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.