Sunday, October 27, 2013

What we did this summer: fireworks

One of the nice parts of living in Utah this summer was fireworks. These are two pictures from the first time we got them out on July 4.

Superstar was rather concerned about them at first and it took a lot of coaxing to get him to hold the sparkler. (Careful daddy is happy - this will keep him safe. Funloving daddy is sad - he was really missing out.)

Princess took her cue from Superstar. After trying out some sparklers and a few small-grade fountains during the day, the kids were clearly not up for more.

So Joy and I lit off most of them at night while they were in bed. Ha ha! See what happens when you don't enjoy the special treat we prepare for you.

By Pioneer Day (July 24), though, the kids were rather more interested and we did some more together. Even though we got back from Idaho very late at night, we let Superstar stay up to watch some more with some neighbors and we finished off our very large box.

Successful dieting

Nigeria on the whole is good for my waistline. Summers in the US are ... not. Despite every effort I can think of I tend to gain a pound a week* each summer I went back home. Simply returning to Nigeria this year took off 6-10 pounds in ONE week.**

Delicious camel eyes
To get the rest off, I set myself a goal to lose a pound a week. Any morning I was below my target I could eat whatever I wanted within reason. Any morning I was below I had egg and toast for breakfast and dinner and a great many fruits and vegetables for lunch at the cafeteria.

As of this week I've officially returned to my pre-summer weight and can now enjoy contemplating knocking it down another 5 pounds or so before I return for Christmas, potentially tying or surpassing my lowest recorded weight in the last 10 years. If I were to keep this up through next semester, I would be within 20 pounds of my ideal weight. Now that would be something!

The other great thing is that this is something I can keep up in the US.

This is also to say I've had a great many days of vegetarian eating, if not veganism.*** I picked eggs because they give me some proper protein, my body metabolizes cholesterol gloriously, they are cheap, and I really like eggs and toast. I haven't gotten tired of them yet. The lack of variety around here to begin with is quite helpful in sticking to it.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Words of General Conference, Oct 13

Last week was the General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. My internet connection was significantly better than in conferences past, so I was actually able to not only listen to but watch most of conference. I was very happy about that.

To summarize each talk into one short phrase, personal conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ and joyfully enduring to the end were emphasized most heavily. We were warned repeatedly to get our priorities in order, particularly the two great commandments and the second of the 10 commandments. We had three talks each on women and the priesthood, reactivation, and missionary work. Two talks each focused on the Atonement, healing, and priesthood duties. Of other commandments, we were told to be humble, pay tithing, keep the Sabbath day holy, and honor our bodies as the temples of our spirits. We were also encouraged to listen to General Conference, learn the Articles of Faith, and be better teachers.

Last April I did a post on the words used at General Conference. I'm largely going to ignore the words that were used about the same between each conference and focus instead on what was different in this conference from the last. As before, I'm only using the words said at least once per talk (more than 34 times), of which there are about 115 instead of 99.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Princess' favorite books

One of the best parts of my day happens about 6:30-7:30pm when I spend lunch time with Joy and Princess on Skype. Yes, they are the ones having lunch, not me. When Princess is all done eating, I get a chance to read her a story before quiet time.

Her two most favorite books that I still have over here are Hop on Pop and Owl Babies. She asks for each of them regularly if I don't try to shape her choice. She also goes for The Bus for Us, The Itsy Bitsy Spider, and The Tawny Scrawny Lion that I used to enjoy as a boy. She never asks for it, but always enjoys it when I pull out Shel Silverstein.

I gotta say, some books are a lot easier to read on Skype than others. I essentially have to turn the pages completely away from me so she can see them. Both of her favorites are easy. In the case of Hop on Pop, it's because there are very few words on a page, so I can look at the words very quickly and know what to say while I show her the book. Owl Babies is very nice because the words are on one page and the pictures on the other, so I can bend the book in two and just show her picture after picture. By now I have all seven verses of Itsy Bitsy memorized, so that one is simple on my end, except there are very few words on each page so I have turn them pretty quickly while I sing and the poor video connection doesn't always give her time to see the picture clearly before it's time to move on.

Princess gives a cookie to a dragon. Om nom nom nom.
Tawny Scrawny isn't bad - there are a lot of words on each page, but thankfully the pictures on the wrong page generally work very well for the words on the page I'm reading, so I can cheat. But the Toy Story 3 drawing book is terrible because the interesting words are on the interesting page and because it's a mammoth board book I can't bend it. The Bus for Us is very repetitive and when Skype shows me the miniature picture of what I'm showing her, I can identify the truck and give the right line.

It's really cute to see what parts she likes to read too. Her favorite parts are still hopping on Pop and Mr. Brown being upside down. She just picked up that her father can read big words too, like ... "Constantinople and Timbuktu," which is adorable out of a two year old's mouth.

You knew I was coming back.
I knew it, said Sarah.
I knew it, said Percy.
I love my Mommy, said Bill
Sometimes I think about Owl Babies while I'm reading it. This is dangerous. I think about a little girl who loves her daddy, but he's not there. I love to testify that Daddy will come home again. I was daydreaming this week of hopping on a plane or four after class Thursday and just showing up at their door Friday evening to spend a long weekend during fall break. They would jump up and down and scream in their surprise. Then I might say in my best owl mother voice, "What's all the fuss? You knew I was coming back." Then they would think (all my owl children think a lot). Maybe one of them will say, "I love my Daddy."

Friday, October 4, 2013

Like Father, Like Son: Cheesy Rice

Superstar's stomach has not been the happiest member of the Watson household in the last month. He's had more morning sickness lately that Joy has in all her pregnancies. In all our searching for solutions, Joy mentioned to him one day that when my stomach is upset, I really like to eat rice with melted cheese, "cheesy rice."

Superstar thought about that idea. He loves cheese. He likes rice. Maybe they might taste good together. Maybe. Could he try some please?

So Joy made him some cheesy rice. He loved it. He loved it so much it has become his favorite food in the world. He would eat cheesy rice every meal if he could. And it does seem to be helping his stomach a little.

I have often wondered if and when Superstar and I could share a favorite food. So far his eating patterns and mine have been so far apart it seemed hopeless. So for him to find a similar favorite food is a very pleasant thing for me. As I sit here eating my own cheesy rice (plus taco meat and salsa) while writing a macroeconomics midterm, I'm thankful and thinking of my far-distant son.

Mencken on Democracy

Henderson and Mingardi shared some Mencken quotes last month about Democracy that I'm enjoying a little too much as I teach my Public Choice class.
Democracy is the theory that the common man knows what he wants and deserves to get it, good and hard.
If x is the population of the United States and y is the degree of imbecility of the average American, then democracy is the theory that x*y is less than y.
The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule.