Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A Fond Memory of Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin

I prefer to incorporate life into my seminary lessons, rather than ignoring what is going on in the world to teach general principles. For example, lessons may incorporate elections, terrorist attacks, natural disasters, or any other event.

This morning I decided to have a lesson dedicated to Joseph B. Wirthlin. When I was young, I couldn't keep track of Apostles. They all sounded the same to me, and I'm sure my seminary kids aren't much different than I was at their age. So this morning, I put Elder Wirthlin's picture up, told the kids he had passed away (only two of them already knew), and I had a small quiz about Elder Wirthlin's life. Our quizzes consist of me tossing candy to the kids who answer correctly.

I used to tune out Elder Wirthlin when he spoke. His speech patterns were monotone, and I didn't (and sometimes I still don't) have the maturity to get past the speech patterns. But I have tremendously enjoyed Elder Wirthlin's recent General Conference talks.

This morning after the quiz, we watched "The Greatest Commandment," his October 2007 talk, in which he discusses our need to have charity. The most poignant moment of the talk was when he started shaking severely, and Elder Nelson quietly stood up behind Elder Wirthlin and braced him. Elder Wirthlin's words were powerful. His determination to share his message even though he was clearly exhausted got the kids' attention. But they all remembered Elder Nelson's small, simple act of kindness of supporting his dear friend. That act taught Elder Wirthlin's principle more forcefully than words alone could possibly do. I teared up the first time I watched the talk, and I teared up a little this morning, reliving the moment and remembering Elder Wirthlin.

After a brief discussion about charity and apostles, I shared with the kids the knowledge I have that Elder Wirthlin was an Apostle of God.

I thank God for Elder Wirthlin. I'll miss him.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Is the "Eye of a Needle" a door in a wall?

"24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a arich man to enter into the kingdom of God." (Matt. 19:24)

I was once taught that Jesus wasn't referring to a literal needle, but rather to a small door in a wall. A camel could get through the door, but it would have to shed its cargo, get on its knees, and crawl through. (Can camels crawl?) It's a compelling narrative, but it seems to be a hoax. I have found no reputable source showing that such a door existed in Jesus's day, and many sources state that there was no such door.

While there are many interpretations of the scripture, I believe it is hyperbole. Christ sometimes exaggerates to prove a point, such as "And if thy right eye aoffend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee." (Matt. 5:29)

In the case of the camel and the eye of the needle, it's going to be very difficult for rich people to follow Jesus, because we love our stuff/comfort/leisure (most Americans are rich by the standards in Christ's day). This interpretation is supported by the subsequent verses:

"25 When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? 26 aBut Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are bpossible" (Matt. 19: 25-26)

It is impossible for us to be saved on our own. We sin. In the context of Matt. 19:26, we covet other things more that God. Only through the grace of Christ are we saved. Through repentence we learn to shed our things (and our pride), as necessary, until we are what God wants us to be.

Book Review: Ender in Exile

Orson Scott Card's new book, Ender in Exile, was an entertaining read. He said it was probably his best book in the series, but of course, he was wrong, because his best book was Ender's Game.

The story picks up near the end of Ender's Game, before Ender heads off to colonize another world. The story is in Card's easy-to-read conversational style (he calls it "American Plain Style", and apparently it's an actual literary style; but being an engineer, I wouldn't know), and the characters are faithful to the other books in the series. I enjoyed the quick tempo of the book, but I wish it was just a little slower. I wish the book had been a little richer, with more challenges for the characters. For example, Ender's conflict with the starship captain could have gotten far more interesting than it did. I felt like the climax of the book was about 80 pages too early, and then Card told a second story at the end. They were both entertaining, but they didn't flow together very well, and both of them could have been fleshed out into separate books.

So while I enjoyed the book, and recommend it to anyone who enjoys Card's stuff (it's closer in tone to Ender's Game than Xenocide), it wasn't his Opus. This book made me want to go back and read the rest of the series.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Movie Review: Ghost Town

Mari and I went to see Ghost Town yesterday, on the recommenation of D&J (I think).

