Tuesday, October 28, 2008

You Might be an Economist if ....

If while reading "Little House on the Prairie" for the first time you start to wonder how much capital the Ingalls family brought with them, how the different territories developed different institutions leading to different developmental growth paths and if there are currently developing countries in a similar situation, OR attempt to monetize their household production [ie - put a dollar value on what they do] in your head while reading ... you are DEFINITELY an economist.

It's nice to know I'm in the right line of work.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Miscellany: WiiFit and Books

We have had our WiiFit for 50 days now and actually used it about 40 of those days (-7 Sundays and a few sick days). The WiiFit is a glorified scale ... but it's actually not that reliable. My weight will fluctuate by over 4 pounds from one day to the next! Up 6, down 5, down 2, up 3.... This makes it difficult to rely on it to tell us how much we weigh. What we put a little more faith in is the overall trend. For both of us, it's slightly down, but not by an incredible amount.

We enjoy the aerobic workouts most, Joy on step aerobics and I like it's boxer and the step aerobics. We have a regular challenge to see who scores best on the steps. "I'm ahead again! I got like 629 or something like that!" Hmmm, the bar is raised again. They also have some comfortable yoga stretches, some strength training exercises, and I enjoy the balance games.

The WiiFit also tries to calculate your BMI (body mass index) which is your weight in kg divided by your squared height in meters. The idea is that a person at 22 is ideally healthy. The problem is that the weight that would give us a 22 is NOT our ideal weight! For me, it thinks I should weigh 150 pounds. Now when I weighed a mere 196 right after my mission, I had a handful of people telling me I was unhealthily thin. My nutritionist says my actual ideal weight is 215. That's because I have a lot of muscle and other lean mass. Joy has a similar miscalculation, though hers isn't as large a miscalc as mine.

So we have a way to fool the Fit. I calculated the height of a person who would have as their ideal weight our ideal weight. We created two new characters (mine is named Alter Iigo) who we then claimed are that tall. So the Wii thinks I'm 6'11 and tells me I am merely overweight rather than grossly obese. The Wii stays alive longer that way.

The important question, though, is whether or not the WiiFit has helped us exercise more. The answer is yes. Before I started walking to campus every day, about half of my exercise was done on the Fit, and most of that wouldn't have happened without the ease of having it in my house. "I'm kind of a funny exerciser. I feel guilty/selfish if I spend too much time exercising. But the Wii helps me feel like I have permission to exercise, and I LOVE to be healthy. So I'm enjoying it. I especially appreciated when Derrill figured out we could do the free form step aerobics faster than it counts and it would still count our paces. Then you can go as fast as you want."

"I really like jackknives. It's my favorite ab exercise, and I learned it on the Wii. One thing I really like, since I have a baby, is that it will let you log in 5 minute increments. And you can add exercise you do outside of the Wii.

It is anticipated that it will be of the greatest help once the snow is here "and even on days when it's too hot in the summer."
Joy and I finished reading Fablehaven books 2 and 3 together, interrupting The Wishsong of Shannara to read them both. We loved them! Joy's greatest complaint about them is that Book 4 isn't out yet. I don't much care for the teenage love interest (Gavin) that was introduced in Book 3 for the lead female (Kendra). I'm secretly hoping that he's really an enemy so she doesn't have to be with him.
Projects completed:
We moved our bed to the other side of the room. Granted, this is about 6 inches, but in the process we took everything out of the room, cleaned it thoroughly, and then re-constructed the bed on the other side of the room to reduce the chance of mold formation on the outer walls. We also moved the couch away from the outside wall for the same reason, which meant moving two bookcases as well. "It wasn't a major clean up of the garage, but it took us some time."

We had a plumber here to fix the emergency water shut off valve that didn't shut off anything.

I still need to install some more insulation under the trailer where we thought there had been a leak, and there's a VERY LONG list of projects that have been on my honey-do list for months.

"And then we're going to be sending away our computer." The laptop has been waxing old. Dell has kindly offered to examine it to see what other damage they can do, so we may not have the internet in our home for the next week or two. "Given when our service contract ends and how many times we plan on being out of town with it, it makes sense to have a thorough check of it done."
We went to Watkins Glen to tour the falls and leaves. Hyrum loved it, bouncing up and down the whole way in his frontpack. (It would be a backpack, but it's on my front.) Our date to the third game of the World Series last night was canceled due to rain delay.

Joy bought us a second Wii Remote (Wiimote) "and Derrill soundly whooped me in all of the Wii Sports. Good for him." I hear tell if I keep it up, she'll challenge me to boxing, cause she knows I won't him a woman. "I'm pretty good at that, aren't I?" You are quite engaging to watch.

This is Joy hidden behind a waterfall at Watkins Glen. The light was fading pretty bad and the flash doesn't seem to have done much. Oh well. Go to W.G. and behold the back side of water!

1 Teeth, 2 Teeth...

1 teeth, 2 teeth,
3 teeth, 4 teeth!
Someday I'll have
Even more teeth

See my teeth? See my teeth? I have four teeth now. I had 1, and then I had 2, and now I have 4. Two on the bottom you can see easily, two on the top that you can only see if Dad decides to torture me.

And there he goes with the torture. And for what, I ask you? That teensy hint of white you can JUST see under his thumb if you zoom in on the image.

Two on the left and
Two on the right.
Watch out, Mom!
This baby bites!

Dad just explained that when the government spends money it doesn't have, they'll expect ME to pay it back. I don't want to fund AIG spa trips! It's taxation without representation, I tell ya!

I can't wait for Pop to come visit me! He'll be here for Halloween! Maybe he'll slip me some chocolate while Mommy isn't watching....

For behold, I have seen the television's light from afar and I am come to kneel in worship.

Now this exercise is great for working out your glutes and legs. Start from a kneeling position and put one leg forward like you're going to stand up. Just 19 more! Come on, you can do it!

(As you can see
I learned a lot
from the Wii)

Joy's caption:
Mommy, why do Obama and McCain fight so much when they're not that different?

How was your weekend?

As I read my scriptures on Friday, one of the songs I listened to was by the BYU Concert Choir: Death Shall Not Destroy My Comfort. Google informs me you can find a copy of them singing it on Youtube. I've always had a thing for glorious songs in minor keys and this has been a favorite. I thought to myself as I heard it Friday that the next time I had to experience someone's passing, I would have to sit in a dark quiet room and listen to that with my headphones on to get a good, healing cry.

And if you imagine I recognized that as foreshadowing at the time, you give me too much credit.....

Death shall not destroy my comfort,
Christ shall guide me thro’ the gloom;

Down he’ll send some heav’nly convoy,

To escort my spirit home.

Joy and I finally made it out to the temple Saturday. I consider it quite an accomplishment since the last few times we've tried to go, something got in the way. This time when something got in the way, we ran over it and just went anyway. We saw a lot of friends from our temple shifts there who loved to meet our prodigy (who is currently engaged in doing his best to climb/fall into the laundry basket and cry for help). The wonderful thing of going to the temple is being able to be of service to people who passed on without the opportunity to receive the full blessings of the gospel for themselves. It is a beautiful testimony of God's love for all of His children and His desire to bring all of us home.

Oh, hallelujah! How I Love my Savior,
Oh, hallelujah! That I Do.
Oh, Hallelujah! How I love my Savior!
Mourners, you may love him too.

I was very glad for the temple -- it took the edge off of some of the pain I've been feeling the last few days. I don't know why, but I just really haven't felt well. At one point on our drive to the temple, I pulled over to give Joy a turn driving because I was starting to feel unsafe on our heavily rained-upon roads. Today when I got up, I was sick enough that I couldn't make it to church and it's likely I'll be calling in sick tomorrow. Hopefully I can get well before my defense next Monday. If not, well, my "A" exam was also done under an illness induced haze.

Jordan’s stream shall not o’erflow me,
While my Savior’s by my side;

Canaan, Canaan lies before me!

Soon I’ll cross the swelling tide.

Joy kindly suggested I lay down for a nap while she took care of Hyrum when we got home. I hadn't been down long when our branch president (church leader) called. My good friend Evan Wade had "crossed the swelling tide." I still don't know most of the details, but apparently he skidded on the slick roads and crashed into a tree.

Evan "yes, I like putting odd statements in the middle of my name when I sign off an email" Wade came to Cornell the same year I did to major in Engineering. I'm not entirely sure why, but I decided to watch out for him that first year - help him get rides, encourage him in the church, and try to help support him going on a mission. I don't know that there was any real doubt of that happening, but I wanted to look out for him. He went on a mission to Finland and came back here, happy to see me. I still ended up giving him a lot of rides, which I never minded. He was set to graduate this winter, like me.

I home taught him for a year or so before he had met Cassie and I remember very fondly an evening he and I spent together while Joy was out of town, just talking about the gospel and his romantic hopes, and everything. I was so thrilled when he and Cassie announced their engagement!

We were home teachers together over the summer and for this year. The last time I saw him was home teaching the Browns on Wednesday where he praised Cassie, talked about how excited he was to be getting married and looking forward to graduation and life. I dropped him off, oddly enough, at our place where Cassie was waiting for him, gave him the traditionally overfirm handshake we had developed, and waltzed in happy to see my wife without considering I might not see him again. He was in the military and planning on spending a few months getting trained in submarines. He had an appointment to meet with them tomorrow. It seems God has other plans.

