Saturday, December 26, 2009


I've always liked spinning.  I remember going into the gym after church so I could spin, tracing some polygonal pattern on the floor with my feet as I went round.  I remember being made to stop spinning because I was taking up room in a narrow passage way in an airport or someplace like that and someone was trying to get by.  But there's one kind of spinning I don't like: in a car.

I told someone at work today that it was just like backing into a parking spot, except there were cars coming at me at 50 MPH.

So what happened was we were heading up north for Christmas and it was late because we were taking the 80 MPH speed limit road at 40-50 MPH.  One second I'm listening to Artemis Fowl's the Time Paradox and the next my front end doesn't want to stay in front.  I manage to pull straight again 4-5 times in a row before the car got fed up with me and spun around completely out of control, turned backwards and gently but inexorably backed off the side of the highway.  No damage done, no one hurt.  Just like pulling into a parking space except you normally can get back out of parking spots.  The snow was so deep we were stuck.  I couldn't inch forwards or backwards.  We were just getting on the phone to ask my father in law how one got a tow truck when a plow stopped on the side of the road to ask if we had been helped yet.  We answered no and he called out a tow truck to help us.  We paid $50 for the privilege of being driven approximately 10 miles to the next town.

Tow trucks don't have car seat buckles in them.  Fortunately Uriel seemed to think we were having a great adventure and didn't mind sitting in my lap.

So we got into town at 1 AM.  Happy days for us.  I said more than a few thank you prayers that evening that we didn't get hurt.  Apparently I wasn't the only one with trouble with that section of road.  There was a 18 wheeler peeled off the side of the road not more than a few hundred feet away from where we landed.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Perfect day

Today was wonderful.  With fewer demands on our attention, Bonnie Jean and I were able to simply focus on what we needed for ourselves today.  Been like that the last few days, feels really good.  In case it wasn't explained, Ulysses and Becca left a few days ago, leaving us with Uriel to take care of.  But he's still so young its easy to manage his needs.  Today I focused on getting to do the cooking that Bonnie Jean and I were always wanting to do but couldn't because of resident picky eaters.  So in the morning I made almond naan bread.  To do that I had to make clarified butter, which took two tries cause I burned it the first time around.  The naans work better for my taste broiled for 2 minutes instead of 3, but otherwise they were perfect.  Then we went to church, where the music was beautiful.  I've never heard anyone attempt an organ/piano duet before, but it was marvelous.  Then we got home and I made Fenugreek chicken.  This is only the second or third time I made it, but it still turned out marvelously despite being a little burned because my watch timer somehow stopped itself in my pocket so we let it boil too long.  I joked with Bonnie Jean we'll have to keep this recipe handy since fenugreek is known to stimulate lactation.  Then I made eggnog.  I am missing Ulysses some, but in general I'm just glad to be able to have a normal conversation with Bonnie Jean without interruption.  Most of the time I was cooking, Bonnie Jean was reading to me out of the History of the Church, which we also haven't gotten to do together for a really long time.

To top it off, we found out we actually have been certainly assigned home teachers.  Bonnie Jean and I both have so much difficulty networking that home teachers are really valuable for us to have.  Just wish it hadn't taken 3+ months to get them.

Then, Bonnie Jean went to bed early because she's been tired and I've had time to just spend with myself while doing dishes.  I felt like putting on some music, and something made me want to put on an old EFY CD that I haven't touched in so many years it wasn't even imported into my Itunes.  Brings back... memories...  good, and bad.  Life used to be so much harder.  I can still remember when I ferociously read my scriptures and wrote in my journal every night because that's what I needed to reconnect and process everything, and I still probably wouldn't go a few days without seriously considering and planning how to commit suicide.  EFY helped change a lot of things in my life, including helping me form some friendships that helped change how I saw myself and my relationships.  I don't think I would choose to be somewhere else, I just wish I could have chosen a different path to get here.  So many paths... so much pain and so much I didn't know.  Thinking about it reminds me of in "The Never Ending Story" where Bastian complains of not knowing if he chose the right path and is told by the tree lady that every path that gets you back home is the right one.  That probably won't make any sense to anyone who hasn't read the book, but if you haven't read it its very much worth the time.  In any case, life being like a being a rock in a polisher is very real to me sometimes, every nasty scrape and break somehow helping to make me smooth.  Listening to old music I guess helps me air out some old feelings, sort of reintegrate my past.  Just having the time to do this is extremely nice.  Like I said, this has been a perfect day.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Total Slaughter

So Ulysses had been borrowing our CD collection and found a particular CD that started our with an odd little song.  This was a mix that a friend gifted on us, so there's a variety of stuff we really like and stuff that we'd never listen to on them, but for the most part its pretty good.  This particular song I think was included because its absolutely ridiculous and plays an absurd contrast against the other songs on the album.  In any case, the song repeats several times "total slaughter, total slaughter, lets begin by killing time."  Ulysses decided he liked this song and started singing it and writing its rhymes on little drawing's he made of floating ghost police robots, but it was pretty clear he didn't really know what was meant by the phrase.  So as our final bed time story last night I told him about the Jaredites.  It really made an impression.  This morning before going off to school, he taped a piece of paper to my spot at the table that read: "totel sloter is a sad & bad ting."

I hadn't been lecturing him, just thought I'd explain to him what the song meant and why it wasn't necessarily meaning that it was a good thing, but apparently he really wanted to show me he understood what I said.  I was touched.  Bed time stories are fun that way.  Though, I think this is the first night in about a week that I didn't tell him another story about Ammon.  He really likes the one about the arms.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Jacob 5...

Fascinating how much more participation I can get when I ask for people to act out Jacob 5 rather than just expect them to sit there and read it.  It was kind of fun to watch.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Unwanted Advice

So I was having a private conversation with a coworker in the breakroom about a particularly bad night.  Let just saw one of the kids tried to slug me and got spanked for it and got up from their short spanking and immediately said "that was fun" with a smile on his face, got spanked again later on when he repeated the offense, and to top the night off when I was restraining him from running away to play when he was supposed to be sent to his room I got tired of having him suspended mid air trapped between my knees (this was an odd arrangement for the restraining and when I went to put him down he hurt his foot.

Then this complete stranger who I've never spoken to before starts bursting into our conversation and telling me how I should or shouldn't parent, whether I've studied any child psychology, and that I'd better watch out cause I'm going to get in trouble with the law if I don't stop using physical spanking.  I probably should have said "excuse me, I don't know you, leave me alone" but I tried to be polite.  It was really obnoxious.

I guess it happened because I'm young and obviously stressed about it so random by standers feel the need to tell me what to do.  I've had other coworkers try to order me to force the bishop to get the kids into counseling, which given the time tables involved in whats going on just wouldn't be practical, they're leaving too soon for the bishop to do anything more than just say hello I'd like to get to know you.

I don't mind suggestions from people that I know.  I've actually gotten some really good pointers from people at work who I'm close friends with.  However, some people don't seem to feel any boundary between my business and their business sometimes.

Any suggestions on stopping do gooders?  I'm afraid the genetic dice are weighted towards Bonnie Jean and I receiving a lot more incidents like that in the future.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Institute manuals

So I finally managed to get my institute manuals all loaded into my Ipaq along with many other documents. Took a bit of effort. But in Elder's quorum someone decided to get side tracked talking about the supposedly secret knowledge of super secret no longer practiced temple ordinances they gained knowledge about as an ordinance worker 20 years ago. Despite claiming it was some sort of super secret ordinance they offer to share their knowledge about it in public now... Then they claim that church history documents on the subject support these claim when I've READ those passages and official church literature and they don't support the super secret special knowledge claim... how many I can't trust you as a legitimate source flags can you throw?... anyhow I got bored and discovered our classroom was close enough to the university for me to pick up the public wifi access and I started downloading church handbooks and manuals to the Ipaq to fill the time. I managed to get everything except the Book of Mormon manual successfully loaded in. Suddenly I had the brain wave that perhaps the problem was my Ipaq PDF viewer doesn't like 400+ page documents. So I went home, split the manual into two parts (which for whatever reason made the file 5 times larger... must have lost some compression there) and then reloaded the document. Whala. It works.

