Monday, December 27, 2010

Finally found words to remember Courtney this year.

It was seventeen years ago, yesterday, that she died. I couldn't find the words to write about her all of yesterday. Now I can.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Glee, Christmas Memories, thoughts

We watched Glee as a family this week (the retelling of the Dr. Seuss story episode).  Most television I've watched this month. Part of it was the "hero" of the show talking about how early memories of Christmas ruin the future for us by creating so much magic and wonder that nothing can ever again reach that benchmark.

It made me think, though, how for some people, the first Christmas they remember might be so bad, nothing can ever fall short of the benchmark it sets.  All Christmases are better, not worse, often far better.

Which is why I feel so bad for my oldest daughter. The first Christmas she remembers is the one Jessica got sick over, the second, the one where Courtney died on December 26.  Makes this time of year hard to live down, but in a very different way from someone always striving to regain the magic of childhood.

Heather has been a trouper, though.  When no one else was up to a Christmas tree, she had one in her room, decorated with ornaments made from foil candy wrappers and the help of our babysitter. She is a great kid, and I wish her better memories for the future, each and every year.

As for Rachel, I'm not sure we will ever top this year, I don't expect to ever buy her a first pony or anything like that for the future.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Coda: Krista Oakes

I had a post about Mormons and Feminism at Wheat and Tares.

It occurred to me, after the funeral, that Krista Oakes made a perfect coda to the essay.

On the one hand she ran her own business, was twice the keynote speaker at the FDA/Industry annual conference for her industry, composed music and lived her own life.

On-line she was at:
If you asked her to define herself, she would say: Gas pump virgin, conservative Texan, adoptive mommy to Jacob and Emma (world's greatest kids), small business owner, Mormon, diva, Leo, pampered wife, bookworm, author, clog dancer, third-generation insomniac, cookie monster, karate black belt, brain cancer survivor, and more - all rolled up into one tired but lovable bundle.

More is the loss to LDS feminists that people like Krista could not find a home with them.

We made it to the funeral, though Win had to take more pain medication to make it through (she is still post surgery, no lifting, will be off work for six more weeks) as it went almost two hours.  I found myself admiring President Mills very much, and, of course, respecting Krista even more.

She will be missed.  The ward program for Sunday had her doing two solos, in case anyone wondered how much of a surprise her death was.  She will not be easily replaced.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Surgery went well

Win's surgery went well. Love her so much. Scott & White is nice enough, but I am glad we will not have to be coming back.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

New blog, old links, life, letter to my mom

The new blog is:

 The old link is to a collection of old family "Christmas" letters:

Now for the letter to my mom I need to send her:

Dear Mom:

One thing I hear over and over again is people complaining that their parents never would sit down and talk.  Or stand and talk.  Or talk at all. Saturday I got to thinking about that.  One thing you have always done is to be willing to sit and talk and to listen.

You would listen intelligently to anything.  When I was learning calculus and special relativity, you would listen and understand and talk with me about them.

At the time I did not realize that most moms would not do that (and could not, come to think). You did.  Any time.  Every time.  You and dad both took time for a hug, to tell me you loved me and to spend time.  And you, you were always willing to take time to listen.

I wanted to write you and just tell you that I appreciated that.  Not only do I love you, I am grateful for you. I just wanted you to know.


Friday, December 10, 2010

RIP Krista Oaks

A dear sister in our ward died last night, leaving two pre-school age children behind.  She had just finished one more course of chemotherapy, was pain free in the area being treated and was scheduled for another MRI on the 15th to check to see if the glio had spread beyond the treatment regimen.

I do not know what to say.  Obviously it had.  She will be missed.

Strange, I've been thinking about becoming more invested in life, and I how I need to avoid avoiding that.

We were invested in Krista, Win more than I.  She will be very missed.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Something different, with fiddle player, for Christmas music

DADT news, thoughts

I subscribe to a military information list.  Usually it has stuff that appeals to game designer friends of mine (I call it science fiction meets reality).  For the most part, they are hard core, hard combat types (who else gets to test drive real weapons systems like grenade launchers that fire mini-grenades out like machine gun rounds).

Interestingly enough, the latest they were pushing was both dropping DADT and providing spousal benefits to the spouses of gay service members.

Of course their readership was all over the map.  As far as I can tell, if someone serves with someone they know is gay, they don't care about gays in the military, combat or otherwise.  If they have not, or are older (from the era of predatory male/female interactions in the military), they are hostile to the idea.  And the Air Force doesn't seem to care at all -- kind as if they were a non-combat branch.

The easy transition is to allow gays to be "out" any place or spec that women have.  That avoids the front line combat unit issue (the only place with a lot of resistance), yet ensures that everyone will meet gays. Probably take a year and DADT would dissolve of its own weight and experience.

So, repeal DADT for the Air Force and Navy, repeal it for all Army "non-combat" roles (everywhere women are currently allowed to serve) and punt on the Marines.  Get ready to repeal the entire thing in 12 months if it goes as expected.

