Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Happenings in Honduras

Well, our hope that Darren would come home from Honduras without having to deal with civil unrest there has gone unfulfilled. The Honduran military, acting under order of the Honduran Supreme Court, ousted President Manuel Zelaya yesterday and carted him off to Costa Rica, igniting a great deal of controversy in the region. Predictably, the Obama administration immediately condemned the action, citing concerns about "democracy" and "constitutional order" in Honduras when it was obvious to anyone with half a brain that Zelaya was doing his chavista best to subvert those very notions, and that the legislative and judicial branches of the Honduran government weren't simply going to sit by and let him do it. (It's telling that Zelaya's successor in office is a member of his [Zelaya's] own party!) Just why else would a close ally of Crazy Hugo (not to mention of "Compa" Fidel) attempt to force a referendum on the question of abolishing presidential term limits -- when the Honduran constitution expressly provides that only the Congress has the power to initiate such a referendum (actually, due to the nature of the change, I understand it would require a full-blown constitutional convention) -- if he weren't angling to become another socialist "president for life"? I doubt that the Obama administration will use any real clout to try to get Zelaya reinstated, but what worries me is that Crazy Hugo is just crazy enough to start a regional war with precisely that aim in mind.

Of course, all of this is of secondary concern to me after Darren's safety. We received a call from his mission home yesterday after the ouster, and we were told that all of the missionaries have been ordered to stay in their apartments for the time being. It's conceivable that an emergency evacuation of American missionaries will be necessary, and in that case it is likely that Darren would simply come home earlier than planned. I can't say I'd complain about that, but it would be a disappointment to Darren, who truly has loved his time in Honduras.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Bouldering at U-Mound, II

This video shows me doing the left side of the "Brett and Jill" boulder at U-Mound in the Sandia foothills on June 27, 2009. (I was there on an outing with the 11-year-old scouts in our ward.) I hadn't climbed it in a while, so I was a little "sketchy" -- hence my having to grab the edge of the arete at one point, a move that turns what is otherwise a V1 problem (steeper than it looks from this angle) into a V0 problem. But at least I can still get up the thing. What strikes me most about this clip is the fact that I'm not quite as flabby, at least when viewed from behind, as I tend to think of myself. Watching this video also causes me to realize what limited range of motion (due to bone structure -- not, say, arthritis) I have in my hips, which explains why my running stride is so short and choppy, and why my footwork, when rockclimbing, tends to be less-than-optimal.

Friday, June 26, 2009

South Peak Hike, 6/26/09

John Brewer and I finally got to do the South Peak hike today that we've been talking about for some time. It turned out to be a pretty brutal route. We started at Canyon Estates up near the village of Tijeras, hiking up the South Crest Trail to the junction with the Upper Faulty Trail, which also marks the beginning of the CCC "route," an extremely steep trail that traces a pretty direct path to the South Peak area. That took a lot more out of me than I expected, as I was having to stop every 75-100 yards to let my heart rate go down. The Sandia hiking guide says that CCC "route" is only 1.8 miles from end to end, but John and I have a running joke going about "Forest Service miles" and how they always seem to understate the actual distance. (Anyone who's read Norman Maclean will know what I'm talking about.) From there we hiked up to South Peak, where we ate lunch and then dropped down off the back through the hidden little canyon there that has a thick stand of aspens. Then we descended the west side of the mountain, taking the Embudito Trail to Oso Pass and then heading west on the ridge route (or "Whitewash" Trail) all the way down to the top of Menaul Blvd. In many ways, the hike down was almost as hard as the hike up the back side, but we wanted a challenging hike and definitely found one; however, in the end I had a great time. The photos above show (a) me striking an heroic pose on South Peak, (b) the view northwest from South Peak, (c) me in the aforementioned aspen grove just off the back side of South Peak, and (d) John on the spur trail leading to South Peak.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