Bonnie Jean seems to think I'm a magnet for strange lessons. People proposing specific mechanisms for how thoughts can be transmitted spiritually, suggestions that meat lovers pizza breaks the word of wisdom, conspiracy theories about the medical industry, proposals for specific commandments to follow to be eligible for the blessing of being translated... I don't know maybe I am a magnet for the weird and strange when it comes to lessons. Hopefully I won't have any more use for the wifi in Elder's quorum. In the meantime, I have most all of the institute manuals handy for casual perusal in scripture study. Pretty cool. Unfortunately I only have 20 MB of space left on my Ipaq. Perhaps I should delete that collection of Charles Dickens novels that I downloaded but have no near term intention of reading?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Swine flu

So I got my swine flu vaccine just a few days ago. I was really impressed by the syringes they were using. Instead of the typical poke you and hold the needle in while they make sure they don't overinject you and then pull it out, it was a spring loaded mechanism so that the entry, injection, and removal all happened as fast as possible. End result was I barely felt any pain at all in contrast with a normal injection. And I don't think it was just my perception either because when they gave the shot to Uriel he whined for a couple seconds and then seemed to calm right back down when he couldn't figure out what just happened because I was covering his face during the injection. Within 2 minutes or so he was back to his normal self. We were expecting a cranky baby all day long after that one.

Barf 2

Ok, so this isn't going to be the new theme of my blog, but it was too funny to pass up.

So we come out of our room to find Ulysses throwing punches at his sister. We try to send him to the corner but he refuses and when I try to move him there he decides he'd rather throw punches at me. Not that he packs that much punch at 7 years old but still I'd rather not sit there and take it so I tell him he can sit in the corner for 3 minutes or I can sit on him for 3 minutes. So I've got him there pinned to the ground, and he tells me that if I don't let him go he's going to throw up. Considering he's been sick recently I'm willing to believe him. I tell him to go to the toilet to throw up there and let him go. Instead of going to the toilet, he dashes off to the living room to reposses his blanket, which was the center of the original argument. I tell him don't go to the living room to throw up go to the bathroom. I really don't feel like cleaning it out of the carpet again. He refuses, saying that he only needed to throw up because I was squishing him before. I had been trying to only rest enough weight on him to let him know he wasn't going anywhere, but oh well. Knowing that there's little chance that he's gone from fully nauseated to feeling fine in a few seconds, I pick him up from the carpet and wrestle him over to the bathroom. I can't get the toilet open quickly so I just hold him over the tub where he proceeds to deposit his dinner. Victory! the barf went somewhere I can just wipe it up instead of trying to get it out of the carpet.

So after that when I'm cleaning it up I notice a lot of it really wasn't that chewed up and I tell him to chew his food more. BJ tells me now is not the time to lecture him on his chewing. Apparently by then he had enough energy to tell me emphatically that he was doing the best he could and that I shouldn't criticize his lack of chewing.

What an interesting day that was :)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Internet Filter

So today we discovered unexpectedly that we need some internet filters. The stuff built into the OS blocks secure websites altogether and only works with the built in browser rather than firefox. I have to wonder how many crises my body can take. I don't normally intentionally stay up past midnight setting up web blocks on people's computers. Any suggestions anyone for mac compatible web filtering across two computers/ 4 user logins plus a windows machine two logins?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


I've never cleaned up barf off a carpet before. I hope I did a good job. I want my rent deposit back... though with each expedition with a sharpie or a crayon the kids take that seems less likely.

Temple Recommends

I'm grateful to have a temple recommend. I was irritated when my last one expired just as the insanity of preparing for kids to show up happened and we switched wards. It takes some time just to find out who the executive secretary for a new ward is... and then to convince him your actually a member of the ward even though he doesn't know your name like the back of his hand because apparently this part of southern Utah has little social mobility...(never thought I'd hear anybody bear testimony about how its good to experience the emotions of moving from a house you've lived in for a long time at least once in your life, but it happened here). Ok that was an exaggeration about the executive secretary but its pretty close to what happened. So when we finally settled in the ward enough to know who to contact, we finally got those recommends again. Kind of nice.

Now only to find a babysitter and get chores done early enough in the day we can use them :)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Davinci Code

Its kind of nuts when I try to teach a family home evening lesson and have to spend time telling someone that Dan Brown isn't the 13th original apostle and therefore doesn't know anything directly about what happened at the last supper and was...telling a fiction story. Life is interesting.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sword of Laban

Ok, so earlier I promised a post about the sword of Laban. Its a fascinating concept to wrap one's mind around and gives some context to the form of theocracy that is practiced in the Book of Mormon.

The obvious interpretation of the sword is that the political/religious leader should use force to ensure access to scripture. Given that the sword was preserved and handed down through time to land in the hands of an important military leader at the end, it seems safe to presume that it was held as something of an important symbol and that its cultural presence influenced the behavior of various leaders. For a history of see this post. Quick summary: religious freedom had a rocky road resulting from structural problems. Many incidents occurred that would not be tolerated in any free country.

So, back to how the sword influenced events. Since the sword ensured access to religious ideas but did not enforce the ideas themselves, it probably contributed to the early somewhat ok record of religious freedom as exampled by Sharem. From Nehor on, however, the examples become worse. There is a creep towards enforcing opinions instead of protecting access to opinion. Given how strange it was for the Book of Mormon to espouse religious freedom in he first place, one has to wonder how much effect this social symbol had on their society.

In any case, nothing really profound here, I just thought it was nifty. The original post on Book of Mormon religious liberty I made earlier is much more interesting. Read that instead if this bored you. :)

There is a problem with this symbolic presentation. If force is used against a religion, the counter force used to prevent access from being denied can just as easily deny access to a different religion. This is nothing really specific to the Book of Mormon, but the symbol of Laban's sword produces an interesting

Diderot and Nephi

So, while reading 1 Nephi 22:23 recently it occurred to me that the enlightenment could be a significant partial fulfillment of that scripture. For those who don't feel like looking it up at the moment:

For the time speedily shall come that all churches which are built up to get gain, and all those who are built up to get power over the flesh and those who are built up to become popular in the eyes of the world, and those who seek the lusts of the flesh and the things of the world, and to do all manner of iniquity; yea, in fine, all those who belong to the kingdom of the devil are they who need fear, and tremble, and quake; they are those who must be brought low in the dust; they are those who must be consumed as stubble; and this is according to the words of the prophet.

Then it occurred to me to wonder what Diderot would think of my suggesting that to his face.

Review for any who can't recall, Diderot was the head of the French Encyclopedists and something of a brazen atheist for his time. In general, he was one of the most prominent contributors to the enlightenment movement.

I think he would be either very proud or very angry with me. I'm not completely sure which. I think he might punch me. And given the social context against which he might interpret the passage contrasted to the social context in which I might interpret it, I would have to say good for him.

Employee of the Month

So apparently I became employee of the month for last month. Kind of fun. Always leaves me with a feeling of irony, me being me and all and doing so well at such a communication centric job.

Other news, I found out that my current manager has known all along about me having AS. Apparently my last manager told her when I was transferred between teams. Fortunately, that unsolicited disclosure brought no ill consequences but has probably contributed to my being well understood by the new team leader. I did express to my manager my thoughts about the dangers of uncontrolled disclosure and how especially at a job like mine unintentional bias could lead to workplace discrimination, so hopefully that kind of surprise won't happen again. But, overall, things have gone very well with me and my current manager.

Unfortunately one of the main benefits of being the Employee of the month, parking right next to the building, is being shared with two other Employees of the month (they didn't get around to deciding for the last two months until this month was practically over, and they run two at a time for the two separate projects in our building). Top it off that I bike to work, and I can be glad I don't think I'll be parking there very much.

Oh, and apparently I'm the first person from the commitment team to become Employee of the month, so that is fun that my team is honored through me in a way as well.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Family Home Emergency Room

I've spent the last two Monday's in the emergency room with a different kid. I joked with the nurse if we kept this up we'd be bringing in the baby next week. She told me I'd better not. Had the same doctor each time. Its fun doing this stuff when the power of attorney hasn't arrived yet. Doable, just more interesting.

