Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Sister Mary Sue goes to Heaven

Mary Sue was pouting when tragedy struck. Much to the surprise of everyone else, she found herself in heaven (being Mary Sue, of course she expected to find herself there).

However, even she was surprised to see that there did not seem to be any men around where she was, though her hostess (if that is how one addresses a divine angelic presence engaged in that task) did not seem to find it remarkable.

"The men are babysitting. Surely you knew that in heaven men do all the child care?" "If you'd like, you can listen in on the men's channel."

Sister Sue had planned on listening in anyway, but didn't realize all she had to do was ask. As soon as she did, she decided it was a mistake. What a torrent of whining, begging and complaining children.
"Oh, men listen to and help process all the prayers. I know yours weren't that way, but most prayers are nothing but begging, whining and complaining, with a little gloss thrown in."

"But you don't have to worry, the children are told not to bother us."
Mary thought back to her last bishop. Of course no one paid him, everyone felt he was the one to complain to, and he knew he was going to be released and then forgotten after five or six years of service. Her husband had once joked that when Christ washed the apostles feet, that was the least of the clean-up he had to do. But Mary hadn't thought about that sort of thing carrying over to heaven.

No wonder the Church spent so much time training men to do that sort of thing, men had to get ready for an eternity of it in advance. But she worried that she might somehow get stuck with it at some point.
"It wouldn't be much like heaven if you had to put up with that, would it?"
Her hostess had read her mind. Mary Sue had been confused about what to expect, but this was starting to give her a real clue about why heaven was heavenly.
"Don't worry, the men do all the cleaning too.

"There are times in our lives when I think the Lord says, I gave you bread, but it wasn’t the kind of bread you wanted and because you keep thinking about the kind of bread you wanted you’ve turned my bread into a stone. I gave you a fish, but it wasn’t the flavor of fish that you wanted, and you’ve turned the fish into a serpent. Or I gave you an egg, but I cooked it differently from how you ordered it, and you think I’ve given you a scorpion."

From When Your Prayers Seem Unanswered by S. Michael Wilcox

Think about that next time you wonder about what heaven is and what conclusions to reach.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Beyond life -- a real question

We live our lives in an era where happiness and satisfaction actually have a time and place, where there is more than the search for survival. Life in our time is different in some ways from live in an age of survival. In many survival societies, alcohol and drugs are not significant. Marriage is an economic survival tool, not a source of fulfillment. Arranged marriages rule over romantic love and in such societies most people do not believe that passion is anything more than derangement.

What happens when survival is assumed? When what is argued about is really degrees of satisfaction. When division of labor and skill is no longer necessary in a household, what places to traditional roles have? No one needs to master technologies related to running a house or a family. We will not starve and go naked if I have not mastered the hunt or if my wife has not mastered making thread and cloth or how to tan leather. No one makes their own soap or candles or bricks in order to survive. Home canning is a hobby, not an essential. Cooking is an art, not a craft for most.

I do not fear starving, naked and cold in my old age if I do not have enough loyal children. If I want, I can work at McDonalds for minimum wage, rent a room in a basement, check out books and the internet at a library and keep a standard of living better than 99% of humanity's on social security. I can even get fat on that life style. Laugh, but the ability to get fat has historically been the sine non quon of success and wealth for thousands of years. In at least half of the world it still is.

So, what do we do with our lives when we can get and stay fat without marriage? What do we do when children are a luxury rather than an investment? What do we do when in many ways we have conquered the need to fight for survival on a daily basis?

The question becomes significant when you realize that what I am also really asking about is the celestial realm. Well, we may not get fat (in spite of all the Biblical phrases praising that -- I assume they are symbolic). In our lives we are facing the question of what we do when we are beyond life and have moved into living.

The answer is what separates the worlds of the next life, and what we do in this life. Do we seek pleasure, especially in the short run? That is the telestial kingdom.

Do we seek joy? That is the path beyond. And just what does that mean, from romantic love (I surely hope that is part of a celestial order, I do so love my wife), to seeking fulfillment in marriage rather than "just" survival (giving another layer to President Hinckley's comments about the need to have civil unions), to how we use our spare time or even how we blog, that is the question, the real question, that takes us past live and into living.

BTW, a great essay on the same topic is at: My theory of eternity

Saturday, November 24, 2007


Suzette Haden Elgin has devoted much of her life to peace.

She has a modest gateway at and a Live Journal blog, Ozarque's Journal.