Now I did have a friend tell me that gays are too valuable to risk in combat or the military, but that point of view aside, I think everyone else's issues and needs are met, with a rational transition, and a chance to pull back if it turns out there is something dramatically wrong with the idea vis a vis combat arms that recognition won't cure.

Yes, that means mixed status for a while, but this is something that should have/could have been begun a while back.  The sooner begun, the sooner a mess is behind us and the military's combat effectiveness is not diluted by distraction or politics.

Or that is my current thought.  Let me know where I am wrong.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Christmas letter 2010

Hello and Merry Christmas

            We are happy and enjoying life in Texas.  Rachel turns 11 just before Christmas and is enjoying sixth grade. Heather is 22 and has one more year to go to graduation in manufacturing engineering. Win still puts people to sleep (and wakes them back up again) for a living, and Steve is still an attorney with St. Paul Travelers.  We are still in Plano with Vinnie the cat and five chickens.

            Other than Win facing down a hawk to save the chickens, the most exciting thing we did this year is we went back to peppers in the garden.  Many of you have heard the story of how we accidentally cross-pollinated a crop of peppers.  No one is sure what happened, but touching them would give you a chemical burn and eventually we had to throw them out since they were just too dangerous -- even for a practical joke.

            This all happened before Rachel was born. The story has become a thing of legend in our home.  We still have a garden. And every year, as we pick out what we are going to grow this year, Rachel asks for a small plot for herself.   And every year, Rachel tries to recreate “The Year of Dangerous Peppers.”  This year Rachel planted jalapenos, bell peppers, anaheims and tabasco peppers.  

            There was no cross-pollination, but we did end up with a huge crop of peppers.  So, we tried to do something with the peppers. Anything.  Everything. We even began taking peppers to work. Alas, even co-workers would only take so many. It was almost as if we had zucchinis.  We tried a lot of cooking with peppers.  Still too many peppers.

            Rachel tried a “Lemonade and Organic Peppers” stand. She managed to sell a lot of lemonade, but not so many peppers.  In desperation, she started making people take peppers when they bought a drink.  That unloaded a few peppers .. And she raised $27.00 for Vest-a-Dog – a organization that provides bullet proof vests for SWAT team dogs.

            One day, Win came up with pepper relish and pepper jelly that was good.  Wow good.  Really good stuff.  We have discovered a great new food item and a easy way to use more peppers.  Suddenly, we don’t seem to have enough peppers. The relish goes fast at our house.  We even made some of Win's special cranberry ginger jam to distract people who were coming by for the pepper jelly.

            We hope that this holiday season finds you healthy, and safe.   We wish you all the joy and blessings that life and this season holds. And expect to be receiving peppers from us.


The Marsh Family
Steve, Win, Heather, and Rachel

Friday, December 03, 2010

Tithing settlement: 2 minutes on tithing, 20 on a sermon

I would probably quit going to tithing settlement if this was a normal practice, but our bishop decided to teach a sermon with each tithing settlement.

Since it was very inspiring, it touched everyone in the family, I'm grateful he did it. It was worth the half hour delay in getting to our visit (the visits were going overtime and by the time it was our turn he was running a little more than half an hour late) and the extra time for the meeting.

The season is blessed.
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Family photo, Thanksgiving vacation

We got some wonderful photographs taken by a photographer in our ward. Seventeen of them turned out sparkling, better than I had expected. Here is one of them. Just one more thing to be grateful for ;)
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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

THARCE-Gulu, a worthwhile charity

This is a worthwhile charity for this Christmas:

So she has returned to Uganda, with Mormon women, and built more homes.  When the Ugandan women said they wanted a community center, she knew this had to be the next goal.  And the fledgling organization she has created is called THARCE-Gulu (Reese is working on updating this site in the near future).  The plans are in the works to buy a piece of land in Gulu, and build a healing center where visiting therapists (therapy through art, storytelling, sports, film making) can come to help the former soldiers, and around which the community can center their activities.  Because right now they still meet under that tree.
So in an effort to make this happen, we at fMh will be ramping up a fund-raising drive.  THARCE-Gulu needs $30,000 to buy the land for the center, I have no idea what kind of funds the bloggernacle is capable of raising, but we will be doing whatever we can.  So far our plans include raffles, auctions, perhaps some friendly competition within the bloggernacle, maybe some fund-raising snackers/dinners.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Girl Genius Avatar/Icons

Click on link or sample to go to the page where they are provided.

Related books:

Other Formats: Unknown Binding
Some formats eligible for FREE Super Saver Shipping.

Some formats eligible for FREE Super Saver Shipping.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Saw Disney's Tangled, really enjoyed it.

Of course I have blond haired baby girls my heart cries out for, but it was a good movie.  A very good movie, even better in 3D.  I even filled out the survey they gave us, but only because the movie was so good.

