Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Comparison Shopping

There is a cult in Ithaca that LOVES Wegmans. It is not only their grocery store and deli, it is their social center - they have live guitar players, beatnik poetry reading, you name it. Some of our best friends here over the years have been devoted Wegmanites. And I admit that they have more culture than Tops where I've been shopping lo these many years. I admit they have MUCH more variety, including of the organic varieties. They have computer terminals that will tell you where to find anything, it's such a large place. Our friends never would believe me, though, that a person has to pay for that social experience and variety. The prices are higher at Wegmans than at Tops. There's nothing wrong with paying, as long as you are willing to.

Since no one seemed aware that they were paying more, Joy and I did some comparison shopping. The results are in. If Wegmans is actually cheaper for you than Tops, I know you live on peanut butter sandwiches. You see, peanut butter ($1) and multigrain whole wheat bread ($1) are almost the only things where Wegmans had a price advantage. Other example on our shopping list include applesauce (50 cents cheaper, but much runnier), canned pears (10 cents), and (depending on the week) eggs. Cauliflower and canned peaches were the same price.

Every other fruit, vegetable, dairy, soda, and meat that we buy cost more at Wegman's than at Tops - and we're talking store-brand buying or produce here. Celery an extra 80 cents per stalk, zuchini 20 cents per pound, 50 cents more for cucumbers, for milk, for imitation crab, 20 for bacon, 5 cents per soda - the effect of another bottle tax. Frozen broccoli cost $2.87 more for the same quantity! For the amount of yogurt we buy, it was 80 cents more expensive and neither Hyrum nor I could stand it. Yogurt is Hyrum's favorite food and he wouldn't eat the W variety. The meat selection at Wegmans is wide, lovely (we had a magnificent tenderloin), but terribly expensive. Well beyond our budget, particularly when doctor after doctor puts us on high-protein diets.

Now we don't buy many boxed foods, and maybe Wegmans is cheaper for them. I've just never walked out of that store when I went there to get something I couldn't find at Tops thinking I had gotten a good deal.

Please enjoy the cultural venues. The deli looks good. Their desserts look awesome. They carry t-shirts and a wider variety of everything, and they even have a play area for kids (3 and up). Just know you are paying for the privilege. We're more of a Tops/Aldi's family and are likely to stay that way for some time to come. On the other hand, when we go in for the odd item, we now know to stock up on peanut butter and multi-grain bread.

Joy was at Wegmans for 2-3 hours performing this test. Much praise is due her. "I went back to the meat aisle three times thinking there's got to be something cheaper here."

Something Fishy

To celebrate my sister the marinophile's birthday tomorrow, I am proud to present a set of interesting and entertaining fish stories. Here's to the Monkeyfish! Long may she and my brother swim!

The Economics of Why Lobster is suddenly so cheap: a great job at conservation, a poor job at cooperative marketing (aka collusion, but we'll let that pass), and an economic recession.

A fish who can look through its own head. It looks up through a transparent head to see the outline of fish above it closer to the sun. Scientists are now delighted to learn it can in fact turn its eyes when it turns vertical to make its move on a smaller fish above it.

The Law of Unintended Consequences similarly swims up and bites environmentalists' swimming trunks again: Dolphin-safe tuna disaster. "If you work out the math on this (and you don’t have to, because the environmental justice foundation did), you find that 1 dolphin saved costs 382 mahi-mahi, 188 wahoo, 82 yellowtail and other large fish, 27 sharks, and almost 1,200 small fish."

And, only tangentially related because of the Fish McSandwich, How McDonald's conquered France, its #2 most profitable area. "... McDonald's was a blight on the American landscape, ... and in a contest between Roquefort and Chicken McNuggets, I knew which side I was on. But implicit in this attitude was a belief that McDonald's had somehow been foisted on the French; that slick American marketing had lured them away from the bistro and into the arms of Ronald McDonald. However, that just wasn't true. The French came to McDonald's and la malbouffe (or fast-food) willingly, and in vast and steadily rising numbers. Indeed, the quarter-pounded conquest of France was not the result of some fiendish American plot to subvert French food culture. It was an inside job, and not merely in the sense that the French public was lovin' it—the architects of McDonald's strategy in France were French."

