Friday, May 29, 2009


I'm several posts behind the great events of the last couple weeks, so I'll keep this one shorter.

Happy Anniversary to Derrill and Joy! The 28th marked our 4th anniversary*. To celebrate, we took advantage of my parents being in town for my graduation (more on that later) to watch the new Star Trek movie with the Petersons on Monday while they held down the fort. I was somewhat skeptical going in, but realized at some point in the movie that I was pretty excited and am quite happy with some of the choices they made. Let the Final Frontier continue! My folks also took us and the sister missionaries out to dinner and we played some board games with my parents all weekend. And for our reminiscing pleasure, I made up a Facebook quiz about our courtship so we could have a chance to talk about that wondrous year together.

Thursday we went to look for a replacement ring for Joy, whose opal fell out of its setting a few months back. The search goes on. I needed some time to lay down because I've been a bit sick this week, so she went to the eternal marriage institute class by herself while I put the baby to bed. Then we had just some nice quiet time together. I gave Joy a new set of Amish romance books and -- big drumroll -- a new portable wipes container! She was very happy to get that.

Sounds nice and time, right? Well, that's in part because Joy decided that since this is probably (hopefully) the last year we get a large tax refund, we should plunk down a chunk of it for tickets to visit her brother's family ... in EETALEE! So we're looking at taking off for my two week vacation sometime in Sept to enjoy the post-tourist season with far flung family near Venice**. That's the other part of the anniversary celebration.

* - 4*365 + 1 for leap year is 1461 days for those needing an explanation of the title, and since we were married around noon in San Diego, it's still the 1461st day ... for about another 2-32 minutes. It counts.

** - That's why she was recalling being at the Venice of Holland in the last post.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Something Completely Different

Joy was reminiscing about her trip to "The Venice of Holland," whose real name she often has trouble remembering. Well, here it is: Giethoorn (pronounced He-torn). It was easily her favorite part of the trip.

Holland - Giethoorn

And there are some friendly pictures of beautiful Giethoorn where Joy went on vacation before she came out east. Enjoy.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

"The [red] robes of a false priesthood"

I picked them up yesterday and hurried over to Per's office to get a few photos with him before he left again.

Coming soon to a weekend near you!

The robes reference can be found here.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Hy at the Park

The other week, we got together with our dear friends the Petersons at a nearby park for a picnic and ... well, kid chasing mostly. I had fun video taping Hyrum being a toddler. So here are a whopping three videos of this blog's most photogenic topic.

There was a pond that gravity naturally seemed to attract Hyrum to. I finally gave in, walked him to the edge, and held on to his leg while he splashed and picked up leaves.

The toddler toddles.

Hyrum plays with the mulch.


During the course of my dissertation and a book chapter on hunger in Africa, I noticed a very surprising trend (that I'm writing up for a short policy paper for a journal). We're accustomed to hearing that all of Africa is going down to the toilet as fast as inhumanly possible. The hunger statistics (1990-2004) seem to agree: the number of hungry people is going down rapidly in Asia, slowly in most of the rest of the world, but is rising in Africa.

When I disaggregated Africa into its constituent countries, however, I was shocked to learn that nearly all the increase comes from just one country: the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly known as Zaire). If you remove the DR Congo from the data, the rest of Africa had not seen any noticeable increase in hunger for over a decade! In fact, the vast majority of countries have seen no change, with only a few (DR Congo and Tanania on the downside, Ethiopia and Ghana on the upside) moving appreciably.

This is tremendous news. The situation is not as desperate as we are led to believe. There is hope in a lot of places.

It also means there is a great need for help in the DR Congo to slow and stop the problems there. The #1 problem stems from the war that has been ragining on and off there for over a decade: The First Congolese War in the mid-1990s, the Second one a few years later which has been compared to the Africa World War. Wiki reports that "Today at the dawn of 2009, people in the Congo are still dying at a rate of an estimated 45,000 per month and already 2,700,000 people have died since 2004. This death toll is due to widespread disease and famine; reports indicate that almost half of the individuals killed are children under the age of 5." There is little that the average person can do about the war and refugees.

But there are many other things that a person can do. Imagine my joy today when I was visiting the Church Newsroom to see the DR Congo listed fairly prominently!

I've known the Church was active building wells in scattered villages in Africa, training the locals how to care for it, and doing all they can to help people help themselves through humanitarian service missionaries. I didn't realize that the large project I read about last year and on the 30-minute between-Conference session news segments (Luputa) was in the DR Congo! These people live so far away from a clean water source, it requires a 5 hour trip to collect water, including balancing the plastic and ceramic containers the entire way back. The water will be sent out to some 160,000 people, improving health and enabling children to go to school instead of to collect water.

