Russ’ blog archives—2007

Welcome to my web logs for 2007...

Raising Sand

Friday, 28 December 2007

I don’t know if I like the idea of our dear, sweet little Alison hanging out with the likes of Robert Plant (whom I like, but never expected to encounter in the same context as Alison) to do Raising Sand, and I didn’t like the album the first time through, but I’m being won over. I was suspicious of Plant and, as you might expect yourself, was awaiting something altogether different from Alison.

Well, it’s got a decidedly different sound to it. It’s almost as if the album producer, T Bone Burnett, was under contract to do something Tim Burton could make use of. But, I find I love it.

No, Plant doesn’t rasp into any of his signature high Gs on this album, no hey, hey, mamas and few ah, ahs. It’s a pretty mellow Plant we hear. That might disappoint some, but it’s fine by me.

Hear some of it and see the little bluegrass flower and the big, bad rocker wolf interviewed together (8 minutes):

And, uh, hey, if you don’t remember why we’re all in love with Alison Krauss, click here:

As one commentator said, “Angels only wish they could sing like this!”

Some thoughts...

Saturday, 15 December 2007

...on the eve of next year’s study of the Book of Mormon prompted by recent arguments over genetics, demography and origin of peoples.

I’m betting that a handful of folk from near Jerusalem with a strong sense of culture, religion and literacy arrived in Central America in 590 BC only to find the land populated with dark-skinned people. They impressed these people by their nigh-fanatical dedication to God, to their Scriptures and to maintaining their language. In the case of the descendants of Nephi, they tended to abstain from intermixing at least at first with the local populations.

By Jacob’s time, some had begun to adopt what may have been a local custom of concubinage, or a prideful imitation of practices of their patriachal fathers, in addition to legalized marriage and Jacob had a stern word for them. Laman, Lemuel and their descendants had no such sensibilities from the very beginning.

The Mulekites fled Jerusalem at the same time, perhaps without strong religious leadership, for whatever good reason the Lord must have had, but if I can venture a guess, it was to reinforce and refresh the Nephite nation a few hundred years later, who were never strong in number by reason of their remaining aloof from local genes. The Mulekites would have tended to remain pure-blooded by pride in their royal origins. Perhaps, like the Jaredites, they were more numerous in their company.

They, and to a greater extent for cultural and religious reasons, the Nephites, were sought out as royals by the local populace. They would have appeared to them as magic by reason of their white flesh, their possession of steel (notably, a “magic” sword and a very curious talisman of other worldly manufacture) and, as I’ve said, literacy (intense record-keeping) and a very much raised degree of practical culture.

It could be that the high Mayan culture as we discover and observe it today is a product of Nephite and Mulekite culture as interpreted by many more times the number of local Central American peoples already under the influence of a brilliant Olmec (Jaredite) civilization that left almost no record of itself outside the extraordinary architectural artifacts.

In my opinion, it’s in the quantum cultural events, mythology and linguistics that we should seek the Nephites among the Maya and the Jaredites among the Olmecs and not in their genes, their architecture, literature or artistic representations.

The Book of Mormon is essentially a religious record written by people we would consider bigoted today with our sensibilities.

You read in the record early that the Lamanites were filthy, dark and loathesome, ate raw meat and delighted in the shedding of blood. This sounds to me like exactly the sort of thing people would say about an enemy, particularly one that was racially distinct from themselves ruled by fallen, estranged relatives. I do not trust that the religious record of the Nephites is as free from bigotry as we might think an inspired religious record ought to be. I’ve learned to be careful about what I expect to find in such records. It’s not important that a record’s author be politically correct or even without imperfection especially I judge him.

Remember, even in recent history, our own ancestors, Church leaders, etc. said and did things that shock us greatly with our present-day sensibilities. My own great, great, great, great grandfather was a sea captain who transported slaves from Africa to the New World. One of this grandsons, George Q. Cannon, would sit in the highest councils of the Church while another, my own great, great grandfather, would preach to the Indians and preside over the Saint George temple.

The Nephites and Mulekites were Jews who already didn’t take to mixing with non-covenant people living in Palestine. Despite the slaughter of the time of Joshua, many non-covenant peoples remained near and among the Israelites (hence Rachel, hence Delila, etc.), but are not spoken of in the record incessantly. When you read the Old Testament starting around David’s time, there’s less and less said about people in the the kingdom or near it that aren’t of the House of Israel. Later, at the return from Babylon, the Jews won’t even acknowledge the blood lineage of the Samaritains. These Jews are those that followed a couple of generations later than the Nephites who did not accompany them into Captivity.

