Friday, December 28, 2007

49° North

49° North was an interesting experience. We were talked into going skiing, the first time for Heather and Rachel, my first lessons and Win's first skiing in some time.

Texans are friendly, but the people at 49° North were just delightful. The lessons were great, by the third day they had us skiing in blue and green runs (though Win did one black diamond on her second day with her lessons).

For about a hundred dollars we got three days of skiing, equipment rentals and lessons. The group lessons had 2-3 students in a group and one or two instructors per group.

The people were just so very nice. Short lines (the only crowds were looking for tables in the lodge -- but lots of people just brought their own food, we did after the first day, though we bought drinks and hot chocolate all three days).

A great Christmas present. I'm not sure how long the place will stay so uncrowded, it is only fifty minutes north of Spokane, everything from beginner slopes to double black diamonds and the nicest people I've met in a long time. People that genuinely pleasant heal the soul.

Rachel wants to go skiing every day now (we had to explain to her that there isn't skiing in Dallas, just like we don't have snow like this). I don't blame her. The people who taught her lessons were as kind and friendly as the people who taught ours.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Courtney (February 16, 1992 to December 26, 1993)

Courtney (February 16, 1992 to December 26, 1993), I thought of you today, so very much, and so wish I could have had you here to share this day.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Some interesting links // a story

Suggest some interesting links in the comments.

My mother-in-law tells the story of when she gave a class on candy making. One of the sisters asked her for private lessons, so she went to the sister's house and they made candy together, very successfully.

At church the sister cornered her to tell her that the recipe did not work well.

"Did you use two cups of sugar?"

"No, I wanted fewer calories, so I used only one."

"Did you use a half cup of condensed milk?"

"No, I used skim milk instead, it is better for your health."

"Gee, no wonder the candy was bad, you did something, but it wasn't my recipe."

She told me that the incident taught her that when following the gospel we need to follow the recipe before we start complaining. Too often in life we change the recipe and then wonder why the results are not what we expected.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

A view of leaders

Most leaders in any religion have several narratives that are a part of their lives.
  1. Many whom they see with doubts are struggling with serious personal problems or issues.
  2. Most have served in capacities (such as missionaries) where they have seen God bring people into the fold, and they see that in their current calling.
  3. Most have dealt with many, many people who left the fold and have now returned, bringing a renewed testimony of the faith with them.
  4. Most have been very successful within their faith and as it connects to their personal lives.
  5. Most have learned to associate resentments and other problems with self deception which can cause them to undervalue pain, or to see issues as a reflection of personal problems rather than external ones.

Are all doubts caused by serious personal problems? No. Is success proof of intrinsic merit and the grace of God? I reject neo-Calvinism in all forms. Are all hurt feelings, pain and resentments the result of self-betrayal and self deception? Obviously not.

But those are the personal narratives that any leader is likely to bring to the table, and to deal with leaders, to be helped by them in grief, to understand them, it helps to know those five things. Especially since with grief, the loss of a child or other serious pain, you already fall within the category of someone with a serious personal issue, albeit one that calls out for love and sympathy.

My own advice? Be gentle with them as you would hope for them to be gentle with you.

Friday, December 21, 2007

There are no words

Brigham Young and Joseph Smith wrote a number of times about how our language limited our understanding. That when God spoke to us, we were limited by our words, our experiences and the tools we had to work with and that an important part of allowing God to speak to us was expanding the tools we had to hear the divine with.

We are often caught up in the struggle between denotation and connotation. Between indentity and meaning, and in grief, so limited by the things we do not know. There are no words that suffice sometimes.

So we struggle. When God says "worlds without number" does God mean infinite, or does God mean more than the current audience would count, or does God mean an indefinite number of worlds (the "I've lost count" number in the math joke) or is it a poetic reference? All, none, some, or does it really matter? Can the right words help when we are in pain? Can those without the right words do much but spread ignorance?

I was thinking about the concept on the plane to my in-laws, struggling with a way to put into words the way that words are not enough. Then, last night, I read another story of grief, where words failed the author and those who spoke to him revealed only their own lack of knowledge, their own failures of language. As I read, it came to mind that there was little I could say to the author or others right then, there are no words sometimes. There are no words.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Wanting less

Our office party this year ran under budget. People ate a good deal less than expected, my boss explained, as I got a refund.

Which led to our talking about the fact that we can all eat as much as we want, when we want, of pretty much what we want, without it affecting our budgets. One of the secretaries talked about how after her child's birthday they bundled up the gifts and took them to Goodwill, the child already had too much "stuff" and they knew that there were others who needed it more.

My birthday is the 19th. My youngest child's birthday is on the 21st. At her party (held to fit in her friend's schedules) parents had been told that their child coming was gift enough. We meant it. When asked by a Catholic secretary what I would like for Christmas, I suggested that she light a candle for me. I'm swamped with books that I'm excited about reading and I have more than enough.

Growing up, living in trailer parks, knowing hunger from time to time, I would never have thought that life would resolve has it has.

I want more of people, more of happy times with people, just less of things that distract. More memories, fewer souvenirs.

I wonder what other people want for Christmas, what their hearts truly need.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Ham for Chanukah

There I was thinking that the "Mocha for Mormons" missed the point ("it is mocha, not coffee").