The Church has also partnered with an NBA star who is building
a rather large well for a hospital he started in Kinshasa (the capital) that does not have a reliable supply of clean water. The well will also allow the hospital to establish a dialysis unit.

I just see these stories and think, Yeah! That's where my humanitarian donations on the tithing slips are going. How thankful I am that the Church is reaching out to the DR Congo.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Fun links and excerpts

From my usual suspects.

Star Trek Office signs - For the terminally red shirted.

Klingon opera- Coming soon to a local theater!

Extreme Green living - Too much of a good thing?

Another Reason to Just Say No
The data, collected by the Forensic Science Service, reveals how drug gangs are using increasing amounts of chemicals - so-called cutting agents - to dilute cocaine powder sold on the streets of Britain. They include the cancer-causing drug phenacetin, cockroach insecticide and pet worming powder.

Best line: The three most dangerous words in the English language are: "Macroeconomists agree that ..."

Breaking News from the Onion [excerpt]:
Ugandan Ambassador Seizes Control of the UN and Declares himself Secretary-General for life
Reporter: It’s extremely tense, Brandon, there’s no telling what a madman like Mtambe will do! As Secretary-General he has the ability to do anything, from outline the UN’s year long goals, to propose agenda items for consideration by the Security Council!
Anchor: I can’t imagine what it must be like for those ambassadors inside, having no idea what this maniac will decide to place on the preliminary list of matters to be included in the provisional dockets.
Reporter: It’s terrifying!

Zombie economics and politics - be sure to read the first two comments about Obama's (serious) attempts to stimulate the undead.

Mother's Day

I had the most Perfect Mother's day ever. So, this blog is really a tribute to my wonderful Husband, Derrill!

It all started on Saturday morning. We had stayed up late to listen to the Dogders loose against the Giants. It was a really fun game to enjoy together, but we had planned that Derrill would be getting Hyrum in the morning. So I slept in on both Saturday and Sunday, because of my wonderful Derrill. This was really a sacrifice for him physically, since we were up past 1:30 am. Then he made crepes for me (my current favorite breakfast), and let me exercise and shower before sending me off to the temple. Derrill then took care of Hyrum all day after having taken care of him in the morning. Derrill usually helps a lot on the weekends, but he even told me when I got home that he realized that what he usually does is help with Hyrum on the weekends and he had felt before he was taking care of him on weekends by himself.

I only explain the last part, because part of him mother's day gift to me that was very sweet was his added understanding of how much work taking care of Hyrum is. Understanding and compassion beat gifts any day. I got home from a wonderful temple session at 5:30 and had some great time with my family, because I had missed them. A gift that Derrill did not plan on giving me that day was that he told me that I was a good cook. It was a conversation that was inspired by some comments of a friend who wasn't feeling like a good cook. It kindof hit me in this moment that Derrill really likes all of the foods that I make him that he had growing up and that I have been very blessed (partly because he is not picky) to be able to feel that I cook as well as anyone has for him. It really made my day. He also gave me a small plant with cute pink flowers called Azealia. He was so on my wave length. He has never gotten me potted fowlers that we not daffodills and I was secretly hoping for potted flowers of some kind. What a guy!

Sunday, Derrill got up with Hyrum again (as I said before) and made me breakfast in bed with a divine chocolate muffin, grapes and crepes with a fancy banana sauce. I appreciated the extra sleep and the special treatment. My Derrill is so kind (then on top of all of that he was concerned the mothers day had not been good enough). After church Derrill and Hyrum presented me with cards and gifts, one each. The card from Hyrum has been a source of entertainment. On the front it says. "And now, PLEASE RISE for the National Mother's Day Anthem..." Then you open the card and it begins to sing "I will survive, oh as long as I know how to love I know I'll be alive. I've got all my life to live, I've got all my love to give. I'll survive" The picture inside is of maham and pandamoniam with a cat chasing a dog, mom pulling out her hair, dad panicing with a screaming babe in arms looking at a young child happily roasting marshmellows on the living room floor. Laudry, hand prints, other wall graffiti, cracks on walls, overturned flowers, paint and it says "Happy Mother's day". "Thank you for your patience, mom. Hy (of course written by Derrill)"

Well, the card was funny enough just the way it is, but for most of the rest of the day Hyrum also sported the card as he tottled around the house. He made sure to make the card sing everyonce in a while, he was cute figuring it out. The gift that came with Hyrum's card where some delicious milk chocolate covered cashews. Derrill's card was a sweet card telling me a list of 25 reasons why we are perfect for each other. His gift to me is a pair of earings that he has ordered, but was not able to give them to me yet. I opened a wrapped jewelery box with a not letting me know about the delayed gift. It was a really great day. I was some kind of royalty for mother's day ;)