He loved jazz, played the sax, and while his voice wasn't the smoothest, he had an impressive range and power. We talked about music a good deal together. As we drove together the last time, I mentioned wanting to rent an accordian or a bagpipe from Cornell sometime soon so I could learn them. I wonder if he ever got the chance to pick up a piece by Hovhaness I recommended to him?

See the happy spirits waiting,
On the banks beyond the stream!

Sweet responses still repeating,

“Jesus! Jesus!” is their theme.

One of the greatest parts of the gospel is the knowledge that my wife, my son, my brother and his wife, and my parents are all sealed to me. That is, even death cannot separate us permanently. We have the promise that if we are faithful to our covenants, we can be together forever. A similar promise extends to our friends: "And that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory, which glory we do not now enjoy" (Doctrine and Covenants 130:2). Evan may not have been perfect (he was a bit of a flake), but he was a good man who was doing all he could to follow the gospel of Jesus. In addition to my grandfathers - Derrill One and Grandpa Straw - and the generations before them, I have the hope that I will find my good friend Evan "on the banks beyond the stream" to welcome me home.

Our hearts go out to Cassie and Evan's family! Joy and I have talked ever so briefly in hushed tones of what it would have been like for her had I passed on March 05. We pray for you all regularly and are assured that in time the Spirit will speak peace to your hearts, with solace and comfort that only God can bring. That's why His peace surpasses all understanding (Phil 4:7) - it comes despite and during our afflictions. How comforting it is to know that "all things have been done in the wisdom of Him Who knoweth all things" (2nd Nephi 2:24) and that God who knows the end from the beginning has said, "Thy days are known, and thy years shall not be numbered less; therefore, fear not what man can do, for God shall be with you forever and ever" (D&C 122:9).

Oh, hallelujah! How I Love my Savior,
Oh, hallelujah! That I Do.
Oh, Hallelujah! How I love my Savior!
Mourners, you may love him too.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Assisted Walking

Mommy story time. if I wait until we have a picture then Derrill will have to blog about it. The following is the story as I shared it with Pop (Hyrum's grandfather) in our IM conversation:

We have two suitcases lieing on their sides in our living room right now. They are heavy enough that he doesn't move them when he tugs on them.

Hyrum pulled himself up to stand at the longest one and slowly made his way standing (a slow walk as he kept holding onto the suitcase) until he got to the other suitcase (they were perpendicular to each other. Then he grabed on the other suitcase and let go of the first and pulled/walked himself around the end of that suitcase.

All standing. Then he let himself down to the ground (meaning he didn't fall), crawled on the floor to the couch and then pulled himself up to stand with the couch.

I was really excited about seeing how he got down so well from the standing position, I usually see him do the falling and he doesn't usually want to get down from standing so he falls out of it. But it was incredible to see him do the walking too. I plan on videoing it too, but it was the only time I have seen him do it so far.

I am more convinced than ever that he is really going to be walking soon and I am excited for him.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Daddy steps

Last month I went on leave. I was no longer a student. That was weird.

This month I turned my dissertation over to my committee and started working full time. That is to say, _only_ 40 hours a week. And all of them paid. It's been a while since I got paid for doing 40 hours of work in a week. I told Joy I would be home 5 or 6, depending on the day, and I would belong to the family then. She said, "I don't believe it. I don't know what that's like." No more stealing hours on Saturday (except when necessary), no more 2am work sessions, just come in to the office and leave again. It's a nice concept. I enjoyed officially telling my work goodbye on Saturday, threatening not to think about it for two days. (I didn't quite completely avoid thinking about it, but pretty close.)

November 1 I become a temp. That means health insurance is 2 months away and I start getting my post doc wage before I actually become a post doc. As my adviser/boss says, if I'm doing the work for it, I ought to get the wage. I always did like him.

November 3 I defend my dissertation. After making final changes, I turn it in to the graduate school, get a letter saying I pass, and a few weeks after that I become a post doc.

It's a whole new life stage!

I've told you the best parts. The most difficult are: not working at home so I don't get to see Hyrum or Joy so much [Hy listed first because he changes every day. Joy is more steady.]; preparing two lunches before work each day; and needing to be serious about waking up around 6:30 every day to start walking to work to be there on time.

This week I was walking in a slight rainshower with my rainslicker on, doing just fine. Then the clouds darkened ... deeply and quickly. I said, "uhoh." (brilliant conversationalist, aren't I?) The wind picked up and blew half the leaves off a nearby tree, and then the rain followed. I was thoroughly soaked from the waist down by the time I got to campus. I let my socks hang to dry and wandered around barefoot for a while. JUST as I was starting to dry off, I knocked over my drink, spilling two cups of liquid all over my dry shirt and drying pants. I mentioned to the secretary that the world seemed against me today (in a good humored way because I was still in a good humor). When Per heard about it, he ordered me home to warm up and dry off. Did I mention I like him? I do have a slight sore throat since then. Hopefully it'll clear up tomorrow.

