Thursday, November 30, 2006

Free Advice? Sign Me Up

Once again, Julie C has inspired me to post. I have a question that I really need help with. Bad. Now. Lotsa help. Pleeeaase ...

Here's the problem: I need a way to control my iMac from Nick's laptop while we're up in Seattle over Christmas break. By control I mean access files, programs, run the programs and save new files, and ... I think that's all. Is this possible? (I know it can be done, but can I figure it out is the real question. The answer to which is no. Hence this post.)

What I've found:
A program called Timbuktu that has good reviews, does what I want, and costs $200.00 (I'd need it for 2 computers and it's about $95 per computer.) Pros: established program, people like it. Cons: $$$

Two other VNC programs: one called RealVNC and the other called Chicken of the VNC (for macs). The first claims to be cross-platform, but all their examples deal only with Linux/Unix/Windows. They have a mac version of the program however. The second is a VNC written specifically for macs. Pros: neither look expensive (I think they're free) Cons: Does this actually do what I want? Is it trustworthy?

One other item: we have internet through comcast so our IP address changes all the time. I'm not sure if this would be a problem (or how to overcome it) with the VNC clients. Timbuktu lets you assign an email address to your "home" computer and then you access the computer through that instead of the IP address.

If any of you have any (any any any) insights, tips, ideas, help, advice, etc. it would be most appreciated :)


Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Advice? Help?

I guess every family has high tension at the holiday when everyone gets together, right?

I was just wondering at what point do you just listen to one family member say bad things about another family member and how do you tell them that you're not comfortable with that? I was caught a little by surprise by that this past weekend, and I'm not sure if there's anything I can do now. I probably should have told them at the time that I didn't want to hear it - instead I tried to defend the accused person, but that didn't really work. Anything I said was rejected because it didn't agree with their opinion. Any ideas? Should I do anything about it now, or should I just wait and figure out what to do if (when) it happens again?


Saturday, November 25, 2006

A Grave for Two

My grandpa was an odd man. A good man, but odd. Soon, it will be a year since he died. I always thought of my grandpa Webb as the "good grandpa", partly because his only competition for the best grandpa title was my other grandpa, who was quite mean and bitter, but mostly because he always gave me rib cage crushing hugs when I was a kid. As my favorite grandpa, I would eagerly look forward to when he and my grandma would make the trek from Sandy to visit us in Seattle, always bringing a few boxes of grandma's homemade chocolates- if you think See's or Godiva's are good chocolates, then I pity you since you never got to taste hers.

My grandma died when I was around ten, and after she was gone my grandpa started his long slide into extreme old age- he finally died at age 95 this year. Whenever I saw him he seemed less interested in what was going on around him, and his mind seemed to be slipping a little. For example, at one of his birthday parties Jenny and I were talking to him when it came out that we both served our missions in South America. He then started to talk to us in Spanish- not great Spanish, but it was passable. This surprised me since I knew he did not serve a mission (he was of mission age during the great depression), and knew he had not lived overseas. He then told us about sailing on a great ocean liner to Mexico, and then on to Spain, where he stayed for a few years while he was young. I wondered why his biography (actually, my great-grandpa's biography, but he had his own chapter in it) had not mentioned it. Later, I talked to one of my 9 uncles about it and he laughed, saying that was his dementia kicking in and that he was only remembering some of his grandkids' experiences on their missions as if they were his own. That answer satisfied me, but I still wondered where he learned his Spanish.

My grandpa was of that generation that did not need a good education to get a good job, that stayed in one job for their whole lives, and that had a lot of kids. He had nine boys and three girls, all living in a small home in Sandy that I pass everyday on trax while going to school. It was also a time in the church when a lot of weird "folk" doctrines floated around, especially in the areas of the church where the members didn't have lots of education, which at that time were most. The ten tribes lived at the north pole, or even underground, Cain was wandering the Earth as a sasquatch, and patriarchs would often promise the recipients of their blessings amazing and often unbelievable things.