Of course the reasons I went to see the movie were (a) Heather wanted to see it, (b) The Dallas Morning News gave it an A, (c) we needed a family activity tonight.  It is so good to have family together at this time, but it makes me miss those who are not here so much more.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

On becoming a man -- what does it take and how is it done?

It is easy enough to tell people to "man up" or to become a man.  Sometimes the speaker means that they want someone to fill some specific "man's role" -- whatever that is.  Usually "man up" doesn't communicate much at all.

In some cultures "being a man" has a specific definition.  It may be someone who has the right scars.  Or, it may be someone who has killed a large game animals.  In some places you are not a man until you have counted coup on an enemy on the battlefield. In other places, you are not a man until you have had sex or gone through an initiation ritual. Those are all benchmarks.  They are acts or experiences that stand in as a proxy that is used to signal a measure of self knowledge.

So, what is it that makes the difference -- that makes a boy into a man? It is a measure of self knowledge and of taking ownership of one's self. It means not being oblivious and not hiding from yourself behind passivity, or silence, or food, or resentment, or any other method. It means taking mature ownership of yourself, your behavior, your feelings, and your goals.

Sure, the past exists.  Things have happened, there are difficulties everyone caries with them. But at some point you take ownership of the present and the future and cease to be a reactor to events or a slave to destiny. Wallowing in the past is holding onto childhood.  Clinging to powerlessness is clinging to infancy.

So, love yourself. Acknowledge yourself. Take ownership.  Do not reject the past, make it an experience and a lesson learned, not a trap or a regret.  Move into the present and find and move into yourself.  Become what you are, become a man, that is what it really means.

If you find you don't like yourself, don't hide from the truth.  Hiding doesn't change things.  Take ownership and acknowledge yourself and then decide what you are going to choose for the future. If you can't love yourself, either grow up or change.

Anyway, that is what I had to say when asked what does it mean to be a man.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Sandy Petersen

Well, want to know why he is able to do what he does?

Every quality in this presentation:  Sandy has.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

On finding a match

So, you are still not married.  I didn't get married until I was 29.  But here are my comments.

First, some background.

I knew a guy, I’ll call him Jammin (Jam for short).  He was strong and tall, but not quick (so he could not play basketball or football – not quick enough, trouble with powerlifting, too tall).  He wasn’t as good looking as he thought, and not as smart as he needed to be.  He had a thing about really pretty girls.  Of course the only really pretty girls that would date him were ones with problems that off-set their being pretty.  He couldn’t figure out why he was always dating girls with serious problems, how come he always ran into the ones that turned out to be scary? 

It was simple.  He wasn’t good looking enough to be a good match or fit for that group and did not have off-setting qualities (dating sites show that you can exchange money, education and other things for good looks if you are a guy). So, if you were a pretty girl, you probably had some pretty serious negatives before you would date him.

I knew another guy, I’ll call him Loser (Lou for short).  Lou liked really pretty girls. He liked pretty girls who could think.  He invariably picked them up on the rebound after a bad break-up, he wasn’t pushy.  They would drift away as they recovered.  Mostly they remained friends, and interestingly enough, formed a group of ex-girlfriends of Lou’s that enjoyed each other, just not him.  Lou couldn’t understand why he couldn’t hold on to the kind of girls he was dating.  Now he is old enough that he is kind of skeevy vis a vis the girls he would like to date and has burned some bridges as well.

His problem is pretty simple.  He has little to offer (less now that he is older) other than a non-threatening supportive ear and friend-style dating.  But no one in their right emotional mind sees him as dating material for romantic dates.

Both of these guys were not matching what they were to what they were chasing.  Both of them had long histories of failed relationships.  Jam succeeded by breaking free of his blinders.  Lou is, well, there is a reason I called him Loser.

We probably all know a Lou and a Jam.

This is kind of a harsh introduction.  I knew a guy who told the same story, more or less, except it was about a girl who chased football players and another who chased drummers. 

Too many people think that the moral of the stories is that you have to “settle” for less than you “deserve” or “want.”  That’s wrong.  What you have to do is find who you match.

Some things make it easier.  If you are a guy, go to New York City.  There is a surplus of single women in New York City. If you are a woman, go places where there is a surplus of men.

Next, go places where people are looking for people like you.  I had a friend, Martha Muriel who was pretty and a dancer.  She went to a ward full of short professional men and tall models.  The men all wanted a short model (which, of course, wasn’t going to happen, there is a minimum height for models after all).  The women were all looking for tall professionals (which group, it turns out, is mostly already married).  None of them were looking for Hispanics, more their loss.  Martha left after a couple visits, she was much too smart to waste more time there.

There are things that look like problems, but that are not.  They are matters of fit.

In addition, it is easy enough to have huge blocks of time consumed by a failed relationship.  Though finding yourself 40 and single whether through divorce, death, or just never getting married can be much the same.