People who aren’t part of where we’re going in our account just aren’t important and we’ll give them short shrift if we give them any at all.

How much less then would the Nephites, plunged into a world filled with dark-skinned, uneducated, strange and covenant-less peoples (who ate raw meat and delighted in the shedding of blood) consider those inhabitants as worthy of mention in their sacred religious record? Maybe the true stories are given in Nephi’s “Book of Kings.”

It’s only with the conversion of the Lamanites that you start to get acknowledgment of ethnicity in the religious record. I suspect that by the time of Christ, many aren’t racially pure any more. When this or that Book of Mormon notable says of himself, that he’s a pure Nephite, he’s saying something pretty significant (and that we in 2007 find offensive).

To boot, it surely hasn’t escaped your notice that in Mexico and the rest of the American Latin world, there are many who steadfastly and proudly proclaim their pure European ancestry. By this I diverge in the opposite direction to prove the point:

By the time there weren’t any more “ites,” there may not have been anyone left of pure blood. For self-proclaimed Nephites to split off and call themselves that on the eve of their absolute destruction begs all sorts of questions about their righteousness and humility—and accuracy.

The Lord wanted a Nephite people of covenant: their racial purity, inexistent by then, was neither here nor there just as it isn’t today.

How to avoid the on-rushing flood...

Thursday, 13 December 2007

I did a lot of this sort of thing when younger. The years of aging and prosperity have made me weak and flabby in the brain as well as the body.

Seems the basement of our old home has been flooded for several days. The girls noticed there wasn’t enough hot water (bad conclusion taken in isolation with each one thinking the others had used it all up: every girl was showering cold because there was no hot water) and, indeed, there was a reason for it: the burner in the water heater was under water. The furnace was still working because the water wasn’t deep enough.

Our basement doesn’t drain as it’s lower by 5 feet than the drain to the street.

Usually when it floods, it’s because the little sump that pumps out the condensation from the house refrigeration in the summer dies. And it’s not much water that we’re dealing with. But there’s the water softener that could, in theory, overflow.

Julene and I began clean-up at about 2130 Tuesday evening after I went over there to see what they were complaining about. This is exactly the kind of flood you want if you must have one at all: clean water made dirty only by the things it’s dissolving. (I’ll pass on the other type of flood that can occur—I’ve cleaned up after those too.)

We went home about midnight with only a theory pointing to the water softener as culprit. Fortunately, the guys who designed the water heater had thought about the possibility of flood and I was able to light the pilot and fire up the gas burner with just a bit of bubbling, but no problems at all.

Anyway, the flood had gone unchecked and unnoticed because someone picked the humidity sensor from up off the basement floor and set it up high where it would never detect water and go off. Grrrr!

So, at 0147, Clémence began calling until she woke us up to announce that the alarm (now on the floor after we had cleaned up the water) had gone off. I lept into my jeans and headed out the door to discover the pressure valve on the water heater spitting out water and water vapor. The water heater is less than 5 years old.

I had to shut down the water to the house until morning. We cleaned up again. We’ve got a really good system now involving a sump pump we mop up the floor with until siphon is lost, then we suck with two shop vacuums and put the sump into their barrels to continue the job. I finally fell back to sleep about 0300 after watching part of an episode of Rosemary and Thyme.

Yesterday morning I arose late, bought a new TP valve and installed it. I also installed a valve to cut out the water heater so that in the event it failed, I wouldn’t have to cut all water off to the house.

So, I am this week reminded that those TP valves can and do fail. After 5 years, it’s not a bad idea to replace one. I think I paid $5.

So far, Clémence hasn’t called back and the humidity sensor is on the basement floor. Tonight I tear down my dishwasher at home which hasn’t worked since last week. I’m feeling lucky...

Better than the Savoy Truffle...

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

This beautiful white truffle, its value estimated at a whopping 150,000 Euros by an auctioneer in Macao where it’s going, was found by the discoverer’s dog and dug up from a depth of 15-20 centimeters (6-8 inches), and weighs a hefty 1.4 kilograms (3 pounds).

The most recent large white truffle was from Alba, weighed 1.5 kilograms and sold at an auction in Italy to a Hong Kong tychoon for 125,000 Euros in 2006.

