Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Space Shuttle Landed Today

I was sitting in Priesthood meeting and suddenly the whole building shook. We all looked at each other, wondering at first if it was an earthquake. Sadly enough, I didn't know that the shuttle was landing today, and I certainly didn't know it was going to be landing at Edwards Air Force Base, an hour away from here. One of the "old guys" in the ward (the Elders were meeting with the High Priests Group) knew it was coming back today, and even knew that the weather was bad in Florida, so the shuttle was likely to be diverted to land at Edwards -- hence the sonic boom that shook the building. So much for me being the space nerd.

Check out the video of the landing. It's beautiful:

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Black Friday, Indeed

My wife stayed up way late on Thursday night figuring out what things she wanted to buy on "Black Friday". Her strategy was pretty much just to go online and buy things there, rather than to actually risk life and limb in any of the physical establishments. By and large, her approach worked. She stayed up, figuring out item numbers and shipping fees, etc. What vexed her the most was that the online prices for JC Penney didn't match the advertisement we received. So, no shopping from JC Penney; their bottom line will be closer to the red side because of that.

In fact, the only time she went out at all yesterday was to go to Walgreens where they were selling a particular item she wanted to pick up for Christmas gifts. With very few crowds, it seemed to be the "right" place to be to avoid the insanity.

The kids and I stayed home. All day. We put up Christmas lights all over the outside of the house, even in places we hadn't put them previously (the outside patio and the peak of the front of the house). We played on the Wii, played games, and just generally goofed off. It was awesome.

Our day was certainly better than this poor fellow's:

Stampeding Holiday Shoppers Trample Man at Wal-Mart

Thanksgiving Redux

I got up and went to the Turkey Bowl on Thanksgiving morning. I took my frisbee and cones in hopes of being able to play Ultimate Frisbee instead, and I had been assured there would be enough people there to play. It didn't really work out. Everybody showed up and decided they would rather play football first, then play Ultimate afterwards, which I knew translated to: "We'll play football now for two hours, then it will be too late and we'll be too tired to play Ultimate later." It wasn't worth my time to stick around waiting for that to happen, so I just gathered up my frisbee and my cones and came home.

I'm not really surprised. Many people said they'd like to play, and I know for a fact that many of the people who were there really like Ultimate, but there's just no way to compete with football on Thanksgiving morning. I was disappointed, but as I said, not really surprised. I could've joined the football game, too, but I decided my wife would prefer me home, and I didn't really want to play, anyway.

One nine-year-old little kid, the son of a big football fanatic, actually said that Ultimate was for wimps, or something like that. I kinda flew off the handle, and told everybody that Ultimate was a far more active sport than football, in which you spend 90% of the time standing around waiting for something to happen, and it requires a heck of a lot more effort to play Ultimate than it does to take 20 minutes to figure out where to throw the ball. Everybody quickly clammed up, and I think my point was well made. (Yeah, right. I'm realistic enough to know that the point received was: "This guy's crazy, don't say anything bad about Ultimate.")

Okay, I'm a little sore about the whole thing.

But the rest of the day was wonderful. My wife worked hard all day putting together an awesome meal. It was in keeping with our weight loss plan, and we didn't put on any weight as a result of it, yet it was a meal fit for a king. Everything was very tasty. We had turkey, rolls, stuffing, homemade (!) cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, and green beans. For dessert we had apple pie (we ate the pumpkin pie the night before!). Everything was homemade and absolutely delicious. We got out the new fancy dinnerware and the pretty goblets, and opened a bottle of Martinelli's grape juice (um, not homemade). It was a wonderful meal. My wife is simply awesome for doing what she did.

The rest of the day we just goofed off. We watched a bit of TV (including the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, which the kids quickly grew bored with; and "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving"), played games, and just generally goofed off. It's been the best holiday we've had in a very long time -- no plans, nowhere to go, and nobody to entertain (not that we don't like doing that at times ... it just takes the pressure off not to). It was just me, my wife, and the kids, doing nothing and enjoying each others company. It was a great day!

