remember. In fact, in full disclosure, I rarely get headaches; I've been lucky! But Monday night my head was pounding, the light hurt my eyes, and I felt really really nauseous!

I took 2 aspirin (again, a rare occasion) which did nothing! By bedtime I was a little panicked; what about Seminary? You can't call a sub after 10 pm, I really had to teach in the morning, pounding head, nausea or not!

So, my prayers were a little more all-about-me than a gratitude prayers! I really needed a small miracle! I needed to feel up to teaching in about 6 hours! Please, please, pretty please! I've never missed a teaching day of Seminary (unless it was a preplanned vacation day).

When I woke up around 3 am I felt like the headache severity had dissipated. Whew! By 5 am I might actually be able to function and by 6 am, maybe I could actually teach! It seemed possible!

And it was! I wasn't 100% but the teenagers probably didn't even notice! And I felt this post headache, post prayer happiness all through the day! It sounds minor but it was an answer to prayer! It was a good reminder to me that Heavenly Father really is mindful of us individually! Just a little thing but it kind of made my day!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

"Our Lord Is Like The Dentists!"

At Steve Hayden's fireside Sunday night he talked about making changes in our lives and how often we resist those changes. I find myself reluctant to change more than one thing at a time. I'm not usually interested in a complete overhaul! Even if it's what I need!

It totally reminded me of an analogy I read about years ago in the C.S. Lewis book, Mere Christianity.

"When I was a child I often had a toothache, and I knew that if I went to my mother she would give me something which would deaden the pain for that night and let me get to sleep. But I did not go to my mother -at least, not till the pain became very bad.

And the reason I did not go was this. I did not doubt she would give me the aspirin; but I knew she would also do something else. I knew she would take me to the dentist next morning. I could not get what I wanted out of her without getting something more, which I did not want.

I wanted immediate relief from pain; but I could not get it without having my teeth permanently right. And I knew those dentists: I knew they started fiddling about with all sorts of other teeth which had not yet begun to ache....

Now, if I may put it that way, Our Lord is like the dentists...Dozens of people go to Him to be cured of some one particular sin which they are ashamed of...or which is obviously spoiling daily life...Well, He will cure it all right: but He will not stop there. That may be all you asked; but if once you call Him in, He will give you the full treatment." - C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Monday, March 22, 2010

If You Unlock The Heart, The Mind Will Follow!

Visualize Steve Hayden (from Almaden Country School) as the guy in this picture. It's a stretch I know; Steve's still thin! Last night Andie and I went to a fireside where Steve spoke about living a Christ centered life.

When Steve became the head of schools at ACS he left the practice of law (basically going from litigation to education). It was a big change and Steve was nervous!

Right before the assembly to introduce Steve on his first day, his mother-in-law, Nan Hunter, sensed Steve's fear and reminded him that "if you can unlock the heart, the mind will follow."

It's a total Nan phrase! I could fill a book of Nanisms! I find Nan to be a woman brimming with inspiration!

Steve had all of us reminisce about a favorite teacher in our past. Those "favorite" teachers generally made us feel loved and cared about. Typically, favorite teachers have that ability to unlock/soften hearts, and, ta-da, ...minds do open!

The fireside had other good messages (maybe for other blog posts) but Andie (the middle school teacher) and I (the Seminary teacher) both felt like Nan's soundbite particularly resonated with us!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Fine Art of Coathanger Sculptures!

Kaden Bohn and Christina Noskowski performed in Fisher Middle School's production of "You're A Good Man Charlie Brown" yesterday.

Some of the show monologues by the Peanuts characters are classic! Charlie Brown's little sister, Sally, goes on a diatribe after getting a lousy grade. It's awesome! Sally's rant is below:

"A 'C'? A 'C'? I got a 'C' on my coathanger sculpture? How could anyone get a 'C' in coathanger sculpture?

May I ask a question? Was I judged on the piece of sculpture itself? Is so, is it not true that time alone can judge a work of art?

Or was I judged on my talent? Is so, is it fair that I be judged on a part of my life over which I have no control? If I was judged on my effort, then I was judged unfairly, for I tried as hard as I could!

