Friday, April 28, 2006

Blogging- The New Floor Wax

I've spent an inordinate amount of time online today. What with Jenny in Seattle, my new job not starting until Monday, and, most telling of all- I have a final early next week, I find myself drawn to the computer. Once upon a time, as Jared pointed out, I used to wax floors whenever I had a major paper due or test to take the next day. I guess I have that spark within me of being a procrastinator- not just a procrastinator, but a procrastinator's procrastinator- I mean here I am trying to procrastinate studying for my final by blogging and I find myself procrastinating writing anything substantive and just end up writing about procrastinating instead.

So in the true spirit of procrastination, I am now going to do google picture searches for random things that pop into my mind, and see if anything catches my eye:

Exhibit A. An old woman, apparently a Gypsy, sitting in a small doorway, smoking a cigar. Those are some smashing earings if you ask me. Notice that booze and cigarettes are ready to step in when the cigar runs out. This brings me back to the mission when people like this would call out to us as we walked down the Argentine streets. Their calls were usually accompanied by proclamations of being a prophet interspersed with hiccups.

Which of the three kingdoms do snowmen go to when they melt? If they make a child happy, have they fulfilled the measure of their creation, and thus attain the celestial? I guess he would have to be married to a Mrs. Frosta, or else he'll just be a snow angel. HA!

This picture almost made me cry when I saw it. Then laugh. You can almost see the look of concern on this poor duck's face. I think the duck is one of the funnier animals, along with the llama (oh no, I have llama face!!), and poop flinging chimps. Jenny and I have a friend named Erin (not you, Erin) who goes into contortions whenever she hears the word 'llama'. She just loves the word so much that brings her arms in like a chicken, and starts repeating the word 'llama': "Llaaaaaammmmaaaaa! Llama llama llama llama llaaaaammmmaaa!"

This is a picture of Mars that will be taken by the Mars rover in about 4 years.

It is a little known fact by people not of my immediate family that Jenny and I had brownies instead of a wedding cake at our wedding reception, stacked neatly in wedding cake formation, alongside a bowl full of cartons of milk.

Well, I think that's enough procrastinating for now. It's bed time.


Thursday, April 27, 2006

Hallowed be Thy Logic

As most of us know, The New Era is a magazine written for the youth of the church. What is not generally known is that somewhere in Bountiful, they actually have a small committee of Deacons writing it. This is evident in the logic presented in a recent New Era article about prayer. The article tries to justify why we use "thee, thou, thy" instead of "you, yours", but doesn't do a very good job of it. In fact, it does a positively awful job of it, almost embarrasingly bad. They say, and I quote:

The Savior used thee, thou, thy, and thine instead of you, your, and yours when He prayed. We should do the same.

Now, see if you can locate all the logical fallacies in that explanation. Let me help:

1. Jesus always used thee, thou, thy,- not just in prayers, but that doesn't matter in the slightest because
2. the KJV was translated into Elizabethan English, back in a time when that way of speaking was the norm.

The article continues by referencing a talk given by Dallin Oaks on prayer which they apparently did not read, and he gives a very eloquent (and logically sound) explanation of why we use that language in prayer:

In our day the words thee, thou, thy, and thine are suitable for the language of prayer, not because of how they were used anciently, but because they are currently obsolete in common English discourse. Being unused in everyday communications, they are now available as a distinctive form of address in English, appropriate to symbolize respect, closeness, and reverence for the one being addressed.

I think that committee of Deacons should really consider hiring an Elder or even a High Priest to help them organize their thoughts and come up with logical reasons for why we do things in the church the way we do. Otherwise, the youth are going to realize they're being talked down to and stop reading the New Era. Oh wait....

(This has been ranted about on a mormon-themed blog elsewhere, but as I don't know how many of us actually read any of those, I wanted to point it out too...)


My Rebate to Myself

For those of you who haven't heard, certain members of congress have suggested that the government pay a $100 rebate check to every American taxpayer.

