Wednesday, January 28, 2009


I've read some highly interesting passages this week that intrigued me for different reasons: an evaluation of Pres. Nixon by someone who listened to the entire White House tapes, an apostle's impression of the recent inauguration, a tongue-in-cheek assessment of Freddie and Fannie, and a call to something better.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson -- Confirm Thy Soul in Self-Control
(This one from the Friday Forum reading this week. To find out more, come join us.)
My first job out of law school was as law clerk [during the Watergate saga.] ... When President Nixon finally did produce the subpoenaed recordings of White House meetings and telephone calls, ... the judge and I listened to hour after hour of meetings between Nixon ... and others. In the course of listening in on these discussions, I became convinced that Richard Nixon had not had prior knowledge of Gordon Liddy's scheming nor John Mitchell's acquiescence in those schemes. Not long after the arrests ..., Nixon was informed of the relationship between the burglars and his reelection committee... . It was at this point, I think, feeling the expediency of helping a friend and of avoiding embarassment to his reelection campaign, if not to himself, that the president of the United States committed a criminal act... . And so, in succumbing to the pressures of the moment, he stepped off the rock of principle.

Elder M. Russel Ballard -- At the Obama Inauguration
I left with a feeling that the people of America are going to unite behind this new president and his administration and that we need to pray for him. We need to exercise our prayers and help him accomplish the great objectives that he has set.

John Carney -- Fannie and Freddie: Mission Accomplished
Affordable housing has allegedly been at the heart of the mission of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac since the government set up the mortgage entities. In the decades since, Fannie and Freddie have been attempting to help Americans become homeowners by meddling in the credit markets to create cheaper home loans. And, as it turns out, that meddling may now be closer than ever to accomplishing it's goal. ... There are now so many unsold homes on the market that home prices will likely go below historically normal levels. In short, we're getting close to a historically unprecedented level of home affordability. Fannie and Freddie played an important role in achieving this. ... Mission Accomplished.

Socrates (with some substitutions by Adam Kissel)
My friend, you are an American. Your nation is the greatest and most famous for wisdom and for strength. Aren't you ashamed to worry about money, getting as much as you can, and about prestige and status, instead of intelligence and truth and the soul, getting it to be the best it can be? You don't worry about that; you don't even think about it.
(from Plato's Apology at about 29).

Monday, January 26, 2009

Glad to be Alive

And here's one of the people to whom I owe that: Soviet Strategic Rocket Forces lieutenant colonel Stanislav Yevgrafovich Petrov. The full story is here with a hat-tip to economist Brad DeLong who got it from someone else I don't know from tnsgrl64.
To summarize, in 1983 Petrov was filling an extra shift for someone else who couldn't show up at work ... watching over the BIG RED BUTTON for the Soviets. The computer announced that the US had launched a nuclear missile at Moscow. That didn't make strategic sense to him: why only one? He guessed that it was a computer error and, despite protocls that told him to fire first and inform his superiors after, held off.

Then a second, third, fourth, and even a fifth missile showed up. Realizing that it could potentially be millions of Russian lives on the line and knowing it would definitely be millions of American lives if he gave the orders to fire, he held his ground as the rest of the officers present said he had to fire.

Seconds turned into minutes and it became clear that he was right. It turned out to be a computer error from some funky sunspots and satellites. He saved the world.

Bureaucracy being what it is, he was first praised and then censured for his actions. The above link claims he was forcably retired; Wiki indicates he always claimed otherwise. His story apparently broke in 1998 and a documentary is expected later this year.

From Wiki: "Petrov has said he does not regard himself as a hero for what he did that day. In an interview for the documentary film The Red Button and the Man Who Saved the World,[5] Petrov says, "All that happened didn't matter to me — it was my job. I was simply doing my job, and I was the right person at the right time, that's all. My late wife for 10 years knew nothing about it. 'So what did you do?' she asked me. I did nothing.""

Wow. Another beautiful example of God putting the right person in the right place at the right time.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Hyrum's First Disney

Dada, if you're going to take forever to blog about this, let the baby have a turn, alright?

After our successful tour of Utah for Thanksgiving, Pop and Gamma (Dada's parents) invited me along to go to Disneyland in January as a Christmas present! I graciously allowed Mama and Dada to tag along.

Warning: Contents may have shifted during flight.

Turned out, Disneyland was just a convenient excuse for Pop to get me all to himself. Every morning after breakfast, he sent Mama and Dada off by themselves to explore California Adventure and Disneyland until I finished my first two naps. We had a lot of fun together. Pop knows how to make ALL KINDS of great sound effects and he has an entrancing cell phone. He's pretty cool.

On our last morning I was actually awake for breakfast time. So I got to meet some furry, plastic woodland creatures. As Pop put it, "Well, we've done our job today. We've taught him it's safe to put his hand in the mouth and nose of very large animals."

The Little Brother bear was the most entertaining of the critters who came by. He played with me and was very gentle. Some of the other critters didn't stay very long because they figured I was too young to know any of them. ... They were probably right, but I liked the little bear.

The raccoon sneaked up on me.

Mama took me dancing around the room for Follow the Leader.

