Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Non-Goal

I was reading a friend's blogpost tonight about setting some highly qualitative (unmeasurable) goals about character.
You see, [her husband] looks at goals as useless. Instead, he prefers to think about the person he wants to be. He considers the qualities he wants to have. And then, he tries to simply do those things that will bring him there. I know, it honestly is just a different way of making goals, right? :)
She then invited us to share ours. The last few months, I have been struggling between learning to be content to be who I am and knowing that who I am now is weak and flawed in myriad ways that need eventual change to become the kind of person I want to be and that I imagine God wants me to be. It's very hard for me to figure out which things I can say:

A) This is who you are, and that's okay.
B) This is who you are now, and that's okay for now, and it will be okay for a long time to come. If an opportunity comes to work on it, you might as well take it because there is another person you would eventually like to become.
C) This is who you are now, and that's okay for now, but it may not be sufficient tomorrow. Put some real effort into it.
D) Repent. Now.

My non-goal is to find a greater peace with my progression.

Random Memories of Family

Oh, mystic random picture generator, what memories do you hold for us tonight while Joy is singing with a choir and Hyrum sleeps soundly?

August 24, 2004

To celebrate my birthday and the passing of my Qualifying exams, my girlfriend - the Lovely and Gracious - baked me a Q-cake (a spice cake with bananas). It was a delightful surprise and the first birthday we celebrated together.

My Aunt Virginia gave us some money for our wedding with the stipulation that we had to use it to get something that would be a long-lasting memory. So we bought this beautiful frame and a picture of the temple where we were sealed for time and eternity.

At the Trumansburg Demolition Derby ... probably around Mother's Day 2006. We sat on the front row as I experienced the carnage for the first time and were splattered with mud and dirt. We try to go every year, but I don't think any year has been as awesomely impressive as that first time. ... Aside of course from the time or two that cars caught fire.

My brother and his brand new bride walking out of the Salt Lake Temple, May 6, 2006. I was among the first to catch sight of them. For some reason, they - like we the year before - were separated from each other for quite some time after the wedding. I hung out with him for a while, then went to explain to everyone else what the hold up was, only to wait another 15 minutes. I think he was adjusting her tiara.

Steve stands dutifully while his boutonniere is adjusted. Meanwhile, Aunt Corinne examines the train. She pronounces it quite lovely and points out some of the features to Grammy until Emie decides it's time to move on.

Here I am, fighting in the trenches of the Elbonian/Swiss war.

Not really. It's the Groton fair and the sign said children of ALL ages were allowed in. So I was loud in.

Summer 2007 - One of Joy's best harvests. Almost more tomatoes than she could eat in the height of her tomato-mayonnaise sandwich phase. It was at that point that I formulated the theory that bread and salads were merely vehicles for disguised fry sauce - lots of tomatoes, lots of mayonnaise-based sauce ... fry sauce.

Hyrum briefly laid claim to Joy's temple bag as his own carry-around. Any time we left the house, he would ask for his bag and be quite upset if we couldn't find it.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

The Italian peacocks were disdainful of the tourists' attempts to make them show their tails.

At Christmas 2009, Hyrum delivers a present to Aunt Emilee.

Also at Christmas 2009, an updated Watson Family picture is taken. This is my edit of the base picture. We're still awaiting the final print. From left to right: the people who don't like nicknames; Pop and Gamma Boo; the Lovely and Gracious, the Permagrin Baby, and yours truly.

During that Christmas, Steve went from goatee to mustache, and I got to say, I really think it suits him and his work on Spanish lit.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Too Many Status Updates

Even though I regularly post an update to Facebook, sometimes there are too many statuses simultaneously to choose. And I don't want to flood everyone's home page. ... So you can come to mine and see the flood if you like.