Friday, November 28, 2008

A Pig In Your Pants

No joke, this is the exchange I just had with my youngest son:

My daughter: Dad! He has a pig in his underwear! [She's referring to a little plastic toy pig.]
Me: What do you mean he's got a pig in his underwear?
My daughter: He put a toy pig in his underwear!
Me: [Son], take that pig out of your underwear!
Youngest son: [He gives me a blank look.] But why?
Me: You shouldn't put anything in your underwear.
YS: Oh.
Me: Take that pig out of your underwear.
YS: I can't!
Me: What do you mean you can't?
YS: It's stuck!
Me: Come here. I'll help you. [I take the pig out and buckle up his pants.]
YS: Dad, unbuckle my pants!
Me: Why?
YS: So I can put things in there.
Me: That's what your pockets are for!
YS: [He shows a dawning expression.] Oh! I forgot!

Gotta love kids! But seriously, it's never good to have a pig in your pants.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Okay, I'm not much of one to propagate and embed videos from YouTube, but this one was a keeper. I actually stumbled upon this from, believe it or not, which had a caption that reads: "A meteor hurtling out of the sky, as captured by the dashboard camera of a police car in Edmonton, Canada. I think this looks cooler than anything a Hollywood f/x shop could've produced." Yeah, I'm with whoever wrote that. Check it out:

Thanksgiving Preview

Tomorrow's Thanksgiving. That means the following:

-- The Annual "Turkey" Bowl will begin at 8 am. This year, we'll be having an Ultimate Frisbee game on the side, for those who would rather do that. Since tomorrow will be the one year anniversary since the last football game I played where I broke my finger, I think I'll participate in the frisbee game instead. (Not that I wouldn't rather do that, anyway ... ) It's raining now, so it might be kinda soggy (though it should clear by then), but, being guys, it's still "game on!"
-- A big meal is planned, though with being on a diet, everything will pretty much be healthy. I think it will be a feast even so, because my wife is incredible and cooks really well.
-- We'll probably watch TV, maybe a parade, and play on the Wii most of the day.

It will be awesome.

And I'm not going to think about work or the economy or the rest of the world at large. It's just me, my family, and a whole lot of goofing off (in between cooking and cleaning).

Monday, November 24, 2008

Extracurricular Burnout

The Holiday season is upon us. With Thanksgiving and Christmas coming, the kids have time off of school, and we are all looking forward to some good family time. One of the reasons it will be so nice is because the extracurricular activities that the two older kids have been involved in have come to an end. My daughter's soccer is now done, and she's going to take a break from gymnastics for a while, too. My oldest son's karate is also on hiatus for a few months, so all that is left is scouts (cub scouts for my oldest son and girl scouts for my daughter).

Finally - finally! - we will be able to spend some evenings doing absolutely nothing. No homework, nowhere to take the kids, and nowhere we need to be (well, most of the time). My wife and I have been so overwhelmed lately, that we feel perfectly happy just rebelling against all of it, and staying home. We have no plans to go anywhere for either of the two holidays, and at this point we're delighted.

Of course, this might change after only a few days being cooped up with the little rascals. I have no doubt that they will drive us insane with a constant stream of requests for time on the Wii or for playdates, all because they're boorrreed! Well, let it be. It will be nice to be bored for a change. I think the library will continue to be a good friend of ours (especially since all the kids are book worms), and we will probably find some daytime excursions to take.

But the point is, we won't be obligated to do anything, and that will make all the difference.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Stock Market Craziness

A little while ago I got into the stock market, and immediately lost money. And I've kept losing money ... a lot of it ...

But I'm not really panicked. I think I made some really good choices in the stocks I picked (solid companies with good reputations, deep pockets, and sound business plans) and even though the prices are still sinking, I have time on my side. In fact, my biggest frustration today is that I don't have more money to buy more stocks. As the prices keep falling, things are becoming better bargains, and the long-term prospects look brighter.

