Thursday, October 25, 2007
I've been hearing a lot about the fabulousness of Google Reader, but I've been resisting change. I use iGoogle and I love it. Well, enough is enough. This morning I finally went to http://www.google.com/reader and decided to give it a try. First indications are I loooooove it!
It only took a couple minutes to set up subscriptions for all the blogs I read, and the user interface is super friendly. The way it works is that you type in the URL for the blogs you read regularly, and it lists each blog on the left side of your screen. Then, in parentheses, it shows you how many unread posts there are in each blog. When you click on the blog, it puts the text of the posts in the right-hand column.
Downsides: when you read in Google Reader, you miss out on some of the visual razzamatazz of a user's blog because you just get the raw content without the schmancy personalization of the site. For someone who values aesthetic appeal, that is something to be considered. Of course, you can always click on the title of a blog entry to be taken to the original site.
Also, if you're like me and you use the blogosphere as a way to connect with friends, family, neighbors, etc. then you want to leave comments to let people know you're reading and enjoying their effort. (To use my Word of the Day from yesterday: reading comments is a blogger's pour moire.) Again, if commenting is important to you, you'll need to click through to the original site.
However, iGoogle has these same limitations so I don't mind them. I'll miss the "cuteness" of iGoogle but I can manage. Eventually.
Plusses for Google Reader: it loads much more quickly than iGoogle on my dinosaur of a computer, which is very tantalizing. Also, the dictionary.com Word of the Day doesn't display properly in iGoogle but works fabulously in Google Reader
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Meanwhile, Anna had calmed a bit and sat down, humiliated, among her family. Only hours before she had looked around the reception hall with knowledge that for once she was unquestionably the most beautiful woman in the room.
Not only was her dress stunningly fitted to her contours and her hair sculpted to perfection, but her smile of triumph beamed from the very center of her soul. Each time she looked into her husband’s eyes, she felt a thrill all through her. He was perfect, she thought, and she was the luckiest girl ever to live.
While her sentiments may have been tainted by the emotion of the day, she had fairly good reason to feel triumphant. Alex Varrons was undoubtedly a “catch” and she knew that his parents weren’t the only ones to feel she was unworthy of him. But he had chosen her anyway and she was continually amazed by it all.
Alex considered himself to have made a well-balanced choice and adored Anna’s simplicity and naiveté. As he glanced at her adoring face throughout the evening, his vanity was soothed and he felt he would never have to worry about the jealousies other men endured. It was obvious she adored him and could hardly see the other men in the room.
~ ~ ~
Now, as he walked through the chilly winter air, he felt nauseous with hurt pride and hurt vanity. He had been betrayed before and it had left a bitter feeling in him. This was exactly the reason he had chosen an innocent, pure girl like Anna, whom he presumed would never have the thought in her head of hurting him. He had felt completely safe opening his entire soul before her until moments ago when his world and his stomach were turned upside down.
The longer he walked in the freezing air, the warmer his face became with anger and mortification. He thought again of what he had seen and, overcome by the shock and pain, he leaned over the bridge he was crossing and vomited into the river below.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
I didn't realize that I was standing on the edge of a cliff and about to pitch headlong into chaos. I've been in freefall mode ever since and usually enjoying the crazy ride. I just hope I land on my feet eventually.
Monday, October 22, 2007
Real Salt Lake hoisted the Rocky Mountain Cup for the first time on Saturday. As one of the original founders of the competition, I could hardly contain my excitement as I was watching the game on my DVR.
Top two moments:
1. Around the thirtieth minute, Colorado's Colin Clark had a wide open net. My heart stopped beating for a second... until he casually flicked it in... to the goal post! Oh, Colin, thank you from the bottom of my heart for some good belly laughs. I needed that badly on Saturday.
2. Nick Rimando: you da man! Two saves in approximately two milliseconds was awesome. I think I'm going to call you Tigger from now on for bouncing up like that.
Honorable mentions go to:
* The goal that won us the cup. Obviously.
* And.. former-cRapid-turned-RSLer Beckerman's amazing yellow card. That also had me convulsing in laughter. Three seconds into the game. I kid you not. Awesome.
* Those amazing plays by Mehdi BallWHOchy? Seriously, Mehdi, love you man. But the irony of you not even playing while Beckerman threw Clavijo's lack of coaching in your faces... priceless.