It is similar for both men and women.  In some areas there are too many men, in others there are too many women.  This is true of physical locations as it is of areas of interest (you trying to become a doctor’s spouse or snag an unmarried professional athlete?  There are a lot of people in those areas).  Some areas have huge pools (so the chance of someone in your sub-pool goes up) some have very tiny pools (if there are only three guys and three women in an area, the chance of a close match has probably gone way down).

Finally, what do you use as a filter?  What things do you use to exclude?  Every “hard” barrier will limit you. For example, my wife is taller than I am.  If I had insisted on someone shorter than I was, I would not have married her (and vice versa – luckily we fell in love before we realized the height issue). 

All of these matters taken together means that it is very, very possible for someone to never find a match without it being their fault and without anything being wrong with them.

Possible issues:

1.                  Geography.  Sometimes it is just bad luck where you live or where your education goals take you.
2.                  Relationships.  Not all relationships succeed.  However, each time you invest time and effort in a relationship it puts you a few more years down the road.
3.                  Looking for the wrong solutions in seeking a match.  Mostly that is idiot guys looking for physical attractiveness in women, but there are other things that come up.
4.                  Filter issues – excluding on the wrong things.  Which does not mean you should ever, ever give way when you are filtering for the right things.
5.                  Other gap creators (there are things that make a match more difficult.  Age, personal interests, political tastes, etc.).

Note that the most common issues do not require anything to be wrong with someone.  Being “squirrely beyond belief” and crazy is not something that keeps people from being married (would that it were so – I know lots of people in that category, some who have been married multiple times).


            Well, that is an entirely different thing.  What are the real things you want and the real deal killers?  Then, list why they are what you want and why they are deal killers (e.g. the thing you have against New York Republicans would apply to old fashioned southern Democrats and would make you fine with Arnold Schwarzenegger Republicans).

            Then re-think a focus.  You might start working at a Starbucks (comprehensive insurance for all employees)(and, if you don’t drink coffee, a wonderful place because you aren’t tempted to waste your money at work – I had a good friend whose wife worked at Starbucks until last year).  From there you might move to a Starbucks in the area where the other sex is in surplus.  Or a place where there are a lot of people in your interest area (you might not head to Brownsville if your interest area is skiing, for example).

            Finally, consider and reconsider your goals.  I used to be a game designer.  Good enough that Origin cold called me to offer me a job.  But, that is no longer a goal of mine.  There is a time and there is a time. My goals are different now, I let myself grow into new ones, all the better for my skills and time constraints.  Look at your own and think if they have grown with you.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

November 9, five years of freedom

November 9 marks my fifth year of being free from food obsession.  It has gotten to be such a part of my life I had to look it up to see how long it had been other than "long" or "years."

Dramatic changes all in all.  My weight fluctuates around 189.  It has a twenty pound range it operates in, which is a lot lower than the 265 or so it once was.

Weight training is going well too.

I still have so far to go in terms of recovering what I once was.  I'm never going to be in my 30s again ;)

But I am glad of my life and my family, and none of my children have died since 1997.  My mom's mission is going well, though I still miss my dad terribly.

Life goes on, with or without us.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Should all scripture be proof texts?

A proof text is usually defined as a quote taken out of context and misused to reach a conclusion that does not really fit what a broader reading would indicate was the true meaning.  Yet, almost every scripture quoted in the gospels seems to be stretched somewhat and to have a major shift in meaning from what those who first heard it would have found.  It seems as if all scripture is a proof text.

Which makes sense.  When scripture comes into the world it is trapped by the limits of the language, the experiences and the context of the person recording it.  By being recorded in mortal realms, by fallible humans with imperfect language, it becomes a proof text from what it was in its celestial context.

Scripture also comes intended to be used over and over again; to be reused to communicate to every person and generation, no matter how far removed from the original recording.

Thus scripture starts as a proof text by virtue of being captured or recorded, and is only freed and given true context as it comes to life outside of the original words and setting.  As a result scripture only ceases to be a proof text as it comes into your life and is freed from its frozen state by finding the meaning it was intended to have for you.

In a way, scripture is not true until it becomes a proof text.

For a different approach to the same topic, see on Thursday morning.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Bullying from a different context (this post needs a better title)

The impact of bullying is significant in understanding the concept of privilege.  Too often the concept of "privilege" is felt by some as just another tool with which others will bully them.  That accounts for a significant sector of those who resist some types of initiatives aimed at creating acceptance and tolerance.

The class aspect of discrimination is well documented (though some insist that in America it is not a matter of class but of social strata instead, quibbling over words).  Many issues appear to be an extension of class issues. That is why there is such a conflict over affirmative action being tied to economic status -- I knew millionaires sons and the children of academics benefiting from affirmative action, the lead plaintiffs in the famous case out of Texas that attacked affirmative action were trailer park types -- the poor rather than the children of privilege, seeking not to be excluded from the table to benefit others who were wealthier, of a higher class, than they were.

Of course I've also known those who truly were appropriate beneficiaries, kids from the barrio who were the first in their families to graduate from grade school, none the less medical school.  But, like all social constructs, if not guarded against, it becomes merely another tool of class oppression.

