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:
  • http://www.lawlink.com/attorney/101331
  • http://www.countyofupshur.com/2008%20CCourt%20Minutes/061608%20CCourt%20Minutes.htm
  • http://www.martindale.com/H-Deloyd-Bailey/1714227-law-firm-office.htm
  • http://www.scribd.com/doc/33984030/Texas-Court-of-Appeals-Chief-Justice-District-6-candidate-Hubert-Deloyd-Bailey-2010-ethics-form
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:  http://mormonmatters.org/2009/10/22/the-stories-we-tell-2/).  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.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

08/04/2010 -- funny comics


I liked this one. 

This one too (it is an advertisement for a web comic -- but one that fits ADR)

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Class, politics and modern America, looking inward

I was reading a post at Mormon Matters that linked to the following:
in fact Republican and Democratic office holders and their retinues show a similar presumption to dominate and fewer differences in tastes, habits, opinions, and sources of income among one another than between both and the rest of the country. They think, look, and act as a class.  

That is a fascinating observation, that the Republicans and Democrats have become less different from each other as they have again become more strident. 

I know, I should make a political point from this, but the truth is, my interest is in conflict resolution, and the most emotional conflicts are ones where the difference is not about methods or goals, but about control and power.  One would expect that if the core governing members of a party are becoming more alike, that the dialogue would become more emotionally driven.

Emotionally driven clashes are a way to work backwards to what conflicts are about, though not an infallible one.  I need to think more on the specific conflicts we have now, but the general rule is one that you can apply to your own life. If it applies to the United States is a different question, and not one I can answer.

Win's camp recipes

Win wanted to put her camp recipes on-line so people who were asking for them could just download them.

They are now up at: http://adrr.com/recipe/