Wow, it really is true ... it's tough to make money if you don't have any.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Orson Scott Card - A Hero of Mine

Do you know Orson Scott Card? Probably not personally. He's a science fiction writer best known for the book "Ender's Game". He has seen quite a bit of success in his professional career, though honestly I've not really enjoyed too much of his writing, despite being a major science fiction fan. It's just me, I'm sure, as he's won numerous awards, but I just don't really enjoy most of his books.

When I was in college I actually had the chance to sit and visit with him for a while, though I'm quite sure he wouldn't remember me if I walked in his front door. It was one of those "meet the author" kinds of events at Utah State University for my "Philosophy in Science Fiction" class. (Yeah, can you believe I got so lucky as to get college credit for that?! Totally sweet.) During the meeting, I wasn't so impressed with him, as he seemed a little ... fringe. Nevertheless, a person is more than a first impression, and more than a good (or otherwise) book.

So it was when I stumbled across his monthly column with the Deseret News that I was mildly curious and began to follow it. As time went on, my uneasy opinion of him began to dissipate, and now it has flourished into unmitigated appreciation.

You see, "Brother" Card is a member of my church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. As such, he and I share similar feelings about most moral issues and most especially about this whole Proposition 8 thing. He has dedicated many of his recent monthly columns to the issue, and I couldn't help but appreciate his latest one. Check it out here -- it's worth reading.

What I think I've appreciated the most is that he is a very deliberate person. He makes no assertion without some evidence or a balanced argument. I like that forthrightness. I may not like too many of his books, but I think I can like him. His willingness to stand up for what he believes in, and to use whatever influence he may have to push forward what he thinks is a good agenda is admirable, to say the least, and I think it is heroic.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

It's a Tough Time on Mars

A few days ago, it was announced that the Phoenix mission is effectively over. This wasn't a surprise to anybody, as it was known that the mission would end about now anyway due to bad power margins. Indeed, some engineers quite accurately predicted the end of the useful mission.

Well, today it was announced that Spirit also has had some power issues. The rover has been in the middle of a dust storm in Gusev, and apparently hasn't had enough power to continue normal operations. The following news article tells the story pretty well:

NASA rover low on power from Martian dust storm

PASADENA, Calif. – NASA's Spirit rover, which is nearing its fifth year on Mars, is struggling to survive after a dust storm sapped its power, mission scientists said Tuesday.

The solar-powered Spirit produced only 89 watt-hours of energy last weekend, half the normal amount it needs to function. The culprit was a dust storm that moved over Spirit's site near the Martian equatorial plains, blocking sunshine from reaching its solar panels.

To prevent Spirit from depleting its batteries, ground controllers commanded the rover to turn off heaters that warm various instruments. Engineers also instructed the spacecraft to cease communications with Earth until Thursday.

"This is a very dangerous time," said project scientist Bruce Banerdt of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which manages the mission. "If we don't hear from it on Thursday, we'll be extremely concerned."

The Spirit news came a day after NASA declared an end to another Mars mission, the Phoenix lander, which lasted five months. Phoenix was parked in the arctic plains and not expected to survive the Martian winter, but a dust storm there hastened its demise.

Scientists said there was reason to hope that Spirit could pull through. The latest Martian forecast suggests the dust storm over Spirit appears to have abated. Spirit's twin, Opportunity, which is exploring on the opposite end of the equator, was not affected by the storm.

Even if the storm passes, there could be damage to Spirit's instruments or a delay in getting the rover moving again if its solar panels remain dusty, Banerdt said.

The Measure of the Obama Presidency

President-Elect Barack Obama has his work cut out for him. He'll be taking the oath of office at a time when the country and the world is reeling from a financial crisis. The country is fighting two "wars", and the American public has very poor confidence in the elected leadership of the nation. "Culture wars" are running rampant, and there are very wide rifts in American society. It's been a long time since the gap between "red" and "blue" was so large, and the last time the country was led by so many Democrats was in the Carter years ... not a good precedent to follow.

