Thursday, October 28, 2010

Carl's Good!

And here’s to the best news I’ve posted in a long, long time.  Carl’s cancer, it would appear, is gone.
They did the PSA blood test on Monday, and reported today the results was -.004 -- virtually undetectable.  It would appear that even good old water itself doesn’t get a perfect .000000 on the PSA test for prostate cancer.  
I hate to think what would have happened had Carl not had his kidney stone and met up with the good Dr. Dan Hibbert, the sneaky urologist who chances a check on the adjacent prostate while calming a raging kidney stone.  Fortunately an additional plus for Dr. Hibbert is he is unique in the area in his ability to perform the prostatectomy via robotics enabling Carl to recover considerably faster than he otherwise would have.  Further, the precision is much better than a manual surgery so damage is less likely.
Carl has always cursed his kidney stones and his propensity to create them and yet it turns out that they were blessings in disguise.  Isn’t that the way of things?  
How often we complain of the very things that ultimately we find make us strong and even save our lives.  
I thank God for this.  I am a firm believer than we will realize that there has not been a wasted moment, experience, pain, loss, or ache that has not “come together for our good.”  I believe in that kind of great economy of our God.  For example, I would have never believed that I could have loved Carl more.  But here I am, loving him more than I could have ever imagined before. 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Snappy Facts for Wednesday

There are some things you need to know.

1.  I've been out of town for two weeks and have been not busy so I've not been doing much and my arm hurts so I've not had much to write about.

2.  Carl's been down and out.

3.  It's late.

4.  I think only Annie and Lindsey are following me anyway now so I'm disencouraged anyway.  Even Carl accused me of not writing regularly though I only missed Friday and Monday.

5.  I've got a list of snappy facts you need to know anyway so click on the following:

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Hereafter - Clint Eastwood At His Best

I think Clint Eastwood is a genius as a director. I loved Hereafter but it’s not at all what you think it’s going to be.  Nothing heavy-handed from this guy.  
Eastwood doesn’t underestimate his viewer.  This movie is not difficult, but it’s deep and rich both visually and auditorily.  You see incredible beauty.  You see despair.  You see things vaguely, yet clearly.  You hear Dickens, then you see why he matters.  You see incredible, people, some fascinating, not especially beautiful, but fascinating, and acting incredibly.  You hear such understatement.  French is spoken at length by beautiful, accomplished people, English by a beautiful, poor, broken little family in terrible distress, all to be tied in a strange and seamless way.  Only a couple of times I thought things could have been done less awkwardly, but I didn’t know how.  

Eastwood makes his many statements throughout maybe only once and expects you to remember them and build on them.  If you don’t, no problem, but if you do, great beauty comes of it.  
He gives abundant visual clues and cues that you can learn from and build on, some from beyond, some binding humans through the beyond some indicating caring from beyond and some indicating vestiges from beyond that linger from the past.  It’s wild.  
The woman takes the hand of a child, a father grieves from beyond, a twin brother instructs his brother acting both humanly, childishly and also angelically, a doctor/scientist informs with just a line in a hospital making a huge difference, a vision appears and reappears, the kiss from the future, and phony clairvoyants are outed.  You almost feel you are watching your own thoughts happen.    
The sheer beauty of the movie is enough to draw you along though the movie is very slow in its progression.  Though little is known about much, much is indicated to drive thought about everyone and everything.  Just like life and the hereafter.  It’s beautiful.  I’m going to see it again.  It’s that much.  

Thursday, October 21, 2010

I Laughed, I Cried, I Spilled My Drink . . .

I didn’t even know such a movie was out yet we went to see Red yesterday afternoon in a movie theater that was empty save for us.  I thought I’d laugh myself silly.  It was wonderful.  I could laugh as loud as I wanted without Carl telling me to shut up.  I needed those magic shields up, too, because it was just that funny.  
Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman and of course John Malkovich were crazy old former agents of varying types, with Malkovich having lots of paranoia thrown in, who shoot things up, chase around the country in cars, blow people up, and are absolutely hilarious.  Julia, my beautiful daughter-in-law will be thrilled to note that a Russian is a hero in this one.  
The story line is interesting and pretty surprising, too, keeping you guessing as to how this is going to work out, too, without somebody you like doing pretty hard time at some point.  
The timing is perfect as they zip from place to place and the the pace is perfect.  We’re never bored so be sure to buy a medium drink and go to the bathroom before you go in.  I wouldn't know where to recommend a bathroom break.
Mary Louise Parker is the love interest but you’ve got to see her to care, and you will.
Please  see it.  Just trust me on this one.  