At church I conducted the congregational hymns which is always fun for me and we had a lot of visitors for the Law commencement (people are leaving soon, wawah). We also had two musical numbers. The branch choir sang For the Beauty of the Earth. I sang with Caroline and our new branch president's wife As Sisters in Zion. It was a last minute thing planned at the Cinco de Mayo branch party. I was sittting with Sister Horrocks and she said that she had wanted As Sisters in Zion to be a musical number, that is how it ended up in the program as the closing number. I told her that it was still possible, and we could go back to the previous hymn chosen for the closing. She asked me who would sing it. I said that she and I could and we recruited Caroline as well. Before the Branch party was over. We practiced the Hymn once or twice with Caroline doing Alto and us on Soprano and Ben playing the piano and were to practice just once more before church. All went well, what a blessing.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Hyrum's Turn

Sometimes I feel like I don't get no respect on this blog, so let me give you the story straight.

It's summer time, and that means good summer cooking. I'm talking about barbecued rice cereal and peas! I'm talking about green bean juice straight from the sippy cup. With justice and peanut butter for all!

Mama got me some superhero pjs. Here I am springing into action! RAWR!

I may not know art, but I know what I like: the color green. What's color? I couldn't tell you. But if the food is green or comes from a green container, I'll eat it. Here I am sipping from the garlic sauce container that came with their pizza.

A) So this is the outside, hunh, Dad? ... I like it.

B) So you're telling me I can't play in the water because of a sea monster named Nessie who likes to eat cute babies? Get serious.

C) Dad said I can't jump in. Do you think he can stop me?

D) Right here on this very spot is where the infant King Arthur pulled forth the Binky in the Bog, signifying that he needed a change of clothing.

My name is Hyrum Watson, and I approved this message.

Oh, did I use that one already?

Well, since this is my new Official Picture, it ought to have my trademarked greeting for a caption then:

Hi there. Hy here.

This is the TV. I like to have it on. All the time. There's nothing on it cause we don't get cable, but I just like to have it on. First thing I do when I get up from my nap is toddle over and turn on the TV.

The other day, Mom figured out that she could unplug the TV and I can't get to the cord, so that may put a damper on things.

Dear Miss Manners

Q: I am a small child just learning to write/draw for the first time. Where can I do this? - Signed, Making My Mark

Dear Mark: Preferably in a notebook that your parents are holding out to you. You're a little young yet to create art on their walls and have them appreciate it. Stick to pencils to be on the safe side. Always ask first, that's polite.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Talking Myself Out of It

After Elder Ballard urged students to Blog for Christ, I toyed with the idea of what would happen if an apostle started a blog. I finally talked myself out of it today.

I can really only see two or three things it would turn into. The first is a travelogue. "Well, here I am in sunny Santo Domingo to reorganize the Salsa Stake. This is the hotel...." Great. Many critics, not least of whom would be the apostle himself, would think 'There's gotta be something better to do with his time.'

The second is a place to put recent spiritual thoughts. "I was reading Ether 15 today and saw something I never recognized before..." or "A lot of people have been asking me about ______" or some such. That would cool, right? I'd love to do scripture reading with an apostle. (Yeah, I know, I get to study with the Spirit every day. I'm not as proficient at holding a dialogue with Him.)

But I realized this would turn into one of two things: 1), the entertaining nightmare proposed by a fellow brancher 'because sometimes it's nice to be commanded in all things' or 2) Green Jello Casserole for the Soul. Either way, the comments would have to be run through the Church coordinating council. And both are somewhat redudant. We have the Church Newsroom for official answers, and where we don't have official answers it would only create confusion; and we have LDS Gems for all your daily inspirational thought needs.

So now I have a hard time seeing it. Which is sad. It seemed a cool idea at the time. A REAL Bloggernacle.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Exercise Crazy

So I am starting to see why many mothers feel that they do not have much to talk about at least about themselves. Then Derrill is usually telling you the news about Hyrum, so what do I need to say right?

Well, I have discovered that I am currently exercise crazy. I want to be walking all of the time. I walk while I do my dishes, I walk sometimes while I shower. I walk while I cook (of course all of them are in place) I walk when I eat and when I read. Infact I realized just yesterday that I am having a hard time motivating myself to do anything that doesn't allow me to do some kind of exercise at the same time.

Why the unceasing motivation to exercise? I can only attribute it to not gaining any noticeable effect. I had no idea how altered my body would be after I had a baby and the last 10 lbs just won't come off. (so I am really looking for 40, but I try not to let on to myself too much). :)

I am really excited about the exercise game that Derrill got for our Wii. I think he may have already mentioned it before "My Fitness Coach". It really gives me a good work out and so now, even if I do not see weight loss I know that it will help me feel like I am getting fit, which I want more. I really want to feel like that I am in shape and I am glad to be on the road there. I have always maintained that I am more interested in my health than I am in my weight and I still feel that way (it is just more challenging with more weight to focus that way).

