Friday, December 23, 2011

Hark the Herald Angels Sing

Right now I'm rereading one of my all time favorite books. It's called, "Fishers of Men" by Lund. It is an historical fiction novel about a family who lived during the time of Christ. One of the reasons I like this book so much is because it almost makes you feel like you were living during that time and I truly believe that much of how this books portrays Christ is very close to how it must have been. The main character in the story was a young teenager when Christ was born and I recently read a part in the book when he tells his son about his experience. If you want to read what seems very much like an eye witness account of the shepherds experience on that night click on the link below.

Network executives argued against having Linus read from the Bible in "A Charlie Brown Christmas" but Peanuts creator, Charles Schulz insisted on it. Shea, the voice of Linus, was 7 years old when he performed the part.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Energy Vampires

The other night I was locking the doors and turning off the lights getting ready to go to bed. When the lights were all off and I was heading up the stairs I was struck but just how many little lights there were in my home even though everything was turned off. I've seen these lights many times but this time it sort of just hit me a little more powerfully. So much so that I even went and got my camera so I could share it with you. Of course this picture can only show the lights around my computers, it doesn't get the ones in the kitchen and the family room. Just to name some of the lights that come to mind without thinking too much about it I have.

cell phones
stove clock
microwave clock
house phones
lap tops
blue ray
cable box

I'm sure I'm missing something but you get the idea. They're like little vampires slowly sucking the energy out of my home.

The average house consumes about 200 watts of power 
even when everything is turned off.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Lunar Eclipse

 Normally I use Saturday morning as a chance to sleep in but today I just had to get up at 6:00 and check out the last lunar eclipse of the year. In fact I think they are saying it is the last total eclipse for three years. This eclipse was unusual because it happened to occur just as the moon was setting and here in Southern California we had the ideal view. 

When an eclipse happens as the moon is setting the suns light passes through the earths atmosphere. The atmosphere scatters all of the light the blue end of the spectrum so all that is left to shine on the moon is the red end of the spectrum. That is why the moon looks so red during the eclipse. 

I thought I would have more time but as you can see from the pictures I only had a few minutes before the moon descended below the horizon. At that point I went right back to bed.

Today I finally got the Christmas decorations up. I usually do that the first Saturday after Thanksgiving but life has been way too busy this year. We also went and bought our tree. Now that the kids are gone we were bound and determined to buy an artificial tree this year but the nice fake trees are expensive and Costco had the real trees pretty cheap so I guess it won't happen this year. 

Tonight was the Church Christmas dinner. We had prime rib and it was really good. I love prime rib.

In 1961 we had 27 students per teacher and spent $2,800 per student (in 2011 dollars)
Today we have 16 students per teacher and spend $10,000 per student.
Students perform worse now than they did in 1961. I don't think money is the problem here.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Austin - Flying Home

With every thing that has happened I never did finish the story of our visit to Austin. We were interrupted by Mom's surgery, non-functional furnaces, drunken rats and a myriad of other things that I haven't been able to share with you what turned out to be a very eventful day.

 We woke up Tuesday morning after Brandons ceremony to a lot of rain. Since our flight didn't leave until the afternoon we had a nice and relaxed morning visiting with Pam. We learned about a very bizarre Texan tradition on this trip. We stayed in Chase's bedroom and in his closet was a very strange object hanging on a hanger. At first glance it look like a large dead bird. It was called a Mum. I always thought that Homecoming consisted of a football game and a dance but not in Texas. In Texas (or at least in Austin) the boy (or usually his mother) makes a large frilly object that he gives to a special girl. The girl wears this thing all day around the school and then to the football game. It looked to me like it would nearly cut your head off but I guess they get quite excited about them. After all of that they don't have a homecoming dance. I guess the origins to this tradition date back to a time when the boy gave his girl a Mum (the flower) to wear. Eventually the ordinary flower wasn't adequate so it got doctored up a bit. This continued to the point where there is no longer a flower but the thing that remains is still called a mum. A very interesting tradition indeed.

We decided that we would have time to stop and take a tour of the state capitol building on our way to the airport. We picked up an umbrella for Lisa on our way down town. We parked and made our way to the visitors center and then headed over to the capitol building to catch the 1:30 tour. While we were standing there Lisa asked my how long our flight was. I had a copy of the email with the agenda in my phone so I looked it up and in doing so I noticed that our flight was supposed to leave at 1:45. For some reason I had shown in my calendar that the plan left around 4:00. We now had about 15 minutes to make a half hour drive to the airport. 