Really, one of these days I'm going to get around to blogging about the sword of laban and its possible interpretations as a cultural symbol and how that relates to the concept of religious freedom as practiced in the Book of Mormon. But lately I've been a bit busy.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Smarter than Einstein

So, the other night I was teaching my niece and nephew from 1st Nephi chapter 4 and trying to discuss the meaning of the chapter a little more. Ulysses (code name) asked if scriptures were important because God is smarter than we are. I answered that God is smarter than everyone. The kids then asked what I meant by everyone. Bonnie Jean and I explained that everyone meant everyone. The next question was if God was smarter than Einstein. I answered yes. That idea seemed to blow Ulysses's mind. And this was on a night he hadn't been seeming to pay attention. For all the work we've put in the last few days, there are very precious moments scattered around.

In other matters I was noticing for the first time how unique a document the brass plates would have been. First, keep in mind that it is pre printing press days. Then keep in mind that before Ezra copies of the law were something only priests had. Then keep in mind the brass plates held an account up to the commencement of the reign of King Zedekiah, who only rules for 11 years so this history has to be up to date within the decade. Next the brass plates kept genealogical records sufficient that a random resident of the city could look himself up in them. That may not seem to be so odd given the listings of genealogy in the bible. But please to note those genealogies tended to be only of important families or lineages and such. Nothing that you could typically use to find yourself on a family group sheet. So the brass plates wwere a lot more rare of an item than we would presume.

When I have more time and am less tired I might blog on more of these subjects, but I can't even keep my eyes open right now.

Friday, August 28, 2009

I passed my oral final

So the oral final is behind me now and I passed. So unless I fail to gain experience credit during the next 8 months (or unless they lost my credits again) I should be able to graduate in April. So I am pretty happy.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Senior Thesis

So after all my hard work you can finally view my senior thesis.

War Powers Paper


Sunday, August 23, 2009


Long story short, Bonnie Jean and I will be taking care of 3 children very soon. My sister in law needed a place for them to stay for a while. This means switching wards (married student wards don't have primary) and losing my teaching calling before I got to give a single lesson. It also means a crash coarse in parenting techniques across a range of ages. I'll actually change a diaper for the first time in my life.

For the short story long: go here. For those unfamiliar with my wife's blog code names are in use.

Thankfully, the move in crew doesn't show up till the day after my oral final exam. But, unfortunately, this is all still happening just when I need time to focus on graduating. Crisis like to happen during finals at school. Just something I've noticed.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Senior Thesis submitted

So on Friday I finally submitted my senior thesis. It's a good thing it was practically done before that because nobody bothered telling me until Wednesday that it was due Friday. So Bonnie Jean and I stayed up till midnight to one in the morning both Wednesday and Thursday nights getting it into shape grammar wise and standardizing all the citations into MLA handbook standard format. So on Friday all I had to do was edit the title page slightly and take it over to staples to be bound. So happy days are near. If I can pass an oral final by the end of the month, I'll be practically ready to graduate.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


So, I've been called to serve as a Sunday School teacher again, official as of today. I am very happy about this. Will give me more ways to connect to the ward members and a fun opportunity to increase my skills. It's been my favorite calling so far. I hope I keep it longer this time, we've been informed a ward boundary change is in the works again.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Another Raise

Pay raise at work again as of today's paycheck. Happy days. I now earn twenty cents an hour more than before.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Neurotypical Privelege

Ok for those of you who read this the first time around I'm sorry, I should really stop trying to blog at midnight. I found this awesome post I think is worth pointing out for general viewership: Neurotypical Privilege: A working document

UPDATE newer version

I know this will take some explaining. Neurotypical or neurotypilogical or simply NT for short is a slang word used by people on the autistic spectrum to refer to people not on it without implying a value judgment by the name. That may sound kind of stupid, but it really quite powerful. We are in a democratic society so a premium value is associated with majority traits. So essentially if I use phraseology that someone else is normal and I am unnormal I have relinquished any presumption of equality because normal is considered better. Thus, I can equalize the playing field by using a medical sounding term to describe the dominant social status.

The document linked describes itself (since my tired brain refuses to function right now) as follows:
Based on the important and excellent essay, White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack by Peggy McIntosh, as well as other,similar lists that have followed, this is the beginning of a version to address the privilege that comes with having no known neurological disorder or disability.

The idea is the reader, coming from outside the movement, reads in explicit text all the things that are assumed for them that if they were of the disadvantaged class they would not get to have. For an example taken from a document on white privilege:

If a traffic cop pulls me over or if the IRS audits my tax return, I can be sure I haven't been singled out because of my race.

I have seen various attempts made to develop such a list for the autistic spectrum, but the one I have linked above is the most developed and polished one I've seen yet. Most of it is geared more to the broader autistic culture than to my own corner of it, but a few of the pieces resonated with me fairly strongly. For instance:

I can reveal to my boss and coworkers that I am NT, without fear of losing my job.

Because I have not disclosed my mental status to my employer, my job is much more secure. It forces them to judge me on performance in an equal manner. If I disclosed then any incidence of weakness related to my condition would be singled out leading towards a bias and potential firing.

Another one I liked:
I am not expected to alter or suppress my natural ways of moving, interacting or expressing emotion in most circumstances.

Now granted, I am not typically asked to make any changes. However, that is in a context where I already understand that if I express myself naturally too much, bad things happen. Because I am a valued member of my work community my manager shields me from some of it. However I am aware there have been repeated attempts by others to have me reprimanded for writing in an overly wordy way. Not that I was unclear or unprofessional. Just too wordy. Or there have been times when I have publicly been trying to ask for clarification of a specific detail when I already understand the basic picture but because most people don't care about the level of detail that I do, they assumed I needed to be instructed in the basic picture. To interact with such people, I am expected to change my manner of working with people.

Another item from their list
If I fail to alter or suppress my natural ways of moving, interacting or expressing emotion, I do not fear public ridicule or exclusion because of this.

I do not particularly blame anyone for the effects described in this list. Accommodation is a mutual process that involves trust, disclosure, and adjustment. The problem comes in where I have had experience enough that I cannot achieve that first level of trust with my environment. And this has pervasive impact on me.

For example...

My life has been filled with a never ending train of people who can see my mental capacity a lot clearer than they can see me. I don't particularly mind being smart and being able to help other people as a consequence of being smart. However it can be irritating to have that trait be so obvious that it is the only particular aspect of myself at hand for them to grasp. This was brought to mind particularly strong the other day when several times in a row I had people respond to me making mistakes with a "well it shows your human after all" genre of statements. I'm not trying to present as superhuman or above anyone, but people can end up treating me in an exclusionary rather than inclusive way when they see me like that. It doesn't help you any to have random managers coming up to you with agents in tow saying "I need someone really really really smart to fix this persons problem and you are it."

So in any case, I've had a string of these incidents recently and my brain was trying to maneuver its way out of the problem. For some reason, trying to do my job, have a modicum of conversation with the person sitting next to me while wondering why I was suddenly having an extremely hard time making eye contact during the conversation (not typically a problem I exhibit strongly) was taking up all my brain power. So I just sat there, thinking "I know I used to have a solution to this scenario but I don't seem to know what it is anymore."

Thinking back on the situation now, I recall what the solution is. When someone praised my smarts so much as to irritate me, I would tell them my diagnosis. It works really well actually, a short conversation can transform a persons view of me from "wow I'm talking to a smart person" to "wow, I'm talking to someone who has a unique blend of strengths as weaknesses." So problem solved just go to the person and tell them who I really am? Nope, won't work, because I still can't trust that if I disclose publicly I won't end up with quality monitors with a bias against me. I don't blame myself, my manager, or anyone else for the situation. Its simply fact that unless society were thoroughly ready to accommodate me, I can't take the statistical chance that someone in power over me wouldn't respond in an extremely negative way. And its not just the quality monitors I worry about. Being a very publicized condition right now, there are plenty of people who have made up all sorts of horror stories on the subject so that by going public with it I risk being accused of having poor sexual morality, being a socio path, or a loser looking for an excuse for a lifetime of poor achievement.

