Wednesday, January 26, 2011


 Holy Dinah - life has been very busy. I feel like I've done nothing but work and then come home to sleep for a couple of hours and then back to work again. Last Saturday for the first time since November I finally had a day where I could get something done but then I had to go into work for a couple of hours. I decided to go in at 6:00 AM so as to not interfere with my days plans but when I got to work the experiment I had done was a failure so I couldn't do what I'd planned to do and decided instead to repeat the run. That took me until about 1:30 so there went half my day. I looked at the long "to-do" list that has been building since before Thanksgiving and decided to do the brakes on the van. Now the front brakes are easy to do because they're disk brakes and fortunately those are the ones that usually wear out. I've avoided doing the back brakes because they're drum brakes and while I did them once back in High School I remember them being a bit more tricky. Well, decided "how hard can it be?" and dove right in.

Three hours later I was really wishing I'd just taken the car in and paid someone to do it. Holy Smokes, what a night mare. As I was staring at my partially dismantled brakes the neighbor drove up and made some comment on me working on my brakes. Big mistake for him, I asked him a question and he spent the rest of the day helping me out. I was really lucky to have him. They are new neighbors and we'd introduced ourselves but we hadn't really gotten to know each other very well. We know each other now. He's from Vietnam and his wife is from Singapore. Very nice guy and I owe him big time. Now that it is all over I guess it was probably worth it because I think it costs about $300 to have your rear brakes done so that works out to about $100/hour and that's not so bad.

When I finally came in the house Lisa gasped and said, "don't move, I've GOT to take a picture". After all of that Lisa wanted to finally finish getting the Christmas ornaments put away so that took until well after midnight at which point I had to finish preparing my lesson for church the next day. It was a very late night. After church we had the Moores over for dinner and that was a lot of fun and then in the evening Peter & Maron came over for a visit and we watched "Temple Grandin" on a DVD. What a good movie and to top it off it was a true story. I like good movies that are true stories.

All semester long Sarah has been struggling with Algebra and has been working very hard to keep her grades up. Monday she found out that she did well enough on her final that she ended the semester with a solid B. She was so thrilled (as were we) that we decided she deserved a treat so we took her to the Spaghetti Factory to celebrate. In case you don't know Sarah she LOVES spaghetti. Last night we went out for dinner with Richard and Karyn Alsup who are in town. We went to a cool Thai restaurant that is very good. So I know much of my very busy schedule is playing and I've really enjoyed the visits but it still feels like I've scarcely had a chance to breath. I'll try and post another blog before another two weeks go by.

In 19th century Japan and China, "talks too much" was one of seven reasons for which a man could divorce his wife.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Family Reunion

 Mark, Ross, Fred, Greg, Gaylia, Jackie, Dixie & Lisa all visiting on the first night. 

Today I want to talk about the wonderful family reunion we had last week. Two things have kept me from writing earlier. First of all Dixie and Mark came down to visit and of course I was having too much fun visiting to write in a journal and second,  I've been spending a lot of time organizing all the pictures that Dixie took. I did take some pictures but Dixie was doing such a good job that I decided to let her take the pictures and I would just copy them.

Mark, Dixie, Greg and Fred.

The reunion this year was held in St George, Utah because it was convenient for everyone. Several members of our family live in Utah so it isn't a huge burden for them to drive down. Besides, they get to escape the cold and snow for a little bit. It isn't too awfully far for us to drive up from San Diego and finally, it was Dixie's year this year and since she didn't think too many of us would make it up to Alaska in January (probably true) they combined the reunion with their annual trip to the Las Vegas Concrete Convention. 

Greg, Mark and Fred solving the worlds problems. 

The official kick off to the reunion was Friday, January 7, 2011. I wanted to head up Thursday night and get a head start on it but Sarah has not missed a day of Seminary in three and a half years and she didn't want to miss her first day in the last semester of her high school career. I figured that was an admirable goal so we left the house as soon as she got home from Seminary on Friday morning. Peter was able to make it so he arrived Friday morning as well. We were really hoping his wife Maren could make it too but she had to work or something. I know everyone would have loved her. 

Me and my sister.

Sharley was also planning on coming but in the end she couldn't make it either so she drove Ben over to Corona and we picked him up at a McDonald's along side the I-15. The plan was to then pick up Kira at the Las Vegas airport but she called us quite distraught before we left San Diego. Apparently she got to the Calgary airport nice and early but as she was waiting by the gate the airline people came up to her and told her that the pilot called in sick and they had no replacement for him.

Ben, Peter and Tyler playing Carcassonne on Dixie's I Pad.