These Republican Congresspeople are apparently trying to (as a radio talk show personality whom I will not name might say) out-democrat the Democrats by handing out money to cushion the impact of high gasoline prices. I think this is a bad idea.
I have many opinions on the gas prices/oil companies issues, and I might be persuaded to dicuss more of them later, but this is so obviously the worst idea that has come out of the debate that I wanted to say something about it.
First of all, we give the government money, in the form of taxes, because it has very expensive things to do as mandated by our laws. In other words, we give the government money to do the things we have told it to do (by means of the representative legislators). One of these things is not to give money (our money) back to us in cash. It is very silly.
Secondly, who is going to pay for the envelopes? The administrative and distribution costs will make the average cost of the rebate checks slighly over $100. Meaning we will each get $100, but the corresponding debt the government has to go into in order to pay that check is more than $100 for each taxpayer.
Thirdly, this type of thing is not a precedent the government should set.
Fourthly, possible inflationary effects that I won't elaborate on because I'm not smart enough to figure out the details. Maybe Warren can help me out here.
Anyway, I was thinking about what would happen if this $100 rebate idea actually happened. I think it's just crazy enough that it might get passed. Stranger things have happened. So I was thinking, what would be the funniest/most ironic way for me to spend that $100, in a sort of futile but clever protest. What I have come up with so far are:
- Buy a U.S. Treasury Bond (I'm pretty proud of this idea, actually. It's really the driving force behind this post.)
- Buy stock in Exxon-Mobil
I'm hoping some of you can come up with some good ones too.


Tuesday, April 25, 2006

A substantial, crucial question for all

Of course, then, it must have to do with The Lord of the Rings.

So I'm reading the books for the first time ever, and I must say that I'm quite enjoying them. I'm halfway through Book Two of The Fellowship of the Ring and I've been trying hard to compare as little as I can to the movie, although in all fairness Peter Jackson did seem to try hard to stick to the text. I like the adaptation: it's interesting to think about why and how Jackson condensed the way he did, and there are only a few things that I wish he hadn't taken out. One of these things, however, is not Tom Bombadil.

So here's the question: What's the deal with Tom Bombadil? I mean, sure, you can't help but like the guy, and I'm sure all of us are a little jealous that he got to marry the river's daughter, but I don't see what he adds to the story. I talked it over with one friend of mine and we came up with a few possibilities:

1) Because Tolkien was basing much of his tale in actual Anglo-Saxon lore and tradition, he decided to add some natural-powers-in-the-form-of-men characters, because they're part of the setting. He shows us human-(or hobbit-)kind's interaction with and dependency on nature and how they can live symbiotically (???).

2) The Lord of the Rings is as much about the journey as it is about the destination. The journey and what Frodo and his companions learn in the course of it lead up to the culminating triumphs and lessons learned. Thus Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin needed to learn about following instructions correctly, calling on friends for help, respecting the woods and the trees, etc. Their experience with Tom Bombadil taught them these things and enriched them before they carried on to Bree and Rivendell. Tolkien also adds to the ups and downs of the journey through the Tom Bombadil segment. He shows the great fortune the hobbits had in meeting him as opposed to the misfortunes of being caught by Old Man Willow and the Barrow Wight (???).

3) Tom Bombadil is the Jar-Jar Binks of The Lord of the Rings. He skips around singing and making rhymes and laughing a lot, he wears bright clothes, and he refers to himself in the third person. He was put in to appeal to kids and everybody's child inside.

So? What about it? Am I close here? Does anybody else have any ideas? I would love a little enlightenment. And if you have no idea what I'm talking about, pick up the first book and start reading.



Sunday, April 23, 2006

Garden Journal, Week 3

Some of my tulips are finally blooming. Somehow the tulips beat the daffodils in coming out of the ground, though usually the daffodils come several weeks before tulips. Last fall I planted about 50 in this little circle- all red tulips and yellow daffodils
My zinnia seeds sprouted in the seed containers last week. However I did not keep a good eye on the weather and most of them froze one night, so I just planted the remaining seeds into the flower bed. Oops. Same with the marigolds.

I took a risk this year and planted the tomatos a few weeks early since it looks like it will be good weather until May 1st, which is the traditional tomato planting day in this climate. This first plant is a pink brandywine plant, which ties with the lemon boy yellow tomato for first place in my category of best tasting tomato. I also planted some beefsteaks- which I have had good luck with before in terms of yield and taste, as well as a variety of others including one called "jetsetter" which advertised itself as a heavy bearer.

The peas finally broke through the ground. I used the method recommended by James Crockett of PBS's Victory Garden fame. I dug a shallow trench about 6 inches wide, and scattered tons of seeds into the trench all in very close quarters next to a short fence. As it gets hotter I will fill in the trench to protect the roots from the heat.

Here is a row of green onions just poking above the soil. We like green onions in our salsa, soups, and tacos. I planted them pretty close as I plan on using what I thin out over the next few months.

Red lettuce

Green lettuce

We planted a lot more carrots this year than last since we seemed to use all of what I planted. Plus, Lucy really likes them. I tried purple carrots along with the regular orange this year.
The onion sets are doing very well, as expected, since it would take a very smart person to figure out how to get them to do poorly. They seem to grow well in the worst of conditions, so I put these in the spot that gets the most shade since they seem to tolerate that pretty well.

These guys were going around the neighborhood saturday selling a lawn aeration service for 25$ for all the grass on your property, so I took them up on it, and cleaned up the back lawn. It now looks pretty nice and I hope with a little watering and fertilizer the Maggy-stricken parts will come back.
I love looking at my parsley. It's so green.
We've got this vine weed all over our property called kudzu (that's what Jenny thinks it is, though I've learned that real kudzu only grows in the southeast), and I actually really like it since it makes our fence green, and gives a little more privacy. It's very invasive, and I have to fight to keep it out of the garden, but I think it's worth it. This is a kudzu vine finally sprouting it's leaves.


Saturday, April 22, 2006

Evil Speaking to the Lord's Anointed

Well I've done it again. I think I just inadvertantly told an Apostle of the Lord to his face that his talk was boring. . Ok, that's not entirely truthful- this is only the first time I've done it, but I said it so offhandedly that you'd think I had practice.

Our stake is having stake conference this weekend and we are getting a new stake presidency. As we all know it is usually the Seventy who do most of the work of reorganizing stakes, but our stake must be especially righteous, or especially sinful, because Elder Richard G. Scott himself of the Quorum of the Twelve showed up to do it. We had a nice priesthood session this afternoon where he had a question and answer session- something you don't always get with one of the twelve. I didn't have anything especially interesting to ask him, so I just listened to all the other questions and their Apostolic answers.

We returned tonight for the "adult" session, where we had- not talks about adult themes (thank goodness, that would have been a little awkward with an apostle sitting there), but a session free of children. Compared to some deacons I know, Lucy quite qualifies as an adult, so she sat on my lap up in the choir seats behind where the speakers and presiding authorities sit. The choir sang a little diddy by Janice Kapp Perry (expect rant on this later), and then we listened to the speakers for almost two hours. Lucy did quite well, though by the end (it was almost 9:00) she was getting a little tired. Luckily it was Elder Scott speaking at the end, and he can speak in such a nice, soft melodic voice that she fell right asleep. I really enjoyed his talk. There aren't many people who can hold my attention after a 1.5 hour church meeting, but he is definitely one of them.

As we filed out to leave, there was a big line (queue, for those of you in England) of people hoping to shake hands with Elder Scott and this blocked our exit from the choir seats. As we got in the line to leave, which doubled as the line to shake hands, we got closer and closer to Elder Scott, when finally I was standing there, Lucy asleep in my arms, and he grabbed my hand and said something about what a good baby to sit so quiet through a long meeting. Thinking I was thanking him and complementing him on his wonderful voice I said "Well I owe you a big thank-you! You helped me put her to sleep."

Now, what I meant to say was, "You have such a wonderful speaking voice that you helped me put her to sleep", but feeling the pressure of the massive line behind me, I felt obliged to shorten my remarks to him, which unfortunately dropped a little of the meaning of what I meant to say. So I effectively told him "Your talk was so boring it put my baby to sleep". Oops.

Lucky for me the choir sings again tomorrow morning. I think for my everlasting soul's sake I better lean over to him and give him a little context to my rushed comment.


Friday, April 21, 2006

Spring Thaw: part 2

As spring is upon us, I have something new to think about: my lawn.

When we bought our house last summer, I inherited a well kept yard. It didn't take too much effort to mow and keep the lawn looking pretty good until the snow came, though I cancelled the lawn fertizer service the previous owners had used. When the snow melted, our lawn looked pretty sad compared to our neighbors', which didn't surprise me because I hadn't used any "winterizer fertilizer". What did surprise me is that I cared. I briefly thought about suppressing those thoughts of caring and just "letting my lawn go" this year. It's not like I don't have other things to keep my busy. I don't have riding a riding mower like all my neighbors do, I don't have a weed wacker or power edgers or anything like that (my snow shovel also looks pretty sorry next to my neighbors' snow blowers) so it's a bigger investment for me anyway. It would mean a lot less work if I just let it go, and besides, lawns are so bourgeois.
I hadn't entertained these thoughts for very long when I started imagining the scenario where my lawn was infested with weeds because I let it go, and the weeds started spreading to my neighbors' yards, and they were really mad at me. So, in the end, I decided I needed to care for my lawn.
So I put fertizer down a couple weeks ago (I turned down the lawn care companies who offered to fertilize my lawn througout the season for way too much money (I guess I don't care that much)). Now my lawn is on the way to not being embarassing.
Jenny's post about cleaning was the inspiration for this post.


On self-plagiarization, et cetera

I have stolen my words and published them elsewhere!

But don't you worry, Jared fans. All of my posts are still here. You see, Salsa Night is not my first attempt at blogging. I had a rather lackluster blog called "Movies + Restaurants = Life" that I started last November. The idea was that I was going to review movies and restaurants. It didn't happen; it was too constrictive and I never posted.

Salsa Night, however, has reawoken the blogging spirit in me. So I started up a new one that gives me more freedom. I do intend to continue posting here, I just wanted an independent outlet as well. And since I did like a few of my posts here a lot, I went ahead and did a little copy-paste action. Many of my future Salsa posts will also appear in both forums. However, there will be many (I hope) posts from my new blog (Fruit at the Bottom, by the way) that may not make it here. So feel free to check it out.



Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Jenny Lures Herself into False Complacency

I just returned from enrichment and I feel ashamed and dirty. I'm not sure that's what they had in mind when they set the whole thing up, but it happened.

Tonight's topic was "Spring Cleaning" (that should have been my first warning). The sign in the foyer was bright and cheery--yellow posterboard with bright green letters with pink daisies growing out of them at opportune points. Capital letters at the bottom proclaimed "NURSERY PROVIDED" and "SPECIAL GUEST SPEAKER." It was the second of the two announcements that really caught my eye. You have to go through a bunch of church tape to bring in speakers from outside the ward or stake, and so they must have really felt this person would be able to unlock the secrets of spring cleaning in order to bother to bring her in.

So Lucy and I arrived at five till seven and chatted around until things got started right on MST (mormon standard time) at seven ten. The Mia Maids running the nursery asked if they could take Lucy, but looking around at the other women I realized they already had seventeen kids in there under the age of eight and I thought better of it. So she sat on my lap, or on her blanket. When things started the seats were only half full, and I was called over into the center seats, away from my "quick gettaway in case the child explodes" seat by the back door.

I think I can pretty well sum up what happened next by relating a few key images: Lucy playing on her blanket and deciding she has forgotten how to sit ... the resulting nose-dive noted aloud by the speaker in "Oh! The baby! Oh no!" ... the eyes of every other mother focused on my back as I bent to retrieve my child from her flattened position ... my realization that this shirt was not meant for bending over in front of other people ... Cries of Righteous Indignation by Lucy ... leaving my seat quickly to go stare at the lights by the door ... sitting down again ... round two ... realizing too late that the bottle was leaking ... Lucy sneezing slimey apple juice on both our neighbors simultaneously ... in other words, I was in over my head from the start.

If it had just been the typical chaos of entering into the public sphere with someone unable to control their bodily functions and movements, it would have been ok. After all, a lot of the other women were mothers too. And Lu knows how to work a crowd with smiles inbetween all the distractions. But the topic of cleanliness in the home--I was surrounded on all sides!

Kelly, the guest speaker, has cleaned homes professionally for twenty-two years. And she enjoys it. And she doesn't know how to surface clean. Her main tools: an Oreck vacuum, an extendable feather duster, rags, yellow sponges, blue sponges, and many, many toothbrushes. For every question that night, her answer was "use a toothbrush to really get in there and scrub that out." She had many good points (start by cleaning the ceiling of a room to get rid of cobwebs and such that cause dust). I learned much (you can clean ceilings?!?). She systematically took us through every room in the house and talked about where the toothbrushes would come in handy. As I mentally accompanied her on her tour of (my) home, I began to realize that, despite all my efforts, I live in a really dirty home. Not just messy--although it tends to be that too--but dirty. I began to feel the pressure to wipe down baseboards weekly, as Kelly does in the homes she cleans. I realized that orange tinge to the outer wall of our shower wasn't caused by the lightbulbs going out in the bathroom, but rather an insidious invasion of mold. I have dust in my swamp cooler; I haven't cleaned my blinds; my carpets have spots; the wall next to my stovetop needs degreasing; I have never taken a toothbrush to my toilet ...

I don't normally think of myself as dirty, but by the time the presentation was done, I could feel the filth of my house waiting to welcome me home.

Meanwhile, Lucy began to tire. (Women get very excited about cleaning. They ask a lot of questions. They share tips they heard while listening to morning talk shows. They talk some more.) By the end of the presentation I was up with her again. Finally, her blanket and bag out of reach in the front row, I ended the evening with what I felt to be a rebellious irony. I put her down on the gym (carpet) floor to play. I tried not to think of all the dirt that was inevitably waiting for her on that floor, searching for its chance to hop onto her yellow striped t-shirt dress and mockingly follow us into our home that evening. She loved it.

This whole evening has made me rethink (again) my relationship to housework. I really do enjoy and appreciate living in a neat, clean, organized, sanitized home. And I don't necessarily mind working to get it that way. But I despise the fact that I can never really ever catch up and be on top of it. And so I continually feel guilty about the fact I haven't taken q-tips to my window tracks and that it's been weeks since my vacuum made it out of the basement. I have enough things in my life to guiltify over--I resent the fact my brain takes up time with this one.

When I returned home I put Lu down for the night and looked around at the stack of dirty dishes and the pile of laundry and the crumbs on the kitchen floor ... and then I came here to post. You see, it's late, and if I start cleaning now I'll be up all night and then be grumpy tommorrow. Much better to just write about cleaning and sleep on it: I'm sure I'll forget most of the guilt tonight, sleeping between my non-ironed dirty sheets. :)


Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Pass the Parsley, its Passover!

Jenny and I just got back from having passover with some of our friends, complete with bitter herbs, "new" wine and unleavened bread (but, unfortunately, no lamb). In place of the meal itself was a bowl of lettuce with salad dressing, and a small bowl of hearty soup, but I suppose serving lamb to a large Mormon ward might be a little pricey. The ward had invited a Mormon Jew (or is it Jewish Mormon?) to have the dinner with them and explain all the various parts of it, and of course he tied it all into the New Testament and the Christian symbolism of the meal, ie Christ as the pascal lamb, the bitter herbs representing the bondage of Israel and also our bondage of sin which is washed away with the blood of Christ- the sweet wine. It was interesting to see just how involved that meal is (I really had no idea, it even goes all the way to the seating arrangement, and what order things are eaten and drunk in- wine before bread, wine before bread, and at the end, bread before wine... etc) and that even most non-religious Jews still celebrate passover as a cultural tradition.

It got me inspired to start a new family tradition: to celebrate passover (ok, maybe I just want an excuse to roast a lamb). We humans seem to learn well with symbols, and perhaps no one traditional meal exhibits more symbolism of Christ than passover. It would be a great way for the kids to learn about Israel, Christ, and our relationship with Him (and, as I already stated, a great way to eat lamb). The lessons that can be taught with the passover meal could fill several manuals- atonement, sacrifice, temples, new and everlasting covenant, Elijah, reliance on the Lord, and the list goes on...

Sometimes I wish we had more religious holidays in the church celebrated in a traditional style complete with the symbolism that entails. We as a church seem to put a pretty big emphasis on Christmas and Easter (for obvious reasons), yet we don't really have a systematic, traditional way of celebrating them. We used to- back when the true church was the Jewish church, but it seems one of the byproducts of restoring the church in the "anti-popery" society of New England was the loss of a lot of religious tradition. Nowadays, the actual tradition part is left up to families, which I suppose is good, but then there are so many families that don't get the full symbolism and the lessons that can be taught by using it. I had no idea what all those "extra days" that go along with Easter meant (ash wednesday, palm sunday, good friday, etc) until just a few years ago. I like the easter bunny though, because he brings me candy.

Does anyone else's family have Christmas, Easter, or even passover traditions? What are they like?


Spring Thaw

Katie and I threw the frisbee around for a few minutes on Monday, for the first time in many moons.

The weather is finally warming up and it has got me thinking. ("Now Horace, I warned you about thinkin'.") (Did I watch too many Disney movies as a kid? Yes.) We enjoy Grand Rapids, but maybe someday we will want to live somewhere where the weather doesn't suck (excuse my language) 5 months out of the year. Now some of you might start quoting 2 Nephi 2 in my general direction. "But Jon," you might say, "You can't fully appreciate good weather without experiencing bad weather." My answer to that: "I have seen enough bad weather for my lifetime." Now it is useful to point out my definition of bad weather is the following: 1) cold (below freezing) or 2) snowy. Katie's definition is more like: bad weather = cloudy or too hot. So right now, the typical year in Grand Rapids is Winter = bad weather for both of us, Summer = bad weather for Katie.
Anyway, we've talked about places we would like to move if and when we decided to move. We have come up with the following finalists: Denver, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles. You will notice that these places are of the western persuasion. None of them have all of our desired qualities (medium to large city, pleasant weather, good job prospects, affordability, family/friends close by, doesn't have a French name ("You're outta here, Des Moines!")) but they are the best we have come up with.
I'm wondering if any of you have had similar thoughts about or might end up in any of these places. I'm not talking about the Northern California rural dream, I'm thinking more of a medium-term practical goal. Several of you have some expertise in the area of Seattle, but comments on other places are welcome too.