My grandpa's patriarchal blessing was no exception. In it, he was promised that he would live to see the second coming. No joke. The older he got, the more we all talked about it- how we all needed to repent soon because grandpa was getting older and older which meant that the second coming was near. When he hit 90, we knew the angelic trumpets could only be a few years away at most, though once he started approaching 95 and world conditions weren't lining up quite right I suspected the Patriarch might have been a little overzealous. And I was right- he died last February after 9 and a half well lived decades, and no one I know has been raptured yet. On the day of his funeral, the sun was out and there was a hint of spring on the air. At the Sandy city cemetary there must have been hundreds of people, and I was sure only family and close friends had been invited. There we stood next to his grave which was right next to another freshly dug piece of earth. I didn't think anything of it until the luncheon afterwards. I was sitting with my aunt who had taken care of him the last 20 years of his life and she was handing all the siblings a bill for the funeral. On one line was a fee for the removing of my grandma's coffin to be placed next to my grandpa. That was odd, I thought.

"Why did she need to be moved? Why couldn't grandpa be buried next to her?" I asked my aunt.

"He only bought one plot when she died."

"Didn't he think ahead to his own eventual demise?" I questioned further.

"Oh, well he always believed he would never die, so when grandma died he only bought the one plot, and by the time he died all the space around her had been taken."

Which brings me back to the goodness and the oddness of my grandpa. What faith he must have had to let his belief influence his actions to the extant that he didn't think it necessary to purchase a grave. If only more of us could have belief that strong. And yet, how odd... .


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

"Someone is way cooler than us"

That's what Julie C said to me in an email that contained this link. I know she alluded to this under her recent comment, but I really think this deserves our attention. So I'm posting it right up front.


Sunday, November 19, 2006


So I was eating some m&ms today and I started thinking about the two associations I have with them. The first is when I was kid when my family would visit our cousins in Utah, my parents would stay up with our aunt and uncle, talking and eating a big bowl of m&ms, pausing only to send any m&m begging kids back to bed. The second is witnessing Jared's crusade to stick it to the man by never eating a blue m&m, and actually SAVE every blue m&m from any package he ever opened and from every package that the people around him who didn't think he was crazy ever opened, and send them back to the mars company that made them as an act of defiance against..... something. I forgot. My only question is, Jared- Did you ever send them?

As I sat down to write this, I realized I didn't know which company made m&ms. So I wikied it (is it a word, to "wiki" something?), and discovered that, yes, they were made by the Mars company. What I didn't know was that they are named after Forrest Mars (of Mars company fame) and Bruce Murrie, taking the first letter of their last names. They originally were a British product marketed as smarties, but when the two men sold them in the US, they had to change the name as Smarties were already being sold.

-Other m&m trivia I discovered: Peanut m&ms were called "treets" in Europe until 1990.
-M&ms were given to soldiers during World War II since they could survive a variety of climates.
-They were originally eaten by soldiers in the Spanish civil war, after which they were bought by the two aforementioned Americans.
-Steven Spielberg approached Mars about placing m&ms in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. They declined, and the offer went instead to the Hersheys Company to place Reeses Pieces. Their sales tripled the week after the release.
-The white "m" printed on each one started in 1950 and was originally black
-The original color for all m&ms was brown. In 1960 they added red, yellow and green. In 1976 they removed red due to cancer scares from red dye and replaced it with orange. After the scare died down, red was re-introduced in 1987. And we finally come to Jared's reason for his compaign:

In 1993, Mars ran a promotion in which consumers were invited to vote on which of blue, pink, or purple would be introduced. Blue was the winner, and with the removal of tan, it was added in early 1995.

So there you have it, the history of m&ms. Though I'm still interested in knowing how the anti blue campaign went.


Friday, November 17, 2006

Lit Stuff

I'm not sure why I'm in such a posty mood the last week or so ... probably because I've been swamped with work and am trying to procrastinate as much as possible. Following that line of thought, remember that stuff I studied for many years at BYU? Literature? Yeah. That's the stuff. Turns out my mom wanted to cash in on her investment in my education.

She was out visiting an elderly member of my home ward the other day and he quoted her one of his favorite poems by Emily Dickinson (#766):

My Faith is larger than the Hills -
So when the Hills decay -
My Faith must take the Purple Wheel
To show the Sun the way -
'Tis first He steps upon the Vane -
And then - upon the Hill -
And then abroad the World He go
To do His Golden Will -

And if His Yellow feet should miss -
The Day would not arise -
The Flowers would slumber on their Stems -
No Bells have Paradise -

How dare I, therefore, stint a faith
On which so vast depends -
Lest Firmament should fail for me -
The Rivet in the Bands

Then he asked my mom what she thought the Purple Wheel was. She didn't know. But then she remembered her daughter, the one who spent eight years studying literature ... and she promised him she would find out.

