Friday, April 28, 2006

Parental Endorsement

My parents' parenting style has been endorsed by Popular Mechanics.

The article discusses how easy kids have it these days, especially when it comes to knowing how to be self-reliant. Too many kids grow up not knowing how to do their own laundry, change a tire, or build simple items. I remember nearly twenty years ago teaching my first missionary companion how to do his own laundry. I'm sure it's only gotten worse since then.

I don't give my folks enough credit, especially my dad, but thanks to them whenever something breaks around the house my first instinct is to see if it's something I can fix myself. Often it is. Just like the author, I received much of my training in household plumbing while "holding the light" for my dad. And I griped and complained the day he said "your turn."

Now I wonder what took him so long. I hate trying to operate in tight spaces under sinks, and I'm much smaller than he is. I imagine I'll be sending my kids to work under the sink as soon as possible.

Similarly, my folks taught us to work. We didn't like it. We complained. We tried to sneak away at the first lull. But we learned to work. Now I can spend a whole day building a play gym all by myself, even though they recommend having two or more people. Okay, my wife helped with a few parts.

I'm not bragging or feel I'm anything special that I can. I'm more concerned that an increasing number of people can't.

Potty Mouth

My middle son is going through potty training. It's encouraging and a little uncomfortable at the same time, depending on the questions I'm called on to answer: "Look, Dad! Poo-poo! Is it COOL?!"

On the other hand, it makes me smile the way he gets so excited about it. This morning he was telling me his winning strategy for avoiding accidents: "I run really fast so I don't have accident, Dad!" Never mind the fact that once he gets there he gets distracted easily by just about everything and it still takes him awhile to remember to get down to business.

But hey, he's getting much, much better.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Hittin' The Gym

I spent last night and all day today building a jungle gym/swing set for the kids. In spite of my best efforts to sabotage the whole effort, it turned out okay. I didn't get it completely finished until after the kids went to bed, though. Fortunately all that remained was to bury the posts and attach the slide, so they at least got to spend some time on the swings before bedtime.

Yes, I took time off work to do it. Tomorrow is our ward's day to "Fill the Temple," so I figured if I was going to take tomorrow off for that, I may as well take today off, too. And that led to taking Monday off as well. By the time I get back to work I should be well and truly behind.

I'm exhausted. The recommend two people put this contraption together, and, except for a couple spots, I did the entire thing myself. Okay, I did solicit a little help from the tree it was built under. I used about every tool I own, including a axe. No, that was not for when I got fed up with the whole mess. You're supposed to bury the legs to stabilize it, and one of the places I was digging had a very thick root through the middle of it.

Okay, I didn't use any saws, but I sure justified having bought my second drill. There are a lot of screws that require pilot holes before you drive the screw, so it came in really handy to have one drill set up with a drill bit and the other set up with the phillips bit. I even used my post-hole digger!

Anyway, to quote some cartoon I can't even remember now (I'll be Ron does); "Mungo tired!" Good night!

Monday, April 17, 2006

Religion in America

Here is an interesting site that shows population density of various religions across America. Perhaps the most interesting is the map showing religious persons in general. I wonder what correlation we might find with the whole "Red State - Blue State" breakdown.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

We Pity Our Troops!

If you support the troops but oppose the war, don't bother telling soldier Michael Fay:

A theme I've found myself turning again and again to is the "I support the troops but not the war mentality". I'm fed up hearing it. Here's my feelings and reflections on the subject. The troops are not impressed with what we see as an elitist self-serving feel good attitude. This is a statement of pity and nothing more. It's pathetic and pandering.
Inherent in this statement is a subtext that says we, the troops, are victims and they, the anti-war folks, are going to rescue us. It also suggests that they know better than us, that our visceral field experience has little or no value. We're either just a gaggle of country bumpkins hoodwinked into serving by socio-economic pressures, or warmongering cretin slobs.

Not only do the "troops" find it insulting, but so should the Iraqis:

Usually wedded to this "we're so sorry you got tricked into fighting" mentality is an underlying belief that Iraqis, and by extension all Muslim cultures are incapable of democracy. I want to suggest that there could be a little touch of racism at work here. And all the Bush mislead us crap. Get over it. We are here. Leaving is not an option. We got this girl pregnant and we need to do the right thing, which is not an abortion. Victimization. Stereotype. Racism. I'd rather step off the plane to someone spitting at me...that, at least, takes some courage.