Not that there aren't other methods I could deal with this, but most of them are either temporary fixes (I can hang out only with people as nerdy or as smart as myself that my peers cannot marginalize me) or involve conversation skills I am not abounding in. Maybe some other day I'll figure out a good stereotype shattering strategy. Just remember it has to be one that accommodate me finding it difficult to initiate social conversation and even more difficult to control or manipulate the direction of that conversation. To put this in context the last time I can recall seamlessly guiding a conversation out of an awkward point I did it completely on accident, interrupting someone else's conversation they were finding awkward without intending to. And that was probably more than a year ago.

So in the meantime, I'll console myself that I am thought to be very smart. And be thankful that despite not having room to establish trust to the level I'd like, I have a manager who still generally understands what's going on in my head and shields me when things get over my head.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


So Bonnie Jean went in for a kind of off the wall lab test the other day that we half expected the insurance not to cover. We have an HMO after all. When the "NOT A BILL" statement arrived and it appeared we had been billed for two instances of this particular lab and the pending charge exceeded $800 we were kind of holding our breath. Not that we couldn't pay that and much more, its just a very large chunk of cash to give away over not knowing ahead of time whether the lab would be covered. We were worried enough that we actually even tried to call the lab to protest that the statement they sent seemed to show them performing the test twice when the doctor only ordered it once. They didn't answer or even callback, so we were kind of worried. We are very happy to get this in the mail today:

I guess there's hope for our HMO after all.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


So apparently President Obama has announced an intention to sign the "Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities." as of a few days ago. I'm very intrigued by this move. I haven't gotten to read the entire document but what I did read looked pretty good. Probably not going to change anything night and day, but being attached to a statement of values on the subject could be a really good step in the right direction. From the peek I took at it, someone did a lot of research before putting the treaty together. There's a lot of hot button issues addressed inside of it that I've seen many in the disability community concerned about. If anyone finds out more about it feel free to let me know. I'm surprised this has barely made a splash in the news yet.

My initial response from what I read is that I support this move, but as I said I haven't read the entire treaty yet. I find it very unsurprising that despite, according to their website, being the fastest negotiated and most signatory states on launch day, the United States has not signed it. Kind of a trend that. I have to laugh at a world where China has ratified a human rights treaty that the United States has not even signed yet. I laugh for multiple reasons, so no jumping to conclusions there.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Stats... and not getting fired

For a long time at work whenever we've complained about working conditions, the standard answer has always been be glad you still have a job because they're seriously considering shutting down this center. Felt a little bit like this dilbert cartoon. (click on it to view the whole thing)

So, for the last two weeks in a row we've met our minimum quality stats as a project. My manager tells me that's the first time we've done that since we switched to this project. So I'm really glad. Perhaps I won't be fired after all.

Something about this job has increased my cynicism or something. I used to find Dilbert only marginally funny, but recently I've found it downright hilarious.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Talk in church

For those who missed it on Bonnie Jean's blog, on Tuesday before yesterday we were asked to speak in church on Sunday last. My assigned subject was humility. Kind of an interesting subject to prepare on since I'm not exactly the humblest guy in the world when it comes to the talks I write. But it was a good experience, went quite well overall.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Death of a camera

So, as Bonnie Jean mentioned in her blog, our camera is seeing purple spots. Which is kind of odd, because normally it can't see the color purple, interpreting it as white, pink, or blue. So I am looking forwards to its replacement arriving. It's amazing the difference a few years can make in what apprx. $350 can buy you. Back in December of 2004 it could get you a 3 megapixel camera with 3x optical zoom, red eye reduction, flash, f2.8 at widest angle, and capable of ISO100 before significant noise comes into play.

Now, $350 will get you 20x optical zoom, 10 megapixel, face recognition assisted focus and exposure control, motion tracking autofocus, image stabilization, focus or exposure bracketing, capable of (according to one reviewer) 400 ISO before significant noise comes in, along with the above mentioned flash (except with an exernal flash adapter), red eye reduction (except it can be applied in post editing in camera), and many other features.

Just makes me wonder. Give it another 4 or 5 years and what will $350 buy in a digital camera?

Care taker, or someone who can't be bothered?

So I performed a rather disturbing call at work the other day. I was requested to help someone with a ringtone download. When I reached them I discovered it was an elderly woman at some sort of managed care or nursing home scenario. In the course of helping her I needed to call her back on a landline phone. She didn't know the number, so she handed the phone to one of the care takers to give me the number. The care taker refused to assist the customer but instead demanded that I give her the instructions and when they were too techy for the young nurse to figure out she informed me not to try to help the customer anymore and that the customer would get help from her family.

So my mind at this point is screaming that we've got a serious ethical lapse here. A tenant of a nursing home should have access to their customer care representative and be able to perform whatever they want to over the phone with reasonable accomodation, such as giving a phone number to a customer care representative. Instead because it was too much trouble to handle it herself, the nurse forbade me to have an interaction with my customer that the customer initiated. Granted, ringtone downloads are not that important of a quality of life issue, but in as much as can reasonably accommodated people should be allowed to live their life without interference. I could here in the background the nurse telling the customer not to try to do this on her own and to wait for her family. Granted, the patient may have been unable to perform the function on her own, and I had even suggested getting a family member to help. However when the customer wanted to try it on her own, there is no ethical reason to forbid her a service from a customer care representative that she is paying to be able to receive.

As I've seen another blogger mention, care taker relationships are not equal power relationships.


So I went on a campout with the Elder's quorum this last weekend. Had a few interesting experiences. The campfire was left completely unattended while people went to play games. When the games descended into pelting eachother with glowsticks I decided to bow out and tend the fire. Earlier that evening large logs were being put on even though it was getting close to the end of the night. Didn't make any sense to me, but when I asked if that was a little excessive (thinking that we'd want to let the fire burn down so it could go out) I was told "well what else are we going to do with it?" So before I went to bed I poured enough water on the fire to reduce it to a smoldering bed of coals. Didn't want to use up the rest of my water bottle on the fire and I figured the other guys could handle it the rest of the way with their water when they came to bed. Woke up the next morning before anyone else and found to my dismay the fire was still burning as a smoldering bed of coals, which between myself and the next person who woke up was built back up to a roaring fire by just dropping some wood on it. I told the second person who woke up that the fire hadn't gone out last night. The response was, "It normally doesn't".

So, I'm wondering if I went through the same boy scout program as these guys or something. Leaving fires unattended, building them so high they burn till the morning light, chopping wood repeatedly so close to other people that we were routinely being showered with wood chips, attempting to chop down trees for firewood without even bothering to check if they are alive or not and continuing to chop them even after its pointed out that they aren't dead. Don't even ask me if that was legal. Kind of freaky, but the general sense I got from the condition of the park we were in was that most people were fairly disrespectful of the forest. The trees along the road had relatively fresh names carved in them (people dated their carvings) a good 10-15 feet off the ground, indicating going to a significant trouble to vandalize the woods. I just hope the fire practices of my Elder's Quorum are not normal for Utahans. If they are they deserve all the fires they have to fight every year.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Funeral, and birds

So I never got around to finishing earlier intended blog posts. The funeral I mentioned earlier was very nice. First LDS funeral I had actually been to with a viewing, so that was a little different. Hopefully that will be the end of people dying around me soon. Found out a lot about my, how would I say it, step grandfather in law than I ever knew before. Not too hard given that I didn't know him much.