Derrill Watson is ...
  • looking forward to having an oven again on Monday - a white Frigidaire from Thayer
  • lucky Joy said yes.
  • sad that they had to miss Cassie's temple trip today because of the snow dump.
  • starting to wonder when Joy will tell him to shave the goatee off.
Joy says, "Is that my job?"
  • looking forward to finishing this textbook and making good progress on bringing that to pass.
  • becoming addicted to "Strimko," a Sudoku variation,
  • interested learn that Sudoku is an English game that the Japanese call by its English name and we call by its Japanese name. Developed for an American games magazine.
  • relishing "Mansfield Park." I even dreamed one night this week about a Japanese version of Mansfield Park. If anyone could pull it off, the Japanese certainly could.
  • pleased at how much of the kitchen he cleaned today.
  • going to enjoy wrapping some of Hyrum's birthday presents that neither nor Joy know about.
  • loving being a Dad. Everyday there's something to celebrate.
  • proud that Hyrum's babysitter told us he was "very well behaved" and "polite" for several hours.
  • getting used to eating grapefruit. Vanilla, Sweet'n'Low ... good times.
  • looking forward to family coming, to a marriage next week [unrelated to family coming], and to speaking at the ring ceremony.
Joy Watson is ...
  • glad I found the scotch tape.
  • hoping I gets her lesson done.
  • grateful my floor is mopped.
  • thankful my child is in bed.
  • glad that food works for the constitution of my mind.
  • wishing my taxes were done.
  • hoping that Hyrum's birthday goes well.
  • hoping Steve and Emilee have good weather for when they come.
  • married to a great man.
No, really, she told me to put that.
  • glad that I didn't have to listen to "76 Trombones on the Big Parade" all day long.
  • sad I didn't take Hyrum out to play in the snow today.
  • glad that my husband did the grandparents' newsletter.
  • looking forward to baking bread and a cake.
Hyrum Watson is ...
  • sleeping soundly.
  • excited about everything.

Friday, February 26, 2010

How to Improve the WiiFit

When you weigh yourself, the WiiFit tells you how many more pounds you need to lose or gain in order to make your goal. On a day when your weight goes up, even a little, it will tell you that you're going in the wrong direction. And if you do lose weight and it's not fast enough to meet your goal in time, it tells you.

This is annoying.

So Joy and I tell it our goal is to gain 20 pounds. Then any day when our weight goes up, it compliments us.

What they OUGHT to do is program it to occasionally say something different. For instance, "Hey, I know your weight hasn't gone down in a while and that can be discouraging, but don't sweat it. I mean, it's only a number. It's just one way to measure your health, and it has absolutely nothing to do with your value as a human being. I think you're great. Just saying."

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Hyrum's True Love de Jour

"Daddy, do we have to do this?"

As you said, Hyrum, I've been itching for it since you were a twinkle, and now I've figured out a way to do it. I'll replace it just as soon as you talk in adorable sentences and say 'the darn'dest things.' Besides, it's all in the name of cuteness.

"Well ... if it's cute, alright."

And now, ladies and gentlemen, may I draw your attention to the right where you will find a new feature, "Hyrum's True Love of the Day." Hyrum throws himself into anything that takes his fancy with a passion. Some of them last for months, some for only a day. What floats his rubber ducky today? Find out on the handy little list on the right.

Today's true love, for instance, is the song "Seventy-Six Trombones" from The Music Man. After I read him a scripture story, we watch it on TV and then I put in something he has never seen before to try to expand his repertoire. That's how he got introduced to the oft-mentioned Firebird Song, Duck Song, Whale Song, and so on. Today I asked him which DVD he wanted to see and he picked the never-opened copy of The Music Man. I knew he had liked 76 Trombones back at Thanksgiving, so thought I'd reintroduce it to him in living color. The whole rest of the morning, it was all we could do to get him to ask for "more peaches" for breakfast, so eager was he to ask for and conduct the "Trombone Song."

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Hyrum vs. The Bear

Joy is teaching Hyrum a new song. He enjoys acting it out. The song? "The bear went over the mountain." She introduced the concept of a chair being the mountain, and that was it. Now he grabs his big blue bear from his Grandma Joy and bounces him up and down on top of the 'mountain' with glee. At some point, he throws the bear over the mountain to celebrate the bear's crossing.

Joy explains, "And then he runs down off the mountain, grabs the bear, and says 'Help. Help' which means 'Wait. Wait. Don't start singing again until I get back on the mountain."

