Monday, December 29, 2008

Civil Disobedience

Yesterday, in Elders Quorum, we discussed Elder Perry's talk in the last General Conference. Elder Perry's talk was based off of thoughts made by Thoreau. Thoreau was a great American...but he was also a criminal.
He wrote an essay on civil disobedience. Peaceful rebellion against false government practices. Thoreau himself spent a night in jail for refusing to pay taxes (he didn't want to support slavery and the Mexican-American war).
Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela, Rosa Parks, Dalai Lama, and many others have practiced civil disobedience, following Thoreau's example.
People who practice civil disobedience do so peacefully. They do so understanding that they may be thrown in jail, or even beaten or killed. They do so to set an example, to show that a government practice is wrong, to help bring public awareness to an important issue.
Today, like in the past, many who practice civil disobedience are criticized. People who believe, mistakenly, that the government is always right, call these people sinners. They are not sinners. They are rebels. They follow a higher law than man's. They deserve our respect, not our criticism.
Joseph Smith practiced civil disobedience. He tried to escape from jail. He did other legally dubious things for a higher purpose.
Our founding fathers practiced civil disobedience. The Boston Tea Party is a great example. So is just about everything else they did to separate themselves from Great Britain.
Christ himself practiced civil disobedience. His family illegally fled from the government as the government killed all the other young male children. He went against Jewish law and picked and ate corn on the Sabbath; he also healed on the Sabbath. He cast out the money-changers in the temple.
May we all have the courage and wisdom to engage in civil disobedience when the circumstances warrant it.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Weird weather

Hope everyone had a good Christmas.
We just visited a used baby store for a car seat, stroller, etc. Getting ready for the big change.
We definitely miss being around most of our family and friends for Christmas. Maybe next year we'll be able to make it out to Utah/Idaho.

So, about a week or two ago (I don't remember the exact day) I woke up in the morning, went on-line...and discovered it was 6 degrees. Very cold.
Today, I went outside, and it was unusually warm. Cloudy, but warm. I just took a look says it's 70 degrees, google says 68.
That's right.
How is this December 27th?
We're definitely not in Idaho anymore...

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

I'm blogging from a bed and breakfast. April's still sleeping. The building we're in dates back to 1830. Just a one night deal, and we got a last-minute deal on it. A classy living room, a bedroom, and a bathroom with a jacuzzi. And a supposedly wonderful breakfast this morning. Top-quality. A get-away before the baby comes. Bed and breakfasts are so much better than hotels.
We were going to drive to a German restaurant (I have a good coupon) for dinner, but an ice storm led to closed-down freeways, and we ended up going to a good but over-priced restaurant close to the bed and breakfast.
Hopefully the ice will melt and the freeways will open today so we can get back home.
Merry Christmas!
And Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 19, 2008


The semester is over. Very nice to get that out of the way. Next semester will be hard too, but at least the language of law won't be brand new to me. I have an idea of what to expect.
We've been trying to get money from an old health insurance company for months. They keep on sending us lame excuses for why they won't pay us. I finally sent them a long angry letter (instead of polite phone calls and letters) and yesterday we got a check! It feels good to stick it to the man and win, that man being health insurance companies, or, in other words, the devil.
And, on an entirely random tangent, the coolest thing about dinosaurs is that they're not actually extinct. I'm not talking about the Loch Ness monster. I'm talking about birds. I grew up hearing that the dinosaurs were extinct, but it's not really true. Of course every species of dinosaur that was around 65 million years ago (and, for that matter, every genus) is gone. But we're continually learning more and more about dinosaurs, and the more we find out about them, the more we are able to establish a direct link between them and birds. An article I found today is a good example of some of the similarities. My reptiles professor at BYU considered birds just another type of reptile. So next time you see a bird, just think of it as being a modified dinosaur. Because it is.
For more info on the ancestors of birds, google "bird dinosaurs," or just click here.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays?

With all the hoopla in Utah about this (driven by Buttars, by the way), I thought this article was spot on. Check it out.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

What makes a great teacher?

Recently, ranked some top professors, and the one that topped the list was one I'd taken courses from.
He was a good professor, but I think what put him at the top of the list was his absurdly easy classes. And I'd say absurdly easy classes should be a negative factor, not a positive one.
And I started thinking.
What makes a truly great teacher?
An incomplete list:

1. Respect for students. One of my professors right now has some great skills as a teacher, but she's scary and mean, at least to a few of her students. I recently overheard one of the library staff refer to her as...
Oh. Right. G-rated blog. Let's just say I'm not alone in thinking this otherwise good professor has serious people issues.

2. True love of the subject. If the teacher's not excited about it, the students won't be either. Well, at least unless it's like the chastity lesson I gave in Gospel Essentials the other week. Maybe it's best for teachers not to get too excited about specific topics in certain situations...
I'm especially impressed with a teacher who can make an awful subject interesting (Mr. Kinsel (Math), Dr. Wood (chemistry), and Ted (chemistry/physics)--I'm looking at you).

3. Good communication skills. Don't let me get started with one of my current professors...a brilliant guy, but he has a hard time talking.

4. Organized. Again, another current professor (well, current except I took her final on Tuesday) has problems here.

5. Good knowledge of the subject. This one's for all those high school coaches who were there just for the sports, but had to teach anyway...some of you may know your stuff. Most of you don't. To be fair, the above-mentioned Ted is an exception, but he doesn't spend a whole lot of time on the coaching side of things. This also applies to the fifth grade teacher who told us to do a report on an animal and then told me I couldn't do it on snake because a snake's not an animal. Yeah. I realize it's fifth grade, but still...according to my mom, she later called a goose a duck. Not a bad teacher overall, but she needed some very basic-level assistance with animal identification.

6. They're demanding. This BYU professor? My education professors at UVSC? Definitely not demanding. Education requires work. If I'm not trying, I'm not learning. There is no way my kids will get the easiest teacher, even if that teacher does happen to be the most popular one. And kids need to be prepared for the real world. An easy education class is not adequate preparation for a classroom full of 35 hormone- and rage-filled teenagers. An informative yet ridiculously easy Mission Prep. class is not adequate preparation for the craziness of a mission.

7. They make you think. This is where CS Lewis is at his finest. I took institute from Thomas Griffith. He was my stake president at the time, and a good teacher. And one of the most thought-provoking teachers I've ever had. This was not a class that required work, as there was no grading. But it still required thought. He asked deep questions. I'm not entirely surprised that he's now a judge on the DC Court of Appeals--this nation's second highest court. I am surprised that he's scheduled to visit my little law school in a few months to speak--definitely exciting.

8. They do their best to make the material applicable to their students.

To be honest, I sometimes fell short in all of these areas as a teacher. I despised a couple of my students, I wasn't a big fan of some of the things I taught (cells, for example), I sometimes found it hard to say what I wanted to say, I sometimes wasn't as prepared as I should have been, and as a result was disorganized, and I didn't always know the subject as well as I should have (cells, again). And my class was probably a bit too easy.
I got better as time passed, and then life pulled me in a different direction.

Any other important attributes to consider?

Friday, December 05, 2008

Why US car companies are dying and why we should let them die

Three reasons US car companies are failing:
A few years ago I bought a used car. I did a lot of research. I was only willing to spend $3500 or less, so my options were limited. Another limitation--I'm tall enough that I don't fit in a two-door car such as a Geo Metro.
I went to Consumer Reports.
Best compact cars in my price range? The ones that don't break down?
Honda Accord, Toyota Corolla, Geo Prizm. The last year for the Prizm was 1997; I had several people tell me it was basically a Corolla, just with a different name. I found one from that year and have been happy with it.
So where are Chrysler, Ford, and GM? The American car companies?
Well, they don't exactly have a history of making quality products. Go to Consumer Reports. It's pretty obvious that their cars are less reliable.
Sure, they have style. They look good. I worked for a rental car company and would sometimes drive a Dodge Intrepid. The 2001 model looked very cool, it drove smoothly, and it felt very comfortable. The 2001 Dodge Neon also looked and drove nice (although, being a compact car, it was less comfortable). But the reliability stinks. Some people go for style, for looks, or for brand name.
More people prefer reliability. So Americans buy Toyota and Honda.
Handling their money poorly. Plenty has already been said elsewhere about how they compensate their employees. The top executives showing up in private jets to beg Congress for relief money was more of a stupid image decision than a bad financial decision, but it seems to illustrate their wasteful ways.
Size and gas mileage.
American car companies have been big into size. Get a monster truck! One that can tow a house! Look! Our SUV is bigger!
What you end up with is a bunch of little ladies and guys with Napoleon complexes driving huge vehicles around. Most of these vehicles don't get used much for towing, hauling, or off-roading. They're mainly a status symbol.
Gas prices went way up, the economy went way down, and all of a sudden these big vehicles aren't selling. They never sold much internationally (people in other countries are either too poor to afford them, or laws are to stringent to allow gas guzzlers). Now they're not selling anywhere. The companies were struggling anyway, but gas prices and the economy were the last straw.