So this post is a celebration for me, starting on a new road to fitness and loving it.

Hy widens his circle

Since Hyrum is fully capable of moving around the chairs in our home, we finally broke down and bought some child safety gates to keep him in the living room/kitchen area. This is to prevent him getting to the bathroom and playing in the water or pulling down the flimsy metal shelving we have in there as well as to keep our bedroom a touch more private.

But little Hyrum, (who incidentally now feeds himself bananas in the peel) seldom daunted, has demonstrated his ingenuity once again. Joy reports that at her allergist's office today, Hy reached up, pulled down on the door handle, and pulled a door open so he could pass through. He can't be that tall yet, can he??

Monday, May 4, 2009

Going to the beach

The South Beach, that is.

One of the transitions from student life is that I no longer have access to the student health center and the Cornell Healthy Eating Program. CHEP paired me up with a nutritionist, a nutrition doctor, a therapist, and a drug-prescribing psychologist (who said I didn't need her). We worked together intensely for the better part of 6 months and then off and on for the next year to try to create a healthier, happier Derrill.

The diagnosis was: insulin resistance. That's kissing cousin to diabetes, but not there yet. It meant a whole new approach to food. I've been eating 5 small meals a day, 120-150g of protein each day, and only 30-40g of carb per meal. It was a big adjustment at first, but I got used to it and I've been following it pretty well for the last two years.

The problem was that even though the nutrionist's electronic gadgetry said I was losing fat and gaining lean muscle mass (to the tune of a 30 pound improvement), it hasn't translated into even a one pound difference on the scale.

So now that I have a whole new doctor, he's putting me on a whole new lifestyle, the South Beach lifestyle. For the next two weeks, I essentially pretend I'm on the Atkins diet, only I focus on lean meats and cheat less. Promised weight loss: 8-14 pounds in 2 weeks. Then I move to a more manageable lifestyle that includes fruits and whole grains sparingly until I get to my goal weight, at which point the management gets a little looser.

In two weeks, I'll post Before and After pictures and give my review of the SB Diet Phase One.

On Thursday while picking up a backpack to carry Hyrum in, I also picked up a new Wii game: My Fitness Coach. She gives a pretty decent workout. "As far as we know." We know we sweat and we know our legs HURT after the first few days. It was difficult to walk kind of hurting. I got better Sat-Sun and Joy will hopefully be back to normal tomorrow. We walk a lot - cardio is not our style. "I always want to do cardio though."

Prayers and well wishes are always appreciated. Anti-testimonialists, please wait to post your negative results until I do the before and after post.

Humor for Austrians

Find more at Marginal Revolution. If you need a quick and dirty definition, Austrian economists believe that human interactions are so psychologically complex that it is impossible to mathematically model, but somehow their intuition describes societies perfectly and that intuition leads to some very laissez faire answers. Their favorite activities include demonstrating that "mainstream" (whatever that means) economic models are false (particularly with regard to monetary policy), that government policies always have unintended consequences, and that people's actions describe what they want better than their stated preferences. That should give you enough info to understand most of them.

My favorite:
What do you call 100 Austrian Economists at the bottom of the ocean?
A reaction to monetary policy incompatible with individual time preference.
-- submitted by Beamish

Non-Austrian economist: 'Linda Evangelista doesn't get out of bed for less than USD 10k per day'
Austrian economist: 'That model doesn't work'.
-- submitted by nick

How many Austrian economists does it take to change a lightbulb?
A) Zero, they expect the market to do it. -- drtaxsacto
B) All of them. First Ludwig von Mises personally changes the lightbulb, then the remainder spend the next 80 years praising how well he did it. -- steve
C) It used to only take one, until the government started training more Austrian economists... -- sleepy_commentator
D) It is impossible to make quantitative predictions. -- Trent McBride

When an economic crisis comes, [mainstream] economist says "Market is a failure!" The Austrian economist says "Government is a failure!" Everybody else says "Economists are a failure!"
-- Michael F. Marton

Two middle-age women walk into a bar. The first one said, "I really want a husband." The second one, who was also an Austrian economist, said "I can prove that you are lying." -- mobile

Austrian economists never die; they are just dragged kicking and screaming into equilibrium. -- Cyrus

I once told a joke that I believe I learned from Roger Garrison. I told it to a mixed group of Austrian and non-Austrian graduate students. "There are three kinds of Austrian economists. Those who can count and those who cannot." The non-Austrians got it; the Austrians did not! -- Mario Rizzo