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Little Before and After Action

It has been 4 months, over one year, and 3.5 months since our last haircuts, respectively. In our mutual defense, nearly all these pictures are unposed and no one has combed their hair.

Hyrum's First Sentence (almost)

Some of you will have seen the announcements on Facebook today that culminate in today's posting.

Hyrum has long enjoyed playing with M&Ms and feeding them to us. The last few weeks he has also discovered chocolate. He asks for it at least once a day now. It's the only solid food he chaws on, so it's really cool and we usually give him a piece for dinner.

"Hy here! Then today Daddy told me that M&Ms have chocolate in them. He saw me kissing one, but I didn't eat it. So then he said that they are chocolate. I looked at him to say, 'you have my attention.' So he bit into one that was the same color I had, and he showed me the ring of chocolate around the peanut inside the shell. He held up the half-eaten piece to me and I licked it. And I nibbled it. And I ate it! It was SO GOOD!"

So for dinner, Hyrum had peanut M&Ms. His first peanuts. His first crunchy food. He asked for them one at a time by color. Joy asked me how many we should let him have, even though we hadn't been keeping count of how many he'd already had. I answered that today, as many as he wanted. So we went one by one.

"And then and then and then Daddy gave me ... FOUR! All at once. It was like my birthday! I was excited."

So I asked Hyrum, "want blue M&M?"

"And I said, 'Want b'ue Ems.'"

That was really cool. We did that twice. Then he wanted peaches and we played with the peaches for a bit, and listened to some music

"Firebird and Duck song!"

Yes, Stravinsky's Firebird Suite and Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance starring Donald Duck. And Hyrum said, "Want Duck Song." I commented to Joy that if we were speaking Spanish, that would have been a complete sentence.

After dinner, Hyrum said he wanted another M&M. I thought he'd had enough and knew that he only wanted to play with it and it was getting late. So I told him, "If you were to say 'I want blue M&M please,' I might consider it."

Joy says, "I think Hyrum heard the challenge in Daddy's voice."

Totally. He got this Look on his face, both excited and dared. And he tried to do it.

"Want boo Ems p'ease."

Joy and I looked at each other. I said, "I want blue M&M please."

He looked at me.

I helped him through it word by word. I. Want. Blue. Ems. Please.

I gave him the blue M&M pretty happily.

"Having proven myself, I gave the blue M&M back to show my magnanimity. Then Daddy put it back in the bag and I said, "I want.""

And I listened. I helped himt through it again. I. Want. Blue. Ems. Please. And I gave him the blue M&M.

He gave it back and we did it again. The next time, he got four words in a row, just left off the please.

Yeah, Daddy's fit to bust. Hyrum got major high 5's.

"Yeah, pretty soon now, Daddy'll put up a segment on the right side of the blog with funny things I say. He's been dying for it since I was twinkle."

Derrill on Nibley: Intro

Let me start with Nibley's concluding comments from the chapter I just finished reading whose notes I'm about to type up and share in the next post. In 1816, the American Bible Association decided that the apocrypha (a group of writings that claimed Biblical authority but were not in the generally accepted canon, though there's disagreement about that also since my German Catholic Bible includes several 'apocryphal' works in it too) were the work of the devil, and essentially all publication or discussion of them ceased in the US. In 1945, the last living apocrypha scholar said it was time to close the door on them and let them sink into nothingness. Then in 1946 great discoveries were made to vindicate much of the work and a new era of research into them began.

When in 1833 Joseph Smith asked God what if anything he should do with the apocrypha, God's answer was (D&C 91): "There are many things contained therein that are true, and it is mostly translated correctly; There are many things contained therein that are not true, which are interpolatinos by the hands of men. ... Whose is enlightened by the Spirit shall obtain benefit therefrom."

So finding the truth in them is left to us by the manifstation of God's Holy Spirit. One of the things I most value in Nibley's work has been to dig through the many apocryphal writings and pull out gems that unite with truths we have in the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and other modern revelation.

