Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Reincarnation Is True

Every semester I talk with my university students about using religious leaders and texts as sources in academic papers.

It's okay, for example, to cite religious leaders if they are talking about their religious beliefs. "We believe in reincarnation." That is a verifiable fact.

It can be okay to make religious beliefs the object of academic inquiry. "How does a person's belief in reincarnation affect the decisions he or she makes in life?" Studies can be constructed and, through measurement and observation, including observations made by religious leaders, hypotheses can be verified.

But it's not okay to argue in an academic paper that because your religious leader says it is so, reincarnation is a real phenomenon. At this point, we just don't have a way to verify it independently. (Maybe in another life we will.)

The new twist today? Usually I'm talking with LDS students about LDS leaders and scripture. Tonight I enjoyed talking with a Catholic student who had written in her research proposal that she was planning to consult her priest about her topic.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Wrong Trousers

A week or so ago, I ordered a pair of pants online.

As soon as I hit send, I thought to myself, "I should have checked my closet first!" I have a pair of pants similar to the pair I had just ordered, and it turns out I remembered the size wrong.

The pants I'd ordered were going to be too big. (And how bizarre that I couldn't remember that I am actually wearing a smaller size now! That's the kind of thing I revel in! Seriously, what is happening to my brain? Reverse denial?)

I quickly called the 800 number, but the customer service operator had no way to stop the order. "You can order the right size," he said. "Then just return the pair that doesn't fit."

So I got back online and placed a second order. The pants were way on sale, and I had a code for free shipping.

The pants have arrived. The smaller pair fits very nicely. Wish I'd ordered two.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

I went to one of the interagency meetings that I'll be attending in conjunction with my job at the jail for the first time today.

I was so hopeful going in. But after an hour of discussion, I realize the size and scope of the challenges we face. They seem insurmountable.

Will press forward anyway.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


Every once in a while I learn something new from a student's research paper. This week's discovery: electronic cigarettes. I don't think I've ever heard of them before. If I have, it apparently didn't register.

According to Wikipedia (which I tell my students never to cite in an academic paper), the concept was first patented the year I was born.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Game

We taught Jack a card game handed down from Roger's grandparents. It's a variation of Rummy known only as "The Game."

Gotta go. It's my turn.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Centers of the Universe

We drove Roger's mom down to Manti to see her older sister today. After a very nice visit with Aunt Margie and her family, we headed north again and stopped in Spring City.

Spring City is home to Horseshoe Mountain Pottery, potter Joe Bennion, and his wife, painter Lee Bennion. We became acquainted with Joe years ago when he'd drop off copies of his Horseshoe Mountain Pottery newsletter at our bookstore.

Before today we'd never actually seen Joe in the center of his universe. He's only in his usually self-serve shop a couple of days a year. Lucky for us this includes the day after Thanksgiving.

Here's a little bonus clip from a film about Joe made by Steve Olpin, one of our old customers. And, small world, the music in the clip is by Tom Shults, who played a few Friday nights at our store. That was an awesome center of our universe.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful from A to Z

I'm stealing this idea from others on the interwebs. Here's my first (and probably only) Thanksgiving alphabet. I am thankful for:
  • Airline tickets and adventures whenever and wherever I can get them.
  • Mr. Booth, Jack's band teacher. He is the reason junior high is going to be okay.
  • Living in a community that believes in community. I am continually amazed by what people do for one another and what we achieve together.
  • Diet Coke with a twist of fresh lime.
  • Existential angst that keeps me moving forward on a spiritual path with faith and hope. Okay, maybe using the term existential angst is a bit over the top. On most days at least.
  • Friends and family. I know and love so many interesting and wonderful people!
  • Good conversation with all of those interesting and wonderful people.
  • Our home. I have a dysfunctional relationship with the house itself (clutter and dust are relentless!), but every night when we're all tucked in, I am so grateful we are comfortable and safe.
  • Ice cream from the old fashioned counter at SOS Drugs, a special tradition with Jack.
  • Jack, obviously. And not just because he's an excuse to get ice cream.
  • Our goofy kitties, Fluffy and Doublestuff.
  • Lake Geneva for summer fun, family, and renewal.
  • My MacBook Pro (and everything it enables me to do).
  • Natural curiosity, which drives me to think about, read about, and learn about all sorts of amazing things.
  • My orthodontist, who straightened out the crooked overbite I was developing.
  • My parents (and the fact that they're both okay after some medical scares this year).
  • Quick-witted political satirists who help me laugh in the face of insanity. (We will get through the insanity, right?)
  • Roger, obviously. And he also helps me laugh in the face of insanity, especially my own.
  • My students at Utah Valley University. They are the reason I love my job there.
  • Training for a 5k and my "triathalon" at the lake this summer. It felt very, very good.
  • My work at the Utah County Jail, which has stretched me in good and unexpected ways.
  • Our Dyson vacuum cleaner that we bought for a song from It is superior.
  • A wealth of opportunities. I am particularly blessed in this way, and I don't know why. I never want to lose sight of it.
  • Extra pillows on my bed, which are extra nice for reading.
  • A year of discovery and growth. Writing this blog has helped me see this in unique ways.
  • The zoom lens on the camera Roger bought me for Christmas last year. It's come in handy many, many times.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