Who ever heard of canceling a flight because the pilot was sick? That is a new one for me. They offered to book Kira on a later flight that landed Friday night but Kira pointed out that her ride was leaving Las Vegas at 2:00 so if she got in then they better provide her with a car. They told her that they couldn't do that but they could put her up in a hotel room. She pointed out that a room wouldn't do her much good if her family were all in St George. They could either get her a car or fly her right into St George. They flew her directly to St George. 
Sarah getting to know her cousin (once removed) MacKnz.

We arrived in St George around 3:30 and the only people ahead of us were Dixie and Mark. Within an hour or two however Greg and Gaylia showed up, Lindsey (their daughter) and her son Aiden, Meagan (another daughter) showed up without her husband but with two little kids. Jackie and Ross showed up, and Kristin (their daughter) showed up with three little kids.

Dixie and Mark provided pizza for everyone so we all sat and visited in the hotels dining room (which we had all to ourselves) until long after midnight.

Kira, Alycia and Shelly with some kids in the hot tub. Those are Sarah's feet that you see.

Alycia was torn about whether she could make it or not. She had been in St George all week long and had to get back to work and she didn't really want to turn right around and drive back again the next day. Trevor couldn't make it so she'd be driving by herself. When we learned that Byron and Shelly would be coming down and had room for her she was all excited but then she got quite sick. We spent about two hundred miles on the I-15 trying to talk her into coming but she didn't see the point of coming down and spending the whole time in bed. Finally we gave up and we were quite sad that she couldn't be there. We'd just seen her over Christmas but we really wanted her to get a chance to get to know some of her cousins better. 

One very cold pool. You sure enjoy the hot tub after you jump in there. I went in the pool several (very short) times. 

Well Byron and Shelly arrived late and guess who was with them. Alycia  wanted to surprise her mother so she didn't tell her that she finally decided to throw all caution to the wind and come. We were so glad that she did.

Brandon and Serene spent most of the holidays out in Texas visiting Serene's family and luckily they were able to arrange their trip home to come through St George. They also arrived late.

A series of 5 photo's showing Ben and Brandon chasing down the Canadians.

So that was everyone who was able to make it. You know the part in the Bible where it spends about ten pages giving the genealogy of who beget who? Well I'm going to do that here. Arranged by family those who were able to get there were:

Greg & Gaylia
     Byron & Shelly and their son (and Phillip's daughter)
     Meagan and her son and daughter
     L:indsey and her son Aiden
Dixie & Mark
Jackie & Ross
     Kristin and three daughters
Fred & Lisa
     Brandon & Serene and two daughters
Lester's son Peter

Missing from each family were:

Greg & Gaylia
     Michael and family
     Leslie and family
     Robert and family
     Phillip and family
     Gillian (deceased)
Fara (missing)
     Barb & family
     Tina & family
Dixie & Mark
     Jeff & family
     Arlen & family  
     Belinda & family
     Brian & family
     Eric & family
     Wally (deceased)
Jackie & Ross
     Justin & family
     Jamie & family
     Stephanie & family
     Melissa & family
Fred & Lisa
Lester (missing)

 I really hope I didn't miss anyone there.

Still going at Carcassonne. Sarah's falling asleep.

After everyone was there some of us decided to check out the hot tub. In theory the hot tub was closed after 10:00 but we thought we'd try it anyway. No one kicked us out. It was very soothing to sit in the hot steamy water. The hot tub was indoors with sliding glass doors that opened out onto the pool. The pool was very cold but it was perfect for thermal shock therapy. When I jumped into the pool the shock was so great I couldn't move any of my muscles. It was all I could do to not drown. I couldn't get back into the hot tub fast enough. brrrrr!!

The two Sarah's, do you see the resemblance?

Saturday morning people gradually dragged themselves out of bed for a really good (and free) breakfast. The hotel where we stayed (The Comfort Inn) was perfect for our reunion. They have free breakfast and when breakfast was over we had free use of the dining area for the rest of the day (and night).

 Some time in the morning we made plans for the rest of the day. We decided to go out first and see the Sarah Leavitt statue. That is of course Sarah's name sake. We took pictures and several of the kids threw snow balls and there were little kids running all over the place. One of the kids throwing snow balls was Sarah who sent one down the back of my neck. She apparently got other people too and when I saw Ben ready to nail her with two snowballs I decided to give him a hand. Ben, Peter and I all joined in on exacting our revenge.

My family with Sarah.

We then headed to the Jacob Hamblin cabin and toured it. It was very fascinating. Jacob Hamblin isn't exactly Leavitt history but we count him because he was married to two Leavitt sisters. Ironically, Mark (Dixie's husband) is a direct descendant of Jacob Hamblin. One of the more fascinating things at the Jacob Hamblin house was the cotton growing in front. I've never seen cotton on the bush before and it sure looks a lot like snow.