This is a rare fruit of Tuscany’s rich terroir and is known to grow only in northern Italy and on the Istria peninsula of Croatia. Black varieties grow in the Perigord region of France and blander black ones in China. Truffles are used to enhance the flavor of foodstuffs including meats, liverwurst (pâté), stuffings or pasta.

The owner plans to donate to several children’s charities.

How they built Stonehenge...

Sunday, 28 October 2007

A side of global warming you don’t hear about...

Thursday, 20 September 2007

There is both global warming and global cooling on the planet Earth. There always has been and there always will be, because temperature change is cyclical: The Earth’s temperature oscillates up and down, ebbs and flows, over decades and centuries. Sometimes the earth warms, as it did in the Roman Warming period (200 B.C. to A.D. 600), the Medieval Warming period (900 to 1300) and in modern times from 1910 to 1940. And sometimes it cools, as it did in the Dark Ages (600 to 900); the Little Ice Age (1300 to 1850) and from 1940 to the late 1970s.

The National Center for Policy Analysis’s new Global Warming Primer shows that over the past 400,000 years, “the Earth’s temperature has consistently risen and fallen hundreds of years prior to increases and declines in CO2 levels” (emphasis added). For example, about half of the global warming increases since the mid-1800s occurred before greenhouse gas emissions began their significant increases in the 1950s, and then temperatures declined well into the 1970s all the while CO2 levels were increasing.

This booklet is nicely executed with clearly stated reasoning and conclusions and easy to understand graphs and illustrations.

See or get a copy of this booklet at or download my copy here.

Bezons, France

Friday, 17 August 2007

Here are some details for my children. The blue arrow is their parent’s apartment back in the day. The orange arrow designates their grandparent’s house and the yellow one the clinic where the three older ones were born. The grey arrow points toward Paris, about 15 kilometres away.


“ O belle, ô douce, ô chère France, maîtresse de mon cœur et de mes pensées : j’erre dans les ombres bien loin de toi. J’aurais tant voulu giser sous ta terre ou que tes vents dissipent mes cendres dans tes forets et dans tes près. Constant dans mon amour et dans mes affections, c’est toi seule que je regrette ! ”

—de je ne sais plus qui


War is “ God’s way of teaching Americans geography. ”

Ambrose Bierce

Like father, but son does it bigger...

Monday, 6 August 2007

My son and his new bike—bigger than my 750 Shadow Aero.


“ War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. ”

John Stuart Mill

So, Mormons not Christian?

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

No, Mormons are not part of historic, traditional, Christian orthodoxy. Mormons happily and readily agree that they are not part of the traditional orthodox Christianity filtered through the Nicean and other uninspired councils, through centuries of heresy and sectarian strife. It’s fundamental to our faith, which we see as restored (or original) Christianity. But, to suggest we are not Christian or, worse, that we do not believe in Christ is offensive and dishonest.

It’s as if a Mormon suggested that, as a Catholic or Protestant—that is, a traditional Christian—you do not believe in restored—real—Christianity and, therefore, are not a real Christian.

No Mormon would ever make that statement publicly and few would even hold the view privately.

If you believe that Jesus Christ is the divine Lord and Saviour of all creation, you are Christian.

The details of your belief do not change this fact. You may revere a pope. You may believe that the elements of communion on Sunday turn into the actual flesh and blood of a God in your stomach. You may chuckle about the day your next door neighbor will come to your house to borrow a cup of sugar only to find you’ve disappeared and gone away with Christ into heaven. You are Christian if you believe in and worship Jesus Christ and, in all your personal weakness and imperfection, do your best to serve Him.

To stand around accusing each other of not being Christian is, well, fundamentally un-Christian.

An interesting lunch meeting...

Saturday, 7 July 2007

Well, it was an interesting if impromptu lunch. I had just finished buying some last minute miscellany at Home Depot for my deck, where on Saturdays that place is to me like a riverboat to Brett and Bart Maverick. I was stopping off at the local Taco Time restaurant at 900 and dust on South University Avenue for a crisp meat burrito and guacamole.

Having ordered, paid and filled my water cup, I went to sit down at the table I occupy whenever I eat at this establishment, but it was taken by a guy who looked vaguely familiar. I took the next table, but stared at him before realizing it was United States Congressional Representative Chris Cannon dressed in jeans and wondered if I should leave him alone or say something. Too late, he noticed me, stuck out his hand in true politician style and warmly introduced himself about the same time as my introductory line dribbled out, “Gee, ahhh, you look like a cousin to me.”