* Seeing Eddie Pope holding some hardware for the last time in his amazing career. You are a class act all the way, Eddie, and you'll be missed in MLS.
* Knowing in the back of my mind that our victory was ending the post-season hopes for the C. Rapids. I think I'm gonna get a little teary-eyed.
The names are taken from Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, which I finally finished last week. ("Anna" from the title character and "Alex" from the two men in her life named Alexey.) I also tried to imitate a touch of his writing style, which I think is a very detached, to-the-point third person narrator. "Anna Karenina" was serialized, too, by the way. But it ended up a touch longer than nine pages.
Just the very beginning right now, because I need to go back and edit the part right after this. :) Happy reading.
Alex & Anna: Part One
Alex and Anna’s marriage was in shambles. The few who knew about it were silently in shock. They gathered in the front room of Anna’s parents’ home to piece together what had happened.
All about them were reminders that this had been a day of celebration until moments earlier, when Anna had burst into the house crying and nearly hysterical. She had looked at the piles of unopened gifts strewn about and kicked violently at one large red box. She missed and kicked the table instead, but nobody would have objected if she had smashed that gift—or any of the others—to pieces. They were her gifts to smash as she liked—wedding gifts from only a few hours earlier when life had seemed fresh and perfect.
Alex was still walking quickly away from the hotel where they had planned to spend their wedding night. He was miles away from it now but felt every moment that the troubles he had tried to escape were pressing him more firmly. He began to feel suffocated with rage and jealousy and had to stop for a moment to draw his breath. He pressed his fists firmly against his closed eyes and muttered angrily.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
My dad was designing web sites back in the day (and he still does, by the way) and actually knew how to program our old, old, old, old Macintosh.
I have learned some HTML, CSS, a tiny little smidgeon of PHP (Thanks, Nick and Mike!), Pascal, C++, Visual Basic and other geeky whatsits. Master of none, by the way, but I did well enough to land a CS teaching position at a private school back in '01.
And now, the third Hacken generation is entering the world of geekiness. I think I'm gonna cry. No, but seriously.
I gotta go listen to "White & Nerdy" now before I get all teary-eyed.
Friday, October 19, 2007
Admitting you have a problem is the easy part.
Admitting that you can't take care of the problem yourself can be close to impossible.
Reminds me of those episodes of "The Cosby Show" where Cliff stubbornly tries to fix the doorbell, plumbing, tile, etc. himself.
NO cold medicines to children under 6? At all? No discrimination between the different types or particular active ingredients? Just a wholesale statement that they aren't effective?
I beg pardon, but they are certainly effective for MY children. Thomas is sleeping sounding right now (as opposed to waking up, crying with a running nose, every 15 minutes) because of one of the now supposedly-inept medicines.
Okay, maybe I'm overreacting. But it sure seems like this is a bit too drastic of a statement to make, even if they're not actually banning the medicines (yet) or even forcing a change to labeling (yet).
Still waiting for more information. I sincerely hope this is not the final chapter of this discussion.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
My apologies for two posts in one day that are somewhat impersonal and boring, but both are issues I tend to feel strongly about.
Tomorrow, the FDA will meet to begin discussions about the safety and efficacy of cough and cold medicines for young children. I have been following this developing story over the last few weeks and feeling like I would like some solid answers. All three of my children have had colds during the last few weeks and I have felt a pang of anxiety each time I give them a dose of medicine for their symptoms.
From what I have read, cough and cold medicines are blamed for the sudden deaths of some young children, due to a reaction to some of the ingredients. However, I have no information about what the other confounding factors might be in these cases. I don't even fully understand how widespread the problem has been.
I hate vague anxiety-inducing reports like these but I feel a responsibility to keep listening. I hope that eventually some facts emerge from the mist so parents like me can feel comfortable again--whether the kids are dry-nosed and medicated, or medication-free with gick on their faces.
Want to make a difference? Join ONE.org--they don't want your money. They just want you to speak out on issues that are already important to you. It only takes a minute.
And while you're checking out ONE.org, check out this information about their current campaign regarding the Jubilee Act.
Thanks for reading.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Last night we were baking meat loaf. After the prescribed amount of cooking time, we took it from the oven and sat staring at it, trying to ascertain via meat loaf telepathy if it was done or not. That didn’t work so I had to think of something else.
