Friday, July 31, 2009

This is not a test

Actually, maybe it is. But Cait is in the hospital again. It seems like Theodore just really wants to come out and get a different name. Keep the baby and Cait in your prayers.

An ode to Tim and other people who are great

Not really an ode. Just a big whoppin' thanks for being such an awesome husband and provider of material goods to our family this summer. As you know, I'm on an unpaid internship (besides the little grant money I mustered up) and so Tim has taken to working a dead-end job at crazy hours at Target. Ok, it's not really a dead-end job because he's actually good at it and would probably be able to work his way up in the ranks to manager of a whole Super Target if he really wanted to. I know it's been rough on him though, and he rarely complains about walking an hour to work at 5 in the morning. I'm grateful for it though, he's worked full-time and because of that we've been able to save up quite a bit over the course of the summer, when we thought we'd be spending quite a bit. And if you know me at all, you know I like to save. I'm trying to be less frugal though, especially for Tim's sake. I can be a kind of psycho money saver.

We read the other day that the number one reason couples fight in the third trimester of pregnancy is over budget/finances. Well, we not only do not fight about it, Tim actually pressures me into buying baby stuff (like, a diaper pail). I must say though, another reason we probably don't argue about money and baby stuff is because we've been incredibly lucky to have well-timed our baby having to correspond with my sister's baby growing out of things. We've ended up with all the free baby clothes we could possibly need, a Medela breast pump and bottles, a Papasun baby seat, a travel system with car seat and stroller, a bumbo seat as well as a slew of miscellaneous items. Lauren's pretty awesome. And then there's all the people that have given us free stuff as well: Devin is giving us his couches, Tim's parents just bought a new bed and offered us their old one, and a friend of my cousin in Salt Lake gave us a high chair. So, I imagine having a baby is more expensive and stresfful when you're not the recipient of so much goodwill from the world. We are very, very blessed.

Funny tale: the other night we went to Trader Joe's to grab some victuals for dinner. We ended up with strawberries, cherries, expensive carrot juice, and two organic fair-trade chocolate bars. We got home and as Tim took everything out he looked at it and said "nice work, you bought things impulsively!" Yeah, and it was like, fruit.

Just a request

Hey all my Provo blog readers!

Here's the deal: my little sister just moved to Provo. We really would like her to like Provo, but she's off to a rough start because her roommates aren't very nice and she doesn't have any other friends out there and school doesn't start for a while.

If anyone wants to hang out with an 18-yr-old, she can be pretty cool at times. She's also a stellar babysitter, so if you're looking for one for a hot date one night, she's available. Or... if you know of anyone that's hiring for a part-time job, she's looking for one of those as well. Let me know things and I'll pass on the messages to her.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

To the Hospital We Go

Ever since I went to a ward picnic on Saturday and got really hot and dehydrated, I've had less fetal movement than usual. And Theodore is an ACTIVE fetus, especially at night. So having little/no movement Saturday and Sunday and Monday nights was pretty unusual and noticeable. I called the doctor last night, and she told me to just come to labor and delivery last night to check it out. I didn't really want to, but I knew it would give me peace of mind at least even if nothing was wrong (I figured I was just being paranoid anyways).

Of course, as soon as we hooked up the EFM he started kicking up a storm. Well, three hours later after sitting in a boring room by myself and one painful vaginal exam later, the conclusion was my fluids are great and the baby's heart rate is steady and normal. I was having contractions every 8-10 minutes but they aren't dilating my cervix. I was told to "take it easy", whatever that means and to come back if I have "more" contractions.


1. I REALLY, REALLY hope that this baby waits a few more weeks so we can have a home birth. That hospital room and those nurses/doctors were remarkably inhospitable.

2. Having multiple vaginal exams in a row in front of med students feels incredibly violating. Luckily they were all women. I let them stay because I realize they have to learn somehow, and once upon a time I used to shadow OB/GYNs and it was always cool when the moms let me watch stuff. So now I'll be the patient that lets people watch. I probably will feel differently once I'm actually in labor. I don't want an audience for that.