Most of the driving on our trip that I mentioned above was in search of bird watching sites. Not counting the birds we saw at the aviary, Bonnie Jean and I spotted:
American Avocet
Curlew (I don't recall the variety
Chickadee (I don't recall the variety)
Yellow Warbler
Downy woodpecker
Heron (didn't see well enough to see what kind)
Cedar Waxwing
California Gull
?Franklin Gull? (I'm really not certain on that one, it was a very far off sighting)
Meadow Lark
Marsh Wren
Cliff Swallow
Brewers Blackbird
Yellow headed blackbird
Redwinged blackbird
Western Tanager

and probably many others that I can't remember and definitely many more that I couldn't identify. Takes some practice to successfully identify birds and I'd never really tried with water fowl before. I saw a lot of ducks that I have no idea about. All in all a very fun trip, which shall have to be repeated someday, preferably in the fall when the migration is in full swing and there are thousands more birds around back on their way to South America or wherever they are going.

Friday, June 19, 2009


Typical conversation between Bonnie Jean and I as I drive towards her parents house:
"Justin, why aren't you going the speed limit"
"Its higher?"
"Yes, this is a 45 zone, your going 35 and annoying the other cars" (or 40/30, whichever it is I go 10 under)
"Oh, it just doesn't feel like a 45 zone, I mean this is a residential street with houses on it"
"Its not a residential street"
"Look right there, there's a house and driveway pointing towards the road"
"That's why they have fences"

Needless to say, driving isn't our favorite activity. At least we get to listen to audiobooks together, but this trip I've been trying to rememorize old flash cards to prepare for an examination, so we don't get to listen to the books as much.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Another death

Just last night my wife's step grandfather passed away. That makes 3 relatives in the last year. Hopefully we won't add anymore soon. Thankfully we will be able to attend this funeral as well since we were actually going to be in town anyways for a wedding. Seems like our planned trip keeps getting busier and busier. First we were going to celebrate our anniversary with a tour of birdwatching sites. Then a pair of my friends were getting married so we decided why not lump the two events into one. Then it just chances to be father's day so we're invited over to dinner at my in laws. Now a funeral has been added to the itinerary of our trip. Got to love life's curve balls some times. I guess we are just sort of at that age where grandparents might not last much longer. More on this subject later when I'm not dashing off to work.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Flowers for Algernon

So today on a car ride down to a hike with the in laws and on the way back, Bonnie Jean and I started and finished the short story Flowers for Algernon. Before you comment anything in particular about what you may have known about the book, please be aware there are two separate versions of this story: the short story and a later full length novel based on the short story. We read the short story which is very different from the later version.

The story is so hauntingly beautiful I'm still absorbing the impact of it. There's the traditional sci fi warning against tinkering with that we should not, but there's also much more to it. The differences people draw between physical and mental disability are compellingly portrayed, the persecution of one who is mentally different, the unwelcome pity the disabled are subjected to. Its all there. There's a beautifully done job of comparing different levels of intelligence and showing the futility of drawing absolute value distinctions based on relative levels of ability. I think that part was especially meaningful for me, touched some very old notes in my psyche. I also particularly like the title and the ending, where we are given the admonition to give flowers to Algernon. Or, as I interpret it, to honor those who may have high ability or low ability for the core of their being and not for any arbitrary functioning level we have assigned them. There's a lot more you could draw from that title, but I won't drag on. Between reading Mimzy were the Borogroves and Flowers for Algernon, I've had a beautiful experience recently reading science fiction trying to account for how we interact with the unknown and perhaps known, but the inevitably different.

Other highlights from today: I saw an endangered species of lizard.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


I have been blessed to never find myself in a situation where it was hard not to work Sunday. To be sure, there have been times when I could have had a job easily except I wouldn't work Sunday, but I always managed to find one at the times it really mattered. Working AT&T customer service has been good that way as well. However, recently it has been announced the call center's hours are being expanded to later at night in the normal week at Sundays as well. So far the scheduling process at our call center has involved a lot of guess work, poor training, and no respectable level of regularly allowing schedules to be readjusted to new needs. A schedule I have this week may be the schedule I'll have for the next year, or the next 2 months. Supposedly they were supposed to change every quarter, but a quarter of what no one has cared to explain.

Hopefully this will all work out. There's plenty of agents who would gladly work Sunday if given the chance, so I may luck out. In the meantime I'll just keep laughing at them each time they email our their survey link asking me to state yet one more time whether I like working Saturdays or Sunday's best, whether I'd prefer to work weekends or weekdays, and whether I could cope with a rotating schedule. I've taken the stupid survey at least 5 times already, with no sign yet of them stopping sending it to me to do over again. Maybe I didn't answer correctly last time.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Midnight Mental Meandering: Plato, Nietzche, and Elder Bednar

While watching a recent CES broadcast I was struck by some contrasts between what Elder Bednar had to say and some statements by Plato regarding experiencing reality. Both, amusingly enough (in that they both pick on the same subject for essentially the same yet opposite reason), warned of the danger of media’s by which life is represented: Elder Bednar warning of cyber media and Plato decrying poetry. Both of them protested them as distractions away from ultimate reality. However Plato was talking about immaterial forms experienced through the mind and Bednar was talking about this bodily existence. Perhaps they both had a true point to their own cultures, given that in Plato’s day there may have been fewer opportunities to envelop oneself in the mind and today there are so many opportunities that they can dilute our experience of physicality.

Elder Bednar also spoke at length of the need to experience physical/emotional life in family life, friendship, exercise, and social experience. Plato on the other hand, in Phaedo, speaks of experiencing absolute reality when he says that an enlightened one should practicing dying by separating the mind from the distractions of the body in search. And as such we should look forward to the separation of the body from the spirit. In describing this I can’t help but contrast it to Nietzsche who described that we can only really experience the world as we drown ourselves in physical experience, only grasping to the world as perceived by the Apollonic mind as necessary to avoid madness.

Bednar describes happiness as coming from having a body and pursuing the experiences that come from it, wheras for Plato happiness comes from pursuing otherworldly truth in the mind alone. I would not wish to inadvertently put a false dichotomy on the subject, as the D&C clearly describes 101:37 “Therefore, care not for the body, neither the life of the body; but care for the soul, and for the life of the soul.” Now, as the soul is defined in LDS theology as a combination of body and spirit, it is hard to see this scripture as really meaning to neglect the body, but rather to take care of it as part of the greater whole of our being. And I think Elder Bednar would agree with my framing his words in that context.

Bednar’s reprimands fit me generally enough as a person…you’ll find me stuck in a book or a video game much more readily than trying to get to know my next door neighbor. And as a member of Aspie subculture, I find some of Bednar’s reprimands…provocative. Its commonly described in Asperger Syndrome and has also been my own individual experience that electronic interaction can be easier than “real” social interaction in some ways. Strip out the non verbals, the tone of voice, eye contact, and pronunciation emphasis and leave the words to speak for themselves and I do much better. Sit me down next to someone that I know moderately well and have interacted with before and it might be five to ten minutes before I sort myself out enough to attempt a social interaction. With most people this period of silence is something of an interaction killer in itself. With my wife the silence was something we could share about as meaningfully as the words. But electronically, I don’t need to break the sound barrier. I don’t mean to suggest my own preferences or strengths/weakness pattern as validating or invalidating the point Elder Bednar was trying to make, nor do I feel particularly validated or invalidated by them. It just makes me introspective, reveling in interior nuances, evaluating strengths and weaknesses, etc. When one of my college classes a while ago had us read a book on an Enneagram based personality theory, I was confused to find myself exhorted to “ground myself in my body” to help me progress or something of the like and I didn’t really know what it meant at the time and I’m still not entirely sure that I know now either. I tend towards Plato much more and a life of the mind, though I try to stay engaged otherwise. I mainly just hope to enjoy all the meandering nuances of my own and other’s existence in all their dimensions while finding truth from among the brambles of presumption and folly with which every society deals. That sounds like a pretty good life.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Semester over

So I passed my oral examination well enough and the written final is submitted. I decided to celebrate last night by cooking up a storm. Tried two new recipes that I had never done before: Almond Chicken and Carom flat bread along with cooking a normal loaf of bread. It didn't get done till way too late at night, but I had fun. The chicken was good, but very different. One just simply doesn't expect chicken to taste like almond, so it kind of confuses you. Pulling straight from memory I think the spices in it were garam masala, turmeric, red chili powder, coriander, ginger garlic paste, bay leaf, cloves, peppercorns, salt with an almond paste and cream to thicken it up.

