Sunday, March 29, 2009

This Ain't Computer Generated

You see stuff like this in the movies all the time, so it seems like this kind of thing comes cheap. Nevertheless, just watching this real video (actually, it's sped up because it'd be too long otherwise), you get a feeling of something marvelous -- a representation of extraordinary forces and awesome power. The space station and the space shuttle are flying at tremendous speeds and it is truly a spectacle to behold. If you watch, you'll see the outline of the shuttle shadowing the space station as the angle changes. It's truly remarkable, and, to me, humbling of just how amazing these machines really are.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

A Man Crush?

My wife says I have a man-crush on Adam Lambert, from American Idol. It cracks me up, but I think she just might be right. I honestly think that his rendition of Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" from a few weeks back is one of the coolest things I have ever heard. Check it out ...

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Had Thai Food Today

It was good stuff. I had barbecue chicken. It doesn't sound very Thai, but it sure tasted good. My fortune cookie read, "You are headed in the right direction. Trust your instincts."

Hmm, good to know.

The following pictures were taken from the week before when we went to the same place. (It was so good, we had to go back ...) I had a pineapple/chicken dish. We were stunned when they brought out the hollowed out pineapple with the food inside of it! It was great. The other picture is of me and my wife, taken with my camera phone. I'm still learning how to get clear pictures with it.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Something

Tonight, I heard my youngest upstairs getting into something. I ask, "What are you doing?"

His reply? "Nothing."

Now, my son is three, and he's never said that before. I expect that kind of ambiguity from my nine-year-old, not my three-year-old, so I say, "That's not true. You must be doing something. What are you doing?"

"Something."

I couldn't help but laugh.

So, what was he doing? He was playing with his sisters toys, which he knows she gets grumpy about. Since she was in the shower, he could get into them without her knowledge, and since both me and his mom were downstairs, it seemed clear he could get away with it. Ah, the lessons each child learns ...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Ten Things About My Wedding

The anniversary of my wedding to my beautiful wife is tomorrow. Unfortunately, I am far away on a business trip at the moment, but have some time to contemplate the last eleven years of our marriage. In a nutshell, it's been wonderful. We've had many amazing ups, and a few slight downs, but on the whole we seem to be perfectly matched to each other. After eleven years, we're still going strong, and looking forward to each and every day together.

So, while I'm in a reminiscent mood, I thought I'd think back to our wedding all those years ago. So, without further ado, here are ...

10 Interesting Things About My Wedding

-1) I slept in. And still made it on time. My wife, on the other hand, woke up early and was the beneficiary of her great-childhood-friend-and-hairstylist's talents, spending hours doing her hair. I think I combed my hair in 10 seconds. Sometimes it's really great to be the guy.
-2) My wife and I got married in the Jordan River Temple. It was performed by a sealer who holds the priesthood of God to "bind on earth [that which] shall be bound in heaven." I don't remember his name. It's not really that important -- his priesthood authority was. It's probably on the wedding certificate somewhere.
-3) When I arrived at the temple, I recall being confused about where to go to get dressed for the ceremony, and finally had to ask somebody. My wife, on the other hand, had many women swirling around her every step of the way. Sometimes it's really great to be the girl. It's all good, though. I had the time, and eventually figured it out.
-4) Just prior to the wedding, my soon-to-be wife and I were put in a side room, just her and I, and told to contemplate what we were about to do. I think that little bit of drama was just silly.
-5) I don't remember very much of the wedding itself -- not the room we were in, who was there (well, I remember a few people ...), or what was said. I'm a guy, so you can forgive me for not remembering all these little details. What I do vividly remember, however, is kneeling with my wife and holding her hand. She was stunningly beautiful.
-6) Both of our fathers served as the witnesses. I was honored to have them both there in that capacity, and grateful. They are two very good men.
-7) My wife's brother was our photographer (and did an amazing job), but he was so intent on getting good pictures after the ceremony that he actually kept us out in the sun for hours. My wife had a sunburn on her chest from the scalloped lace of her wedding dress that blistered over the next few days, and since her skin retains a tan line wherever she burns, that scalloped shape was visible on her chest for almost a year.
-8) My brother and his family showed up for family pictures in street clothes. My mother was furious.
-9) Also, because her brother kept us so long, we were late to our wedding lunch. By the time we got there, everybody was done eating, and we were only able to snack on what was left. To make matters worse, we were so busy at the reception later that night that we didn't even get some of the wedding cake. After we left the reception center after 9 pm, absolutely famished, all the restaurants in town were closed (this was Utah, after all), and we ended up getting a burger from McDonalds because they were the only place we found that was open. How's that for a first dinner after being married? (Actually, it was a good burger ...)
-10) Months later, we were reviewing video taken during the reception and in the video we saw somebody hand me a check, which I slipped into my tuxedo's inner pocket. Both my wife and I realized at the same instant that I had left all the checks and money that people had handed me in the tuxedo, and they were lost -- no doubt hundreds of dollars of money we desperately could have used.

