Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Looking Forward: Killiecrankie in 2014

I just had to share these photos. The first one, though not taken in Killiecrankie, shows one of the animals I hope to see next month.

I'm sure Saiph and Rigel are very aware of how lucky they are to have a mom who does animal rescue!

The second one, taken in Killiecrankie, shows a picture of another one of the animals I hope to see next month:

Looking Forward: Training in 2014

I'm scheduling myself for some heavy-duty training, including training runs, rides and swims, in 2014. One thing I need to do is train for the higher elevation of the Huntsman 140 bike ride.

I'd seen a guy at the gym lifting weights while wearing what looked like a gas mask, so when I had a chance I asked him about it. It's an altitude training mask. He says it decreases the oxygen you're breathing, thereby preparing you for the low-oxygen air at higher altitudes, increasing your red blood cells and their capacity to use oxygen efficiently, as well as strengthening your diaphragm for high-intensity work at our altitude. He says it's really helping him. And he said he got it online for a very reasonable price.

So I looked it up online. And it turns out that it's not really going to help me or anyone train for high altitude endurance events.

As one commenter said, "The oxygen content of air is about 20% at sea level, so if you're breathing through one of those masks at sea level, you're getting the same 20% of oxygen. You're just struggling harder to get it."

Or, as a certain young doctor friend of mine said, "Save yourself the hundred bucks and just breathe with your mouth closed."

I found lots of really helpful articles, written (strangely enough :) by real athletes and trainers and researchers, as opposed to the hype written by the people trying to sell these masks. The trainers and real people, non-salesmen, all said essentially the same thing, some with more detail than others: Don't waste your money.

This one by Eric Wong was particularly helpful, with enough detail so you could see he really knew what he was talking about, but without the jargon and obfuscation of the research articles.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Another Thought, Preparing for 2014: St. Seraphim

I read about this Russian Orthodox saint, Seraphim of Sarov, while I was preparing my lesson for the adult Sunday School class yesterday. The lesson was called "Zion: The Pure in Heart." 

Here's a quote from Saint Seraphim about being pure in heart, from Eric Simpson:  
St. Seraphim, born Prokhor Moshnin, 1759-1833
"You cannot be too gentle, too kind. Shun even to appear harsh in your treatment of each other. Joy, radiant joy, streams from the face of him who gives and kindles joy in the heart of him who receives. All condemnation is from the devil. Never condemn each other. We condemn others only because we shun knowing ourselves. When we gaze at our own failings, we see such a swamp that nothing in another can equal it. That is why we turn away, and make much of the faults of others. Instead of condemning others, strive to reach inner peace. Keep silent, refrain from judgment. This will raise you above the deadly arrows of slander, insult, and outrage and will shield your glowing hearts against all evil."  

I departed from my usual practice of quoting only from the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price, and L.D.S. leaders, to share this with the class. 

Simpson adds, "We are called to purity of heart, which is the heart cleansed by divine love, ...   so that we can see more clearly ourselves as we really are and as we are meant to become -- so that we can see the light that radiates from the very face of God, as well. This is our purpose." 


"It's a shallow life that doesn't give a person a few scars."

-- Garrison Keillor

It Is Not the Critic Who Counts

Something to remember while making plans for 2014:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man [WOMAN] who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least [he] fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”

--- Theodore Roosevelt, “Citizen in a Republic” (address delivered at the Sorbonne, Paris, France, Apr. 23, 1910), Presidential Addresses and State Papers and European Addresses, December 8, 1908, to June 7, 1910, vol. 8 of Presidential Addresses and State Papers, Homeward Bound ed. (1910), 2191.

So, here's what I am going to do in the new year:

I am going to be actually in the arena, striving valiantly to do the deeds with great enthusiasm and devotion; so my place will be with those who do their best, not the critics or the cold and timid souls. I am going to achieve my best ever by trying my hardest ever.

Sunday, December 29, 2013


“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Don't Eat Candles!

This little holiday reminder from someone who has a lot of deep thoughts:

Gabriel: What would happen if you ate a candle?

Mommy: Your tummy would hurt.
Gabriel: And you would die?
Mommy: No, but your tummy would hurt for a while.
Gabriel: Yeah, because there's fire on it.

Re-taking the Dialect Quiz: It's Even Worse!

This time I was told that my dialect puts me somewhere between Fresno, Modesto, and Bakersfield. Oh, the humanity! 

The reason, however, was not so bad, as the explanation says my "most distinctive answer" for each of those cities was  that I had never heard of a drive-through liquor store. It's true, I have never heard of such a thing. Here's my new dialect map.  But, really?!? Those are the only cities in the U.S. where they don't have drive-through liquor stores?

Friday, December 27, 2013

Fiction Friday: December 27, 2013: Sherlock Holmes Mini-Episode

Madame L here, helping Aunt Louise's Dear Readers get ready for a new Sherlock Holmes season in the BBC after two years of missing it.

The game is back on!

Madame L has been enjoying the other Holmes series, too, "Elementary," on CBS in the U.S. She can't decide, in fact, which one she likes better, "Elementary" or "Holmes."