The trip to the airport went quickly and even stopping to get gas at a station where their credit card machine was down we still check the car in around 2:00. The car was empty and the car rental places charge you nearly ten bucks a gallon if you have them fill it for you. I may have paid that if I thought we could still catch our plane but since we were so late I stopped and filled it. 

When we got to the ticket counter I very sheepishly told them that we had missed our flight and was there anyway we could still get home today. To our surprise she told us that we had not missed our flight, it was late. I've never been so happy to hear that a flight was late. Now we had a whole new problem, our flight was so late that we would now miss our connection in Dallas. We were supposed to fly into Dallas, catch a flight to LA and then a flight to San Diego. At least now the problems were American's problems and not ours. After some finagling they were finally able to get us on a later flight out of Dallas that would eventually get us home after 11:00, we were originally going to get home somewhere around 9:00. 

So off to Dallas we went and as we were walking through the terminal Lisa so a gate with a sign that said there was a direct flight to San Diego. On a whim we decided to ask if there was any room left on the plane. There wasn't on that plane but after some checking the woman was able to get us on the next direct flight to San Diego and so we ended up getting home somewhere around 8:00 which was a good hour earlier than we were originally going to get home. Pretty cool eh?

Texas exports more product than any other state. California is a distant second but it has 50% more people. 

Sunday, December 04, 2011

It's the Christmas Season

I love Christmas time and this season just got a great kick start. I've mentioned before how much Lisa loves unique nativities and that she has a fantastic collection of them. Obviously the kids all know that as well so when Ben and Sharley went to their Stakes Nativity display yesterday and saw how wonderful it was of course his first thought was about how much his mother would enjoy that. He told her that the display would be over today (Sunday) at 9:00pm and so we decided to go up and visit them and see this wonderful display. We made some spaghetti sauce and took it up with us and Sharley made spaghetti, a wonderful salad and the most delicious peanut butter cookies you'll ever taste. After eating way too much we headed over to the church to see the display. It really was wonderful. I guess they've been doing this for twenty years and the place was packed. We could barely get parking. 

They had nativities from all over the world and amazingly four of Lisa's nativities were there. Obviously I couldn't take pictures of them all so here are just a few of my favorites. You'll have to forgive the poor quality, I didn't bother taking my good camera and Martha doesn't do too well in love light conditions. 

This Nativity was perhaps the coolest one there. It is from Mexico and consists of dozens of little figurines that the collector has gathered over the last thirty years. It is more like a nativity village.

 I don't know if this was my favorite one or not but it really drew me in. It is made from a rare clay that is only found in a narrow three foot thick seam in Alabama. The wise men are American Indian warriors and the baby Jesus is a papoose. The animals consist of a buffalo, wolf, horse and bear. The color of the figurines was very unique and I assume it was the native color of the clay. 
Lisa loved this nativity from Australia.  

I'm not so sure I liked this one all that much but it is certainly unique and it is from New Zealand so I had to take a picture of it. 

This nativity is similar to the Alabama one in that it consists of American Indian traditions and it is made from native materials. This one is made from volcanic ash from Mount St Helens. How cool is that? The teepee also adds a nice touch. Sharley liked the cactus.

A wolf is born deaf but an adult wolf can hear another wolf howl from ten miles away.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

One Less Rat

Well I just had an interesting experience. Lisa just handed me the metal rack that goes in the bottom of the big turkey roasting pan and asked me to go put it with the roasting pan that we keep in the garage. We only use that big roasting pan at Christmas and Thanksgiving. I walked into the garage and there in the middle of the floor was a big rat. He was a good ten inches long (not counting his tail) and he just sat there looking at me. Normally these animals clear out the instant the door opens so I figure this guy must have helped himself to some of that poison I left out there a couple of days ago. Dixie and Mark recommended that I use "Tom Cat" and the first day I put it out nothing touched it. I figure it was because the container was designed for a small mouse. I broke open the package and left the block of poison out and all four of them were gone the next day. 

So there we were, me and the rat staring each other down. If I had my shoes on I would have tried to step on him but I wasn't going to do that in my stocking feet. Finally I realized that I had a sturdy metal rack in my hands so I just slammed the rack on top of the rat and held him there nice and tight until he quit trying to wiggle. It's a strange feeling squeezing the life out of another living being with your bare hands but any time I started to waiver I just had to think of my furnace and there was no way that rat was leaving my garage alive. 

