Friday, June 29, 2007
Why? Why do we live differently on "special" occasions? It seems to me that we should find the way that we like to live and live that way everyday. Sure, some people may decide that they want cake and ice cream everyday, and they will enjoy that (although they will not likely feel well). We try to eat healthy most of the time, why is it that on holidays we decide that eating too much and eating junk is justified? Wouldn't it make more sense to celebrate by eating what you know will help you feel alert and active rather than that which will make you feel tired and groggy?
And then there are the big purchases.... Is it really better to spend excesses of money only on "special" occasions rather than buying what you need, when you need it. If you are trying to live simply, wouldn't it make sense to make the "special" events days when you more fully follow your heart and live your dreams by not buying anything?
As a person who rarely drives, why would I choose to go somewhere that requires a car on a special occasion? It would be more special to me if I could ride my bike further to get there, or be able to ride my bike with my family to enjoy the time together. "Special" days should not be days where we make exception to our principles and feel guilty afterwards. "Special" days should be days when we seek to fully live according to the ideals that we hold true.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
First off, does everyone know that a popcorn ceiling is one of those highly textured ceilings that I think were popular in the 70s (my wife wouldn't know about such things, she wasn't alive yet).
So I went to the hardware store and I bought white paint and a high texture roller. Then I started painting. My intention was to end up with paint on the ceiling so that it looked clean and white. That is not what happened.
I dipped my roller in the paint and I rolled it across the ceiling. The "popcorn" texture stuck to my roller and the paint dripped on my head. I continued, thinking that eventually paint would have to stick to the ceiling. It didn't. The more I rolled, the more I tried to apply pressure and get paint on the ceiling, the more that fell or stuck to my roller. Sure, I got some paint on the ceiling. It may even look better than it did before (or then again, it may not). I did some mathematical calculations to find the exact results of my efforts.
If I include the large areas of ceiling that never took to being painted and the fact that I couldn't get the paint into the deep texture (the little that remained), I calculated that I have paint coverage on 14% of the ceiling.
I then calculated the surface area of my body that was covered with paint, etc. The bottoms of my feet were covered. Head, face, and shoulders were also pretty much covered. My arms were heavily splattered, but I would not call them covered. My legs and body that was covered with clothing was not harmed in the least. I calculated that 17.4% of my body was covered in paint.
The final calculation that I did was to find the amount of popcorn left on the ceiling. Based on the fact that the roller would no longer pick up paint because it was covered in texture and the amount of texture on my head, face, shoulders and feet, as well as the texture that ended up in the paint I was trying to get onto the roller and the texture that has now dropped all over the floor in our bedroom, I calculated that 6% of the original popcorn is still on the ceiling.
The big flat parts and streaky paint job don't look especially good, but I did get some paint on the ceiling. For less of a mess and lower cost, I think today I will buy 20 gallons of paint on the way home, take the lids of and throw the paint at the ceiling. I think I will have better success that way.
Happy Birthday Dear!!
Sunday, June 24, 2007
I didn't want to blog about weight today. I want to blog about my garden. I would take a picture, but my wife took the camera to Washington, so there will be no pictures on this blog until the end of July. Which is good, there should be no evidence of how trashed the house is. Hopefully I can have it cleaned up before she gets home.
So I've been thinking of Darwin while gardening. If I had more land and didn't mind losing my garden, I would do an experiment. I would allow my morning glory and squash to grow together without intervention. I think that Squash can beat morning glory in a fight. As pervasive as morning glory are, whenever they start to thrive, I see that the vines of the Squash plants will grab a hold of the weed. I don't know if the squash can kill the morning glory, or pull it off, but it grabs it, none the less. How long has squash been evolving to develop the ability to weed for itself? OK, I feel that I have to help the squash, so I do (I don't want to lose my crop), but I wish I had an open field where I could let the squash and morning glory duke it out.
