Thursday, November 27, 2008

The other kid

My last post was a video of the two older boys. I neglected to talk about the little one. So I thought I would write a couple of things about him today.

First off, I think he has started walking. He is a covert walker. My wife and I will sit across from each other and try to get him to walk (just like in all of the home moves you see). As soon as we let go, he sits down. However, my wife and I have both found him taking steps in the middle of the room when we came into a room. I think he's hiding his new talent. Don't get me wrong, he only takes a couple of steps away from the furniture, but I have a feeling that he's going to chase his brothers across the room before we are able to encourage him to walk on our agenda.

So I was going to the bathroom the other day and he wanted to join me. I don't know what his thing is with the bathroom, but the kid would live in there if we didn't keep the door shut to prevent him from sucking on the toilet seat.

Anyway, I came home and rushed into the bathroom and didn't close the door (bad habit, don't worry, if we invite you over for dinner, I'll remember to close it). I'm standing there doing my thing and in crawls my son with a huge grin on his face. He pulls himself up on the cabinet and starts reaching as if to wash his hands in the 'running water' I lifted my leg up to prevent the hand washing and he instantly clung to my let. So I was essentially standing on one leg, going to the bathroom with an infant clinging to my other leg. The next thing I knew, the kid had swung around and his head popped between my legs and he looked up at me with a great big grin. I think the grin may have said, "I WON!". Anyway, he was lucky that I had already finished, otherwise I would have likely peed on his head.

So close the door if you are going to go to the bathroom.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 22, 2008


My grandmother has this tendency to cook in one set of pots and then transfer everything into serving dishes to be placed on the table. While I certainly don't think it's bad, let's just say I've never been the type to do that. I'll be more specific; in college I would cook my noodles in a pot on the stove, drain the water, add red sauce and eat out of the pot. An entire meal and I would dirty one pot and one fork. It was incredibly efficient. And I could store my dishes in my room and not be accused of contributing to the pile of dishes in the sink.

So the other night we were eating and I realized why Grammie used serving dishes. She had distracted kids (mom?). Anyway, we got a video of the older two boys at dinner. Notice that as they talk, they are looking at the pot instead of us. I think that they like their distorted reflections.

I especially like the end when the Mugwump is flexing in the reflection. Just like his dad, the only time it appears that he has muscles is when the reflection is distorted

Friday, November 21, 2008


A friend at school recently started a new business and made a really good looking green and black cycling jersey. The first thing I thought of when I saw the jersey was that I had a pair of Briko Stingers from the mid 90s that would match the jersey very well. The sunglasses have green reflective lenses and black frames with a little piece of green between the lenses. I paid $100+ for those glasses about 15 years ago. They were a prized possession like a pair of Oakleys, except I seem to follow a different code of style. Anyway, I gave my friend this pair of glasses. No charge, no big deal. In fact, I was sort of happy to get rid of them so I can have a little less 'stuff' in my house. I hope he likes them. I think it has been long enough that they may be back in style as a sort of 'retro' thing.

We have an umbrella stroller that folds up nicely for outings with the kids. Most of the time we use our big stroller that will haul LOTS of stuff, but sometimes the foldability of the umbrella stroller is priceless. Anyway, our stroller is falling apart, so my wife bought a new one. She found it at a garage sale and paid $4 for the stroller. It was perfect... until it was forgotten at the park. Sure, we've got the $15 or whatever to buy a new umbrella stroller, and if not I'm sure someone would get us one for Christmas, but there was more value in the one we had. The beauty of the stroller that my wife found was that it was already used, so we didn't have to buy a new product. That means a lot to us. (So if you want to get us a stroller for Christmas we are in the market for a small USED stroller).

I find it interesting that I gave away one of my prized possessions from high school this week and I am distraught over losing a $4 stroller. I hope that with the current economic crisis it changes what we place value on. Really, sunglasses should not be 'worth' $100.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Our separation from reality

I have often heard people say, "you aren't living in the real world" refering to someone's sheltered life. It is generally considered an insult to say that someone doesn't live in the real world. It suggests that they are sheltered and different. It suggests that they are ignorant of what is real (whatever that is).

I'm going to suggest that very few, if any, Americans are really acquainted with the real world. Sure, we all have experiences that expose us to some brutal realities, but from the grand perspective, we are ignorant of much of what goes on around us. It's not that we are trying to shelter ourselves, but we live in a deceptive culture and, intentionally or not, we are not exposed to what is going on around us.