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Attachment, Isn't it great!

An exciting thing for Hyrum this week sithat he has started to fold his arms by himself for prayer. He holds a wrist with the other hand. It is so cute. We are really excited about that. He has also been giving more kisses which has lead to some more biting, but has been really sweet when he is being sweet. He is more affectionate over all.

Another example is that he knows what I mean when I say, "Want to sit in Mommy's lap?". He will smile and then come and sit in my lap (most times). Last night I was sitting in Derrill's lap and we decided it was time for family prayer. We called Hyrum to come over and he just smiled, but wouldn't come. So, I said, "Want to sit in mommy's lap?". Hyrum grinned wide and came right over to us.


A Prop 8 Conversation

Last year I had intended to post something regarding California's Prop 8, which defined marriage as between a man and a woman in the state constitution. I had gone door to door with my father back when it was Prop 22 that was making it a law, only to see that law enacted by the will of the people overturned by certain judges. I intended to write several, but somehow never got to it. I was rather disappointed when it was over.

But it seems that it isn't over and there is continued and ongoing debate about it. I voiced my opinion on a Facebook poll, and that started a lengthy and interesting conversation with a friend of mine that I wanted to quote here as a belated contribution. The debate is mostly about what government can and should do and about the relationship between agency, liberty, and law than about the rightness or wrongness of homosexual marraige per se or whether it is a civil rights issue. In order to distinguish between his comments and mine, I will stick a small pic of me next to my contributions. I should note that I don't necessarily agree with everything he says we agree on, and let a lot of debatable points go for the sake of brevity and staying on message.
In stating the reason I was voting No to reverse Prop 8, I wrote:

If marriage were a purely social institution, I would have no problem with extending it to everyone. It is not, however. Marriage between a man and a woman was ordained of God, and we do not have the right to change its definition. I also worry about how freedom of speech and of religion will be curtailed as any preaching that something is morally wrong will be labeled "hate speech."

He responded: take government out of the marriage issue and the problem goes away. Would a government ordained by God be in the business of restricting free agency?

Of course not. The question yours begs, though, is if the establishment and enforcement of law curtails free agency. The answer is that it does not. God sets forth laws, laws He not only enforces, but is also bound by, and that without restricting agency. In fact, laws are ESSENTIAL in order to HAVE agency in the first place because without them there is no choice.
Commandments do not restrict agency. We are free to disobey and reap the consequences. The eternal laws are already there and we can't change them. Legal immorality is still immoral.

Man's law is enforced through coercion and duress, removing agency.
HE offers a reward for obedience, and a choice.
So, it seems we agree that the US gov. isn't ordained by God. I suggest it is even in opposition to God's will and an obstacle to building the Kingdom for HIM; where agency lets men suceed or fail. We can help others make good choices without threats, violence, and cages. I do not need a law to decide to love my neighbor.

Except for one thing: in this case, that coercive power is not being used on anyone. If homosexual marriage became legalized, the coercive power of the state would be used in our schools and against churches and religious people to force them to accept as normal and permissible something they regard as sin. Right now, no one is using the force of the state to prevent people from marrying. They just say, "oh, you had a ceremony. That's nice. It doesn't count." In countries where it has been legalized, pastors have been threatened with jail for preaching against it. In this case, protecting agency against coercion means keeping the law and constitution we just passed in place.

Again, the problem is government enforcement of law. If there's no coercion, why did WE need a license to marry? I got one, under duress. Did you?
I think you'll agree that permission from the Church is more important than that from the state. Seems to me, we should be deleting marriage law, not adding more. I'd rather tell the state what they can't do, instead of my neighbor.