Was I judged on what I had learned about this project? Is so, then were not you, my teacher also being judged on your ability to transmit your knowledge to me? Are you willing to share my 'C'?

Perhaps I was being judged on the quality of the coathanger itself out of which my creation was is this not also unfair! Am I to be judged by the quality of coathangers that are used by the drycleaning establishment that returns our garments? Is that not the responsibility of my parents? Should they not share my 'C'?"

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Important Thing Is What You Do Next...

I wasn't sure what picture would convey my message best. This Chess game isn't exactly right. But Chess can be a complicated game and so is Life sometimes!

Brother Ray Brooksby gave a great talk at our Los Gatos Ward Conference about a month ago and I've been thinking about the application.

Brother Brooksby used a golf analogy (keep those men listening!) and described a golf swing that leaves the ball way off course in a mess of tall grass. And then he pointed out: "The Important Thing Is What You Do Next!"

We all end up in places (be it emotional or physical) that we didn't intend! Maybe it's just a rut or a slump or maybe worse!

At any given point, it is sort of irrelevant to focus on the past. The important thing really does become our next move! Life, like chess, is impossible to retract. As much as we'd like to rewind some parts or fast forward through others, it isn't one of the options!

Ray Brooksby is a great speaker and I'm not doing justice to his talk because I didn't take notes and my memory isn't up to snuff! But, honestly, the most important soundbite from the talk really was the comment: "The Important Thing Is What You Do Next!" If I can concentrate on that kind of forward thinking versus berating myself for things in my 20/20 hindsight, I will be making positive progress! Onward!

Friday, March 19, 2010

"I Meant What I Said, and I Said What I Meant!"

"I meant what I said, and I said what I meant. An elephant's faithful one-hundred percent!" -Horton, from Dr. Seuss, Horton Hatches the Egg

Thinking about Spencer Bryan's proud commitment to his swim team took me back further than just Andie's swim team years. My Mom made me memorize Horton's famous "commitment" phrase - probably before I could even read!

Horton was a huge childhood hero to me! When Lazy Mayzie cons Horton into tending her egg, he is stays on that nest through rain, thunder, summer, winter, and endless taunting! Horton diligently maintains that post!

It's a classic tale of perseverence! Horton puts up with ridicule, loneliness and all kinds of miserable conditions! Fortunately, for Horton, it ends well!

But, in real life, sometimes we don't readily see the Hortons getting the rewards. Sometimes it feels like the lazy Mayzie birds have all the fun! But appearances can be deceiving! Because Horton can always be proud of who he is and in the long run, self respect goes a long way! It's an intrinsic reward that can't be measured!

Making commitments to good things is good! Sticking it out when the going gets tough is admirable! Besides a faithful elephant I've seen countless real life examples of people who stay committed to high standards! They are the enduring heroes we can always count on; the steadfast!

In a fickle world where people abandon values on a whim, I applaud the faithful Hortons!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

(Swim Team) Coats of Many Colors!

I got to go to Spencer's Swim Meet with his #1 Fan over the weekend! We adore that little guy! And he's got some natural swim talent to boot!

The swim meet was a total deju vu from yesteryear! Quite nostalgic of Swim San Diego memories.

When we complimented Spencer on his cool Swim Team Parka he was all smiles. "It's shows my commitment to the team!" Spencer's sweet little voice explained proudly. "I had to swim at 4 practices every week to earn it. And sometimes I even go 5 times a week."

Oh, hail, the Swim Team Parka! Andie desperately wanted one and we were shocked at how expensive they were. But, back in the day, she earned one too and we got our money's worth. Andie and Stephanie Hammond wore them to every practice and every meet! With their hoods up it was hard to tell which girl was Andie & which was Steph (except their lovely names printed in bright gold on the front helped).

At Spencer's meet it was a trip to see swim team coats of every color parading around poolside! It could of been 1990, twenty years ago! Some status symbols (ie. swim team parkas) just don't change.

It was also nice to see good parenting in action! I like watching my adult children learn from seeing the generation of parents younger than me but older than them teach good life lessons to their children! Spencer wasn't tacitly bequeathed the swim team coat simply for signing up. He had to earn it and show that he was committed! Way to Go, Spencer! Way to Take One for the Team! And, Way to go Bryans and young parents everywhere who don't indulge and spoil their children! Long live the swim team parka!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Luck O' The Irish!

