Thursday, March 31, 2011

Heading Home

When Lester and I were teenagers we would attend the Lybbert family reunion every summer. It was always held in the East Castle area just north of Waterton Park. Of course any good Lybbert reunion had to have horses and that is where I learned to ride a horse. I loved it and I went riding every chance I could get. What I always found fascinating however is that when we headed out on a trail away from camp the horses would just sort of mosey along and weren't all that enthusiastic about leaving the comfort, food and water of camp. At some point on the ride we would turn around and start heading back for camp. As soon as we made that turn the horses would instantly perk up and there was nothing sluggish about how they moved. This is often when we would urge the horses into a gallop and we would race down the trail. What a thrill it is to ride a galloping horse out on a mountain trail. I remember one time we came around a corner and the road had been washed out. Those horses literally sat on their haunches trying to stop before we went flying into the gully. 

Once we were heading back to camp however it was nearly impossible to turn the horses away from camp again. We would have to literally yank the horses head around and kick them in the ribs quite violently before they would move in a direction away from camp.  Well I now know how a horse feels. 

When I go running I too am a bit sluggish as I head away from the house. Well, actually it feels quite good for the first few minutes and then I begin to get sluggish. I'm not sure what it is because I'm now beyond the point that I'm in pain. My legs feel good and I have plenty of wind but after a few minutes my mind keeps telling me that I need to walk. This is why I need to run someplace exciting because if I can keep my mind occupied then I forget that I'm running and I thoroughly enjoy the sun rise, the birds singing and the coolness of the trees etc. Some times I go over in my mind ideas of things that I really want to build someday. I know a lot of people like to listen to music but since I'm not into music that much it just doesn't appeal to me. If I don't keep my mind occupied however then I fixate on my running and I continuously fight the urge to stop and walk. That is until I get to the point where I'm progressing closer to home rather than farther away from home. That is when my pace picks up and I suddenly have much more energy than I did just moments before. 

This morning I was making great progress back to the house when I looked at my GPS on my phone and saw that I was going to come up a tenth of a mile short of my goal of three miles. I decided to go around the block and add a little extra to my run. I'm telling you that as soon as I made that decision I literally felt pain in my body. My legs started hurting, I was out of breath and I almost wanted to cry. Just like that horse so long ago I had to force myself to turn the corner and run away from home. The mind is a crazy thing don't you think?


It has been brought to my attention that since my introductory email about the life of Christ leading up to Easter I've not said anything further. I apologize for the break but during this time all we really know is that Christ and his apostles were preaching in the area around Jericho. We can assume that his mother Mary and several of his friends who were heading to passover in Jerusalem decided to meet up with him in Jericho and since they must of met up with him sometime early next week they were probably on the road at this moment in time nearly 2,000 years ago. If you can be patient with me we will join up with Jesus next Monday and then updates will be more frequent. 

When it comes to a persons self image (how good you look, how strong you are or how fat you are) women almost always see themselves as worse than reality and men almost always see themselves as better than reality.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Christ is Preaching in Perea

With Easter approaching I thought it would be interesting to chronicle the last few weeks of Christ's life. As the life of Christ is told in the gospels we sometimes find contradictions in their stories. I believe this can happen for a number of reasons. Each person telling the story see's it from a different angle. Some things may be more important to one person than to another and so he will describe it with more detail. We all know that if there are several witnesses to an event you will get slightly different stories from each of them. As I tell the story of Jesus I will do my best to make it consistent with the scriptures but please forgive any inconsistencies. Hopefully you will accept my account in the spirit in which it is given.

Today, March 27, is about a month before Easter Sunday. At this time Christ was in the land of Perea around Jericho. He had been in Jerusalem during the feast of the Tabernacles (in October) and rather than head back to Galilee where he lived he had decided to preach in Perea instead. His mother, of course, lived in Nazareth and since we know that she went to Jerusalem with her son it was probably around this time that she went to meet up with her son in Perea. We can assume that she traveled with a group of close friends who most likely included friends and family of the apostles who were with Jesus and hadn't been home for some time. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


 The other day we pulled a module out of one of our test stations and we saw some curious whiskers growing on it. That isn't a real problem by itself except that the whiskers were growing between two electrical contacts and if they actually connected the two contacts they could short out our module. We came up with a working theory on what could be causing the whiskers but to confirm our theory we had to confirm exactly what the whiskers were made of. The easiest way to do that was to take the module to a scanning electron microscope (SEM for short).