Despite all this, it seemed like the day went absolutely perfectly. Everybody "knew their places", so to speak, and things went very well. We didn't worry about timing, or who was where, or what people were doing. It was our day just to be together and to be the spotlight of attention as we began our journey together. I count myself very blessed to have suckered her into marrying me. What's crazy is that she thinks she suckered me into marrying her. Funny how that is.

It was truly a perfect wedding day. It may have been slightly overcast, and as it was early spring, the grass on the temple grounds was slightly brown, but that didn't matter to me in the least. I was with my wife, in the place we were supposed to be, when we were supposed to be there. We said all the right words, did all the right things, held hands practically the whole day, and were happy beyond any reasonable expectation.

The only thing more surprising about how happy we were then is that it just keeps getting better. To this day, she remains my best friend, and I am greatly blessed to have her in my life, as my wife, for eternity.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Business Trips Suck

Truly. I'd rather just stay home.

Monday, March 9, 2009

One of the Most Awesome Movie Trailers I've Ever Seen

Seriously. If I were, like, somebody who says, this is da bomb! I would totally say that. If the movie is half as good as this trailer, it will be worth it.

Gotta Love Nerds

You just gotta love nerds. Seriously, they have such a great turn of phrase. Consider the following example:

"Associated with the [meeting], we’ll have a pre-meeting the day before to explore the stability of one- and two-board downhill transportation devices associated with particulate solid-phase water. That is, we’ll meet for a ski day."

Now, I don't ski, but I'm almost tempted in order to provide further data points for this scientific experiment.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Deep Thoughts of a 7-Year-Old

The other night, I was tucking my daughter in to bed and she asked me some surprisingly deep questions. Since I don't remember the conversation exactly, I'll paraphrase as best I can.

First, she asked me, "Daddy? Why do we have to be tempted by swearing, and tattoos, and being mean to each other? It's so hard!"

Now, don't get the impression that my daughter wants to rush out and live the sailor life, as this is far from her nature, but rather it is indicative that she seems to want to live a very good life, away from these problems.

I sat down next to her and asked her a few questions about life as we know it. Do we lack for food? Or clothing? Or a place to live? Do we worry about people coming to our house and dragging us into the street to hurt us? Are we (personally) at war with people and worry about our lives day to day?

Clearly her answers to each of these was in the negative, and I reminded her that it didn't always used to be this way, that there once was a time when people did have to worry about each of these things, and that we are very blessed not to. Then I explained to her that even so, we should be grateful for some of the challenges we still have in life. I reminded her that if we did not know sadness, we wouldn't truly appreciate happiness. If we didn't ever have pain, we would not know how wonderful it is to be pain free. And, finally, if we did not have temptations, we would not have freedom to choose.

I don't know if she got it, but she seemed content. But as I got up to go, she then asked me a stunner question ...

"Daddy, can I ask you the hardest question I can think of?"

"Sure," I said with a sigh, believing that she was just delaying going to sleep.

"How did God get to be God?" she asked.

Well, I just had to turn around and go sit down again. This was one of the best questions I think I've ever heard. I turned it around on her, and asked, "Who is God to us?"

"He's our Father in Heaven," she quickly answered.

"So who are we to Him?"

"His children."

"So if he is our Father, what does that say about Him?" I asked.

She pondered for a moment and then it was clear that realization struck her. I could see it in her face, but she didn't know how to express it. I prodded her a little by asking, "If he is our Father, and we can grow up to be like Him, then doesn't it make sense that once upon a time, he used to be a son?"

She got a big smile and then came to one of the two next obvious conclusions by proclaiming, "So that means that someday we can have our own kids and be in charge of our own world!"

I smiled, and reminded her that our Father in Heaven does indeed want us to grow up to be like Him. I then tied that in to her earlier question about why we are tempted, and told her that Heavenly Father wants us to make good choices so that we can go back to live with Him again.

She was happy with these discussions, and I finally got up and was able to leave the room.

Here you'd think I'd be done with this post.

But then the day after, it was clear she was still thinking about this topic. She said, "Daddy, do you remember what we talked about last night?"

"Yes," I said.

"So if God was once a son of somebody else, and he was the son of somebody else, where did it all start?"

A smile crept across my face, and I was reminded of a conversation I had had with my wife years ago on this very topic, one where my wife went all wild-eyed and got a headache thinking about it. Frankly, to most of us poor puny humans, the reality is that things go on forever – in both directions in time or whatever the eternal equivalent of time is. This is something we have difficulty grasping.

I didn’t know how to communicate this to my daughter, but I tried, with, "It didn’t start anywhere. It just keeps going forever, just as we will keep having kids forever."