The flat bread, which the cookbook recommended to go with this particular dish, was fenugreek, carom (or ajwain, depending which name you like best), red chili powder, whole wheat flour, semolina, clarified butter(which I had to make just for the occasion) and salt. I never dreamed of putting red chili powder in a bread, but it actually worked out well.

So I feasted well. Hopefully school can continue to progress. I'm a little confused as to what to do next. The teacher suggested I might get more credit for my work than I was anticipating, which might mean all I need for graduation is one more internship, a thesis, and an oral defense. So whether or not that ends up happening changes whether I register for another class or if I just sit down and ask them what they want for a thesis (its changed a lot since I first started, so what I heard on the subject when I was in class may not apply any more). But, I probably won't find out the credits situation for another 5 days or so, and you only are allowed till May 11th to register for the next semester. So, who knows what I'll do next.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

So Grandma Mary is dead

It happened just a few days ago. I've been reading Plato's Phaedo about how death isn't to be feared and we should look forwards to directly comprehending absolute truth and then an email comes in saying death is real to me right now because Grandma Mary died. I've felt emotionally kind of dazed, sort of unable to sort it all out. I think the worst thing about it is feeling like I never really had a chance to know her. Chalk it up to my just not being socially aware, or maybe it was so taboo to speak of I don't know, but I hadn't even realized who Grandma Mary was or how she fit into the family story (she was a step grandmother actually... way more story to it than would be appropriate to blog), and then not so long after she's dead. Feel like I only really met her once, though part of that is because at the one family reunion I might have spent some time there was no one my age and the adults were boring me so I spent the entire event secluded reading a book. I knew her death was going to be soon, but I thought she had a couple of months left to her. In any case, I've emotionally stabilized for now in my own confused un-self-aware way. I just arrived in town for the memorial service today, so we'll see how long that lasts. In the meantime I'm enjoying seeing family members that I haven't seen for a while.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Be careful what you boast...

So a while ago Bonnie Jean and I went to Ihop and we tried some of their crepes. I don't recall the name of the dish, but I recall telling Bonnie that I was pretty sure I could make it better myself. Imagine a crepe filled with scrambled eggs, a few vegetables, and covered with holandaise sauce. At that point my taste buds are screaming, way too much egg, where's the seasoning?, and why can we only put a very few different vegetables on any given dish? So Bonnie Jean started craving this dish, and remembering that I claimed I could do better so she asked me to give it a whirl. I kept the scrambled eggs in the middle, but a lot fewer of them, seasoned with a little italian seasoning, and mixed with onion, green pepper, and mushroom. Along side the egg went avacado, tomato, swiss cheese, and chicken marinated in a lemon pepper sauce. I replaced the holandaise sauce with a garlic and oregano flavored white sauce. The marinade was Bonnie Jean's idea, and really made the recipe.

I definitely like my creation better than Ihop's, but I'd better be careful with my boasting at restaurants, Bonnie Jean might ask me to pull through with it again, and even if I succeeded experiments like this are a lot of work.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Weaknesses becoming Strengths

Today’s General Conference talks included some mentioning of weaknesses being strengths that really touched a chord in me. I’ve been intending to blog on this subject since coming across it while reading Tad Callister’s “The Infinite Atonement” but I just hadn’t gotten around to finishing the post. Since conference discussed the subject so beautifully I figured I would finish it.

I think the doctrine of weaknesses turning into strengths as commonly discussed among the LDS people if often very underdeveloped. I’m passionate on this subject because it came up when I tried to go on a mission. There was a suggestion that if I simply prayed with enough faith my Aspeger’s syndrome would disappear and I would meet the new qualifications for missionary service because the scriptures promise that weak things shall become strong in Ether 12:27.

The context for this passage I find all important. Moroni is praying for greater eloquence in writing. Most of us stop reading and start the Sunday School lesson right where the Lord tells Moroni that his weakness will be turned to a strength. But we miss the beauty of when the Lord tells Moroni that his lack of eloquence actually has a reason in the divine plan, that with this lack of eloquence God intends to test to latter day readers on their charity and humility. Instead of overwhelming the readers with powerful rhetoric, Moroni’s words are supposed to be a test to see if latter day readers will humble themselves enough to have charity towards Moroni and see past his writing to the inspiration of the Lord behind it. (See Ether 12:26 and 35). But the scriptures never actually say Moroni’s writing was improved.

There are nuanced reasons why our weaknesses are often not changed to strengths when or how we’d like them to no matter how much faith we have. Consider the story of the man born blind, who the apostles asked if was born blind because of his own sins or the sins of his parents. The sublime answer was “neither, but that the Glory of God may be made manifest.” It wasn’t a lack of humility or of faith or of failing to ask for the blessing that had failed to transform the weakness into a strength. It was for the Glory of God. Most of us stop reading right there. We are so caught up in the beauty of the act of healing manifesting the Glory of God that we don’t consider that Christ didn’t say the healing had been done for the Glory of God (though it showed it), it was the birth in blindness. It would be very inconsistent with the love of God if an entire life was darkened in blindness just so that Christ could have a moment of glory healing him. I think one way or another Christ really meant that something about the man’s life being blind helped bring about the purposes of God in his life and the life of others around him, and that the healing just was a very powerful way of showing that no sin was involved. I think anyone with a family member afflicted with a weakness that they’ve learned to love as part of the person will be able to testify that in the weakness the Glory of God is manifest because dealing with those weaknesses transforms us. Our capacity to love is enhanced.

Another reason weakness might not be removed is that having them causes us to build compensating strengths that, in the eternal perspective, are more urgently needed. The prime example that we ignore all too frequently is that weaknesses bring humility, which is an essential characteristic for our perfection. The scriptures speaking on the subject in Ether 12:25-37 and 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 emphasize this as the central function of weakness. By emphasizing faith and humility as the only steps necessary to change a weakness to a strength, as we often do when we read the classic verse in Ether out of context, we misunderstand humility. It is more than having the faith to be healed. Its following up any prayer on the subject of our weakness with “Thy will be done” and being willing to accept the answer if the Spirit tells us that our weakness exists so that the purposes of God might be made manifest.

I suggest a new attitude towards weakness. First, we should live worthy to be blessed and humbly pray for the alleviation. Second, we should believe that if faithful we will be blessed with “all that the Father hath” and know that that includes perfection in all things, coming line upon line, precept upon precept. Third, we should do as Paul directs and take joy in our weaknesses. As stated in 2nd Corinthians:

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

With this new understanding we can find the peace promised by the scriptures in spite of afflictions and learn to accept the blessing of God necessary to His purposes in whatever form they come in, whether to us they seem weaknesses or strengths. And, when God decides to bless us to be able to do His will by removing the infirmity whether in this life or the next, we will be ready and humble enough to accept it.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Feeling flat

My rear wheel has an affinity for metal spikes. Yesterday as I was biking to work I chanced to look down at the sidewalk and see the remains of a glass bottle and thought to myself, "wow that could pop my tires." Less than a minute later I start feeling a rumbly feeling from underneath me. I dismount and discovered my rear wheel had no air. Even with running part of the rest of the way to work I was still late. Biking uses different muscles than running and I rarely run anywhere anymore. Anyhow, when I get to work I find a small metal spike in my tire. Not too unlike the last heavy wire that flattened me a long time ago. This inner tube is puncture resistant so it takes something nasty to get it.