National Public Radio

I got into the habit some years ago of listening to "Morning Edition" on National Public Radio (NPR) for twenty to twenty-five minutes every work day (i.e., while shaving, showering, and grooming in the mornings). NPR's news coverage gets a bit of a bad rap from a lot of conservatives for having a liberal bias. Some of that bad rap is justified in my opinion, but "Morning Edition" is diligent about presenting both sides of a lot of issues, anyway. On the other hand, a bland style of delivery (which NPR can afford, due to its being heavily subsidized by the federal government) isn't quite the same thing as complete objectivity. And, as many have pointed out, a news organization can be just as biased in terms of the stories it chooses to cover (or ignore) as it is in how it presents those stories. But I have to say that the one thing that drives me to distraction when listening to "Morning Edition" is NPR's utterly uncritical acceptance of the notion that increasing levels of human-generated carbon dioxide are warming the Earth and rapidly rendering it uninhabitable -- when, in the last ten years, CO2 emissions have continued to rise but global temperatures have not followed suit. In that light, one would think that a news organization without an agenda would at least start to ask questions around the margins of the accepted dogma!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Late June Family Update

Not much is happening right now, but I thought I'd write down a few things. Darren is now less than eight weeks away from coming home from Honduras, and the excitement I'm feeling is already growing unbearable. We've talked to Kiley about possibly getting her into a better cello in hopes that she'll practice hard this next school year and win a college music scholarship somewhere. She's still trying to decompress somewhat from her trip to Australia (see photo). Devery and Easton are still living in Provo, and now Easton has begun a summer internship with Oakland Construction in Salt Lake City -- which means that both of them are commuting by bus for the time being. (I mentioned to Devery the idea of their moving to SLC for the summer, but she didn't think it was feasible since they'd just have to move back to Provo when it came time for Easton to start fall semester at BYU.) They found out that the baby Devery's carrying is a boy, and the name they've tentatively selected for him is "Mason."

Heidi and Dion are still here in Albuquerque, and Dion's son Nolan is living with them for the summer. Kayla is now two-and-a-half, and Heidi, like Devery, has found out that she's carrying a baby boy (tentatively named "Tyler"); thus we'll have two more grandsons come October or November. Kristy and Chris are still living in our ward, and Chris's car-repair shop (which he operates with his friend John) has continued to do good business. Chris now has his car-dealer's license, and their plan is to acquire cars cheaply at the auctions, fix them up, and sell them. Nicole is about to start high school; Zach is currently playing on his Little League all-star team; Alexis will be going into first grade; and Maddy and Hailee are both walking now.

I continue to struggle with sleeping at night. I'm taking Temazepam every other night now, but the nights in between have been a marked contrast, and the usual over-the-counter remedies -- diphenhydramine hydrochloride, Valerian root, L-Ornithine, melatonin -- don't even come close to having the effect of a good prescription sedative. I'm experimenting with the settings on my "VPAP Adapt SV" machine, hoping to find a happy medium between (a) not swallowing so much air that I become nauseous, and (b) not gaining sufficient benefit from the machine, in terms of addressing my sleep-apnea issues, to justify using it.

On a happy note, I plan to go hiking in the Sandia Mountains this Friday, and I look forward to traversing the mountain, from east to west, by a relatively untraveled route -- up the "CCC" Trail and down the "Whitewash" Trail -- visiting South Peak on the way.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

"Well, that explains a lot...."

The following comes from the Mayo Clinic website:

Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance and a deep need for admiration. They believe that they're superior to others and have little regard for other people's feelings. But behind this mask of ultra-confidence lies a fragile self-esteem, vulnerable to the slightest criticism.

This definition sure seems to describe a fair number of people of my acquaintance! I read where someone described narcissism as a very labor-intensive sort of condition: in short, its exemplars find it necessary to spend vast amounts of time and energy reinforcing their aggrandized image of self at the expense of, shall we say, "healthier" avocations and relationships in general. Someone else called these people "emotional vampires" -- I'd probably use a more graphic metaphor to describe them, but it serves to illustrate why they should be avoided, even if some of them are victims of a mental disorder that possibly is beyond their control.

[Update 5/19/10: I was just thinking about how people in the "mainstream" (i.e., leftoid) press were accusing Sarah Palin of having NPD after I wrote this post. I've never seen a clearer case of projection in my life -- if anything, it's the media who think they're superior to others and whose self-esteem crumbles under the slightest criticism.]

[Update 12/1/10: I read today that NPD, along with four other personality disorders previously recognized as such, will be omitted from the new DSM-V when it's published in 2013; I guess narcissism is the new "normal."  Jim Taranto of the Wall Street Journal's "Opinion Journal" website has implied that he believes the timing of this omission is not coincidental given the current occupant of the White House.  All I know is that the vast majority of the people I know who display the characteristics of NPD have significantly left-of-center political viewpoints, and they certainly regard themselves as normal, however nutty and unpleasant they appear to others.]