Now, what do we do? Do we go in and save these guys? Or are they too big to fail? If we let them fail, the economy goes down more. But if we use huge amounts of money to help them out, their problems, which I mentioned above, will probably continue. Poor reliability, poor money management, big size and poor gas mileage.
I think at least one of them needs to fail. Companies, especially big companies, need to realize that they are not too big to die. I hope Congress will hold off on any help until one of these guys goes under, and then step in with loans to help the others. Let them know that they're not too big to fail. Let them know that, like all other things in a changing environment, if they don't change and adapt, they will go extinct.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Cincinnati sights

April and I went to the zoo a few weeks ago; normally, it's prohibitively expensive, but the law school offered $3 tickets for an evening visit, so I snatched them up. It's actually a pretty impressive zoo. I was a little bothered, however, by how much they sensationalized things. Most of their snakes were the poisonous types (whereas most snakes in the world are not dangerous). Same with their spiders. They had displays full of live cockroaches--solely for the gross-out effect.
I understand that the zoo needs to attract people, and this is one way of doing it. And the rest of the zoo was impressive enough that I didn't mind too much (although a few more amphibian displays would've been nice).
Yesterday, however, I discovered that the zoo had passed the line. They offered a combo-promotion ticket with a creation museum in Kentucky (only 15 miles from the zoo). This creation museum is top-notch. It's the biggest and best creation museum in the world. Admission is well over $20. It's big news.
What does a creation museum include? Well, it looks a bit like the Flintstones. People riding dinosaurs. Stuff like that. And it claims that it's science. In fact, as almost anyone with a degree in biology, geology, or anthropology will tell you, it's anti-science.
I'm a religious person. I have a degree in biology. I believe in being honest. And so I cannot support a museum that makes claims like the creation museum does.
As a former biology teacher, I can just imagine teaching here in Cincinnati. I'd teach the students something (the age of the earth, for example), and they'd reply, "But the museum says that's not true! The earth is only 6000 years old! And it's a museum, so it must be right!"
The zoo, on the other hand, is publicly funded. It exists to educate about science. Real science. Its goals are the exact opposite of the goals of the creation museum.
Imagine if the Catholic church teamed up with a bunch of devil-worshippers.
Yeah. It's kind of like that.
I emailed the zoo, complaining. Enough other people complained that they withdrew the offer. I have a feeling the PR side of the zoo had not been speaking with the educational side of the zoo--if they had, this problem never would have emerged. Anyone working for the zoo with a biology degree would've shot it down immediately.
It's nice to know that reason can trump ignorance.
There's a stellar aquarium nearby. An art museum, a natural history museum. Maybe next time the zoo can team up with one of these.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Bringing the best of the world to the US

The US has made great strides in the last decade or two. Great international foods such as Lindt and Toblerone chocolate, Nutella, etc. have become easy to find in any major grocery store. You can find cheese fondue and pickled herring, if you're lucky. Mexican food has been easy to find for an even longer time.
It's even possible to find high quality bread like they make in France and Germany. Hearty, filling, good-tasting even without adding anything to it. It's sometimes difficult to find, and it's certainly pricey, but it does exist (and it's so much better than American bread). I've even had the pleasure of tasting some high-quality pastries here (even harder to find than good bread, and even more expensive). In Germany and France, most people buy their bread and pastries at bakeries, and almost all of it is high quality. Even the grocery store bread is good. I wish more people in the US would refuse to eat low-quality bread and cheap glazed donuts, and demand the better stuff; demand would go up, supply would go up, and ultimately, because it would no longer be a specialty item, prices would come down.
What are some other foreign things the US should adopt?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Song of the week

I'm making side dishes for tomorrow (April's working late tonight, and so I'm taking over her share of the cooking). Listening to Rush. Canadian, so not American, except that America has a tradition of taking the best of everything and making it American. Happy Thanksgiving, and here's some lyrics from an English band that America has yet to accept (but really should--the rest of the world has, I first heard about these guys from a Polish family in Germany...)
Marillion (lyrics by Fish)--definitely some of the best lyrics in music. Period.
This is a triad--three songs that have to be heard together; the first three songs from Misplaced Childhood.

Huddled in the safety of a pseudo silk kimono
Wearing bracelets of smoke, naked of understanding
Nicotine smears, long, long dried tears, invisible tears
Safe in my own words, learning from my own words
Cruel joke, cruel joke

Huddled in the safety of a pseudo silk kimono
A morning mare rides, in the starless shutters of my eyes
The spirit of a misplaced childhood is rising to speak his mind
To this orphan of heartbreak, disillusioned and scarred
A refugee, refugee.

Do you remember chalk hearts melting on a playground wall
Do you remember dawn escapes from moon washed college hall
s Do you remember the cherry blossom in the market square
Do you remember I thought it was confetti in our hair
By the way didn't I break your heart?
Please excuse me, I never meant to break your heart
So sorry, I never meant to break your heart
But you broke mine

Kayleigh is it too late to say I'm sorry?
And Kayleigh could we get it together again?
I just can't go on pretending that it came to a natural end
Kayleigh, oh I never thought I'd miss you
And Kayleigh I thought that we'd always be friends
We said our love would last forever
So how did it come to this bitter end?

Do you remember barefoot on the lawn with shooting stars
Do you remember loving on the floor in Belsize Park
Do you remember dancing in stilettos in the snow
Do you remember you never understood I had to go
By the way, didn't I break your heart
Please excuse me, I never meant to break your heart
So sorry, I never meant to break your heart
But you broke mine

Kayleigh I just wanna say I'm sorry
But Kayleigh I'm too scared to pick up the phone
To hear you've found another lover to patch up our broken home
Kayleigh I'm still trying to write that love song
Kayleigh it's more important to me now you're gone
Maybe it will prove that we were right
Or ever prove that I was wrong

I was walking in the park dreaming of a spark
When I heard the sprinklers whisper
Shimmer in the haze of summer lawns
Then I heard the children singing
They were running through the rainbows
They were singing a song for you
Well it seemed to be a song for you
The one I wanted to write for you, for you

Lavenders blue, dilly dilly, lavenders green
When I am King, dilly dilly, you will be Queen
A penny for your thoughts my dear
A penny for your thoughts my dear
I.O.U. for your love, IOU for your love

Lavenders green, dilly dilly, lavenders blue
When you love me, dilly dilly, I will love you
A penny for your thoughts my dear
A penny for your thoughts my dear
IOU for your love, IOU for your love

For your love

If you're interested in some fantastic music, check these guys out. This album is their best.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Voting patterns

A number of counties voted more Republican in the presidential election of 2008 than they did in 2004.
Of course, many counties in Arizona and Alaska did. Duh.
But take a look at this map:
A huge section of the South. And practically nowhere else.
Why just in the South?
I can only think of one decent answer: racism.
If anyone has better explanations, please let me know.
Meanwhile, the most racist place I've ever lived, Eastern Idaho, also has issues: school children--2nd and 3rd-graders--chanting "Assassinate Obama" on a school bus in Rexburg. Where do you think they picked that up? The Rexburg mayor believes the obvious--from parents.
I've heard people say Bush should be tried for crimes. I've never heard anyone say he should die. But Obama is getting more death threats and his Secret Service is working more overtime investigating these threats than any past president.
On the other hand, Utah voted more for Obama than they did for Kerry, and Obama even won in Salt Lake County (yes, county...that includes my hometown).

Friday, November 14, 2008

Living apart

I'm writing a paper for one of my classes. One of the subjects of the paper involves a married couple that is living apart. It's a temporary thing, they live together on the weekends, and it's just for their schooling purposes, but it got me thinking...that's got to be hard. Not too many couples do that, do they?
The last BYU magazine included a paragraph about a guy on the Ballroom Dance team who's on tour in China when his wife has their first child--in Provo. That disturbs me, especially if the baby was born around its due date. Priorities!
Law students often get summer jobs away from the area of the law school, especially if they want to live in another part of the country after graduation. I can't imagine how difficult it would be to leave my family for a few months to do that. I know some people do. I'm sure some circumstances make it necessary, but it seems to me that something like that should be a last resort.
Do we want to normalize being married but living separately? Is that what we want to turn marriage into? How much of a strain is it on a marriage?
Any other examples of married couples living apart for valid (or invalid) reasons?
Will this ever become something the church will address directly?

Saturday, November 08, 2008

What Obama as President means

In a little over two months, Obama will become president.
A historic moment, to be sure. The first black president. The first minority president period. That Americans voted for a black president is a good sign indeed. There may be some racist hold-outs (only three areas voted more for Kerry in 2004 than for Obama in 2008--Arizona, because of McCain, Alaska, because of Palin, and then this huge monster area in the deep South...) (Utah, by the way, gave Obama more votes than any other Democratic presidential candidate in a long time).
But racism, at least towards blacks, is not as big of an issue as it was even thirty or forty years ago.
Obama's presidency isn't just a sign of America overcoming racism.
Consider this--a guy with a Muslim father and the middle name of Hussein (repeated endlessly by schlobs on talk radio, like it was his first name or something...)
Seven years ago, 9/11. But Americans (well, most of them) are smart enough to realize that Obama, despite his Muslim middle name and his Muslim father, is in no way connected to that horrible incident. When we think of 9/11 we don't think "Muslim." We think "terrorist." That shows some maturity.
Obama's presidency is also proof that you don't have to come from a rich or powerful or political family to become president. You don't have to marry into money. You don't have to have fame and fortune from an acting career. You can be president even if you're not McCain or Romney, Bush or Clinton, Clinton or Bush, Gore or...well, you get the idea.
A kid who's parents never envisioned him as president--if they had, do you really think they would have named him Barack Hussein?--if a kid like that can grow up and become president, what else is possible? And that--that's what America's all about.

Friday, November 07, 2008


I wonder what the National Socialist Movement thinks when people call Obama a socialist.
I'm not going to link to them here, but I'll give you a hint--
They're Nazis.
I get the feeling that someone hasn't quite defined "socialist" properly.