As a side note. Whenever I tell people that I grew up in California and I try to say something interesting about where I grew up, I always end up mentioning how nice the weather is in the Bay Area. That's not the only interesting thing about the area but I usually get blank stares if I talk about Silicon Valley or say something like, "I went to the same high school as Steve Wosniak and Steve Jobs." Anyway, many people (usually girls) said that they liked the weather where they grew up (someplace cold) because it had "four seasons". This is probably bad of me, but I would always think, "I bet you weren't the one shovelling snow." Now I guess I can agree that some people actually like snow overall even after you balance the fun with the extra work, but that's not me.


Monday, April 10, 2006

Why did you grow a beard?

It's a valid question; depending on whom you ask, the responses can be extremely varied.

Nick, for example, would simply respond that it's because he doesn't shave three times a day (I believe he had to explain that to BYU ultimate frisbee officials on several occasions). Some will blame it on sloth, others on the need to investigate their own masculinity. Some actually think it looks good. I have my own reasons.

The first beard I grew was for a mediocre, student-written play at BYU called Faking Reality. Personally, I think we were faking quality, but I did have a good time with it. My character was a rebellious BYU drop-out, so of course he had to wear a beard. Incidentally, this role required me to carry around the much-fabled "beard card" (not actually a card, but a form letter from the Honor Code office).

One year later, in the spring of 2004, I was alone in Europe and decided the beard would return. I was hiking around by myself and I decided that the beard fit the Hiking Around Europe lifestyle.

Fast forward one more year and I again found myself in Europe. Again I grew the beard. I had come to associate an extended stay in Europe with the growing of facial hair. It just seemed to fit. I was walking around small countryside towns, riding trains, and eating lots of granola bars.

Now it is spring again, one year later. Jon may post a rant about this, but I feel like tradition mandates a temporary beard on my face. I've done it each spring for the last three years, so why stop now? I feel a little cool with the beard, especially because it's always a rarer chin-strap variety (the real reason for this is that my mustache doesn't connect well). It reaffirms my ability to grow it and allows me to try something different for a while.

Additionally, this year's They Might Be Giants tour is entitled "Why Did You Grow a Beard?" I'll be attending a somewhat intimate concert at a DC club downtown. I'm hoping that John or John will spot me and say, "Hey, why did you grow a beard?" to which I can respond, "Because I was hoping you'd ask."



Sunday, April 09, 2006

Garden Journal, Week 1

I've always wanted to keep a garden journal but never really had a good format to do it in since I am pretty lazy when it comes to actually picking up a pen and doing it the old fashioned way, and besides- writing it like this I can add pictures. In the words of Jared, "Tech keeps me old fashioned".

April 9, 2006

I planted our peach tree almost two years ago when we moved in to our house. We had this old old decrepit plum tree (which finally blew down last year (good ridance since the falling plums always stained our walkway (this triply embedded parenthetical comment is dedicated to JonnyF))), but I wanted some more fruit trees, and I think our favorite tree fruit is peach, freshly picked. Due to our lingering winter, it is only now starting to bloom. Last year it set too much fruit and it all ended up withering away, so note to self: remove most of the fruit once it sets, and water more frequently.

As an afterthought during the previous fall, I planted several bags of tulips and daffodils in our little front yard flower patch circle. This is where the plum tree used to be, and where we'll probably put a new tree this summer. This bed is shaded most of the day so the tulips aren't blooming yet, and for some mysterious reason the daffodils never even came up. D'oh!

Desperate for our long winter to come to a welcome close, Jenny and I planted some pansies in pots to frame our front door. I love pansies, but most people (especially businesses and large instutions like BYU) never do them right- they always space them very far apart like little tiny islands of color in a sea of brown mulch. I like them bunched together to make mountains of color atop plains of green.

Of all the herbs I planted last year, the only one to survive was the parsley. It came back with a vengeance, the one green spot in our late winter garden. Last time I put all the herbs in one place- next to the parsley, though this year we might just do basil and oregano, possibly somewhere else as the soil here is not that fertile. I bought some basil seeds this year that are advertised to grow up to 4 inches long and wide. We'll see about that.

Parsley is pretty up close and personal.

Last year the guy that put in our downstairs bathroom offered to dig up his whole strawberry patch and give it too me since he was going to till it anyway. I planted about 50 of them and all but 5 didn't survive our 100+ degree weather that lasted over a month last summer. This year I bought 25 new plants and put them in better soil that will get more water. Maybe this time we'll actually get a strawberry.

Some of my favorite flowers are zinnias and marigolds. I planted about 48 seeds of each in these seed containers, along with all the basil and cucumbers. I ran out of potting soil so I used sand mixed with regular garden soil with a little manure mixed in. Let's hope they survive. If they do, that will be the most zinnia, marigold, and basil I will have planted in one season (well, that were planted AND survived). It seems we can never get enough basil during the summer, especially when its a good tomato year.