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Makes Alot of Sense

The Parable of Two Wolves

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson
about a battle that goes on inside all people.

He said, “My son, the battle is between two
wolves that dwell inside each and everyone of us.

“One is Evil.
It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed,
arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority,
lies, false pride, superiority and ego.

The other is Good.
It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility,
kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity,
truth, compassion and faith.”

The grandson thought about it for
a minute, and then asked his grandfather:

“Which wolf will win ?”

The old Cherokee simply replied:
“The one you feed.”

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Book of Mormon Blessings Attested to in Herriman

A couple of Sundays after his surgery, I forced Carl into the car and took him for a ride to see Herriman, Utah, “post fire”.  I’m mean.  I’m nurse-like.  
It was astonishing for a couple of reasons.  
One was the closeness to homes the fire came along a miles-long line behind houses above Herriman for a very long, terrifying time.  Few homes were destroyed and no lives were lost and no one was seriously harmed.  That even included animals and there were lots of those in that area.
The other, more amazing thing, was the feeling I got was from the people and the neighborhood itself.  It was the feeling that a real miracle had taken place.  The people were walking through their neighborhood, looking happy and grateful.  The neighborhood, beautiful and cared for, looked serene, safe, and loved, and felt very blessed.  
All the way through the Book of Mormon it talks about how the Lord blesses people when they are righteous and stands back when they are not.  It’s not usually about individuals but people as a group which is a very important point.  The Lord wants us to care for each other.  I got the feeling in Herriman that these people were good people, not just individuals, but as a group, who had been protected because they were good people who cared for each other and were grateful for all they had.  
I did do one thing that my family hates and that is I stopped and talked to a guy that was working outside of his house with a bunch of Harleys and four-wheelers.  I learned that his business is out of his house re-doing the leather in cars and motorcycles and the like  and he didn’t leave when the fire came behind the houses across the street from him.    He told me he figured he could out-run the fire himself if it came to his house, so he sat at his house drinking beer watching the fire while his neighbors put their kids into their vans and hauled out.  
He said that one cop told him that if he didn’t evacuate his house, they’d come drag him out, but apparently their word wasn’t law so they didn’t come back.  
The guy had a bunch of punching bags in his garage, and the police probably figured he could take care of himself anyway so they left him alone.  I bet his neighbors love him a lot.  I did in just the minutes I talked to him.  And he was swept up in the safety of Herriman.  What a great place to live.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Fairytale Destinations Exist

There are places in the world that are taken for fairytale spots.  Above is Colmar, considered the most beautiful city in Europe, little Venice, located in the Alsace region of France.  Want to see more?  Follow this link.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Don'tcha Kinda Gotta Like This Guy?

William Carlos Williams, "Danse Russe"

If I when my wife is sleeping
Ballet russe (photo of Adolph Bolm and Flore Revalles, taken in 1910)

and the baby and Kathleen
are sleeping
and the sun is a flame-white disc
in silken mists
above shining trees,--
if I in my north room
dance naked, grotesquely
before my mirror
waving my shirt round my head
and singing softly to myself:
"I am lonely, lonely.
I was born to be lonely,
I am best so!"
If I admire my arms, my face,
my shoulders, flanks, buttocks
again the yellow drawn shades,--
Who shall say I am not
the happy genius of my household?
[c. 1917]

Friday, October 15, 2010

Girl Fads - Insanity and Dollars Ensue

The dream would be to invent something that would appeal to girls ages five to fourteen.  Something that would be sold at the checkout stand at just about anywhere from a convenience store, to Wal-Mart, to a grocery store.  Something that would make girls melt down until they get their own version of it.  It would be something that would be easy to manufacture, something that would have universal appeal, would go winter and summer, be useful internationally and would be cheap.  Ha!  And here (above, actually) is the current item, as it rests on my skirt at church, and as it adorns Ali’s wrist.  I hope it made someone rich.  
All it is is a bunch of rubber bands, in various shapes in various colors and voila, girls go nuts and mothers and grandmothers buy them by the gross.  
What thought progressions go into such things?  Is it the same ones that go into coming up with mother boards and recipes for brownies?  For systems for making cartoons happen by computers and great American novels or cures for major diseases?  Or for the combine or the steam engine for that matter?   I’d like to know.  Or the pogo stick?  Somehow it just doesn’t seem fair.  
Those things are relatively or considerably difficult.  Rubber bands?  How long can you stand them on your wrist anyway?  They’d roll up in your arm hairs and rip them out before long. You can’t even tell what they are once they’re on your wrist.  
Here’s what I have to say.  Life is just not fair.  I want to be in charge and be the one who decides what’s worth what.  Serendipity just can’t be let loose any longer.  This has gotten ridiculous now that I’m thinking about it.
And for sheer foolishness like this, perhaps jail sentences will be involved.  I’ve had it.  