"Now, We Ride!"

We started a new tradition. Instead of waiting until Christmas to get the DVDs we want to add to our family library, we decided to buy one for Thanksgiving weekend.

Jack and I chose Rango. We'd never seen it, and we couldn't remember (or maybe we never knew) what to expect. But we'd heard it was funny. And, well, Johnny Depp.

So many, many great lines as we watched Rango "sinking deeper into the guacamole of his own deception" tonight.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Hot Dawg, Cool Dog

Crossed the first item off the list I made the other day.

Here I am about to order my very first (and very tasty) hot dog at the legendary J Dawgs, brainchild of BYU student entrepreneur Jayson Edwards. He opened his hot dog stand in 2004, moved to an actual storefront when he outgrew the stand, and now takes in a cool six figures a year!

Speaking of cool, check out this guy sporting the new BYU library 50th anniversary shirt! My mom commented on yesterday's post that she wanted to see a picture of me in the shirt. But Athens wears it so well, don't you think?

Monday, November 21, 2011


All year long Roger has been helping the library at BYU celebrate its 50th year in its current building. As the communications manager, he gets to be in charge of lots of creative stuff.

Today he brought home a cool purple t-shirt that one of his students designed. It's printed with gold. Yes, gold! And since purple isn't really his color, it's going to be mine. All mine!

Sunday, November 20, 2011


This is my good friend Carolyn's son, just returned from a two-year LDS mission in Germany. We went to see him this afternoon, but sadly he didn't model his lederhosen for us. I stole this picture from his mother's facebook page. Welcome home, Erik!

Saturday, November 19, 2011


Every once in a while, we'll buy something from the produce section at the grocery store purely to satisfy Jack's curiosity. Interesting looking gourds, hot chili peppers, the leaf pad of a prickly pear cactus.

Today Roger brought home a coconut.

It's smart to know your way around a coconut. Just in case you ever find yourself stranded on a desert isle.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Inspired by the Best

We had a lovely family date tonight listening to visiting artist Caroline Hartig play the clarinet at BYU. She was amazing! Click here to listen to some of her audio samples.

After her performance we had a chance to thank her, and she was so gracious when Jack asked to have his picture taken with her.

Jack has really taken to the clarinet in the past few months. His band teacher at school has been very encouraging and even talked with him the other day about taking up the saxophone next year, then joining the jazz band in ninth grade. I am a proud mama.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

(Don't) Say Cheese

This story happened yesterday, but I was too tired to put it into words. I'm feeling better today. Must have been the donuts! Also, this post will make a bunch more sense if you actually know Jack. Though even then it might not make any sense. Depends on the Jack you know.

Working at the jail is educating me about all sorts of things, not the least of which is the drug culture. (By the way, you might be surprised at how often the discussions I have in class with inmates who have been caught up in dealing turn into discussions about specific transferable skills that can be real assets in more legitimate pursuits).

Anyway, yesterday I learned about a new iteration of heroin that might be headed our way. It's cut with Tylenol PM and ends up a brownish, orange-ish powder. It's called cheese. Law enforcement has been instructed to watch for the word cheese, along with variations on the term, in text messages, online posts, etc.

As Jack and I drove home from school, I thought we'd better have a chat about it.