1) There was no duress. I wanted the benefits the law provides and happily provided evidence that Joy and I would be, and then were, properly married by someone having authority.
2) The Church itself uses the phrase "legally and lawfully" married, not "married under Church authority."
3) Yes, I would also rather tell the state what it can and cannot do rather than my neighbor. But when my neighbor rises up and wants to use the state's coercive powers against what I hold most dear, I am happy to tell the state it has the authority to say, no, you can't. The early saints tried to get the state government to protect them against their neighbors, and then the federal government against the state government. Joseph Smith lamented that he felt the Constitution was not yet perfect, in part because there was no protection for them.
This is about protecting freedoms we have. At least to me.

Y'know, let me try a different tack.
You say the problem is whether the state or US government should or should not have the authority to decide who can and cannot get married. Unfortunately, that isn't the question Prop 8 or Nullify Prop 8 asks. Whether we keep the CA Constitution as it now stands or make another ammendment to it, the state is going to decide who can and cannot get married. The world where the government does not have that authority doesn't exist in this timeline.
It is possible for a hypothetical best to stand in the way of a feasible good. I can understand trying to hold out for it, but in doing so, we prevent the good that can be done today. Next fight we can try to bring it further. But this is today's fight and today's question.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Too Cute

We're doing some redecorating, which involves moving a bookcase from one side of the house to the other. I just pulled it out of Hy's room and parked it in the kitchen. Hyrum at once came over, grabbed hold, and pushed it around on the tile just like Daddy did.

We realized that this was not safe and I'd best finish the job, vacuum or no. So I started to heave it the rest of the way. Hyrum ran over to the other side of the bookcase and started pushing with all his little might. He followed me all the way and looked very proud for helping.

Hyrum wins the Daddy's Little Helper Award.

Can anyone think of an example.....

of a goatee-wearing lead in a romantic comedy?

You see, the vast majority of movie and TV characters with goats are bad guys: Humperdink's evil sidekick (the guy with six fingers who killed your father); anyone on an Enterprise ship other than Riker with facial hair comes from an alternate, EVIL, dimension or is a Klingon (evil until the Berlin Wall fell); Han Solo and Knight Rider's evil twins have goats; even the villain in Lion King adds a goatee to his mane. A website full of examples of the Beard Of Evil exists if you doubt the phenomenon.

I grant that there are 'anti-hero' protagonists whose job is to maim and kill as many people as possible or whose allegiances are clearly questionable who sport goats (Jack Sparrow, post-Gorbachov Klingons). Athletes do not grow goatees in order to show their caring, compassionate nature.

These are not romantic leads or traditional good guys. I mean, can you think of anyone in a goatee playing opposite Meg Ryan or Julia Roberts?

This is a matter of mild concern to an avowed goody-two-shoes whose wife likes him to sport the occasional goatee.

The first time she had me grow a beard and shave it down to a goat, I did a little editing of the picture to express my concerns about it...

UPDATE: In today's comics we see the emergence of a "second, evil head." Can you guess what it has?

Changing of the Phone

Hi there. Hy here with an important public service announcement coming to you live from the Baby Desk.

The Watsons are dropping a phone line.

Mama talked to the nice people at Lingo who have been providing our VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) phone service through the internet the last couple years. They were offering us a new contract to lower our price again.

But the rates just keep going up (mostly taxes), the service has been spottier and spottier - dropped calls, loss of connection - and recent test results confirm that internet connectivity has suffered from it as well.

So we are NO LONGER using our land line home phone. It's now my play thing. We have a cell phone only. If you want that number, please send us an email or drop a comment in the blog.

We'll be looking forward to hearing from you on our cell phone. Until next time everybody, mwa!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Hyrum Conducts, Haircuts, and Grows

We have mentioned that Hyrum enjoys music. When the organ at church starts playing the introduction to a hymn, he starts waving his arms to conduct it and remind Joy (our chorister) to start conducting. He will sometimes wave his arm up and down at home to get us to conduct the music. Here is Hyrum enjoying watching me "conduct" the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in my pajamas over the baby monitor this morning.

(hmph. On our computer, you can see Hy laughing and smiling and enjoying himself, but at this resolution it only seems that I'm enjoying myself.)