So it is with great interest that I intend to watch Barack Obama as he leads the country. I am worried that he will press every far-left liberal policy he's wanted to (but I think he'll be temperate), and I hope that Congress will act rationally at this time and appropriate keep him in check. It is truly the Democrats chance to shine ... or to go down in flames.

However, with all of this, I wanted to highlight some thoughts I had about how we can meaningfully measure the success of the Obama Administration. I tried to come up with concepts that are not party-specific (after all, despite my Republican leanings, I'm not formally aligned with any party), but couldn't create criteria that are wholeheartedly objective -- many of these must be measured subjectively.

So, here we go. At the end of Obama's term (whether it be "first" or "last"), consider the following questions:

-- Has the U.S. economy stabilized, and is it growing to the benefit of American citizens?
-- Has the standard of living continued to increase, with those who want to want to and can work working, and the level at which poverty is measured rising?
-- Do Americans have the ability to secure for themselves appropriate health care?
-- Are Americans safer within the borders of the United States, free from terrorist attacks of any kind; and largely when traveling abroad?
-- In making Americans safer, have any rights outlined in the constitutional amendments been curtailed, particularly freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and due process?
-- Has the ability of Americans to have dignity in their lives been improved?
-- Has America socially moved towards a culture of responsibility for their life choices, economically, politically, socially, morally, and spiritually?
-- Has the concept of "minority" groups become more irrelevant?
-- Has the reputation of the U.S. improved throughout the world?
-- Are the American borders secure in such a way as to protect American lives, to secure American interests, and to ensure America's sovereignty?
-- Has America stood up for and protected those who are incapable of doing so for themselves, generously giving of its means to create a better and safer world?
-- Is American primacy in education, particularly with regards to science, engineering, and manufacturing; been strengthened and improved?
-- Has the spirit of exploration and scientific advancement been nurtured?
-- Has America found a more appropriate balance of independence and globalization with regards to foreign, energy, and economic policies?

Well, that's my list. Where will we be in four years?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


My oldest child, my firstborn son, is 9. Yesterday he asked me if there was a name for youth that are older than kids but younger than teenagers. It was with great pain that I answered that the word for youth of that age is: "Pre-teen". My son is a pre-teen?! I was telling a friend about that this morning and his answer was perhaps a bit more accurate: "Trouble".

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Phoenix Mission is Over

Mostly. The orbiters will keep listening, just in case Phoenix gathers up enough energy at just the right time to talk to them, but the chances are pretty slim. The news article says it well:

NASA can't reach Mars lander, ends mission

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – NASA scientists said on Monday they could no longer communicate with the Phoenix Mars Lander and were calling an effective end to its five-month-plus mission on the Red Planet.

Mission engineers last received a signal from the lander on November 2, the space agency said.

As anticipated, the seasonal decline in sunshine at the space probe's polar landing site is providing too little sunlight to recharge the lander's batteries, a situation that occurred three weeks earlier than expected because of dust storms, NASA said.

"We are actually ceasing operations, declaring an end to operations at this point," said Barry Goldstein, Phoenix mission project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

NASA said the project team would keep listening for signals from the lander over the next few weeks in hopes it manages to revive itself and "phones home," but engineers believe that is unlikely due to worsening weather on Mars.

Launched in August 2007, the spacecraft landed on Mars in late May, touching down on a frozen desert at the planet's north pole to search for water and assess conditions for the possibility of sustaining life.

Phoenix has since recorded snowfall, scraped up bits of ice and found that Martian dust chemically resembled seawater on Earth -- adding to evidence that liquid water capable perhaps of supporting life once flowed on the planet's surface.

The lander also returned more than 25,000 pictures from the planet.

By late October, the probe had already surpassed its expected operational lifetime by two months.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Steve Gorman and Peter Cooney)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Fairy Crazy

My daughter recently purchased with her birthday money a new Disney movie called "Tinkerbell". It's a movie about Tinkerbell from the Peter Pan storyline. It's actually a delightful little story about the difficulties of trying to fit in, and about using the talents you have to do good. I really quite enjoyed it.