"May your Blessings Outnumber the Shamrocks that Grow,
And May Trouble Avoid you,
Wherever you Go!"

Forget the hype over Leprechauns & Green Beer! Two of my favorite St. Patrick's Day traditions are:

1. Got Green River?
The city of Chicago dyes their river green! How cool is that! They've got the right Irish spirit! They've been doing it since 1962! It was the brilliant idea of sewer workers who used green dye to check for sewage leaks. In earlier years they used 100 lbs. of vegetable dye and the river stayed green all week. Now they use 40 lbs. and it lasts several hours! Awesome!

2. Got Green Food?
Who needs green beer when you can dine on All-Things-Green-All-Day-Long!
Sample Menus Ideas:
Breakfast - green eggs & ham, green milk, green oatmeal, honeydew melon
Lunch - green bagels with green cream cheese, green apples, pickles, grapes, celery
Dinner - spinach pasta noodles with pesto sauce, broccoli, green caesar salad, limeaid, spumoni ice cream.

"May your pockets be heavy and your heart be light,
May good luck pursue you each morning and night."

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Who Dunnit?

For Bookgroup tonight we're discussing, Murder in the White House, by Margaret Truman. It's our 2nd mystery book in the past year.

I liked both mysteries all right but here's the rub: I had the murderer pegged in the first chapter (in both books)! Which kind of takes the fun & suspense out of reading on. Except of course, to validate my guess!

I'm honestly not trying to sound bragadocious. Maybe my hunches were just beginner's luck. Or maybe reading Encyclopedia Brown books in childhood honed my detective skills! Whatever the reason, my super sleuthing makes me less inclined to pick up mysteries (as a genre) on my own. Seems I only read mysteries when they're assigned.

I suppose figuring out Who Dunnit is a little pleasing (Go Sherlock!) but also disappointing. Part of me genuinely wants to be surprised and a little befuddled (gotta love any chance to use that word) when the killer is finally revealed! So I won't disclose who strangled the Secretary of State Lansard Blaine in the Lincoln Bedroom! Come to Bookgroup and find out!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Springing Forward, Falling Back!

That's quite a vintage print: "Get Your Hoe Ready!" But, now that I've got your attention: A little trivia about Daylight Saving Time (which started up yesterday)!

I'm don't get riled up easily so I'm not well versed in the controversy over Daylight Savings. But, I know people who think the whole practice is a bad idea!

Personally, I'm more fascinated about how in the world daylight savings took hold in the first place. Think about that. The initial proposals must have seemed pretty out there!

Apparently, George Hudson, a New Zealand entomologist (yes, that would be a guy who studies insects) came up with the brainchild in 1895. But even before Hudson's presented his plan, Benjamin Franklin, in 1784, wrote an essay about the idea of saving daylight.

Adding that extra hour of daylight benefits retailers and sports activities and some studies show a reduction in traffic fatalities.

Opponents say daylight savings causes more problems than it's worth. Farming issues are one negative cited. And disruption to our natural circadian clocks. According to poultry producer, Marty Notenbomer, it sounds like farm animals have the same trouble we do. Notenbomer said: "The chickens don't adapt to the changing clock until several weeks later."

So, if the human trickery has left you feeling cranky or in need of a nap, you can take heart that it's brutal for the chickens too! And, I never complain when we get to add that extra hour in the fall! So, "light"en up (pun intended)! Trade-offs, trade-offs!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

So, Bye-Bye Miss American Pi!

"3.14!" Happy Pi Day!

I'm down with any reason to celebrate and Paige has just informed me that March 14th is National Pi Day!

Since I was never a Math Geek (not in my wildest dreams!), I wasn't aware of this auspicious occasion!

But, I'm definitely a Celebration Geek and apparently the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution in 2009, recognizing March 14th as National Pi Day!

Henceforth, we will be observant Pi Day participants! Activities will include (but are not limited to) making pie, measuring their circumference & area, and eating copious amounts of PIE! !

MIT, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, often mails it's acceptance letters to be delivered to prospective students on Pi Day (although that could be a problem for this year since Pi Day falls on a Sunday). And, MIT even has a school cheer that includes "3.14159."

