Monday, August 31, 2009


I subscribed to a newspaper. (I know, I know. It's a little out of character. Don't pass out anybody. The earth is still spinning.) I just completed my first week and am pleased to have read 4 out of the 6 newspapers that appeared in my driveway.

I have been planning to subscribe to a paper for quite some time. For a while, I was getting most of my news from Yahoo News Feeds which tend to focus on the dealings of movie stars. When I mentioned that some star had just dumped a boyfriend or had picked up a DUI, people would stop taking me seriously as a scientist because intellectuals don't follow that stuff apparently. Oops.

I briefly considered the LA Times and the San Francisco Chronicle but I actually know a little bit about what is going on in California and those papers have so many errors that I think it is safest to assume they are worthless. I am not sure whether it is worse to be uninformed or misinformed, but misinformed people annoy me a lot and I didn't want to become annoying to myself.

I moved on to the New York Times and got a free online subscription to test it out. I was disappointed, I have to say. NYT seems to trivialize everything important and to trump up trivial issues as important. I stuck with it for about two months online, but that was enough for me. The Washington Post was similar to NYT, but it also had the deficit of making me feel poor. There are way too many articles about decorating with white on white or gray on gray, the ten essentials of Vera Wang's daily existence, and how designer nurseries are becoming a commonplace necessity rather than an opulent luxury. I entirely gave up on it when I read something about how worthwhile designer toys are if you can get a small child to prefer wood over plastic. I am still not sure if they were kidding, but by the end of the article I was pretty sure they were serious. (Sorry Olivia, you'll probably grow up aesthetically challenged from Ross and Wal-Mart toys.) Anyway, clearly not the paper for me.

Eventually, I decided that enough was enough and I needed to get the news in some form so I subscribed to the Wall Street Journal without even a test run online. My thinking was that I know so little about economics that I won't know whether WSJ is right or wrong or trivializing important things. I just won't know. Also I thought that if I read about investments everyday, it might make them seem like necessities rather than luxuries which might have a positive effect on my finances. (I still haven't made my first million, but perhaps I will next week. WSJ reports that hair clippers are selling well since everyone is cutting their own hair now. Maybe I will get some stocks.) I guess my awareness of finances is increasing, but I am so miniscule in terms of global economics I am not sure if I can apply my increasing knowledge of them. (I felt that way about evolution for a while too, and look at me now. I am a leading researcher in a field followed by twelve people with a blog about antibiotic resistance that is followed by eight.) I also find I am now following Asian politics. I think that this is probably because they affect global economics a lot. Again, I'm not sure what I can do in response to the changing relationships of Japan, China and the US, but I'll just learn about them for a while and see what happens.

The non-financial news covered by WSJ often seems trivial, but when it is placed next to articles about the imminent doom threatened by weakening ties between the US and Asia, it seems appropriate to cover pointless and often humorous things. Why not get a few laughs while we can still afford the air we breathe (you know before there are taxes on our personal carbon dioxide emissions). I was able to entertain some friends by describing the scandal about Ghadafi possibly staying in Englewood, NJ and the plans in place to keep him from pitching his tent. (It earned its keep last week for that one). I am still not sure what is up with the tent. I have only been following this story for a week after all.

Monday, August 24, 2009

One more really fast entry

I had Megan and Katie take 10 pictures each while we waited for dinner. Here are some of the best.

The journey home

There was lightening in the desert yesterday as I left Marie's house. Clouds were rolling in from the north. They were tall and curved in such a way that they looked like white capped waves ready to break across the shores of blue sky in the south. I was listening to African music performed by Béla Fleck and accompanying African musicians. It sort of matched the spiky desert plants and sharp volcanic rock that poked out from the landscape. I marveled at the vocalists whose voices were really instruments holding their own parts and which were necessary for the wholeness of the compositions. I thought about other music where voices are used that way and found myself comparing African music to opera, which turned my mind back to art history lessons and brought up this painting of Sacred and Profane.

Somehow, the desert and the music playing seemed sacred in that moment and my mind then turned to the song "Come, Come Ye Saints", which is my favorite song. It isn't one that I listen to a lot, or sing often, but if I could only keep one song for the rest of my life it would be that one. I think it is because that was the song my ancestors sang as they were driven from their homes in the winter, or massacred, or tortured, or starving. What amazing people they were that after fighting the best battles they were able to through weapons or politics, they finally won by singing that song as they marched West.