I think this is going to work better with examples.

When is the last time you saw a chicken or cow slaughtered? What are the sights, sounds, smells and feelings involved?

What are the effects of auto emissions? When is the last time you really examined what comes out of the tailpipe? How does it smell? what color is it? how long could you breath it (please don't conduct any tests to answer that)?

Who made the shoes that you are wearing? What was their working environment? How much did they get paid?

I could think of more examples, but I'm going to stick with these three because I'm a little more familiar with two of them. I also feel that sticking with just three examples will help exemplify the fact that I am not claiming to be all knowing or experienced in the world. I am just as ignorant as the next guy but I'm trying to recognize that and trying to learn.

Back to the examples...

I have never seen a cow slaughtered. I've seen pictures of clean slaughter houses, and I've heard the sounds of a screaming cow as I road by a slaughter house the other night (I assumed it was being slaughtered, but it may have just been unhappy about dinner), but I've never really seen it. I have seen a chicken slaughtered, but it was a long time ago. I remember it running around with its head cut off. I remember lots of blood. I remember being disgusted trying to get the feathers out, I didn't like that at all.

My goal here is not to be gross, but this is a real process that is closely connected to the animals that you eat. Being unaware of it doesn't mean that it didn't happen, it just makes you ignorant to that. I think the meat industry wants us to be ignorant, and I don't think it's good to be ignorant. We should understand what goes into our food.

Another comment related to food, but not meat- I gave out sunflower heads to students in my golf classes as prizes. I was amazed at how many people commented, "you mean the seeds grow in the flower?" Everyone in the class was familiar with sunflower seeds, but not more than 5% knew how they grew.

Now I'm going to talk about car exhaust. I could talk about bike rides stuck behind stinky trucks or other experiences on my bike when the air was less clean than it should have been because of automobiles. I'm not though. I think this is the perfect time to share a story about my first car.

Even before I turned 16, I owned my dream car. It was a 1972 VW bus. I remember taking my bus to get the emissions tested. I was a little worried that I would fail, so I did everything everyone told me to. I warmed it up, and I added stuff to the gas tank. It was running great. I went to the station and they put me up on the treadmill type device (it really just lifted the rear wheels so they could spin). I 'drove' the bus while the guy stuck the sensor up the tailpipe to measure the exhaust. I'm not completely sure how it happened (there are a lot of things that happened with that bus that I couldn't explain), but as the test proceeded, smoke started pouring out of the vents in the dashboard. I continued the test because the engine wasn't overheating and there was no sign of fire (well, except for the smoke). The test continued and it got hard to breath in the bus. There I was with my head hanging out of the bus to breath, just sure I was going to fail my emissions test and have to find a way to get the bus fixed. Just as I was contemplating getting out of the bus and seeking air to breath, the tester came back with the paper that said that I had passed. I didn't tell him about the smoke on the inside, but I would be surprised if he hadn't seen it. In hindsite, I'm guessing that the only reason that the bus passed emissions was because all of the emissions were coming out the dashboard instead of coming out of the exhaustpipe where things were being measured.

The moral of the story is that you can't breath car exhaust for very long. Don't try this at home, but realize that just because your exhaust is going into the open air doesn't mean that we can do that forever without consequences.

The third set of questions was about your shoes. I don't have any idea who made my shoes (I'm actually wearing slippers right now). This is the point that I really want to make. We, the consumer, has been seperated from things that we should care about. If I had to purchase my shoes from the factory, and I saw that the workers at the factory were being treated poorly and and were not making enough money to survive, I would try to find a different factory to buy my shoes where the employees were treated properly. I would pay more for shoes made by a factory dedicated to improving the lives of my fellow man.

In large part, consumers don't have any idea what goes into the products that we buy. We see misleading advertisements and a picture perfect display case. We see prices and sales, but we don't see the consequences of our purchase. We don't have any idea of the reality of those providing us our goods. We are ignorant and separated from reality. At this point, commercial ventures are seeking to keep it that way. I think it would do us all a lot of good to see where our products come from. It amazes me at how difficult that is.