3. First-year residents should not be allowed to perform speculum exams on 34-week pregnant women having pre-term labor. IT HURT. When I finally realized what they were doing (not checking my cervix like I thought), they told me they were testing me for chlamydia and gonorrhea. How many freakin' times are they going to test me for STDs (without my permission at that)?! I DON'T HAVE AN STD PEOPLE. MY HUSBAND AND I ONLY HAVE SEX WITH EACH OTHER. (I do realize though that many women don't realize their husbands are cheating on them, so I usually let this slide, but it's so annoying that our culture is like that!)

4. Babies are manipulative.

5. If you have to pee, it's incredibly difficult to take off that fetal monitor. But it can be done. Then the nurse will get mad at you and put it back on. If I end up going into labor in the next weeks, I think that will be the story of my birth. Me doing stuff they don't want me to do. But I HAD TO PEE PEOPLE!

Monday, July 27, 2009

My case for healthcare reform

I've been reading a bunch about this topic a lot lately. I've tried to get both sides of the issue, reading some conservatives writings and liberal. But there are just a lot more liberals talking about it and I probably tend to read more liberal biased stuff overall (I try not to, I promise), so I can't say my research was completely even handed, but I can say that I've thought about it a lot and tried to form my own opinions, which I have a convenient outlet for here. I'll try to be concise. And if you have ANYTHING to say, please comment. Health care reform = the more voices of citizens, the better.

Single payer, in my opinion, is the way to go. We've got a chance at getting everyone covered going other ways. Massachusetts did it well. Thanks Mitt. But in order to control costs, which is the big thing everyone is talking about, the government has to step in in a big way. The cost of health care in Massachusetts is going up faster than the rest of the country. The reason boils down to incentives. There is absolutely no incentive for insurance companies to keep costs down. It is how they make money. The higher the costs the better, as long as people continue to pay them. The hospitals also have little incentive to keep the costs down, especially when they are full to the brim with patients, as most hospitals are. The only people they don't like are the uninsured. Medicaid and medicare patients pay just fine. The government forces hospitals to treat the uninsured, but only enough to keep them alive, sometimes. And patients have little incentive to keep health care costs down, while they have it. Especially when a condition is expensive and maxes out the deductible, the average patient is going to spend any amount of the insurers money to get well.

What we definitely need is a disinterested party to make the tough decisions that no one else in the system is willing to make. That means, for example, forcing hospitals to use less expensive and technologically advanced treatments that work as well or nearly as well and not allowing patients to sue the doctors for not going with the expensive treatment. Yes, rationing would be a reality, but it already is. Health care providers already tell us what kind of treatments we can and can't have. But all they take into consideration is cost, not cost vs. quality and length of life, which should be the real considerations in rashioning. I think allowing people to pay for expensive surgeries out of pocket if the system deems it too expensive would also be a fair addition to a single payer system, and it seems to work in places like France. If we can find some group to do this that is not the government, than great, but I don't see anyone stepping forward. To keep it from being political, a health board, like the federal reserve, made up of industry experts independent from, but appointed by, at some level, the government. President Obama is already setting up something like this for Medicare.

We are currently paying 17% of our GDP for a healthcare system that is not providing us a higher quality of life as measured by most health statistics as countries like Germany, France and Switzerland who are paying around 10% of GDP for their single payer systems. The amount we're spending on health care now ($2.4 trillion) will nealry double to $4.3 trillion (which will be around 20% of GDP by then) by 2017 if current trends continue, while all these other countries are projected to hold steady. Reforming our legal system or adding a few government incentives will not be enough to hold down costs.

I understand that these changes can't come all at once. That's the nature of our system of government that I love so much. But a lot of the experts within the healthcare industry that I have heard in interviews and whatenot have expressed their personal opinion that single payer is the way to go, but that there is not political will enough for a change. The only way to change that is by normal citizens speaking to one another and talking about what they want out of healthcare. And I think things are starting to change. I've heard two different republican Senators (Bennett and McConnell) talk about the Safeway system of controlling costs with major incentives and an active regulation of spending talked about as a system to model ours after. What they don't say is that this is a single payer system, just with a corporation as a single payer, and not the government. The current dead-in-the-water health care bill shows that this time around, the American people aren't going to be satisfied with half-measures and platitudes. And that makes me very optimistic.

