Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Happiest Place on Earth

Robyn and I just got back to our hotel after two amazing days in Disneyland with Zack and Delta. My feet hurt like the dickens after walking around the park all day long, but we had an infinite amount of fun in a finite amount of time; so it was truly fabulous. After experiencing Disneyland in January, I don't know if I could ever come back in the summer. The temperature was cool and comfortable, the lines were super short. (The longest we ever had to wait was 40 minutes for space mountain but there were many rides where the wait was 5 minutes or less.)

All that remains of our trip is a long drive home tomorrow, but for now there are a few things I need to share about our trip.

I dominated in the Toy Story ride
There is a ride that is essentially a wii game. You ride around and shoot different targets and you rack up points. My first time playing it took me a while to get the hang of using the gun aparatus. Robyn dominated me. We rode the ride again, but this time I knew what I was doing and I rocked everyone's world with the highest score out of the 4 of us.
 My score is on the left, Robyn's is on the right.  It was a close battle but I won out in the end.

Delta gets rebuked by a five year old
We went on the Tower of Terror but Delta elected not to go. While she was waiting outside there was a grandma with her five year old grandson that talked to her. She told him that she was waiting for us because she didn't want to go on the Tower of Terror.  He told her, "I went on it twice and I didn't cry. How do you know you don't like it if you don't try it?" I told her the child was correct.

Robyn watched for the rocks
That's how she rolls.

Zack and Delta decide on a Vegas Wedding
On the way to California we stopped off in Las Vegas to eat at one of the buffets there because they are awesome. Zack and Delta, who recently got engaged, saw one of the Vegas wedding chapels and decided that they should give it a go. Wouldn't Disneyland make a great honeymoon? Especially with me there? I'm not telling whether they decided to go through with it.

Robyn wasn't scared of the Matterhorn
We were all so proud of her.  She was still scared of the Snow White ride, but we'll work on that next time.

Disney impresses me with their excellence
As a child I remember seeing one of the characters, Launchpad Mcquack, at Disneyland.  I walked up to him and asked if I could go on his plane.  He nodded his head and took me by the hand.  I'm not sure where he planned to take me but my mother stopped him before he got very far.  I was sharing this story while we were in line for Soaring Over California.  But in trying to get Robyn to remember who he was, I said he was a pelican.  Zack vehemently disagreed and thus ensued the debate.  I decided to get the opinion of a Disney staffer.  She said, "I always thought he was a duck."  But then the line had to move on and we couldn't discuss it any longer.  But then she found us after we rode the ride, and explained to us that he has the lantern chin which is used to denote arrogance in a character and it is not a pelican bill.  I was so impressed with her dedication to find us and give us additional information that I didn't even care that I lost the debate.  Disney is awesome.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Shoot The Lions

I hadn't intended to write every week about the sunbeams.  But they just keep giving me new material.  First off, we took them for our weekly walk to the drinking fountain.  They all saw the perils ahead and screamed, "Watch out for the walls."  This was without any reminder from us.  We tried to tell them to just remember that in our heads and not yell it out.

Later, I was sharing the story of Daniel in the Lion's den from the Old Testament.  In an attempt to engage the children and help them realize that being in a lion's den would be a not fun scenario, I asked what they would do if they were stuck with a bunch of lions.  One child rose his hand, because he clearly had the solution.  When I called on him he said, "shoot them."  I asked, "But what would you do if you didn't have a gun?"  The reply: "I would buy one."  Rather then try to have a logical discussion with a three year old about how there wasn't a gun shop inside the den and even if there was, the background checks and what not would take more than 24 hours, I just decided to move on.  I explained that Daniel's solution was to pray to the Lord.  Then I tried to relate it back to them and say that they could pray in difficult situations.  At this point another child rose his hand and said, "I don't have a gun."  Yet another child piped in: "I like trains".

Well, I guess this is just one more way that I'm like a sunbeam.  I'm sure the Lord looks down at me sometimes and says, "Why can't you just learn what I'm trying to teach you?"  My reply: "I like dinosaurs."