And here is Hy conducting a little himself.

By the way, these videos feature Hyrum's BRAND NEW HAIRCUT. Joy took 30-40 minutes yesterday to try. Without going into detail, it was pretty traumatic for Hyrum, and hence for the rest of us. Joy had to pin him to his high chair with her knee. Joy says, "My one consolation is that he's not a girl." Here are some stills. She did a good job.

Oh, and have we mentioned how TALL our baby is now? He's back up to the height percentile he had when he was born. Then it was 88%, now he's 95%. Only 5% of children his age are taller. My son, the giant. The doctor was also impressed by how strong, active, and happy he is.

"He's been rocking in his high chair. I had to put the high chair/booster into a heavier chair so he wouldn't just flop over onto the floor cause he rocks it so hard!"

Return of the Handyman

When the washing machine leaked a few months ago, we replaced it and thought that was the end of it. Then we noticed that there was a depression in the floor in Hyrum's bedroom just as you walk in the door. I lifted up the carpet and found that the wood was molded, warped, and indeed cracking and splintering.

This looks like a job for the Handyman!

In theory, the repair is quite simple. You roll back the carpet, cut out the old wood, replace it, and Bob's your uncle. It's a small hole, so I don't need to replace too much, just the area in between two support beams: 16 inches by 24. Theoretically, I could get it done in a good Saturday's work.

In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice.
In practice there often is.

1) The job got bigger. I rolled back the carpet and discovered that several sections of the floor are really supremely molded. In the right you can see a discolored section against the wall. There's another over by Hy's bed. Make that 4'x4'.

2) The circular saw I bought couldn't do the job. It started smoking. I spent more than 2 hours just in travel back and forth between Lowe's on Saturday, not counting time in the store.

3) I made the mistake of wearing my well-worn walking shoes one day and went through the floor, as seen below. There's just insulation and then a minor drop of two-plus feet to the trailer's underbelly. So now I have some insulation to repair as well.

Actually, I made that mistake twice and fell in again. I scraped up my leg pretty painfully, put some big marks on my back, banged up my shoulder, and did a number on two pairs of pants.

Then I decided to just expand the project to the back wall because that's almost the size the plywood comes in and it's less cutting for me, so now we're at 4'x7.5'.

Here is the debris in the hall from taking the wood out all the way to the other wall. It took from Saturday to Wednesday with all my free time on it. Hyrum slept in our room two nights and we slept with our mattress in the living room so I could have another couple hours to work on it. A friend from church who runs a construction company also loaned me his tools, which sped up the job greatly.

4) The support beams on the ends of the room were tucked under the wall. So on one side I had to nail in another support beam next to it and on the other side I had to rip out the insulation so I could put it some more frameworking.

It was a wonderful thing to put down the first section of reflooring. To be able to walk without fear of falling again was an amazing thing I had taken much for granted.

After sliding it around and cleaning and prepping, I finally put both pieces of wood down Friday and secured them to the support beams. (That's when problem 5 happened: the screws were worthless. Most of them stripped in the process of drilling them into the wood. Plan B - nail it down. I felt comfortable doing that since the floor had been secured by staples before.)

And finally, here I am on solid ground. Fri-Sat I rolled back the carpet, tacked it in place, repaired and replaced the heating vent (problem 6), tucked the carpet into place, vacuumed, cleared out the wood remains, and otherwise started restoring the room to its former pristine condition ... least ways until we decide to go after the rest of the moldy wood in the room. And I only got 8 splinters deeply enough embedded in my hands that I couldn't tweezer them out.

Next week I try to get the insulation repaired, but then again, maybe it'll wait to the week after. It'd be nice to have some time with my family this week....

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Who said what now?

Someone here was fasting today and had some interesting revelations in the last hour before dinner. Here are the one-sided conversations. Can you guess who?

Do you know the Muffin Man? the Muffin Man? the Muffin Man.....
Does anyone really know the Muffin Man??

