Friday, January 29, 2016

Take Our Politicians --- Please!

Some great quotes from a commenter on an online news article about the Republican debate last night:

*If God wanted us to vote, he would have given us candidates.*~Jay Leno~ 

*The problem with political jokes is they get elected.*~Henry Cate, VII~ 

*We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office.*~Aesop~ 

*If we got one-tenth of what was promised to us in these State of the Union Speeches, there wouldn't be any inducement to go to heaven.*~Will Rogers~ 

*When I was a boy I was told that anybody could become President; I'm beginning to believe it.*~Clarence Darrow~ 

*Politicians are people who, when they see light at the end of the tunnel, go out and buy some more tunnel.*~John Quinton~ 

*Politics is the gentle art of getting votes from the poor and campaign funds from the rich, by promising to protect each from the other.*~Oscar Ameringer~ 

*I offer my opponents a bargain: if they will stop telling lies about us, I will stop telling the truth about them.*~Adlai Stevenson, campaign speech, 1952~ 

*A politician is a fellow who will lay down your life for his country.*~ Tex Guinan~ 

*I have come to the conclusion that politics is too serious a matter to be left to the politicians.*~Charles de Gaulle~ 

*Instead of giving a politician the keys to the city, it might be better to change the locks.*~Doug Larson~ 

*There ought to be one day -- just one -- when there is open season on senators.*~Will Rogers~ 

“If you want a real friend - that you can trust in Washington - go buy a dog!” - Harry Truman

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Weird Word of the Week: Aptronym

From "The secret meanings of 'Trump,'" on

"An aptronym (yes, it’s a real word) is 'a proper name that aptly describes the occupation or character of the person.'”  The article's author, Randy Malamud, writes:

The aptronymic character is a literary staple, sometimes referred to as a “Dickensian name” (think of Scrooge, Pecksniff, Mr. Sloppy, Mr. Bumble). Richard Brinsley Sheridan, the 18th-century English playwright, was also fond of them: his play The School for Scandal features Sir Benjamin Backbite, Lady Sneerwell and Mr. Snake.
Malamud notes that his own name is an aptronym: "I come by my aptronymic expertise honestly: My own name, 'Malamud,' is a variant of the Yiddish word melamed, teacher, which is in fact what I am. A distant ancestor must have been as well."

Then Malamud describes how some of the meanings of the word "trump" apply to the actual person of Donald Trump. 

There's the obvious, the winning play in card games; and this seems to apply to The Donald, as he apparently has trumped the whole Republican Party.

There are others, like a shortening of the word "trumpet," and, most amusingly, this: In 1903, the word was recorded in a compendium of slang, signifying 'the act of breaking wind audibly.'”

Malamud suggests that we think of THIS meaning of the word "trump" every time we see an image of, or listen to a harangue by, Donald Trump.

Friday, January 22, 2016

A Good Quote for Today (or Next Week) (or Whenever)

To reach a port we must set sail – 

Sail, not tie at anchor. 

Sail, not drift.



(What are we waiting for?) 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Weird Word of the Week: Akrasia


I first read of this word, "akrasia," in another excellent article by James Clear.

He writes, "Akrasia is the state of acting against your better judgment. It is when you do one thing even though you know you should do something else. Loosely translated, you could say that akrasia is procrastination or a lack of self-control. Akrasia is what prevents you from following through on what you set out to do."

He tells the story of how Victor Hugo wrote "The Hunchback of Notre Dame."

And more.  He talks about why we procrastinate. Better yet, he talks about strategies (other than the strategy used by Victor Hugo) to get over it.

Check out the whole post. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

More About Alan Rickman

Such a great actor, and, according to people who worked with him, a great (i.e., kind and considerate and helpful) person, too. And now this, which I'm reading for the first time today:

He put together a play from the diaries of the American girl who was killed by the Israelis while  working for the cause of the displaced Palestinians.