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Our Hope for the Future

Yesterday the state of Massachusetts had a special Senate race to replace Kennedy's seat.  Scott Brown, a Republican won the election.  That makes him the 41st Republican, which shatters Harry Reid's filibuster proof Senate.  However, that's not what I want to focus this post on.  This Republican victory means something much larger to me.  In a state where 11% of the voters are registered Republicans they still elected a Republican candidate.  How could that have happened?  I'd like to share my belief in how that happened.

50% of the voters in Massachusetts are independents.  In any election, they are really campaigning to the independents.  There are blocs of voters who will always vote along party lines, but it's the middle ground voters that turn elections one way or the other.  I believe the American people (as represented by those in Massachusetts) are tired of being lied to.  We're frightened that government spending is out of control.  We're concerned that we're told that we will have a transparent government but bills are negotiated in secret meetings that Republicans aren't allowed to attend.

When President Obama took office his approval rating was at 69% according to the Rasmussen poll.  Shortly after taking office he said that if we didn't act quickly the economy “could become dramatically worse” and face unemployment above 10 percent.  Unemployment reached 10.2 percent in October and still remains above 10 percent right now.  So now our nation is steeped in debt and still has a bad economy.

The American people know that we can't spend our way to wealth and we can't borrow our way out of debt.  President Obama's approval rating has dropped to 48%.(again according to Rasmussen)  Interestingly enough, he hasn't done any different than what he promised.  He told us beforehand that he was a Marxist and that he believes the Constitution is flawed.  Unfortunately, many people were excited by the rhetoric of hope and change.  Well, that has died down and reality has set in.

I predict that the reality will only get worse.  As a result, this November democrats will no longer have a majority in the House.  I think the Senate will be a closer fight but I think Republicans will gain some seats.

This whole scenario reminds me of a scenario from history.  Shortly before I was born, there was a man named Jimmy Carter.  He had engaged in government overspending which resulted in inflation rates as high as 18%.  (Could happen again if Obama continues the way he's going.)  After his 4 years as President, a man named Ronald Reagan came along.  During his campaign he said, "It's Government that causes inflation, and Government can make it go away by cutting out deficits and stopping the printing of money."  He won a landslide victory(electoral votes were 489 to 49), he cut taxes and cut spending.  It still took several years before the economy was able to recover but his policies allowed for some of the best years our country has had.  Republicans and Democrats alike appreciated his leadership.  When he was reelected the win was even bigger. (525 to 13) It has been 20 years since he left office and we're now facing a similar scenario.

The hope I see for our future is quite clear.  The American people will want to elect someone different in 3 years.  The Republican candidate is a shoe in to win.  The American people will be looking for another Ronald Reagan.  The only question is, will the Republican party provide another Ronald Reagan?  I honestly don't know who could fill that role.  Mitt Romney?  Ron Paul?  I don't know who it is, but we better find them, because we need a hero.  What do you think?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Watch Out For the Walls

Every Sunday is a new adventure. I've said before how Robyn and I teach the 3 year olds in our church. Getting 3 year olds to do anything remotely organized is quite a feat. Whenever we need to move them from one place to another we have them all hold hands, this makes it much easier to keep the 7 of them from going in 7 different directions. The problem with holding hands is that there is always at least one (often more than one) that hold their right hand to their neighbor's right hand and this means that they have to walk backward. We try to tell them to walk forward but they just can't handle it. Even when they are walking forward they don't exactly pay attention to where they're going. All this culminated last week when we were going around a corner and one of the kids smacked his head into the wall.

This week we wanted to avoid that calamity. We tried fervently to get them to walk forward but Robyn also gave them a small warning. "When we go around corners, watch out for the walls." This was a simple reminder to not run into walls. We took the whole class on a little walk to the drinking fountain and when we went around the corner the kids were very wary of the danger that awaited them. They started yelling to each other so that they could protect each other. We were trying to quiet them but I couldn't help but laugh at the repeated ominous warning as it came from each child: "Watch out for the walls!"

I never thought of walls as being dangerous, but from the way the children expressed it they may as well have been yelling, "Watch out for the raptors!" Now that would have been a serious situation.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

XKCD: How Geeks Became Funny

Okay, I just have to share another awesome website. XKCD is a web comic that focuses on many geeky subjects. Many of the jokes are about physics, mathematics or computer programming. I have referenced many of the comics that apply to my life here on my blog.