My seven-year-old daughter, however, not only enjoys it, but is completely convinced that fairies are real. The other day I was talking with her about how fun it would be for her to catch a fairy so she could use the pixie dust to fly to school. I thought she was pretending that they were real, but she really isn't! She honestly believes that they are real, and has been chattering non-stop about how she wants to capture one. She has been putting shoe boxes with their lids propped up all over the house and yard so that if a fairy goes into one, it will knock the lid closed while it's inside and get trapped. She believes that she sees them at her window at night flittering around outside her window, glowing in the darkness.

To be honest, it's really quite cute. I'm a little concerned, though, because she's seven and I don't think it's quite normal to be gathered into a fairy tale this way. She's always had an overactive imagination, however, so I'm not totally surprised. If it wasn't so adorable, I'd be upset by it. In the last few days, I haven't been able to bring myself to crush her enthusiasm on the topic, and have carefully steered her older brother from giving her too much grief. (Too be perfectly honest, I'm a little concerned that actively dispelling this particular bit of fantasy at her age might shatter other not-truisms in her life with which I'd like her to pass through the holidays intact. *wink*)

I did tease her a little tonight that if she does catch a fairy, I'm going to shake all the pixie dust out of it and sell it on ebay. She was horrified by the thought, but I was insistent that people would pay millions for the chance to fly around and that there were major industrial applications to which the stuff could be applied. She was not amused in the least, though her older brother got a kick out of my line of reasoning.

In any case, I think we'll let her come down from this one on her own. Her traps, no doubt, will remain empty (hopefully she doesn't catch a mouse or something ...) and I'm sure rationality will eventually settle in. In the meantime, I don't see any reason to deprive her of the happiness she's deriving from this flight of fancy.

Kids can be so adorable.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Worst Restaurant Salad Ever

Red Robin: Asian Chicken Salad

It seemed like they took bagged salad from a grocery store, dumped a few chopped peppers on top and a can of mandarin oranges and called it good. Even the dressing was unremarkable, certainly less flavorful than stuff you can get from the grocery store. And for $10 a salad, it was a major rip-off. To make matters worse, my wife's chicken (what little there was) had three short, black hairs cooked into the top of it. Totally gross.

We only went because the kids had coupons for free meals that they earned from school. They still have a few more, but I don't think we'll be going back.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Post-Proposition 8 Tantrums

The gay and lesbian community in California is throwing a temper tantrum. They were unable to prevent Proposition 8 from passing and now they're doing everything in their power to get it overturned -- just like they eventually did the proposition that the majority of Californians passed back in 2000. You could use a lot of phrases to describe what is happening, but the one that comes most to my mind is this: "sore losers".

Some news articles:
-- Calif. gay-marriage ban creates legal uncertainty
-- Thousands Protest Gay Marriage Ban In L.A.
-- Gays vow to keep fighting for right to wed
-- Prop. 8 protesters target Mormon temple in Westwood
-- Gay rights backers file 3 lawsuits challenging Prop. 8
-- Why Gay Marriage Was Defeated in California

These people just can't let it alone. Between filing lawsuits to try to get the courts to dismiss it, to picketing a Mormon temple (like that's going to do any good), to going on the airwaves to tell everybody that their rights have been trampled, it's clear that this fight is far from over. The media doesn't help -- most of the links I just cited are clearly written from a liberal, pro-gay perspective. Very little of it could be considered balanced journalism, and I would have failed high school journalism had my writing made so many blatant assumptions about the position of the reader.