If you'd like to comment on this post, which I more than welcome, I only want to set out two ground rules. Well three. First, be nice, because this is a hotly charged topic nowadays. Second, calling single payer system "socialist" doesn't count as a legitimate argument. Taxes, public school and anti-trust laws are all socialist. Does anyone really want trusts back? I didn't think so. Third, anecdotal evidence from your friend who lives in Canada doesn't count as an argument either. For everyone that comes down to pay for a surgery here they can't get there, there are ten people going up there to get medications they can't afford here because our system drives the prices up super high. Anecdotal arguments aren't arguments at all. Those are my rules, because it's my blog.

A lot of my information and stats from here and the links they provide, but from other places as well. Let me know if you at all care about that.

And if anyone can talk to how home-births would save the country billions of dollars, extra bonus points.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Once when I was little...

I was in school when we had an assembly. They sat us down on the floor of the gym next to a guy who was next table. Apparently his job was to entertain us. He told some jokes and did some magic tricks and then moved onto his main act, which consisted of calling kids up and using them as ventriloquist (spelled it right on my first try) dummy, by his hand on their neck and and pressing their thumb on their neck when he wanted them to open their mouth. Seriously? A guy who's main act is manipulating small children? No warning bells going off in the minds of our teachers? Anyway, he had a girl come up first and he made her make some stupid jokes about how much she liked boys. But the key moment was when he stepped away to grab a prop, asking the girl to stay there. And the girl, instead of following his instructions, went back and sat down. Hilarious. It got the biggest laughs of the whole act.

I got called up after the girl and, being astute, remembered what the girl did to take laughs. So what did I do? What I always do: take something quaint and take it WAY to far. Actually I don't do that terribly often, but sometimes, and this was one of those times. Every time he pushed his thumb on the back of my neck, I stuck out my tongue and every time he gave me a chance, I walked away. He probably hated my guts, but all my friends were cracking up, so I kept it up. I was a pretty shy kid and was not used to such attention, so I was cracking up too. I was laughing super hard, so hard in fact, that I peed my pants. That is the only occurrence I remember of peeing my pants. Couldn't have come at a better time. Luckily not too many people seemed to notice. My mom even showed up for some reason in a crazy coincidence. That almost pushes this to seem like some weird fever dream, but it is not. I promise.

When it was over, we had recess, and all my 2nd grade friends were talking about how funny it was that I was completely uncooperative. And I was feeling good about myself. Wet underpants and all. However, there was one guy who came up to me, a 4th grader, probably, who asked me why I'd been so dumb and not just played along with the joke.

Every time you refresh the page, a different dinosaur quote appears. Find the comic here.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I network and ramble

Today at a fancy shmancy luncheon for my internship organization, I sat next to Harriet Fulbright. Like the grant. We chatted about my college success, my impending future as a mother, and my ultimate future as a PhD candidate. I told her I had met with my campus coordinator about applying for a Fulbright grant. Hopefully Ms. Fulbright will put in a good word when I apply. I learned her grandson goes to College of Charleston and she has three daughters. She was so nice, incredibly interesting to discuss world peace with, and I was so glad I was seated with her.

The speaker at the luncheon was Helen Clark, the head of UNDP and the former prime minister of New Zealand. She spoke about development (obviously) and how we need to increase ODA funding.

Last week, I met and chatted with Harriet Harman, British MP and leader of the House of Commons. Um, she is hilarious. She's a huge feminist, and apparently there are quite a few male's rights organizations that despise her because once she said that fathers weren't necessary to a family (she was speaking specifically about fathers that abuse their wives and children). She also tried to pass a law that abusive partners are not required to be listed on a birth certificate for their children. She is in fact though, happily married with three children. Awesome enough, the first time she ran for Parliament and won, she was 7 months pregnant. She's big on women being mothers and leaders and combining the two. She said she loves it when female MPs bring their babies to Parliament (I don't imagine it happens too often though...) How awesome would it be if our own female politicians brought their kids to work? One day... I will do it.

I've also been reading Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney's book about women's progress and how we are kidded into thinking that men and women are actually and truly equal in our country. She makes compelling arguments for changing the nature of the workplace, improving health care for women, and encouraging more women to run for public office. I first read up on Maloney for a breastfeeding paper I did; she's big on encouraging working mothers to breastfeed and has introduced loads of legislation on requiring workplaces to have spaces and give breaks for moms to pump, tax incentives for breastfeeding and tax breaks for buying breastfeeding equipment, etc. Did you know that businessmen can write off strip club visits on their taxes as "business expenses" but families can't count childcare the same way? Ridiculous.