Hello Gorgeous

"Hello gorgeous" -- it is how I answer the phone when my wife calls.

Well, I'm in a mediation, our side has four claims representatives and three attorneys and she calls and I answer my cell phone. Next thing I know, everyone is looking at me.

It is getting late, one of the other guy's wife calls, and he tries that same answer. Immediate disconnect, he jokes "she must have thought it was a wrong number" but he calls back and stays on task.

The third guy's wife called (we went really late, missed a lot of things, it was a Friday night). "Hello gorgeous" he goes and doesn't miss a beat.

By the end of the night everyone had decided to adopt the nick name I have for my wife for their own. It was kind of neat.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Seasons of the heart, Christmas

I've been writing out the personal notes for Christmas cards. This year has been a blitz of presents (Win made over a hundred personalized glass casserole dishes, packaged them up and mailed most of them, and that was only a start). As the season progresses, with memories and everything coming in, makes me want to just find a way to disappear and resurface in March. There are only so many presents to give away, so much activity to interpose, and I can no longer hide behind food.

Jessica was so excited about being baptized. I've not known a kid not quite seven who was so enthused about getting to eight to be baptized. Now, Rachel is about to turn eight and it just brings back and lot of feelings. We head towards Christmas, where Courtney died on the 26th of December and Rachel was admitted to the hospital then, and it is a cold month, in so many ways, and this year, more than many before, a very hard month to face.

But, we got a tree, got it decorated, had the pets eat everything on the bottom few branches, and we have lights up (out of reach of the pets outside).

Wish I had better advice for weathering the seasons of the heart.

BTW, ethics, fair trade and everything else aside, is a link to the best granola bars I've ever found.

I've simplified my modified Shangri-la calories as well.

2 ice cubes, one cup of water, 1/4 cup oatmeal, 1.5 scoops protein powder, 2 tablespoons extra light olive oil, blend well (using a blender), drink right after getting up, no flavor for an hour, then I brush my teeth and go to work. It is simple, easiest two hour block of time to find (since I'm spending an hour of it sleeping), replaces breakfast and seems to work well. The powder binds up the oil and it is the most gag free approach I've found. A number of people use nose clips, but if you use Designer Whey, unflavored, it is pretty much flavor free with or without the nose clips.

Contains enough protein that you don't have to pay special attention to getting enough protein while losing weight.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

When is enough, enough?

Well, to each their own, apparently. I'm in the above category. My wife of eleven years stands in the opening to our living room this past weekend, arms crossed and brows furled. I already knew I wasn't going to like this conversation. It opens with a question about the bag of ON serious mass I have in the closet. And how many things do I need to exercise, the weight gainer, protein powders, protein bars, etc. She wants to know when it is going to stop, when will I be big enough. I don't want to get mad, but...we all normally are our own worst critics. We never see ourselves as others do. I am by no means big (5'07", 175 - 180lbs depending on time of day), but yes, certainly bigger than when we got married.

If I were guessing, I'll bet she likes what she sees, but ...

She was probably happy with what she saw ten pounds ago. You've hit the point she is happy about you, now she wants to know just how much further this goes, how much time you are taking away from her, how much more money you are going to spend.

Does that make any sense? Kind of like when a guy has a hobby. An hour a week, might make your wife smile and have her encouraging you. Forty hours a week, she is going to throw tantrums.

Five dollars a week? She may not even notice. Five hundred dollars a week, a surgeon making two million a year can get away with it, but the rest of us are going to be putting a major strain on a relationship.

She is really asking is this a supplement to your relationship or a replacement? When is enough really enough (and when does it become too much)?

From a discussion about wives and hobbies (this one by a weightlifter/ bodybuilder, but) the principle applies across the board to self improvement and hobbies and projects. It is important to ask yourself how what you are doing comes across. Is it a supplement to your life or is it a replacement for a part of it?

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Hoping for my children

Our school district has a strongly held policy against moving kids up a grade. Instead they attempt to find some other accommodation or work-around. That finally failed with Rachel and she was moved, in spite of her objections. She is finding it easy, and as she makes friends it isn't so bad. The real test will come when they have to decide what to do about skipping fourth grade (she is already working into the fourth grade material and beyond). She already looks so short with the third graders. I'm grateful Girl Scouts gives her a chance to hold on to her friends.

Some parents have asked me for what kind of drills or special training Rachel gets. The stronger a policy gets, the more someone notices when it isn't followed, and this is a competitive school district. Sigh. Mostly benign neglect I have to admit. Some edutainment, lots of books in the house. We bought some flash cards, I've always meant to use them. We found an ADD medication that didn't cause seizures or other bad side effects. Some social psych help really helped her adjust (but had nothing to do with school work).

Socialization is what we have worked on. It can be so hard when you do not connect with those around you. If you do not think the same way, at the same speed, if you disconnect, it can be so hard. There isn't any trick to Rachel moving up. The big trick would have been to find a way to keep Rachel in second grade, which is what was her heart's desire.

I worry about my children. It is not easy to be beautiful or to be brilliant. If you do not embrace the world, beauty only draws attention you would like to avoid. I'll have to write about my oldest some time. She is beautiful, and aside from the amusement at discovering it, it is as much of a problem as Rachel's brilliance, especially as she has no malice and has been slowly understanding the dynamics. It was easier when she hid it.