Law School and Torture

Last week, three lawyers came to the school to speak about their experiences with Guantanamo Bay. One, a partner in a large private law firm, had done pro bono work for a group of Guantanamo Bay detainees. Another is president of a nonprofit legal organization that represented some of these detainees. Both of these men were involved in recent Supreme Court decisions--decisions by a conservative Supreme Court that sided against the Bush administration.
The third lawyer on the panel is an Air Force reservist. She was appointed as military defense counsel for a British resident in Guantanamo.
As you can imagine, it was quite fascinating.
Does the Constitution apply to Guantanamo Bay? It's technically owned by Cuba (wait a second...isn't Cuba, like, our enemy?) The US controls it. The Bush administration hoped to have a place controlled by the US where the Constitution didn't apply.
Are "enemy combatants" prisoners of war? The Bush administration prefers "enemy combatants" because there are rules for treating prisoners of war (in other words, you have to treat them decently--no torture allowed).
Is waterboarding torture? We sure thought so during WWII...
Is information gained by torture something that can be used in court--even when it's probably fake information?
Does a court need to be unbiased?
A number of military lawyers in charge of defending these prisoners have resigned in disgust--including the man put in charge of the defense. They felt the trials were a sham. The military lawyer on the panel agreed--but she still wanted to help her client, and she's stayed on.
It's clear that the Bush administration abused (and is still abusing) their power there. There are bad guys there, but there are also innocent people, who, if now released into the US, may prove a threat to the US because we've held and tortured them for the last seven years--and so they don't have the kindest feelings towards us.
The two-and-a-half-hour presentation was extremely interesting. You can find it here.
In any case, even if you're not an Obama fan, you can be grateful the Bush legacy of torture and false imprisonment will soon end.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


Classy speech by McCain last night. And I really do mean that. Go find it in your preferred on-line news source.
Also check out Robert Kirby (once quoted in General Conference) and his advice for the soon-to-be-president:
Open letter to our new president-elect.

Monday, November 03, 2008


I want to list some things I'm grateful for.
First, though, for those of you who read the "Why it's OK to vote for McCain link," please understand the author is being funny. It's not a serious post. Its main point is not to attack McCain, but to make fun of LDS Republicans who can see nothing bad in their candidate and nothing good in the other candidate. It shows how ridiculous that stance is by attacking the candidate LDS Republicans prefer. If you didn't get the humor, and were offended by it, you're not alone. But realize that when Mormons attack Obama in a similar manner, it looks just as ridiculous. Again, though, it was meant as a joke. So please don't take it too seriously. Unless, of course, you believe McCain is an incredibly good man and Obama's the anti-Christ.
On a more important note:
I'm grateful for a supportive wive. She works long hours, she's pregnant, and yet she's still a happy person. I'm glad that I can talk to her about my political views, but I'm also glad that she decides on her own who she wants to vote for (whoever that might be). I'm pretty sure she'll join me in the vote against loan sharks and the vote against a casino. I don't think she's made a decision on the other stuff. It may very well be that she cancels out my votes. And that's fine. She's a fantastic woman and the best thing that ever happened to me.
I'm glad for a mother and a mother-in-law that still accept me even though I--gasp--voted for Obama (voting-by-mail is awesome). My mom doesn't read my blog, and I can just imagine the long grapevine that information took before it got to here. But, even though my mom gets her news from talk radio, and even though she's seriously worried that my dad will lose his job if Obama wins, she still accepts me.
I'm grateful for signs of Democrats at church--an Obama hat and a Clinton bumper-sticker. Evidence that the church can be politically diverse.
More importantly, I'm grateful for a ward that has rich and poor, black and white, young and old, educated and not-educated, single and married. It got split about a year ago, to the dismay of the long-term members, but it's been good for the ward. It's forced people out of their comfort zones, and yesterday the small chapel was pretty much filled.
I'm grateful for supportive friends, even if the vast majority are over 1500 miles away.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Life in a swing state

Obama is coming to my university two days before the election!
Unfortunately, like the other first-class act of Heart/Journey, he's coming on a Sunday. So I won't be going.
Yes, he campaigns on Sunday. I know some people may be offended by that.
Just keep in mind that the other political rock star, the one that belongs to the religious right, will also be campaigning in the Cincinnati area on Sunday.
I guess they both really want my vote.
For those of you living in South and West Jordan, please consider voting against Buttars. He sponsored an unconstitutional bill that would have made my life as a Utah science teacher miserable, and it would have cost Utah taxpayers a lot of money to defend in the courts. Fortunately, Huntsman threatened to veto it, and the bill died. Please don't vote for him. You deserve someone better.
And if you live in Utah, consider voting 3rd party. We all know McCain will take Utah. Even his home state of Arizona isn't guaranteed for him...but Utah is. So consider the many other possibilities, from Nader to Barr to Keynes.

Also of interest, an interview with Democrat Elder Jensen (Presidency of the 70), from 10 years ago. Church officials sent him to do the interview. Jensen says:

-- The LDS Church's reputation as a one-party monolith is damaging in the long run because of the seesaw fortunes of the national political parties.

-- The overwhelming Republican bent of LDS members in Utah and the Intermountain West undermines the checks-and-balances principle of democratic government.

-- Any notion that it is impossible to be a Democrat and a good Mormon is wrongheaded and should be "obliterated."

-- Faithful LDS members have a moral obligation to actively participate in politics and civic affairs, a duty many have neglected.

Read about it here.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Is it OK to vote for McCain?

The professor that taught me ecology at BYU has a very funny post about why it's okay for Mormons to vote for McCain.
In other news, the science journal Nature, for the very first time, has endorsed a political candidate. As have a huge number of Nobel Laureates.
Click on this link to find out if it's OK to vote for McCain...


Sarah Palin needs to talk to people who understand science before she rushes off to condemn studies done on fruit flies.
An article here:
Anyone who knows much about biology knows that there are three types of animals that are great for research. Chimpanzees, because they're more like humans than any other animal, and thus help us understand ourselves better. Mice, because, like us, they're mammals, but they're also cheap and they reproduce quickly. And fruit flies, because they're extremely cheap, and they reproduce extremely quick.
Studying these animals leads us to a better understanding of biology and medicine. This type of research is extremely important, and the fact that she makes fun of it is troubling.
I would say she just alienated a whole lot of scientists, but in all reality, I think most scientists have already been alienated.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Orson Scott Card admits to forwarding false emails

Given the prestige which a couple of my friends have given Orson Scott Card lately, I thought this admission, found here, pretty funny.
Here are the pertinent parts:

I have received many forwards tied to this election season, as I bet you have, too. Some of them are downright fraudulent. Some of them began as truth but have since been corrected or are now outdated.
For instance, there was a link I got to an article about lawsuits pending against Obama, demanding that he produce his birth certificate to show he was a natural-born American citizen. I dismissed this immediately as nonsense, because his mother was an American citizen, and I thought that no matter where he was born, he was eligible for the presidency.
But then the friend who sent me the first link sent me a newer one that explained why he might not have been. Apparently there was a law that applied during the era when Obama was born that said that if you were born outside the U.S., and your father was foreign, then your American-citizen mother had to have lived in the U.S. for at least ten years, five of which had to be after the age of 16.
I thought, "What a stupid law. That means that a child born to a foreign father and an American mother who had lived all her life in the U.S. except the day the child was born could not be a citizen unless Mom was 21 or over." And, with a comment to that effect, I passed the link along to a few people as an example of a really stupid law.
Only when my son emailed me the link to did I realize that the article was fundamentally flatulent. The Obama campaign had already provided the Honolulu birth certificate, so the whole question was moot; the lawsuit is a frivolous one that claims the certificate was a forgery.
I have learned the hard and embarrassing way to check everything that purports to be factual at

I appreciate his honesty of his past gullibility. is a great resource. And "fundamentally flatulent" is a great phrase.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Why do we fight?

I've been studying about war in my Constitution class. Some really interesting stuff there--like why we call captured enemy "enemy combatants" instead of "prisoners of war" and why we hold them at Guantanamo Bay instead of in the US.
All that's good and interesting, and I hope everyone who wants to have an educated opinion about war would look into those matters.
But I want to discuss something else: what's our motivation for going to war?
With the war in Afghanistan, it's pretty obvious. They were harboring the people who caused 9/11.
With Iraq, it's more complicated.
Democrats say it's because they have oil, or it's because powerful Republicans have connections with the companies that are doing major work there (see Dick Cheney, previous Vice President of Halliburton).
Republicans say it's because of nuclear weapons (now known to be non-existent) or to free people from a dictatorship, or because of links to 9/11 (also known to be non-existent).
Both views are way too simple.
Individuals may have simple reasons for going to war. But the war in Iraq is being fought for many reasons.
It's obviously not just fought because of dangerous nuclear weapons, or to free an oppressed a free people. If that were the case, we'd be in North Korea right now. Unlike Iraq, we know that North Korea has nuclear weapons. They tested one! And conditions in North Korea are horrible. They do a much better job of keeping reporters out, and they do a much better job of keeping their people oppressed, than Hussein ever did in Iraq.
So obviously, something more is going on. There are other reasons for why we're in Iraq (although the fear of nuclear weapons and freeing an oppressed people may have been part of the equation). We ignore these other reasons at our own peril.
So what are the other reasons? I mentioned a few other possibilities (and indeed, Alan Greenspan agrees with the "we're there for the oil" bit).
Why are we in Iraq, and not in North Korea?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Negative coverage of the candidates