I could always just slice into the thing and see if it “looks” done. Alton Brown would have a heart attack at that kind of amateur method. He’d tell me to invest in a high-end probe thermometer. I’d prefer the instant read thermometers he just points at the food, but I suppose we’re trying to check the interior temperature of the meat loaf, not the surface.
As it was, all we had was a cheap grocery store meat thermometer. We stuck it in the top and watched the red line slowly grow taller. And then we waited some more. And waited. And waited. Apparently we need to invest a better thermometer because it was kind of like watching grass grow. By the time the thermometer actually read the correct temperature, it was far too late to consider putting it back in to cook some more. Luckily it was done and we got to sit down to some not-so-Good Eats.
A far worse temperature woe was related to our three sick children. What started as mere runny noses quickly turned into hoarse coughing, warm foreheads and lots and lots of crying.
The twins felt hot when I held them, so I pulled out our trusty grocery-store quality human thermometer (as opposed to the meat loaf variety). I turned it on and it turned itself off. Apparently the battery was kaput. So I went to the store and bought another one. (I never liked that thermometer anyway, and the new one only cost $3. Win-win, right?)
It gave us a reading of about 97.9 for one of the twins, who was burning up, so I knew right away this was going to be about as useful as trying to get them to take their cough syrups. The package boasted that the thermometer was “clinically accurate”—I’m just glad I don’t attend a clinic with accuracy like that. Things were crazy so I never bought another thermometer but tried to gauge their health by other factors.
When I finally took them in to the pediatrician’s office yesterday, they both had temperatures over 100 degrees. I felt bad as only a conscience-laden parent can that I hadn’t taken them in sooner and/or given them more regular doses of Ibuprofen.
Meat loaf and “clinically accurate” thermometers were not the worst of our worries, however. On Friday, Joseph was standing on a step stool at Grandma’s house when he slipped and lost his balance. He tried to steady himself by putting his arm directly onto a hot pan on the stove. Moments later, as I was trying to get his arm under some cold water, his screams and the skin that was already peeling off his arm told me this was a pretty bad burn.
At least I didn’t need a thermometer to tell me that.
This isn't exactly a poem--more just a train of thought out of the regular form. It closely mirrors the thoughts going through my head a few mornings ago as I lay in bed musing on what things make me happy.
The crisp, cool air biting my lips
My lips biting a crisp, cool apple
Would heaven be owning a big factory—
packed full of apples on conveyer belts—
apples as far as the eye can see—
bouncing up and down—
Into boxes—Into stores—into shopping carts—into homes—into mouths
Before the mouths, the homes, the shopping carts, the stores, the boxes
They would be mine
Apples as far as the eye can see
Waiting for that first crisp bite
One apple tree
One perfect apple
The comfort of one best friend
A splintered ladder
Watch your step!
Hold the ladder for me?
Keep your balance!
I’m almost there.
The prize in my grip:
One perfect apple freed from the branches above me
One thing remains
Back against the tree
The crisp, cool air biting my lips
Smiling at a friend
We see our breath in the morning chill
One perfect bite
Juices running to my chin
I close my eyes
I feel the moment
The moment feels me
It is the waiting
Watching the apple grow
The summer rain shining on the leaves
Hoping the ladder will hold my weight
One more time
That entrances me
Ahhh autumn apple heaven!
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
An Ode to Grandparenthood and Parenthood
Cherish these years!
Even the tears?
His innocent face
I need private space
Two new front teeth
He’s biting me
Such a sweet voice
He’s ruined his toys
He’s only a child
He’s driving me wild
He’ll grow out of it
I doubt it
He’s nearly two
I feel old, too
Time goes so fast
I wish it would pass
He acts so alive
I’m so sleep deprived
Do you feel cooped?
Covered in poop
His underwear’s raining
He wants his grandmum
Here comes his tantrum
How well he throws
What’s that in his nose?
Let’s paint his room taupe
I need stronger soap
Let’s give him a tart
He’ll tear it apart
Hmph! Back in my day…
That’s what they all say
Sunday, October 07, 2007
Another of the talks, given on Saturday, was by the beloved Joseph Wirthlin, who is getting on in years, to borrow a cliché. The talk he gave was masterful and profound, but the delivery sealed the deal.
While Elder Wirthlin was speaking, the effort was so great for him that his entire body began to shake uncontrollably. As he continued, this became more and more pronounced. In the background, we could see President Eyring shifting nervously, prepared to spring to help at any moment.