Not the most eloquent greeting ever I admit, but the last thing I want to do is talk politics with a superstar even if I voted for the guy. (Okay, who wouldn’t vote for his cousin unless he knew him to be an actual rat?) I may have plenty to say on what’s going on in the world today in contexts like work and kicking back at a family reunion where it doesn’t matter, but I don’t really know anything about the realities of politics and the world.

I’m more waiting for someone I trust to tell me to load up and head out somewhere to start shooting guys in blue helmets. I’m pretty simple-minded to the point of being stupid when it comes to the real world. A friend of mine keeps trying to get me to go up to Capitol Hill to lend a hand in making Utah a better state. I refuse because just watching the Provo City Council meetings on channel 17 is enough to make my blood boil and I start thinking about shooting the lot of them. No, I was more interested in talking family and, armed with what I learned in college Anthropology class, calculating relation distances and degrees of removal, I was prepared to do just that.

I knew he descended through George Q. Cannon, while I descend through that man’s youngest brother, and therefore that we shared an ancestor in George’s father, surnamed the Immigrant, who left Liverpool in 1842 to come to America entrusting our grandmother, Anne, to the seas off the coast of Florida along the way. It turns out he’s a great, great grandson of the Immigrant while I’m that man’s great, great, great grandson.

He introduced me to his daughter eating with him—my fourth cousin. Knowing she would be quickly bored with all of this, I told her of my own first cousin once removed, Jewel Kilcher, and related the famous singer to her to her delight. That particular trick is always a crowd pleaser and we Batemans are famous for dropping her name. It also helps focus public attention on Jewel and drives her career to greater heights, I’m sure.

Amazingly, the rest of the meal went like a fact-finding tour of suburban America on a blazing hot summer day. Did I work at Novell? Was I doing the same kind of work at my new company? Did I have stock options? What were software companies doing to incentivize engineers nowdays? Did the fact that software manufacturers were no longer stumbling over themselves to hire talent relate to “off-shoring”? Etc.

Seeing he was soon to leave, I made a comment to the effect that he probably had a few weeks’ peace before having to head back to that big, bad place on the east coast. He said no, he was leaving Monday. He then said that it was an amazing and weird place where great good and great evil lived side by side. He said something about hoping America could do well through the vicissitudes of these next few years. He finished up just a minute before I did, shook my hand again, arose and filled his drink at the fountain on his way out.

Then he and his lovely 17-year old daughter climbed into a late model, white Ford F-150 4x4, crossed the whole of University Avenue right out of the Taco Time parking lot and headed north over the viaduct. I decided to try the same trick although the number of cars by that time made my manoeuvre a lot less graceful than his had been.

Al Sharpton’s visit to Salt Lake City...

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

On the news last Monday evening, he said he “got it.” About the Christian thing, that is. But, you just have to wonder...

On the other hand, I have more and more begun to wonder if Romney’s campaign* won’t turn out to be more about the Church and the Lord’s larger agenda than about the Presidency of the United States. Perhaps he isn’t really meant to do more than run, whether he knows it or not. It may be that a Mormon winning the Presidency isn’t so much what would help, but that just running advances the goal of dispelling the persistant misunderstanding and bigotry. Whatever the outcome, it should be interesting to see what happens. I think that less and less is happenstance now than ever before because I sense things are winding up.**

* I say Romney’s campaign because that’s the subject that brought up the good Reverend’s anti-Mormon comments in the first place.

** Then again, I could also just be completely full of bologna.

PBS documentary, The Mormons

Thursday, 3 May 2007

It is always useful to us to contemplate how we are perceived by others, at least it helps awaken us from any parochial or isolationist tendencies which are counterproductive to our faith, one pillar of which is to “preach the gospel.” We preach the gospel to the (potentially) hostile and misunderstanding around us.

Nevertheless, I was disappointed to count the considerable majority both in number of and time allotted to apostates over believers, some with very black agendas indeed. Now a good measure of this, as in the case of the Toscano woman, turned a bit to their personal discredit, but on balance it was still negative for a documentary proclaiming itself to have the goals Ms. Whitney touted. As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, most of us were able to spot the apostates after listening a little while. What of the general public that is now convinced that Joseph Smith was a sexual fanatic, that the Book of Mormon can be nothing other than the fruit of a 19th century agricultural experience, that communicants have no representation before courts of discipline, ...?