Finally I tentatively lifted up the rack and picked the body up and dumped it in a shopping bag. I was sorely tempted to take a picture of him for the blog but that seemed a little too morbid. Now I have to scrub the rack with scalding soap and water before Lisa will even let me put it in the dishwasher. I think if it was up to her we would throw it out. I also have to disinfect myself before she will let me in bed with her tonight. I've also been told that she's not going in the garage for some time. 

Oh well, we have one less rat in the garage.

A rat can tread water for three days and survive a fifty foot fall unharmed.

Friday, November 25, 2011


Us and the Bagleys
This has been a wonderful Thanksgiving even though Sarah is our only child who was here. Because it was going to be a lonely Thanksgiving we decided to invite some friends over as well as the missionaries. The food was wonderful and we ate to our hearts content. The missionaries had to leave soon after we'd finished eating and we'd planned on playing some games or watching a movie or something with our friends but we ended up just talking until quite late. It was a fun time. I hope we didn't bore them too much. 

Ready to dig in
The Bagley's are recent empty nesters like us. They have two boys, one who is off to college and another who is on a mission. He's in Guatemala and has been out about the as long as Alex has. Since they were going to be home alone for Thanksgiving we thought we'd have them over and talk about our kids. I'm afraid we talked more than they did. 

I gained five pounds in one day. Hopefully it goes about as fast. 

After dinner David and I did the dishes.
Mostly I talked while he washed.
Today we went and saw a movie. We went to Twilight. I thought it was a great movie but then I'm easily impressed. I love a good escape novel. Tonight Sarah is going out laser tagging with a bunch of friends and then they're coming by here for a movie. I think it could be another late night.

A new borns brain burns 65% of all the calories they consume.

While the Women relaxed and visited.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

My House is Warm

Tonight our house is warm. As I mentioned before I pulled the fan out of my furnace but I was unable to pull the fan off of the motor shaft so I had to take it in to my work. I put some penetrating oil on it and then went and dug out a pulley puller but the fan the was already loose. I then pulled the fan off and soldered in new wires to replace the ones those stupid rats ate. Monday night I put the repaired fans back into my furnace and when I hooked  everything back up my fan came on. That was quite exciting until I couldn't get the fan to go off. I mean I turned the thermostat off and everything else I could turn off and my fan wouldn't turn off. How frustrating. 

The brain that runs everything on my furnace is a control box and once I decided that the problem must be in there I was now out of my league. I'm a materials guy, not a sparky. I can make my way around electricity but when you get into a circuit board I get just a bit nervous. I decided it was time to pull in some help. A friend of ours uses a local handyman to help her out with these odd jobs so I gave him a call. He knew even less about my furnace than I did but what he did know was the name of an independent HVAC guy. What a life saver. I called Clayton and he showed up at noon today. It took him about five minutes of poking around when he told me my transformer was burned out. Duh... why didn't I check that? Well the reason is because the transformer is buried in with the big ugly circuit board and so I kind of shied away from it. It took Clayton all of ten minutes to put in a new transformer and $100 later he was on his way and I was very happy. 

As for the mice, I'm quite sure they are rats. I've set a dozen traps in my garage and almost every day one of them is set off but nothing is in the trap. One of the traps even disappeared and I'm thinking that somewhere in my garage is a big rat with a wooden board stuck to his leg. I've got a couple of big rat traps but they don't seem to get set off. Dixie told me about some good rat poison that I can get from Walmart and I've decided that is the next step. I hate to use poison because I don't like the idea of some dead rat rotting away in my garage but after cleaning up after those rodents I came to the conclusion that it is worth it. Die rat, die.

Scientists have genetically modified the mosquito that carries dengue fever so that the female babies (only the females bite) have no wing muscles. This means that when they evolve out of their pupal stage the females just sit there on the water and can't fly or mate while the males, who are also genetically modified, go off and mate with the native females giving them wingless babies. In controlled trials the entire mosquito population crashed within just a few months. Real world trials are just beginning now in Mexico.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Furnace

Lisa loves to see how late in the year we can go before we need to turn on the furnace. When we first moved her it was pretty much Christmas time before she would break down. As we have become softer the day of the furnace has moved earlier and earlier. I've been begging for heat for several weeks now but it was last week before I finally insisted that we had a furnace for a reason and I was turning it on. Imagine my dismay when nothing happened. 