"I know, Mom. Don't do drugs."

"Oh, yeah. That, too. Definitely. But what I'm actually warning you about is using the word "cheese" when you post online or text your friends. You might want to drop the 'I like cheese' bit."

"Noooooooooooooooo! People always ruin the good things!"

Wish it wasn't so, Jack. But you can still like pie. At least for now.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Must. Write. Post.

I've been a bit under the weather today. Ended up asking Roger to take my place at UVU this evening. He collected the papers that were due today and gave my students an assignment to work on in lieu of listening to my scratchy voice and watching me sink to the floor in an exhausted puddle.

Feeling a bit sorry for myself. Thanks, Roger, for feeling sorry for me, too. And for picking up donuts on the way home.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Last Stretch

I'm a month and a half away from finishing my 2011 goal of blogging every day about experiencing something new or out of the ordinary! My original plan was to seek local adventure in lieu of the far flung adventure I long for but don't have much access to at this stage in my life.

The project has turned out differently than I expected--partly because I realized early on that I don't need additional excuses to eat out or spend money (boring topics after the first few anyway) and partly because I started a new job and it's taken up a good deal of time and emotional energy. No question, though, that I have had some very unique experiences, learned a whole bunch of things I didn't expect to learn, and met a crazy wide range of people over the past year.

Today we got a complimentary issue of Utah Valley Magazine in the mail. I've been perusing it, looking for some local adventure to round out my year. I'm making note of five new things to do or places to visit by the end of December.

My picks are a secret until I blog about them. But I can reveal that I'll be passing on the Princess Academy classes.

Monday, November 14, 2011


Got Jack dropped off at school by 8:00 a.m. and was off and running all day to meetings, work, classes until 9:00 p.m. I did spend a couple of hours at home after picking Jack up at school, but was mostly focused on getting papers graded.

I didn't even get the dishes done.

Then just before I ran off to teach my classes, I grabbed something from the fridge to drink in the car and realized that we'd need to replenish our milk supply before morning.

As I drove home from campus, I thought back on my day. Busy, but nothing out of the ordinary. Nothing blog worthy.

Then when I got home I got a wonderful surprise! We were picked up and vacuumed and swept. The dishes were done. The counter was scrubbed. The overflowing recycling bin was empty. And there was a fresh gallon of milk in the fridge.

I think I even heard birds singing.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Random-Stuff-Aphone

Jack recently saved up some money and ordered a mouthpiece so he can try out his friend's baritone. He and Roger cooked this up to use in the meantime.

Jack is calling it his random-stuff-aphone. After I shot the video, they added a blue funnel to the end to pump up the volume. Does that make it a more-random-stuff-aphone?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Home Again

Dad should be home sleeping in his own bed tonight. The MRI revealed a small blood clot in the part of his brain that controls speech.

He's okay for now and speaking clearly. Hopefully his doctors will keep this from happening again. Dad's got a lot of things to do, a lot of people to serve, and a lot of mountains to climb.

Friday, November 11, 2011

I'd Just as Soon Take a Pass

Except for a few outpatient procedures and a trip to the emergency room with a dislocated shoulder from a skiing accident a few years ago, I don't believe my 74-year-old father has ever been in the hospital.

And now he's spending his first night in one. My iron-man father, who at 74 can still heft an aluminum canoe up on his shoulders and carry it all by himself.

It's possible he's experienced a minor stroke, but we won't know for sure until he gets the test results. I talked with him a little while ago and he sounds upbeat, his speech only slightly slurred.

Please keep him in your prayers.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Brush with Fam(ous Hair)

This has been a crazy week so far and today was no exception! Here is a sampling of five unusual things that happened since I woke up this morning:
  • After teaching a class, I spent time researching how people can get copies of their criminal records here in Utah and how and when they can have charges and convictions expunged.
  • While we were out running errands, we stopped at SOS Drugs to get Jack some ice cream. A boy I hadn't seen before dished it up for him. I'm quite sure it was Justin Beiber. At least it was Justin Beiber's hair.
  • I met with the city administrator to discuss our not-yet-okayed-but-hopefully-it's-just-a-matter-of-time project to turn the old city building/library into a temporary art exhibition next spring before it's torn down.
  • We locked each cat in the bathroom individually with the litter box to collect "samples" to take to the vet this afternoon. It took several tries, but we achieved success just in time!
  • Jack fell asleep before Roger and I even got in our pajamas! Usually we are so tired and have to beg him to settle in so we can all sleep. (Though I confess that once I'm tucked in, I often stay up too late reading . . .)