In any case when I get back home I try to patch the tube. But it is not destined to go smoothly. One of my break pads is apparently cracked and despite my care it actually seems to come apart while I disengage the wheel. Then when I try to remove the inner tube I forgot (or did I never learn?) that the stem where the air is pumped in can be a little stuck in the rim of the wheel. Though I was trying to be gentle I manage to rip the inner tube right off the stem. So much for a patch job. To add insult to injury as I pull the tube out the last patch job (from the last time I got spiked) tears loose. Once I get the rest of the tube out I find another metal wire in my tube. So even if I hadn't ripped my stem off I would have needed 3 patches to fix it (one to repair the existing patch, one for the spike I found at work, and one for the wire) and I only have 2 patches left, so this tube was a gonner one way or another. After doing the customary search for additional sharp objects poking through the tire I fit one of my old tubes back in the wheel. I don't have any puncture resistant spares so I'd be a sitting duck for the thorns that litter this town. As one of my coworkers put it I might last on the way to the grocery store but not on the way back home. Before putting it back on I proceed to pump it back up. Wrong move. A fully inflated back tire is next to impossible to get on and off, at least when the break joints are stiff with dust and mud. So I take the air back out and put the wheel on. I finally get it screwed into position and start to reinflate it. During a break I try to give the wheel an experimental spin and it gets stuck. Closer inspection reveals that a lip of the tire that was firmly in the rim to start with decided to jump out. So I let the air out, reposition the tire in the rim, and reinflate. Then I realize I forgot to position the chain. So then I deinflate the wheel and remove it, put the chain back on properly this time and then reinflate it. By this time I'm tired of using the tiny hand pump I have for roadside emergencies and dig out my wifes full sized airpump. In no time I've got it up to pressure, which on this bike is 40-65 PSI. I'm really tired of pumping by now so I only bother pumping it to 45, though since I don't off road at all 65 would be better. I stand up, stretch, and listen with dismay as a swoosh of air comes out of the tire. I'm back to square one.

By this time I'm seriously sick of the entire business. Instead of tearing it apart again to see if my earlier patch job failed (this non puncture resistant tube had its share of thorns before I replaced it), whether I missed something poking through the tire, or whether I popped it myself by pinching it with my tools while I seated the tire in the rim... I just took it into the shop since the breaks needed fixing anyways. Theoretically, I'll be wheeling around again by the day after tomorrow.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

I like wearing contacts

I am without glasses again. I used to have contacts just before I got married, but when I lost the insurance I couldn't afford the luxury. But with vision insurance again with work suddenly I can afford such things again. So goodbye glasses.

Problem is I normally sit at work right under the air conditioning vent which is blasting out cold air all day long (to make up for the heater blowing on the other side of the room), and even without wearing contacts it dries out my eyes. I have a problem with my eyes getting dry with contacts anyways, so I might have to find somewhere else to sit at work.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


I'm grateful my wife can swallow food without throwing up.

I'm grateful that she got through a night of that without being so sick from lack of food the next morning that she couldn't eat without throwing up (yes, we have experienced such cycles).

I'm grateful for love.

I'm grateful to still have a job in this crazy economy.

I'm grateful for having enough time to read moral theories of long dead philosophers.

I'm grateful for self knowledge.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

37 Pounds of Meat

So there were these really awesome sales on meat at the local grocery stores this weekend. Most of the sales I ignore because I find Walmart's normal prices beat sale prices elsewhere. But this week I actually found other stores undercutting Walmart's normally excellent prices by about half or even more. So, to complement the cheese that is filling about 1/4 of our freezer we bought the following:

5 lb of ground beef
20 lb of chicken breasts
12.5 of chicken thighs.

The freezer is honestly full now.

If we see another sale we'll have to buy a mini freezer to stock up on something more. There's only so much room for our money saving bonanza. Things we have in our frozen bulk section now are cheese, meat, broccoli, bananas, and rhubarb. Kind of an eccentric collection. It goes along perfectly with the eclectic non frozen section comprising honey, cream of chicken soup, cream of mushroom soup, chicken broth, tomato products (Italian style diced, normal diced, paste, and sauce), pears, basmati rice, peaches, corn, wheat, flour, peanut butter, sugar (normal, powdered, and brown), tuna cans, canned chicken, and hot chocolate.

The really crazy thing is we've done all this without once thinking about it in terms of building up a food storage (with the exception of the wheat). We're just trying to save money by buying in bulk when the best sales happen.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Morality and geometry

So, I'm getting tired of reading Aristotle's Ethics. His basic premise is that virtue and justice are always found in the median or average equidistant from two related extremes. As I said to Bonnie Jean earlier, when you average two things that are wrong in different ways you don't necessarily get something right afterwards. Its just as easy to get something that's wrong in a medium kind of way. So not that he doesn't make nice points here and there throughout the entire book, but for the most part I think he's just hopeless. He has no methodology for discovering what the extremes are but socially assumes them, which in turn places all of his equidistant moralities as socially anchored, not anchored in principle. For all these equidistant line segments, everyonce in a while I've been wondering what would happen if he'd bothered learning to do cartesian graphs or consider morality in say 3 or more dimentions. There's just a point where you just can't describe the world in line segments. And its not just the dimentionality of it, there's a point when moral systems only work when considered in harmony with eachother. Truth in righteous living has many principles interacting with eachother in complex subtle ways that can only be considered as systems. For instance, what is often considered to be an excess of a principle is often just one principle lived well with the love thy neighbor idea falling by the wayside. Nothing necissarily wrong with the original idea, but you can't say take one law of behaviour as an excuse to ignore another one. If you only take one principle or behaviour at a time and have on the one hand ignoring and on the other hand being a hate thy neighbor obsessive on the subject you'll never get to the point of realizing that there are two or more principles involved that only work in systems together to make virtuous people. But Aristotle never quite seems to get to these levels. It's just line segment after equidistant line segments of extremes that may not even exist, center points that are sometimes dubious in value, and other bizarre strangeness to top it off like comments about how the truly virtuous man must love virtue so much that following its dictates must never be a sacrifice... I guess he just never heard of the concept of a refining fire before...

Switching cell phone carriers

So, Bonnie Jean and I have finally been released from our contracts with Qwest for cell service. We celebrated by taking the first day out of contract to order service with T-mobile. ATT's corporate discount wasn't enough to buy me out from the features I liked in T-mobile. Its kind of fun discovering what kinds of features are considered standard with the account. For instance-on ATT the mobile backup feature is a paid service only compatible with a minority of phones. On t-mobile, its included for free on most of the plans. Or on ATT any web access is pay per use by the kb no matter if browsing on an att site or off. On t-mobile the customer care rep has reassured me that t-zones is a free service, that you only pay for something if you use it. Considering just how many phone functions can accidentally click you onto tmobile's internet portal, that's a significant benefit that allows them to do things like put a web based help service for the phone. I'd never browse for online help from the phone if it wasn't free. So overall I'm fairly impressed. I'm getting extra's I didn't know were coming to me without paying for them. T-mobile's changed a lot since we switched off of them. If anybody had told me how much hassle qwest was going to be I don't think I would have ever made the switch.

Oh, one of the perks with the way we're setting it all up is most all of our calling will be unlimited now. I love innovation in the way cell phone plans work.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Sophocles is awesome

So I have just finished reading the Sophoclean tragedies of Oedipus the 3rd time through. Honestly the first time two times through they didn't really mean anything to me. Probably due to the setting in which or the speed at which I read them. But this 3rd time, the story just really came to life for me. I absolutely love these plays. I think I may have actually cried a few times while reading them. I think I'm going to be a lifelong fan of Sophocles now. I don't think I've encountered any other plays written as powerfully as these. I hope I find time in life to read these again some time soon.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

LDS disability website

The Ensign has been putting a lot of emphasis on disability awareness and acceptance over the last year or so. There's just been one good article after another. Just taking a peek at this new March Ensign, I noticed they were officially announcing the disability section of the church website, Though I personally might make a variety of small text changes and remove a link to an organization more interested in demonizing children for fund raising than promoting acceptance in its advertising, all in all I find the website to be very good. I've been very pleased to see the church put such an emphasis on acceptance and accommodation. Though I typically do not consider myself as disabled, but just different, and almost never bother trying to tell anyone that I have Asperger's syndrome, just seeing such articles and websites makes me feel more welcomed at church. If I ever feel a need to tell a church leader about that part of myself instead of having to come up with an entire presentation on the subject I can just say, "Go look at your own website to see what it says about me," and leave it at that. Saying it like that forces a link between allegiance to official church statements and acceptance that despite aparent strengths I also can have not so apparent weaknesses. Plus it refers them to official statements saying they have to try to be accepting and accomodating. All in one convienient package. I love it!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Turkey bone soup

I learned tonight that marjoram flavored homemade pasta fresh out of the pan is heavenly.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Many happenings

Well life has been interesting the past few days. First off, low prices on ebay were too hard to resist and I have replaced the palm pilot and so far the new set up is working marvelously, though its been a learning experience getting the bluetooth stuff working since I've never used the technology before. The current model Ipaq I bought is much more sophisticated than the palm I had before.