It is easy to use the term "saint" to describe people, and then there are people who are saints.

Suzette is one.

It is just a coincidence, but she likes this charity too: Jesus Wants a Water Buffalo for Christmas

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Why you shouldn't go to law school

A blogger wrote:

I promised more detail about why the jobs that one might expect after law school aren't anything to look forward to.

Well worth reading. I'm glad I went to law school and I enjoy my life, but "Lawyers suffer from depression, anxiety, hostility, paranoia, social alienation and isolation, obsessive-compulsiveness, and interpersonal sensitivity at alarming rates."

Read the comments too:
2) My experience of law, both in school and with those in practice, is that there is not really a higher percentage of arrogant, picky, petty jerks in the law than in other professions with highly educated individuals. I see you are training to enter academia...wait until you see the amount of sheer pettiness, backstabbing, and arrogance that goes on in the ivory tower. My acquaintances in the medical field have similar experiences.

3) Any client driven position is going to involve dealing with a public that at times can be bitter, petty, and unpleasant to work with. I actually have some experience working with public interest lawyers, apart from my other work experience. Was the pay low? Yes... Were the offices a dump? Yes.... Were the clients at times petty and frustrating? Yes...but no more than people see with any customer service job. The lawyers I worked with went home pretty happy at night, regardless of the fact that some of their clients were angry jerks.

4) Your advice is still sound for the most part; college students should not use law school as the default "don't know what else to do; guess I'll go to law school" is way too expensive for that. However, tough work conditions and demanding clients (let me tell you, students can be pretty demanding at times!) exist in most professions, as do ambiguous moral situations (just ask investigative journalists who find their stories and investigation driven by bottom-line management requirements). People should realize that no career is a bed of roses when it comes to moral conflict and ambiguity, stress, arrogant colleagues, and problematic payscales.
For comparison, visit: The PhD Project: Business doctoral programs

I am curious about how people feel about the choices they made and the directions they took, both as to how those worked for them (I'm pleased with my choices and how they have worked out) and as to how they would recommend others think about them (I just suggested a PhD in business to another relative).

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Jordan F; A Goodrum; Misc.

The Stake President went off of his prepared notes for the Stake Priesthood Meeting, and stating that he had taken inspiration from Jordan F's lesson on James and talked to us about Peacemaking. It was heartfelt and heartwarming.

Earlier in the day A. Goodrum (who also spoke at the meeting) had made a comment in Sunday School today about how God repairs us, and I took it in the sense that a restorationist repairs a vintage or classic automobile or Alpina used to talk about restoring (often new) BMWs to what they should be.

It was a very moving thought, one I've been thinking about, and his comments tonight were no less impressive.

Finally, to cap it off, I was approached by a brother who had actually been there when I got hit, just checking on me. I'm still amazed that on what was basically an empty road at 7:00 a.m. on a Saturday I not only got hit, but someone from the church was a witness and wanted to check on me to make sure everything was ok (and had apparently talked to the police so that their name would have been on the report if I had gotten one).

I need to think more on what Alex had to say, and on peacemaking.

Some links on peacemaking:

Shangri-la Diet -- an update

Lots of water under the bridge, but the bottom line is that I've changed some things up in my routine. I did it to reduce the "ugh" factor when swallowing the oil, though it turns out to have coincided with some experiments done by others, and I'm pleased with where it has gone.

It is possible to blend the oil with lecithin or protein powder (the typical unflavored or lightly flavored with vanilla whey based protein available at every health food store, Albertsons or Central Market/Whole Foods), some water and a couple ice cubes and have the oil part basically disappear. I took the easy route and started mixing two tablespoons oil with one scoop of protein (about the same calories as a tablespoon of oil) and drinking it down with nose clips.

Now protein powder by itself just never worked for me. Has not seemed to work that well for most people who tried it. However, with the oil it worked just fine, and it meant that I was getting more than enough protein every day (26 grams just from the SLD calories).

I then ran across some discussions of natural high protein sources being used for SLD calories (SLD calories are flavorless calories consumed at least an hour away from any other flavor in order to move the set point). Unlike pure protein supplements, these are highly effective as SLD calories.

Currently I have the following for breakfast every day:

1 cup fat free cottage cheese
1 tablespoon oil (flax or walnut oil)
One scoop protein powder
1/4 cup chopped oats (for texture and fiber)
2 ice cubes (to make it blend better) and some water.