I've taken a new approach to weeding. Early in the season I sent garbage cans full of weeds to the landfills, to get it off of my property. I hope that the morning glory are helping things biodegrade and improving the landfills. Now I just pull the weeds and leave them in the garden. Sure, I know that a small piece of root can grow a new morning glory plant, but really, I have made little progress in controlling the weed anyway, so maybe leaving their dead friends around will help discourage young morning glory from sticking their heads up through the ground. I don't think that I can scare weeds, but just think of all of the nutrients and energy contained in those weeds, why should I send that away? So I leave it. I gather it around the plants that look like they need help The weeds bake in the sun and I hope that some of the energy and nutrients contained in the weeds will return to the soil. That is how the earth has always worked. I hope that it will work that way in my garden. I like the saying, "if you can't beat them, join them". I am becoming one with the morning glory and I think they are going to provide fertilizer for the garden.
Last night I had a dinner from the garden. Fried zucchini and onion with garlic and spices and a tossed salad with a variety of lettuce, spinach and peas. It was excellent.
Friday, June 22, 2007
That wasn't the point I was going to make. The commercials on the radio are nothing but invitations to buy stuff that nobody really needs. Mostly cars, houses and a device that will guarantee that you don't get a speeding ticket (it's already banned in 8 states, so get one now). I'm glad that I rarely have to listen to commercials. Without a TV and listening to public radio, I get to choose what I want to buy, I don't have to put up with others trying to sell me stuff all the time.
Monday, June 18, 2007
I know that you think that Nelson Mandela said this, which he did, but he was quoting Marianne Williamson, so I will give credit where credit is due. This is one of my all-time favorite quotes, it makes me excited to be alive and pursuing dreams. The Mugwump (oldest son) has given me much reason to think of this lately and I would like to expound.
The Mugwump has a new trick that drives me nuts. He will obviously throw himself to floor or bump his head on purpose and start crying that he can't do something. He used to be so independent (and still can be), what is going on with this new trick? Don't worry, you don't have to answer, I think I've pretty much got it figured out.
He wants attention. He sees Six-Pence (the younger brother) fall and hit his head and everyone rushes over to help. Or you hear Six-Pence crying and find him signing help with his hands and then pointing to what he needs. It is his way of communicating and it gets him attention because there are so many things that he is unable to do on his own. The Mugwump can do most things, but wants attention. We try to give him attention, but not when he is acting below his means to get attention.
This is where it gets interesting. We are working to give the Mugwump more attention (his reward) when he is doing things for himself and ignoring (disincentive) his little tantrums where he pretends to be completely incompetent. It's crazy how counter-intuitive this is, it is really hard to give attention to a kid that is playing contently on his own, but to ignore the obnoxious four year old that is sprawled in the middle of the floor saying that he can't get up because he has hit his elbow (when you just saw him fake the fall). I hope that it's not just me, but it seems that we as a society tend to reinforce incompetence.
Let's take a look at the educations system. How many people know someone who teaches a special education class for kids that can't keep up with the rest of the class? I know of several. How many people do you know that teach classes especially designed for elementary school students who are excelling in reading or math? I don't even know that this exists. Sure they have advanced placement classes in high school, but you know the type that take those classes... They're labeled dorks for excelling. So our society gives attention (and therefore reinforces the behavior) to those who are below average, while creating a disincentive for excelling.
As a graduate student, I teach activity classes. What do I do with the uncoordinated kids that aren't good at the sport I'm teaching? I spend time with them and help them improve their skills. What do I do with the students who enter the class at a more advanced level? I don't spend as much time with them. I think this is the tendency as a teacher, and I think that it is unfortunate. The advanced kids in my class deserve the time and attention that it will take them to excel at the sport. The beginners in a class also deserve time, but are no more deserving as others. Although in my situation I don't find this as crucial, when we are talking about my kid in a class of 30 that doesn't get the same attention (reward) because he already excels in math or reading, this is a big deal.