Did you know also that if you're married to a man for nine years, raise his children while he works, then he decides to divorce... you aren't entitled to a dime of his social security? Yeah, think about that one for a while.

There are hundreds of thousands of unprocessed rape kits chilling in police stations around our nation. Why, you may ask? No funding to process them. 20/20 did a special on this, and gave the funding the process 50 of these kits in Boston; of the 34 with still-viable DNA samples, 9 returned matches of convicted felons who could then be tried on rape charges. 9 out of 34!! Imagine how many rapists we could get off the streets if we have the funding the process all of the rape kits. Sheesh, and then there is that nonsense that rape victims have to pay for their own rape kits. Can you imagine any other crime where the victim has to pay for the police to investigate? And this does happen, I witnessed it first hand at good old UVRMC when I was a victim advocate.

And if you want to know more about the ridiculous laws in our country that marginalize women... check out Maloney's book: Rumors of Our Progress Have Been Greatly Exaggerated.

We need more women in politics. Because seriously guys on Capitol Hill... what the heck?!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Last night, we ate this pizza for dinner. It was SO easy and SO yummy. Make it.

I've been reading quite a bit lately. I just finished Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. It examines our food culture in the US, and how detached we are from where our food actually comes from. Before you stuff that bite of Lean Cuisine in your mouth, ask yourself: "Where HAVE you been?"

After reading this book, I've become obsessed with calculating food mileage of my meals. Sure, bananas are yummy and cheap, but how many gallons of petroleum did it take to bring that banana to your bowl of Cheerios? Pomegranate? Good for heart and soul, maybe not so much for the environment. I wish I could grow my own food. And I should. I have the excuse that I don't really live anywhere long enough to have a garden, but I totally could have planted some tomatoes in my window sill or something like that instead of buying my tomatoes at Trader Joe's where they come from Timbuktu. I have visited the Farmer's Market here this summer, but not often enough.

I just started reading The Omnivore's Dilemma. I'm never going to be able to eat anything without feeling guilty ever again.

You know what's stupid? We import 1.1 billion pounds of wheat a year, but we export 1.4 billion. Does that make sense to you? Also, the government pays $80 billion a year in subsidies to big companies for corn. The subsidies were originally Depression-era legislation designed to help small farmers but have been perverted by the big business lobbyists since then and now 90% go to the largest few corporations that produce and sell corn.

The take-home message: Buy local. Not only is it good for the environment, it's good for your community. Don't live in Arizona, it doesn't rain there and you can't eat local.

I think I'll go make dinner now with my Argentine tomatoes and my California lettuce.

Running isn't just for fat people and anorexics

I haven't been running with an astounding amount of consistency this summer, but even though I haven't been running as much, I've started noticing a trend. People out here in DC are a lot more willing to quiz me about why I run. Some examples:

"Running? Why? You're so skinny."
"Don't you know that if you keep running like that you'll blow away?"

These statements show an astounding amount of what I like to call "Motivation Based Bias" or MoBeB. The lower case letters aren't actually part of the acronym, but just help to round it out. I do realize that I'm skinny and that losing weight is not a reasonable nor safe goal for me. That's not the reason I run though. I run because it makes me feel good, gives me time to think, and keeps my life balanced. I have no problem with fat people running and I don't want to add to the problems of anorexics, I just want everyone (because everyone who's anyone reads this blog) to know: Running is for everybody. Except for people without legs. Sorry guys. Unless they still have upper legs and can get a prosthetic, which I'm all for. wife is one good looking pregnant lady. And inspiring in her labors. That's the end.

Here's a cute squirell video, because, come on. This post was lame.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Self confidence vs. complacency

I was recently listening to an NPR Planet Money podcast talking about performance pay and why it doesn't happen more in our economy. One of the reasons they gave was that in general, people have a better perception of their performance than is actual reality. The guest cited a study (sorry I'm too lazy to look it up, but it is podcast #68 "How we get paid" 94% of college professors think they are a better professor than their average colleague, and over 90% of drivers think they are better than average drivers. And when drivers who are in the hospital for accidents they caused are asked how they compare to other drivers, 85% say that they are better than average drivers. And another study that I saw on The Daily Dish talked about how confidence isn't necesarily tied to achievement.