I did a bit of searching around and this is what I came up with (from an email I sent her):

"Dickinson is known for her focus on light and physical imagery, so the Purple Wheel could be an image of the pre-dawn clouds/sky through which her faith must guide/bring the sun.

Purple's associations with royalty create an echo of the mythical image of Apollo's chariot, which brings the sun through the sky—again, the idea is that her faith must bring the dawn to the darkened sky.

While our modern association with wheel and movent tends toward the image of a steering wheel (taking control of something and steering/guiding it), for Dickinson's time period a more appropriate image would be that of a cart/wagon wheel—think of "Put your shoulder to the wheel"—the wheel needs to be guided or pushed by hand/body. In
other words, the image isn't so much about taking control as it is about becoming invested, body and soul, in the work. It's a movement that requires effort.

All of these things combine into an overall interpretation of the first four lines. Something along the lines of "I have great/large faith, and when the earth crumbles (things go wrong and the world appears dark and full of destruction) I have to take that faith and use it in order to bring back light and order into the world. This is hard work; it does not come easily. But I am the one responsible for guiding that light back into my world."

The rest of the poem can be read as describing Jesus going forth into all the world, the realization that all life, here and afterwards, depends on him, and the realization that she must continue to nurture her faith (she cannot cut it off—basically saying that she doesn't feel like she can say what God can and cannot do—she has to assume everything is possible) and realize how many things (all things) depend on God.

So the poem as a whole describes a possible loss of faith or at least a significant trial (the hills decay), a realization that she needs to work to bring back faith, the act of meditating on God and realizing his greatness, a reassment of her faith—in the first line of the poem she quantifies her faith as "larger than the hills," and in the first line of the last verse she basically reverses that quantification saying that she cannot "stint [her] faith" (now her faith isn't just "larger than," it's endless)."

After re-reading that, I realize I probably ought to get some of my money back because it is fairly clear I don't know what I'm talking about half of the time. But, I decided, I really do like the poem. So I thought I'd share. And ask for more opinions/interpretations/help. Any ideas? On the Purple Wheel? The poem as a whole? A nice older gentleman is waiting for an answer ... preferably better than the one I just gave.

PS Sorry this is so long. If you're still reading, I apologize.


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

More ways to waste time on-line

But these are really good ways ... you know, the kind you can mindlessly play at ... the kind your baby will enjoy too ...

The first is a site called Line Rider. Basically, you draw a line, any line, and this little penguin on a sled (with a red scarf that waves in the wind) will ride down the line line you just drew. He'll go off jumps, do flips, crash if your line isn't right—it's great.

The second is a site that turns you into an artist. Just start moving your mouse and clicking.



Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Interesting Blog

I just wanted to point out to all of you this blog I found referenced on Eric Snider's website.
It is apparently a sort of mormon version of The Onion. I think Eric Snider said he wrote one of the articles in their book that they just published.
The best one I've read so far is the one about a miraculous piece of toast with Joseph Smith's face burned on it.


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Nick will never believe this ...

I had a minor revelation yesterday while facing the Diebold voting machine. It went something like this:

"Psst. Jenny. You're voting now."
"Thanks brain, I know."
"Yeah, but you have no idea who most of these people are."
"So? I've been very busy ... you know, with stuff."
"Uh huh."
"Okay, okay, so I probably should have paid more attention to who was running for what and all that."
"Uh huh."
"I guess I could have read the voters information booklet that was mailed out a few weeks ago."
"Uh huh."
"Are you trying to make me feel like an idiot? I'm not, you know. I have pieces of paper that prove it."
"Reeeaaalllly ..."
"Hmm. I suppose a non-idiot probably wouldn't just vote for someone because they liked the fact they used a light condensed sans serif font on their signs like I just did, would they?" [Editorial note: Nick later let me know I actually made a good choice here. In his opinion. So maybe good design also leads to good policy. Maybe not.]
"No. They'd probably know something basic about the candidates they vote for, like whether they're male or female."
"I know, I know. But names that start with "La" or "Le" really can go either way sometimes!"
"So what have you learned here?"
"That I have some sense of civic duty and responsibility, no matter how hard I try to repress it. That I don't like feeling stupid when faced with a bunch of names and parties. That next time I at least want to know something about who I'm voting for."
"Eeexxxcceellleeennnt ... [brain rubs hands together greedily] More information to digest ... [said in Dracula's voice]."