Alan Rickman, Rachel Corrie (Credit: AP/Arthur Mola/Reuters)

From the article about the play:
Rachel Corrie, a student at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, traveled to the occupied Gaza Strip as part of the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement in 2003. At a nonviolent protest against Israel’s illegal demolition of Palestinian houses on March 16 of that year, an Israeli soldier ran over Corrie with a bulldozer, killing her.

“My Name Is Rachel Corrie” was based on the young woman’s diary and emails. Rickman co-edited it with Katharine Viner, editor-in-chief of leading British newspaper The Guardian.
More about Rachel Corrie's death, from the same article:
Corrie’s family sued the Israeli government for a symbolic $1. Their case crawled through Israel’s courts for years, until, in February 2015, the Israeli Supreme Court threw the case out, denying any liability.

Ultimately, they said they were “disappointed but not surprised.” “We had hoped for a different outcome,” Corrie’s family remarked, “though we have come to see through this experience how deeply all of Israel’s institutions are implicated in the impunity enjoyed by the Israeli military.”
Fellow pro-Palestinian activists present at the time of the young woman’s killing in March 2003 say Israeli occupation forces deliberately crushed Corrie with the bulldozer. The Israeli government, on the other hand, insists it was an accident.

An investigation by the Israeli military absolved the soldier of all responsibility for killing Corrie, instead blaming the young women and fellow activists for “illegal, irresponsible and dangerous” behavior.

The Israeli soldier operating the bulldozer claimed he did not see Corrie. Amnesty International did not buy this argument, making it clear that “she was wearing a fluorescent orange vest when she was killed,” adding that Corrie “and other non-violent activists had been peacefully demonstrating against the demolitions for hours when the Israeli military bulldozer ran over her.”
So while we're all praising Alan Rickman for his work on stage and screen, it's nice to know of this whole 'nother dimension to him, the political activist, the person fighting to right some of the wrongs of the world.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2016

 I just read an amazing article written by someone who participated in the Children's Crusade in Birmingham in 1963: "Bull Connor spat in my teenage face: The civil rights march that changed me forever." 

Image result for Dr. Freeman HrabowskiIn 1963 I turned 15 years old, living in a mostly white Northern California town, and almost totally unaware of what was going on in the rest of the country. (Sometimes I've wondered why we didn't discuss politics much in our family, and I think it was because our parents disagreed about most issues and so chose to maintain peace by not even talking about them.)

Meanwhile, another teenager, Freeman Hrabowski, who grew up in segregated Birmingham, was subjected to indignities that I couldn't have imagined and that made me cry as I read his article. He was 12 years old in 1963, and his parents encouraged him to participate in this march which would change him forever, as he writes now. 

Now he is president of University of Maryland Baltimore campus. Then he was --- well, here, let's read how he describes himself:

It was at this time that my parents brought me to church in the middle of the week for a mass meeting on the civil rights demonstrations now under way in Birmingham. I had not wanted to come along and did not want to be there. My parents placated me by allowing me to do my math homework in the back of the room, where I sang along, ate M&Ms, and worked on my algebra problems. I tried to ignore the speeches from the front of the church, but at one point one of the speakers caught my attention and held it. We were accustomed at our church to impressive speakers, but this man combined polish with a message I could not ignore. We knew that blacks were not treated fairly by those in power, but we tended to think, “This is the way of the world.” In contrast, this man was saying that the world could change and that even the children could have an impact on what might happen to us in the future. In fact, he was saying that our actions were needed and mattered. I was impressed. I asked my parents, “Who is that man?” It was the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
 And so he decided to participate in that march. But his parents were reluctant to let him go:

When we arrived home after that meeting, I said, “I must go. I must go.” And my parents said, “Absolutely not. You cannot go.” I was stunned. “The minister that you made me come and listen to told me what I need to do, and we all gave him a standing ovation. Now we get home and I say I want to do what he says, and you tell me I can’t?” Now, at that time you did not talk back to your parents. Yet I said, “You know, you guys are really hypocrites.” The air was just sucked out of the room. My mother gasped, and my dad simply said, “Boy, go to your room.” I was convinced I was going to be punished.