Do you have any Grey Poupon?
Sorry. All my Poupon is yellow.
Poupon! Get your Poupon!
Get your poop on?

(to the tune of "What Do You Do With a Problem Like Maria")
How do you spe-ell "onomatopoeia"?
Is there something that makes that sound?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Different Perspectives on Africa

Chris Blattman (Yale prof of econ and poli sci) has been in Uganda for his work and brings in the following report:

Where southerners fear to tread

I make my last trip down from Uganda's north to Kampala today, before heading back to Liberia on Wednesday.

I'm reminded of a trip south more than two years ago, shortly after the war ended and LRA [Lord's Resistence Army] rebels moved to cantonment sites in southern Sudan. The roads finally safe to travel without military escort, Jeannie and I took two weeks to drive a 4x4 from Kitgum down to the Rwandan border, visiting wildlife parks, mountain retreats, and lakeside villages on the way down.

As we crossed out of the conflict zone, we stopped for petrol. Southern Ugandans fear the north of their country, and hold all sorts of misconceptions. So we weren't surprised when the wide-eyed station attendant asked what we were doing driving out of the north. She'd never before seen two wazungu alone on the road.

We explained that we worked in Kitgum with war-affected youth, but were taking a short holiday. It was then our turn to look wide-eyed.

"Those poor people up there. How they have suffered," she replied. "I had no idea how bad it was, though, until I saw it last week on Oprah."

Now that is a national diconnect. Even today we have trouble finding drivers in Kampala who will brave a trip to the (now peaceful) north. As best I can tell, Uganda has surrendered reconstruction in the north to the hundreds of American missionaries and college students that flock to Gulu for internships. As we speak, I'm flanked by two 20-year olds updating their Facebook pictures.

It will be a long road to post-conflict development in Uganda...


Some QWiki facts on Uganda:
31 million people;
about 84% Christian (40% Cath, 33% Anglican), 12% Islam;
lots of untapped natural resources including fertile fields, mineral wealth, oil and gas;
Landlocked next door to the DRC, Sudan, Kenya, and Tanzania;
GDP per capita of ... $300. No, there's no zero missing. And this represents an improvement.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Oh my

Joy and I were laying on the couch trying not to be sick when we noticed a sound coming from around the rocking chair. I was perfectly placed to get these two videos.

Joy tells me this is not the first time. He regularly practices his consonants and vowels over a few books.

It makes a couple nerds very proud to see their son trying to read. The book he grabbed (Goldilocks told as a poem involving discussion of good manners) isn't even one we have read to him before and is rather heavier on words than pictures compared to standard 15-month-old fare.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Bad Movie Reviews - Jane Austen

I consider Jane Austen to be one of the greatest authors of all time. I thoroughly enjoy everything she did, have reread several of her works, and owned several movie versions of them well before I met Joy.

This week, I am sad to report, we have seen two of the most disappointing film renditions of her works we have seen. They were shown on the new Masterpiece Classic in January, and my mother thoughtfully recorded them for us. These reviews notwithstanding, we do appreciate it.

1) Northanger Abbey (2007) with Felicity Jones, screenplay by Andrew Davies - not our favorite of the books anyway, but this movie decided to add several scenes depicting the Gothic romance books the heroine fancies. This was rather dark for Joy. When Catherine then started reading aloud about a voyeuristic monk, in detail describing what he saw, we just shut it off and said, "NEXT!"

2) Mansfield Park with Billie Piper, screenplay by Maggie Wadey - I love M.P. I think it's my second favorite of her works, though Emma is close. If you assigned M.P. to a freshman English class and asked them to write a 3-5 page paper on the plot, this is the movie you would get based on their summaries. It's choppy. Scene shifts are sudden. There is no subtlety, whether in acting, stagecraft, or filming. They give you one blunt, bludgeoned sentence to give you the fullest character of each person and fail miserably to develop anyone any further. With such a view of it, you can imagine the snarky comments I might add when I discovered that Jane Austen was not even credited in the film for having written the novel - Maggie Wadey gets that honor.