In a serendipitous coincidence, March 14th also happens to be the birthday of Albert Einstein!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Telescopic Philanthropy...

In Charles Dicken's novel, Bleak House, he describes the character, Mrs. Jellyby, as someone with "telescopic philanthropy." It's a clever Dicken's phrase of someone with a burning, all-consuming, passion to do good but at a great distance.

Mrs. Jellyby is living in England but is so devoted to causes in Africa, like the superabundant home population, that she fails to recognize the needs of her own brood at home!

Dicken's describes Mrs. Jellyby as having "handsome eyes, though they had a curious habit of seeming to look a long way off. As if, ...they could see nothing nearer than Africa!"

Telescopic philanthropy is a great term for people who get so absorbed in remote issues they might neglect problems nearer to home. Kind of the opposite of grass roots service!

Sometimes celebrities get obsessed with things like Freeing Tibet but remain oblivious to problems within their own families! Often there is more glamour in distant philanthropy; service to a smaller audience might not garner kudos, praise, or a gold star on the forehead!

Certainly charity in every form is admirable! We need donors who take on global causes as well as people who serve quietly. I might have the opposite problem of Mrs. Jellyby. Nurturing those in my path keeps me busy and sometimes I don't extend charity as far reaching as I could.

It seems there will always be hosts of good causes that compete for our attention. And, however much we do, we cannot possibly give to every cause! So, when all is said and done, we need the Mrs. Jellybys and grass roots volunteers too! The world seems big enough for macro, micro & yes, even telescopic philanthropy!

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Pride Cycle

"Pride goeth before destruction." -Proverbs 16:18

We discussed The Pride Cycle this week in Seminary. There's a great description of the cycle in Helaman 12: 1-6.

Historically, pride always seems to enter into the hearts of men after God has richly blessed them!

The cycle goes as follows: Blessings & Prosperity....which leads to Pride & Sin because of the easiness of life....which leads to Chastening so that we will remember the Lord....which should bring about Humility and Repentance....which returns us back to a state of Blessings & Prosperity. And so it goes!

I brought a bike wheel to class and we put a colored sticker on the spoke. Spinning the wheel, we could see the sticker continue to circle around continually, as long as the wheel is moving. The only way to prevent the movement: a force must be applied (just a little physics thrown in!).

The cycle can change if we are humble and immediately repent from sin & pride. So, the force to stop the cycle (and eliminate chastening) is repentance! And, the best antidote for pride is humility! It's wise to watch for the pattern or cycle in ourselves, since getting puffed up & proud and feeling hostile towards God or our fellowman are certainly not traits that bring out our better qualities!

"Humility and knowledge in poor clothes excel pride and ignorance in costly attire." -William Penn

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Bigger Boys = Bigger Toys!

Got Chainsaw? Apparently our old chainsaw needed over $100 worth of repairs so Brent thought it made more sense to buy a new (under $200) chain saw. I can follow that logic.

Now Brent is itching for things to cut down! Over the weekend I heard the mighty roar of the chain saw. So, naturally, I asked him what he had cut down. This was Brent's response: "Not exactly anything. It just makes me feel manly to rev it up and walk around the yard with it." (that is pretty much the direct quote!)

Boy and their toys! One woman surveyed her male co-workers about their top 3 Christmas wishes and all but 1 man included a power tool in their list of 3 preferred gifts! Incredibly, 10 men of 11 surveyed wanted a cordless drill! Yet none of the men had a specific project in mind that would require the use of said drill.

The survey left this woman a little dumbfounded so she discussed her results with the men. Of the findings, one of guy co-workers just shrugged and said: "All Real Men have Power Tools!"

We are so glad we have our Real Man around! Our Real Man with his Power Chainsaw! This is formally the man who solved all home repair projects with Gorilla Glue (perhaps we are making progress)! Now he's revved up and on-the-ready just in case we need anything chopped down!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Cautionary Tales for Children...

Thinking along the lines of Tim Burton and Lewis Carroll (from yesterday's post) it isn't much of a stretch to end up remembering Hillaire Belloc.