This is simply wrong-headed: As Emeritus Lutheran Bishop Krister Stendahl of Stockholm (now professor at the Harvard Divinity School) said, “when you are trying to understand another religion, you should ask the adherents of that religion and not its enemies.” There were as I just alluded several lies uttered that were left uncountered or unmitigated. No equal opportunity to rebutt. (Now, I also don’t think Ms. Whitney had an obligation to be fair.)

I bow concessively to Elder Marlin K. Jensen’s assertion, which he’ll make in a special program on KUED-TV Friday evening, that the overall effect was positive. Bad press is still useful press? Very well. I’m not charged with the Church’s PR mission. What placates me, however, is the knowledge that the kingdom of our God and His Christ will roll on despite the jaws of hell—or those of apostates—gaping wide open to swallow it.

Missed it? Watch online at the home of this documentary:


“ ...the right of individual Americans to keep and bear any arm of military usefulness—free from any government tax, registration, or regulation (all of which are clearly ‘infringements,’ as any English-speaker who is not a lawyer or a liberal can easily tell you)—was deemed so important to the survival of all our other freedoms that the Founders allocated to the preservation of this God-given right one entire article of the Bill of Rights, while the freedoms of press, religion, speech, assembly and petition (hardly minor stuff) were crowded together, allocated only one-fifth of an amendment each. ”

Vin Suprynowicz, Las Vegas Review-Journal

Stories are true...

Thursday, 12 April 2007

When I had little children, I became used to fielding the question “Is this a true story?” They rarely found my answer useful or satisfying because they were asking the wrong question. And, in fact, I was never interested in answering the question they should have been asking anyway. And I mostly never did.

I never felt comfortable with that question because, since my earliest years reading the plentiful books with stories and mythologies my mother shared with me, I never thought about a story that it wasn’t true. Since then, I have observed many around me who take a second glance at my face when I speak of Middle Earth, for instance, as if it really existed (it did). Or the world of Ender. Or King Arthur. Or the monster Grendel and the hero Beowulf. They are all as real to me as any person’s hand I’ve ever shaken.

It’s all the same as this article from Meridian magazine I just read discusses. And, all the stories are true.

A story’s telling is from a certain point of view. Its expression may be more or less usefully imbued with metaphor and imagery, magic swords, evil and powerful enemies, long journeys, harsh adversity and the reward of everlasting peace. It may be allegorical. It may be told in the mouth of a child or a beast. But it is always true although I expect one day, in humanity’s wickedness, humans will begin telling stories that aren’t true.

It comes down to the heroic epic. And all heros are real. The hero of the story is on one level Jesus Christ, indisputably the greatest hero of all and the greatest heroic example. On another level, the hero is a type of Adam or Moses. On the lowest, most basic level, however, the heros are all us. All these things are happening to us on our journey to conquer, to slay dragons, to trudge painfully through through the Dead Marshes, over the pass at Cirith Ungol and into Mordor: it’s all about our journey to return to God through adversity, the very microepic of each life.

Check out this concurring article at


“ Take procrastination. I know this one from the inside. In my life it is prompted by both fear (fear of failure, etc.) and by following the flesh desire to do what I feel like doing in the moment, a root cause of disorganization—and we’d be in serious trouble if Jesus did what he felt like doing in Gethsemane. ”

Ron Block

Jesus, Help Me to Stand...

Tuesday, 28 March 2007

Performed by Alison Krauss, one of my all-time favorite bluegrass performers and a great fiddle player, this was written by Ron Block of Union Station, Alison’s band. Here are lyrics and chords thanks to my friend and a fantastic bluegrass performer in his own right, David Hunt. (My own musical skills are pretty near zero now.) You can find this song on Alison’s album, Every Time You Say Goodbye: Alison Krause and Union Station.

Sometimes words written by others are a good choice rather than digging around for one’s own when those other words are already set to music.

Capo up 3 (so C becomes Eb).

	Jesus Help Me To Stand

	Verse 1:
	        C       F            C
	Through trials, troubles and care,
	            C        F         C
	I know that Jesus my Savior is there
	          C             F       C 
	Giving me faith through darkest days
	F          C      G      C
	Keeping me on the narrow way.

	F     C       F            C
	Jesus Savior, help me each day.
	             G                  C
	Fill me with hope, fill me with faith.
	                         F             C
	Darkness retreats at the touch of Your hand.
	F     C       G          C
	Jesus Savior, help me to stand.