The appearance aspect of discrimination is also an area that is being appreciated more and ore.  One can treat many types of discrimination as just proxies for appearance.  Tall, strong, thin, young, good looking and articulate people are seen as attractive and have advantages when compared against the short, weak, fat, old and ugly.  You can even measure the economic impact of each factor. The weakness to this approach is that treating various conditions as shades of ugly is insulting.

Yet the math is straightforward.  On social dating sites, one can calculate how much in income a man must have to make up for every inch of missing height or every degree or shade of skin color off the optimum.  Dating sites provide a wealth of information that matches issues of wealth, height, age, appearance, neurological challenge and just about every other factor that discrimination is felt in.

Once you start factoring in the issues of class and appearance in discrimination (and in combating it), you can cover most of the emotional triggers, reasons for resistance and issues that arise.  However, there is one set left that has resisted analysis -- or at least meaningful analysis.

If you treat that resistance as resistance to being bullied, and put it in the context of the people who are resisting (almost all of whom are targets for various types of bullying), it makes sense.  It also paves the way for addressing the issues in a way that does not generate the same resistance.

Anyway, that is a lot of text for such a small insight, but one I just had in dealing with people who were not resistant to the concept of tolerance and acceptance initiatives, but who were resisting the application.  They felt excluded and bullied by the way the approach was handled, and were very receptive to an approach that did not trigger those feelings and emotions.  Night and day to see how effective a diversity initiative was that did not trigger those feelings in people.

An interesting article on why current thinking on sex is wrong

While we don’t dispute that these patterns play out in many parts of the modern world, we don’t see them as elements of human nature so much as adaptations to social conditions—many of which were introduced with the advent of agriculture no more than ten thousand years ago. These behaviors and predilections are not biologically programmed traits of our species; they are evidence of the human brain’s flexibility and the creative potential of community.

Talking about the standard narrative of why people act like they do.

I don't agree with all the conclusions, but the explanation of why various current narratives are wrong makes a lot of sense.

We are often much too certain. You can tell I've been reading again. ;)

On Being Certain: Believing You Are Right Even When You're Not

Friday, October 15, 2010

Texas Republicans in the news

I read a blog post about how someone couldn't date a Republican, and I thought this video of a North Texas Republican, in front of an audience of North Texas Republicans, was well worth watching.

Though it made sense why she would not date one of these guys -- they are all either gay or married.

But still, people to be proud of.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

We can't all be Lennika Johnson

My daughter has a friend, Lennika Johnson, who is engaged to be married, so I thought following up on my "We can't all be Jack Green" post, I'd post about Lennika.

I first noticed her when the Laurel group had a musical number.  The president assumed that the audience would want to hear it based on the social popularity of the girls.  She did not even include some of them in on the practices.  Think of what they were doing as a three person solo, with the others as back up singers.

Of course the "popular" girls had voices that would qualify as "nice."  You know what I mean. Anemic, untrained, ok for part of a choir.  Lennika, on the other hand, had (and has) a professional quality voice.  But, when they had the number, you couldn't tell.  Instead, the group sounded really, really, really good.  Someone, on the fly, was doing transparent support and fill, making everyone sound better without calling attention to themselves.

I've heard lots of people just outclass the people they are singing with.  Or support, but the support was better than the lead.  This was selfless and clean.  Probably the best I've ever heard or seen.  When faced with people who had excluded her and did not deserve it, she did her best to make them sound better without drawing any attention to herself.  If you did not know music and the singers, you would have missed what happened.

I was impressed, it is the thing that sticks out in my mind the most about her.  It is so rare to see people willing to let others shine, to support a group, to not take the easy revenge, who have more self control than ego.

Wish her well with her engagement, and hope that her young man supports her the way she has been willing to support others

Temple Grandin

Temple Grandin Starring Claire Danes, Julia Ormond, David Strathairn, et al. (DVD - 2010)
Watched the movie through netflicks, but many local libraries have it and it is on TV from time to time.  It was inspiring. I had really enjoyed the NPR interviews with her and about her.  Her life shows what you can do even if you are four years old and still have not learned to talk.
It is never too late.
A Mother's Courage: Talking Back to Autism Starring Margret Dagmar Ericsdottir, Dr. Temple Grandin 

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Another grief blog -- another person blogging about their recovery from grief.

Engaging the Other, 5th International Conference Announcement

5th Annual International Conference on
The Power of Compassion

November 19-21, 2010
San Francisco Bay Area (Rohnert Park), Calif.

At a time when polarization is the culprit,
a multi-cultural, multi-disciplinary conference addressing fear-based belief systems, negative stereotypes, polarization, enemy images, scapegoating, and artificial barriers of distrust that divide us.