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Homeostatic Imbalance

A go, go, go, go, go kind of day. Decided on the way to my classes at UVU tonight that I would stop and buy some Lifesavers for my students to help them get through a most exciting discussion about citing sources in a research paper. Saw a package of Swedish Fish and bought that as well. Ate them on the 20-minute drive to campus. Ate more on the 20-minute drive home. Totally out of character to eat so much sugar. Especially sugar that is not sweetening something chocolate. Seriously, a Swedish Fish binge? If I end up in a coma, you'll know why.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

My Turn

I've been lucky. We've had our cats for two years, and every time one of them has an--ahem--accident, Roger is the one who has found the evidence and cleaned it up.

Today was my first turn. I will spare the details, but I do believe this was the culprit:

Monday, November 07, 2011

In the Student's Chair

I spent four hours this morning sitting in the Adult Probation & Parole conference room in the basement of the state government building auditing a seminar for ex-offenders designed to help them find and keep jobs.

The good news is that the course I put together to teach inmates at the jail is consistent with what AP&P is teaching. The bad news is that I didn't learn any additional inside scoop on how help people with criminal records convince employers to take a chance on them.

A couple of hours later, I was sitting across the table from a man (a boy, really, only 18) who said he needed to get a job the day he gets out of jail. He says he has two weeks to come up with $350 to pay his rent so he doesn't lose his apartment. We talked about having realistic expectations and how he'd be smart to come up with a plan B. We brainstormed some plan B options.

A magic wand would sure be helpful. Or at least some inside scoop.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Too Early

I woke up an hour earlier than I wanted to this morning. Why? Why?!

I don't like this part of getting older. I hope that delicious extra hour of sleep I've always loved when we go off daylight savings time isn't a thing of the past for me.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

We've Come a Long Way, Sister

My friend Jenny asked if I was interested in attending the Mormon Women Project's Salon 2011 entitled "Crafting a Deliberate Life: Making Choices That Are Purposeful, Personal and Powerful" in Salt Lake tonight.

Because we rarely plan ahead in our family, I was happy to be free and spontaneous. (No irony there. Spontaneity is an important part of my deliberately crafted life. Well, okay. If my life was deliberately crafted it would be.)

The Mormon Women Project is creating a valuable space for us to explore ideas about how to use our individual gifts in the world, whether they are connected to motherhood or not.

Raging feminism, in the best sense of the word, on the ninth floor of the Joseph Smith Building, sponsored in part by the LDS church.

This is a new day.

Friday, November 04, 2011

No Going Back

We have crossed a line.

Jack has discovered both texting and video chatting with friends in the same week. I'm guessing that it all became so pronounced so quickly because one of his good buddies, who moved away when she was six, may have been grounded this week.

And yes. She. But I don't think we have crossed that line. Yet.

(P.S.: If you're reading this, Jack, I promise that when we--and by we, I mean you--do cross that line, it won't be my story to tell on my blog :)

Thursday, November 03, 2011

The Toast

Meet our new toaster.

I no longer have to toast our bread on one side, then flip it around and toast it on the other.


Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Al Rescate

I received a request in Spanish from one of the inmates at the jail on immigration hold. What to do with what amounts to first-year Spanish under my belt?

Google Translate to the rescue!

I just typed in his message to figure out what he was asking, then typed in my reply, and Google translated it into Spanish for me.

Lo siento. Yo no soy la persona a preguntar.

Google Translate was very helpful. Me? Not so much.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Sitting by the Phone

I spent the evening waiting for a call that never came from a company I've been tangling with for months. I've been trying to sort out where my brother's house is in the foreclosure process so that I can help facilitate a short sale. I'd love to help there be one less empty, deteriorating house in the world. Seems like it would be in everyone's best interest. It's crazy how difficult it's been.

Anyway, I needed to learn how to do a conference call on my phone so I could bring the buyer into the conversation. I practiced ahead of time and figured it out.

What shall I do with my new power?