All of us with Sarah. I won't try and name us all. You'll have to go to the slide show to see everyones names.

From Jacob's house we scattered for lunch. Lisa and I took our crew to the Cafe Rio (I had their shrimp taco's, yum) and then met back at the hotel. After lunch we then headed to the Mountain Meadows Massacre site. No that isn't exactly Leavitt history either but it was an important and tragic misunderstanding in Mormon history and especially in the history of this area. Our ties to the event is that the Mountain Meadows was owned by Jacob Hamblin at the time and our ancestors brother (Dudley Leavitt) was involved but I don't know exactly how or to what extent.

Mark and I checking out the map.

We then gathered back at the hotel and we decided that we'd head into Mesquite for one of their famous buffet's and then those who wanted would go bowling in the dark. They have glow in the dark pins, balls and gutters. The buffet was very good but when we were done we realized that Mesquite is on Pacific time and St. George is on Mountain time so we were an hour early for bowling. Most people didn't want to wait an hour to go bowling so we canned that and headed back to the hotel and the hot tub.

After we dragged ourselves out of the hot tub we pulled out the cards for a rip roaring game of Phase 10. That game can be very frustrating. I was stuck on phase 3 for at least 8 rounds. I tried not to pout but I'm not sure how successful I was.


After getting to bed at somewhere around 3:00 I wasn't surprised to see several people not make it for 9:00 church. We decided to attend the Crowley's ward. That would be the ward that Trevor's (Alycia's hubby) family attends. It was good to see the Crowley's but we left right after Sacrament meeting and met back at the hotel to say our good byes. It was funny because no one wanted to go. We stood in the hallway just visiting for nearly a half hour before we made it down to the parking lot. We then stood in the parking lot for another half hour before we got into our cars. It was good to see everyone and I didn't want to go.

Some one decided to put the grandkids on this water fall for a picture. I was scared the whole time that someone was going to dive over the edge. No one did.

When we first arrived at the hotel there were these big puddles in an empty lot adjacent to the parking lot. All around the puddles were a couple of dozen Canadian geese. Ben and Brandon of course couldn't just let the Canadian geese relax and enjoy the water but decided to chase them down and see if they could touch one of them. Every time we would leave the parking lot and come back the geese would be back and the boys would chase them away.

Jacob Hamblin's house.

So as we're in the parking lot saying our goodbyes I noticed that the geese were not at the puddles. I thought it was sad that we'd scared them so much that they had to go somewhere else for peace but I needn't have worried, they were simply planning revenge. As we were standing there I saw them fly overhead and then as I was admiring them they tried to bomb Ben. Unfortunately I was standing next to Ben. Two large bombs landing on the roof of my car just as I was getting in the car. I mostly escaped but I did receive some splatters. If you zoom in on the picture you can see the look of disgusted shock on my face. Gross. I'm serious when I tell you that I think those birds did it on purpose and I think they were aiming for Ben.

When I combine the pictures that I took with the pictures that Dixie took and then sort out the best of them all I come up with over 300 pictures. I planned on labeling them all and identifying the people in them before posting them but if I wait for that we may have the next reunion before I'm done. I'm going to add a slide show to my blog and if you click on the slide show it will take you to the pictures themselves. I will continue to label the pictures and if you see any mistakes (and I'm sure there will be plenty) just let me know and I'll fix them. Please add your comments as well. As for the pictures here in my post I would like to add some comments as well so referring to the pictures from top to bottom here we go. Remember, if you double click on the picture it will expand into a new browser window.

Tyler is a direct descendant of Jacob Hamblin's. Do you see the resemblance? He even has the same crooked smirk.

The monument at the Mountain Meadows Massacre site. What a tragedy.

Kira decided to wear her new suede boots with very long and pointy heels. She needed a little help through the snow.

Hello Grandpa.

I love my Grandma.

MacKenz is in love with Kira and I think Kira is in love with MacKnz.

Brandon and Peter trying their hand at the one-armed-bandits. The bandits won.

Some of the old geezers died out early.

They're dropping like flies.

Now the young guys are dropping.

When the babies are asleep you can't go too far from the room so you have to party in the hallways.

One of the phase 10 tables.

Partying on the bed.

Don't you love those cool boots?

Visiting in the hallway, we just can't bring ourselves to leave.

Visiting in the parking lot, we just can't bring ourselves to leave.

Canadian Geese looking for revenge.

Canadian Geese getting revenge.

Sarah Leavitt has more descendants in the church (that would be the Mormon church) than any other person.


Monday, January 10, 2011

What is that on the wall???