Keynote by Huston Smith

Co-Sponsored by:  Common Bond Institute,
International Humanistic Psychology Association
Sonoma State University

Endorsed by:
an international list of over 100 organizations and universities

An Official Partner and Event of the Charter for Compassionand Parliament of World Religions

Full Conference Details at:
(copy & paste address into your browser)

~ A Conference For Everyone ~
Registration is Open to All

Continuing Education Credits (CECs) available

We Invite You To:
an extraordinary conference examining concepts of "The OTHER" from a universal, cross-cultural perspective to promote a wider public dialogue about images of "Us and Them"
over 55 presenters, facilitators, and visionaries - and hundreds of concerned individuals, to take part in 3 days of authentic dialogue bridging the divide and cultivating our capacity for appreciation of diversity, reconciliation, and respectful engagement.
  > Raise the level, depth, and breadth of public dialogue and awareness on core issues. The conference examines dimensions and dynamics of "The OTHER" on individual and group levels, and considers how enemy identity is formed, perpetuated, and manipulated.  > Identify and compile fundamental questions, dilemmas, and implications for further deep inquiry and examination in an expanding public dialogue, and to challenge embedded negative belief systems that promote adversarial perceptions of the "The Other."  > Tap our shared wisdom, compassion, and responsibility as a community - from the local to the global - in developing practical applications to reduce divisiveness and polarization and promote a shared consciousness of peace.   > Create Networking Opportunities for collaboration  > Formulate findings and products to make available to all. 
AN OUTSTANDING POOL OF OVER 55 PRESENTERS and FACILITATORS addressing concepts of "The Other" from diverse perspectives - including social, cultural, political, psychological, economic, ecological, and spiritual, offering a 3 DAY program of:- Keynote Speakers, - Interactive Plenary Panels, - Concurrent Break-out Sessions of Workshops and interactive Panels, - Daily Facilitated Dialogue breakout Groups to engage concepts and explore practical applications, - Open Space, - Interactive All-conference Experiences, - Video Addresses by Leading Visionaries, - Action Planning, - Morning Yoga Sessions, - Tibetan Buddhist Sand Mandala Ritual, - Evening Performances, Cultural programs, and Community activities, - Rich Networking and Action Planning - Cross-cultural Community.

"An important, timely dialogue
                        ...everyone needs to be part of "

Program Overview at:

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Welcome to Wheat & Tares

A new blog: -- with some great old bloggers (the crew from Mormon Matters).

Listening to Conference on-Line//Channel Time Warner Channel Advertised was blank

nSigh.  Ever since I sat in a sauna in Wichita Falls and listed to an executive explain how he did not like LDS Conference and wanted to drive it off of cable, I've had concerns about this outfit.

But after spending fifteen minutes today trying to bring up the morning session, I logged onto the internet.

I'm enjoying it now, though it leaves me tempted to occasionally post things, think about live blogging (Alma's disappointment -- I think all parents worry so much) and look forward to Wheat & Tares next week.

Libera - Going Home -- the song I want sung at my funeral.

This is powerful and moving, something I would like sung at my funeral, when I pass.

NIghtmare Grief

It has been a long time since I've had a grief nightmare, where I lived through loss and death and felt overwhelming grief.  Friday night I went through that, needed a couple extra hours of sleep Saturday, which I caught in the afternoon.  No one had ever told me to expect to relive grief in my sleep,  It happens less and less as the years go by, been a couple years since the last time it struck me.

This time I dreamed of a child I've never known who had just died. From when I woke, returned to the nightmare, awoke again, returned, and awoke, it was a long dream.

I know there are worse things.  E.g. the things these posters are going through:
Everyone has their nightmares, I guess.  That leaves each of us to bind up the broken hearted and do what we can for others, each of us in our own place.

As for how we can make such hideous mistakes, go to your local library and get this book through interlibrary loan:

Thursday, September 30, 2010

What Happened at Mormon Matters?

Well, I just discovered I'm no longer a permablogger there (I was trying to log on for my usual Thursday post).  Guess that means I'm going with Hawk wherever the rest have flown to.

Links that kind of explain what happened while I was busy with personal problems, work (federal court in Tyler) and a cut cable internet connection ...
Ok, that last post had nothing to do with Mormon Matters, but was pretty funny.

Honestly, I think a lot of the reporting seems to miss a lot.  Most of what I read in the e-mails I finally caught up on was very positive about John.  If people are praising him behind his back, well, anyway, that is what I've found on-line about it all.

On the other hand, is something John has been looking at doing for 8-12 months.  I would believe that it fits his needs and ideas more than the way the blog was currently going and that everyone moved on in ways that fit them, or did not.

Wish John well. Though I felt, for a while, that I had failed everyone by not being available and not doing something to facilitate matters better.  Which is why I originally was going to post this as "What happened at Mormon Matters was my fault."  But now it looks like everyone is happy, everything resolved in ways that leaves people content.  I can't claim credit for that, so I guess I can't claim fault.

I'd appreciate suggestions, advice and comments.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Is this site accurate?