We liked it. The plot = Ghost + Sixth Sense + Ghost Dad + (insert ghost movie here). The characters were enjoyable, especially Dr. Pincus-played by Ricky Gervais. He's a snarky dentist who finds out he can talk to dead people. One thing leads to another and... the end.
The script is very well-written and very funny. They drop two F-bombs, which are probably why the movie is PG-13. The movie is generally funny, but also has sappy sweet moments that are not overdone.
It's not in theatres everywhere anymore, so if it isn't in theatres near you, pick it up when it comes out on DVD. You'll have fun.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Anatomy of a Media Bias Poll

As you can imagine, I get a lot of "media bias" experts reading my blog. This one's for them.

Recently, a study came out that showed McCain had far more negative coverage than Obama. "That proves it!" I said. "Liberal media bias!"
"Not so fast," they said. "The coverage was negative because McCain's campaign wasn't doing well."
So let me get this straight: to gauge media bias, someone counted how many positive and negative stories were written about each candidate? Am I the only one that sees the uselessness of this study?

For all my media bias expert friends, let me tell you how to put together a "media bias" study:

Determine how an organization reports, or fails to report, similar situations of candidates of both parties. If they don't report the same way for each party, there may be bias.

If McCain is closing in on Obama, but he is still down, do they report, "McCain down 3" or is it "McCain closing the gap" or "Voters moving to McCain." Do they report it differently for each candidate? If so, there may be bias.

If two candidates are inexperienced, is their inexperience lampooned equally in the editorial pages? Is it reported equally? If not, there may be bias.

If two candidates (or spouses) have done drugs, is it reported the same? If not, there may be bias.

Are unsubstantiated rumors about both candidates given the same amount of attention? If not, there may be bias.

If, after answering these questions and more, you determine that there is a pattern of reporting similar situations differently (e.g. with either a positive or negative slant), then you have proven that there is media bias.

Has no one done this study? (If it has been done, has it been reported?)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Judgement Day Is Nothing Like An Ice Cream Sunday

We learned in yesterday's priesthood lesson about the degrees of glory we may receive when we are resurrected. The teacher asked if those who did not receive celestial glory would forever be in torment. I suggested they would not. I believe that everyone will receive the glory, and corresponding existence, they truly want. As Moroni said concerning those who did not believe in Christ, "Behold, I say unto you that ye would be more miserable to dwell with a holy and just God, under a consciousness of your filthiness before him, than ye would to dwell with the damned souls in hell."

I believe we will receive the glory of the law we are willing to live.

It is true, we may torment ourselves in this life and in the next, as we prepare for judgement and consider the joys we may have attained and the Father we rejected. But come judgement, I believe everyone will be satisfied with their final lot.

In church, I gave a much shorter answer than that, but that was the gist.

Then another guy raised his hand, who likes ice cream a lot more than I.

"Hank," he asked. "What's your favorite ice cream?"

"I don't know. Maybe chocolate."

"With hot fudge?"

"I guess."

"How would you feel if I was sitting here eating chocolate ice cream with hot fudge, and you had plain old vanilla?"

And I thought to myself, "I wouldn't care, no, not one bit. But you shouldn't be eating ice cream in the primary room."

The judgement of God is not like ice cream. The atonement is not like a pickle.

My weakness is that I don't appreciate these types of simple analogies, while those who are newer to our faith and struggle with the concepts find them very helpful. While I was rolling my eyes, a gentleman at the front of the class said, "What that brother said, that was right on." And I knew he wasn't talking about me.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

No such thing as a mustard tree?

In Matthew 13, Jesus likens the kingdom of heaven to a mustard seed, "but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof."

(Jesus also likened faith to a mustard seed, but didn't talk about it turning into a tree.)

So has anyone ever seen a mustard tree? A Google search turned up a number of Oak Trees, and this picture of a guy standing next to... a bush.

So why did Christ say the mustard seed grows into a tree?

One explanation is that the growth of the kingdom of heaven is miraculous, growing beyond what would be expected.

Another might be that Christ was talking about a large mustard bush that could handle birds.

I like the former explanation, but who knows for sure?

Let me know if you have a better idea.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Nurture vs. Nature

I'm not a big fan of bathroom humor. Most fart jokes, poo jokes, etc. etc. just make me groan. Mari, being the decent woman she is, has never passed gas in her life.

So we were very surprised the other day when Des passed gas then looked at us and laughed. I didn't teach him to laugh at farts-he just instinctively knew it was funny.