Boy do I have a lot to talk about. This weekend we went to our seventh tri-annual A. Q. Leavitt family reunion. The first one happened in June of 1998 when my Dad was dying. We knew he didn't have much time left so I decided to pack up my family and make a trip to Canada so we could see him one last time. When Dad heard we were coming he asked Jackie to encourage everyone else to come and camp out at his house. Nearly all of us were able to make it. We literally camped outside since Dad was way too feeble to have everyone running around inside the house but we all took turns going in to see him. He took each of us into a one-on-one discussion and talked about our goals and his expectations. There were probably more than fifty of us there including all six kids, their spouses, 33 surviving grand kids and their spouses where applicable.

At this gathering we realized that we needed to get together more often and we decided on every three years. This year we had our fifth reunion which means Dad has been gone for twelve years. I can hardly believe it has been so long. I'm going to post a detailed blog about this years event but all of Dixie's pictures (which I want to include since she took more pictures than anyone) are on my laptop which is with Lisa in Las Vegas.

Right now I wanted to share a bizarre mystery with you. I hesitate to share this since it is somewhat embarrassing but it is so weird I just have to. We left early Friday morning and got home Sunday evening so we were gone less than three days. Today Sarah was walking up the stairs and says. "What is that on the wall? No way, it's poop."

You can only imagine what I'm thinking, "Poop? On the wall? Naaaah!!". Sure enough, there it was, poop, stuck to the wall going up the stairs. It was too high to come from Sheba's behind so how on earth did it get there? It looks covered with cat hair and it is about that size so something very strange must have happened the last time the litter box got cleaned out. I wonder if I can leave it there until Lisa gets home?

Hydrocarbons turn out to be rather good at blocking radiation. It is quite possible that on a Mars mission the walls of the ship will be lined with their food. On the other hand they've found that feces can be easily baked into little tiles with which they would also line the walls of the ship. This means that they would fly to Mars in a can of food and return in a can of poop.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Botched Predictions

In this time of dire warnings about global warming and the State of Florida being submerged I thought it would be interesting to remind ourselves of prior dire warnings by people who were considered to be experts at the time.

1) Within a few years "children just aren't going to know what snow is." Snowfall will be "a very rare and exciting event."

This prediction was made by Dr David Viner, Senior Research Scientist at the climatic Research Unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia in March 2000. Have you guys up in Canada forgotten what snow is?

2) "[By] 1995, the greenhouse effect would be desolating the heartlands of North America and Eurasia with horrific drought, causing crop failures and food riots…[By 1996] The Platte River of Nebraska would be dry, while a continent-wide black blizzard of prairie topsoil will stop traffic on interstates, strip paint from houses and shut down computers."

This was predicted by Michael Oppenheimer, director of Princeton University's Program in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy in 1990. In fact rainfall has increased slightly since 1990. I believe the Platte River is flooding right now.

3) "Arctic specialist Bernt Balchen says a general warming trend over the North Pole is melting the polar ice cap and may produce an ice-free Arctic Ocean by the year 2000.

This was predicted by the Christian Science Monitor, June 8, 1972. As of last month, the Arctic Ocean had 3.82 million square miles of ice cover -- an area larger than the continental United States -- according to The National Snow and Ice Data Center.

4) "Using computer models, researchers concluded that global warming would raise average annual temperatures nationwide two degrees by 2010." Associated Press, May 15, 1989.

The average temperature in the United States has risen less than 0.5 degrees.

5) "By 1985, air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half." Life magazine, January 1970.

Air quality has actually improved since 1970.

6) "If present trends continue, the world will be ... eleven degrees colder by the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us in an ice age." Kenneth E.F. Watt, in "Earth Day," 1970.

I guess "present trends" didn't continue.

7) "By the year 2000 the United Kingdom will be simply a small group of impoverished islands, inhabited by some 70 million hungry people ... If I were a gambler, I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000." Ehrlich, Speech at British Institute For Biology, September 1971.

People actually took this guy seriously when he made this prediction.

8) "In ten years all important animal life in the sea will be extinct. Large areas of coastline will have to be evacuated because of the stench of dead fish." Ehrlich, speech during Earth Day, 1970.

I was at the beach today and it smelled pretty good to me. I also noticed that they're still selling Tuna and Salmon for pretty low prices so I know there are some important animal life left in the ocean.

I just don't understand how anyone can take these people seriously with their doom and gloom predictions.

When Mr. Fahrenheit came up with what we now know as the Fahrenheit temperature scale he wanted all practical uses of temperature measurement to fall in between 0 and 100. He chose 0 to be the freezing point of blood and 100 was the temperature of a sick cow.