"If you treat an individual...as if he were what he ought to be and could be, he will become what he ought to be and could be" --Goethe
"Don't ask yourself what the world needs, ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go do that. Because what the world needs are people who have come alive." --Harold Whitman
In combination I find this quotes interesting. What makes me most come alive is simplicity; working to get back to nature by doing without many of the common conveniences of life. To the majority of our society this is associated with failure which is a sort of disincentive for me to pursue this dream. Although I don't care a lot about what others think of me, it is hard to ignore. So as I pursue what makes me come alive I am constantly told by society that I'm failing because I'm not obtaining enough.
Sunday, June 17, 2007
Friday I built a shed, Saturday I went for a bike ride and roofed the shed. This week I will put siding on the shed. Earlier this week I read on Fatty's blog he announced a bike ride to leave at 6 am Saturday morning. I got permission and decided to do the ride. Now this isn't just any ride around town, this was going to be nearly 100 miles with LOTS of climbing. Since the longest bike ride I have done this year is not much longer than my 12 mile commute to work, I was a little nervous about this ride. It worked out though, I premeditated my quitting point so I didn't look as weak as I really am. I left my house at a little after 4 am to ride the 30 miles up to American Fork. Then I waited a few minutes in the parking lot for the rest of the group to arrive. First we climbed to the Tibble Fork camp ground, which was a spectacular ride. I felt strong and it was fun to finally ride with a group.
We descended and immediately turned to climb the Alpine loop. We climbed for a long ways... I was alone for much of it because I couldn't keep up. Near the top of the Alpine loop we turned to climb to the Timpanooke camp ground. I'd never been up there and since I met the others on the way down and decided to follow them, I have still never been up there. At that point in the ride I could tell that I wasn't going to make it. So while the others turned to go to Cascade Springs, I descended through Provo Canyon and returned home (I was home before 10am). So I missed the climb up from Cascade Springs, Squaw Peak and the back side of the Alpine loop. I think that may have killed me had I tried it. It was one of the most beautiful rides I have ever been on... Someday I'll be strong enough to do the whole thing.
I'm sorry, I forget that people don't come to read my writing, they come here to see pictures of my kids (notice how the writing came first so you had to wade through it?). So here are the pictures.
This is Six-pence. He likes to pose for the camera. How did we get a little kid that is blond?
That is the shed that I built. It was quite the learning experience. (Thanks Jim for the previous experience that made this possible!!) I wish I had used more "green" building techniques, but this was all that we could afford. I do think that we will add a gutter and start collecting any rain water that doesn't leak through the roof.
That's a different angle of the same shed. I simply attached it to the carport. That second window is most definitely level.... maybe it's just the picture? Or it's an optical illusion? Or, in fact, that installer of the window could not measure accurately and therefore the window is at a slight angle. (This is not a quiz, so please do not respond with which of the options you thought was correct).
My wife and kids are leaving this week to visit family in the Northwest. They will be gone for 6 weeks. I will be studying and getting done the mother of all "honey-do" lists. There will be no pictorial updates on my side until my wife gets back since she is taking the camera. She may hijack the blog while she is away and post kid pictures, but we'll allow for that. Most will actually prefer that, in all likelihood.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Do you think local organic fruits and vegetables are better for you than imported or pesticide covered fruits and vegetebles. I'll give you a hint, organic and local is better for you due to nutrient content, and better for the environment because of low petroleum use in transport.
When you are looking at fruits and vegetables do you pass over those with blemishes or that have been slightly eaten by insects?
If you think that organic local is better, why do you demand a product that can only be produced with chemicals?
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Today, while I was showering, the same gentleman stopped by and asked why I shaved my legs. I love it! This guy had the guts to ask. Not only did he have the guts to ask, but he had the guts to ask while I was naked in the shower. While it was a little awkward, I explained that I shaved for cycling (although at this point I shave more because I like to) and how it helps in healing wounds from crashing, etc.
I can imagine how hard it was to ask that question, but he did it anyway because he wanted to know. The answer was easy and we were both edified. Other questions are not as easy to answer, but still need to be posed. For example, do hybrid cars actually save money or green house gas emissions? Of course they do they get better gas mileage...But they also cost more and expel a lot more green-house gasses in production. I have heard that greenhouse gasses emitted in the production of hybrids far outweighs the savings you will receive in the life of the car. I don't have any data to back that up, but it is a hard question worth asking.