I went out and checked out the furnace but I couldn't see anything wrong so I grabbed a flash light and noticed that the heat exchanger was full of dog food. There was also a good amount of mouse droppings around so it was no mystery how the dog food got into the heat exchanger. The mystery was where did the dog food come from? Bridget hasn't been with us for two years now and we did use the furnace all last winter. 

The problem now was that to clean that stuff out of the furnace was going to take longer more time than I have after I get home from work so it was going to have to be a Saturday job. Unfortunately last Saturday we went to Texas so there we were watching TV in our coats and blankets. Until this Saturday when I could tear my furnace apart. 

This morning I got up bright and early and headed out into the garage bound and determined to work until we had warmth in our house. Even though the heat exchanger was full of dog food I was a bit curious as to why the igniter didn't work. The furnace should at least try and start even if it was full of dog food. The mystery was solved when I pulled the cover off the furnace and saw that two bundles of wire had been chewed completely apart. Those stupid mice had eaten my wires. As angry as that made me I was somewhat relieved because that is an easy fix. 

It took me several hours and a trip to Home Depot before I finally got the furnace all cleaned out and reassembled. I took a five gallon bucket and a shop vac full of dog food, bow tie macaroni and mouse droppings out of that furnace. Gross, I really hope I don't come down with that Haunta Virus. Once it was all together I plugged in the furnace and turned on the the thermostat and anxiously awaited the "click, click, click" that tells me the furnace is trying to light. Sadly all I could hear was a soft hum. What a let down.

After several minutes of trying not to electrocute myself I tracked the hum down to the fan motor. I dug around the fan motor for a while and saw that those #%*&$@*$#@ mice had chewed through the wires that connected the condenser to the fan motor. this was not going to be as easy of a fix as the thermostat wires were. 

After disassembling all of the work I had just done I finally had the fan and motor out onto the floor. That is when I was able to tell that the wires had been chewed off right where they came out of the motor. I now had two problems. First of all, I couldn't get the fan off of the motor so it was impossible to get to the area where I needed to work and second, even if I were able to get the fan off I'm not sure I could connect to the little stubs of wires that were left. It looks like I am now to the point where I'm going to have to spend money. I hate that. After making many phone calls I realized that the only HVAC people who answer their phones on a Saturday are the ones who are willing to send an emergency repairman out to your house but not sell you spare parts. The fan/motor is now by my front door ready to go to work with me on Monday. I guess I can't put the coat away just yet. I better have this fixed before Thanksgiving or our company may suggest that we go to their house.

The output of the United States exceeds the output of the entire remaining world combined.

Friday, November 18, 2011


Yesterday I received a phone call from Kira chewing me out because I neglected to let any of the kids know that Mom was having surgery today. I have to admit that I would be rather put out if one of my kids had surgery and didn't tell me so I guess she had a right to be upset. My only excuse is that I'm so used to Lisa keeping every one updated that it didn't even occur to me to let anyone know. Of course Lisa isn't going to want to tell everyone about her own problems so that should have been my job. 

I decided the best way to make amends would be to give them all a running narrative during the surgery. Rather than tell the story all over again I figured I would just repeat the text messages here.

10:59 Me: We have mom all checked in and we're now waiting. Her surgery is scheduled for noon and is expect to last an hour. 

11:01 Ben: We are praying everything goes well. Let us know.

11:01 Sarah: :( call me as soon as you get out?

11:04 Me: They just took mom away to prep her. They wouldn't let me go with her. They said I could go see her once they have the IV etc. all hooked up.

11:05 Me: We are at the Palomar hospital in Escondido.

11:06 Sarah: ;(

11:09 Alycia: Thanks for the updates.... I bet you're making Kira happy.

11:16 Me: I have been chastised for not letting you all know about Moms procedure. Sorry about that. My only excuse is that I am used to letting mom keep you all informed and it didn't occur to me that she would be reluctant to talk about herself. I should have known better.

11:28 Alycia: I am not worried about it haha don't be too hard on yourself.

11:30 Me: Thank you.

11:56 Me: I'm in with mom. They're letting me be with her until they put her to sleep.

11:56 Me: That's not the kind of sleep we did with Bridget by the way.

11:58 Ben: I wasn't going to give you a hard time because I knew Kira did.

11:58 Ben: And I'm like Mom in where I just kinda keep that stuff to myself.

11:59 Ben: So I understand

12:13 Kira: How are you holding up Dad??