There's been a lot of talk about media coverage of the presidential candidates lately. Obama gets more coverage than McCain, Palin gets considerably more than Biden, Obama's tends to be more positive (if you stick to newspapers and don't consider talk radio).
I'd like to discuss character attacks. I've talked about Dirty Politics before, but I'd like to do it again, focusing on what dirt is true about the candidates, and what's actually said.
We'll start with Obama:
A relative told me he's Arab and Muslim. Fact: his father was Muslim. He's Christian (but not the "I'm saved" type Christian). His father didn't do much to raise him--in fact, Obama was primarily raised by his grandmother. Obama was born and, for the most part, raised in the US. He's 100% American and 100% Christian.
Another relative told me he refuses to say the Pledge of Allegiance and he's unpatriotic. Also not true.
Certain people (cough cough Sarah Palin cough cough) have said that he's been "pallin' around with terrorists." This comment is an obvious attempt to tie him to 9/11 (since many people believe he's Arab, Muslim, and unpatriotic), and judging from what some of my relatives believe, the attempt will be successful with some people. An acquaintance of his was at one time involved with domestic terrorism, but has now become a prominent, well-respected member of his community. Once a terrorist, always a terrorist? Or can people change? And does acquaintance equal "pallin' around"?
From what I've seen, people don't discuss Obama's former drug use much. Sounds like he wasn't the best-behaved teenager.
Obama's campaign shows a bit more respect towards McCain--they don't imply he's a terrorist--but they also try to put him in a negative light, and they try to show him as out-of-touch with the middle-class. However, for some reason, they've restrained from attacks on his personal life--they don't bring up his first marriage or his affairs very often. They also don't talk about where Cindy McCain gets her money--from alcohol. The alcohol lobby happens to be very powerful.
The media is very quiet about Biden. Seriously, he gets very little attention.
Palin, like Obama, gets a ton of attention. Why? Like Obama, she's a polarizing figure. Early on, there were some distasteful rumors about her baby actually being her grandchild (obviously false). There were also rumors about her belonging to an organization whose main goal was to have an Alaska vote for secession (sounds pretty un-American to me...) The last time that happened, we had a civil war. In any case, she was not a member of the group, but her husband was, and she had spoken at some of their meetings. Question--how much have you heard about her association with this group? Now think back to when Obama's pastor was in the news. How much coverage did his anti-American sentiment get? I really don't think the media's favoring Obama here.
My take is this. The media's goal is to make money. They get more money talking about Obama's pastor than Mr. Palin's organization, because, frankly, it's more interesting.
My other take--for some reason, when it comes to believing lies about a candidate, the lies about Obama are much worse than the lies about McCain. Obama may have more positive coverage, but very little of the coverage on McCain is as filthy as the talk radio coverage or the mass email coverage that's about Obama.
Do you agree or disagree with my take on it?
Why does Obama get more positive media coverage?
And why do the lies about Obama tend to be so much worse?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Colin Powell

Colin Powell, former Secretary of State under George W. Bush, is endorsing Obama.
I don't think there's a more influential endorsement out there.
I'd heard rumors that he might be supporting Obama, but I didn't believe them. Go look up his reasons for doing so.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Church debt and Saracuda

Two brief topics here.
First, a cool article from the Salt Lake Tribune. "Every church in America is up to its eyeballs in debt...Only Mormons, Muslims, Amish and a few other groups are not financed this way...In fact, Mormons can't build anything without having the money in hand."
Very cool. And maybe a good example for its members.

The other totally unrelated topic which I found hilarious (and I apologize if I offend any Palin supporters, but here goes...)
Palin has a nickname--Sarah Barracuda. I'm not sure if her fans still call her that, but they did for a while.
When I first heard it, I immediately thought of the Heart song. So I wasn't surprised when the McCain campaign started playing that song (I also wasn't surprised when the Wilson sisters, who front Heart, told them to stop playing it.)
Like many rock songs, the lyrics are difficult to understand, so I'll post them here:

So this ain't the end -
I saw you again today
I had to turn my heart away
Smiled like the sun -
Kisses for real
And tales - it never fails!

You lying so low in the weeds
I bet you gonna ambush me
You'd have me down down down down on my knees
Now wouldn't you, barracuda?

Back over time we were all
Trying for free
You met the porpoise and me
No right no wrong, selling a song-
A name, whisper game.

If the real thing don't do the trick
You better make up something quick
You gonna burn burn burn burn it to the wick
Ooooooh, barracuda?

Sell me sell you the porpoise said
Dive down deep down to save my head
You...I think you got the blues too.

All that night and all the next
Swam without looking back
Made for the western pools - silly fools!

If the real thing don't do the trick
No, you better make up something quick
You gonna burn burn burn burn it to the wick
Ooooooohhhh, barra barracuda.

What does it mean? I don't know. But here's a picture:

So, why this nickname? And why this as an (unauthorized) theme song? Any ideas?

Pictures on another site

Click here for some pictures of us in Cincinnati.
It's mostly April's blog.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Song of the week

I've decided to sometimes (and not necessarily on a weekly basis) do a song of the week. This one is my favorite songs from one of my favorite bands. In a world where modern poetry is usually nothing more than stream-of-thought garbage, a few brave souls, who still know how to rhyme, fight back. This is from Neil Peart, world-class drummer and lyricist of Rush:


Sprawling on the fringes of the city
In geometric order
An insulated border
In between the bright lights
And the far unlit unknown

Growing up it all seems so one-sided
Opinions all provided
The future pre-decided
Detached and subdivided
In the mass production zone

Nowhere is the dreamer
Or the misfit so alone

Subdivisions ---
In the high school halls
In the shopping malls
Conform or be cast out
Subdivisions ---
In the basement bars
In the backs of cars
Be cool or be cast out

Any escape might help to smooth
The unattractive truth
But the suburbs have no charms to soothe
The restless dreams of youth

Drawn like moths we drift into the city
The timeless old attraction
Cruising for the action
Lit up like a firefly
Just to feel the living night

Some will sell their dreams for small desires
Or lose the race to rats
Get caught in ticking traps
And start to dream of somewhere
To relax their restless flight

Somewhere out of a memory
Of lighted streets on quiet nights...

Don't get me wrong. I grew up in a suburb (although not a generic cookie-cutter one, and my backyard was a wetland). But these lyrics bring up some good points. The video for this, if you can find it, is also quite good. Envision a helicopter shot of a regular suburban city--each house exactly the same, and spread out for miles. No individuality. 100% conformity. Minimal creativity. Lacking the excitement of the city and lacking the peace of the country.
For a classic picture very close to where I grew up, click here.
Why do people seek this?

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Why vote for Obama

No candidate for political office is perfect. But I want to give a quick list of reasons why I like Obama without attacking McCain or McCain's VP pick.
1. He's intelligent. I realize people like to vote for candidates they can relate to, and sometimes smarter candidates are hard to relate to. But I want a candidate that's smarter than me (and one that could beat me on an IQ test).
2. He's level-headed. He thinks carefully before he acts, he doesn't lose his temper, and I can trust him to not make rash decisions.
3. He understands the world. He's lived in various states and foreign countries. He's worked with poor people and gone to school with rich people.
4. He has a deep knowledge of the Constitution. He taught Constitutional Law and understands how the laws of the country work.
5. He will appoint Supreme Court justices that will balance out the Supreme Court. Right now, 7 of the 9 justices were appointed by Republican presidents. Most of the justices are level-headed and fairly moderate, but they definitely lean towards the right, and a few more left-leaning justices would balance the court more evenly.
6. He is well-spoken. He has a good control of the English language, and can be persuasive. The president represents the US to the rest of the world, and so this is an important skill.
7. He's a good family man.
8. He has hope, and he has the ability to spread that hope to others. Hope alone doesn't get you anywhere, but it's the first step towards making things better.
9. He doesn't pretend that changing things for the better will be easy. In the Saddleback Forum, he tells us that it won't be easy; that the problems we have will take effort to fix. This kind of honesty is refreshing in a politician.
10. He grew up middle class. He doesn't have rich or powerful family, and he's risen due to his own efforts. His wife also comes from a similar background. They were never given a free pass because of family connections. Contrast this with the Clinton and Bush dynasties.

Comments are welcome. Especially welcome are reasons why you like a specific candidate (instead of reasons you dislike the other one). I'll accept negative comments, but positive ones are preferred.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Spotted on Deseret News website

If you're kid komes hear, she'll spel as good as us!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

It's a boy!

April had an ultrasound yesterday.
It's a boy! We got a couple of good pictures, leaving no doubt as to the gender.
April's due February 14th, five days after her birthday.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Supreme Court decisions I disagree with

So today my Constitutional Law professor what Supreme Court decision we disagreed with. I thought for a couple of seconds...and came up with two. Roe v. Wade, and Morrison.
Everyone knows about the first. The second is a famous case, but only for those who follow Supreme Court decisions.
So I was surprised when, this afternoon, I listened to both Palin and Biden answer interview questions about Supreme Court decisions they disagree with.
Of course Palin answered with Roe v. Wade, and then went on to call herself a Federalist (and so she disagrees with non-Federalist cases). Biden spoke about the Morrison case.
Biden spent a good deal of time and effort on a violence against women law. He collected a ton of information about how damaging gender-based crime (rape, etc.) harms people and the economy in general. Part of the study done to pass this law included the fact that women were being treated unfairly at the local level, and states, on an individual basis, were not doing enough to protect women against rape. The federal law would improve conditions for victims of rape. Congress passed the law.
The Supreme Court found it unconstitutional. Constitutional scholars were surprised--I'm not going to try to explain Constitutional Law in one blog post, but their decision was unexpected.
The name of the Supreme Court case is United States v. Morrison.
Look it up for the ugly details.
In any case, I was surprised to hear that Biden had been deeply involved in getting this law passed.
By the way, the Republican party controls the Supreme Court right now--7 of the 9 judges were put there by Republican presidents. Just in case you were wondering.
Now the question you should be asking is this--if 7 of the 9 are Republican, why is Roe v. Wade still law?
Something to think about.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

What do you read?