For lunch one day we went to see a comedy music group at the Golden Horseshoe Review. They played real good music and goofed around a lot. I give them two binks up. I laughed and, being a baby, I cried.

Here I am exploring California Adventure on Pop's shoulders. Ride em, Grandpa!

My very first activity was talking with a giant animated sea turtle named Crush. Dad asked a very silly question, but I'll let him account for his reprehensible behavior.

My first actual ride was for Monsters, Inc. Mama had showed me the first part of it one day. I kept my eyes wide open as we went through the story. The next day we saw Winnie the Pooh - first his ride and then he came out himself! He shook my hand on the way to his photo op and I smiled. I also really enjoyed the Carousel.

On our last day we went to Mickey's house. Dada set me down on the floor and I crawled my way through the throngs straight to Mickey's piano. I stood at the piano for minutes, entertained and entranced. Then I visited Mickey's TV. Eventually we found Mickey, but his helpers took some very blurry pictures. :(

You may notice a lot of red shirts. Gamma got us all matching shirts so we knew who we belonged to. Dada won the prize for most buttons and I came in second: First Time Visit, Critter Breakfast, and Honorary Citizen of Disneyland.

Mama and I really like trains, so we rode on Casey Jr. I was in the Monkey Cage. I just gripped the bars and stared outside intently

Dada was pretty sure, given how much I like playing with him, that I would enjoy the Mad Hatter teacups. My favorite part of spinning around in them was trying to open the door to get out.

I spent some VERY late nights. Dinner didn't get started until my bedtime in West Coast Time. That's 11pm in New York! Everyone took turns walking with me at restaurants, but Dada usually took the first shift. After all, unattended babies tell tales to everyone around them, very loudly.

Thanks, Pop. I had a wonderful time.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Whaddya mean...

... I'm not getting any younger?? That's ridiculous! I'm only 30 for crying out loud. It's a number. There should not be any significant, real difference in turning over a decade. Honestly. People are just way too uptight about arbitrary cutoff points. ... And then this happens.

Among my New Year's Resolutions, I decided to make the attempt to have no more than one dessert each week. In preparation for this noble endeavor, I splurged before the New Year. On New Year's Eve I had a hearty double helping of the family chocolate pecan pie. Ohhhh, it was sooooo goooood! The next morning we headed over to our friends for some Scandinavian Aebelskivers (ball-shaped pancakes), which aren't dessert but the stuff you have them with is. After enjoying my fill, I played with their kids like I normally do: mostly picking them up and spinning them around until I get too dizzy.

At one point, I decided it would be a nice thing to lay down on the floor. When I got up, I had a conversation with my stomach that I've never had. You know how your parents always told you that if you eat too much candy, it'll make you sick? I never had that happen before. But my stomach up and says, "Dude, what are you trying to do me?? You've given me nothing but sugar and carbohydrates for the last 12 hours! Are you nuts? And on that kind of energy you expect me to play and spin around? If you keep this up, you won't keep it down."

So I knocked it off and didn't eat for the next eight hours while my stomach got back to normal (wasn't hungry).

Then last week I'm at my parents' house and I'm helping them get a new treadmill into place. At one point I picked up a little too much treadmill with too much back and not enough leg. I normally pick things up with my legs and am just fine. But I really pulled something this time. My back has been hurting me all week.

Dude. I'm getting old. ;)

For those who remember, about this time last year, I told everyone I am insane for taking on too many work projects. I predicted that my hair would start graying rapidly between work and baby. Well, here are the before and after pictures. I also had this sweet streak of bright white in my goatee, but it disappeared when I trimmed it this week. I'm actually proud of my growing gray -- makes me look more professorial compared to the freshmen. (That's why I bother mentioning something you can barely see if you squint just right.)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A Flaneur in O'Hare

Seen in the Chicago airport Children's Airport Museum:

Haikus are simple
But sometimes they don't make sense

Bet you $5 you read my shirt

A father and son looking very bored together, lounging on the painted benches at identical uncomfortable angles (I tried) while father stares at his eyelids and son stares at his handheld brain numbing device.

An evil twin. Two "identical" children in identical clothes with identical haircuts, but one obeyed his parents and was nice to the other kids and the other crushed his drink, wouldn't pick up his backpack, and pushed another kid. Some might say he was acting up in order to be different from his brother, but maybe the other one was....

Some families line up their luggage in a neat, orderly line. Some are kind of spread out over the bench with sweaters, hat, and computer bag on the bench, backpack and carryon near it, stroller to the side, and ... is that a diaper I smell? Yes, it is. One father thought it was a generic pile of luggage and left his own backpack with someone else's stuff. The mother came back later to get it and shake her head at her husband.

And now, back to our nomadic existence wandering the terminals.

*(from Wiki)
The term flâneur comes from the French masculine noun flâneur – which has the basic meanings of "stroller", "lounger", "saunterer", "loafer" – which itself comes from the French verb flâner, which means "to stroll". The term is concerned with a derived meaning – that of "a person who walks the city in order to experience it", a meaning largely developed and elaborated upon by Charles Baudelaire.