For those of you who don't know what an electron microscope let me explain it to you. When you  look through a normal optical microscope you can magnify objects up to about 800 times. If you try and magnify higher than that they you are trying to see objects that are shorter than the wavelength of light. If you're smaller than light then obviously light can't see you. An electron microscope shoots an electron beam at the object and that means you can then see object that are as small as the electrons are. Since electrons are much smaller than atoms are that means you can actually see atoms with an electron microscope. That is pretty small. 

The cool thing is that when you fire an electron at an object then the electron energizes the electrons in the atoms and then when the energized electrons fall back to their normal orbitals they give of x-rays. From the energy of the x-ray you can tell what atom it was. Most SEM's have an x-ray detector in them that will tell you the composition of the material you're looking at. It turns out that these whiskers are pure copper. That is not what we were expecting. Now we have to come up with a new theory.

While we're not happy to find whiskers on our module they are pretty cool looking. I thought I'd share some of them with you.

After reexamining data taken from soil samples of its 1976 Viking mission, NASA determined that its probes did in fact locate organic compounds on Mars indicating that there is indeed life on Mars.

Friday, March 18, 2011


As I've mentioned before I'm in the middle of training for the Ragnar relay. Yesterday I had planned a five mile run. That is the farthest I've ever run in my entire life. I ran down into the Penasquitos Canyon which is right next to our house and I'd planned to go down to a bridge that crosses the creek and then run down the trail and cross back over. I knew that way down the trail there was another bridge but I've been down this trail many times and I've see dozens of little side trails. I was sure that one of these side trails would lead me back to the other side of the creek.

The run was beautiful, the day was sunny and I was feeling good. Of course it's easier to feel good when you're running down hill but that is beside the point. I've down loaded and app on my android phone that keeps track of how long I've been running, how far I've gone, my pace time and how many calories I've burned. It also displays a map and shows the path I've run. When I was sure I'd run far enough that I needed to get back to the other side of the creek I checked the map on my phone to see where I was. Well, apparently there is no signal in the canyon and my phone wouldn't show a map.

I finally decided to just go for it and I followed the next promising looking path off the main trail hoping it led to the other side of the creek. No such luck. I wandered around in those trees for at least another mile or two before I finally did find a bridge. I then just guessed which direction I needed to go in order to find the side canyon that lead up to my house. I guessed the wrong direction so I ran another half mile in the wrong way before I figured out I was going the wrong way. To make a long story short, by the time I got home I had run seven miles. The amazing thing is that I enjoyed the entire run. I loved running through the tree's. It made my pace time much longer than I should have been but what a fun run. I did stop and took a couple of pictures just to show you how nice it is to run in the canyon. I love it.

While I'm on the topic of running let me just share my story. A few years ago I decided to get into running. I was putting on weight but I loved to eat so I decided that rather than eat less I would exercise more. That is when I first decided that running is fun. I was up to four or five miles a week when my knee started hurting. I ended up having surgery on my knee to repair a torn meniscus. I gave my knee a year or two to completely heal before I started running again. Unfortunately, no sooner did I start running when I started feeling my knee again. I stopped before it got bad because this time I knew what it was. As soon as I stopped the pain went away. I was just about to give up on running ever again when I heard about barefoot running. This made a lot of sense to me. Here are some of my arguments.

- The human body has evolved over millions of years to run on bare feet. It makes total sense that it knows how to protect itself.
- Wearing a nice padded shoes allows you to land on your heel. I tried running barefoot on the track at Pepperdine. Even on a rubberized track you can't land on your heel. You body forces you to land on the fore part of your foot.
- The human heel, knee and hip are not designed to absorb shock very well. The human ankle and the arch of your foot are full of ligaments, muscles and natural structures that are very well suited to absorbing shock.
- When you run with a heel-strike the "G" forces on your knees and hip are three times your body weight. That is true even with the padded heels in modern shoes. For me at 200 pounds that is an additional 600 pounds on top of my already 200 pounds. That's a total of 800 pounds on my poor wounded knee. A fore-foot-strike on the other hand adds 60% of your body weight. That is an additional 120 pounds or a total of 320 pounds. That is less than half of heel striking.