Most of the main scenes are there, but in such a choppy fashion that it's a wonder anyone who hadn't read it could follow it. Fanny gives you a brief introductory narration, and from then until halfway through the movie she does not speak - she just looks a little severly at everyone. She spends most of her time pouting. Edmund, when he realizes who he loves, is feverish and frightening and does a terrible job emoting love and affection. He spends most of his time looking like he needs to run off to the lavatory, but has to look dignified until the director yells Cut. They almost completely removed Aunt Norris and one of the sisters from the movie (and how do you understand what Fanny has gone through without Aunt Norris??).

They also almost completely cut Mr. Crawford's romancing of Fanny. He says he intends to pursue and she says he lacks constancy. He then meets her in the garden and says he has proved his constancy! Did I blink and miss it?? The next scene is when they learn a plot spoiler. She doesn't even go home to her own family! Mary Crawford was done halfway decently but, lacking Ms. Austen's subtlety, her lifting of her skirt to show her ankle, her blatant come-hither glares, and her demanding air make her much more of a tyrannical temptress than a decided clergyman-to-be would consider. The one humorous note is that the oldest brother, Tom, is played by a Mr. (James) D'Arcy.

I could go on, but won't. We'll just settle back and be thankful for Keira Knightly's ability to do justice to a long story in a short amount of time (screenplay by Deborah Moggach), sip the rapturous tea of Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth, and delight at Gwennyth Paltrow's follies. As long as we have these, "Mr. Bennet, nothing you say shall ever vex me again. "
Mr. Bennet: I'm sorry to hear it.

(Thanks to PBS.org and IMDB.com for helping me get names and credits right and to Masterpiece Classic ... for trying.)

D Before and After

The first month of results are in on the South Beach Diet! And the score is:.......

-15 pounds!

I lost about 10-12 pounds the first two weeks during "phase 1"and have kept losing about 2 more each week since. This is my single largest weight loss in one YEAR, let alone one month, in my life. Even though I'm going to stay on "phase 2" of SB for a while, I'm really not worried about losing any more for now. I will just be happy to bounce a round a new 'decade' of weight for a while and prove I can keep this off. If more does happen to come off, great. I should also mention that I have been sick, flat in bed the last week and slightly ill the week before, so I have had very little exercise for two weeks and still lost weight.

In all these weight-loss commercials, they show before and after pictures, and I've learned there are several rules you have to follow in order to do it right. First, in the before picture you need to find your tightest, ugliest clothes possible.

It turns out that my fattest picture was NOT in my tightest clothes, but in my loosest with a fairly strong wind blowing.

I call it, Stay Puft Marshmallow Graduate. Yes, I work in the nutrition department now.


Here is the real before shot. I tuck in my chin to make it my chins, with a look of not-so-subtle dour misery, not to mention showing off the thinning of my hair, and the buttons that are straining to stay on. Not too bad.

Now, technically, for the After pose you wear something completely different, suck in your gut, smile big, and have better lighting and all the rest, but I did want something a little more comparison worthy. So here I am in the same shirt, trying to look as bad as before:

You will notice that the shirt actually has room to give now. The buttons aren't straining and there's no horrendous belly bulge.

But maybe you'd like a more sensible before and after comparison.

The results are more subtle. There's more definition to my chin and less of an angle on those buttons as they move down. It's kind of hard to see Toooo much dif though. Guess that's why they choose 35 pound losers instead of 15.

For a more objective measure:

I can get the top button to its hole, though I'm another couple pounds away from closing it. So my neck size is a good 1/2" - 1" smaller.

Now it just so happens that "My Fitness Coach" asks us to measure various parts of our body on a regular basis for comparison. Not only has my neck lost 1/2-1", my chest, waist, and hips all lost 1", and my thighs and biceps are slightly better toned as well.

This has convinced Joy to start in the SB Diet this week as well. Today is her fourth day. We are also pleased to note (if this is going to be a lifestyle for us) that Hyrum does NOT like white bread, but is happy to have his peanut butter on grainy whole wheat.