The other day I visited a new housing development in the area that is supposed to be a "green" community. The city layout was wonderful with sidewalks and bike trails everywhere and multi-use zoning so that commerce could be amongst the housing. The design was really pretty good. The area was being developed by a local mining company. Did they get relaxed EPA standards in their mining practices in exchange for this "green" community? Is the "green" community just a marketing scheme to make people feel better while it really doesn't make a difference? If it was done for marketing, and it does make a difference, does it matter that the intents were wrong? Why don't they allow solar panels in this "green" community?
I like hard questions. We need to be thinking in that direction. Everyone has heard the saying that there is no such thing as a stupid question. I disagree completely. But, if you ask a stupid question someone will tell you the answer and then you will know. If you don't ask the stupid question, you will be stupid forever. Take the risk and ask the hard questions. Maybe we can learn something from that.
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
So how do you teach a kid to wipe without causing more harm than good? They don't teach this in parenting classes.
Sunday, June 10, 2007
Again, this is the Mugwump watering. In the foreground on the left you can see our potatoes that are doing quite well. Luckily you can't see the one on the right (that we didn't plant, but showed up anyway) that is dying. In the background you see the forest of squash that is overtaking our paths. If we have nothing else we will have potatoes and squash.
This is a zucchini. You may not be able to see it, but it's in there. In fact there are several in there. Actually, we didn't plant any of the squash plants that you saw in the previous pictures. All of these grew from the compost that we used to cover the garden. We have lots of squash that are coming up, and we have no idea what kind it is. The leaves are quite different and some are vining, while the zucchini is just bushy. I'm excited to see what grows.
There's another picture of the boys watering. This is actually a great picture of the garden because the lighting doesn't allow you to see that 90% of the garden is being taken over by morning glory.
This is Six-pence eating cantaloupe. This was dessert after watering the garden. I love how this kid eats cantaloupe. The first bite is always from the very center. That makes it so he literally has cantaloupe juice from ear to ear. This kid ate 8 pieces of cantaloupe this evening before he decided to call it quits. I'm glad that I don't have to change his diapers tomorrow. (Don't tell my wife I wrote that!)
Friday, June 8, 2007
Now think of the neighborhood that you live in, or the neighborhood that they are about to put in. Does it look like this?
While I can see where all of the cars live, and how they get around, where do the people live and how do they get around? People have a hard enough time getting out to exercise without building barriers to prevent exercise into neighborhoods.
I realize that it's a cartoon, but I really like this cartoon in a sad, too close to reality sort of way.
I know someone who recently visited China. He expected to see bikes everywhere, because that is what you think of when you think of China. That wasn't the case. This friend said that as many people as could were buying cars so that they could be "industrialized". like the Americans. At the same time, Americans are trying to deal with an overabundance of automobiles by looking at the example of third world countries. OK, that was far too optimistic. Americans as a whole don't seem to see a problem, but a few who are looking into the future see major problems with the way things are. Take the cartoon for example, about half of the stores are gas stations... There's a reason for that. We put oil into our cars, we put oil into our streets, we put oil based pesticides onto 99.5% of the corn that we are producing to reduce our reliance on oil. This isn't going to work.
Interestingly, countries where the average person makes more money than in the US, they make 33% of their trips by bike. They have made bicycles a valid form of transportation and it the people generally like it. It is more inconvenient in those cities to drive, and that encourages cycling or walking. Although I haven't looked for the stats, I would bet that they are healthier than Americans too. I wonder if they are happier? Having seen some stats on American happiness, it wouldn't surprise me.
Tuesday, June 5, 2007
So, who is the richest man in the world? I am. Making just under $1000 per month, I hereby declare that I am the richest man in the world. I know what you are thinking-- There are lots of people who make more money than I do. You're right, and if that is how you measure wealth I will call you shallow.