Then she surprised me again, with a most grown up response. "Well, when I die, I’m going to ask Him about it."

This made me laugh, as it is a most grown up thing to say. I said, "You do that." Then I told her to please not be in a hurry to do that, as I want her here with me, and she said she wasn’t, but she was going to remember the question.

It's a very good question.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Spinning Boy

Tonight I came home from work and the video (below) shows what my youngest son was doing. I used to do this all the time when I was a kid about his age, but I used to do it sitting down ... you know, the right way? I think his way looks more fun, though. I do think he is going a lot more slowly than me, however. I'm pretty sure that I used to spin so fast that the laws of physics no longer applied ...

video

Monday, March 2, 2009

Launching Model Rockets

My oldest son is doing a science fair project on model rockets. He's done an enormous amount of research on the history of rocketry, the founders of the space program, and rocket design; and we felt it was appropriate to give him the experience of actually launching a model rocket. Coincidentally, the boy scouts have been hosting me to teach the boys things in preparation to receive their Space Exploration Merit Badge. Part of that is to launch a model rocket, and I managed to secure one for use by my son.

Last Thursday he started assembling the rocket. With his science fair project due the next Wednesday, we didn't have much time to do this, so he started gluing the rocket together Thursday, finished on Friday, and we went to launch it on Saturday. We also borrowed a launch pad from our very good home teacher.

We went to a local park that had a big fenced in area that will be having some construction done in it. There were signs posted "No Trespassing" but there was a gate that was open and it was clear that people go in there all the time. The day was windy and partly cloudy, which would be grounds to cancel any real rocket launch, but we needed to do it then or not at all.

We proceeded to set up about 2/3rds the way upwind of the length of the open space. We slowly and deliberately set up the pad and prepared the rocket for launching. I had found some instructions for constructing a device that could be used to calculate the altitude that the rocket reached, and took some time to remind all three of my children how they work. They stood off to the side and looked through the devices as I got set to launch the rocket. They looked pretty silly, and by their sober mannerisms, you'd've thought we were launching the space shuttle with seven live astronauts on board.

The countdown from 10 began, progressed, and completed and the rocket went skyward ... out of sight! We couldn't see it, let alone track how high it actually went. The kids were stunned, my oldest son in particular, who had estimated the rocket would only fly about 30 or 40 feet high (clearly his depth of experience was extremely shallow). We eventually found it on its way down, just outside the big open space into somebody's back yard. I was afraid that it was going to fall on top of their house, but it landed literally feet park-side from the house. We were lucky.

I told the kids to let it lie where it was, as I needed to pick it up and count the paces for how far away it had flown. 215 paces! At roughly 34 inches per pace, it had flown over 600 feet from where we were. The winds were indeed very strong. Our attempts to estimate the altitude went badly, and at best we calculated it went up just under 200 feet. I think it actually went much higher -- probably 300 or 400 feet, but we couldn't tell for sure.

The parachute had actually melted a little on that first launch. Apparently we hadn't added enough "recovery wadding" (we had used 3 of the toilet paper-like squares, crumpled up and stuffed in the tube between the rocket motor and the parachute). The parachute had melted enough that it couldn't fully inflate, but it seemed serviceable so we proceeded to the launch again. For the second launch, we added 5 squares of the wadding, moved the launch pad to the most upwind part of the empty space in the park, and then my son, himself, pushed the button to make it fly.

He absolutely loved being the one in charge. He counted down and skyward it went! My wife and I were off to the side; she was taking pictures, and I was attempting to get some video, while measuring the altitude (which again went badly, but returned nearly identical results). I paced it off again, and it was about the same distance away when it landed. The trajectory clearly went nearly straight up, though, then the wind took it and pushed it down-range as it floated down.

The third launch didn't go so well. The shock cord that attaches the parachute to the body of the rocket came apart, and the body and the nose-cone (still attached to the parachute) came down at different places, much nearer to the launch site and at a different angle from the launch pad. Either the wind shifted, or the launch just went radically off course.

Even though the parachute had melted and we had a "launch failure" on the third try, the kids had a great time. It was a very positive experience. I think I learned a few things, too, such as: don't try to figure out how high it flies while holding a camcorder while the rocket races downwind (and into the sun) right after pushing the launch button. Next time, I'll try to get video OR take an altitude reading (while standing much further away), and, of course, the kids can push the button every time.

It was so much fun. I remember as a kid not being able to participate in the rocket launches my science group was doing when I was in the third or fourth grade because we didn't have the money to buy the rockets. I remember that it was just one of many "expensive hobbies" that we couldn't afford, and I was so disappointed about it. Even at that young age I had a thing for the space program. Well, now I do the real thing (I even gave a "Go!" for launch a few years back!) and, well, I can afford it. My kids don't know how lucky they are ...

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