But, hey, I suppose they're entitled to throw their tantrums, though I find it disgusting that they just can't simply accept the will of the people. Frankly, I'm alarmed by all this ... after all, if they could get the proposition from 2000 tossed out, why not this one? This link, however, gives me hope, which states, in part:

The right to amend California’s Constitution is not granted to the People, it is reserved by the People. The Supreme Court has repeatedly acknowledged the reserved power of the People to use the initiative process to amend the Constitution. For example, when the Rose Bird Court struck down the death penalty as a violation of fundamental state constitutional rights, the People disagreed, and in the exercise of their sovereign power reversed that interpretation of their Constitution through the initiative-amendment process. Even a liberal jurist who vehemently disagreed with the People’s decision on the death penalty, Justice Stanley Mosk, nevertheless acknowledged the People’s authority to decide the issue through the initiative-amendment process.

May it be so this time.

God help us.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

It's Done - Proposition 8 Has Passed!

Proposition 8: Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid and recognized in California.

Well, it's done. At least for now, until the "No" folks find some other legal way to skirt the will of the people. Proposition 8 passed -- not by much, but it passed. The California state constitution will include those words above. I believe the voter margins would have been higher had the campaign been a level playing field. The use of words like "discrimination", "rights", and "bigotry" are powerful, and have been spread liberally by the "No" campaign, even when none of them are truly applicable. They make good buzz-words, though, and are politically potent, and that's clearly why they used them.

I worked hard to make Prop 8 pass, though, distributing materials, knocking doors, visiting with friends, neighbors, and co-workers; and writing checks. I posted signs on my front lawn and spent the past two mornings putting up more signs along streets near my home (most were stolen, by the way -- an illegal activity on the part of the "No" campaign).

Am I shouting from the rooftops proclaiming how "justice has been served!", as I expected the "No" campaign would have done had they won? Absolutely not. I am pleased, to be sure, but I will just continue to quietly teach my children my own values and my own beliefs without fear of the schools filling their heads with stuff with which I disagree. I teach them tolerance and love of others, but I also teach them that you can love a person without loving what they do, and that a lot of what people do is wrong -- the scriptures and the prophets tell us so.

But I'm sure this isn't really over. I think we won this battle, but the war is far from over. Those who persist in behaviors that are against the laws of man and of God will never stop trying to convince those who don't that what they do is right. Consider the words from 2nd Nephi chapter 28:

19 For the kingdom of the devil must shake, and they which belong to it must needs be stirred up unto repentance, or the devil will grasp them with his everlasting chains, and they be stirred up to anger, and perish;
20 For behold, at that day shall he rage in the hearts of the children of men, and stir them up to anger against that which is good.
21 And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.
22 And behold, others he flattereth away, and telleth them there is no hell; and he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is none—and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance.
23 Yea, they are grasped with death, and hell; and death, and hell, and the devil, and all that have been seized therewith must stand before the throne of God, and be judged according to their works, from whence they must go into the place prepared for them, even a lake of fire and brimstone, which is endless torment.
24 Therefore, wo be unto him that is at ease in Zion!
25 Wo be unto him that crieth: All is well!
26 Yea, wo be unto him that hearkeneth unto the precepts of men, and denieth the power of God, and the gift of the Holy Ghost!
27 Yea, wo be unto him that saith: We have received, and we need no more!
28 And in fine, wo unto all those who tremble, and are angry because of the truth of God! For behold, he that is built upon the rock receiveth it with gladness; and he that is built upon a sandy foundation trembleth lest he shall fall.

Words to ponder. Time will tell how things work out.

Monday, November 3, 2008

What's On My Mind?

I haven't posted for a few days because things have been busy, or I've just been too distracted to formulate a blog entry. To this end, I'm recording, for posterity, what is on my mind on Monday, November 3rd, 2008:

-- The election tomorrow will tell us who will be the new president for the next four years (with all that that implies), and if marriage will still be defined as between a man or a woman in California (vote YES! on Prop 8!!).
-- The stock market is still wobbly, but now that I'm invested in it, it seems to be more on my mind than I expected. Did my stocks go up or did they go down today? How much will the dividends be worth? How can I minimize my taxes on the earnings? Are there other stocks that seem safe that maybe I should consider? Have I made bad choices?! (And will the election tomorrow cause a surge on Wall Street? Please, please, please ...)
-- My work assignment is potentially shifting, with, perhaps, a raise and a need to back-fill. In addition, one of the people I have working for me is having a baby in January, and I need to find somebody to come in temporarily to help pick up the slack.
-- Halloween was a lot of fun. The kids had a great time and were, from oldest to youngest, Harry Potter, Wonder Woman, and Dash from "The Incredibles". I made it through with only minimal weight gain. We have huge bowls of candy that the kids are slowly working through (and my wife keeps taking some and freezing it for later use). With my diet in-progress, I find the things I miss most are peanut butter-related chocolates: peanut butter M&Ms and Reese's peanut butter cups.
-- I'm now over 30 pounds lighter than when I started dieting this past May, meaning that absolutely none of my clothes fit me right anymore. It's getting really bad, but I'm not done losing weight (about 5 more pounds to go!) so I don't want to buy new clothes, yet. My wife's in a similar condition, but her wardrobe seems more flexible than mine.
-- My work changed my email system from Eudora to Microsoft Outlook. It's got some features I like and others I hate, but I'm managing. My productivity has tanked this past week, though. I'm trying to get things done a little more efficiently, but it's a weird time right now.
-- Daylight Savings Time happened and it seems the kids have adjusted pretty quick. My wife and I? Not so much. We stayed up "late" last night trying to reset our bodies, but we woke up on full-speed at the "usual" time this morning, which means tonight we'll be one more hour tired by the time we go to bed.
-- With the holidays approaching, it seems life gets busier, though really it's just the same but feels busier. We are anxious for soccer to end for my daughter since that seriously cramps our style, especially on Saturdays. We also are looking forward to having ward families over for dinner, just as a get-to-know-you effort. My wife and I haven't been social that way in a long time, but want to start getting back to it. With no biological family around, we have created a circle of friends that we consider our "adopted" family.
-- I held a little party for my wife last night in celebration of her birthday. I invited eight different couples over for dessert, and explicitly stated they could bring their children (it being Sunday and all, with babysitters hard to come by). In all, we had about 20 kids and 18 adults in the house. The intent was to eat dessert, have adult socialization, and let the kids play. I think it was a greatly successful party, and my wife was moved that all these people came to our house just to wish her a happy birthday -- she was nearly in tears when they sang happy birthday to her. In attempting to bake the two cakes for the party, my wife (who is, without a doubt, the chef in our family -- and baked all the cupcakes for the kids) pretty much hovered behind me the whole time, anxiously giving me advice and instructions on what to do. I desperately needed it, and was grateful for it, and it is clearly evident that I am incapable of planning a social event without her involvement. I'm delighted that she's my better half and I look forward to many more birthdays to come. I'm glad I had the chance to throw that little party to express that, and I now have ideas on how to do it even better in the future.
-- I haven't done any family history in weeks and I have so much to do. I interviewed my parents and my grand-aunt when I was in Utah a few months back, and I still haven't transcribed that. Oy. So much to do.
-- Our savings are drastically reduced. We recently paid the mortgage, paid the property taxes, paid the homeowners insurance, paid the auto insurance, had new tile floors installed in the kitchen and entryway, replaced the garage door (it was broken), finished purchasing the last bit of food we need to get a "year's supply", and invested in the stock market. This pretty much means that our savings account has dramatically shrunk. I'm not complaining about any of these things, as they are all good or needful things (except the garage door bit ...), but it just means the numbers on the monthly statement are smaller than we are comfortable with. Unfortunately, when this happens, my wife goes into "I'm so stressed about money that I can't buy anything" mode, and then complains bitterly when I buy something for her because she works so hard to save money. Seeing as she needs a whole new wardrobe to fit her newly-trim physique (looking good, babe!), the next few months are going to be interesting. Gratefully, Christmas shopping is pretty much already done (thanks again, honey!).

That's pretty much all that's on my mind right now. Later!

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