	Verse 2:
	Jesus lived through darkest pain.
	Rejected by men, despising the shame,
	Man of sorrows, acquainted with grief,
	He gave His life so we may be free.

	Verse 3 (credo):
	I know that Jesus died for me,
	Cancelled my debt at Calvary,
	Rose from the dead, unlocked Heaven’s door.
	Trust in His love and live evermore!
	(refrain poco ritardando)

Caveat emptor: that’s the answer!

Wednesday, 21 February 2007

We’re condemned to being led about by sleazy demagogues1 in this country. No, I’m not going to launch into a belated rant about the citizens of New Orleans (even though I’m strongly tempted after last night’s Mardi Gras littering party). No, today I’m on about the so-called passenger’s bill of rights.

[1 demagogue: a leader who makes use of popular prejudices and false claims and promises in order to gain power over them. (Merriam-Webster) ]

“Senator, is there nothing we can do about the degradation that is getting bumped from our flight home today? I mean, I know there were 38 people torn apart by a car bomb in Baghdad and little Ethiopians are going to sleep on the ground without supper, but I just cannot imagine having to sleep tonight at the airport when those big rich airline executives are probably out on the town having a steak. I have rights; I need reparations! A thousand bucks sounds about right.”

If JetBlue wants to give me money for spending the night on a bench in the airport, sign me up. But, what business is it of the government’s that passengers are or aren’t happy on their flights across this country?

What natural circumstance or condition of human beings could possibly justify the erection of a passenger’s bill of rights?

What’s next? Wal-Mart Stores ordered by government to put us up in the hotel across the street if we fail to get our groceries into the family wagon before 2 am rolls around or a free dinner pass to Chuck-a-Rama if their shelves are out of Pillsbury flaky biscuits?

The remedy to this problem goes back to the very dawn of civilization, to a time when you didn’t have to tell caveman Joe that if Gork the rock seller had only soft, crumbly stones for sale, as a consumer he didn’t have to buy them. If you knew how to grunt and groan such an argument out for Joe to hear, he’d turn and look at you as if you were dumber than the primordial sludge you think his grandparents slithered out of.

“Gudd pook snif blftstik harnyah.” —that’s Joe’s way of telling you, “Geez, Waldo, why don’t you go back to New York City or wherever the hell you’re from?”

The Romans had an expression for this, caveat emptor, which literally means, “let the buyer beware.”

Or are the demagogues so impressed with their success over the last half a century that they now think they’ve rendered us incapable of coming down on the side of our favorite chewing gum manufacturer let alone on how to vote against an airline with our feet and pocketbook?


“ Life is a combination of magic and pasta. ”

Frederico Fellini

Book on gold plates found...

Tuesday, 13 February 2007

One of the age-old contentions of the Book of Mormon nay-sayers was that the whole idea of a book on gold plates was derisively silly. In 1830, all a citizen of Palmyra had to do to crack up his companion in the street or the neighbor over his fence was to look at him with a straight face and mention the words “gold plates.”

Since the advent of the rather earth-shattering and entirely unexpected Dead Sea Scroll phenomenon this derision has been increasingly swept under the carpet out of embarrassment that a gold bible might be less far-fetched or convenient.

The caption under this book claims that it dates to 600 B. C. Well, well, well... I have to say I’m at a loss to express the irony here and I’ll let you all contemplate it for yourselves. I’m sorry I didn’t stumble upon this 3½ years ago when it was published. No matter; there have actually been, despite assertions to the contrary in this article, other such books of similar antiquity and composition (metal) discovered including in the Americas but with similarly little press coverage.

No smoking ban in France...

Friday, 2 February 2007

Day before yesterday, a moratorium against tobacco smoke in public places went into effect in France, something I have been observing with considerable amusement. Incidentally, Italy’s similar ban has been in place for three years now.

While amazing that it happened at all, clearly some still don’t quite grasp the concept, a blindness from which many Europeans suffer. Companies can provide special smoking areas that are well ventilated, even indoors where expensive smoking booths are being installed in firms that can afford the luxury. However, it’s outdoors that the silliness has reached the greatest heights. Below is this morning’s news photo of employees of a company respecting the guidelines—and painted red lines—laid down by the company they work for.

This is all reminiscent of a flight I once took from London to Luxembourg: I sat in the non-smoking section of the aircraft which was clearly marked as being the left side of the cabin with the aisle as dividing line. When I asked about this rather shocking arrangement, it was explained to me that it was so chosen to allow the smoking parents of non smoking children to sit across the isle from each other.