So, my question to the readers is: How do I teach my kids (and myself) to believe in themselves without them getting over confident or thinking they're better than everyone else? It seems like a delicate balance to strike.

Friday, July 17, 2009

A question for the readers

We got into a discussion in institute class about the good vs. evil nature of our actions. What it broke down to was: Are there things that we do in our lives that God really doesn't care about either way? Or is God concerned about everything we do, from what we eat for breakfast to what blogs we read. I favor the latter but I was interested in getting some opinions from our readers. I think most of the people that read this blog are religious, but if you're not, answer the question in accord with whatever moral beliefs you have, if you feel like it.

I'm also using this question to judge the feeling of our readers about discussing spiritual matters on the blog. Show me how interested you are in such things by responding or not!

That's all.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

My Visit to the Doctor

I was excited to visit the doctor today. Due to complicated insurance issues and the fact that it took me TWO MONTHS to get an appointment with a doctor that was close by and covered by Medicaid, I haven't really received prenatal care all summer (oops). I knew how I felt though and was careful to monitor myself and any weird issues that came up I simply googled and realized they were all normal. This morning, I had an appointment with a nice female OB/GYN over at our favorite teaching hospital. I was actually looking forward to it, I like hearing the baby's heart beat and I had no idea how much I weighed or anything, so I was interested to find out.

And geez, I don't know about your doctors, but I AM SO glad I don't usually see one of those. She treated me like I was a CHILD. A silly, capricious child at that. She tried to make me take the glucose tolerance test but I had decided after careful research that it was unnecessary and I did not want to do it. She said something to the effect of "I know it tastes yucky, but it's not that bad..." Yeah, that's it, I don't want to do it because it's "yucky." I don't want to do it because our health care system is in shambles and I'm actually deliberately deciding what I want done to my body. I have no predisposition for diabetes, and even if I did have it, I wouldn't even need to change my diet very much (I'm over the multiple bowls of ice cream a day... I'm only craving veggies nowadays. And spaghetti). And I seriously doubt my baby is going to be over-large. I've gained ten pounds in 32 weeks of pregnancy.

Then, she noticed on my chart that I brought from Utah that the silly CNMs didn't test me for HIV at my first appointment! How could they! I figure I was OK with doing that test though, I mean I did work in close contact with HIV patients and cleaned up more than one bodily fluid spill, so there's a teen-tiny chance (like 1 in 1,000,000,000,000) I may have HIV and I've never actually been tested for it so why not. I consented to that test. I think when she thought I might not she started on a rant about how dangerous HIV can be to an unborn baby, etc. I wanted to look at her and say something to the effect of "yes, I know, my sophomore year of college I actually did a research project on MTCT in South Africa. I can give you charts, research, anything you could possibly ever want to know about MTCT and preventing it." She also said something about my not being sure whether or not my husband had more sexual partners than just me. I told her I fully trusted he did not. She looked at me like I was crazy.

She listened to my heart and then told the med student to do the same. They then stood over me having a little lesson on heart murmurs without once looking down at me to tell me what they were talking about in lay terms. Fortunately, I already knew about this murmur having discovered it myself and asking my midwife about it months ago. And I understand medical terms so I understood what they were talking about but how rude. Like I'm just some stupid person I couldn't possibly understand what they were talking about.

And she was a nice doctor. Maybe too nice. But I didn't like the feeling that I was incompetent. And I just re-read this and I kind of sound snotty in it. My mom turned me into a medical snob.

.... and because I like all of the comments about how tiny I am and how great I look....

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

One time I went to Gettysburg

This weekend was so nice and relaxing. Friday night Tim and I went to the waterfront in Georgetown and walked around and watched the rich people on their boats with their cocktails. It was kind of nice. We went out to eat later with his sister Devany and soon to be baptized Jeff. The food was good, the spring rolls were yummy and we had a crepe thing with tofu and bean sprouts that was decent as well. It was cheap and filling, so I was happy with it.