Did Aunt Louise's Dear Readers know that in order to use the Holmes and Watson characters, CBS and the BBC have had to buy licenses from the Conan Doyle estate? With new demands from the estate, others who want to publish stories using these characters have taken the issue to court.

Did Aunt Louise's Dear Readers know that the issue of Zorro's character and story lines is currently being decided in court, too?

Madame L understands why authors want others to respect their copyrights, but it seems obvious that the estates, years after the authors' deaths, are just respecting the money.

Madame L would love to read a story featuring Holmes, Watson, and Zorro together. Who will write that story?

Your Dialect Map

Check this out, and take the dialect quiz! I ended up with a dialect from somewhere between Santa Rosa (California), Modesto (California), and Salt Lake City (Utah)....

....which surprised me, because I have spent less than 5 hours of my whole life in Santa Rosa and less than half an hour, ever, in Modesto (driving through on my way to someplace else).

And I've spent maybe a month, total, in Salt Lake City. 

So all my years in Virginia, Arizona, and Colorado didn't count for anything?

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

What Shall We Give?

More Photos From Victoria

I just had to share these ones, too: the guy offering smiles for change, the REAL Salvation Army band playing outside a department store, and the store selling all kinds of "Egyptian" things, from hokey relics of the Giza pyramids to belly-dancing costumes to hookahs:

Really getting into the spirit of Christmas, and HE thanked ME for smiling back!

Again, the whole Christmas spirit thing!

Hmmm, not so Christmasy, but fun to look at

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Victoria in December

What a great way to spend the week before Christmas, visiting this lovely city to the north. I took this photo from the outside of the ferry, looking through the dirty window, of one of the decorations on the ferry's Christmas tree.

Yes, this is so obvious. But I don't care. What a great flag!

This flag was flying above the hotel where we stayed, along with a U.S. flag and the flag of British Columbia.

We had incredibly good weather while we were there. It was like Camelot, sunny (but cold) in the daytime, with wind and rain at night.

We were just a few blocks from the capitol building, which was decorated like crazy.

We drove up the coast one day and spent the next day in town.

This little guy found out what suckers we are for birds, and visited our balcony frequently.  He (she?) even posed for this photo (and many others). 

But I must say, cuddly and cute as he/she looks, food was the only thing on his/her mind.

It snowed the night before we left,  and there was snow on the roads we drove home on in Washington. How lucky were we to have such great weather while we were there!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Green-Cheek Conures

Our two little green-cheek conures aren't this cuddly and playful and gentle yet, but we're working on them.

Both of them had been in a pet store for longer than their first year of life --- in a pet store where the employees were instructed not to socialize with them. So their experience of humans, at a time when they should have been played with and loved, was of big hands being stuck in their cages, cleaning fluid sprayed around, and other unpleasantness.

We got both of them (not at the same time) for much less than they were originally priced at, because the pet store people realized no one was ever going to buy them. We consider them rescue animals.

We're working with them every day, and now they take food from us, sometimes, and follow our commands to go back in their cage when their outside time is over.

I love that the people who have posted these videos have established such a loving bond with their little birds. I can barely take decent photos of my two little ones but will try to take some to post here in the future.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Some Things I Get To Do

I just read James Clear's post on this, and I'm pasting below the main part of it:

As adults, we spend a lot of time talking about all of the things that we have to do.
You have to wake up early for work. You have to make another sales call for your business. You have to work out today. You have to write an article. You have to make dinner for your family. You have to go to your son’s game.
Now, imagine changing just one word in the sentences above.
You don’t “have” to. You “get” to.
You get to wake up early for work. You get to make another sales call for your business. You get to work out today. You get to write an article. You get to make dinner for your family. You get to go to your son’s game.

This is a brilliant idea, isn't it. I get to clean my house (how blessed I am to be living in a beautiful home). I get to fix dinner for family and friends (what a blessing this is). I get to work on a project that I love to work on (and how lucky I am that I have time and support to do this). I get to volunteer at the wildlife refuge (how cool is that, to live close enough to a wildlife refuge that I can go over there any time to help out). I get to go to the gym to work out (again, how cool is it that I can go to a gym, spend time with friends there, and get a good workout with the best personal trainer ever).  I get to send gifts and cards to family and friends as we all celebrate Christmas (and this is a blessing on every level I can think of).

Monday, December 16, 2013

Boxing Makes You Bigger --- Really?

Obviously, not just boxing, but any activity where you test and improve yourself through hard work and self-discipline can help you become a better, a bigger, person.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Fiction Weekend: Ender's Game and The Hobbit

After not seeing a movie in a theater in so long she can't even remember when the last time was, Madame L had the good fortune to see two movies this weekend: "Ender's Game" on Friday and "The Hobbit" on Saturday.

Now, Madame L had read both the books these movies were based on, and so had her movie-going companion. Yet Madame L and her MGC had very different opinions of the movies.

Madame L loved both movies; her MGC, a purist, thought they were okay at best.

Madame L would like to hear from you, Dear Readers: What do you think about these movies and the books they were based on?

Also, Madame L was thinking that if you were a purist, maybe it would have been better not to have read the books ahead of time. So she would like to hear from any of her Dear Readers who have not read the book(s): What do you think of the movies? 

And More Lake Photos (From Last Month)