Sarah Palin previously explained that she got her knowledge of the world not from traveling, but from reading.
Which makes the following all that more interesting.
Eric Snider (formerly of BYU) says it best:

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Fountain

The movie that's been compared to a double prog-rock albums gets decent reviews from both April and me.
Artsy. Beautiful. Well-done. Emotional. A little confusing. A bit strange.
Will we watch it again? Probably not. Still, if you're into artsy movies, it's not one you want to miss.
Oh, and it's kind of a chick-flick, in a strange, artsy sort of way.


I just wanted to send out a quick thanks to those who read and comment on my blog. I know I say things that many of you disagree with (especially as far as politics go). And I'm fine with that. But I appreciate the fact that most of you are open-minded and think things through.
It's been a while since the WALL-E post, but the comments there prove my point: you guys are great friends, and you're incredibly thoughtful.
Keep up the good work.
We're in interesting times here, with the economy and the elections, and the world needs as many open-minded, intelligent people as it can get.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Movie reviews

I checked out three movies from the library today--Solaris, The Fountain, and Disturbia.
And then I looked up reviews on and Rotten Tomatoes. I refuse to waste time on movies that get poor ratings.
Ratings for The Fountain were very mixed. One of the negative reviews from Rotten Tomatoes:
"Ambitious? You bet, but also a towering, tumultuous folly. It's the movie equivalent of a prog-rock double album, short on humour, long on pomposity, and as for what it all means - you might well ask."

I'm sold. I'm definitely going to have to watch this.

Some prog-rock double albums I own:
Pink Floyd--The Wall
Genesis--Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
Dream Theater--Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence
Neal Morse--Testimony
Spock's Beard--Snow
Ayreon--Into the Electric Castle
Ayreon--The Human Equation
And possibly more...

Friday, September 26, 2008

Is backpacking around Europe a negative thing?

I quote from a recent interview mentioned in the LA Times:
In her second "CBS Evening News" interview with Katie Couric, Sarah Palin was asked why she didn't get a passport until 2006. Did it, as some of her viewers wonder, show a lack of curiousity and interest about the world and other cultures?

She told the CBS newsperson that she had to work, sometimes two jobs, and that's why she didn't backpack around Europe like privileged kids do.

"I'm not one of those who maybe come from a background of, you know, kids who perhaps graduated college and their parents get them a passport and a backpack and say, 'Go off and travel the world.' Noooo. I worked all my life. In fact, I usually had two jobs all my life, until I had kids. ... I was not part of, I guess, that culture."

Now where in the world does owning a passport mean that your parents paid for you to travel around Europe? According to Palin, I'm a priviliged kid.
I'm guessing most people reading this have a passport. I am also guessing that the majority of you have used it more than once (and not just for LDS missions). I am further going to guess that the majority of you paid for your own trips yourself.
I know I have. $6000 for 10 weeks in Europe. My money.
Sorry, Palin. We're not a part of that culture either. We work hard. Most of us even paid our own way through college. But we value travel and experience enough to sacrifice our time and our money for it.
Priviliged? No. Curious about the world? Very much so.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Hurricane Ike in Cincinnati

Sunday afternoon we heard a loud windstorm start up. High winds were interrupted by terrible gusts (think 70-80 mph). The tree in our backyard lost a huge limb. The neighbors across the street lost a huge tree. The electricity went in and out (and quickly back in). Electrical wires fell, some of them onto our driveway. Two blocks down, a large tree fell down and totally blocked off our street.
The whole thing lasted maybe two or three hours.
This evening, the large tree is still in the street. Hundreds of thousands of our neighbors are without electricity. Most of my classmates don't have power (unfortunately, there was power at the law school and at April's work). Numerous traffic lights are out.
The hurricane didn't reach us, but the winds it created did. They say it will take another week until everyone in the Cincinnati area has power again.
We're lucky. Our power is still on. Our house is undamaged (minus some shingles and a little bit of siding).
There's a possibility that we might lose electricity sometime in the next few days. We're keeping our fingers crossed.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Dirty Politics

So, pre-election politics are getting pretty dirty. There's a certain class of people that we can always expect crap from. The type of people that say Obama's a Muslim, for example (like Rush Limbaugh). My mother-in-law still believes that (I'm not worried--she's in Idaho, so her vote doesn't really matter). But it's sad when the politicians themselves get into it. And both presidential candidates are.
For example:
Obama claims McCain believes that an income of less than $5 million a year defines middle class. Clearly out of touch, right? McCain did say that...although it's fairly clear that it was said as a joke.
McCain's campaign ad (endorsed by McCain, and later defended by McCain in an interview) claims that Obama wants schools to teach sex ed to kindergartners. Obama's plan, in reality, is a comprehensive sex ed program that would teach age-appropriate information. For kindergartners, it's composed of teaching them how to avoid sexual predators.
It's sad, really, to see these politicians resorting to these tactics. I'm afraid it's getting to the point it did in 2000, when Karl Rove, working for our current president, set up a master plan to defeat McCain in the primaries in South Carolina. Bush's campaign set up a "poll" and asked "Would you be more or less likely to vote for John McCain...if you knew he had fathered an illegitimate black child?" McCain was then campaigning with his adopted non-white daughter. Guess who won in South Carolina?
So why do these tactics work? Why are we, as Americans, so gullible? Why don't we demand the truth?
How can we change things around? I have three recommendations:
1. Stay educated. If you hear something that sounds a little to extreme--like $5 million or sex education in kindergarten--check it out through an unbiased source.
2. Let others know what you find out.
3. Vote against the sleaziest. If their misleading attack ads and tactics backfire in the polls, they'll stop.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

What does it mean for you to be a Christian?

Two politicians were asked this question recently, and it got me thinking...
Even though Mormons have a lot in common with other Christian religions, there are some important differences that should not be overlooked.
Analyze the following two paragraphs and let me know which one is closer to your beliefs:

Politician 1: As a starting point, it means I believe...that Jesus Christ died for my sins, and that I am redeemed through Him. That is a source of strength and sustenance on a daily basis. I know that I don’t walk alone. And I know that if I can get myself out of the way that, you know, I can maybe carry out in some small way what He intends. And it means that those sins that I have, on a fairly regular basis, hopefully will be washed away.

Politician 2: It means I’m saved and forgiven. And we’re talking about the world. Our faith encompasses not just the United States of America, but the world.

So which is it? If this is all you knew about the candidates, which one would you vote for?

Obama (1) went on to discuss his faith. It's obvious that he's done some deep thinking about it. McCain (2) went on to related a prisoner-of-war story.
I posted previously about the Saddleback forum...and their comments on religion are probably what surprised me the most.
I was also surprised at how moderate both politicians are (despite how much McCain is compared to Bush or Obama to a socialist). Their responses tend to be thoughtful, instead of reactionary.
Palin, McCain's new VP, is not moderate (and as a scientist and an environmentalist she scares me). It will be interesting to see how things develop within the next two months.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Saddleback Forum

I knew that McCain and Obama had been involved with this forum, but I hadn't bothered reading it until today. In a world where all the media is biased one way or another, it's nice to have a neutral place where the two candidates get asked the same questions and each has a chance to answer without getting attacked by the other.
There are some definite surprises in here too, along with the predictable. Obama praising Bush is one of the surprises. The expected is McCain talking about being a prisoner of war and Obama talking about being a community organizer. Anyway, highly recommended for anyone tired of hate-based politics and biased media.

Friday, September 05, 2008

What Obama did after law school

For those of you who don't know, Harvard is arguably the best law school out there, and Obama was a top student there (he was the editor of the Law Review--the most prestigious position at a law school). After college (before law school) he was well-suited to take a high-paying job, or go straight to grad school. But instead...
That makes this article all that much sadder.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Where the Genetic Code and the Binary Code Differ