Saturday I was forced to wake up at the crack of dawn and go on a field trip. Normally this would be OK, but since Tim wasn't there, I wasn't too eager to spend the day with a bunch of obnoxiously-conservative (and I like conservatives, don't get me wrong; I don't like unknowledgeable, unable-to-argue neoconservatives who are so stuck in their ways it's impossible for them to hear anything). I sat in the back of the bus by myself and brought a great book to read (Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver; another blog post for another time). I actually sat next to a really cool couple named Paige and Mike. They got married a few months ago, and Paige actually campaigned a little for Claralyn. Her mom and grandpa are some wonderful Utah County Democrats and were really involved in the campaign. It was fun to talk to her about Utah County politics.

But I digress. We went to Gettysburg and went on this multiple-hours bus tour. I hate "touring". I like to explore on my own time and see the things I want to see, even if I don't get all of the history behind everything. Our tour guide was one of those goofy, trying to be funny but not at all middle-aged men who has lived in the town his whole life. He knew everything there is to know about Gettysburg but was incredibly long-winded and I don't think I really learned anything. I took some cool pictures though-- don't ask me to tell you what happened where.

This is the eternal peace flame, or something like that. During the energy crisis of the Carter era, they had to extinguish it. It was re-lit a decade later.

It was motorcycle gang weekend as well in Gettysburg.

Tree pose on a nice rock.

I had fun playing with the settings on my camera to take some rad pictures. This is a general of some sort, overlooking a ridge (Cemetary? Seminary? Little Roundtop?)

After Gettysburg and some down-home eatin' at a southern buffet, we went to Harper's Ferry. The drive was GORGEOUS. The town was quaint and there were all sorts of little shops to peek around in. I wanted to buy many things like organic onesies with peace symbols and giant homemade purses. But I didn't.

When I got home from the trip, I went straight over to my sister Lauren's house for some good female bonding time. We tucked her kids into bed and watched Taken. Interesting to watch, but we poked so many holes it looked like Swiss cheese. Liam Neeson is great though, and it's good to see such a crucial issue as human trafficking being addressed in a mainstream film. Even though it was terribly unrealistic.

The next day was Sunday and Tim came over too and went to church with Lauren and company. It was weird to be back in a normal Mormon ward. I can't imagine what it will be like when we end up back in a student ward in Provo. Culture shock.

Luckily Lauren likes our company, because we really like hanging out over there. She always has good food. And she's an awesome mom. It's refreshing to have such a normal, capable example of a mother to hang out with and try to emulate in the future. We may disagree on some things, like the phthalates in plastic causing early puberty (since she and her husband were such late bloomers, they are totally feeding their kids from BPA-containers to help them out a little). But she's always willing to listen to my rants about the environment and home birth. She's a great talker too, always open to new ideas and not judgmental at all. I'm lucky to have such a great big sister.

(this picture is really old, but I couldn't find another one of the two of us since).

The Target Happs

So, I've been trying to be as positive about my job as possible. It's not that bad, really, but it wears on me a little. So things like the following keep me entertained.

First off this is just a stupid product overall. Do you really need a leash for your child? What kind of message is that sending? Responsability, zilch, captivity, all you've got.

But the real funny part are the pictures. The subtle and very real threat is that if you don't use this product, you wont have a nice white boy, but, horrors of horrors, a little BLACK GIRL! Avoid undersirable offspring with the Eddie Bauer Harness Buddy, because some risks just aren't worth it.

Another product that gives me the chuckles. There are is no actual chicken in this product, except for a little chicken meal (which is what?) but not organic or free range. So what they're saying is that while there is actually no natural free range chicken in this product, but the chicken that your cat tastes is going to taste like its a free range chicken, and not a cooped up diseased chicken, where the actual chicken comes from. But as long as you call it natural, you can charge a buck more for it. So there it is.

It was a long weekend, without a lot of sleep and I started making the mistake of mixing up my replies to thank you: "You're welcome" and "No problem" into an unfortunate problem of "Your problem." I would feel like an idiot every time I said it, but then I would forget and say it again. It would have been funny if you were a small angel on my shoulder.

That's Target.


I went to the baptism of Devany's boyfriend Jeff. It was really good. A ton of people showed up. And all I got was this stupid photo:

Actually, it's not that bad of a picture. That's what I look like most of the time anyway. I haven't been to a baptism in a while and I forgot how much I like them.