I blend it up and then drink it down noseclipped. I rinse with water afterwards and take my vitamins (well, half a multi-vitamin and some calcium) and then take the nose clip off.

I have been regulating my weight by the amount of exercise I get while keeping SLD calories stable. This particular mixture (the one I finally ended up with) has a few more SLD calories than the three tablespoons of ELOO I was taking, but it also replaces both the SLD calories and breakfast, so it is less total calories.

Much to my surprise, it has also resulted in a good deal of weight loss. I've lost eight pounds in the period of time I was expecting to lose a pound and a half. It has been an experience.

So, I get up early, blend the SLD calories and drink them down. An hour later I brush my teeth and get ready for the day. I don't worry about finding time to take the oil during the day and am not as focused on needing exercise to keep my weight balanced, though I am still running the stairs at work twice a day or so (I'm on the fourth floor and I'll run up the stairs after lunch every day and maybe once or twice after visits to the first or second floor -- it is just neat to be able to not only walk up stairs, but to be able to run up stairs).

If anyone is looking for a diet for the holidays, I'd suggest you consider the Shangri-la Diet (read about it on-line, no need to buy the book) and either use the traditional ELOO during the day or try one of the new breakfast approaches, like the one I am using. I would note that I suspect that with nose clips you could probably use powdered milk, water and oil or yogurt and oil just as easily. I just haven't tried that. I already eat yogurt at lunch and dinner most days and grew up on powdered milk ( btw, locally, protein powder is easier to find and cheaper).

Sunday, November 11, 2007

"Stirring the Pot"

I got that phrase from my sister.* In a family, it means to stir things up, generally to foment or create attention, often done by people who are completely unaware of what they are doing. e.g. "You may have the smallest family, but your children are the best" -- said to one family member while others are around and with implied criticism of the person with the small family.

Or consider: "Trisha, Jaydeen was complaining about the way you didn't have vegetables with your meals" said to Trisha when Jaydeen wasn't complaining, but had only mentioned that Trisha had a bar-b-cue.

Often, too often, the person who "stirs the pot" isn't trying to cause harm, but is only focusing attention on themselves, coloring everything that they say or that passes through them to generate or tell a better (i.e. more interesting) story.

The problem is that there is very real fall-out from that behavior in terms of hurt feelings, trouble and conflict, fall-out that far out-weighs the joy anyone has in telling a more interesting story or having a more riveting dialogue.

The solution to someone who stirs the pot is to learn to talk around the pot stirrer, often a person who is otherwise wonderful, but who had very dysfunctional communication patterns and who often attempts to centralize communication patterns to go through them. In fact, if there is someone in a family who steers communication so that it goes through them, you probably have someone who will stir the pot.

Compare pot stirrers to drama queens who draw attention to themselves, rather than use messages to draw attention to what they are saying. Many only stir the pot within a family or when communicating with only one sex (often only daughters and daughter-in-laws or only sons and son-in-laws). Whenever there is conflict created because of things people are hearing second hand, they need to stop and ask if someone is stirring the pot in the middle of the communication stream rather than someone on the other end causing a problem.

Once you've got the personality type identified, you will spot them at work as well as within families. They are the people who gossip to generate emotional response rather than to pass along information and the solution is the same. Find ways to talk around them.

(* I was asked if all my best ideas come from either my wife or my sister. No. I get some of them from my brothers. The term is used in other contexts as well, see: Stir the Pot as applied to political and community discourse. In a family it means keeping things stirred up, in politics it means bringing things back to the surface).

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Gordon B. Hinckley. "The Need for Greater Kindness."

There is no end to the good we can do, to the influence we can have with others. Let us not dwell on the critical or the negative. Let us pray for strength; let us pray for capacity and desire to assist others. Let us radiate the light of the gospel at all times and all places, that the Spirit of the Redeemer may radiate from us.

Good for me to remember just right now.

My Dream Car

Well, my car is still in the shop, though I'm grateful they did not total it.

The guys from Progressive came to visit me at work, and I was asked if I had any complaints. I confessed that having the rental company put me in a Cadillac DTS was a bit excessive. As a luxobarge it is so big it doesn't fit in the garage (think of a car that is as big as a Suburban and bigger than a Tahoe). 12 mpg didn't really grab me either.

So now I'm in a rental company Altima. Not as quiet, no satellite radio, seats hard as a rock, and it fits in my garage, gets 30+ mpg (I've got to drive to East Texas a couple of times this coming week) and it got me thinking.