12:17 Me: I am fine, thank you for asking.

12:16 Brandon: Tell mom not to look into the light

12:20 Me: Mom said that she saw that light once and she isn't ready to go there just yet.

12:14 Me: We're waiting for the person currently in the operating room to get out. They're running late.

12:15 Me: Mom is getting anxious, she isn't liking this and wants it to be over with.

12:16 Ben: Just make sure they don't rush anything. You couldn't resist the Bridget joke eh?

12:16 Ben: :)

12:18 Me: It sounded funny when I said they were going to put her to sleep so I just had to say something.

12:18 Sarah: Tell mom I love her and I'm keeping her in my prayers. Please keep me up to date. I love you and hey we all know Mom would never talk about herself  ;) Love you: See you in 2 days!!!

12:19 Kira: Give mom a big hug for me.

12:19 Kira: I love you guys!!

12:20 Kira: and thanks for not putting Mom down!  ;-)

12:22 Me: You guys are all making mom laugh and its hurting her. She wants me to write down all your funny comments.

12:24 Kira: I won't be able to respond for about an hour now but please still send me everything. make sure mom knows I love her!!

12:25 Me: I gave her a hug for you  (which I really enjoyed by the way) an I'm reading her all of your texts. I will keep you updated.

12:32 Alycia: Tell her not to worry about him being late. It will literally be over in the blink of an eye for her haha!

12:43 Me: You will be disappointed to know that mom is not pregnant.

12:45 Sarah: Well wouldn't the bleeding confirm that?

12:45 Me: She has her tubes tied and she's been bleeding since August but they still made her take the test. 

12:46 Me: You would think so eh?

12:46 Ben: And that cost how much? No wonder our healthcare system sucks...

12:46 Sarah: Ha ha ha how did surgery go? Is she out yet?

12:47 Sarah: Yea! haha

12:48 Me: We're still waiting for the last guy to get out of the room.

12:48 Me: Pretty ridiculous eh?

12:52 Me: If they take much longer they won't need drugs. Mom is almost asleep.

12:52 Alycia: Pooor Mamasita

1:09 Me: The anesthesiologist just talked to us. I guess she is going to have general anesthesia. I thought it was going to be the one that just makes you all loopy.

1:10 Me: It should be soon now.

1:10 Kira: Good luck

1:18 Me: They just took my wife away. She should be done in an hour.

1:18 Me: In case you weren't aware of just what is happening, let me explain.

1:19 Sarah: :)

1:19 Me: Moms uterus has many fibroids and polyps.

1:20 Alycia: that's scary

1:22 Me: Since the ultra sound doesn't have enough resolution they are going to do a hysteroscopy to see exactly what they are dealing with.

1:23 Me: They will then do a D&C which means they will scrape clean the inside of her uterus and hopefully remove the polyps and maybe some of the fibroids.

1:23 Me: If the fibroids are not in the way they will then do an endometrial ablation.

1:26 Me: In this case that means they will insert a wire mesh which opens up inside the uterus. The mesh will then act as a microwave antennae which will burn the inside of her uterus.

1:28 Me: If the fibroids are in the way then they won't be able to do the ablation. In that case they will insert an IUD.

1:29 Me: The hope is that the ablation will force her into menopause.

1:29 Me: The IUD may or may not stop her periods.

1:34 Sarah: What's an IUD?

1:36 Me: It stands for Intra Uterine Device. It is normally used for birth control but I guess it can stop your periods.

2:31 Me: The computer board says that mom is out of the procedure room. Yay.

2:32 Alycia: yay!

2:32 Kira: Oh good!!

2:34 Ben: Yay!!!

2:37 Me: I just talked to the doctor. Mom's been done for a while but the doc had to go deliver a baby before she could talk to me. 

2:38 Sarah: Is she okay?

2:38 Alycia: wow... uterus, baby... lots to do.

2:38 Me: Everything went perfectly and I should be able to take her home in about an hour.

2:41 Kira: Did they do the ablation?

2:41 Ben: Ha ha. Busy doctor. Everything ok?

2:42 Me: The doc said mom is still quite groggy so they won't let me in yet.

2:43 Alycia: boo.

2:43 Kira: That's how I am when I wake up. Every time I kept trying to go back to sleep.

2:43 Me: They did a D&C and the ablation. No need for the IUD.

3:05 Sarah: How is she???

3:06 Me: I haven't been able to see her yet. They said everything went perfectly.