I guess every father worries for his children. It is easy to think that brilliance, beauty or talent are answers. If only it were so. A good heart and the ability to relate to others, since I was very young, that is what I believed in.

Love doesn't come on flash cards and it isn't easy to quantify or explain as a goal. Little things are easy (always trying to remember to have money to give to the Salvation Army, small kindnesses here and there), but trying to focus on this as important is why in raising my children it so often seems that everything else gets left to benign neglect. Charity is the core of what I hope for my children, the one gift that I have faith never fails. Everything else pales in comparison.

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.

Monday, October 29, 2007

If your children ranked you, how would you do?

The following is a ranking of law schools using the elements that students found important. Not how the students would rank them, but how an outsider would rank them if they used the criteria that students found important.

I got that chart from an interesting blog, that also had the following to say:
Two weeks ago, I blogged the lists of the Top 10 law schools in eleven categories posted on Princeton Review's web site in connection with its publication of the 2008 edition of Best 170 Law Schools. The rankings are the result of Princeton Review's survey of 18,000 students at the 170 law schools, along with school statistics provided by administrators.

Last week, with the help of my assistant, I extracted from the individual profiles of the 170 law schools all of the available data and blogged the Top 25 and Bottom 25 schools in each of six categories:

* Academic Experience
* Admissions Selectivity
* Career Preparation
* Professors: Accessible
* Professors: Interesting
* Study Hours

Visit the link to have the bullet points work to send you to the sources

Interesting, in many ways this is "ratings, as they would be if students controlled them."

But that got me to thinking. Did you ever wonder how you would be rated by your children if their criteria were used to rate you? Would you find something to learn from it?

The question isn't how your children rate you, but how you would fare if rated by the things they find important.

I learned something from thinking about the rankings in those terms, applying the same perspectives to myself.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

First solutions are almost always wrong.

El Ninos lead to rain in Texas (and drought other places). If they become more common, Texas could well encounter dramatic climate and habitat changes similar to the result of settlers stopping fires (so that instead of the state being mostly a vast plain it has huge forested areas).

One of the possible sources of that is increased carbon dioxide.

As noted:

Underground coal fires in China alone produce as much carbon dioxide annually as all the cars and light trucks in the United States. Fires in other countries, including the United States, are smaller but still add significantly to the total burden.


In simulations you often look for solutions that are not obvious. One country spends 100 billion going after terrorists. A competing country spends no more on security but spends 100 billion reducing drunk driving. Each reduces the addressed threat by 50%. The country being assaulted by terrorists may have ignored them, but comes out ahead of the other in total loss prevented -- that sort of thing.

In fact, a general rule is that in most complex situations, the immediate steps that people think of are usually the wrong ones. Something I got from a review of computer aided facilitation (a neat software package a vendor was offering) was that as one tracked the initiatives, there was not a single successful one that had a resolution that was a first round suggestion or approach.

The informal rule I gathered from going over the data was that first thoughts are always wrong.

Regardless of what history tells us is the truth on climate change, odds are that the first responses that come to mind will turn out to have been the wrong ones.

For those who have asked about my Dad, he has been doing much better recently. I know that things are unpredictable, but it is nice to see him able to walk for short distances, to be oriented and not in pain. I'm grateful for however long it lasts.

"genetically inferior" -- conclusively disproven

"The striking result we find is that there are no racial differences in mental functioning at age one, although a racial gap begins to emerge over the next few years of life."

In other words, the gap in test scores appears to be completely cultural and nurture over nature.

For the paper, visit here.

What strikes me about much of the racist pap I encounter is that it is very, very similar to the way women were portrayed a hundred years ago. People laughed at Brigham Young when he said women were as fit to be lawyers, accountants, politicians and doctors as men. He was derided for emphasizing the need to educate women. Yet now:

A phrase initially coined by the Economist, womenomics refers to the increasing purchasing and physical power of women on the economic and cultural front.

The number of women scientists has soared, there are more female graduates than male, girls outstrip boys at A-Level and even traditionally male markets are succumbing to female touch.

A recent Ofcom report found that women aged 25-35 now spend more time using the internet than men.

If you look at medical schools, they are dominated by women, many law schools are more than 50% female and in the bloggernacle the most famous PhD candidate in philosophy is female.

All of that stems from cultural changes and cultural inputs.

Of which, one of the most important cultural input may be religion: "youth with religiously active parents are less affected later in life by childhood disadvantage than youth whose parents did not frequently attend religious services."

Thursday, October 18, 2007

October being Pregnancy & Infant Loss (PAIL) Awareness month

I just learned that. I'm amazed, sometimes, at how much I do not know. So many things.

For more:


An interesting blog post that covers PAIL and more.

Resistance and Compassion

I'm still thinking it over, but when you feel an urge to help someone, or to react to something, you can either react with resistance or compassion. Resistance means to betray your better self, compassion means to feel the love of Christ and to let charity have place in you.

The one is self-betrayal, the other life.


You may wonder why so many reviewers seem to prefer 7 and 8 megapixel cameras over the new 12 megapixel cameras.