Two of the speakers (who were both in the Bishopric) talked about their conversions and baptisms. I was baptized when I was eight, so I don't much remember my baptism. But I thought I'd just take a second to say that, looking back on my life, I've come to see that the commitment I made that day has reached out to touch many parts of my life. Christ has been my dearest friend and closest confidant. Sorry Cait, you are a very close and beloved second, with everyone paling in comparison. I feel like Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Kruegar's Christmas when he travels back to the manger, in this clip from 17:16 to 21:15. Sorry I couldn't find a clip where it was isolated.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Long Walk

I listen to a daily podcast called the Daily Audio Bible. It's good, basically just readings from the bible and some commentary from the reader, Brian. If anyone is interested in stuff like that, you should check it out. I'm looking at you Brad Anderson.

Anyway, they have this little tradition for listeners where they take off July 7th and go out into nature and commune with God, enjoying and appreciating his creation. I enjoyed it even more than I thought I would. I came back refreshed and just...happy. I know you may say it's lame, but I say that the way you say it is lame is lame, so there.


I was fasting when I went out, so I stopped in to pick up some food at Trader Joe's to eat later.

I walked out along the Potomac for a good long while.

I then crossed over to the Virginia side and ate lunch under a tree in Lady Bird Johnson Park, or Parkway, maybe.

I then crossed the foot path into Teddy Roosevelt park, which was incredibly natural for the being in the middle of a metropolis.

The biggest indication of man's presence on the island was a little plaza surrounded by what I assumed were Teddy Roosevelt quotes. I was sitting in front of this one for a while, thinking, praying and writing a love letter for my wife.

I then made my way home. Here's looking at Roosevelt Island from the bridge back to DC.

Try something similar yourself. Take a day off (Sunday doesn't count, that's never really off), try to do it alone or with someone who wont be distracting you the whole time. If you believe in God, talk to Him. If you don't talk to nature, or yourself. I had a good time, anyway.

In which the world sucks yet again

Ok, I'm sorry to keep posting depressing news articles but this one has me absolutely floored.

Germany: last week. A neighbor has called a Muslim woman (a highly-educated Muslim woman as well, she is a pharmacist and her husband a research fellow, though that doesn't matter really) he lives near a "terrorist" and is harassing her. She sues him (I presume that's what happened, it didn't really say but they end up in court over it). While in the courtroom, he pulls out a knife and stabs her 18 times, killing her and then severely injuring her husband who is trying to protect her. The police officer in the court room draws his weapon and mistakenly shoots the husband in the leg, critically injuring the man. Oh, and did I mention she was pregnant? And her three-year-old was standing by?

Apparently the man was a Russian immigrant, a neo-Nazi fanatic driven by a deep-seated hatred of Muslims. Egypt is in an uproar. They "will avenge her death." Great.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Happs

I wanted to start this blog post by saying just how much I love my wife. She makes me happy very deep inside.

I cooked this on Thursday:

1/4 cup olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon white sugar
4 zucchini, chopped
1 cup chopped fresh dill weed
1/4 cup uncooked long grain white rice
1/2 cup water
salt and pepper to taste

2 cups plain yogurt
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon salt

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat; cook and stir the onion until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the sugar, then add the chopped zucchini, dill, and rice. Cook and stir until the zucchini is softened, about 5 minutes. Pour in the water, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer the mixture until the rice is cooked, about 20 minutes. Turn off the heat, and let the mixture cool to lukewarm.
Make a sauce by mixing the yogurt, garlic, and salt in a bowl. Serve over the lukewarm zucchini and rice.

And Cait made up this Salad:

Raspberry and gorganzola Dressing

It was overall pretty good. I would have done a few things different. I used less onion than it called for, but it probably needed a whole onion. I also didn't get the rice cooked completely. I still enjoyed it and Cait "thought it was delicious. Absolutely stinking delicious." If you want to try it, get some good bread to go with it.

We were walking around town the other day and all these fireworks went off.

So we sat down and watched:

For some reason we felt rather patriotic.

Wendy recommended this, it's hilarious.

Now I've got to go. It's lovins time.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Minutemen, Murder, Mormons

Last week, two men and one woman posing as U.S. Marshals barged into the house of an illegal immigrant and shot and killed him and his 9-yr-old daughter. They are "minutemen", groups of anti-immigrant individuals who take the law into their own hands and take turns patrolling our Southern border, and apparently now, have extended their duties to breaking into homes and committing first-degree murder. While I realize that other Minutemen have lambasted their rogue counterparts, and that most Minutemen are not the extreme like these individuals, it's still telling of the kind of personalities and ideologies that are attracted to organizations like this.