So why is bathroom humor instinctively funny? And if it is natural to find it funny, should we really be unlearning the funniness of it as we grow older? Should the rules of etiquette be revised to account for what seems to be a natural an irrevocable law that bathroom humor is funny from birth?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

What does "Keep the Commandments" mean?

If Christ "fulfilled the law," and Christians no longer follow the law of Moses (e.g., circumcision is no longer necessary for membership in the kingdom, we eat pork, we pick up sticks on the sabbath, we don't raise up seed unto our brother, etc.), why do we still keep the Ten Commandments?

When we speak of keeping the commandments, why do we often cite the Ten, rather than the Two?

Or why don't we recite the Sermon on the Mount, for that matter?

(Side Note: I memorized the Sermon on the Mount when I was a teen-ager. I didn't stop to think that I couldn't do it because it was too long. I just memorized one verse at a time until I was done.)

Friday, September 19, 2008

What ever happened to the Perpetual Education Fund?

Why is it that all the information put out about the perpetual education fund seems to be between 3 years and 7 years old?

I think it's an exciting program, and would love to read stories of those who have benefitted from it, but the PEF website has stories from 2001 (when the program started).

From what I can find, there were a couple stories in a recent Church News.
Wikipedia has some potential statistics, but citations to the Deseret News are not archived, so you get today's stories, rather than PEF statistics.
A 2004 pdf sheet based on a meeting with Elder Richard Cook is informative.

Comments on a blog posted December 31, 2007 cite trouble with PEF in Peru.

Elder Carmack gave a speech at the BYU Kennedy Center that cites some success stories (see from 27:20 on).

And in the Deseret News, some goofball indignantly proclaims, "My wife and I agree: No more settlement meetings until we see some figures." I think he's trying to pass himself off as a Mormon. (The story he is commenting on is the one from the Church News, above.)

I'd love more information about the program. I'd love to hear of its successes and failures. I'd love to hear about trouble in Peru, success in Guatemala, entry into new countries, etc. I'd love to hear stories from participants, Bishops, and General Authorities. But mostly, I hear nothing. If I cannot get daily updates, how about monthly, or even yearly? Biannually?

At the very least, couldn't some intern just update the website with stories that are less than seven years old?!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Do I have Legolas in me?

Have you ever looked at an old coin and wondered where it had been?

Well today I ate an apple with a sticker that said, "product of New Zealand." And I thought, I have New Zealand carbon being assimilated into my body right now. Will some native New Zealander long dead and turned to dust be resurrected with carbon from my body because I ate an apple from a tree that grew on his grave?

Did Orlando Bloom's skin cells, lost during filming of Lord of the Rings, enter the earth that the tree used as nutrition, so that I have Legolas in me right now? I do feel like I can see farther. If there was snow nearby, I'd try walking on top of it, like Legolas did.

This is even better than travelling to New Zealand. Rather than travelling, I'll just eat something from every country I want to go to. That way, they'll be a part of me, and I won't have to travel! Why "see" a country when I can "be" a country?!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Would we have a United States if the early colonists had included Mormons?

Would Mormons have risen up to fight against England?

As Mormons, we believe in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law and being subject to earthly governments. We are anti-war, but support those who volunteer to serve the U.S. in the military.

Given our pro-government, anti-war positions, would Mormon settlers have advocated a peaceful resolution to any conflicts with King George, rather than violent revolution?

Monday, June 23, 2008

And they've never had a fight!

I'm sure Desi wishes he had been born into a less tumultuous home. Mari and I had a big fight last night. Let's take a listen...

Me, "Ow, he's biting my nose! Man, his jaws are strong!"

Mari, "Well he wouldn't be biting my nose if you hadn't taught him how!"

Me, "Oh, please! Biting noses is instinctive for infants!"

Mari, "No it's not! I used to be able to kiss him without him opening up to chomp my nose!"

Me, "Oh, whatever!"

Desi, "Ahhh!"

Mari, "Let's not fight in front of the baby!"

Me, "You're right. We're sorry, son."

[Smooch, smooch, cuddle, cuddle]

Monday, June 16, 2008

A clever telemarketer

I got a call today from a foreign-sounding telemarketer with a California number. It went something like this:

Me: Hello?

[Long pause as telemarketing maching patches through operator]

TM: May I speak with Peter?