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Kiley in Australia

Kiley is back from her Australia trip now, having had a great time with the other kids from the Albuquerque Youth Symphony. They performed a total of five concerts while "down under," including a charity fundraiser in the Sydney Opera House (see the group picture, above, taken across the harbor from the opera house -- Kiley is eighth from the right on the bottom row). Their itinerary was ultimately modified drastically due to predictably overblown concerns about the spread of "H1N1" influenza, which barred them from staying with Aussie families as was originally planned, but that meant they had time for additional tourist-y types of activities. One of the things they had planned to do, anyway, was to visit the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, where the kids got to pose for pictures with a koala (see other photo, above). Overall, it was an expensive trip, but I'm glad Kiley got to have such memorable experiences.

As I expected, Kiley did make AYS again for next school year, although the group's three-year "tour rotation" will have them doing only a "regional" tour next spring, probably staying somewhere within the Four Corner states. (They do a "national" tour in the second year and an "international" tour in the third year.) Coincidentally, whereas the entire group (so far as we know) had "only" four LDS church members this last year, next year's cello section alone will have four LDS kids in it.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

More On Our Colorado Trip

Here are a few more photos from our trip: (1) Dorine, Judy, Mike, and I at the Strawberry Park Hot Springs complex near Steamboat Springs, CO; (2) Mike and I at the Continental Divide on the Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park; (3) me at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, CO with a display of photos from the ABC miniseries production of The Shining, in which the hotel was featured prominently (and which I own on DVD -- the commentary on the DVD set indicates that the Stanley was where Stephen King actually conceived the story line for his book [notwithstanding the disclaimer he put in the introduction to the book], which I think is cool); (4) a pair of elk grazing in someone's front yard in Estes Park; (5) outside our suite at the Worldmark resort in Steamboat Springs; and (6) Dorine and I in front of the Stanley Hotel.

[Update 12/22/10: I might also add that the Stanley Hotel was featured in the movie Dumb and Dumber.  It -- at least the exterior, and I don't know about the "interior" shots -- is the hotel where Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels stay when they get to "Aspen."]

Monday, June 8, 2009

Trip to Colorado with Mike and Judy

We're currently on vacation with Mike and Judy P_______ in Colorado. We first spent two nights in Red River, New Mexico, and right now we're in Steamboat Springs, Colorado; we'll spend a total of three nights here, and then we'll stay two nights in Estes Park, Colorado before heading home on Friday. It's been a fun trip so far -- we haven't done a whole lot, but just being able to get away from it all and relax means a lot to me these days. In Red River, we got to see a "classic car" show, which was cool, and we drove down to Taos, saw the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge (see photo above), and shopped and ate lunch. The drive up to Steamboat Springs was longer than I expected; we actually were snowed on in Leadville, Colorado while en route. Today we went to go see Fish Creek Falls, and we saw the town botanical garden; we'll probably find a hot spring to soak in either this evening or tomorrow. Kiley is in Australia at present, and from what we've been able to gather so far, she's having a good time.

The photos above show: (1) Mike walking on the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge (near Taos, NM -- where an important sequence of the most-recent Terminator movie was filmed); (2) Dorine and I on a bridge in Red River; (3) the four of us at Fish Creek Falls near Steamboat Springs; and (4) Dorine and I at the Steamboat Springs "Botanic Garden."

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Darren's Last Area?

Darren is now serving in a part of Tegucigalpa (or Comayagüela -- I'm never quite sure where the line of demarcation is between the two) called "Country" (pronounced "cone-tree"), and his companion is a hard-working Guatemalan named Elder Polanco. This could very well be Darren's last area before he comes home; he wanted to serve in another small town before he finished, but possibly not at the cost of moving again so soon. His reports indicate that he and Elder Polanco currently have quite a few good investigators, and I'm sure he'd be happy to finish his mission with a few (or a bunch of) additional converts. This photo shows his district. Top (L-R): Darren, Elder Polanco, Elder Chuquimia, Elder Prescott; Bottom (L-R): Hermana Medal, Hermana Hernández. (Is it just me, or do those sister missionaries seem a little too attractive?)

[Update: I've been advised, with a chuckle and an elbow in the ribs, that just about any woman in her early 20s looks attractive to a 50-year-old man. Maybe so!]