I can vouch for the results of this. This time when I started running again I forced myself to fore-foot-strike. It felt really strange at first but now it is becoming natural. Without fail, if I lose focus and heel strike while I'm running my knee feels it afterwards. If I concentrate and fore-foot-strike my knee is perfectly fine afterward. I absolutely can't run unless I fore-foot-strike. The added benefit is that my feet, ankles and calves are feeling very strong right now. The other thing I noticed is that my shin splints and plantar fascitis that started plaguing me are now completely gone.

So while I may not actually run barefoot I'm definitely a fore-foot-striker and I now love running. Next Saturday however, I'm only doing five miles.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

St Patrick's day

Today is St Patrick's Day. How many of you actually know anything about St Patrick? I know I sure didn't but today I learned a little about this man. The most amazing thing is that he lived 1,550 years ago. That is actually quite amazing. I'm pretty sure no body will know my name 1,550 years from now. As I understand it Mr Patrick was a Roman citizen who lived in Gaul (now known as England) in the 400's. When he was sixteen years old he was captured in a raid by a bunch of Irish barbarians and held as a slave for six years before he escaped and returned to his family. Later in his life he fully embraced Christianity and returned to Ireland as a missionary where he almost single handedly converted the country to Christianity. By the time he died he left more than 300 churches in Ireland. A pretty amazing guy don't you think?

The Mormon Church is the largest buyer of carpet in the world second only to the US military.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


I find it amazing just how scared people get when it comes to nuclear power. I suppose it all stems from the nuclear bomb and the unbelievable power that can be released in such a short time. Let me contribute my two bits when it comes to the Fukishima reactor. I would just like to say what a great design that must have been. Think of it, it just survived the fourth largest earthquake in all recorded history. The earthquake was seven times larger than this reactor was designed to withstand and it still survived and shut itself down just as it was designed to do. The only problem was that shortly after the earthquake along came a thirty foot tsunami that flooded the backup generators that were required to power the cooling pumps. That was a bit unfortunate but even without the cooling pumps the reactor remained relatively safe until crews could get in and flood it with sea water. I think this reactor is an engineering marvel. Sure, it has released some radiation in the local area but when everything is said and done I'm predicting that the harm done by the reactor will be minor compared by other problems going on. Take a look at the refinery that is on fire releasing tons of toxic fumes. I'll bet the health effects caused by these fires overwhelm the health effects from the reactor.
What really bugs me is when people start talking about putting a moratorium on building new reactors or even shutting down the ones we've got. It is by far the safest and cleanest source of energy we've got. Do you realize that burning coal causes 10,000 deaths a year from it's pollution? Just mining the coal causes an average of 1,000 deaths a year. In 1907 there were over 3,000 deaths from coal mining.

Nuclear power on the other hand hasn't caused a single death among the public ever with the exception of Chernobyl which caused 50 deaths. You can't really count Chernobyl however since that was pure incompetence that caused that melt down and it could never have happened in the western world. Even if you do count it though it was only 50 deaths. 

Some people might argue that the radiation generated by nuclear power plants causes cancer. They say that there is no safe level of radiation. That may be true but what they don't tell you is that you get radiation from all around you. The very ground we live on bubbles up radon gas that emits radiation. It is estimated that about 1% of all cancer is caused by natural sources of radiation. Burning coal in a power plant releases more radiation that a nuclear power plant. In fact running a nuclear power plant takes uranium out of the ground and so reduces the release of Radon gas. Running a nuclear power plant for one year will actually save a few hundred lives where running a coal powered plant will cause thirty deaths. 