"I'm afraid you have the wrong number."

"Oh, this is XXX from YYY. May I speak with the Office Manager?"

"This is a large law firm. I'm not sure who you want to talk to."

"Oh, may I speak with Attorney Wimberly?"

"Wimberly?! Huh?"

"How about Attorney Wadsworth?"

"Wimberly?! Wadsworth?! Are you making this up?"

"Oh, OK. Thank you for your time. Good-bye."


Maybe you aren't chuckling like I was. But if she was making that up, I have to congratulate her. Wimberly and Wadsworth...

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Iron Man, Prince Caspian, My Book

We went to see two movies recently.

Iron Man (4/5 stars)
I liked it quite a bit. It had good characters, a reasonable amount of action mixed with intrigue. Good acting and script. In all, it was quite entertaining.

Prince Caspian (3/5 stars)
Although entertaining, I didn't feel attached to any of the characters like I had in the first movie. I love Edmund and Peter's armor though (I'm a bit of a Medieval armor fan), and that probably adds a half star to any movie.

Edmund is still my favorite character of the lot. He's grown since the first film (character-wise), and Skandar Keynes puts in a solid performance in this film. There were far fewer "shocked" facial shots of Lucy in this film (thank heavens), and Susan actually killed and wounded men with her bow and arrows. It was definitely a little bit darker (although not bloodier; there's still no blood, which I don't mind) than the first film.

In all, I felt like there was too much battle and not enough compelling storytelling, but it was entertaining.

I finished Kate Elliott's Crown of Stars series. Although I mostly enjoyed it, she spent far too much time talking about people and things I didn't care about. The resolution was mildly satisfying (and mildly unsatisfying). I don't feel a loss after finishing the last book, but neither do I feel like I have wasted time. The series gets 3/5 book stars.

One positive result of Elliott's series is that I have pumped out many new ideas (not based on Elliott's books, rather based on "hey, if that can get published, I can get published") for my own fantasy novel. I'm liking my storylines more and more, but any finished or even semi-finished product is a long way off. I'm not quitting my day job.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

JayWalk Allstars

Need 5 minutes of laughs? Try this

The Jaywalk Allstars portion is the second section of the episode, and it's very funny. I'm off to watch the next round!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Book Reviews

I consider myself very well-read. If Washington DC is ever attacked by scaly dragon-like men with vicious hound companions, I will know how to defend myself. That is thanks to Kate Elliott's "Crown of Stars" series. I'm presently enjoying book 5 of the 7-book fantasy series. It has some fascinating plotlines and some real yawners. Thanks to my superior skimming abilities, I was able to read over 200 pages just last night. I don't feel obligated to read every word if the words aren't interesting me.

It's a lot like Sunday School. But that's a post for another day. (Harley King gave a great talk in church on Sunday in which he looked right at me and said, "Adam, go to all three hours of meetings," and I thought to myself, "I like Harley. Maybe I will. But then I thought, "No, no I won't.")

Back to the book. It's set in a fantasy-Europe Midievel (sp?) period. It has rich characters and history, very loosely based on actual history. I highly recommend it for enjoyers of fantasy.

And if we find ourselves in the midst of interplanetary outer-space intrigue, I am the go-to guy. This is thanks to the "Honor Harrington" series by David Weber, which begins with the book "Basilisk Station." The highlights of these books are the intergalactic starship battles that are described in meticulous detail. Most of the rest is a bit sappy. I think some websites refer to it as "space opera." Honor is just too good and too successful at every turn to be believable. Still, I think I've read 5 books in the series so far, and I'll return some day to keep reading. I really like them space battles.

And if non-fiction is your thing... well, I don't tend to do so well with non-fiction. I recently picked up "Liberal Fascism" by Jonah Goldberg at Costco. It discusses how present day "progressives" are descendents from early fascists, and how Hitler, Communism, and Mousolinni were all different brands of fascism. The fascinating thing about the theorum is that it flies in the face of "common knowledge." On the other hand, I could see a 30 minute PowerPoint presentation on the subject and feel satisfied. It's interesting, but not that interesting.

Not into book-learnin'? We took Des to see Iron Man last week. He started fussing early, and I took him out to change his diaper, so I missed the first 15 minutes or so. But Mari came and got me, and he fell asleep in her arms in the theatre, and I enjoyed the rest of the movie. Well-acted, well-written, interesting story. I recommend it.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

One Perk of Being a Patent Attorney

If any of your children have the constitution for it, I recommend being a patent attorney.