Knowing that one of the other leaders of our church was a physician before retiring, I said to my Mom, “You can bet that Elder Nelson is watching his every movement.” Right as I finished this sentence, Elder Nelson appeared silently at Elder Wirthlin’s side and silently put his arm around his waist. His other hand rested on the closer arm, quietly monitoring his health and silently lending support.
As Elder Wirthlin discoursed on the pure love of Christ and the charity we ought to express to one another, Elder Nelson silently set the example. To quote the middle of his talk, “Often the greatest manifestations of love are the simple acts of kindness in caring for those who stand in need.”
Elder Wirthlin set a bold example on how to steadfastly continue during times of trial—any of the men sitting behind him would have gladly finished giving his talk for him, but he continued on in obvious discomfort and possibly distress. Meanwhile, Elder Nelson set an example that we need not sit idly by when we see a fellow man in trouble—we can stand up and lend support, providing strength to those who are trying to just endure life’s craziness.
Thank you to both for sending a strong message regarding how we ought to act as followers of Christ, and not hearers only.
(For reference, lest I be misunderstood: there were dozens of men who would have jumped up to support Elder Wirthlin if Elder Nelson had not. He seemed the right man for the job. I don’t intend the analogy to be taken quite that far…)
In The Know?
Another speaker, the president of our church’s women’s organization (the Relief Society) spoke about good mothers and the impact they can have on society. While she was speaking, I was mentally making a checklist of all those good things that weren’t getting done in my home.
While listening to her words, I was cleaning up the kitchen and dining room, which had reached new heights (or depths?) of filth. She said, “Mothers who know keep their homes orderly and clean” or something to that effect.
I walked over to the staircase and yelled up to my husband, “This lady is CRAZY!!!” When she was done talking, I burst into tears and decided that there would be several new Prozac prescriptions filled by LDS mothers in the coming weeks. Perhaps mine will be one of them. No, but seriously, folks.
For those who haven’t figured it out yet, I’m Mormon.
Or, more accurately, I’m a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “Mormon” is just a nickname.
The last two days have been our semi-annual General Conference. This is where the leaders of our church present talks for the general membership of our church to watch (in person, on TV, online or via satellite at the local church), listen to or read later.
One of the speakers mentioned the fact that many uninformed members of the general public still think we are associated with the practice of polygamy. Nope, sorry folks. Nothing to see here. Move along. That was a limited practice that ended a long, long, long time ago.
But it got me thinking.
My guy friends in high school got silly smiles on their faces at the thought of polygamy: a different wife for each of your different “needs.” Spunky or sultry? Blonde or brunette? Tall and thin or short and curvy? I think they imagined it like a cafeteria where you just pick and choose whatever you’re in the mood for that day.
Reality check, boys. It would be a new emotional drama every night. PMS or pregnancy hormones? Depression or anxiety? Money requests for those cute little black shoes or that cute little black dress?
And the kids. Mama mia! I have three children that fill an entire two story home full of noise. To quote the Grinch: “Oh the noise noise noise noise!” Just imagine if you had 30 kids running around, chasing, screaming, taking toys from each other, and needing the poopie diaper changed. No thank you, my friend. And the theory of “all the moms help each other” makes me just think, “How many cooks CAN you fit in the kitchen?”
Of course, if you turn it around, it makes perfect sense. One woman and let’s say five husbands? Much better. Being practical, I’d choose them by profession. A teacher, a lawyer, a businessman, a physician and a computer scientist. The first four are practical—the last one I threw in because I *heart*
Let’s say your kid is getting bullied at school. Well, first he talks to Dad #4 on the phone: the physician, who tells him exactly how to take care of the black eye. Then he calls Dad #2: the lawyer, who starts writing up the preliminary papers to sue the socks off the bully’s parents. Then Dad #3: the businessman, who drives the bully’s parents’ business into the ground. Then Dad #1: the teacher, who explains the important life lessons that can be learned in “times like these.”
And, for good measure, Dad #5: the computer scientist can download information from numerous websites detailing how to handle bullying while simultaneously uploading a virus onto the bully’s computer that will wipe out his term paper and replace it with the words, “I Must Not Be A Bully” 1,000 times.
Okay, maybe that’s overkill.
Come to think of it, the current system seems to work just fine.