An old friend has an article about how DNA/RNA is like a computer code.
While I agree that there are many important similarities, there is one huge difference that separates basically all DNA/RNA from most computer codes.
The genetic code is programmed to make copies of itself.
I know that's obvious. Everything dies. So obviously, there needs to be a way for new life to come about.
All life that we know about comes from pre-existing life. Everything living today came from something that was alive in the past. Everything's a copy, of sorts, of its ancestor.
Now if you look at DNA and RNA, they're made up of four bases. Three of the bases are exactly the same between DNA and RNA. One is slightly different.
Isn't it interesting that every living thing has either DNA or RNA, or both? Every living thing is written in the exact same language.
As we dig a bit deeper, we also find that genetic codes have a lot of information that does absolutely nothing. Humans, for example, have a ton of genes for smelling that just don't work. How do we know that they're genes for smelling? We find the same genes in other animals--like dogs--and in those animals, these genes are functional. These exact same genes, in humans, are just slightly mutated, and therefore are inoperable. But we still have them.
Why would parts of our genetic code be totally useless?
They're not. They're a sign of our past, and they're potential for our future. When a machine breaks down, it still has parts that can be put to work elsewhere. Those spare parts may hang around, useless, for a while...but they may be put to work later.
On the subject of mutation...
Our genetic code makes copies of itself--and your genetic code is making thousands of copies at this moment. Most of these copies belong to cells in your skin, or your muscles, or your bones. A select few are used for reproduction. The copies are very accurate. Very rarely is a mistake made, and most mistakes are quickly corrected. However, occasionally, a mistake slips through the cracks.
Most mistakes--most mutations--are harmless. The genetic code of DNA is made up of four components, which we call A, T, C, and G. They're the letters of the DNA alphabet. Usually, if an A is replaced by a G, it's no big deal. The organism isn't really affected, and we call it a neutral mutation.
Sometimes the mutation proves to be harmful.
Sometimes, it's helpful.
The point is--the genetic code is flexible. If the environment around the organism changes, the genetic code, as it gets passed down to future generations, has the flexibility to change too.
Let's take HIV as an example. We'll use it because it mutates quickly, it reproduces quickly, and we can observe how it works. Its genetic code is passed down when it directs a cell to make copies of itself. HIV happens to have a very high mutation rate. It doesn't make great copies. So why is it so successful, and so hard to kill?
We hit HIV with a medicine. The medicine kills 99.99% of the HIV. 0.01% of the HIV viruses survive because they're a little bit different--their genes are different, and they can survive this particular medicine. There's a good chance that, in an environment without that medicine, they wouldn't do so well. But the environment has changed, and now they're the ones in charge. They reproduce, and their offspring get the exact same genes that these survivor viruses had. Now they have plenty of room to reproduce--all the other viruses are now gone, so the new, mutated HIV can spread rapidly.
And so HIV is impossible to get rid of.
This is evolution.
It gets more complicated when we discuss sexual reproduction, or long long long periods of time. But mutations happen. Environments change. And life is flexible enough to change with it--or else life goes extinct.
Mutations lead to evolution. HIV, in this example, evolved.
In a changing world, there are two options. Evolve, or die out.
In any case, there's way too much information here, and there's even more I've left out. I hope I've described it in words that make sense. Despite the similarities to computer languages, which have been pointed out elsewhere, there is at least one big difference.
Now I'd be interested in learning about a computer program with a code that exists in a changing environment, reproduces (with mutations), and other words, one that evolves.
That would be cool.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Coolest Grocery Store ever

On Saturday, April and I had a fun-filled day that included a small hike, lunch at a Mexican restaurant, a $3 movie (Get Smart), a stop by Dragon's Gate, and a trip to Jungle Jim's.
The movie was inside of a mall, and while we were there I decided to look for a games store. A place where we could pick up the European version of Ticket to Ride, or any other game we desired. We looked at a map of the mall, and the only store that looked promising was one called Dragon's Gate. That sounds a lot like Dragon's Keep, the game store in Provo, so we decided to stop by. It didn't have games. Instead it had very cool Asian stuff. A Chinese man and his daughter run the place. It's not getting a lot of business, and it's planning on shutting down operations, but meanwhile it's getting rid of a lot of very cool things--at fairly low prices. I'm not sure how I feel about filling our apartment up with Asian stuff, seeing as neither April nor I have ever been in Asia, but we splurged a little anyway. The best finds were some cool wind chimes and a decorative pillow (both picked out by April). I bought a tiny wooden picture and a fake wooden snake (not Asian, I realize, but still a cool toy).
Jungle Jim's is a full-size grocery store, but it has an amazing selection of international food too. The place is huge. You want salty licorice--a Scandinavian treat? You have several brands to pick from. Pickled ginger? Again, several different brands. Bulk honey? We picked up five pounds of it for $11. They have an amazing cheese selection. An enormous produce section. All that was missing was a quality bakery (and truth is, they might have had one and we just missed it). I finally found a spaetzle maker (spaetzle are German egg noodles). I've been looking for one of those for months. My dad would always say that Home Depot was his toy store. I think I just found mine.

Utah students score way too low on the ACT

There's an interesting article in the Salt Lake Tribune about ACT scores in Utah. Traditionally, Utah has bragged about its ACT scores. They're also used as a handy excuse for why, say, Jordan School District pays beginning teachers a mere $27,000 a year. The reasoning goes like this: Utah does very well academically, even without pouring more money into obviously pouring money into education doesn't help students do better.
Problem is, that information is false. It turns out, if we compare the ACT scores of whites in Utah to whites elsewhere, Utah is below average. Also, a lower percentage of students in Utah take the test, when compared to other states. When we look closely at the data, Utah is actually under-performing.
Utah only does better when we don't take race into account, or the fact that some other states require all graduating seniors (and not just college-bound ones) to take the ACT.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Ugly American

Robert Kirby (an irreverent LDS humorist who's been quoted in conference) has an article about being an Ugly American in Europe in the Salt Lake Tribune. One of the comments after the article was hilarious. This by a poster named JWeeks:

Here's how to excel as an American Tourist:

1. People who don't speak English are probably just hard of hearing. If you increase the volume of your comments, you can probably make them understand.

2. Compare everything you see with what we do or do not have "back home." People in all foreign lands enjoy being compared with everything Merican.

3. It is useful to try to pass US currency everywhere. Do not exchange your money for Euros or whatever the local currency is. Also use this opportunity to remark on how much (or possibly how little) everything is compared with "back home."

4. When given the opportunity, lecture anyone within earshot on how things should or should not be done.

5. It is required of all Americans traveling within Europe to provide a history lesson at least once a week, particularly emphasizing how their country wouldn't even exist without the old U.S. of A. You can use this in conjunction with your discourses on foreign policy in general.

6. Moan about the fact that you cannot pack heat or about other Merican rights you have had to give up during your stay abroad. If you can chuckle about how these folks don't have their rights protected by a written constitution, it will add to the peoples' desire to learn from you and be drawn to your wisdom.

7. When you get lost and go into a shop to ask directions, do not bother waiting in line to ask for assistance. Most foreigners don't have much to do with their time, are seldom in a hurry, and so if you butt in front of them, it will just make them smile and say "those wacky Americans."

8. Finally, let your foreign friends see your gleaming white legs; legs that haven't seen the light of day for the past six years. They will provide a nice contrast to your black socks and tennis shoes. The Hawaiian shirt provides the color to top off your ensemble.


Friday, August 22, 2008

First week

The first week of law school has been busy. Here, first-year students start a week early. We have all sorts of meetings--topics range from technology to an introduction to the local bar associations. And we have a one credit introduction course. So I've been attending six or seven hours of classes each day, and then reading for a couple of hours each night. I've also been busy with little stuff like figuring out why I'd been charged a late fee of $50 for tuition payments (not my fault) and why my laptop won't connect to the wireless service here at the school. Oh, and the five-page paper I just turned in for the one-credit class.
Part of me wishes we lived closer to the law school; it would be a lot easier. But the school's downtown, and not in the nicest area. So I take the bus (35-50 minutes to go 4 miles, and then a half-mile walk) and enjoy living in a pleasant neighborhood. If I were alone and single, I'd live across the street from the law school. But I'm not, so I don't.
I've made some friends. One of the LDS second-year students has been particularly helpful. It's a diverse group (although racially, it's not as diverse as I expected--in fact, the ward is more racially diverse).
It will be fun. But this first year is going to be hard.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Politically motivated shootings

What's up with these recent shootings?
First, this. A man enters a liberal-oriented church and starts shooting. He kills two people and injures others. He is arrested and tells investigators that he believes that liberals should die.
This second example is more recent, and the shooter was killed by police. I don't have a ton of information about it, and I'm not even sure what prompted the shooting, although I think there's a good chance that it's similar to what motivated the psycho in the first example. This time, the shooter entered the Arkansas Democratic Headquarters and shot and killed the state party chairman.
What prompts people to do things like this? Make no mistake, these terrorists were raised in the US. The first one killed for political reasons; the second one may have.
Is it cultural-based? Are they just plain crazy? Or is it a mix of the two?

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Dr. Horrible

For some reason, I've had the following lyrics in my head all day:
"With my freezeray I will stop the world."
If you don't already know it, don't miss it while it's free. It's a very funny anti-super-hero movie, and it's a musical, and...(Firefly fans pay special attention)
Warning: I'd give it a PG-13 for a couple of sexual references.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Finally a concert I'm excited about

--and it's on a Sunday.
I spent the last year in Idaho Falls, and while a classical concert there was nice, and I patiently sat through a Jim Brickman concert (the things we do for love), no acts came through that got me at all excited.
Now, in a bigger city, that changes.
Heart and Journey, two awesome classic rock bands, are coming, together, to Cincinnati.
But they're coming on the wrong day of the week.
Oh well. I'll wait patiently for another good show. I think Savatage is dead, but Dream Theater...I'm looking at you now. You'll stop by, right? And if I sat through Jim Brickman, my wife should be able to put up with Dream Theater, right?
Maybe not.
Maybe I'll just go alone.
I'm crossing my fingers...