But they did not come into my room that night. They came in early the next morning and sat on both sides of my bed. I was frightened, seeing that they had both been crying—I had almost never seen my parents cry. They said, “It was not because of a lack of confidence in you that we were saying no, but you are our only son; you are our treasure. We don’t trust the people in those jails. We don’t know what they would do to you. So, don’t think we don’t believe in you. We are worried because we love you.” What they said next was so powerful: “But we have prayed all night, and we are going to put you in God’s hands. If you want to go, you can.”
And so he marched on May 4, 1963. His parents dropped him off at the church, and he marched. He led the other children, singing a spiritual that they joined in on:

Ain’t going to let nobody, turn me around
Turn me around, turn me around
Ain’t going to let nobody turn me around
Keep on a’ walking. Keep on a’ talking
Marching up to freedom land
Police officers along the route "taunted us and tried to get us to react. We had been trained to ignore their words and to focus on our goal of continuing downtown and kneeling on the steps of City Hall, and so we kept on marching and singing."

So the children continued to the steps of City Hall, where Bull Connor asked him, “'What do you want, little Nigra?'” Remember, I was not a courageous kid. I looked up at him, scared, and managed to say, in my Birmingham accent, '“Suh, we want to kneel and pray.' He spat in my face. Then my fellow demonstrators and I were gathered up and shoved into a police wagon waiting nearby."

Oh, please go to this link and read the whole story: how they were thrown into a police wagon and taken to jail, placed among the "bad boys" where they were taunted and mistreated again, unspeakably. And kept there for "five horrible days as encaged human beings."

Please read about what happened when they were finally released.  

(Here's another article about the Birmingham Children's Crusade, written from a less personal point of view but still stunning with the cruelty of segregation.)

And then let us all pray, and work, to move forward as a nation in human rights and compassion, instead of going backwards as the current Republican candidates for president of the U.S. want us to do.

Let us all pray for peace in our hearts and the will to become a true nation of God, of godliness, of love and freedom. And let us figure out how to discuss important issues in a way that lets us maintain peace and foster understanding.

Because, as one of the participants of the march says in this video, "It's about our kids."

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Gabriel's Oboe

This song is so beautiful, I just had to share it. It's an inspiration for me as I practice the oboe almost every day, making sounds that are nothing at all like this: something to aim for.

And here's the scene from the movie, which I saw long ago. This was such a good movie, though hard to watch, and I wouldn't even recommend it to most of the people I know because it is so full of brutality and sadness.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Malheur, Again

Image result for book of mormon moroni

Note to "Captain Moroni" et al, including those who claim to have attended  church yesterday, from the Deseret News:

SALT LAKE CITY — LDS Church leaders on Monday plainly and roundly denounced a militia whose organizers cited Mormon scriptures in the months before they seized a federal facility in Oregon on Saturday.
"While the disagreement occurring in Oregon about the use of federal lands is not a church matter," the church said in a statement, "church leaders strongly condemn the armed seizure of the facility and are deeply troubled by the reports that those who have seized the facility suggest that they are doing so based on scriptural principles. This armed occupation can in no way be justified on a scriptural basis. We are privileged to live in a nation where conflicts with government or private groups can — and should — be settled using peaceful means, according to the laws of the land."
For those who think they are channeling the great prophet and leader Moroni, I suggest they re-read the Book of Mormon. 

Friday, January 8, 2016


"I see nobody on the road," said Alice.  

"I only wish that I had such eyes," the King remarked in a fretful tone. "To be able to see Nobody! And at that distance too! Why, it's as much as I can do to see real people, by this light!"

---Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass

“Here are the Red King and the Red Queen,” Alice said (in a whisper, for fear of frightening them), “and there are the White King and the White Queen sitting on the edge of the shovel—and here are two Castles walking arm in arm….” (original illustration by John Tenniel)

For more on Alice's adventures "Through the Looking Glass," and especially how they are really an elaborate chess game, check out this Smithsonian article.

“For some minutes Alice stood without speaking, looking out in all directions over the country – and a most curious country it was. There were a number of tiny little brooks running straight across it from side to side, and the ground between was divided up into squares by a number of little green hedges, that reached from brook to brook. ‘I declare it’s marked out just like a large chessboard!’ Alice said at last.” (original drawing by John Tenniel)

It is not enough to be busy...

Image result for henry david thoreau

"It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?"

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Also in the Outback:

Milky WayAnother meteor crater, which I found out about from this article about a photographer who took this photo of the Milky Way from inside it.

From the Slate article: "He was in the Northern Territory at Henbury Meteorites Conservation Reserve. At that location, more than 4,000 years ago, an iron asteroid slammed down into the desert."

Read more to find out more about this crater. I think we should  go there on our next trip to the NT.

Can I get an Amen?

Phil Plait, author of the "Bad Astronomy" blog, notes at the end of the article: "Babak’s photos can be seen on The World At Night website; this is a group dedicated to creating photos or videos of night sky attractions with famous landmarks in the foreground. He also has his own site, Dream View. Seriously, check out his nebulae pictures. Fantastic!"

(If you're not yet a regular reader of the "Bad Astronomy" blog, you should begin!)

And in a Faraway

... um, and different part of the Outback, about 300,000 years ago, a gigantic meteorite (about 50,000 tons) made this gigantic crater.  I want to go see this place!

Here's a photo, from the article:

Photo (cropped): Stephan Ridgway/Flickr/CC BY 2.0
And here's an interesting factoid from the article:
The local aboriginal peoples had known of the crater's existence long before it was "discovered," calling it "Kandimalal." However the crater got its current name after after the scientists found it, naming it after a shopkeeper who founded nearby Halls Creek. But no matter what you call it, one thing is certain, and that is that the meteor that created the crater must have been huge.

And check out this short article about Al Wahbah Crater in KSL (not a meteor crater), one that I've visited.

The Real Reason Rich People Hate Obama

Yeah, they're not just right-wing racist hypocrites (though they are that). They are protecting their money. This article from Vox explains what's behind their animosity, complete with a great graphic:

(Paul Krugman)
The article explains:

As you can see, the Bush years were very kind to the superrich, and Obama's first term didn't hurt them very much because Bush's tax policies were largely continued. That changed at the end of 2012, when the Bush tax cuts were scheduled to expire and were replaced by new legislation that kept Bush-era rates for most people but raised taxes on families earning more than $450,000 a year.

And: "But this chart is an important reality check — when tax rates go up, rich people pay higher taxes."

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

A 10-Minute Cardio Workout

This looks good! One of my Facebook friends posted a video which I can't find an exact duplicate of, so I went to the Web site of this trainer, Jenna Wolfe, and still couldn't find it.

But here's a link to the page on someone's Web site with another video showing the exercises in more detail. It says on that page, "This video is a 10-minute cardio circuit that requires zero equipment and can be done at home.  Jenna does the circuit with Natalie Morales who is an absolute champ because this workout is harder than how they make it look.  But it is totally doable .."

Here are the exercises themselves--you don't need to actually watch the video to do them: 

Here is the Breakdown:

  1.  100 jumping jacks
  2. 90 butt kickers
  3. 80 high knees
  4. 70 kicks
  5. 60 mountain climbers
  6. 50 toy soldiers
  7. 40 shoulder side-to-sides
  8. 30 inner heels
  9. 20 basketball jumps
  10. 10 kick drops
- See more at:
  1.  100 jumping jacks
  2. 90 butt kickers
  3. 80 high knees
  4. 70 kicks
  5. 60 mountain climbers
  6. 50 toy soldiers
  7. 40 shoulder side-to-sides
  8. 30 inner heels
  9. 20 basketball jumps
  10. 10 kick drops
(I'll let you know when I've had a chance to try these for myself!)