The English writer/historian took on an array of topics in his essays (travel writing, politics, warfare) but he is probably best remembered for his humorous poetry.

Belloc's book of "Cautionary Tales" was supposedly written for children but the satire & implausible morals are enjoyed by adults like me who find them quite hilarious! See if the example below makes you laugh:

The Chief Defect of Henry King
Was chewing little bits of String.
At last he swallowed some which tied
Itself in ugly Knots inside.

Physicians of the Utmost Fame
Were called at once, but when they came
They answered, as they took their Fees,
"There is no Cure for this Disease

Henry will very soon be dead."
His Parents stood about his Bed
Lamenting his Untimely Death,
When Henry, with his Latest Breath,

Cried - "Oh, my Friends, be warned by me,
That Breakfast, Dinner, Lunch and Tea
Are all the Human Frame Requires..."
With that the Wretched Child expires.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

"We're All Mad Here!"

I've been an undying fan of timeless children's books since the "Children's Classics" course I took in college! So, even though I haven't seen the movie Avatar we did get to the Opening Night for Alice in Wonderland!

I was excited to see Tim Burton-do-Lewis-Carroll! Two whimsical, inventive guys! And, the movie was great. Johnny Depp was a perfect Mad Hatter and Mia Wasikowska as Alice was excellent.

So, in tribute to Carroll's classic work, I'm listing some of my favorite "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" Book Quotes (several were also in the movie) starting with the wonderful line when the Cheshire Cat tells Alice: "We're All Mad Here!"

"Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast." - the Queen to Alice

"What is the use of a book," thought Alice, "without pictures or conversations?"

"Speak English!" said the Eaglet. "I don't know the meaning of half those long words, and I don't believe you do either!"

"Off with her head!" said the Queen.

"Perhaps it hasn't one," Alice ventured to remark. "Tut, tut, child!" said the Duchess. "Everything's got a moral, if only you can find it."

"Begin at the beginning," the King said very gravely, "and go on till you come to the end: then stop."

Alice: "I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I have changed several times since then."

Monday, March 8, 2010

And the Oscar for "Best Guess" goes to...

Yes, every year The Knudsen Academy votes on the Oscar Nominees! Complete with a prize for the family member whose estimates come closest to the winners selected by the Motion Picture Academy.

Ballots are due before the start of the Academy Awards Show and fortunately, you need not be present to win! Phew! No pressure about a gown for The Red Carpet! Nor do you need to have seen all the movies! Or any, for that matter! "Guessing" is the name of the game!

So, the 5 nominees for the 2010 "Best Guess" Oscar in the Knudsen family are (obviously): Brent, Kathryn, Andie, Webb, and Paige! And this year, the Oscar goes to: Webb Knudsen. Webb guessed 15 of the 24 correct winners!

In a total stroke of luck, I came in 2nd place guessing 13 of 24 movies! Which is a complete fluke since the only nominated movies I have seen are Up, The Blind Side, Julie & Julia, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Cove, and Invictus! I guess what I miss at the cinema I read in the paper! But I might be the only person on the planet who hasn't seen Avatar yet!

Since our winner was not present to make a speech, he was contacted by text messenger and wrote the following: "I'd like to thank my family, the academy, God, and all the little people who helped to make this possible!"

The prize for the Best Guess Oscar is always donated by our generous family philanthropist (aka Dad)! He has not disclosed the specifics for this year's winner but I'm sure we'll get an email announcement later today! Congratulations to all participants!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Echoes of Eternity...

"Brothers, what we do in life, echoes in eternity." -Maximus in Gladiator

It was heartbreaking to receive Liz Walton's email yesterday informing us of Clint's Layton's death. While I only know Clint through his marriage to Kelly Walton, I've been touched and impressed watching their little family endure this trial. They've stayed strong in their core beliefs. Clint fought the good fight!

While our thoughts and prayers just ache for Kelly and her two darling daughters, I'm also acutely aware of Clint's parents who are grieving over the death of their son. I don't know Dave and Kathy Layton but I received an email they sent to family and friends. Their perspective and faith inspires me so I wanted to quote some of their comments:

"March 17, 2009, Clint was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). Early this morning with his loving companion Kelly by his side, he slipped to the other side. Clint fought a very courageous battle with the cancer and remained spiritually strong and positive to the end.