The answer is simple. The larger size doesn't make a difference for most picture quality, seems to introduce some noise at some settings, and results in sensors that take 2-3 seconds to turn on and about 3 seconds between normal shots. What is not to like about increased delay, quality problems and greater expense.

Canon PowerShot SD850 IS 8.0 MP Digital Elph Camera with 4x Optical Image Stabilized Zoom
As for cameras like this one, that are at the top of the preferences of many reviewers, the trade off is between the slightly larger (and these are slightly larger), more expensive and the less expensive and smaller cameras that do a job most people find about the same.

Should be interesting to see what next year's technology brings.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Put on the whole armor of God

Usually discussions on this scripture is complete with a picture of a knight in shining armor and some darts from a dart board. That does not really help you to think about what it means.

Paul was writing to Greeks in a Greek City State. They were under the Romans, but not that far from their heritage. The "full armor" was the complete heavy armor that at one time every citizen was required to own. (Citizen applying to fully enfranchised men). There was universal compulsory military service for citizens. Each citizen was required to own, maintain and practice in a complete set of heavy armor, complete with a "professional grade" shield.

To "put on the whole armor of God" means many things, but among them it means to be a full citizen in the kingdom of God and to do your complete duty.

To "stand fast" in such a context is the duty a man in a phalanx has to stand shoulder to shoulder and not break ranks, no matter what comes his way -- for the side that fails to stand fast is the side that loses.

Fiery darts doesn't apply to the things you throw at a dart board and probably doesn't refer to lawn darts either (the military equivalent). It might apply to the large darts thrown by scorpions (a type of field artillery) or to pilum (a thrown javelin that could go through as many as three men in a row), but it probably meant tubes full of greek fire -- tubes that would roast a man alive in his armor or consume a wooden shield and the man behind it -- but that the heavy shield a full citizen (vs. a skirmisher or other auxiliary) used, triple thick bullhide, would shed, if you only stood fast.

Thinking of men, standing shoulder to shoulder, facing the ancient equivalent of napalm (except it burned underwater) and safe only if they held position together and stood fast, is an interesting image. It is a call to accept citizenship in the kingdom of God and to stand fast in spite of whatever terrors one faces.

I hadn't thought of that until today's lesson, when just what a "fiery dart" was came up and I got to thinking of standing fast in the context of a Greek citizen.

Someone said I should write this down, so I am.

George Phillies for President

Well, at least for Libertarian Candidate for President.

I'm not a libertarian, but I thought I'd endorse George, not because of his politics, but because he has written some interesting science fiction and fantasy -- and labeled it science fiction and fantasy. How many candidates do you know who have been honest about admitting what they are writing or saying is fantasy?

Friday, October 12, 2007

My Dad and the Pope

My dad once had a private audience with the Pope. This was a long time ago, when he was still young, just after the Korean War got started. My grandfather was transferred to the embassy in Greece. There you could find the Greek Orthodox Patriarch pretending not to speak English (he had a degree from an Ivy League school) and putting pressure on people to support his return to Asia Minor. He would talk with the young guys on the embassy staff when he was bored.

But the Pope? Especially if you aren't Catholic?

But my dad was very well behaved, so when an Ambassador's daughter needed an escort, he got tapped. They got in line and she had her private audience with the Pope and my dad was attentive and polite. He was ready for anything except when the Pope turned to him and said "and you my son, do you have any questions for me?" and gave him an expectant look. At that point my dad realized that every other group had everyone in it ask the Pope a question. Dad had just expected to be ignored.

He asked his general purpose question: "Does God speak to man" and "How did you know God had called you?" The Pope assured him that God did not speak to man and had not for quite some time. He stated that he knew he had been called when one of the hundreds of doves at the Vatican had landed on his shoulder during the elections. My father nodded politely and returned to being part of the woodwork as an escort.

The Pope's answer had been similar to the Patriarch's who had told him that God did not speak to man, but that since he was the smartest and best prepared person in the world, it was his duty as the Patriarch to lead the people and do his best and work towards miracles (which he achieved, restoring the authority and position of the Patriarchy post World War II).

I must note that my dad was very young, and looked younger, at that time. These are casual conversations by important men, speaking in passing to a young American who was close to being part of the furniture, not in depth discussions held with anyone of significance.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Never Forgetting

My husband’s boss at the time, however, came to him one day and said, “I was sorry to hear that your baby died. Um. Well. You know, these things happen, and we move on.” Then he turned around and walked away.

My husband was stunned. Surgeons are known for their lack of tact, but this seemed pretty insensitive. This conversation became a running joke between us–whenever something bad would happen, we would just say “these things happen, and we move on.” As time has passed, I have come to see this conversation a little differently though.

From a moving post and a well thought out comment. Especially the bottom line:

We felt overwhelmed by the love of our Heavenly Father at the time of Liz’s birth and death. As I listened to the talk given by Elder Tenorio during the Sunday afternoon conference, I understood a little how he felt when his children died. The blessings of the temple are extremely comforting. Even though it was hard to lose our child and to be faced with the possibility that we might never have children, the concept of eternal families enabled us to move forward with our lives.