3:21 Alycia: So does that mean it worked well enough there was no need for the IUD?

3:21 Me: yes, it ent well. No IUD.

3:23 Alycia: How do they know they don't need the IUD? How can they tell it will stop the bleeding?

3:24 Sarah: yayayayayayay

3:30 Me: I'm in with mom. She's hurting but very happy.

3:35 Me: Blood pressure 141/86, heart rate 77 bpm, oxygen level 100%. They need to unplug her so we can go.

3:53 Me: We're on our way to the car.

3:55 Ben: OK good! No more doctors visits for you two for awhile ok?

In addition to all of the text messages Lisa received a few video messages as well.

When I was talking to the doctor I asked if I would be able to see some of the pictures from the hysteroscopy. She was a bit surprised but quite willing to accommodate me. I thought I would share with you the inside of Lisa's uterus. It is kind of strange to think that all six of my children have been inside of this thing. 
The picture on the left is from before they did the endometrial ablation. According to the doctor it looks surprisingly good. The fibroids were all intramuscular so they wouldn't cause any problems with the ablation and the only polyps she was able to see were very tiny ones near the opening that were not likely causing her any problems. She thinks that the bleeding is caused by a lack of the hormone that normally stops a woman's period. That misty white thing in the "before" picture is actually some of the membrane that gets shed every month. In a healthy young woman the uterus would be full of the stuff. Mom's is mostly gone because she is so close to menopause.

The picture on the right is the "after" picture. To me it looks to be about medium well done.

Desiree has been wonderful through-out this whole experience mom has been going through. She has come over to visit with her several times before the surgery and then she came to the hospital to be there after mom came out of surgery. The original plan was for me to go back to work and Desiree was going to take Mom home but we were so late that I canned work for the day. Desiree then decided that she would go get us some food and bring it to us. The woman is an angel and I know she is like that for everyone, not just us.

I now have mom home and she is mostly just tired. I think she will be tender for a while but she claims the pain isn't a whole lot more than she has dealt with for the last few months.

The Medusa fish can live forever.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

San Antonio

 San Antonio was a fascinating town. I thought it would be cool to see the Alamo and the temple but I didn't know what else might be there. Lisa mentioned that we should go and see the river walk as well. I had never heard of the River Walk and so I wasn't too thrilled about taking the time out to go see it. As it turned out, the river walk was my favorite place. Lisa said it was considered the "Venice" of the USA. I completely agree (even though I've never been to Venice).

The Alamo was a very sobering experience. I always knew that a bunch of people died in their while under attack by the Mexicans but I never knew the whole story. It was fascinating and we spent quite a long time in there. It is hard for me to imagine that people would willingly die for what they know is a lost cause. Some how I suspect that if it were me I would have snuck out of the Alamo so I could live to fight another day. I do know that I would never have surrendered to that man however since the last guys who surrendered to him were all executed. I loved the Alamo.

After we were finished at the Alamo we decided to check out the River Walk since we had the time. Directly across the street from the Alamo was a shopping mall where we had parked the car. When we asked someone where the river walk was they pointed out the window of the mall to what looked like a small pool and they said that it was right there. How do you like that, we had unknowingly parked our car closer to the River Walk than we had to the Alamo. We decided to go check it out.

We headed down the stairs and out to the pool and saw that it indeed was a long water way. We started to go for a walk along the bank of the water way and Lisa suggested that we pay for a boat ride since she was tired from the Alamo and needed a rest. She tires easily in her condition. What a great move that was. The boat ride was three and a half miles long and made a loop and the atmosphere through out the ride was wonderful. Definitely worth the time we took.

By the time our ride was over it was dark so we decided to get a table by the water and enjoy a little snack before we headed back.

On the way home we asked Martha to take us by the temple. The temples are all closed on Mondays so we knew it wouldn't be open but wanted to just see it anyway. It was very beautiful and I'm glad we stopped. It was more or less on our way anyway.

So that was our day. It was enjoyable from the time I got out of bed until we got back to bed and it was really good to spend time with Brandon and Serene and their beautiful girls. 

Scientists have discovered a bacteria that appears able to substitute arsenic for phosphorous in its DNA. It has always been assumed that all life required phosphorous and if this finding is confirmed it means that every biology book in the world will have to be rewritten.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Induction Ceremony

Monday was Brandon’s big day. We got up at 6:30 which was really tough since our bodies were still on San Diego time and it felt like we were getting up at 4:30. The ceremonies all started at 10:00 but the doors opened at 8:30 and we were there right when they opened.