My new bike helmet finally arrived. Not the most stylish thing in the world, but it got top ratings on consumer reports for safety testing. The old helmet had been through its share of crashes and had developed a few cracks running through it. At that point you know its time to replace because if it gets hit instead of crushing it'll just split. So I'm glad to have the new helmet.

And, tonight I tried a new Indian recipe. The technique was different than I've seen before. Boil potatoes, poke them full of holes and deep fry them, then create a spicy cream sauce and boil them in that for a while. BJ says it ended up like baked potatoes. I was really impressed by this recipes ability to actually get the spice flavor into the potato, which very few recipes do. Probably one of the most delicious potato recipes I've ever done. I would never have though to combine ginger, garam masala, cinnamon, coriander, cloves, fennel, chili powder, and cumin in the same dish. In any case it was absolutely amazing tasting

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Palm Pilot problems

So among the assignments I have in distance learning is to submit study notes for review, sort of as proof that the wheels in my head really are turning. So any notes that I take have to end up in electronic format one way or another. Since I've been studying while on break at work the easiest way to do this has been to use the keyboard/palm pilot combination. Its been working great, until just yesterday evening.

The problem is actually getting any of these documents onto my computer. I figured, no big deal just install the sync software onto the new computer and you'll be in business. But then I find out, the special palm pilot word processor I've been using is no longer compatible with the latest version of Mac OS X. It literally won't even install. So I thought, no big deal I'll just boot my computer in windows and install the software on that side. It installs just fine, but then I find out that for some strange reason even though BootCamp can use the USB ports it can't make the USB port act as a "COM1" port and therefore I cannot syncronize the palm through my windows side. Then, after a serious bout of frustration I give in an just figure I'll sync it to my wife's computer. All the software is already there I should just have to push the button... right?

Wrong. The M515 is specially known for having a problem where if a static shock is delivered to the sync port (if I recall this exactly) it will permanently stop being able to syncronize with a computer until the battery is drained all the way down and up again, a process that takes 10 hours to complete. On my old computer dat a corruption during hotsyncing was so common that I never bothered to perform them anyways and so this wasn't a problem. But now that I'm trying to hotsync my study notes over to my computer its a very large one. As far as I knew at that time I was going to be meeting with the teacher the very next day and if they don't get study notes within 24 hours notice they are allowed to cancel on you. So 10 hours isn't good enough, I need these files now.

So, I install a demo copy of my word processor on my wife's palm, beam her ever document that I need transferd, sync her palm and lo and behold I have documents.

In the process of this I discover the windows version of this palm word processor is much fuller featured than the mac version. Grrrrrrrr...

This is starting to be a problem. As mentioned before I don't syncronize often, and I think the last 3 times I have I had to run that 10 hour routine first. But when I do sync I'd like to do it to my own computer. Unfortunately the word processor stopped being developed about 5-6 years ago so there's no hope of an update fixing that problem. I took a look at documents-to-go, one of the major palm word processors, and find that my handheld is old enough that I can only get version 8 instead of version 11 and lose who knows how many features (documents to go used to only allow you to view, not edit or create documents so an old version isn't necissarily any good). Not to mention I'd still have to pay them 50$ just for an old version. Granted it would allow me to sync excel docmuments, which I've been wanting for a long time now, but that's a limited benefit. It just doesn't feel right to pay money to get outdated software to install on an outdated palm pilot because my outdated palm word processor doesn't work on mac anymore. To top it off running this 10 hour routine to restore syncronizing ability seems almost a normal part of the device's use now in days. Perhaps that's because I only sync about once every 3 months but still, this is getting crazy. I couldn't even remember if the 10 hour thing had fixed it last time I tried, it had been so long. I'd take a look at a new palm, but they only make them with phone combos right now. Given that I'd need the palm on me at all times, that would force us to get a second phone line that we don't need just to start with, so this is a major problem. And palm doesn't make keyboards anymore so I can't even tell if my current palmpilot keyboard would work. My wife suggested I get an Ipaq. My first reaction was no, Windows Mobile won't sync to mac. But, surprise surprise, there's software that will make it work for 40$. With a keyboard purchase, the sync software, device, and possibly a carry case it would cost me over $400. With a price tag like that, replacing my palm pilot setup goes back down to the bottom of the priority list. Especially since the 10 hour routine for fixing the syncing actually worked this time.

This wasn't the end of my fun yesterday either. All documents submitted for school need a certain cover letter that includes a picture of the school logo. When you copy paste this coversheet which is only an 86kb document and add a few pages of formatted text, Word 2003 magically transforms the 86kb school logo file into a 20MB file. Took me probably 15 minutes to figure out what was going wrong before I compressed the picture in the file down to 96 DPI which dropped the file size down to 193 kb. I just couldn't believe word would come up with 19.8MB of data out of nowhere just for the privilege of performing a copy paste. Can't you tell I love computers?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Finally, I am a student again

Not that my brain is ever really ready to shut down learning, but I am now starting a distance learning semester at my school again. Or at least, I hope I am.

You know things are off to a great start when day one of everything is marked by the schools online learning center for distance studies being closed with the notice "This account has been suspended, please contact your support administrator as soon as possible" and a mass email gets sent out saying "We're restructuring, please wait another week to find out who your teachers are".

Some things still haven't changed. Hectic last minute changes almost make me feel at home. Just so long as they get the online learning center back up and running fast enough for me to submit my assignments I'll be fine.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

2001, a Space Odyssey

So I just finished reading the book based off the screen play of A Space Odyssey 2001. I remember seeing the end of the movie and thinking something along the lines of "and we now interrupt this story line for a demonstration in abstract art and special effects." I figured the book might make more sense. Who knows maybe I could make sense of the movie if I watched it now that I'm older.

In any case, it seems to me if the book was a faithful representation of the movie, it was a classic movie not because of itself but because of its release in the context of the space race. The idea of finding alien artifacts upon the start of any real new wave of space travel leading to a breakthrough in technology is a well trodden path. But the entire spirit transformation quasi god thing going on was just a little bit over the top. Why pray tell would any such advanced race of beings care to automatically transform a newcomer into one of themselves and then unleash him on the world? Its not as if they bestowed him with any special level of wisdom that made his new found powers good for him to have. But in the context of the space race the message is "We'd better be first because the growth of technology, specifically space technology, is the path to godhood. And if we aren't first, we won't be omnipotent" Blah blah blah... I don't care how classic the presentation is I have no inclination to believe the increase of technology is going to cause any intrinsic moral good for anybody. Just makes the fabric of society through which good and evil play out richer textured, more frenetic, and more powerful for whatever a good organizer can do with it. All in all the book bored me.

To add to my boredom is a knowledge of how little military significance the space race actually held. It was a big public relations event to showcase the technical achievements of different economic systems. But as far as anything practical goes?... who cares if the soviets can build bigger rockets if they built bombs so huge it took a bigger rocker to carry essentially the same destructive power we could already do with a smaller rocket. Not that I'm complaining too harshly... I like microchip computers. And I prefer a science competition to a heap of politically necissary murders called war anyday.

Contrast the Space Odyssey with my other current read "The Never Ending Story." I'm finding the book and the movie have little similarity in their symbolic content. The movie is a Freudian story of creation with a crisis involving unbalanced male and female elements and a end of creation from a lack of imagination. The book is a rich allegory of how our beliefs and myths can change. It may not be the greatest book ever written, but it has a lot to say about how our beliefs influence who we are, and how we grant new meaning to old beliefs as time passes, and how beliefs change in turn influencing who we are. I come away with something I didn't have before in reading it.

I love a good sci fi story, but I'm afraid I won't be picking up the sequal to the Space Odyssey.