At the time that Liz died, I didn’t want the pain to go away. I thought that if I stopped hurting, that I would forget. I was wrong. As I have “moved on” the pain has lessened, but I have not forgotten our sweet baby. Today we talked to our daughter for the first time about her sister. We showed her the baby blanket and Liz’s picture and we told her that she has a sister that lives with Heavenly Father. My husband even baked a cake for Liz’s birthday and we had a little party. I was amazed at how much our small daughter understood. She was excited to have another sister and kept talking about how she has two sisters–Lynn and Liz. It was one of the sweetest experiences I have ever had.

Very well said.

Notes on Elder Tenorio:

If I were giving away books ....

I've often thought that I would like to give away books to BYU students. Kind of like a book of the year. Not the way the Honors Program somewhat did it (by assigning a book for everyone to read) but just by giving every student a book every year -- knowing full well that most would end up for sale on as used books.

What books would I give the students (books they might not otherwise read)?

Year One a book by Elgin
Year Two
Year Three
Year Four

I don't have the money to give books away like I would want to, but those are books I've been thinking of that teach lessons that people are just not going to learn from the usual books, the usual classes, the usual experiences.

What books would you like to have everyone have a chance to read?

Saturday, October 06, 2007

"It was only a girl who died, that doesn't matter,"she said

If you had lost a son, then you would know grief. All you've buried is worthless daughters, what do you know of loss!
That is a real statement from a real person, who will remain nameless. They felt the way they felt with some vehemence. Why? Was it because they were narcissistic? Was it because they were misogynistic? Was it because they were so ego driven and competitive they had to win in any venue?

Who knows, who cares? The reality is that they were in grief, and severe grief makes logical paupers of us all. None of the obvious responses to such a statement helps anyone. Not the poor parent driven somewhat beyond reason by the death of a child. They don't need deconstruction or enlightenment or re-education just right now.

People watching do not need to see someone in pain given more pain. They might be vicious enough or callous enough to enjoy it, but they don't need it and no one should have the desire to give them a show. Even more, a person on the other end of such a statement isn't any closer to serenity or charity if they forget to be sad and patient, to mourn with those who mourn.

It is important when dealing with others who grieve not to let it become competitive. It is important not to let attempts to compete or dominate by others, afflict us or affect us. Remembering to treat competitive statements as just one more way people are driven past reason by grief and evidence helps me remember that they need help and love. That people really need love and patience is a useful perspective.

It is also one that it is useful to let carry over into your life outside of grief. Grief, especially the severe grief of losing a child, is just terrible stress, writ large (the phrase "writ large" just means just bigger and worse). If you take just a moment, it is easy to see people as being deformed by stress -- remembering that one meaning of to be deformed is to be pushed out of your natural shape.

Rather than thinking of those who say terrible things as malformed (better than using "deformed" in the sense of formed wrong or inherently defective), if you see them as deformed by stress and life, you can also see them as able to be restored by love and patience.

Having love and patience is what charity is really about. In many ways it is just taking the time to help our brothers and sisters, and to help ourselves, be restored to our proper form, undeformed by stress. As my dearest wife pointed out to me, hearing such statements, and their cousins, should be a reminder that people need love and patience, not a reason to abandon it.

Have I been patient long enough?

That is an interesting question to ask yourself. In some cases, such as physical violence, the answer is clear and direct. You should not be patient at all. If you date someone and they get physically violent, you need to leave at a run and never return. Will they recover or change? Maybe, but never with you if they've been violent with you.

But in other cases, 99% of what we encounter in our lives, the answer is that if you are asking the question then you haven't been.

Too often we have been part of whatever the problem is, and not outside, nourishing and helping, anywhere near long enough. One thing I've gotten from Leadership and Self Deception: Getting Out of the Box is that a belief I've had, that you can make a difference if you just take the time it takes, is true -- and that many, many times, we have not taken the right steps, in the right way for anywhere near enough time.

On thing grief has done for me is teach me that things take time. It has also taught me that so many things I thought or think I am doing are not the same the way I see them as others see them. I see that so often with others that I am certain that it must apply to me as well, and that just like they do not see it in themselves, I can't see it in myself.

The approach of patient, caring love seems like the only answer.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

On telling the truth

This post is about the truth, as people see it. I'm using something that has come back into the news, without any conclusions about the conflict in the news, as an illustration and to begin the discussion. If you deal with people who have experienced a great deal of grief, often they do not have the same memories or the same experiences, they seem to have different truths. Who is right? Who is telling a lie? Well, it is not that simple. For example, consider this current story in the news:
(excerpting from) Justice Thomas in the News: Two Different Reactions

One is from Sherrilyn Ifill (Maryland).

The other is from readers of the right-wing Volokh Conspiracy blog, as reported by Orin Kerr (George Washington).

Everyone has their conclusions. However, I was reading 1191302418.shtml and it drew my attention where it was addressing these stories, in part, and someone said:
That's funny. I'm disposed to favor theories where both parties tell the truth, and that's what I think happened here.
What about a theory where both parties are telling the truth? That thought made me think. I've seen a number of cases where I think that all the witnesses were telling the truth as they knew it -- even if they differed dramatically on facts. This situation of people telling what they think is the truth, but having radically different views of the facts happens not only in situations involving severe grief but in many other events in life.