A few weeks ago I was at a national security simulation with the rest of the BYU interns. We were discussing narco-trafficking and how to secure the U.S. border with Mexico further. The issue of minutemen came up. The rest of the students on my team decided it was a stellar idea to incorporate these individuals into our law enforcement ranks, you know, since they are doing the job anyway we might as well pay them. I was the only one in a group of 10 or so that thought this was absolutely ludicrous! Let's take individuals who think they are above the law already and give them authority. When Tim shared this story on CNN about the minutemen really taking the law into their own hands by committing first-degree murder I felt sick that BYU students could think that what these minutemen are doing are good deeds at protecting U.S. soil.

Then I thought to this Daily Universe article last year about Utah Minutemen, who take trips down to the border to participate in patrolling. One individual who does this on a regular basis: None other than Rep. Chris Herrod. Remember, the one who beat Claralyn Hill for State House? Remember, the incredibly-unexperienced, ridiculously-policied, self-proclaimed on his campaign website "PhD flunkout due to his ADD" candidate who beat Claralyn only because he was running on the Republican ticket, though I can bet that Claralyn's moderate views are much more in line with the constituents of the 62nd district than his. A telling part for me was when more people in his ward voted for Claralyn because anyone that actually knew him would not even vote for him. And yet he's still there, in the Utah House of Representatives. I hate Utah politics. SO MUCH.

Yesterday on the way to the temple, Tim and I met a really nice couple from El Salvador and got to talking (half in Spanish, half in English). Amelia and Jesus have been in this country for 24 years, I'm guessing they probably came during the civil war in the 1980s. She works as a housekeeper but he can't work because he can't find a job without papers. They are losing their apartment this month because they can't pay rent. They don't know where they will go next, but they have been living in this same area since they arrived 24 years ago. Their son was born here. They are faithful members of the Silver Spring Barrio (ward) and faithfully attend the temple once a month. What if someone wanted to shoot them because they were not documented citizens? Does Jason Chaffetz want to round them up with the rest of the illegal immigrants and put them into an internment camp? What if they were in the same ward? Then would he want to?

And speaking on the LDS side of things: I just can't make sense of all of this Mormon politics anti-immigration rhetoric. We preach at church one thing about charity and pure love of Christ for all man, but does that not extend to those who left their country in desperation to find a better life but since the channels for obtaining legal status in the U.S. are so difficult and expensive they had to do so illegally? Why are members of our Church so anti-immigrant?

(If you want to listen to the 911-call of the wife from the first story, it's here at CNN. But I warn you, it's kind of disturbing).

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Some cake

Here's a picture of a cool cake that a girl named Marie, an intern here at the Barlow Center, made for all the people having birthday's before we leave in August.

I was actually a late addition to the party, because my birthday is just a little bit after we leave, but I didn't make it on the cake. Although the guy on the bottom left corner looks a lot like me, except I don't wear my glasses much anymore. Anyone who reads this blog that was on the cake is welcome to donate a picture of themselves for comparison. I'll also look at getting the picture where we are all pointing at who we were on the cake. I pointed at Obama.

I heard it at Target

I was cashering the other day when a man in a wheelchair came up to the register. I hesitate to tell this story because the man was disabled, but his disability had nothing to do with how out of hand it was, so I continue. He placed a single, normal-person sized Coke on the belt (32 ounces maybe? I don't buy many drinks) and waited for me to ring up (I originally wrote "wring up." sometimes I dream) the person in front of him. When it came time for him to pay, he handed me a 9 dollar bill with a picture of President Obama on it. When I wouldn't take it he accused me of being a racist. That's the first time I've been accused of being a racist. I assume it would come at some point, but I didn't think it would come like that. And then he asked me to double bag his Coke. People here are crazy about their double bagging. Target bags are tough people. There is nothing dense enough that we sell in the store that would wrip one of those bags. But keep asking, because you are always right.

There was also a really funny comment a mother made to her daughter about her daughter liking pooh. It was funny. What she meant was that her daughter like Winnie the Pooh. But I can't remember how it went. Crap.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

About a year ago today, we walked into an antique shop on Center Street and spontaneously walked out with two pretty sweet rings.

And I'm so glad we did.