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Chance Encounters Are Often The Best

Had an all-too brief but fun conversation with a woman in my beloved O’Hare Airport with a blind woman on her way to a conference in Louisville, Kentucky.  The conference was for people who work with prisoners, teaching them braille so that they can translate textbooks for blind students.   
The woman was fascinating.  She has been blind all her life and has been reading Braille since the second grade.  This was her first time on her own in twenty years but she was delightful, seemed completely brave, competent, bright and was absolutely terrified.  She was also getting the runaround on the phone about whether someone would be picking her up at the airport when she arrived at the airport in Louisville.  No one there seemed concerned that she was more than a bit handicapped either.  
We spoke of the ubiquitous Braille in restrooms and elevators. I said I’d never seen them used ever in my life.  She said that they are used often by many, but that the problem with them is that there is no uniformity in their placement so it’s difficult for the blind to find them to use them!  Hilarious.   
I spoke to her of a friend who has diabetes who is now blind, who has her doctorate so is not stupid, and is now learning braille, and her chances of becoming competent.  She said her problem might be neuropathy, but she still could do it.
Her problems with work with prisoners is not with the prisoners themselves but with the prison system.  Obviously, she works with long-term prisoners, those who either have long sentences or life sentences.  But the problem is that she works with privately-run prison systems, and consequently their funding runs out, and her workers are moved all over the place, from Wyoming, to California, from hither to yon and are governed by different  regulations and restrictions.  Also, by definition, funding for her work is very limited.  
Needless to say, however, what she is doing  is so wonderful.  She is providing something needed for those few who need to learn.  Textbooks would be otherwise too costly for blind students.  Plus she is helping  to provide an opportunity for service for those who otherwise have no chance to pay back the society they have wronged.  
Unfortunately, an aide came and took her-all-too early to another gate as her flight had been changed, but it was one of those delightful encounters that life allows only occasionally.  She was so much fun.  I wish I had gotten her name.  That’s my only regret.  

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

E.L. Doctorow Does It Again

William Tecumseh Sherman’s storied march through the south to free the slaves is wonderfully told by E.L. Doctorow in his The March, richly and clearly illustrated by various persons and stories, placed together, sometimes harshly, sometimes gently, never without us caring about each, giving us yet another view of another war and its hideousness, compassion, wildness and death.  
Pearl, a white slave, is particularly fascinating character as is Sherman himself.  So are many, many other members of the cast who make up this story whose lives were heroic or callow to say the least.  
I couldn’t believe how much I cared about these people and what was happening to them.  There were the slaves, those medical people who were were working to patch together the lives and bodies of military men, both on the side of the Union and the Rebels, the freed slaves trying to get to the north and those slaves who couldn’t see their ways to freedom, the inhabitants of the south run through by the armies passing by.  
E.L. Doctorow won the National Book Critics Circle award for fiction and the PEN/Faulkner award for The March.  Also he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and nominated for the National Book Award for this book.  Needless to say, others feel his work is a literary achievement of the first rank as well.  
Those interested in the history of the Civil War and in the history of the United States might give this book a chance as it more than gives a great view of what took place in a small part of the final days of that piece of the history of our country.  