For those of you who are worried about Fukisihima blowing up in a mushroom cloud it can't possible happen. People have to work extremely hard to make a nuclear bomb blow up and it can't happen accidentally. The radiation that is leaked is in the steam used to cool the fuel rods and while it is a minor problem for the local residents it could never make it across the ocean. The explosions they're having are hydrogen explosions not nuclear. The hydrogen is generated when the radiation splits water molecules. 

So to sum it all up. Hurray for nuclear power and good job on the Fukishima plant. I wish them luck on getting it safely shut down.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Happy Birthday Alex

Today is Alex's birthday. It seems almost impossible that he is now twenty years old. It just isn't right. I still feel like I'm twenty years old and now my fifth child is that age. It seems like he's having a great time on his mission and that is great. There are so many reasons that a young man should go on a mission and personal growth is just a small part of it all. 

So we had a bit of excitement this week. Serene came down with her girls on Thursday so that Grandma could take them to the zoo. Sydney has been looking forward to this trip for some time. Thursday night I was driving home from the temple when I received a rather panicked call from Lisa. Apparently Serene had put her girls to bed in Alex's room and was walking down the hallway to the guest room when she felt something grab her shirt. We have some boxes of Alex's stuff stacked in the hallway waiting for me to haul them up into the attic and Serene was next to the boxes so she looked over at the boxes expecting to see Sheba sitting there but what she saw instead was Tom. That stupid snake had escaped again but this was the first time he'd actually attacked anyone (not counting Alex of course). I guess I have to take some of the blame because it's been a while since he's eaten but that snake is becoming annoying. Pretty soon we won't have any more guests come to see us. I arrived home and put Tom back into his living quarters but I was concerned about him getting out again. It was late so I couldn't go and get a mouse for him and checking out the bowling ball I could see where Tom had actually bent the wire mesh on the side of the lid. I guess the snake is getting big enough that he can actually bend the lid. I'm going to have to make a stronger lid or we're not going to have many more guests come and visit us. 

I was afraid that Serene was going to pack up her girls and go home and I was also worried that Lisa might go with her so I decided I'd better find a solution to keep the snake in his cage until I could make a stronger lid. I went out into my back yard and brought in a concrete block. It was heavy enough and held down the edges of the lid better than a bowling ball would so I hoped it would work. Serene was hoping the entire brick would fall into the cage and kill the snake. 

Friday was Grandma's day at the zoo but today was my day with the girls. Lisa took Serene and Sarah to some church meeting and guess who got babysitting duty. That's right, Grandpa. I let them mess up the house good and proper but when the started going a bit crazy I figured they needed to burn off some steam at the park. I loaded them up in the stroller and jogged up the park. Sydney thought the stroller was very cool because it was going so fast. We had a ton of fun at the park on the slides, dinosaurs,  climbing things and the swings. After a while at the park I realized that my head was beginning to sunburn so I told the girls we had to go. After about five "one more pushes" on the swings we headed home. We tried to chase down some crows in the field and then headed home. I really hate to see them go.

After Serene and the girls left I had to get my four mile run in. I've been running shorter distances during the week but on the weekends I'm trying to build up to five miles because that's what I've got to do in the race. Next week will be five miles but his week was four. I actually ran four and a half. It's really kind of cool because I'm really starting to enjoy the running. I as enjoying the running before my knee surgery but I haven't gotten back to the that point for fear of ruining my knee. I then read that cool book, "Born to Run" which got me excited about running again but I messed up my foot when I ran too far on feet that hadn't built up the strength yet. This time I started very carefully and I'm really enjoying it again. Part of the fun is that a choose running routes that are fun. 
Most of my running is still on boring old roads but on the longer runs I can go down into the canyon. It is so beautiful down there that sometimes I feel like I could run all day. I decided to stop and take a few pictures to share with you. This first picture is one of the fields I run through every morning on my short runs. You'd hardly know that the free way is about a hundred yards from where I'm standing. 

This next path though is down in the Penasquitos canyon and it is quite a ways away from the free way. Finally the last pictures is directly underneath the freeway and only a few hundred yards from our house. We are really lucky to live right on one of the most beautiful canyons in the area. I love it. Wish me luck on this race, it's only a few weeks away. I'm definitely going to keep on running after the race is over. I feel a whole lot better than when I wasn't running.