When dealing with such a situation, it is too easy to conclude that some or all of the people involved are blinded by emotion, lying or self deluding or stupid or lazy or have some other gross defect when it may very well be that they are telling the truth as they understand it. Often times the key to resolving pain and discord is not so much "proving" something but instead helping people to see and understand better or looking at things until you have a perspective that allows for all the stories to be part of the truth.

To take an example almost everyone has lived through: Is a child being put to bed at 9:00 p.m. facing an act of love or oppression? It may matter what the motivation is, it may matter the age of the child, many things may matter. Yet, many times the "truth" as the various parties see it is vastly different and doesn't yield to argument or evidence, it yields only to learning and perspective.

Many times if we feel others are blameworthy for a belief or not telling the truth it may be that they are telling a lie. I see that all the time. But it may also be that they are telling the truth as they understand it and that all of the things one might do to dissuade someone from holding to a lie are only going to offend and alienate those who are trying to find and tell the truth and drives everyone further from finding the complete truth.

That is well worth thinking about.

I've tried to use examples other than from law cases to avoid the temptation to tell "war stories" that probably only another lawyer would appreciate. But many times in law suits until you understand how and why the other side thinks they are telling the truth you haven't begun to understand the case or how to resolve it. That rule is even more important for third part neutrals and mediators or for those of us trying to live life and resolve the conflicts we deal with.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

My other blog ... updates

I blog on negotiation and related topics at Recently I've had updates about free MCLE (that is continuing education for lawyers) webcasts, free books from the University of California on dispute resolution and teaching integrity as a skill.

Been busy all the way around.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

So, since law school, recent events, Arbinger

After law school I ended up working locally for a year or so, met my wife, got a job in Texas, got married and spent about fifteen years in Wichita Falls, Texas. It was very kind to us and the people there were delightful. I first employer retired and left the state and I ended up in a practice group that I really enjoyed. We only moved because we could no longer take living in a city where we had buried so many children, but we return from time to time.

In Dallas we bought a house near some friends (their daughter was Jessica's best friend and we went to her bat mitzvah), I commuted down 75 to work while the construction continued, and became an equity partner at the firm inside of six months. I eventually left for a life style that let me work only five days a week and walk my youngest to school almost every morning. I engage in "almost HIT" weight lifting (I recently took about eight-nine months off to deal with some rotator cuff injuries I had in Judo -- though I did win a second place at a tournament before that happened), long walks with my wife and a bit of blogging.

I keep trying to write. Most of what I end up writing is motions for summary judgment. A judge kind of makes me think of peer review with a vengeance, though I consciously write in a style that attempts to make the conclusions seem simple and obvious. It takes a lot of drafts and I have Blake Hyde to thank for teaching me a lot in that regards.

A dream job, if I'm not already in it, would be teaching negotiation, ethics and ADR -- I've enjoyed teaching, but I really would like more time to research and to write. I've published about forty times, mostly accessible material, though I had one article that has the strangest last couple-three footnotes (no one warned me that they didn't want 100 or more footnotes, but the editor really liked the article, so they solved the problem by compressing the last few footnotes together).

I've become convinced that integrity is a skill that you teach rather than an attribute, though in our current environment it is often just a matter of luck. I think integrity needs to be taught as a skills set, in connection with the appropriate rules.

My parents live down the street from me. My mom is thinking of selling her house when my dad dies (he is doing worse physically, but a lot better mentally since my sister-in-law Michelle came for a visit. As I told her, she is an angel who saved his life, at least for a while). He is in the end stages of Parkinson's, but medication now lets him sleep most of the day and he often has two or three good hours. We take turns with him on Sundays, today was my day and it was a real pleasure.

Much of what we do is try to provide a normal life for our children. The youngest knows that she has three sisters who died, but it does not cast a shadow over her life. It is hard when we see her playing soccer. Her hair has grown out again and even in much different team colors it brings back a lot of memories. But it is also creating new memories, and both old and new memories are very sweet to me.

As an after word, I've been reading Leadership and Self Deception: Getting Out of the Box and I've noticed one small problem with it.

I find it terribly easy to look at blaming behavior, complaining, hurt feelings, anger and such and
see them as manifestations of "being in the box" or as symptoms of self deception. As a result, the response to many of those types of behavior is to encourage people to get over their self deception rather than look at their claimed problems. I can see that as appropriate, yet not satisfying. It really does give me a different perspective on some sorts of complaints, and I'm still thinking about it.

That aside, (as I'm not sure it is really a problem) I do like the fact that the book promotes the idea that leaders have to change themselves to change those they deal with, rather than inflicting change on others in order to manipulate them -- and makes that obvious and inescapable. I suspect Covey would be appalled at the number of times his principles are endorsed and promoted by leaders who have no intent of following Covey's precepts themselves (and the worker bees the consultants preach to can tell that) -- all because those using them don't get the fact that the change has to come from the top. In Leadership and Self Deception it is inescapable that the only place that change is effective is from the top.

That is revolutionary.

Thanks again Naiah.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

The random effect of memory

There are times when the echoes of memory catch me so short. Little things, like fabric softener. Jessica was allergic to it, so we quit using fabric softener. After she died, eventually we started using it again, not to mention the advertisements and the times you can smell it on the wash of others. Usually it passes me by, but sometimes it catches me unaware.