For starters I want to assure you that I am monetarily wealthy. I am likely among the top 10% of monetarily wealthy individuals in the world. While I don't really know these statistics very well, I do know that the fact that I own a computer, house and am debt free (except the mortgage) would put me in the upper echelons of monetary wealth. I think this is sad. Not only because there are that many people with less than I have, but because when I say that I make less than $1000 per month I think that it isn't very much. It is more than the vast majority of the human race. From a global perspective I am really making a lot of money, but I am evidently not using it as well as I could be because I don't have extra to sock away every month.
The real reason that I am the richest man in the world is because of my family. I have a wife that I have more in common with than anyone and with whom I can talk openly and freely. I think I am one of the few men who has been able to marry the girl of his dreams and it brings more value to my life than money could buy.
In addition to a wonderful wife, I have the two greatest children. The older one clings to my leg when I try to leave in the mornings and begs me to stay. The younger one will sign "I love you" as I leave. They are wonderful, helpful children who are generally very well behaved. They have sincere hearts and they try to help those around them. They make me proud and are of infinite value to me. With three people in my home of infinite value to me, and being extremely wealthy monetarily, I must be the wealthiest man in the world. And then to further prove my wealth, I have family outside of my home that are of great value to me. Even my in-laws are a great group of people who provide substantial love and support. Really, I've got it all.
What brings value to your life?
Great you think, but you don't really care. But I want to run a trial to make sure that this survey thing will work how I hope. So, I'm going to add a pop-up that will attack your screen (or already has) and have some people take the survey and see what kinds of results I get.
The survey is about this blog and I don't really care what you put, I just want to know how the information is arranged when i get the results. So could you please humor me and take the survey? If it takes you more than 5 minutes I would consider that an extremely long time. i think there are only 5 questions and it will be easy.
Because this is a trial run, i am limited to 100 responses, so don't take the survey too many times. Actually, since only 4 people read this blog, you could each take the survey 25 times and I'd still be OK.
Tomorrow's post will be better.
Sunday, June 3, 2007
Wednesdsay we hooked up with a friend of mine and went for a short hike to a waterfall up Payson Canyon. It was lots of fun! Though it may look like me in the picture, it's not. We were asked if we were sisters; we have the same build, same color hair, wear glasses, kids the same age, similar interests.... It's a little scary. Mugwump liked playing in the water best. Sixpence liked eating lunch the best - surprise, surprise. We stopped on the way home to pick up new paint for Sans to use while I take the kids to Grandma's house this summer. We'll come home to a whole new house! Especially since we got new doors and some new windows Wednesday thanks to a great program in Utah County.
Thursday we went to Discovery Gateway, the children's museum in Salt Lake City. Mugwump got to take a science class about bubbles. It was great! The museum has a great education program. Check out their website.
The museum currently has a "Children Around the World" exhibit, so Mugwump is modeling a sari for the camera. Sixpence wasn't sold on wearing a dress. He was content being a firefighter.
While this may seem like a random picture of a girl in a sari, she is really the latest facination in Mugwump's life. We'll call her Farm Girl (her family has a bunch of chickens in their backyard - Sans' inspiration). I keep asking Mugwump if he is excited to go to Grandma's house this summer, and he answers with a sad face, "No, Farm Girl won't be there. " Every day he asks, "Can we go over to Farm Girl's house?" Life seems to be incomplete without her. They galloped down the sidewalk together as we left the children's museum, singing at the top of their lungs, "Friends forever, friends forever." It was pretty cute.
Friday we had a field trip to a local nursery, splurged on some ice cream, and invited Farm Girl's family over for dinner and a marshmallow roast. Saturday I caught up on weeding. I did my best to keep up while Sans was gone, but I think the morning glory battle is best left to the experts. Especially those who don't have two kids as "helpers." I am glad to have Sans back!
Friday, June 1, 2007
My mom sent me this picture after my last post. She thinks she's funny.
A friend sent me this comic along with others in an email. I thought it was funny.
This is my transition to the conference that I attended this week. I was reading a book by Bill McKibben while here and heard several mentions of a city in Brazil, Curitiba. The links may be a foreshadow of what is to come.