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Smart Music

Word is that Queen's guitarist just earned a PhD in...astronomy.
Listening to their music, I always knew these guys were smart--they play progressive rock, after all. They have also been extremely successful (We Will Rock You, We Are the Champions, Bohemian Rhapsody, etc. etc.)
But I never knew one of them was so scientifically inclined.
This link describes his technical PhD thesis in just a little more detail.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Americans and their refusal to sacrifice

Jimmy Carter is generally regarded as a lousy president. He only served one term, and his presidency involved rampant inflation and difficult foreign relation problems.
But in some respects he was quite wise. Consider Carter's statement after the oil shortages:
"Beginning at this moment, this nation will never use more foreign oil than we did in 1977 -- never. From now on, every new addition to our demand for energy will be met from our own production and our own conservation. The generation-long growth in our dependence on foreign oil will be stopped dead in its tracks right now."
He realized that such a promise would cost money--but unlike the money given to Saudi Arabia (homeland of the majority of the 9/11 terrorists) for oil, this money would go to Americans.
He supported pouring money into alternative energy sources and building extensive public transportation systems. He even put up solar panels on the White House.
Carter's plans were realistic. He wanted US car-makers to reach a fuel-efficiency of 48 mpg by 1995, and he wanted the US to get 20% of its energy from solar power by 2000. We had plenty of time to get there. Decades.
But Americans don't like to sacrifice. They didn't want to conserve energy. They didn't want to spend money on research and public transportation.
In 1980 Reagan moved in, ripped the solar panels off of the White House, and did away with Carter's far-sighted energy plans.
Now, ironically, Republicans are blaming Democrats for the high gas prices. Americans still (largely) refuse to conserve energy. We're still reluctant to sacrifice. And we're paying the heavy price for failing to make the right decision 30 years ago.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Big Question

April and I attended our new ward for the first time Sunday.
First impressions? Small, diverse (well, more diverse than any ward I've ever attended), and friendly.
There are two other law students in the ward, and we talked a bit in the hall before (and during part of) EQ. One of them graduates in a year, and his wife insists on moving back to Utah to be closer to family (meaning her mother). Since Utah has a small population and two good law schools, and since no one there has ever heard of the law school here, that means he'll have to take a significant pay cut to move back. The company he's working for this summer has offered him his dream job after he graduates, but it looks like he'll be refusing it and moving to Utah.
So, for those of us with family ties in a particular state...
How willing are you to raise a family far away from your extended family? I'm talking long term here, not just 3 or 4 years.
If you have a spouse, do they agree with you?

Friday, July 25, 2008

Elder Robert S. Wood, April 2006 Conference

Whether they be false friends or unrighteous teachers, artists or entertainers, commentators or letter writers to local newspapers, seekers of power or wealth, beware of those who stir us up to such anger that calm reflection and charitable feelings are suppressed.
Have we who have taken upon us the name of Christ slipped unknowingly into patterns of slander, evil speaking, and bitter stereotyping? Have personal or partisan or business or religious differences been translated into a kind of demonizing of those of different views? Do we pause to understand the seemingly different positions of others and seek, where possible, common ground?
We need to raise the level of private and public discourse. We should avoid caricaturing the positions of others, constructing "straw men," if you will, and casting unwarranted aspersions on their motivations and character. We need, as the Lord counseled, to uphold honest, wise, and good men and women wherever they are found and to recognize that there are "among all sects, parties, and denominations" those who are "kept from the truth [of the gospel] because they know not where to find it." Would we hide that light because we have entered into the culture of slander, of stereotyping, of giving and seeking offense?
It is far too easy sometimes to fall into a spirit of mockery and cynicism in dealing with those of contrary views. We demoralize or demean so as to bring others or their ideas in contempt.
Closely related to mockery is a spirit of cynicism. Cynics are disposed to find and to catch at fault. Implicitly or explicitly, they display a sneering disbelief in sincerity and rectitude. Isaiah spoke of those who "watch for iniquity" and "make a man an offender for a word, and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate, and turn aside the just for a thing of nought." In this regard, the Lord has counseled in latter days that we "cease to find fault one with another" and "above all things, clothe [ourselves] with the bond of charity, as with a mantle, which is the bond of perfectness and peace."
President George Albert Smith observed, "There is nothing in the world more deleterious or harmful to the human family than hatred, prejudice, suspicion, and the attitude that some people have toward their fellows, of unkindness." In matters of politics, he warned, "Whenever your politics cause you to speak unkindly of your brethren, know this, that you are upon dangerous ground." Speaking of the great mission of the latter-day kingdom, he counseled: "This is not a militant church to which we belong. This is a church that holds out peace to the world. It is not our duty to go into the world and find fault with others, neither to criticize men because they do not understand. But it is our privilege, in kindness and love, to go among them and divide with them the truth that the Lord has revealed in this latter day."
Political differences never justify hatred or ill will.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Moving Days

Our move from Idaho Falls to Cincinnati is complete
We spent a week packing (and since I was playing house-husband, most of the packing was done by me).
We rented the 24-foot truck and car trailer last Wednesday. April's dad and I loaded it up (helped a bit by a kind neighbor who saw us out there moving). The mother-in-law and wife cleaned up the place and did a little bit of last-minute packing. April and I drove down to Provo, dropped the truck off at my cousin's place and drove back up to my parent's.
We spent the next day resting and going through stuff I'd left at my parents. We were also able to visit quite a bit with family and three evening visitors.
The next morning we visited the Barbarian, his wife, and their two ferocious dogs before driving east. Wyoming's boring. The western half of Nebraska is also boring. We spent the night in Lincoln after a full day's drive.
Saturday we drove to Nauvoo. We stayed in the nearby Keokuk, and visited the ALDI there. ALDI is a German grocery store--and the only difference with this one was it sold predominantly American food. All the other details (store layout, inserting money to borrow a shopping cart, buying sturdy bags to put groceries in) were precisely the same. My excitement at finding it amused April greatly.
We walked around Nauvoo. It was so humid that my glasses fogged up every time I got out of the car.
A pamphlet with site hours on it told us that Carthage jail was open until 9:00 pm. We arrived there just past 7:00 to find the tour guides/missionaries leaving for the pageant. Apparently it closes at 7:00. We walked around the outside but didn't get a chance to go in.
We'll have to make a trip back there in the future.
The next morning we attended sacrament meeting in Nauvoo and then traveled on. Not far from Nauvoo a tire went flat. I changed out of my church clothes (fortunately it was a deserted country road) and put on a donut. Somehow, it's the first tire I've ever changed. A local stopped by and gave us directions to the nearest town, where we stopped by a Farm King to get the tire replaced. The donut wasn't doing so well--it had a large bulge on it--and a few minutes after they took it off, it exploded.
Two tires in a single day.
We continued on to the Indianapolis area, where we stayed with my cousin's in-laws. The next morning we drove two hours down to Bloomington, and helped my cousin and her husband unload their portion of the truck. We then took the truck another three hours to Cincinnati, where we unloaded it with the help of another cousin and her husband.
Our new place feels big. It's older, but classy and full of character. I'll post some pictures once we get everything unpacked.
I've decided that moving is way too much work. The next time we move will be the last.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Good and the Bad

I realize I've been writing a lot of posts lately. Part of it is procrastination from packing, part of it is...well, lots is going on.
There was recently a post on Millennial Star about how evil and satanic WALL-E is.
If Millennial Star were a fringe blog, I wouldn't be concerned. But it's a fairly mainstream LDS blog.
Included in the blog are these wonderful tidbits. "It is unfortunate that companies such as Disney and Pixar are beginning to propogate (sic) agendas of a maleficent nature. Here is yet another example of something good being pushed to an extreme. The Adversary apparently finds it best to start them believing in such perversion while they’re still young."
Yes, that quote was about WALL-E.
Here's another juicy one.
"I believe WALL-E is another card in the deck of fear-mongering tactics employed by our common Enemy to get power, money, control, oppress mankind with false “prophets,” and reign with blood and horror prior to the return of the Savior."
Needless to say, people like this aren't helping the LDS image. Fortunately, rational people started storming the comments section of this blog until, 36 hours after it was first posted, the writer became frustrated enough to shut down the comments section. So that, at least, gives me hope.
On a brighter note, April bought me a year's subscription to the German Liahona for Christmas. They usually have a page where they list all the missionaries that have been called on missions for that month. So far, I've been a bit disappointed...I haven't recognized anyone.
Today was different.
I spent almost a year in the Wetzlar ward--I served in two areas within it. Not only that, but I was an outspoken, senior missionary there. I returned for a visit three years ago. Many of the adults and all of the teenagers remembered me, and were actually excited to see me.
So I'm excited that this month's Liahona features three of these teenagers. Two of them were younger (12-14) when I was there, and the third was older (16). The 16-year-old is one of the coolest people I've ever met (although she wasn't there when I last visited, and I haven't seen her for over seven years). She's now serving in Washington DC North. The other two are serving in Hamburg (Germany) and the Czech Republic. Very cool.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Rock music and the gospel

There's a post at that I found quite interesting.
The sister missionary in our MTC district (who ended up going to the same mission as I did) was also of the opinion that rock music was of the devil. Interestingly enough, she was also the most troubled missionary I ever met. I have a great respect for my MTC missionary companion, the only other missionary from that MTC district who went to our mission. Why? I never once heard anyone tell horror stories about this particular sister in the MTC--and believe me, there were stories to tell. In other words, he had great gossip to share, and he kept his mouth shut.
I did hear some about how she was in the mission, and it was bad (although not as bad as the MTC stuff...)
Anyway, my point is...rock music (even some hard rock or metal) can be good, and even uplifting and inspiring, and those who deny this (besides sometimes having deep psychological problems) may be a contributing factor at driving people away from the church.
I consider myself lucky to have good role-models inside the church who still love rock music (thanks Dad).

Saturday, July 12, 2008

USPS Mistake

Late last week I went to the postal service website and filled out a form to have our mail forwarded. I listed the starting date of 7/17/08 (the day after we move).
That was Friday.
Saturday, we received no mail. Not a big happens sometimes.
Monday, no mail. A bit strange...two straight days...but oh well.
Tuesday, still no mail. Quite suspicious.
Wednesday I emailed them about it. Still no mail.
Thursday I got a reply back, asking for more info. Still no mail.
Friday I got a message that someone from the local post office would call me.
Saturday (today) I got a phone call...and we finally got mail (an important package that I'm not sure they would've forwarded). Turns out that the mail carrier had failed to note the date of our move.
We're not too happy about not getting any mail for an entire week, but what can you do.
So, as a warning...if you have your mail forwarded, you might want to fill out the form just before you move (and not a week and a half before).