124 Israeli children have been killed by Palestinians and 1,441 Palestinian children have been killed by Israelis since September 29, 2000. (View Sources & More Information)
Just made me think.  I'd appreciate feedback if anyone has it.  It is the sort of thing I'd expect to see talked about at and have not.  Of course I've been pretty busy these days.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

On immigration issues

I don't know the answers, though I know the issues are multifaceted and that there is a great deal of human suffering.  I also know that sometimes the side-effects are unthought of (e.g. Mexico has less pressure for internal change because the United States provides some relief -- enough to make a difference, I'm not sure).

I've a post on the topic at

Of all things, I'm curious in what solutions people are proposing these days.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Tornado at work

This is a picture of where my wife works and the tornado that hit yesterday. I'm so glad it did not get any closer.


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Worst things heard at church ... Primary edition

I still remember a meeting where the speaker said "I was never part of your organization and knew nothing about it until I was called to be in charge of it, now I appreciate how important it is" followed up by a couple tone deaf comments about the organization.  She quite successfully got the point across that (a) serving in the organization was insignificant insofar as any leadership position in it mattered and (b) understanding the organization was not necessary either.

The only worse thing that happened was when one of the women complained about it, an elders quorum president said "You can ignore her, she is a woman and doesn't have the priesthood and so doesn't have any authority at all."

What is the worst thing you've ever heard anyone say?

Thursday, September 09, 2010

My father died a year ago

Just finished up the one year anniversary of his death.  Now I can go to sleep.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The girl whose fire went out,

Mockingjay (The Final Book of The Hunger Games)

This book finishes up the trilogy as the girl on fire becomes the girl whose fire went out. At the end, there are two children born to a thirty something woman who symbolize the human race guttering out as it fails to increase its numbers to a sustainable biomass.

I started reading the series because my ten year old was entranced with it. When it came in the mail from Amazon she grabbed it and read the final book through in one setting. I asked her how it was and she was more "meh, ok, but not as good as the first books." The collapse in direction into fading coals from fire is clearly handled. Perhaps Brokenjay would have been a better title.

Well written, tightly plotted, minimal sex (a few kisses on screen), the violence is not detailed or pornographic, the writing is adult (rather than the adolescent tripe that is listed as "adult") and mature.

Honestly, I wish Amazon had a filter to let me filter out books with excessive sex or overdetailed violence. I'd find more like this series, which has gotten press as teen literature, but which is actually more mature.

Regrets? I wanted to see the mayor revealed as a major resistance figure and his daughter, who insists that Katness take the Mockingjay pin as the one who would marry her "cousin." I hoped for an action scene where Katness rescues Prim and in the process has her Mockinjay armored costume destroyed. I wanted one last scene of fire blazing against the threat of dictatorship rather than guttering out.

So, the book and the series will end up at the used book store eventually, not quite a keeper, but very good.

At least this book (Mockingjay) lets me skip the movies ...

Saturday, August 28, 2010

RIP John Tison

John was in a practice group with me in Wichita Falls.  He was 63 years old and used to come down once a year and stay with us while working at the Masters.  This year he wasn't feeling well, seemed like a touch of the flu, so he did not come down.  A month ago he contacted some judges and took himself off the referral lists.

He had some tests done because he seemed a little sickly and not recovering or snapping back.  They discovered mets cancer.  He was immediately scheduled to enter M.D. Anderson, which would have occurred Monday.  I attended his memorial this morning.

I need to share the story of how he heard we were digging in another french drain on our house in Wichita Falls and wanted me to hire his kids to handle it to teach them that they wanted to go to school and avoid lives of hard labor.  It was a success (and he tried to return the money I paid them).

So many memories.

I saw a lot of people that were dear to me, judges I respected and attorneys who I wish well.  One asked me why I left, I was honest.  We buried three children in four and a half years, just could not live there any more.

My wife remarked that everyone was older and they said the same about me (when I left, my hair was honey blond, now it is silver).

I also got asked about H. Deloyd Bailey, all I could suggest is the internet for those looking for him:
But it was good to see everyone, and to think about everyone I missed. I got the discussion back on track and we talked about John, who left us so suddenly, his love of his children, wife and Chinese food, his playing golf and all of his kindnesses.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Surviving v. Recovering

I was recently talking with someone about grief and they said “Steve, you aren’t surviving, you are recovering.” What my friend meant was that I had passed the stage of being in grief and surviving the experience, holding on and weathering it, to healing. We don’t have good language for that part of the process, that transformation. But he recognized it.

Part of the problem is that recovering and healing are often seen as putting something completely behind us. I’ve deposed witnesses who broke a leg when young. It healed, they recovered, they can’t remember which leg it was now.

Survival is often thought of as “lived through” something. It is now often used to describe someone who experienced something, but refuses to let it make them a victim. There is strength to claiming survivorship. To say I’m a cancer survivor, not a cancer victim; a rape survivor, not a rape victim – that empowers people.