Hard to fight with logic like that. But was he correct or was that just some rumor we heard from somebody somewhere at some time? About 30 seconds of Googling reveals the answer: a ranking done last year listed Orem as the 12th safest city in the country. I won't even try to go into the details of their statistical methods but there is a bit more info if you click here or you can do a Google search of your own.
Considering the overwhelming statistical proof, we were quite surprised Saturday when our oldest son informed us our garage door was open, and the back of our minivan was gaping open to the world. We rushed down to find all of the compartments of both our cars in disarray. CDs and cash were stolen, but the only thing of value that I am really sad about is an audio book: "Jesus The Christ." Good luck with that one, sweeties. Hope it comes in handy.
Nothing was damaged in the incident except one vital thing: that sense of safety and security that comes with living in an Orem zip code. Once again, reality wins in the fight between the real world and the statistical.
Friday, October 05, 2007
While the rest of us are trying to eat, Joseph likes to keep up a running dialogue with himself and whoever will reply to him. "Do you know what I think would be cool? What if our table turned into a space ship and we went zooming up into outer space and I was the space guy..." or "Mom, how come oranges are orange? Mom why is this grape juice dark but the other grape juice is light colored? Mom, how many more bites do I have to eat?" or "LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA..."
The Literary Critic
Thomas likes to disassemble his food, throw half of it on the floor and then make the alphabet with the remaining smeared bits. A week or so ago, he was pushing mashed potatoes around until he cried joyfully, "O! Letter O! See Mom? Letter O!! See Mom? See Mom?" I tried to reply but Joseph was talking too loudly in the background.
Yesterday, while pretending to eating a sandwich, he and Joseph discovered that if you take one bit out of the center of each half of a sandwich and then put the halves back together, there is a letter O missing! It's not exactly the kind of literary discussion I'm looking for, but I'll take what I can get.
Elijah meanwhile has very strong opinions about his food. And how it is served. And where he sits to enjoy it. And what he is wearing while eating. And who is sitting next to him. And the temperature of the air around him. And the general angle of our city in relation to the sun. And he loves to voice his opinions loudly at dinnertime. (And yes, he can be heard over the other two because he has the loudest voice in the world. Seriously. I should have the Guiness Book of World Records come and test him or something. He'll sing as "well" as his mommy one day.)
At dinner time, he'll usually refuse the food we give him at first. He'll demand we change it or fix it or do something different to it. I am not one for games at dinnertime while Joseph is talking my ear off and Thomas is dumping his bowl onto the floor. So I just take his food away and keep eating. Then he screams (even louder) that he wants it back. So the food goes back to him and then he eats ravenously until he's done.
That would be Mom (me) and the Dadster. We are responsible for trying to keep the customers happy. We give up on this before dinner even starts usually, and settle for trying to keep them nourished to some manageable level. Then we hose down the kids and start picking scraps of leftovers off the floor with napkins.
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
So I thought I'd post to clarify: this is a personal blog for my own fun and to keep those who know me in the loop. I do not profess to be an expert in anything other than my own family. :) Anybody is welcome to read, naturally, and I'm happy for that but please don't expect anything other than the ramblings of a bored stay-at-home mom.
RE the real estate market, there was far too much to discuss in my previous posts so I just discussed a few items I found of interest. But to reply to some of the comments, I'll flesh out my theory just slightly more. I do believe that the Utah market cannot withstand growth at the rate we've seen recently. There is bound to be a leveling out.
I imagine this will happen in the near future because of a chain of events involving difficulty obtaining loans, high foreclosure rates and a nationwide flood of homes on the market. (This is not just a local problem so I think this speaks more to the national state of the real estate market rather than the local only--while recognizing that the two are inextricably connected.)
The huge supply of homes on the market is the most pressing problem I see, and is naturally suppressing price increases. I shopped lot prices in early spring and expected to see them noticeably higher by autumn, but that hasn't been the case. I think there is approximately a 10-month supply of homes on the market? That's a tough seller's market, but I wish I was shopping for a home.
On a personal note, I know that the internet makes people pretty brave--in all the wrong ways. I invite and welcome intelligent discussion on this blog but have a low tolerance for bullying or verbal abuse. Those who leave comments are invited to remember this and please try to express yourself intelligently without putting down myself or others who have commented. Anonymous comments have been disabled.