This time I planted the pea seeds along the garden fence so they will have good support. Last year I tried training them up on sticks and branches for a more natural look, but since they didn't get very much sun we didn't have a harvest.

I planted the salad bowl lettuce, red sails lettuce, and red swiss chard two weeks ago. If I time the planting just right we should be still harvesting our lettuce when our tomatos are ready in July. I bought a different kind of spinach this year (Olympia) that is supposed to last a lot longer than regular spinach. If it doesn't, I guess I'll have to settle for the New Zealand spinach, which technically isn't even spinach but supposedly tastes like it and lasts all season long. I guess I shouldn't judge since I haven't tasted it yet.

The red and yellow onion sets I planted two weeks ago are just starting to poke their stalks above the ground.

Last year I planted about 30 garlic cloves as an experiment. The harvest was ok, but the ones I dug up were pretty small, probably since the soil wasn't the best and it got too hot and dry for them during the 100+ month. I put them in a spot this year where they'll get a little shade at midday. Since I forgot to dig up most of them, all of the individual cloves that grew on each garlic sent up their own stalks late this winter, so I just transplanted them into rows. Being in the ground since last fall let them establish good hardy roots over the winter so these should do better.

Over the winter, Maggy's paws aren't too healthy for the back lawn. You can see her regular play areas, some of which I doubt will come back. I'm going to put in a sprinkler system any way, and then reseed in some places, so this is the "before" picture.

The potatos I planted last year tasted amazing, but never got very big since they were planted in the shade. This time I'm going to put them where the shed used to be (and still kinda is) since that spot gets tons of sun and has very loose sandy soil. We love the Yukon Golds, and I threw in some Norland Reds as well. Freshly dug up immature potatos taste very good as baked potato chips.

And of course I was helped by the puppies, who in my absence went back to make sure the pea seeds were still there under the soil. Thanks Maggy. That's Coleford, Maggy's boyfriend who comes and stays with us for a few days every week or so.


Thursday, April 06, 2006

Delete, or not delete--that is the question

I am in the midst of an existential crisis, brought on by our digital camera.

That might be overstating things a bit ... but let me begin at the beginning so that you can see where I'm coming from. Nick and I were doing just fine with our traditional film camera and figured that it would last us several more years. Then, when Lucy was born, I didn't have any film on hand and my friend Michelle graciously lent us her digital camera for the hospital duration. It was fun. We enjoyed seeing the pictures instantly, and being able to email them out to anxious grandparents. With my next paycheck, I promptly went out and bought our own.

This is where things began to get complicated. You see, the problem with a digital camera is that you really can take as many pictures as you want. I've tried to delete the obviously bad ones before I load them onto our computer, but then there are those that you really need to see on a full screen to decide if they are worth keeping. However, once I load them on, they tend to stay there, good or bad. So now we have hundreds and hundreds of pictures, the majority of which feature little Lu.

I realize that I need to delete some. I realize that I will never in my lifetime print and scrapbook 1000 pictures of our baby. Even I wouldn't want to look at that many photos of her. But my tribal roots must be showing, because somehow I find it extremely difficult to delete photos of my child--I worry that I might want that particular one back, or that somehow my actions could be interpreted as not wanting Lucy around. (By the way, I have no problem deleting photos of myself. I just find the one or two that I think look the best from the event and zap! the rest are gone.)

I am a semi-rational human being. I realize the deletion of an image is not necessarily tied to the deletion of the object itself. I've read Benjamin (maybe that's the problem--"quantity has been transmuted into quality"). I don't even necessarily want to look at all of the photos, only know that I could if I wanted to.... Any suggestions? Am I alone in my inability to rationally navigate the implications of digitization for Lucy's existence? (I present this problem with self-depreciating irony, but at the same time I think there are some interesting questions here about how technology affects our conception of our mode of existence....)

PS These thoughts coalesced after reading JonnyF's experience with the vending machine--a sort of tribute to technological trials ...


Reminiscing on a 286

I got to work yesterday morning and found that my mouse wasn't working.The day before I had to switch offices and I took my CPU with me in order to maintain my Outlook settings, keep the stuff I had on my hard drive, etc. However, I decided to use the other computer components left to me by the previous occupant of my new desk; among other things, he left me an optical mouse. I'm no techie, but I do enjoy the smooth glide of a mouse sans ball. No cleaning, no jerky motion, no troubles.