The End.


Monday, November 06, 2006

First Time for Everything

In other words, tomorrow I will be voting for my first Democrat. An alternate title for this post could have been "Why Utah Republicans are Generally Stoopid".

Some of you might know I have a pretty well established political philosophy, and that the Republican party generally embodies those beliefs. One aspect of those beliefs is that national governments tend to become bloated, power hungry and inefficient, so money is best spent as close to the local level as possible. That is why I favor low national taxes and spending.

Some people, including most Democrats and apparently most Utah Republicans, think that that means the Republican party is not interested in funding education, public transportation, and other public services. They are incorrect. It simply means that to be a Republican is to believe that those services are most efficiently provided when they are provided at the local level. Things like national defense, interstate commerce, and other things that affect the nation as a whole are the issues that should be left to the national government.

For those of you who have lived in Utah, have you noticed that Utah Republicans tend to be against taxes at ALL levels, and are generally against raising local funding of education, transportation and other services? I don't mean to lump all Utah Republicans in that group as I know there must be a few "real" Republicans in Utah, but it is a general trend I have noticed.

Which brings me to why I am voting for a local Democrat. He is running for the state legislature. My first reason for wanting to vote for him is because he came to my house and asked for my vote. His Republican opponent has sent out about 7 different expensive mailings in the past few weeks, but has yet to appear on my doorstep. My second reason is that on the most recent mailing the Republican sent out, she says that if you want the status quo in Utah, then vote for her Democratic opponent. I had to double check the mailing to make sure it was the Republican who sent it. Does she realize how stupid she sounds? Does she realize that the Republican party has had a supermajority in the Utah legislature for many, many years? How does voting for the Democratic candidate support the status quo? The letter really made me question her intelligence, such that I suspect she might be one of those "fake" Republicans I previously mentioned.

On a related note, there is a chance the national Republican party might lose control of congress tomorrow. Usually I would be appalled at the idea of the national Democratic party controlling congress again, but having the Republicans lose power might be beneficial to the party itself. It would give it a chance to realize what they're doing wrong, since they've been blind to self criticism and immune to self control in the past few years. I don't believe the other side will do any better in terms of controlling national spending, but it will get the attention of the Republican leadership such that when they come into power again in a few years, they might remember what got them kicked out.


Friday, November 03, 2006


Ok, so I'm a nerd who really really likes letters. This site is my new favorite way to pass time and/or entertain Lucy while I'm working ...


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Jenny Will Never Believe This

Today I did a very very brave thing. I faced my fear, and I overcame it. I looked a lifelong enemy in the eye and struck it down, at least temporarily. How did I do this? Perhaps it was generosity towards mankind that gave me the courage to go forward with trembling knees and sweaty palms. Perhaps it truly was bravery, but my personal theory is that I was temporarily insane.

Are you ready Jenny? Here it is: I gave blood.

I'm sure there are some of you for whom needles aren't anethema, but they have been my personal adversary since the earliest prick I can remember. I was watching the blood seeping from my finger into the little tube, and I heard the doctor say - "Oh no - there's a bubble in that one, we'll have to try again." As I watched the line of red walk slowly up the walls of the next little tube, the room moved further and further from my vision. My stomach felt empty, and I said "I feel funny," but what the nurse heard was "aahfuufuu." Her mad dash across the room saved me from tumbling to the cold lanoleum floor as the room disappeared completely.

In future years, I had to conquer this demon several times - it didn't help that my sweet, loving sister took the time to lovingly describe to me how the tip of the needle indented the skin before puncturing it, slipping through the fatty tissue and rupturing the connected cells as it delved towards the thin line of my vein. No, really, I forgive her - it's almost funny by now. I'm the one who threw a hissy fit in the doctor's office when I was 16 years old because I had to get a shot. I'm the one who made sure to get married in a state where they don't require a blood test. I'm the one who sometimes thinks adoption is a viable alternative to having an epidural.

Enough blabbing about my psychosis. I don't really know what the point is - I'm just so darn proud of myself. I wish I could really figure out how I faced up to my fear, so that I could apply it to the possible more important fears I have - the fear of striking out on my own as a tutor, the fear of changes, the fear of things I'm afraid to admit to other people (note how I neatly thereby avoid listing them here). Maybe there is no secret - maybe I'm just lucky. I guess I'll find out in a couple months when the blood drive is back.