I get 1-2 headhunter calls every day. And while it may be annoying sometimes, it's a real boost to my sense of professional worth.

I'm happy where I am, but if I ever wanted to move, there are a lot of people who want to help me do so.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Anatomy of an Easter Talk

I was standing in the church hallway with my father-in-law, when Bro. Rodriguez approached me and handed me a paper. It was an invitation to give a talk about the resurrection the following Sunday (Easter Sunday). Although my schedule is a little full right now, I gratefully accepted. I thoroughly enjoy giving talks. I love learning and feeling gospel principles, and then communicating those feelings to an audience.

I prepared the best I knew how in only one week. Sunday through Wednesday, I searched out resurrection topics and talks. My goal in the first stage is to examine all the different angles and approaches to the resurrection. Also, since I have never been resurrected, I needed to think of personal stories that could be analogous, if not directly applicable. Looking at many different talks and scriptures helps bring experiences and topics to my mind.

I put the pen to paper on the Metro on Wednesday and Thursday. Remarkably, the talk did not undergo any serious revisions between the original and the final version. I added and deleted thoughts and sentences, but all the major elements stayed the same.

The talk that landed on the paper was not just about the time around the resurrection of Christ and the Second Coming, rather it took a broad view of the reasons for the resurrection in light of the whole plan of salvation. At one point, I second-guessed the broad-view talk, and tried to think how I could focus it more on the resurrection itself. I failed. I couldn't change the talk. I needed pre-mortal life to show that resurrection was a culminating step in a long (eternal) process.

I do not know why the title "A Blood-Soaked Christ" stuck with me. I was concerned that it was too theatrical and "shocking" to keep this most sacred subject sacred. But I have not been able to think of an adequate alternative. However, I did add the sub-title, paraphrasing Elder Neal Maxwell, to clarify why the blood-soaked Christ is key to the resurrection: "Mankind's Grip on Immortality."

Finally, since I only had a week to prepare, I had no scriptural references in the talk, other than the scriptures that are actually embedded in the text. I've spent the last few days adding footnotes, which GoogleDocs transformed into endnotes. Endnotes help to keep the flow of the text smooth, but I prefer chopping it up with tangential thoughts in footnotes.

With no further ado, for anyone interested, here is the talk:

A Blood-Soaked Christ: Mankind's Grip On Immortality

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Desmond James, Welcome to Planet Earth

Desi technically arrived on planet Earth Wednesday night. That's when he took his first breaths anyway.

I was suprised by his thick head of dark, almost black, hair.

Six days later, he is opening his eyes, and he looks like a little Mon-Chi-Chi clinging to Mari's or Maricel's shoulder.

Yesterday I had a fever, so I couldn't touch him. It was a travesty, because I can't get enough of him. He's tiny and chubby and quiet. In fact, he slept through the night last night. That's a trend I would love to see continue.

So last night I just lay down on the bed and watched him sleep. My sister recently said in an email that she could just sit and watch a baby sleep. It was so true last night. Infants are amazing. They are so tiny, so new, so helpless, and so fragile. I found myself watching Desi's blanket to make sure it kept rising and falling with his breath. I stared at his tiny face, the veins in his tiny eyelids, and his mini-spasms and sneezes. I could've watched all night.

Why are babies so enthralling? Part of it is the miraculous nature of human life. We're reminded of it when babies are born, and when loved ones die. How do eyes work? I mean, really. How can light be interpreted by a brain to create a picture. How can "pictures" be stored in a brain? How does one cell know that it's the edge of the liver, and the next cell knows that it is fat? And look at those tiny fingers! Amazing.

Also, a baby's life feels tenuous. Between SIDS, an undeveloped immune system, and myriad potential problems that a baby's body may not be able to handle, I feel myself willing Desi to be strong, to keep breathing, to keep feeding, etc. If we can just get him to a point where we can warn him of dangers, maybe I'll feel more secure. But then he'll be running...