No troubles, that is, until the day after you get it hooked up and your computer decides that it doesn't remember having the hardware installed. To make matters worse, I don't have the administrative authority on my computer to perform the simple task of installing a mouse. Add to that the fact that our IT guy doesn't get in until 10:00, and you come out with the fact that I spent three hours yesterday operating my computer by keyboard. It took a while for it to come back to me, but slowly I began to remember my family's old 286, which gave the luxury of a mouse only on certain programs. "Alt+F+S = Save! Of course!" Pretty soon I was whizzing around Windows and having a jolly time of it. I felt sort of like a deacon on a youth conference pioneer trek: I was reliving the days of the desktop pioneers! My eyes welled up a little as I thought back even further to the Commodore 64 that used to occupy my brother's room.

Things are all right now. Todd the tech came in around 10:00, failed to negotiate the installation of hardware with my computer, and gave me the consolation prize of a brand-new Dell ball-based mouse, fresh from its wrappings. It may not be an optical mouse, but somehow I'm more grateful for it.



Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Kiya is born

I made a quick post over at with a few quick pics.
Sorry so rushed!


Sunday, April 02, 2006


Believe it or not, these words were uttered by Jenny and me this weekend:
Jenny: I'm getting sick of the Messiah
Nick: I just wish Jesus would stop going so flat...

So, are we apostates? Are we sunstone subscribers? Will I soon be starting my own church of faithful followers, lulling them down to Belize where we'll live the united order safe from the evil American government? All I can tell you is, we most definitely do not subscribe to sunstone.

As it so happens, Jenny and I drove up to Boise this weekend to show off Lucy to her great grandparents. Jenny's Grandpa kept on subliminally suggesting that we come up (100$ check in the mail with "gas money" written on the "for" line), so we thought conference weekend would be as good a week as any, packed Lucy up- and by that I mean pack up all of her possessions a la Princess Vespa in Spaceballs (her suitcase was MUCH larger than ours), and made the trip up. We love taking road trips- we can go hours without talking, absorbed in all the beautiful spacious scenery as it crawls by, or sometimes we talk deeper than we often talk at home. Something about being in a car together for a long stretch of time far away from civilization changes the relationship dynamic just enough that we often talk about subjects that we never seem to have time for in the usual routine.

On some of those long stretches of road absent any conversation, we'll sometimes (not always) have some music on. Returning from Boise, it being Sunday and all we listened to Handel's Messiah from "Surely he hath Borne our Grief and Carried Our Sorrow" all the way to "Worthy the Lamb". I love the Messiah. Both of them, actually, the song and it's namesake. Ever since our stake performed it last year I think I've listened to it on average once a week. Next year when we do it again I want to try out for the "The Trumpet Shall Sound" solo. (Why do I always almost say "the Strumpet shall sound"?) Parts of that song are easily among the most moving I've heard.

As you might have guessed, Jenny was referring to the song, not the namesake, when she said she was sick of the Messiah, as we had been listening to it for the better part of two hours when she switched it off. So, no, we're not apostates. Except for when I chose to watch a basketball game on TV instead of go to the priesthood session of conference. GASP! Ok, now they really are apostates, you say. Basketball over priesthood? Especially when we know Nick has never willingly watched any organized game of ANYTHING on TV before? Blasphemy indeed.

No, no blasphemy. Not today. The week is young, but not today. I watched it for Jenny's Grandpa. He's a sports nut of the worst kind. Grandpa is to sports as women are to chocolate as Liberals are to detached cynicism. I bet if they had portable walkmans back in 1939 he would have been secretly listening to the big game even while saying "I do". Being a male trying to marry one of his granddaughters, my first meeting with grandpa involved being 'treated' to an Emmett Idaho high school basketball game. Go Huskies! Every conversation we have revolves either around my garden, or consists of him talking sports and me trying to fake it. I've gotten pretty good: "George Mason is pretty good on their defense, but they weren't shooting very well from the field". Well did I have you convinced during that sentence that I knew what I was talking about? Impressive, huh? That's 4 years of practice talking with Grandpa.

Anyway, Grandpa is 89, his wife is in a care center with advanced alsheimers, and he is a recent convert to the church. But instead of trying to pressure him into going to priesthood session with us, I heartily accepted his invitation to watch "the big game". I'm sure it meant much, much more to him that his grandkids did something with their grandpa they knew was important to him rather than falling asleep in the stake center. Falling asleep to the sound of a crowd cheering is much more fun.

So is doing what you're "supposed" to do always the right thing to do? The grin on our grandpa's face said resoundingly 'no'. When I'm in Belize with my flock I'll read to them over the pulpit the priesthood session that I missed this weekend.

Oh, and that bit about Jesus going flat referred to the guy singing Jesus' lines in our Easter program this year for our stake. I'm pretty sure the real Jesus doesn't go flat.