How do you do it? The rest of this post is just a short description of the South Beach Diet. For more info, I recommend the book above the website.

Phase 1 is the tough part. For two weeks:
You eat a LOT of fresh-as-possible vegetables.
Lean meats are good, as are low-fat dairy products and nuts.
You have a small snack before meals and a dessert, mostly ricotta cheese with sugar substitute and the extract of your choice (vanilla, almond, lemon, cocoa powder).

And that's about it. It's very Atkins-like, but with Atkins I only lost about 2 pounds a week, not 10 in two weeks. The advertisement says 8-14 pounds. The advertisement also claims you will have no more cravings for highly processed carbs, but this is silly. You don't undo 30 years of food training in 2 weeks. I will admit that my carb cravings have lessened.

In Phase 2, you add in fruits and whole grains because you really do need those in your diet (not to mention for your own sanity). Plus dark chocolate comes in. I have decided I really enjoying just sucking on a chunk of dark chocolate until it coats my mouth and throat so that I'm drowning in it. Just a dab'll do ya. The advertised weight loss is 1 pound a week until you reach your goal. Whole wheat pasta is better than I thought it would be, and I've always been a fan of nutty, grainy whole wheat bread (well, since Germany anyway). Sweet potatoes replace white.

In Phase 3, you add a few more unprocessed grains. Anytime you feel yourself gaining again (or just decide to enjoy Christmas), you go back to Phase 1, take it back off, and return. Refined sugars, white rice, white bread, white potatoes and pasta never return to your lifestyle, and you have less corn than the typical American. You can enjoy them occasionally, of course, just in moderation.

He has plenty of caveats in the book along the lines of, "look, you need to enjoy this and if you don't you won't stick with it, so if you just HAVE to have your 1/2 cup of ice cream every day, do it and follow the rest of the plan as best as you can. If you can make it 1/3 or a 1/4 cup, that's even better. Don't kill yourself."

Friday, June 5, 2009

Hy pays attention

Hyrum missed his second nap today. That means the evening was proceeding ... less than optimally and Mama was at the end of her rope. We were talking about getting Hy ready for bed about an hour early when I remembered we hadn't read scriptures with him yet. There was no way he was going to sit quietly through them tonight, though.

Then I got a wonderful idea. I sat Hy in my lap and turned on the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing "We Are Sowing" on the laptop with some pretty fountains playing during the music.

Hyrum was enthralled.

He sat, staring intently, mesmerized by the music. Mama and Dada sang along with them. When it was done, he continued to sit quietly for a second, then took in a deep breath and let it out with satisfaction.

We bore testimony to him about the important lessons in that song, and how they tied in with our scripture reading. I read him the page out of the Book of Mormon. Then we spent another half hour listening to "We are Sowing," "This is the Christ," and "I'm Trying to Be Like Jesus." Hyrum just sat in my lap, occasionally leaning in to me comfortably. SUCH a Spirit of peace and love and transquility had come to our home, "Mommy and Daddy cried," adds Joy.

How thankful we are for sacred music and for a son who loves it.

(Mind, he also was also excited today by the Beach Boys singing "California Girls" while he ignored Bach, Beethoven, and Bizet playing from Dad's office over the baby monitor.)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Hyrum gets attention

Hy came out with a bold surprise this week. He was sitting there, in his chair, and got our attention:

Hyrum got our attention this week in a few other ways too, including, but not limited to:

Eating restaurant crayons

Climbing into our laps to read the same four books over and over again: "It's Raining, It's Pouring," "Is Your Mama a Llama?" "How Much is That Doggy in the Window?" and "Sounds I Remember" - 3/4 books where we sing to him.

Joy is certain he's trying to read with us now since the llama says "I see" and Hy is trying to say that when he picks up that book.

Growing 4 bicuspids and possibly 2 molars
which explains a lot of the last two weeks, really.

And just being his regular cute self.

Today he let me put a hat on him for the first time without ripping it off immediately, so he got another photo shoot. Expect to see more like this soon.

