Friday, December 21, 2012


Every year at work we have some high school kids from a nearby Christian school come caroling to us. I look forward to it every year but this year I totally forgot until they showed up. It is the same kids every year so I think that they must be college kids by now. I actually think one of them has a grandpa who owns one of the companies in our complex.

Today it was a wonderful surprise when they showed up. Enjoy their beautiful singing. They're really good.

In a face to face conversation 93% of what we communicate is non verbal.
Only 7% of the meaning comes from the words we use.

Monday, December 10, 2012


Almost a year ago I was watching something on TV and feeling tired so I laid down on the couch with my left ear on a pillow. I was quite alarmed when everything went silent. Lisa had been telling me for years that I was deaf and I knew that I wasn't hearing everything quite as well as I should but my entire life I've had excessive ear wax and I'm used to going deaf. All I've ever had to do is flush out my ears and everything was back to normal. Well this time when I flushed out my ears it didn't go back to normal. 

I continued ignoring the obvious because I just assumed that I would eventually have to get a hearing aid and I wasn't ready to fork out $2,000 for one of those things but finally Lisa's pestering convinced me to go see a doctor. They confirmed what I already knew. I am deaf in my right ear but what I didn't know was that my left ear is normal and both of my inner ears are normal. That means that my hearing loss is conductive and the good news about that is that it can be fixed with surgery. While they won't know for sure until they cut open my ear drum and go in and look they tell me that I almost certainly have what they call "Otosclerosis". What that means is that over the last several years I've had abnormal boney growth on my stapes (trivia - the stapes is the smallest bone in the human body). It has now gotten to the point that it is impeding the natural vibrations so much that it interferes with my hearing. I don't hear a whole lot out of my right ear.

Apparantly Otosclerosis is genetic but I don't remember anyone in my family being deaf. I think Grandpa Lybbert may have worn a hearing aid when he was much older than I am but that is it. I'm almost the youngest one in my family so if it is genetic it looks like my brothers and sisters dodged the otosclerosis bullet as well as the baldness bullet. They also say that it is more common in women than in men so I don't know what to say. 

The odds of the surgery restoring my hearing to normal is 99% but the odds of it making me completely deaf is 1%. That is a little scary but I guess it isn't doing me a whole lot of good as it is. From what I read, if you have a good doctor the odds are even better and my doctor has done hundreds of these so I guess that should give me some comfort. I need to ask him what his success rate is. 

What they do in the surgery is completely remove the stapes and put in a prosthesis. That seems rather radical to me but hey, if it works. The other thing which they didn't mention (but I read about) is that when they remove the stapes they also rip a hole in the "oval window". The oval window is the membrane that vibrates between the middle ear and the inner ear (cochlea). To plug the hole they take a piece of fat from somewhere else in the ear and stick it in the hole. Weird, I need to ask about that one.

So I haven't completely decided to go ahead with the surgery but it won't cost much more than a good hearing aid and then I won't have to worry about batteries, or getting it wet or all the other hassles that you go through with a hearing aid. Wish me luck. I'm just glad I live today and not a hundred years ago. They figure it was otosclerosis that Beethoven had when he went deaf. Frankie Valli also had otosclerosis and had to sing by memory during the 70's. He later had the same surgery in the 80's that I'm looking at and got his hearing back. I'll bet that was pretty cool for him. 

 The middle ear amplifies sound 1,000 times.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

It's Beginning to Feel A Lot like Christmas

It is beginning to feel a bit like Christmas. I am almost finished getting the lights up on the house, I'm almost finished getting the tree decorated and Alex is almost ready to come home for the holidays. I'm getting excited. Today was a good Saturday because I was able to spend most of the day getting things done around the house. 

This photo shows most of the light but I have a bunch of snow flakes that float over the front lawn. I also light up our palm trees on the right side of the yard. Maybe I'll take another pictures when it is all done. I ran out of wire so I couldn't finish. I hope to get it done before Alex gets home on Wednesday.
Speaking of Wednesday, I'm so excited. I was invited to take a tour of the Tokamak Reactor at General Atomics. The Tokamak reactor is a nuclear fusion reactor. Thirty years ago I was quite confident that we would be using fusion power by now. Today I think we will have cold fusion before we ever see conventional fusion. In any case, I'm excited to see the reactor. I wonder if it is running?
One of my favorite parts of Christmas is when I get to launch my fleet of Star Ships. I probably have thirty of them now. Lisa is getting upset because I'm starting to take over the Christmas Tree. I love it. In the picture you can see the Enterprise, the Voyager, the Borg Cube and to the right of the picture you can see the nose of the Romulan War Bird. Pretty cool don't you think?

The last picture is of our Primary kids singing at our Ward party. 

A vaccine for Malaria has demonstrated about 50% effectiveness 
in trials in seven African Countries.

Monday, December 03, 2012


I know it was more than a week ago but better late than never. Thanksgiving was about ten days ago and it was rather different for us in the Leavitt house. It may have been the first thanksgiving where we didn't have any little kids. For a number of reasons we only had half the kids home. Kira and Justin just adopted Cameron and even if he was healthy enough to fly they probably couldn't because until the adoption is finalized it can be tricky taking some elses kid across the border. Brandon and Serene are too far away and Alycia decided that if she's going to miss a week of work she would rather do it after Christmas for our family reunion when more people are going to be there. That left Ben and Sharley, Sam and Sarah and Alex. Alex brought a couple of friends with him from school and we invited the missionaries so we could have more of a crowd. 

Even though there were no little kids and the house didn't vibrate from the constant noise it was still wonderful having the ones we did have and it has been way too long since we saw Alex, Sarah and Sam.

And then there was the food. I literally gained ten pounds in less than a week. I hope I can get rid of it before Christmas so I can do it all over again. It was a bit lonely making the apple pie by myself though. I've always had one of my girls helping me. I made the pie before Sarah got here or I'm sure she would have helped me. 

Sharley had to go to St George for a few days and Ben had some days off so Ben came down the Sunday, Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Sarah and Sam got here just in time to say goodbye to Ben and then Ben went home to work on Wednesday. Alex and two of his friends, Brooke Wolfgram and Sydney Gunther. Ben and Sharley came down Wednesday evening and Thursday morning we got up early to go play in the Turkey Bowl. The Turkey Bowl ended up being the Farnes family and the Leavitt family (Me, Ben, Alex, Sam and Frank) against everyone else. We were actually pretty well matched. It was a ton of fun. 

Since Ben is now in retail he had to be at work for Black Friday. That made us sad but he is an adult now and has a real job. Meanwhile, the rest of us went to Sea World. It was a nice day but it does cool off at nights so we did the wet rides first. Surprisingly there were no lines. We did Atlantis first and I avoided getting too wet but since there were no lines we decided to go again. Big mistake. I got drenched. I never did really dry off and by the time we headed back to the car my teeth were literally chattering. I did have a coat in the car but I didn't want to miss out on any fun so I didn't bother going to get it. 

After Sea World (and after I warmed up in the car with the heat on high) we went to the Mormon Battalion visitors center. Sam and the girls had never been there before and it is a very cool place. 

Saturday we had a big breakfast and then the kids spent most of the day at the beach while Mom and I managed to get caught up on at least some of the back log of work we have here at the house. Sunday morning we kissed everyone good bye and sent them all down the freeway. The only reason I didn't get too sad is because it is only a few weeks until finals are over and then at least Alex is coming home. This year the kids have Christmas at their in-laws but most of them are going to be able to make it to the reunion for New Years. YAY.

A 2012 dollar would have been worth $0.02 in 1912.