Tuesday, January 5, 2016


Image result for malheur national wildlife refuge
Sandhill Crane
I've been to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. I've slept on a bunk in one of its rustic cabins, a few years ago, on an ornithology field trip. The Refuge headquarters was, and is, a desolate place, with a scrappy little headquarters building where you could buy maps and birding books and dusty souvenirs, and the bunk houses.

The refuge itself is desolate and not beautiful, unless you're a desert person. (Look up the definition of the French word "malheur," and you'll find it means "mishap, accident, calamity, tragedy.")

Image result for malheur national wildlife refugeBut the birds we saw there were amazing. This is where I first saw a golden eagle. As we were hiking around one day, someone in the group ahead of us yelled, "Shhh!" in a voice fit to wake the dead. So we all "shhh'ed" and looked at what they were looking at: A golden eagle at the edge of a gigantic nest, feeding a baby golden eagle. It was so beautiful and touching, and wild. 

Image result for malheur national wildlife refuge   

But those idiots who are "peacefully protesting" with their guns by breaking several laws, breaking into public buildings (at night when no one was there --- how brave they are! --- one of them calls himself "Captain Moroni" --- as if!) to protest on behalf of some guys who had also committed crimes but who submitted themselves to the consequences and disavowed these criminals' so-called support --- are just pantalleros,** and someone needs to tell them their 15 minutes are up. And it turns out the local residents, as well as the sheriff, are asking them to leave.

Image result for malheur national wildlife refuge
The Bundy family are criminals, stealing land rights granted to them by lease by the federal government. They owe more than a million dollars for grazing their cattle on land that WE, we the people, own.

Another thing: People who want these federal lands to be put under state or local control are clearly just hoping for a smaller, more compliant, target to manipulate.

The federal lands in the West do belong to all of us, and I hope they stay federal, and ours.

**pantallero: I learned this word in Venezuela. It originates from the Spanish word for screen, "pantalla." Pantalleros are people who see themselves on the big screen, or imagine themselves on the big screen (in the movies or TV), and begin to presume that they are important and worthy of being on the big screen. They are vain show-offs without any purpose other than to show off.

Frozen Strawberry Delight

It's summer in Australia, so Lisa asked me for this recipe. It would be a nice treat even in winter, so I'm sharing it here, too:
Frozen Strawberry Delight
1 cup flour
1/2 cup soft butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
Mix by hand until crumbly.
Put in 9X13 pan.
Bake at 350 (F) for 15 minutes or until brown.
Break up with a knife until crumbly.

2 egg whites
2 tsp. lemon juice
Beat for 10 to 20 minutes, until stiff.

Add 10 oz. pkg. frozen strawberries and 3/4 cup sugar
2 cups fresh strawberries and 1 cup sugar.

Fold in 1 cup whipped cream or cool whip.
Divide crust mixture in half. Spread half of it evenly on bottom of the pan.
Add filling. Sprinkle remainder of crust on top and freeze. 

I just did a Google Image search and found SOOOOO many photos of all kinds of variations on this recipe, an eye-popping pink parade of pictures.

That made me think of making this for Valentine's Day, and wouldn't you know it, our favorite local grocery store already has the Valentine's Day stuff out on the shelves.

But I'm not gonna wait. As soon as I can get my car up the street without spinning out and hitting the other stranded cars, I'm going grocery shopping, and I'm gonna get the ingredients and make this, and then I'll take a photo to include here.

Australian Open, Coming Up!

And here's Roger Federer, playing in a warm-up match in Brisbane, just having fun.