I’ve always prided myself on being able to get around well and not get lost and so when the GPS devices were first invented I sort of poo poo’d the whole concept and figured they were for people who couldn’t read a map. I’m now completely sold on GPS devices. My android phone is now an extension of my body and I’m not sure how I could live without it. Let me just list a few of the many things I use my phone for daily.

-       making phone calls
-       taking pictures and videos
-       calendar and meeting reminder
-       sending and receiving text messages
-       transferring files from one place to another
-       address list (including the stake directory)
-       reading books (including the Bible etc.)
-       identifying stars in the sky
-       looking up material properties on the periodic table
-       watching movies and tv shows and listening to the radio
-       converting units (1 W/mK = 18.49 BTU in/hr ft2 °F)
-       checking my altitude
-       a compass
-       paying my bills and transferring money in my bank accounts
-       music player
-       tape recorder
-       reading bar codes
-       checking the temperature
-       dictionary
-       checking the tide
-       measuring the calories burned and how far I run
-       translating Alex’s Spanish words
-       making trades on my fantasy football team
-       and then of course there are the myriad games that you can play

And now I am a huge fan of GPS. Martha (my phone) got me all over Austin and San Antonio and we didn’t have a single missed turn or anything. It was great. Brandons ceremony took place in the Frank Erwin Center and we were the first people to walk into the place. We could have sat on the very front row but we didn’t because we weren’t sure when Brandon would get there and if we wasn’t right in front of us then we would have a good view of him. Instead we chose to sit on the front row of the next level up. As it turns out we would have been able to have Brandon right in front of us but hey, how can you know? We still had a clear view of him.

The ceremonies were pretty cool because they had the Texas Supreme Court judges sitting up on the stand and the Stake Court of Appeals judges. Some how I though they were the same but apparently not. Some dude stood at the stand and called out in a loud voice, “OH YAY, OH YAY, OH YAY!!! All stand for the Supreme Court of Texas.” Or something like that. It was very interesting. They then spent the next half hour introducing each of them giving their entire life history which may have been interesting for Brandon but not so much for me.

They then gave out some awards for various things and then came the swearing in ceremony. They did their best to make it a solemn occasion and they did a pretty good job. Serene and her girls along with Serene’s mother and sister also sat with us so we pretty much took up the entire row. The girls were really good through out the whole thing which really didn’t take too long. 

Sydney was full of some really good comments this weekend. You’ll have to get Lisa to share them with you but one good one was when she asked her Grandma (Sydney was glued to Grandmas hip the entire weekend), “So is my daddy a lawyer now?” Lisa told her than yes he was. Sydney then asked, “Will he look different now?” Lisa told her that he will just look like a daddy lawyer. She is a very bright girl.

Sydney may love her Grandma but Hailey loves her Grandpa. She would sit on my lap for hours and cuddle with me. I loved it. One time she was upset about something and Brandon asked her if she wanted to go to her mother or to Grandma. She reached out her arms for me. I think that alone made the trip worth it. I really miss those girls. Brandon needs to get a really good paying job so he can bring his family to visit us often.

After the ceremony we took Brandon, Serene and the girls for lunch. We asked Martha for a good place to eat that was close by and she suggested we go to Stubbs Barbecue. It was good but not as good as the place we went to after his graduation ceremony. I think it was called Blues Barbecue. It was still very good but what was really interesting was the building it was in. 

You could tell it was very old and made of native limestone. It was on the edge of a steam and was built into the side of the hill. It had a large courtyard and several huge rooms that are now being used to put on shows and it is full of many smaller rooms. I wish I had been able to explore the entire place. As we were leaving one of the workers was outside having a smoke and Brandon asked him when it was built. The guy said, “In the 1860’s, it was originally a Mormon settlement.” How cool is that?

After lunch we kissed our little granddaughters goodbye and then we hugged and kissed Brandon and Serene goodbye and we headed south to San Antonio. It was so good to see Brandon and his beautiful family again. In case you don’t know, Serene is expecting a baby on Christmas day and for being just a few weeks away from delivering she looks really good. 

For ten years scientists have been trying to figure out how a key enzyme involved in aids is folded. Some one decided to make this problem into a video game called "Fold It" where gamers with no bio-chemistry experience try to fold a shape. The gamers solved the problem in ten days.