Survival is important. It is the stage of not being a victim, of realizing that something might be happening to you, but it is not you, and that you will still remain when it concludes. It might be overwhelming, but only for a while, the event is history, not destiny.

Recovery is a different stage, a return path, of sorts, to normalcy. As a friend who survived Hodkins Disease expressed, it is what you do when you realize you have a life to live after chemotherapy is over. Rehabilitation is a good word for many in this state. Some things really do heal, some experiences are just history. Life is nothing but a series of adjustments and history.

But, some times it is more complex. When a child dies, there is a permanence to the grief, but not to the disability the grief creates. In the period of severe disability the grief causes, you survive. Then you rebuild. At some point you begin to make progress in an adjusted world.

I have friends whose grief is old, who told me about this stage long ago, and who are in it now. They did not have a good word for the stage of making progress while rebuilding. Neither do I, but I am experiencing it, just as they told me I would. I miss my deceased girls. I love them still. But I have something I can best describe as recovery, a sort of healing and progress, a sort of love.

Other links on topic

Note that coming up in Sunday School: the book of Job, or how in every tragedy you can expect people whose idea of “comfort” is to come tell you it is all your fault, that if you were just as holy as they are, God would not have needed to punish you and misfortune would have missed you.

When they do, remember that at the end of the book of Job, God shows up and tells the “friends” that they are wrong, in strong terms (Job 42: 7-8). When you meet people like that, Christ’s comments should come to mind, see Matthew 23: 13, 27-28; 32-33. Feel free to circulate both for the lesson.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Letter from a child to a parent

This was shared with me and is the best father's day present I have ever seen. Used with permission.

Posted by Picasa

Friday, August 06, 2010

Reflecting on my roots, my blog posts from 1997, what I had to say at Sunstone

My blog, as blogs are now understood, began in 1997.  My first posts are at:

Back in the day comments were not like they are now.  My comment thread for my posts is at:

I got to thinking about that when I spoke last night. I really do not write the same sorts of posts any more.  I've shied away from that ever since I dealt with someone who was constantly attacking me over posting about my life and experience.  Changed my topics, changed my sub-title to my blog, and withdrew.

I admit, they succeeded in causing me personal harm, in withdrawing not only on my blog, but in my life from dealing with grief and recovery. 

But speaking in public last night on the story of my life got me to thinking and realizing that I still have a long way to go.  Last night I was asked to introduce the topic and the other speakers, which I did (of all things it was a panel based on a blog post I had written:  I was then asked to tell my own story, so I did.

So, what have I learned from my personal story?

I have learned that for me, in my patience I keep my soul.

I have learned to keep the commandments because it pleases God, with no other expectation.

I have learned that Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God. I have learned that nothing can separate me from the love of God that is in Jesus Christ.

So, how in my story did I learn these things once again?

Hmm. I have to admit that I began blogging in the 1990s (first on paper people spread around, then on-line), before it was called blogging, in order to avoid talking in public. But here I am.

So, my story.

About Christmas our six year old came down with the flu. Her last night at home I held her all night so she could sleep. Then she was admitted to the hospital, spent thirty days in various ICUs and died on January 26, our wedding anniversary.

Eleven months later, just before she turned two, our youngest daughter died on December 26. Again we were left with unopened Christmas presents, neighbors who took down the decorations for us and a home teacher who avoided us.

But, we remained engaged in the community. Win went back to school for a second degree and graduated as co-valedictorian. I rebuilt my legal practice.

I was approached by a group to run for office against an incumbent they were desperate to beat. Since it was a tipping point seat they were willing to spend a million dollars or so. The current office holder responded by announcing his retirement.

My wife spoke at the BYU women's conference. She was seven months pregnant and I had promised myself that with the birth of this child, who we decided to name Robin, that we would heal.

I had also continued to publish, and unknown to me there were groups who would be contacting me in a couple of years to interview for tenure track positions.

Edited that way it sounds like a triumphant happy ending, doesn't it.

So, Robin was born, my dad beat the skin cancer that was going to kill him in six months.

But. Robin had a heart defect. She survived the surgery when 40% of the children with the problem die. She reached a safe place and we took her home. Then she developed a hidden arrhythmia.

If you know us, you know the rest of the story. Win came home from work to see an ambulance and the first responders. They took over from me, but the CPR still failed. Four and a half years, three burial services. We also had some miscarriages as well during and after.

And here I am. I have two children I adore and a wife who is my life. My youngest has Tourrette's and needs time. Instead of a thirty-something guy who was in windsurfing focus groups and building a reputation in a breaking academic area, I'm in my mid-fifties with an interest in a new area that is, honestly, dead stone cold.

But, I have learned lessons because, much to my surprise, God sustained me. I've learned that in life or death that Jesus is the Christ. That life is in Christ, not in other things. That virtue is its own reward because virtue itself is the true goal -- we seek God, not to trade God in for the things of this world.

That is my story. Now tell me yours. The floor is open to the audience to share with us your stories and ask any questions you might have.