Wow, that is bordering on the world's longest post. I'll try to be concise next time, then maybe someone will read it.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sans American Auto

I've been hearing a lot about a potential government bailout of General Motors. Of course my first thought is, "We are winning!", but I don't actually think that is true. While I think that the vast majority of car drivers should be on their bikes far more often than they are, I do not think that cars should be completely eliminated from 'the system'. Even more importantly, I recognize that GM going under would not only mean that lots of jobs will be lost by car builders in Detroit, but car lots and mechanics across the nation may feel the impact. I don't like the idea of people losing their jobs, even if I think the products of their job is destroying the health of the world and it's people.

This is quite a situation we have here. The American automobile industry provides a lot of jobs, that is good. Evidently the American automobile industry is unable to provide a desirable product because they have been in financial distress for a decade or more (companies with desirable products are generally not in financial distress because they can sell them and make money). Is it worth pouring tax payers' money into a company to prevent jobs loss so they can continue producing a product that has a decade of demonstrating that they produce a less desirable product? You may find this hard to believe, but I would prefer that my tax money be used for something else. Lets convert Detroit into a city producing solar electric cells.... and then they can sell them from car lots around the country. OK, maybe that's not the answer. I don't have an answer.

This leads me to bigger concerns for the economy. One of the big messages going out is, "BUY, BUY, BUY!" That will help the economy. Well, I understand that more money going through businesses will improve the economy. I understand that. BUT, that happens to be against what I stand for. People don't need a bunch of junk that they don't need (That is the profound statement of the day). While the economy is tanking, I am glad to see more people out on their bikes and saving money rather then spending it on stuff that they don't need. Sure, it's contributing to the economy tanking, but isn't frugality a good thing? Isn't living within one's means a good thing? Isn't conserving resources rather then meaninglessly buying them and disposing of them a good thing?

So here's what we've got:

Economy tanking-Bad
People buying less- Good
Less Waste- Good
Job losses- Bad
Increased frugality- Good
More bikes- Good
overspent people- Bad... although it's their own fault

I'm going to call it a push. I think that we need to take advantage of this financial crisis and change the economy in this country. Lets run all of the little shops selling disposable goods out of business (Just to be clear, those shops would include Dollar stores, Circuit city, Wal-Mart, much of what is in grocery stores, and most of the other stores at your local strip mall). Remember that I really do care about people and I want them to have jobs that pay sufficiently. We need to replace those stores with businesses that sell durable goods. While we're at it, I think we need to redefine durable goods. $200 Dishwashers that will break in two years are not 'durable goods'. Appliances that last 50-100 years and then can be repaired are durable. Yes, durable goods cost more, but they also last longer. Since people will need to buy fewer things, fewer stores will be needed, but we will need more repair shops to keep these durable goods in tip-top shape.

I know, I'm dreaming; and that's the problem. People have become more conservative with their money so instead of investing in long lasting items, they are finding the cheapest (and most disposable). How do we move to an economy of durable goods and repair instead of disposable goods and growing landfills? Hopefully someone out there is better at economics than I am, but I see that we are in need of some drastic changes for the sake of the people, for the sake of the economy and for the sake of the environment. Our current economy is quite troublesome.

This is the first of a six part PBS program from quite some time ago. It's worth watching ( you know, like all six of them).

I'm done. This whole economic thing just keeps me in a state of confusion. I know about milk and my dissertation is moving forward (I hope), but economics isn't my thing. This entry was intended to flow much more smoothly than it actually did. Oh well.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


Is anyone else sick of hearing about the election? I had a subject come to the lab on the afternoon of election day with an 'I voted' sticker on his chest. While I think it's great that he voted, my study was being conducted among adolescents and this boy was no older than 14. So I asked some questions. OK, the main reason we got into the conversation is because someone double booked the room I was supposed to be using, so I was waiting in the hall with this kid and I figured talking would be better than standing there looking at each other in silence. Let's consider this my first ever interview that I conducted for this blog.

Me: It says on your chest that you voted. Can you do that?

Him: We voted at school, it really doesn't mean anything.

Me: So who did you vote for?

Him: McCain.

Me: [trying not to sound disappointed or question his reasoning]: If you don't mind me asking, why? What did you like about him or dislike about Obama?

Him: Moral issues are part of it, but mainly because of the war. If Obama were president he would pull all of the troops out of Iraq and 'they' would come and get us. McCain, on the other hand, will send more troops and take care of the problem and keep the bad guys away.
[He continued before I had time to ask a follow up question, although I was sort of speachless on that one anyway]
I also like Palin because she is from Alaska and she wants to drill for oil. We need more oil and nuclear, and Palin will be good for promoting the drilling of more oil in Alaska, as well as here in Utah. There are plenty of oil reserves, we just need to drill for it. [I was a little confused by the nuclear comment]

Me: Aren't you concerned about pollution from drilling for oil?