I live with many memories, some very precious, most very happy. But sometimes, in grief, the strangest things are bittersweet.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

My law school experience

I was studying before class, in the class room, while another student played Chopin. Pleasant enough music to study by. He stopped, looked at me and said "you really enjoy law school, don't you?" Enjoyment was really my law school experience.

Much of it was because I found it mentally rewarding and did not feel stressed about employment. When I started I had been offered a job and had a place I intended to work when I graduated. Over the summer after my first year I went and worked there and really enjoyed it, and was pleased to watch the business continue to improve (sales tripled every year until the year they hit 27 million dollars in sales).

I took tax classes because I liked tax, the same for antitrust and a number of other classes. While I got off to a rough start, by the end of law school I had brought my GPA up to between the top third and the top 40% (we didn't have precise class standings), had taken time to tutor English Writing across the street for relaxation and I got a position clerking for the Utah County District Attorney.

Then my friends lost control of their own company, I got a rather nasty letter in the mail withdrawing the job offer I had already accepted and I found myself, rather late in the day, looking for work.

I probably should have taken the chance to convert the job at the D.A.'s office to a full-time job, but I had a friend who really needed a job, so I resigned mine so he would get hired (and he got a job to support himself and family). But that really isn't talking about law school any more.

I really enjoyed law school. I'm sad Ray Davis died so early, I'd have loved to have seen him at the reunion, and wish Gene Jacobs were in better health, I'd have liked to have seen him one last time. But law school was a great experience for me, even if I enjoyed it perhaps a bit too much.

Now I'm still trying to find time to write a book on negotiation, to expand my generalized conflict theory (cf -- for a collection of links to essays that sets out my approach) and to go back and rewrite all of to remove the typos and mistakes that crept in with the software and approach I used to put the site together. There is just never enough time.

But I still enjoy life.


Ok, I know that they are not all perfect, but I've had the good luck to encounter a number who were just great sorts. No, that doesn't mean the Saab driving blond in the theater department I had a crush on when I was much younger (well, it includes her too), but I've had the luck of meeting a number of of Australians whose charm went beyond their accents.

This week, on the flight back from my reunion I got to sit next to Cactus Jack* who had just gotten married in Salt Lake (12 hours before) and was on his way to another business meeting. He recommended some great books (I've ordered them through and told me about how he and his fiancée had read Rough Stone Rolling to get some background on Utah, and how he had enjoyed the book.

I smiled when he said he was "just a carpenter" -- the two guys who introduced my wife and I to each other worked as carpenters and I've a brother-in-law who got his start in the skilled trades as a carpenter. The only time I worked construction I was a carpenter's helper.

Anyway, some groups just seem to export well (English and Australians for example) and make your day a little brighter when you meet someone from that group.

What has made your day a little brighter?

* That is the name on his business card.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Notes from the reunion, questions

I really enjoyed the reunion and the trip to Utah. We got to see Heather (our nineteen year-old at BYU), old friends (including the two guys who set us up and made sure we met), and I ended up giving away copies of The Bottom Line On Integrity and How to Turn the Other Cheek and Still Survive in Today's World and Negotiation Genius -- a book I liked better the second time I read it (now I have to wait for it to go on sale to get another copy of it for myself).

We also ended up giving away our BYU v. Air Force tickets so we could spend the time in what turned out to be better ways (though I still have not watched a football game live at BYU).

It was neat to see how people were doing. Jim Layton, who I've always thought well of, really seems to fit the image of what the law school hoped to see happen with its graduates. Bonnie Esplin, who I always admired, was doing well, though she missed the dinner (she did update me on a lot of people, classmates who had died, those who had lost children, lots more).

And then there were the people I've always enjoyed. Jack Welch, Wes Yamashita, Spencer Robinson, Jeff Salisbury and so many more. I picked up loads of e-mail addresses and had a great time seeing family in the area and visiting friends. I can only wish I had more time, there are more people I wish I'd had time to see.

Guess I can always visit that way again. I love the mountains, especially this time of year and it was wonderful to see people I like and to hope they were doing very well.

What kind of memories do you have of places and people?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

One book

There was a time if I were asked "what one book would you recommend?" the following would have been that book:

The Gentle Art of Communicating with Kids The Gentle Art of Communicating with Kids
by Suzette Haden Elgin (Jan, 1996)
In Stock

Price: $15.95

45 used & new from $0.97

When I used to do volunteer work for womens sheltered and battered women, I probably bought and gave away over a hundred copies of this book. I even started getting the bulk institutional discount from the publisher.

I really like Elgin's books, I love my children, and I still recommend this book, even if I've been buying copies of The Bottom Line On Integrity to give away these days and am currently reading more Arbringer Institute books.

If you were going to recommend one book, what book would it be?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Off to the law school reunion ...

So, if you are around BYU this week end, say hello!

Not to mention, I'll be at the game to see BYU lose another one.

(This is the first college football game I'll have gone to in my life, so it should be fun no matter what happens).

JRCLS, class of '82, just FYI.

We leave Wednesday, luckily we won't overlap too much with the house (guests come and go so often. Last time I left town the house was so full everyone wanted to know what we had going on and had not invited them ^-^).

Sunday, September 16, 2007

C. Terry Warner -- looking for links.

I'm looking for more links and more thoughts on Warner's writings and topics. I'm finding them interesting. Anything anyone can leave in the comments would be appreciated.