Hehehe, never a dull moment on Planet Earth, eh?


“ Hash browns have the ability to make or break a breakfast. Some mornings, no matter how good the eggs might be—the portions seem too small without a solid side dish. Burnt or underdone potatoes can leave a bad impression that lasts the entire day. But on the other hand, the taste of great hash browns can travel right from the mouth to the soul. Browns with the edges crisped to perfection are the stuff of legends. ”


General Authority Top Ten...

Friday, 12 January 2007

...way to eat a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup®!

10. Paul H. Dunn: “I remember back in WWII that I ate a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. Back then, they were big enough to live on for a week. Being the only soldier to have survived the battle in my brigade, I really didn’t know if I could eat it or not, but I remember my fallen buddy’s words as he died in my arms: “Paul, if you just take one bite at a time you can tackle anything.’ So I took that giant cup and, breaking it with the bat Babe Ruth gave me after I struck him out with two outs in the bottom of the ninth in the seventh game of the World Series, proceeded to wolf down the tiny morsels.”

9. David B. Haight: “Imagine 70 years ago on a rough road between Idaho and Logan. There were no Circle Ks, no 7-11s. You had to bring your Peanut Butter Cups with you. Ruby and I split one for the first time in 1937...”

8. Dallin H. Oaks: “The Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup challenges us to consume. From the beginning there have been three steps in eating a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. First, remove the wrapper. This is best done quickly, by turning the cup over, grasping the outer fold and pulling away from the bottom. Second...”

7. Joseph B. Wirthlin: “When I was young I would sprint to the corner store, buy a Reese’s and run my hand through my hair before taking it down in one bite. These days I don’t sprint, and I have no hair, but the peanut butter cup remains.”

6. Richard G. Scott: “If you have not eaten a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, I plead with you. Eat one now. Enjoy the chocolate, the peanut butter. Do not delay. If you have thought, “That’s not for me,’ I plead with you to reconsider. Of all foods I treasure, this one was the first.”

5. M. Russell Ballard: “The time has come when members of the church need to reach out to our friends and share a cup, a peanut butter cup. It is not enough to raise a chocolate bar; it must now have peanut butter.”

4. Thomas S. Monson: “I remember I ate my first Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup when I was a tender lad of eight. My mother came up to me, and with a loving twinkle in her eye, asked, “Tommy, are you eating a Reese’s?’ And I would invariably smile up to her, “Yes, yes, I am.’ “But Tommy, did you know that Sister Jensen next door hasn’t eaten a Reese’s Cup in years?’ My young mind thought upon the plight of my neighbor. Tears were shed. Hearts were gladdened. A cup was shared.”

3. Boyd K. Packer: “In all my years, I have always eaten my Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups the same way—the established way we have been instructed to eat them. There is a far greater evil in this world, though—those who believe they can eat their cups in a way unconventional to the time-honored manner. We must be true and faithful and eat our Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups in the customary and recognized approach as it has been established.”

2. Neal A. Maxwell: “I intentionally initiate the delicious design of deglutition of the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup by nibbling a negligible nit of the culinary creamy cavalcade. It is exclusively through small entities that the great things are fabricated.”

...and the number one way:

1. J. Golden Kimball: “Hell, Heber, I’ll eat a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup any damned way I want!”

Yvonne de Carlo passes...

Wednesday, 10 January 2007

One of Hollywood’s great beauties passed away today at 84. Yvonne de Carlo played beautiful women in productions as noteworthy as Cecil B. Demille’s Ten Commandments (Zipporah, wife of Moses) and became pop-icon Lily Munster, the matriarch of the Munster clan on 1960’s television.

Her son, Marc de Carlo, of Mobsters and Mormons movie fame, currently hosts Taste of America, a cuisine and culture show on the Travel Channel.

Another Mormon connection with the Munsters was Pat Priest, who played Marilyn, the “plain” one of the family. She grew up in Bountiful, Utah. She and her mother, Ivy Baker Priest (whose signature once appeared on paper money when she was United States Treasurer under Eisenhower), worked on road shows.

Life’s too busy...

Saturday, 6 January 2007

...and I haven’t found time to blog since August. Sorry. However, I have made super advances in bread-making, so check out my recipe site.

For Christmas, the children gave us this photo of the whole family taken last August before Amy left for Chile.

The whole fam-damily