And then there's the dependence. This miraculous creature is 100% dependent on me - OK, on mom; but kind of dependent on me helping out mom. This is a massive responsibility. When accepted, it is a wonderful and purpose-inspiring task. My life is now going to be directed to helping this kid survive and get worldly and spiritual tools to thrive. When the responsibility is rejected, it is a tragedy. Children do not choose to have parents; but parents most definitly choose to have children (even if by negligence). Rejecting parental responsibility can result in destroying or scarring young lives. Desi is blessed. Not only are his parents looking out for him, but he has strong support groups of family and friends.

A baby also represents potential. What will this kid do? What will he like? Will he be smart? Will he have a keen spiritual understanding? Will seek political position, a cozy desk job, or an adventurous job as a safari tour guide in Mozambique? Who do I know that he will be able to marry in a couple decades? What will the world be like in a couple of decades when he is grown?

All these thoughts ran through my head as I lay on my bed - watching, but not holding - Desi, as his little blanket rose and fell with each sleepy breath.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

I just can't win

When I was a young wart-hog, I remember a Chuck E. Cheese commercial in which a kid is having a bad day, and dejectedly tells his mom, "I just can't win." So of course she takes him to Chuck E. Cheese and all is well.

Well I was in my company's gym the other day, and they were having a raffle. All you had to do is put your name on the card and drop it in the jar and you could win a Steptoe & Johnson towel, or hat, or something. Sweet.

So the submissions ended at 4 pm, and at 3:45pm I put my card in the jar. And I was the only card in the jar! I was a shoe-in! I was so excited, I called M. to say how we were going to win the grand S&J prize.

Four o'clock came and went, and then 5 o'clock and 6 o'clock. No one called me to congratulate me. I was in a contest of one (possibly two, if there was a late entry), and I lost. How pathetic is that!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Children are Fighting

Yesterday we had a bit of a fight in our house. Phyllis is still upset.

You see, we asked Roomba to vacuum every day, usually in the morning while we teach seminary. He does a great job, by the way.

Unfortunately, this morning Phyllis was relaxing in her pot with her vines hanging out all over. Well, one of those vines was in Roomba's way.
You guessed it, he broke it right off. She was furious, but being a potted plant, there was nothing she could do but sulk.
Although Roomba is usually very well behaved (he doesn't fall down the stairs, he doesn't chew up power cords, he doesn't leave dirt on the floor unless he has a full diaper - I mean, filter) he has had problems in the past.
For example, we have an 18" tall penguin that M. is going to finish painting soon, and has been going-to-finish-painting-soon since November... but I digress. We have an 18" penguin that was hanging out near the door in the office one day when we sent Roomba in to do his thing. When we came back an hour later, the penguin was in the corner, facing the corner like a kid on time-out. But being an inanimate object, he couldn't do anything about it. It was very sad.
I've been searching online for a Roomba whisperer, like the dog-whisperer, to help Roomba get along with our plants and penguins, but I haven't found anything yet.
P.S. I cannot wait until they invent a Roomba lawnmower. Cha-ching!

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Big Babies

Despite the title, this isn't about politics.

We went to the doc today, and Des was hiding his face with his hand. "No pictures please!"

But that wasn't so alarming as his size. The boy is (estimated to be) over 6 pounds, and Mari's not due until March 10. Don't they say the baby does most of his growing in the last 2 months?

I'm not sure, because I stopped reading baby books months ago. I will be the most uninformed father I know. I'm just going to follow my instincts!

But I digress... The doc was shocked, because Mari was only a 6 pound baby at birth. Her brothers were 6 and 7 pounds, respectively, and her mom was a small baby. Apparently baby size is only passed through the mother. But I told doc that Ellsworth genes were very dominating. (Dominant is the usual term, but in this case I think dominating was appropriate).

So Mari is scared at the size of this boy, and the docs may induce a little early. I'm just happy all our food is nourishing and strengthening Des's body, just like we prayed for.

Big, healthy babies: painful coming out, but wonderful to have and hold.

Monday, January 28, 2008

When a Prophet Dies

I was threading the last loop on my tie early this morning, when Mari came into our bedroom a little teary-eyed.

"President Hinckley died," she said.

I was a little shocked, but not very sad. Although I loved and admired President Hinckley, I didn't know him personally, so I didn't feel a personal loss. And I felt like, at 97, that's as good a time to die as any. He had lived a long, full life; he served the Church well; and I learned things from him that made me a better person.