I like my Volvo, but if I got a new car what would it be? Another S60 (I'm not old enough for an S80 yet)? A Minicooper convertible? Then I realized that what I really wanted was a Honda Civic.

If cost wasn't important, if status markers didn't affect me (and, sadly, they do), I'd buy a Civic. I may anyway at some point.

Everyone has to have a dream car, and I have to admit, that is mine, at least this week.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Accepting Kindness

One of the hardest things to do, sometimes, is to accept kindness. I always found that hard as I was used to helping others, not being helped. I had someone tell me that I owed it to other people to let them help me.

Now I'm in a position where I don't really need help, at least this week (last week, when I was run into by another person's car, I appreciated the guy who stopped and put on his blinkers to keep anyone else from running into us).

Some help I could do without, especially bad advice; some help did my heart good.

These days I'm back to trying to help others, and suggesting that they help someone else some day when they ask about paying me back. (As an aside, if someone offers to send you money and it really isn't a scam, you can always use a school or work address to have them send you a check -- that way you never disclose your home address and yet they get to help you).

It is all part of the circle of life, wherein we give and receive, being part of each other, sharing with each other.

Update 11/10/07

Though my mother ... she got out of the hospital today. I wanted to bring her lunch. She was having none of it, "after all, we aren't invalids here" is the line I heard.

Gee mom, dad is doing well, but hospice still visits and you just had knee surgery. Darius (my nephew) is still in the boot for his foot. Yes, Michelle is in good health, but (well, sometimes I have better luck than others getting people to let me help them).

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Not what I was planning, getting hit by a car.

I was driving down Custer when someone came across five lanes of traffic and a median to hit me in the side of my care. They just did not see me. It wasn't that bad, just a moderate to low velocity collision -- my car can't be driven but the side airbags did not go off. When I was younger I'd have shaken it off, instead it left me shaken up and sore.

I went to a massage therapist. I'll follow it up with a hot bath and soak tonight. I think other than being pretty shaken up, a little bruised and embarrassed by the rental car (all they had available was a Cadillac, a black Cadillac, so the insurance company approved it, but did they think about how old it would make me feel to be driving a brand new super boat of the road?), I'm ok. Driving a car bigger than my wife's Tahoe, but ok.

[edit] Sunday, a little sore, but I hope to be back to normal in a couple more days.

Telling my mistress about my wife

Because they are the same person, it makes it easier in some ways. But there are times I just need to talk with someone about my wife. So I talk to her, not as my wife, but as my best friend or my mistress or a confidant.

Everyone has something important they need to talk about and that they find it hard to find the right audience for, where most people just wouldn't understand.

With me it is just how happy and meaningful my wife makes my life. How much she really means to me. But it feels awkward to talk to her about it, so I talk about her with someone who just happens to be the same person as she is. That lets me open up and express myself in ways that are more verbose than just telling my wife that she is wonderful.

I don't know if it makes sense, but it works.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Equality then and now

David John: “I am a firm believer in equal suffrage for the sexes; for the reason that they are created and endowed equally, and are equally competent to use the sacred ballot for the general interest of our government.”
An excerpt from a longer and better collection than I had seen before.

When you think just how long God struggled to get that point across, you have to wonder at what else he is trying to teach the saints that they have not yet encompassed.

I asked J.L. for some advice and ...

I asked for some recommendations on books and such, and the response told me I needed to do a lot of reading before I could ask the right question. I was two classes short (I had more than enough hours, but I lacked a couple required classes) of a minor in philosophy, and my brother was just about ABD when he switched career paths. But I realized I didn't know enough to ask the right questions.

So I've started reading.

Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar: Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes
Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar: Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes

Is where I started. I'm now reading:

The Problems of Jurisprudence
The Problems of Jurisprudence

With a number of books stacked up on my "read this next" shelf (also have a "new" edition of the Odyssey and the Iliad to read, as recommended by my nephew Roark). Why Law and Economics Failed in Germany got me really started and I'm very much enjoying it. I'm part of the "law as social contracts" sort of crowd, but it is a lot of fun to be reading different perspectives (if things just agree with me, what is the point of reading them?).

I figure in a couple of months I'll be able to come back and ask the question again, this time the right way (I was looking for some recommendations of books to read).

Have you ever asked a question and then realized you didn't know enough to ask the question the right way?

I did, and it has been great.