Baby steps

Hi there. Hy here.

... Say, that's pretty good! I'll have to trademark that.

Dad recommended I take a break from my busy training regiment to be on the Olympic crawling team in order to bring the grandparents and the rest of you some of my recent accomplishments.

As you can see from this picture, I am quite accomplished. Dad thinks I'm playing the air violin. Mom thinks I'm giving a lecture on pension law like Pop.

I stand with great regularity right now. I stood on the day of my 6 month check up with Dr. Loehre (pronounced Lair - NOT an auspicious name for a waiting room: Welcome to the Leohre!). He didn't get to see me stand, but he watched me crawl all over his office with bug eyes and dropped jaw. He had to double-check his computer to make sure this was really my 6 mo. check up. "Wow! He's MOBILE!" was all he could say.

The video is one Dad took tonight. He checked the baby book, and at the 6 mo check up, it said 'your baby might be rolling over by now.' At 9 mo. 'your baby might be crawling by now.' At 12 mo 'your baby might be standing and walking when grasping things.' Yeah, I'm cool. Doc confirmed that I am at the 55th percentile in height and 31st in weight, which he also said is perfectly normal and happy.

Here is a normal, happy baby playing in a cardboard box. Any questions?

I've added rice and broccoli to the menu of things I eat. Mom was sick twice recently, so that put a damper on adding new foods. The only other new food I get is ... formula. After seven months of Mommy Milk, my little tummy couldn't handle the formula very well, but it's getting used to it. Today Dad fed me my solids while holding me and singing in choir. I had a lot more control over the process that way.

My favorite toy in the tub is a tupperware bowl just like I eat out of. I drink out of it and splash it and dump water out of it. I really like playing with spoons, too.

I also love to drink Mom's water, at home and at restaurants. Oh, I had my first restaurant meal last week! Mom and Dad had bought me my Halloween costume (hint: I won't be a pumpkin OR a caterpillar, though even Dad was forced to admit I made a Really Adorable insect) and we stopped in to a Chinese buffet. Along the rows of food, Dad saw some bananas that weren't too covered in sweet sauce, mashed them up, and I ate my first restaurant food.

In other news, my team didn't make it to the World Series, but came really, really close... again.

I graduated from my little baby carrier to a big baby carrier. The police were kind enough to buy and install it for us thanks to our low incomes. (Dad figures there's no shame in using state resources to follow a state law.) I also briefly graduated to sitting in the large part of the stroller ... until the seat belt broke. So for now I'll be using the little baby carrier in the stroller still.

Today at stake conference, I accomplished another milestone. I climbed a step! Mom and Dad were sitting with the choir, and before the meeting started I managed to swing one leg over the edge of the step and then pull the rest of my body forward enough to be on higher ground! Dad was my witness.

Look out world, here I come!

Dad thinks my biggest accomplishment is introducing a particular new syllable to those I can mutter. When I use two of them in a row, it forms the word "dada." The first time I said it, he freaked out. He jumped around, he whooped, he danced me around, he did everything he could to let me know that he was happy when I said that. I'll have to say it more often, but not too often, or the newness will wear off. Got to keep these parents in line.

Though I've said several syllable combinations that form words, I haven't had a meaning behind any of them yet. Likely candidates so far for First Word With Intent are: mama, Hy, dada, and book. During General Conference, when someone was talking bout the Book of the Mormon, I repeated 'boo' after him. Not boo like a ghost, but like book without the k. Mom was pretty excited.

Mom and Dad took me to the Ithaca Book Sale yesterday. Next to the Ithaca Festival in summer, it's the biggest event in town. Thousands of books are on really cheap sale. Proceeds fund the library. Mom found a box full of baby books for me to chew... er, read together with them, including a few Dad knew from his childhood. That'll be fun.

I'm also quite expert at riding on Daddy's shoulders. The mission president encouraged me to tug really hard on his hair today. Well ... Daddy does always encourage me to follow my priesthood leaders....

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

They grow up so fast....

It seems like just yesterday I was blogging about how Hyrum was getting up and balancing on his knees....

"That's because it was yesterday, Dad"

Right you are, Hy. This morning, just now, Hyrum pulled himself to a standing position!!!!! using Mom's hands.

As Joy was full of amazement (and yelled for me to come), she said on his behalf, "Now that I can stand, what I really want to do is walk around, like Daddy." Instantly on hearing this, he reached out one wobbly leg to take a step towards me! (Course, he set it right back where it had been, but WOW.)

And this ... is only the beginning!
It's a great time to be a dad who works at home!