In this chapter, Nibley goes through a bunch of areas where the apocrypha supports the Book of Mormon. Many of them are 'oddities' about the Book of Mormon that have given skeptics pause. From the apocrypha, we learn that they really aren't oddities at all, but that Lehi, Nephi, and all the rest of them in the Book of Mormon fall into distinct, recognizable patterns of thought, speech, symbolism, and custom that were common in the ancient world but which you cannot find in the Bible and were complelety unknown in Joseph Smith's days. These are therefore intellecutal underpinnings that support a testimony of the historicity of the Book of Mormon and Joseph's prophetic call.

They also support the LDS claim that the gospel of Jesus Christ was known anciently - that Adam believed in Jesus Christ, as did Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and other prophets and faithful people from Adam's day to this. A common pattern was had in those days we term 'in the beginning,' a pattern that was spread throughout the earth in themes and variations among just about every ancient culture and civilization. (The LDS answer to Jung given years before Jung was nothing more than a Freudian slip in his father's mouth.)

These evidences are not themselves a testimony, but they support and strengthen one that already exists.

So that's the introduction. The next post has the meat.

Nibley on "Rediscovery of the Apocrypha and the Book of Mormon"

The world today has forgotten that the most shocking and offensive thing about the Book of Mormon was what? For years and years, nobody could find any objectionable teachings in it. So what were they so upset about? It was this: It presented a completely unfamiliar set of scripture and revelation - a completely new idea of scripture. ... This is the thing people resented. But this is exactly what we run into in the newly discovered apocryphal texts. ...

The world says that the documents of the Bible, properly selected and evaluated, are the word of God. But they select the documents! So we go around in a circle, declaring these to be the word of God, insomuch as they're properly selected and evaluated. But who selects and evaluates? Oh, we do! We make our own word of God. That is what it amounts to. ... The Book of Mormon breaks right into that - coming in from the outside, having nothing to do with any of the formal concepts of scripture. It's a completely jarring note, and it's a remarkable document. ...

[Following are more-than-bullet-points of the main common themes in the apocrypha also found in the Book of Mormon. This picture, which I got here, is of metal plates written on in ancient Etruscan, about 600BC - Lehi's day. Another support of Joseph's story that was not known until after the Book of Mormon was published.]

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Hyrum can read

I'm only exaggerating slightly. Hyrum can read. Hyrum can read one word. That word is Bob.

We show Hyrum a DVD case that has pictures of Bob and his friends. The first thing he points to is not the rounded-headed, hard-hatted picture of his friend Bob. Ir's not any of the trucks behind him. The first thing he points to is three golden letters B-o-b and he says, "Bob." When he sees those three letters all by themselves, he points to them and says, "Bob." I wrote them in my own handwriting, showed them to him and asked him "What does this say?" He said, "Bob." He knows that B-o-b and b-o-b mean a little man on the TV who says, "Can we build it?" and that combined with the word "song" it means that Mom or Daddy will turn on the theme song on Daddy's computer of that little man on the TV.

I went to wake Hyrum up one morning and he looked at my sweatshirt. It says CORNELL UNIVERSITY. As with my BYU shirt, he likes pointing at the letters and saying their names. One morning this week, he pointed to the T in UNIVERSITY and said, "T. Dance." I said, "no, Hyrum." I pointed to the letter D in FOUNDED BY and said, "D. Dance." Now every morning when I wake him up, if I've worn that shirt the first thing he says to me, before "Daddy" or "Hello" or "Up" or "Milk" is "D. Dance" and he points at that letter D.

We spend the first few minutes of the morning going around my sweatshirt picking out letters and finding words for them. T - Truck. B - Bob. O - Orange. Y - Yes. N - Nose. C - Cat. or Cookie. and in between most of them, D - Dance.

He came up with it all by himself. I wasn't trying to teach him that letters connect to words and words connect to reality. He made that leap all by himself. He turns 2 next month.