Friday, July 11, 2008


April and I have seen a few movies lately, and are looking forward to seeing a few more.
Iron Man was good. Not incredible, but still good enough that I'd eventually like to own the DVD. Grade: B+
Horton Hears a Who was very good (surprisingly). Go and see it. Grade: A-
Indiana Jones was decent. I can't categorize it as the worst Indiana Jones movie, but I certainly can't call it the best. It's fun, but there were numerous logical gaps that sometimes made it difficult for me to suspend my disbelief. Grade: B-
Any other recommendations?
I'm looking forward to seeing Hellboy II, Hancock, Get Smart, The Incredible Hulk, WALL-E, and Kung Fu Panda. The trailers for the two cartoons look dorky...but they've got good reviews (and I remember the trailer for Horton Hears a Who being equally dumb). What is it with cartoons getting dorky trailers?
In any case, it looks like Hellboy II is getting a lot of positive attention from the critics. Kind of an artsy comic book movie. I remember watching the first Hellboy in the theater with friends...great times. Now I need to convince April to watch the first one with me, and then convince her she needs to see Hellboy II in the theater...
What movies are you looking forward to? What would you recommend this summer?

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

What makes a ward good?

I've done a lot of thinking lately about what separates a good ward from a not-so-good ward.
I realize that the person asking the question has a lot to do with it.
But I'm also convinced that some wards are just better than others.
In about a week we'll move to Cincinnati, and I'll have attended three wards in just 15 months. I'm looking forward to the new ward, and have high hopes, but I have two questions.
What can I do to have a positive experience in a ward?
And what makes a ward good (outside of what I can do)?

Saturday, July 05, 2008

I should have invested

Around five years ago, I bought a CD. The Edge by Eternity X. The album quickly made it into my all-time favorites and is still one of my top five.
The CD is so obscure that the only place you can hope to buy it is on the internet. The going price there (five years ago) was a steep $18. I found a deal on a slightly-used one...$14.
Recently, the band, who was supposed to release a new album recently, has disappeared off the radar. But in trying to find them, I discovered that The Edge is going for $45 on Amazon. Now, Amazon sellers sometimes over-price things, so I checked ebay. One used CD for sale...and it sold for $40 (plus shipping and handling).
Five years ago, when I knew that this album was incredible, and that there were limited copies being made, I should have bought numerous copies. I could've made some nice cash.
Why don't I sell the one copy I have?
Because it's incredible music. Because it's worth $40 (or more) to me. And you know that we're in economic hard times when Starbucks shuts down numerous stores and people stop buying SUVs and monster trucks.
But they're still spending big bucks for this CD.
Hopefully, next time, I'll know to invest.
Oh--and if a bunch of just-graduated kids from BHS love this album, I swear I have no clue how they found out about it...

Monday, June 30, 2008

Obama myths

Before I start...I wrote this over a year ago. Guess I've been following the elections for a while...

April and I visited an aunt and uncle of mine this past weekend. Very nice people. Retired, older, extremely active travelers. I think they spend more time outside of the US than they do inside.
They had two other visitors--family friends of theirs. The husband is in the army. They've been married for two years but he's spent half of that out at war.
I always worry about talking about politics in public (writing about it is for some reason easier), especially when I don't know someone's political leanings, or I know them and I don't agree.
But the subject came up (started by my uncle). Basically, both he and my aunt stated how if Obama gets elected, the US is going to go downhill.
And then my aunt stated the oft-repeated myth about Obama not putting his hand over his heart for the Pledge of Allegiance.
So I finally said something. "That's not true. It's a myth. Go to"
Then the army man spoke up.
"I'm voting for Obama."
Not surprising, seeing that the campaigns that have gotten the most donor money from people in the military are Ron Paul and Obama (both were against the war from the beginning). And Ron Paul has dropped out.
"He'll end the war in Iraq," he continued. He felt that we were doing as much damage as we were good by remaining there.
Needless to say, my aunt and uncle were surprised.
At least they didn't call him "Barack Hussein Obama" or even "B. Hussein Obama" as some fear-mongering types do. They didn't say that they thought he was a "closet Muslim." They didn't mention his "terrorist fist-jab" with his wife (knocking knuckles together as a form of greeting). So I'm thinking that they're not avid talk/hate radio listeners, and they don't watch too much Fox News.
We steered the conversation away from politics, and the rest of the evening went great...but I was reminded of why I stay away from talking about politics in public.
Unfortunately, it's obvious that I need to talk about it...if only to dispel the ugly myths that keep coming up.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Idiot insurance company

So about three weeks ago we got rid of our old, beat-up Dodge Dynasty '89. April's parents took it for $300.
I called the State Farm Insurance to ask them to remove that car from our insurance plan.
Yesterday I got a bill...yes, that's right, a bill. For removing the car from our plan. $19.37. Apparently, a multi-car discount was removed.
Now, you might ask, wouldn't you save money by removing a car from the plan?
That's what I thought. So I called the insurance company, and they told me that they were sending me a check for about $24.
Now, just a five dollar savings is pretty lame.
But what's even lamer is that they bill me when they owe me money.
So not only do they waste paper and postage by mailing me a check and a bill, but they lose the respect of their customers.
Idiot insurance company.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


There's a pretty funny satirical blog that just came out...
Realize, as this is satire, some of it may be offensive to those who are being made fun of.
And since I'm going to law school, and April just gave herself a pedicure (her first since we've been married), I guess those being made fun of include us.
Thanks to Eric Snider for the tip.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Cincinnati, here we come

April was just offered a nice job in Cincinnati (actually, in Norwood, a city within Cincinnati). Practically no Sundays, and no graveyard shifts! And she'll be making more too! We also snagged ourselves an apartment in Norwood...our top choice. It's the main floor of a house (other renters live upstairs). It's very nice--hardwood floors, a great kitchen, two bedrooms, a dining room, a living room, a decent yard. $705/month is a bit pricier than what we're paying now, but it's worth the extra cost.
The crappy part is we're paying rent for the whole of July...and we won't even be there for the first three weeks.
Oh well. We're still pretty excited about it. And soon there will be one more "I've lived there" spot to fill in on the facebook map--for a total of six.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Racism in Utah and Idaho

A company in West Jordan has been selling Obama Monkey Dolls...
Ouch. Not a good thing for Utah's reputation.
I'm not sure if it was racism or stupidity (or, most likely, a mix of both). The company has apologized (kind of), and they've discontinued the doll, but still...
It reminded me of an incident while I was teaching...
I told my students to write a half-page opinion on evolution, and one student wrote that white people were created directly by God, but everyone else evolved...
(The assignment did not address human evolution, but most students focused on that aspect of it anyway).
I was certain that racism was rare in Utah, or at least confined towards Latinos. But based on many of the comments on the Deseret News forum (there's an article about the doll), I'm afraid that's not the case.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Planes, interviews, apartments, and Cincinnati

So this past week we spent in Cincinnati.
It's a nice city, really. Like most (all?) big cities, there are areas where you don't want to be alone at night. But there are also a lot of great places--a trendy part of town, a more family-oriented part of town, several wealthy parts of town.
We flew into Chicago (leaving SLC at 7:30) and then Louisville, Kentucky--less than two hours from Cincinnati (Cincinnati, for some reason, is expensive to fly into). Due to delays in Cincinnati (due mainly to weather), we didn't arrive in Louisville until late. We quickly picked up our luggage (I don't think I've ever quickly picked up luggage at SLC airport) and a rental car (and my experience working at Thrifty Car Rental made it very easy to say no to everything they wanted to sell me in addition to the rental). We didn't arrive at our hotel until around 10 pm...but the drive there was strangely peaceful--lots of trees, lots of green.
We looked at about a dozen apartments/shared houses/houses, and ended up picking three we like...we hope we can get our top choice. Due to intense research beforehand, all of the places we looked were in decent neighborhoods, but some were better than others. Our top choice is a shared house (other renters live upstairs) with a nice kitchen (decent kitchens seem to be rare in Cincinnati) and on a quiet, well-cared for street. Every front lawn on that street is carefully mowed...except for the one we want to rent. Definitely a nice neighborhood.
April interviewed for two jobs there. We'll see this week if she gets some offers.
I visited the law school. Apparently they like BYU students (or Mormons). Each class has two or three (and the class size is only 120). They actually had a 2nd-year student who earned his undergrad at BYU show me around. It's becoming more and more apparent that UC law school really takes care of its students--much more so than the Utah law schools.
The first year of law school is supposed to be brutal and demanding, so I asked my guide how many hours a week he'd spent on law school his first year.
Just forty. He did admit that he should have spent a little more time studying, but it sounds like he did just fine treating it like a full-time job. I expect to spend a little more time on it, but it doesn't sound too bad (compare that to BYU, which has a reputation for competitiveness and long hours).
The people in Cincinnati are laid-back and friendly. We're excited for the move.
We returned to Kentucky (the South is much more foreign than Ohio to me). We spent the evening with Brent, Katie, and company, ate an excellent meal with them, played Ticket to Ride (Europe), and chatted. Definitely the highlight of the trip.
I set our alarm for 5:10...and woke up at 5:30. I'd forgotten to adjust the volume on the alarm...
We left the apartment only a few minutes behind schedule, but then got stuck going the wrong way on the freeway...with no exit for several miles. That ate up almost 30 minutes. We arrived at the airport 25 minutes before our plane took off, and they refused to take our checked luggage or let us board without it.
We finally did get home...about seven hours late.
It was good to share the adventure with my wife (tomorrow is our one-year anniversary). She is a very patient woman.
Thanks also to the Wenerstroms (for feeding us and letting us crash at their place) and for both sets of parents (for picking up mail and watering plants, and for giving us rides to and from the airport).