Monday, October 11, 2010

Eye-Opening News of Various and Sundry Importance

Here's a link to some interesting misconceptions.  Particularly the one about alcohol being cooked out of foods.  That one should send most of us beating a trail to our bishop's door except for the fact that most of us have a a reasonably short-term memory of such things as this.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Gendarmes En Parade

Standing at attention before some awesome unmarked police cars 

What’s with this?
I was driving home from Provo, heard sirens, checked the rear view and saw police lights as expected, then, to my amazement, saw seven police cars -- all unmarked -- zipping by. all with lights ablaze, heading north on I-15, ranging from SUVs to a pickup, to various kinds of cars.  But no marked police vehicles among them!
My point?  I was about the only one on the road who wasn’t a cop for a minute and who knows?  How many of you are packing and carrying badges without me knowing?  My paranoia is flaring.  
And, BTW, how did they all just show up together and where were they going?   Just wondering.  Don’t think it was a garden variety speeder they were in hot pursuit of.  I wanted to follow, but they might have gotten mad.  They seemed to be mighty serious.  They were in top speed in the HOV lane.  I could have gotten on their nerves.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

School Programs Are the Best

I’m pretty sure I saw the primo class program ever over at Eastlake Elementary a week or so ago.  It was called “Zoo Adventure.”

Alison’s in Miss Burdick’s kindergarten class.  The program involved a couple of peppy songs by an assortment of “animals”, some more obviously costumed than others, 
Ali, in the blue skirt, refused to come out of character

The camel, so realistic, is almost lost in the background of the Sahara

The common thread in this group seemed to be lots of energy and a little ADHD 
Loving the sixties as I did, I was proud of Ali posted so near the walrus

Then the bevy of beasts were sent to their various dioramas, obviously student-designed, where students fielded questions about their own individual animals.  

Parents and grandparents were told to put a hand on each shoulder and ask the student about his animal and received a most competent report.  If the response seemed a bit short, you’d ask, “Is there more?” and indeed there would be.  

There were five dioramas representing Africa, South America, The Arctic, the Ocean and the other one was probably North America.  I learned about wolves, sharks, gorillas, bears, lobsters, camels, turtles, foxes, rabbits, whales, deer and more.  And not just a sentence  or two.  But five or six sentences competently and clearly stated from each of the children.  It was great.

The venerable Miss Burdick claims never to have had a bad class.  I'm not surprised
Ali was a polar bear.  Polar bears usually have two cubs and are the largest bear in the world.  But did you also know star fish have no bones?  Also, when I asked, the walrus stated in absolute seriousness at the conclusion of his statement, that he was not a Beatle.  Oh, well.  
But as I said before, it was absolutely wonderful.  Not only did these kindergarteners get a chance to perform, but they learned some real specifics, got a chance to report what they knew, to speak up to adults and to feel important and knowledgeable as individuals and to be people who not only are learning but are teaching what they learn.  
No wonder Ali loves Miss Burdick.  

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Someday, When I Figure Things Out . . .

Most pictures you find are kinda good.  Maybe really good.  Lotsa talent.  But they don't evoke much from your heart beyond just a wish to be able to paint or draw just as competently.  They're just good.  But this one above I like.  It makes me happy.  It makes me feel something.  It's not just talent or good art or pretty.  It's focus and feeling.  It matters.  It's about caring.  It makes me like.  It makes me really want to like more.

I want to like something so much that I want to go outside in the cold and let my nose run and not care.

Today I was sitting in the sixty-something weather in a cloth chair freezing my behind off and Sophia was sitting beside me waiting to be sent back into her soccer game.  Her mother had put a blanket over her and had gone over to talk to friends.  Soph got up and placed the blanket back on the chair and said "I'm going over and stand by the line."

I asked "Why?"

She said with a big smile, "In case the coach wants me back in the game."  Of course he did within minutes.

All I wanted to do was get warm.

I want a magnificent obsession.  Something that makes my heart just want to do more.  Something to make me want to stand right at the line.  Something that would make me smile when my mother would shout "Enough is enough!"  Something that would never be enough.  Someday I'm going to run so hard again that my side will just ache.  Just you wait.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Mormon Church Makes the News In a Positive Way!

Mormons, along with Jews, were named to be pretty smart about religion -- right behind atheists.  If this were not true, then everyone is really sleeping in church.  We joke about it and we actually do it sometimes, but the revolving door of four years through the Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, Church History/Doctrine and Covenants plus Seminary/Institute has got to be doing something don't you think? 

If it's not amounting to something, let's just set up cots in the Cultural Halls throughout the Church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday-Saints, that is) or just fold up the tent (pulling up the stakes) haha, haha and trudge off into the night.  

The Church is true.  I can't imagine any other Church getting people to sit through three hours of of those manuals year after year.  This is spoken with solid testimony with only a tiny bit of sarcasm slapped in.  Thank you, Lord.  Thank you, Heavenly Father.  I'm sincerely thankful.