Hyrum knows another letter D. In a very specific font, D means desire, it means fun and entertainment, it means Disney and DVD and Donald Duck; it means Buzz Lightyear and Winnie the Pooh and Kitty (though not so much Kitty); above all, it means MUSIC: Duck song and Whale song and Yoyo song and Firebird song all from Fantasia 2000, and Make Mine Music and Supercalafragilisticexpialidocious that he and I listened to ten times this morning. That beautiful script D is a very important letter. He knows what it means and that it means something different from every other letter D in existence. It is beautiful and dear to his heart, my little prince.

How thrilling it is for me to see this! and to be part of opening this wonderful world of symbols to him! He just got up from his nap and I showed him this blog. He said "Bob" and then he said "D." I told him "Disney." and he says, "Dis-ney." I move the screen up and he says, "Bob." I move the screen down and now he says, "Disney."

This week for Family Home Evening, Joy had us cut out pictures and paste them to a large white piece of cardstock so we can point to the pictures as we sing "Teach Me To Walk in the Light." To remind us that "Gladly, gladly" we'll walk in the light, I drew the smiley face I sometimes use when signing my name. I haven't done it very often lately, but often enough apparently. Hyrum points to it and says, "Daddy! Daddy happy!"

No, he can't read a story. He can't read a song. He can't read a recipe or instructions or warnings. But he can read Bob and he can extrapolate from individual letters and symbols into the world he loves.

And I'm proud fit to bust!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A February Carol

Tonight, the part of Ebeneezer Scrooge will be played by Hyrum Watson, with Bob the Builder as Isabelle.

Isabelle: Another idol has displaced me, and if it can comfort you in time to come, as I would have tried to do, I have no just cause to grieve.

Scrooge: What idol has displaced you?

Isabelle: A feathered one.

Scrooge: You mean just because I ask for "Duck Song" first thing in the morning instead of "Bob," and chose to see Donald in Mathamagicland yesterday instead of you?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Hyrum's Favorites

Top 10ish Songs Most Played, December 2009-today
Bob the Builder Theme Song - 685 times
Halleluljah Chorus - 375 times
The Little Drummer Boy - 90 times
Come, Thou Fount - 38 times
Firebird Suite by Stravinsky - 36 times THIS WEEK "Firebird Song."
Today he asked me to "Draw Firebird" during church. I drew him three scenes from Fantasia 2000.
Pomp and Circumstance - 35 times THIS WEEK aka "Duck Song" (Fantasia 2000)
Pines of Rome - 33 times aka "Whale Song" (Fantasia 2000)
Silent Night - 31 times
All the Veggie Tales Silliest Songs - 24-30 times because they are "Dance Songs," but none asked for by name yet
Caroling, Caroling - 27 times
Battle Hymn of the Republic - 20 times
Old MacDonald - 19 times, plus however many Pop and Boo have sung it to him.

For the first time ever, Hyrum ate sacrament bread last week, and this week he ate cooked cookie dough (aka play dough) once. HOORAY!
Top 5 foods: Yogurt, Peaches n Pears, Chocolate, Cheese, and Banana.
5 former favorites he hasn't been eating: Ranch dip, green beans, butter, apples, play dough.

Favorite way to avoid going to bed: "Milk!" He goes through about two cups a night between the time we change his diaper and the time we turn out the lights, and then he drinks almost nothing the rest of the day to ensure we are willing to keep handing him another sippie no matter how late it gets.

He's made some great progress this week in pronunciation. Dilk has finally become milk. Sometimes, yogurt is actually yogurt, or at least yogogo, an improvement over gogo. Peachies are now peaches, and he's doing much better at asking for "more" of anything.

Fantasia 2000 is IN, Buzz is OUT. He has asked for "Duck song," "Whale song," and "Firebird song" more than anything; Buzz has only made one appearance this week. Just this second, he said, "Buzz out."

Parents are IN, Nursery is OUT. In the mornings, Hyrum has shown he is more interested in the parent who didn't come wake him up than he is in the TV. He used to say "yes" when I asked if he wanted to go to Nursery. Now he says "no" and stays near me for a couple minutes until the toys entice him away.

Hugs and kisses are IN, paying attention is OUT. He holds his finger to Mom's lips to have her kiss them.

Agency is IN, Singing is not OUT, but more optional. He takes the songbook away from Mommy and Daddy and declares, "Hyrum choose!" even though he never actually gets around to choosing a song for us to sing.