Many others will not find this comic as amusing as I do. It just doesn't apply to their lives as often as it does to mine. I mean not only am I a computer programmer but the comic also often features cool things like dinosaurs. Dinosaurs are awesome!  That is an eternal truth. 

At any rate, I just wanted to give a shoutout to xkcd and its awesomeness. Also, I wanted to share the below comic, it doesn't apply to my life nearly as much as some other of the comics but it is flowing with awesome.

Well, there was the time I was on a space station that was crashing towards a dinosaur infested planet, but I brought plenty of tranquilizer that time so you can see how this comic doesn't apply to me.

P.S.  As much as I love this comic there are occasionally some sketchy ones.  I take no responsibility if you come upon one that offends you.  I would like to share the disclaimer that is on the site though:
Warning: this comic occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors).

Saturday, January 9, 2010

I Should Be a Na'vi

Spoiler Alert:  Though this post does not discuss details of the plot, it does discuss a few things you will see in the movie Avatar.  If that will ruin your movie experience do not read this post.

So Robyn and I saw Avatar with Graham and Megan this evening.  There is alot to like about this movie: awesome creatures, fight for freedom, cool 3D visuals, sweet action scenes and more.  But there is one aspect of this movie that I just had to share.

You see, every living thing on the planet(moon?) Pandora has something growing out of their head (they call it a queue) that is much like a USB cable.  I thought this was possibly the coolest thing ever.  Imagine if everything you saw outside had a USB cable growing out of it.  You see a stray cat, you plug it into your computer.  Now it does your bidding.  How much cooler is it if you could eliminate the computer and plug it into your own head.

Every animal on Pandora has this cable. Total plug and play software is included.  You just plug in and sync  with the animal.  Every creature becomes a dockable accessory.  During the war with the humans, I figured the humans didn't stand a chance, they had to build their technology.  The Na'vi vehicles and weapons just grew.

This is why I want to be a Na'vi.  I mean we have USB drink coolers, webcams and even crazy stuff like Nerf dart launchers but can I sync with a 4 winged pterodactyl(leonopteryx)?  I say unto you, nay.

There's only one thing lacking.  The Na'vi could use some kind of wireless technology.  They always have to be hard linked into everything.  They even have these cool web hotspots where these giant trees grow ethernet cables so you can plug into the world wide web.  (They even provide free hosting of any data you'd like to upload.)  But you still have to be physically plugged in.  If I were a Na'vi, my first contribution to society would be working on a wireless option.  Then the possibilities would be endless.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Why I'm Like a Sunbeam

Robyn and I teach the Sunbeams (3 and 4 year olds) in our church.  This past Sunday since it was a new year, our old sunbeams moved on to the next class and we inherited a whole new set.  During sharing time (a general gathering of all of the kids before adjourning to seperate classes) our old sunbeams were all sitting with new teachers but they all made sure to wave at us.  One little girl who was particularly attached to me made sure to come up and talk to me and let me know she was still around but she was in a different class.  As scared as I am of having my own children I was surprised how attached I had become to each of them.  During this past year with them I have discovered how much I really relate to them so I'd like to share a few reasons why.

We're not supposed to kneel on our chairs
We had one little boy who would always kneel on his chair during sharing time so he could see everyone who was sitting behind him.  I was constantly telling him to "sit on his pockets" while inside I was thinking, "I've heard what they're teaching before, besides I don't need to see them.  I could just listen while kneeling on my chair, then I would get a chance to see what all is going on in this room."  I've always been a people watcher.  I often wish I could kneel on my chair and just watch all the people behind me.

We're supposed to keep our thoughts focused on the lesson
It's always funny, we'll be teaching something and we'll ask a simple question.  One of the kids will raise their hand and say, "I'm going to Grandma's today." or "I have a dog." or "I like trains."  Sometimes I'm just excited about things, and I wish that we could talk about what I want to talk about.  Sometimes I wish we could just talk about dinosaurs or maybe cheese.