So obviously Fay has no respect for the "love the troops, not the war" crowd. But surely he's just against anyone who is against the war, right?

Los Angeles Times op-ed writer Joel Stein had the hutzpah in his article "Warriors and Wusses" to not make this distinction. He doesn't support the troops and he doesn't support the war. This is a guy I can respect.

His final advice:
So next time you see a GI tell him what he needs to hear, "Kick Ass and Take Names." Or, just be honest with yourself and glare.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Q: Why Is There No Mexican Olympic Team?

A: Because every Mexican that can run, jump, or swim is already in America.

Remember that old joke? Well, I'm not laughing any more.

Hypocrisy and racism is running rampant these days. Remember the UAE ports deal? Remember how we didn't want any of those people running our ports? Remember how it wasn't racism, but a matter of national security?

Well, here we are a few weeks later. Now the issue is immigration. Some want to open up our borders and let everyone in. Or at least let all the Mexicans in. And no one is concerned about the impact on national security now.

Why? Because Mexicans are not a threat? Tell that to the police departments in every major city in the country. Tell that to the families who have lost their children to illegal drugs. More people die every year from drugs and drug-related incidents than died on 9/11, I'm sure. But that's not the Mexicans' fault, right? It's those darn Columbians, man!

Tell me, can you tell a Mexican from a Columbian? Is it ethical to even try? Wouldn't that be racial profiling?

It would be one thing if the immigrants really intended to become Americans. Some do--don't get me wrong. But from what I'm seeing from all the protests, it appears that the Mexicans want to turn this into another Mexico. Excuse me, but I thought they were wanting to get out of Mexico!

"This flag murdered chicanos, indians, latinos." So are you telling me that you want to ally yourself with that flag? Or replace it? Why does this sentiment from people right next door cause less of a stir than people half a world away shouting "Death to America!"? They love to tell us that a small country in the Middle East couldn't possible harm America. So why aren't we showing more concern about our neighbors?

Let me get this straight: Rich, friendly Arabs owning our ports is bad, but poor, hostile Mexicans infiltrating the lower rungs of our society and infrastructure is good? One sells us oil, the other sells us drugs. One has produced radical groups that murdered thousands of innocent Americans, the other produces radical groups that want to "reclaim" land occupied by millions of innocent Americans. One has tried to kill us, the other hasn't gotten around to it yet.

Or maybe this is all just a clever trick to get rid of the illegal immigrants. After all, if we grant them all amnesty we can start to assess taxes on them and their employers. That raises the cost of employing them, which will make more people think twice about it. Lots of immigrants will become unemployed...and go on public welfare...which will mean I'll end up paying for them. Excuse me, but I'm already supporting an immigrant, even if she isn't from a politically advantageous country. Don't give me more to take care of. Not until you've done something to guarantee that Social Security will still be there for me.

But never mind me, I'm just a cold, uncaring, selfish, wealthy, facist, racist, religious white male. I should feel lucky to be allowed to live. It's amazing I'm not too tired to work and pay taxes, seeing as I'm so busy being the cause of all the world's ills. Bad white boy. No pork for you.

Trouble is, I'm not against immigration. I'm not against immigrants from Mexico. I just expect them to go through the same system as everyone else for coming into the country. I expect them to learn English and pledge allegiance to our flag. I'm just not in favor of creating a "discount citizenship program," where if you can sneak in and not get caught for X years, you're home free.

I'm just not in favor of setting up a situation where Al-Zarqawi can fly to Tijuana and walk across the border with a dirty nuke. I'm not in favor of having to shell out fees and file reams of paper to prove to the government that I really am married to my wife, while someone from Mexico just has to touch the INS' doorstep and yell "Safe!"

Yeah, I've always been a nihilist.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Deck Deck Goose

My never-ending quest for Unbounded Domesticity took us to Home Depot again this weekend. We wanted to buy a patio table with umbrella, and a patio swing. We came back with more than that--this turn it was my wife who caught the Hompee Deempoh virus--but fortunately only the swing and the table needed assembly.