In the first week after the beginning of daylight savings time there is a 17% increase in traffic accidents, a 5% increase in heart attacks and an increase in suicides.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Ragnar Relay

A few months ago Alan Bird asked me if I wanted to run a Ragnar Relay with him. I immediately said yes but since I was very concerned about what poor shape I'm in I told him that if he ended up getting enough people then I would not be offended in any way if he needed to bump me due to an excess of people who wanted to participate. So far he hasn't thrown me off the team. For those of you who are not familiar with the Ragnar Relay it is a 200 mile race. We have twelve people on our team and each person runs three legs of the race. 

This particular race starts in Huntington Beach, goes over to the I-15, south through Lake Elsinore and then follows the 76 back to the beach, all the way down south of the Coronado bay and then up the Silver Strand. The third leg of the run goes within a block of Ben's apartment building and Ben told me that if I run that leg he will join me for the run. I've begged Alan to let me be runner number three and he said it should be possible. I was anxious to accept the invitation to be on the team because after my surgery I've never really gotten back into running and my waist is beginning to show it. I thought this would force me to get back into the groove. Well I managed to procrastinate my training until it was almost too late but come the middle of February I thought I'd better get going or I was going to be really hurting. Since then however I have run nearly every single day except Sunday. 

I started out slowly only running a mile a day and I've gradually added an extra mile a week. Last week I ran nine miles and this week I'll run ten miles and the week before th race (which starts April 15 and finishes April 16) I'll run fifteen miles. The first couple of weeks I was really wondering what I'd gotten myself into but now I'm starting to enjoy it again. I'm also starting to relax about the race. I'm quite sure I'm not going to die now. My hardest leg of the race is my last one but it is six miles running along the coast so I'm really looking forward to it. If I get the position I'm hoping for I'll be runner number three meaning I will run leg #3, #15 (which I think will be in the middle of the night) and #27. Lisa is actually supporting me in this by volunteering to help with the race. She is going to be working station #27 so she can care for my broken body when I finish my last run. 

I think next year we need to gather up twelve people in the family and we run this race as a family. We'll need everyone. 



Darn, that's only eleven people and we need twelve. Sarah needs to get married or else we'll wait until Alex gets home. I think I want to wait until Alex gets home.

The average velocity of an air molecule at room temperature 
is 2,000 miles per hour.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Happy Birthday Ben

I feel bad, it's been more than two weeks since I've last posted a blog. I guess that is some indication of just how busy I've been. In addition i don't feel like I have a whole of interest to write about. Sure I could tell you all about the exciting things I'm doing at work but I'm not even allowed to talk about most of it because of non-disclosure agreements and such. Well at least this weekend was a fun weekend. Lisa has started this new business and her company had a convention (or something like that) this weekend up in Orange County. Since the hotel where we stayed is only a few minutes from Ben's house we offered to take him out of his birthday dinner which was just last week.  Sadly Sharley was out of town and unable to come with us. What did work out nice was that Brandon was writing his ethics test and he was in the neighborhood so he came for dinner too. With Sarah there we had three of our six kids for dinner. That was cool but sad that there were no in-laws.

The hotel where Lisa's convention was was pretty cool. From the front it looked like a cozy little Italian lodge but once you got in side you realized that it was huge. Lisa is now a consultant with Heritage Makers, they are a digital scrapbooking company. They have a wonderful product and if you're at all interested you should check it out. Her website is:

While we were at Lisa's convention we dropped Sarah off with Ben and they spent the day together. When Brandon finished his test he also joined them. When we finished in the late afternoon we picked them all up and we went to BJ's. I've never been to BJ's but Ben picked out a very delicious pizza. We had a good time. We actually got home at a decent time. We dropped Sarah off at a friends house where a bunch of them got together to watch movies. Lisa and I planned to getting some errands done but we sat on he couch and both fell asleep. When Sarah got home we made our way to bed and then darn near slept through church this morning. Crazy, I have no idea why we were so tired. 

Scientist have discovered that the part of the brain that feels physical pain is the same part that feels emotional pain (rejection etc.) and amazingly it looks as if a couple of Tylenol can be very effective against a broken heart.