Mari, it seemed, was more emotionally invested in the Prophet. I love that about her.

In seminary, we talked about his death with the kids. We noted that, in the Old Testament when a prophet or judge died, often the people fell back into apostacy. But not us. Our church rolls on.

We talked about succession - how the next President of the Church will be Elder Monson (and not because he's the First Counselor in the First Presidency). Perhaps it doesn't have to be this way, i.e. it's not written in scripture that the longest-serving Apostle will be the next President, but that's how it is and how it has been since the Church began. (I think-was Brigham Young the longest-serving Apostle?) Well, if not Brigham, than that's the way it's been done since Brigham Young.

We then had the kids write a little journal entry about what they remember about President Hinckley. I figure, I can do the same thing here.

I enjoyed President Hinckley's straight-forward way of speaking. He didn't use much fluff in his talks, but he always spoke from his heart. He's not my favorite speaker (Elder Holland is), but I did enjoy listening to him. But that's judging my favorite speaker by speech style. I can't really say which Church leader has had the most impact on how I live. I just don't know the answer.

President Hinckley introduced the policy of building many mini-temples throughout the world. I remember watching conference on a TV in Puerto Rico when he made the announcement. I was so excited, because I remember Dad had told of an experience, I believe in a temple-worker meeting, in which President Kimball had said he envisioned the day when smaller temples would be built next to stake centers, so we could do our family history work and then go next door and do the ordinances for our families.

He also instituted the Perpetual Education Fund (how's that going, anyway? I loved hearing the stories early on).

Also, he was a little irreverent. He challenged Elder Haight to a duel in conference, and "knighted" Elder Eyring after he was sustained as a member of the First Presidency. Scandalous.

I will miss President Hinckley - he's been in the First Presidency of my church for as long as I've been paying attention. He's taught me much, and he'll be in my memories forever.

But I don't think I'll cry. We weren't tight like that.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

When is a compliment an insult?

Have you ever received a compliment that made you feel like dirt?

Yesterday, a judge told our legal team, "This case was very well litigated. You can be proud of the job you've done, and your client was well represented."

He then denied our client's asylum claim, which, if she is deported (we're appealing, of course), may very well be a death sentence. A brutal, agonizing death sentence.

Like strawberry cheesecake, the words were sweet when they entered by body and tasted like... well, you know... when digested.

I never want to be a judge. I don't think I'd smile, except maybe a nervous smile from time to time.

I was unconsolable yesterday when I got home. I highly recommend the institution of marriage, for the support it provides, among its many benifits. As Mari's head rested on my chest, her breathing soft and even, I was still punching away on my Blackberry, drafting notes to myself of arguments I might raise on appeal.

Appeals are tough, because the court does not look at the whole record again, rather it just looks to see if there is evidence to support the lower court's ruling.

If you want the truth, don't look to the courts. Seriously. They are not designed to arrive at the truth. It's like two men have a disagreement. They decide, "Let's fight, and whomever wins is right." They fight, one wins, he's right. Courts are set up similarly. You have two sides. One side presents a story, and the other side attacks the story. The opponent is not interested in the truth, because that would involve discussion, corroboration, gathering as much evidence as possible. Instead, each side tries to limit evidence that can be presented in court by their opponent, and include as much evidence as they can for their side.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

What's the deal with my name?

I'm going to commit blog taboo by putting my whole name out there: Adams Ellsworth! Seriously, what is it with my name that makes people add an "s" on the end of "Adam"? Everyone does it. Just yesterday, the librarian at my lawfirm spelled my name "Adams Bellsworth." The "B" I understand, because the "m" could in some occasions produce sufficient stoppage to generate a "b" sound. Try it. But the "s"? It comes from nowhere.

I mean, has anyone ever met someone with a first name of "Adams"? Madison, maybe. Jefferson, Clinton, perhaps even Roosevelt. But Adams? Not I.

And yet for some reason people feel a compulsion to add an "s" on the end of my first name. It has happened all my life. As far as I know, my siblings don't suffer from the same name-disease. I wonder if my name has a subconcious power to cross neural pathways.

I like that thought. My name has special powers. They aren't very powerful yet, but even so, you can't resist them, can you?

And what might happen if those powers grow...? Mwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!

or is it Bwah-ha-ha-ha-ha?