Integrity can be taught, can wisdom?

I ran across this recently, saved it for myself, and finally decided it was worth sharing.


posted by Frank Pasquale

Can wisdom be taught? A growing field of "wisdom studies" in psychology suggests that it can. I was reminded of Anthony Kronman's The Lost Lawyer when reading some of these findings:

Certain qualities associated with wisdom recur in the academic literature: a clear-eyed view of human nature and the human predicament; emotional resiliency and the ability to cope in the face of adversity; an openness to other possibilities; forgiveness; humility; and a knack for learning from lifetime experiences. And yet as psychologists have noted, there is a yin-yang to the idea that makes it difficult to pin down. Wisdom is founded upon knowledge, but part of the physics of wisdom is shaped by uncertainty. Action is important, but so is judicious inaction. Emotion is central to wisdom, yet detachment is essential.

Kronman similarly emphasizes a balance between "sympathy and detachment" in the ideal lawyer.

A recent essay by Michael Ignatieff on his mistakes as an academic reminded me of the importance (and elusiveness) of wisdom.

Continue reading "Wisdom"

Posted by Frank Pasquale at 09:17 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

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Valuable Liquids

A friend, having purchased some of what is apparently the most valuable liquid in the known universe during lunch today, felt compelled to dig up this descriptive graph to share.

I thought I'd share it with you.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Real losses

Not that past losses are not real. But current ones tug at the heart so much. My daughter was out helping to search for the senior at BYU who bicycled up to Bridal Veil falls and went hiking. She isn't the one who found the body, where the poor girl fell when she slipped.

Yes, current losses wash out older ones. In a way that is a kindness, in a way that is life. There is always a tragedy. The Armenian genocide gives way to the Jewish genocide which gives way to all the African genocides. The cycle repeats, instead of "never again" it seems like "always again."

The things that are written large are also written small. Someone asked my secretary at work what it was like dealing with family members who have degenerative problems. My secretary's mom went through that. (I was silent, I haven't spoken much about how my dad is going through the same thing). Most people do go through a decline at the end, either in the long or the short run. It is part of the cycle of life. Though I hope that when my time comes I escape dementia and endless pain. Those seem the hardest to me, as I see them from the outside.

I also hope to be as worthy of love as my Dad. I cherish him so, especially now.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The exploitation of loss

There is an exploitation of loss by cowards, single minded and anonymous.

Interesting, I've had a series of profane (i.e. profanity and insult laced) posts complaining that I'm not acknowledging or blogging about Mountain Meadows or talking about where I was on "the" September 11 and that I need to let those drown out everything else.

I'm not sure I have much to add. I was walking back from the courthouse, there was a crowd in front of a television set in the underground mall I was walking through. I watched footage of the first of the twin towers with smoke pouring out of it.

Since I've been in CLE sessions with the mediator who handled the distribution of the payments to the September 11 survivors as he talked about the difficulties, the unreasonably self centered views of many, the heroic understanding of others, the way that people came together to acknowledge and share with domestic partners who lacked legal standing and the heartbreaking effects of the petitions by others who were not receiving special treatment for acknowledgment (financial or otherwise) of their losses as well.

What does what I have to say, what does that really add? All of those stories are better told by others.

As for the profane cowards, they obviously have their issues or they would not be reduced to inarticulate ramblings, obscenity and insults, demanding that everything else be focused on the issue de jour (of the day) of some.

I guess that I could post that there is a pressing need not to be tied down and locked into the anger and pain of the past. That focus on a loss after five to seven years is probably tied to (toss in your favorite psychobabble here) pathological.

Or that some people desperately need attention.

I hope this gives them what they need. It is the best I've got on this day.

As for the Mountain Meadows Massacre, this post says it much better than anything I could say:

Do Not Live an Authentic Life - Live a Moral One

Do Not Live an Authentic Life - Live a Moral One -- is a blog post about acknowledgment -- kind of a corollary to recognition and empowerment in transformative mediation. The take away line is: "The important point is to acknowledge what the real trade-offs are and who will be hurt the most by the alternative choices—especially when there is an inequity in power."

Too often it is tempting to be self-indulgent and call it authentic when what we are doing is exploiting an imbalance in power to make others unhappy and ourselves happier. Too often people look for excuses to do something other than live a moral life, for something that is more valuable than integrity.

Caveat: the essay springs from another discussion at Feminist Mormon Housewives about a situation where I don't know the answer to the problems discussed. "I only wish I knew the answers" was my final comment on the matter. But I wanted to take away what I found important about the discussion, the need to recognize when we are exploiting power in a relationship and calling it something else.

If you can't tell, while I've bought six more copies of McKay's Integrity, I'm now part-way through Terry Warner's "Bonds that Make Us Free." I'm behind the other people in the Bloggernacle who have read it (e.g. and , but find it very interesting and thought provoking, especially in the context of McKay's book.

Bonds That Make Us Free: Healing Our Relationships, Coming to Ourselves
Bonds That Make Us Free: Healing Our Relationships, Coming to Ourselves by C. Terry Warner (Hardcover - Sep 2001)

A link to a cute cartoon about being authentic, etc.: Ethically sourced?