We're supposed to stay in our seats
One of our new sunbeams had an older sister in a different class.  Several times during sharing time he jumped up and ran to where she was sitting and just stood in front of her and waved.  Sometimes we all just want to share our love with others.  Sometimes we may be oblivious that it's not an appropriate time.  This is much like the time that I burst into relief society on Mother's Day because I wanted to give Robyn a flower.  Apparently I was supposed to wait until they were done with the lesson but I was so excited to give it to her.  I thought the rest of the Elders would come in behind me but alas, I was alone.  They got cranky at me for ruining the lesson but I just wanted to share love.

We're supposed to stay awake
There have been a few times when one of the kids is just exhausted and wants to lay down.  One time one of them laid his head on the chair next to him and was totally out.  I always want to be like, "I'm tired too.  This class is actually during my nap time."  At least this year our church is earlier so I will have time for a nap when I get home.

We comfort the afflicted
This past Sunday I saw the cutest thing ever.  One of the kids was really sad and missed his mom.  He was just crying to himself.  You couldn't really hear anything but it was apparent on his face.  The 3 year old boy sitting next to him just put his arm around him as if to say, "everything will be alright."  He then gave me a look that said, "Can't you see he's in pain?  Grownups should fix these things."  I wanted just as badly to comfort him but I didn't know what to do so I told Robyn to make it all better.  She held him and made him feel better. (She's amazing.)

So basically, I should be in the Sunbeams class rather than teaching it.  The good news is that Jesus wants me for a Sunbeam.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Holiday Festivities

This year we had many great adventures during the holidays.  We flew out to California for Christmas with Robyn's family and then returned home to celebrate New Years here.  It was fun to get to know them all better, to play together, to eat together and just enjoy each others company.  Robyn has written about the trip already, but I thought I'd include a few small anecdotes from my perspective.

The Amazing Food
The best thing about Robyn's family is that all family traditions are centered around food.  From the crepes Christmas Eve morning to the massive dinner on Christmas day, it was all delicious.

The Nativity and After Affects
As is tradition, we acted out the nativity story the night of Christmas Eve.  We put on our costumes and played our parts.  Here are Robyn and I as shepherds.  (I bet you didn't know that Mr. Clean was a shepherd.)

Afterward, most of the family went into the other room and sang Christmas songs.  I stayed and played with my niece Addie.  She really wanted to play dress up in the various costume fragments.  She had me kneel on the floor so that she could reach my head and then she dressed me up in various costumes.  I think her favorite was when she dressed me as Mary.

The Picture Permutations
The day after Christmas we celebrated Robyn's Oma's (German Grandmother) birthday.  It was really neat because they were able to bring together all of her living descendants.  Of course, as part of the celebration we took many many pictures.  I appreciate pictures after the fact, but I'm never one to enjoy being in them.  My brother-in-law Kevin feels the same way.  After taking a number of pictures with different combinations of who was in them, he expressed in frustration: "We don't have to take every possible permutation."  I appreciated the mathematical approach to the situation.  After a few calculations I figured out that we could have taken 32,768 unique pictures with the 15 people that were there.  If we took a picture every 10 seconds and didn't stop to sleep or eat it would still take us nearly 4 days to get all the pictures, so  I guess the 45 minutes we took wasn't too bad.

The Gingerbread Creations
Robyn already wrote about the Gingerbread igloo.  I just wanted to share the part that I made.  They had been working on the whole scene for several days.  Robyn's mom said that I should make a dog sled.  I was afraid due to my lack of any artistic ability.  She assured me that no one gets fired, so I agreed to proceed.  This was the result:  (I know it's not that great, but be proud of me anyway)

The Informative Young Child
When we flew home, our plane landed in Salt Lake and everyone was standing up getting ready to get off the plane.  Suddenly, I heard a scream about 3 rows ahead of me.  It wasn't the bloodcurdling sort that means "I'm being murdered."  It was more of the "I'm receiving a surprise that is not pleasant right now" sort of scream.  I then heard a little boy, about age 3 saying "What's wrong mommy?"  When he got his answer he stood up on his chair facing backwards so he could let us all know what happened.  "She frowed up....all over mommy."  Then as a follow-up he said: "She's sick" at which his sister yelled, "I'm not sick!"

All in all, it was an excellent trip and we've enjoyed our time back at home relaxing as well.
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