Donald Duck and Winnie the Pooh are not IN, but upcoming; Bob is not OUT, but down. He asks to "hold" the Disney "D"VDs more than "Hold Bob" and sometimes asks for Pooh Bear instead of Bob.

Mysterious Ways ... Revealed

So two weeks and three blog posts ago we had a cold adventure. Now we understand why. The guy who came to fix the furnace told me to get a CO-detector. Hyrum wrote at that time:

"Daddy thinks it's a good idea for families to have carbon monoxide and radon testers normally to keep little kids safe. They only cost about $20, and that's worth it to make sure I'm safe, he says. Maybe it's time for you to get a testing kit from your local hardware store. My name is Hyrum, and I approved this public service announcement."

Early Friday morning Joy was baking fresh whole grain bread - really divine stuff. I noticed that our CO-detector was not at its usually happy 0, but had risen to a whopping 136. I aired out the house and did some research on carbon monoxide. CO-detectors are clever, see? They calculate the time you've been exposed at a certain level because it's the accumulated level that's trouble. I got the house aired out and the CO back down to 0 quickly, so we were fine.

So maybe our oven is having some problems. We'll have to watch it.

Last night Joy made some more bread for our Valentines breakfast. The CO alarm went off. Uh-oh.

We evacuated the house, called 9-1-1, and after an hour of talking to the nice firemen were back in our aired out house. Joy stayed in the warm car with Mr. "Well, if you're going to get me out of bed, the least you can do is play the music I like" Hyrum. The verdict? Your oven's toast, man. Can't use it. "Is anyone here pregnant? Cause if there were, there would be serious problems."

So we'll be getting a new oven instead of a new furnace. The firemen confirmed that the furnace is in good running order. But boy are we glad we had a furnace problem two weeks ago so we were warned about increasingly dangerous carbon monoxide coming from our oven. God's taking care of us, even through the device of a piddly furnace problem that got a guy over here who claimed he could smell an odorless gas.

Common sources of carbon monoxide are shown in the diagram on the right. Please make sure your home is safe.

"Especially with all the baking I've done recently," Joy says, "I hope we didn't lose too many brain cells."

Friday, February 5, 2010

An Interview with Friberg

Or close enough to it anyway. A blog about Friberg's research as he prepared his Book of Mormon paintings. Hat tip: The Bloggernacle

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Defender of Utah Series

In our last installment here, we learned that Utahns are extraverted, agreeable, creative and intelligent, conscientious, and not at all nuerotic ... unlike New Yorkers, Connecti-cuties, and Californians. In today's installment, we'll compare Utah to the South and New England.

Someone out there created a chart comparing how 'religious' the people of a state are with a bunch of things the author thinks are bad. How is religion being measured? I don't know. But if you have a Southern drawl, your state is probably in the Top 13, and if you live in the Northeast or Northwest, you're probably ... not. The point of the chart is to show that, by and large, the more religious states have more bad stuff and the less religious states have less.

The difference in average IQ is not statistically significant, given that a standard deviation is 10 and the difference between Vermont and Mississippi is 10. So color code it however you like, that's not significant.

The 12 most religious states (plus New Mexico and Arizona) have the highest levels of poverty. They also have some unhealthy murder and theft rates. There's a real question of causation here - are some people more likely to turn to religion and others to violence when they are poorer? I think there's a good case to be made there. Health and contentment are also low in poorer states. Gee, I wonder why?

How is generosity measured? I don't know. But neither the least religious states nor the most religious states fare particularly well.

Religious states are also much more conservative. Now I call that a good thing, but whether you like it or not, there it is: another correlation.

What one state breaks most (but not all) of these patterns? Let's hear it for UTAH! The 14th most religious state, it is the SINGLE MOST generous and SINGLE MOST healthy and content of any state. It has the SECOND LOWEST murder rate, but average theft and divorce. Utah also has the THIRD LOWEST level of poverty and insignificantly above-average intelligence. And yes, Utah is highly conservative.

Breaking Utah Stereotypes since 2009.