He also gets attention one more way, but it's the subject of a whole other post.... Heeeere heeee coo-oomes!

100% Doctored

Cornell's graduation was last week. It was a thrilling, fulfilling, wonderful day. My Dad just happened to be speaking in Philadelphia the week before and Syracuse the week after, so he and Mom flew out to spend the weekend with us.

Course, I've been a doctor for more than six months now. Three signatures = PhD, and that happened in November. It would have happened earlier, but that was the first day my entire committee was in town since May. So I was a doctor in November.

I was a bit more of a doctor in December when I was handed a piece of paper signifying that, yep, I had three signatures and could now claim my "rights and privileges" as a doctor.

I was a bit more of a doctor when the grad school confirmed things back in early January.The diploma arrived in March, that's another bit of doctorocity.

But putting on the cap and gown for the first time on Wednesday just after handing in a rough draft for the next project after the dissertation and taking pics with my adviser was extra special.

And the Sunday festivities Memorial Day weekend were the final capping. It's nice to get to celebrate the same event so many times. Given how long it took, I deserve it!

Christopher Colwatson,
setting sail on three papers
into the uncharted waters of
developmental economics research

But getting back to our story....

Mom, Joy, Dad, and Hy were in the stands to see me, even if they didn't until it was over. Hy, for the record, was remarkably calm and well-behaved throughout the commencement.

I'm somewhere on the right of that sea of red, on the fourth row, towards the right. I can't find me. I have a guess where I am, and there's someone straight in front of me. Joy managed to catch me in a couple videos, but I have to stop them at just the right second to show it to you.

(Here I am at my old building.)

I gathered with the other P.H.ony D.octors at 9am and we stood around chatting until 10 when the bells announced the beginning of the processing. I was very pleased with our bell ringer. We started out marching to Verdi's Triumphal March from Aida, and then strode to the glorious euphonia of Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance.

I told Joy the only thing I really needed was a good solid hour of Pomp and Circumstance. By the time we got to the stadium, I discovered that the wind ensemble had other ideas. I have no idea what I marched into the stadium to. I felt a bit jypped. The Human Ecology undergrads (including those in my new dept.) came in to the March of the Jawas from Star Wars. What?? The engineers got Pomp and Circumstance. Bout time.

It turned out the coolest moment was at the beginning of the march. With Pomp and Circ. in the background, we passed rows of faculty members in their regalia cheering and applauding us as we made our way to the stadium. Though I didn't see anyone I recognized, seeing the genuine celebration in their eyes - particularly when they saw one of their own students - was a really welcoming embrace.

Of course, there's little that could top the moment when the degrees were conferred.


We PhDs were largely dignified in our celebrations. The Veterinary Medicine PhDs, who had their own seating, had all brought pink hand balloons that they waved. The master of ceremonies -- who did an excellent job, by the by -- instructed each group after their degrees were conferred, "Will the Masters and Doctors of the Universe please be seated." To the VMs he said, "Will the Veterinary Medicine PhD's please Sit DOWN." There was no anger in his voice, but the way he said it brought laughter throughout the stadium.

I was the only doctor near where I was sitting who could sing the Alma Mater thanks to the 4-5 years now that I've lead a quartet/quintet/trio in it at the LDSSA Opening Social. Both Joy and I did my longstanding joke of adding in a few 'bustle bustle bustle's after the line about "Far above the busy humming of the bustling town."

I climbed over the stadium railing once I found my family. We went home, had lunch, and sent everyone away to take naps while I ... did something. I forget what. It may have been church related. After naptime, Joy and I drove around town taking pictures of me in my robes before returning them. Someday I'll own my own set, but it shall not be this day. We ate corned beef and cabbage for dinner, and went out Saturday and Monday for steaks (Lucatelli's) or chicken and pork with sweet potatoes (Boatyard, most excellent!).

I felt loved. I felt appreciated. I felt sunburnt.

I felt truly grateful for the many wonderful fellow students and teachers who have helped bring me along to this wonderful day.