I spent the better part of the afternoon building the swing (the table, made from lovely native resin, popped together in about two minutes) while the older kids watch/helped. It's supposedly a three-person swing, but it holds a family of five comfortably--for now.

It's amazing how a covered swing and a patio table really livens up the deck. It's a cozy setup, really. The kids love it--all they wanted to do yesterday was sit in the swing. We even had lunch outside yesterday.

We didn't use the patio at our old house much, even though it was concrete and covered. I'm not sure why. I suspect we'll use our new patio much more--at least until we reach "Insufferably Hot" season in a couple weeks. We have a rather nice back yard, and now we have the means to sit back and watch it in comfort.

We're not the only ones who seem to be fond of our back yard either. A pair of mallard ducks have adopted this section of neighborhood, and they seem to find their way into our yard at least two or three times a day. They've become such regulars that even the cats don't really notice them anymore.

We also inherited several bird feeders and some squirrel houses from the previous owners. We have at least two squirrels that live in our yard. One is Frank, who likes to poke his head out his front door and just watch the morning unfold for about an hour before getting up and getting to work.

We haven't named the other yet, mainly because we're not sure who he is. We have about five squirrels who live in this area, and the only way we can tell them apart currently is if we see them in one of the two houses. Frank is the only one that seems to use a house regularly.

We also have several different flocks of birds that frequent our feeders. We have several varieties of finches, red winged blackbirds, cowbirds, and several species of sparrows, as well as doves, magpies, and a couple other species we haven't identified yet. It's really quite the exciting place.

If only it would stop raining long enough for us to deal with the grass and weeds, as well as plant our garden. But I suppose I shouldn't complain. Rain is generally in short supply around here. Give us another month or so and we'll probably be begging for some rain. After all, "Insufferably Hot" season is just around the corner.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Casual Conversations

I called up my folks last night and talked to them for awhile. As it often does, the conversation took a turn through our various health problems. Afterward something struck me funny. I expected that as we get older I'd have more things in common with my parents. I just never imagined it would be heart problems.

My mother has recently taken painting classes and is having great fun painting various places from her memories. I look forward to seeing the results. I'm also glad to see her enjoying her retirement a little.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Falling On Our Own Swords?

Dan Simmons presents this frightening story about a traveler from the future come to warn us about the coming Century War with Islam.

Another Perspective

Michael Yon is going back into Iraq. He's also made a few stops along the way, including UAE.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Beauty In My Inbox

My brother emailed me a digital picture of my sister's latest painting. She took a couple of classes a couple years ago and works in some painting time around taking care of an energetic two year old. I saw something she did a year or so ago and thought it was pretty good.

Her latest is incredible.

It's a picture of the fields and mountains at my uncle's ranch, in a soft, impressionist style. It's been said that good art invokes an emotional response. If so, this is good art. It haunts me.

I know my sister pretty well, so I am not particularly surprised to know she had it in her. I'm pleased and proud as punch, though, that she's found a medium to communicate it. I hope she finds her painting immensely satisfying.

I won't post the picture. For one, it's not my place to do so. For another, to shrink it down would never do it justice.

She seems to be rubbing off on my mother, who's also been taking art classes recently. I haven't seen any of her work yet, other than the hand drawn birthday cards she started sending this year, but I suspect there's another talent about to be tapped.

It's funny how people you've known all your life can still surprise you.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Iago Award in Iago the parrot from Disney's "Aladdin." In the movie the magic lamp is secured in a magical cave that can only be entered by someone whose worth is not readily visible. The evil sorceror Jafar sends a low-life crook into the cave, only to have the cave swallow the crook whole.

Jafar: It appears he was less than...worthy.
Iago: (Flabbergasted) Oh THERE'S a big surprise! I think I'll have a HEART ATTACK and DIE from NOT SURPRISE!!

Anyway, today's winner for the "not surprised" award is this study:

Sexy media a trigger for youthful promiscuity.
Study: Sexual content in music, movies, TV leads to earlier intercourse

CHICAGO - Sexually charged music, magazines, TV and movies push youngsters into intercourse at an earlier age, perhaps by acting as kind of virtual peer that tells them everyone else is doing it, a study said on Monday.