By that point, I was about an hour into the drive, and the rain started coming. It made the roads very slippery as the oil that had accumulated on the road during the preceding months rose and formed slicks on the top of the rainwater. I felt my car slipping minutely and slowed down a bit. Cars started rushing past me, for a while, but soon we all came to a stop. No one knew what was going on. All we could see was miles of stopped traffic waiting on that long desert road. I witnessed my seven hour drive stretch into an eight and then a nine hour drive and I was surprised by how enjoyable the time was. I listened to an old conference talk about Joseph Smith that President Hinckley had given and I read "Somewhere a Band is Playing" by Ray Bradbury which is a story appropriately located in the Arizona desert. I watched the rain come down and listened to drops that hit so hard they sounded like hail falling.

When I finally inched my way past the source of the delay, I found that it was a pile of very small scrap metal. Nothing was recognizable. Clearly no one had survived and I suspected that there were still some pieces of human bodies in the pile. I went by as quickly as I could to help get traffic moving again and then passed some more time talking with Laura on the phone. I told her about how long the trip was taking, but how I didn't really mind. After we hung up, I remembered how Mom had said that time passed very sweetly and enjoyably as she sat with Grandma in her final hours. I thought about how I have never minded waiting for funeral processions even if I am running late. Then I realized that even though I hadn't known it, I had been a part of an impromptu funeral procession for two hours that day. It made me wonder if that was why the time had passed so enjoyably. Perhaps when death is present, the time we have on Earth becomes dear no matter how it is spent.

One hour from home and just at the point when I always know that however tired I might be, I can make it the rest of the way, there were two more delays. The calm patience of the evening was still the overriding feeling I had, but I was glad that the delays resulted from lane closures for road construction. I was also glad that I would soon be safely home, with no chance of falling asleep in dangerous circumstances. I arrived just before midnight, and when I finally made it into my bed, I slept soundly the whole night.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Newest Niece!

I am in Lake Havasu chilling with Olivia!  She is great.  Very mild, calm, and thoughtful.  She is observant of everything.  She loves to turn her head towards whatever is going on and then she seems to study what is going on.  Her favorite observation of the day was when Katie was throwing a fit about a stuffed dog that was taken away because it was the source of the fight.  The fight ended when the dog left the scene of action, but Katie wasn't done.
Katie:  "Mommy, why can't I have the dog?"
Marie:  "Because Daddy took it away."
Katie: "Won't you get it for me?"
Marie: "Nope, not going to happen."
Katie: "Why won't you give me what I want?"
Marie: "Does throwing a fit ever get you what you want?"
Katie: "How do I get what I want?"
Marie:  "By being nice and by changing what you want."
Katie:  "But that means I don't get what I want."

Olivia was into this.  Obviously so was I.  I loved hearing the arguments between Katie and Marie.  It's vaguely like listening to the current version of Marie argue with herself 28 years ago.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Gay pickup lines?

I'm confused.
Laura and I went into a place called "Shop Girls" yesterday.  It was both a female clothing store and a post office.  We were there to mail some postcards, but took a look at the clearance racks too.  The guy running the store asks if we are from around there.  We tell him no we are just waiting for the ferry.  He tells us that he is a fairy.  Then as we are rummaging in a basket of buttons with funny sayings on them, he tells us we should try to find one that says "All cute guys are gay".  He encouraged us to move to Port Townsend and sincerely seemed like he wanted to see us later. He was super nice and friendly.  From a straight man I would know what to think, but from an openly gay one, I have no idea what he was going for.  Thoughts anyone?

Monday, August 10, 2009

We need Laura here!!!!!!

Laura has here BFA tryout tomorrow and then she gets to run and catch a plane and a bus and a Ferry to meet us in Anacortes or Port Townsend or something.  We are having a great time in her absence but can't wait for her to come.  

We went to Seabolts that had locally caught fish.  While we were waiting for our orders to come, I asked Mattie and Emma to take 10 pictures each.  Turns out that they are better photographers than counters but here are the fruits of their labors.

A few from Mattie

A few from Emma

And a couple from me.

We wish that Tom was here too and James and Carl and Hilary and Marie and Brett and Mike.  Maybe in January we can pull it off.