This is very difficult, a parent is not supposed to bury their child, and we understand some of you may have already experienced this horrible ordeal. But, life does go on and so will we!

Both Kathy and I are very grateful for the Gospel of Jesus Christ in our lives and our knowledge of the Resurrection. We are grateful for the gift of the Atonement knowing all things are possible through the love of our Savior Jesus Christ, we as a family take comfort in that and knowing we will be with Clint again.

The miracle we were all praying for was realized to our family yesterday in that so many individual lives have been touched by Clint's example of courage and faith. So many individuals have shared in this experience of love and coming together, he has made us better individuals." -Dave & Kathy Layton

The peace that the gospel can bring us during really hard times seems quite miraculous!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Master Andie!

"Education is not the filling of a pail,
but the lighting of a fire." - W.B. Yeats

It's official! The diploma has arrived (not that we ever doubted)! Andie has earned a Masters Degree from Santa Clara University! Woo Hoo!

I am very impressed! Andie has trumped me in higher education! I'm just a lowly BA graduate, a wanna-be masters student!

Andie has a "special" gift when it comes to her love for the "special needs" students! The Sheppard Middle School students are currently testing her limits but generally Andie has a unique ability to adore the students that drive many teachers crazy!

I have great admiration for teachers! Many of them don't see their work as a job but a calling!

I wish society gave more status ($$) to the teaching profession! Most of us have memories of a teacher who shared their passion and changed how we viewed the world! I'm so proud of Andie!

"The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires." - William Arthur Ward

Friday, March 5, 2010

No Brown M&M's.....

This post could also be titled: "Clever is as clever does!" or "Things are not always what they seem!"

As the legend goes, back in the 1980's when the rock group Van Halen was all the rage, they were notorious for a clause in their touring contract that demanded a bowl of M&M's backstage, but with all the brown M&M's removed.

The diva-like request seems like a perfect example of outrageous demands you might expect from pampered rock stars!

But, it turns out, David Lee Roth, Van Halen's lead singer, wasn't so much a diva as a bright thinker! And, so, for the rest of the story...

Van Halen performed dozens of shows every year and the band would arrive at a venue with nine 18-wheelers full of gear. Setting up for the show was complex and technical!

The show contract was a thick manual, filled with details explaining exactly how many voltage sockets should be placed at specific distances, etc., etc. Within the contract pages, buried in between all the mechanical requirements, was the little clause about the M&M's with the brown ones removed.

The M&M bowl was the quick way for David Lee Roth to check out the venue. Upon arriving, if Roth saw a brown M&M, he knew the stagehands hadn't read the contract carefully and he'd demand a line check, very likely finding issues. If the M&M bowl appeared sans the brown ones, it gave Roth the peace of mind that the specifics of the contract had been met!

So, instead of spending hours before a concert checking the ampersand of every socket and exacting every technical detail, Roth used the M&M's as a quick way to see if the concert hall was paying attention! In addition to being a hard rock musician, apparently, Van Halen's lead singer was an operations expert too!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Trading Up!

The youth from Mutual came by last night playing a variation of a Scavenger Hunt. The game is called Trading Up!

A cute group of girls arrived with a large container of maple syrup. If I could give them something bigger or better, they would leave the syrup and head off with the improved item I donate to their cause. Several groups of youth were out and about, starting with tiny things and hoping to return to the church with the biggest and best "find" of the night!

I wasn't sure if the object they wanted should be greater in size or value. Hmm. And, it was also a race so we had to work fast. Think! Think!

Happy Day! I remembered the humongous box we'd gift wrapped for Brittany Walton's Bachelorette Party. I think the bachelorettes were hoping Brian or Webb would be willing to pop out and dance! But after Paige and Amy Harmer worked all afternoon the decorated box was never used. And relative to the maple syrup container it was a big step up! A good trade!

Off they went, barely fitting the box in Sister Bohn's SUV, and also collecting cans of food for a Second Harvest Food Drive! Guess I'll find out in Seminary if their team won! But what could possibly be bigger? And, even better, I finally got rid of the huge box! Now we're going to have to eat a lot of pancakes to use up all the maple syrup they left behind!