And more, Federer doing a real warm-up:

(Too bad they don't show more of his actual form!)

Monday, January 4, 2016

Snow = No Sunday School

At least that's what it meant for us on Jan. 3, 2016. Since so many people in our stake live on back streets and unpaved rural roads in the hills --- or, like us, on a paved but very steep hill leading to an even steeper hill which gets closed down by our city at the first sign of snow or freezing rain --- a lot of our Sunday meetings were canceled.

(We weren't able to go, anyway, because of Jason's illness. But, the cool thing was that our home teacher came over with some Aaronic Priesthood holders to give us the sacrament.)

Anyway, we didn't get to start off this year's Sunday School study of the Book of Mormon, but we'll plan on that next week. And meanwhile, I found some great references to help me with my own study of that greatest book:

---First, from the Web site of Daniel C. Peterson, a BYU professor and a student of the Book of Mormon (and of Arabic and several other languages), comes this note about the peculiarities of Nephi's style of writing.

Turns out that Nephi uses a form common in Arabic and other Middle-Eastern languages (and their precursors, of course): the "cognate accusative or, in Arabic, a tamyiiz." That is, Nephi writes things like, "I have dreamed a dream; or, in other words, I have seen a vision" (I Nephi 8:2).

We hardly ever use this form in English; so to me it seems like another indication of Joseph Smith's really having translated some writings written (see how I did that?!?!?) on some golden plates, because he wouldn't have written that writing that way on his own.

---For more about the way the Book of Mormon was written, check out "The Learning of the Jews and the Language of the Egyptians."

---You can read Peterson's next bit here, on I Nephi 9.  And maybe go to his Web site to enjoy what he has to say about Book of Mormon studies throughout the year.

---And here's some information written by one of a group of Book of Mormon scholars who are visiting some ruins in Guatemala --- post-Book of Mormon times, but interesting because of the "lakam-tuun (from Mayan, lit. large stone)" at one of the sites. This writer writes (I did it again! Yay, me!):

Despite knowing it is not directly related to the Book of Mormon, it was fun seeing the ruins of Quiriguá and standing next to the largest known lakam-tuun in all of Mesoamerica. The role it played in early LDS thought—and very likely Joseph Smith’s own thinking about the Book of Mormon—makes it a significant site for Latter-day Saints and the intellectual history of Book of Mormon geography and archaeology.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Another Goal for 2016

You know all those pens you have in the back of drawers all over the house? You don't? Well, I do.

And here's my resolution: Whenever I pull out one of those pens and finds it doesn't work, I'm going to throw it away.

Not put it back because I love that pen and I'm sure I can find a refill.

Throw it away.

Friday, January 1, 2016

A Poem a Day (And Other Goals)

I set this goal for myself this last year and, even though I didn't achieve the goal, it prompted me to write more poems than I would have otherwise.

And on some days I wrote more than one poem. And on some days I wrote a song, and on some days I started a story, and on some days I took photos which counted as poems.

So I'm doing it again, with the promise that, again, like last year, I won't get angry with myself when I don't achieve the goal perfectly. I mean, I'll keep track, I'll make myself accountable, but I'll be kind to myself---and realistic.

Also, this year I'm going to practice the piano and the oboe every day. Other goals too numerous, and too personal, to mention here. Yep, setting goals for the New Year.

Because even though I've been reading all these supposedly encouraging self-help gurus who say you shouldn't set goals, I find that setting goals and keeping myself to them is the best start I know to each day and, therefore, to a new year.

Cousins: I mean, why not put this photo here? Another caption for this photo could be: Beauty.

2016, My Best Year Ever


This path, like whatever river,
The same from day to day 
Yet new at each footstep,

Known for its curves
And surprises, its hidden 
Secrets around every bend:

This path, which seems to lead
To the same end, and for sure
Lets me turn around to start 

Again: Leads me to --- no, 
I mean, lets me move on
Each day to --- my future.