Him: It doesn't concern me, I can't see it and I don't think it will affect us here in utah.

Me: How about air pollution?

Him: I don't care, I don't think it matters.

Me: [I didn't know how to respond to that, but it didn't matter because our room opened up and I could go perform the test I needed to do.]

Listening to Obama's acceptance speach made me excited. I talked with one person who said he felt that Obama was back-pedaling in that speach, going from campaign promises to saying that he needed help and that it wouldn't be easy. That isn't what I saw at all. I felt that Obama hit it right on the money. He can't do it all as president. In fact, he can't do all that much on his own, he needs congress and he needs the Citizens of the United States. I think one of the biggest faults of the American people is expecting someone to come in and fix everything. 'We the people' need to make some changes too, and I think that we, collectively as a people, have far more power than does the president. The day that someone runs on the platform of 'Americans needing to take responsibility for their own actions rather than blaming it on their leaders', I will vote for him/her.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The ball thing

I got two votes for being able to do it in three uses of the scale. I can do it in two... Keep thinking.

Spoiler Alert!! The Woulfes have correctly answered the question. If you want to figure it out on your own, don't read the comments!

Election day

I think you should vote.

I was given a little mind teaser the other day and thought I would offer it as something to think about while you are standing in line to vote.

You have 8 balls that are identical in size, shape and color. They are all indistinguishable from one another, except one of the balls weighs just a little more than the other seven (you can't tell by holding them). The seven balls are of identical weight. You have a balance scale and your boss wants you to maximize your efficiency. What is the fewest times you can use the scale to identify the one ball that weighs a little more than the rest?

Now go vote. You get extra credit if you talk to the person next to you in the voting line about the ball question.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Halloween II

I figure since there were nearly a dozen Halloween movies, I could make a sequel to my previous post on Halloween. Now I have pictures.

Here are the boys all dressed up. The Mugwump is an explorer. He has a GPS, an exploring bag and hat. Six-Pence is a cowboy, and Jaguar is a frog.
So they were all looking at Mom instead of the photographer, but that's OK. That was better than we've done in the past.
Six-Pence looked distraught that when he found his horse dead on the ground. OK, I don't know what happened here, but I think the horse looks dead and think it's a funny.

The boys went trick-or-treating at the nursing home (it's a tradition we really like). The residents love seeing kids and the boys get to do service. They also don't get gobs of candy and it's a nice protected environment. I think it works out well. After the nursing home, we had time to go up the canyon and play in the leaves and take a few pictures.

Here they are:
I just think that's a good picture of Six-Pence. My wife takes good pictures.

That is the Mugwump sliding down the hill that he had just climbed up and explored.

And that is Six-Pence making a goofy face. He's good at those.

Saturday, November 1, 2008


I'm a day late, but that's OK. I don't like Halloween anyway. We dress up and pretend we are something we aren't and go around asking strangers for candy that we shouldn't be eating anyway. And why is everything supposed to be scary?

Truth be known, I take a little pride in Halloween. I enjoy being 'that house'. You know, the weird one that gives out healthy stuff. This year we gave out glow sticks or play-do instead of candy. I thought that was a good idea, but really most of the credit on this year belongs to my wife.

Last year was the highlight of my Halloween career. I didn't dress up and I didn't go out. Last year we gave out candy. We found a vase shaped dish that we served the candy from. When children came to the door and said trick-or-treat I would just hold out the vase and watch the kid put his hand in with huge eyes. As a kid I always looked forward to the houses that let me grab the candy myself, because I was more generous than they ever would be. So the kids would reach in and get a huge handful of candy and you could see the excitement in their eyes as they prepared to pull 15 pieces of candy from the jar. Then they realized that their hand was stuck in the glass vase. I then had the opportunity to watch the kids drop one piece of candy at a time, watching their bounty literally slip from their fingers, until their hands would again fit through the top of the vase. Most kids could only get one or two pieces of candy. The kids that were really good at it could get three pieces. We'll just call it my little 'trick' for the evening.

The battery died on the camera this afternoon, I'll post some pictures of the boys' costumes soon.