Friday, July 31, 2009

Random Thoughts, Part 2

1. Menstruation is often referred to as "the curse," something that we men, obviously, don't have to deal with at any time in our lives. On the other hand, I've become convinced that there is a male "curse," which really only manifests itself later in life. It is simply that we retain so much of our youthful libidos way past our "shelf life" as sexual creatures. I wonder how much more agreeable life would be if our hormones diminished at the same rate as those of women in general....

2. I had a conversation recently with my father-in-law in which it became clear to me that membership in the LDS Church used to carry with it a much-stronger "brand" or sense of identity. It lay largely in the various sorts of recreational and social activities that used to be commonplace throughout the church: dance festivals, sports programs (including all-church tournaments), theatrical productions, the annual "Gold and Green" Ball, roadshows, the "Singing Mothers," regular ward and stake socials, etc. Somehow, in the push to strip church membership to its essentials (which is perfectly comprehensible in light of the growth of the church in the last two generations), that sense of identity has gone by the boards in large measure. Moreover, I'm not sure it's something that could be recovered at this juncture -- if, for example, someone in Albuquerque had the idea to stage a Mormon-themed musical like Promised Valley (as happened locally back in the early father had the male lead role for one of the performances), I'm highly doubtful that there would be much interest in it, from either an acting perspective or an audience perspective. Simply put, members like me are now so accustomed to seeking out their own recreational activities that social events at church (to the extent they still happen) tend to seem bothersome and annoying. And yet it was the social and athletic activities that once provided one of the church's primary missionary "hooks," especially for families.

3. I'm still somewhat mystified by the Obama administration's support of ousted Honduran president Mel Zelaya. The Honduran government has three supposedly co-equal branches, and the congress and the supreme court acted in concert to remove Zelaya from office for clear and blatant violations of the Honduran constitution. In fact, that document states that a president who takes any overt action toward changing the presidential term limit stated therein automatically forfeits his office, so by Honduran law Zelaya had, technically, already ceased to be president! So why, precisely, is our government so insistent about restoring him to office -- treating him as though he were the very embodiment of Honduran democracy -- and about not recognizing the new president, Roberto Micheletti? And why have our mainstream media been publishing a stream of stories about supposed agreements to reinstate Zelaya, when the Honduran government has apparently assented to no such thing? Does the rule of law have no meaning for "the big Oh" and his sycophants? The implications are positively scary.... (In the meantime, I keep thinking, "Let the stalemate continue for two-and-a-half more weeks, until Darren comes home!")

4. I've long since concluded that Democrats and others on the left are fundamentally unserious about their twin pet causes of combating "climate change" and "reforming" the country's health-care system (with the supposed aim of driving down costs). How do I know? First, no one thing would serve to lower (or at least limit) man-made CO2 emissions -- while serving the energy needs of the American people -- more than the immediate construction of dozens of nuclear power plants. Yet nobody in Congress would ever suggest such a thing. And second, two of the principal reasons why health care is so expensive in the U.S. are (a) the practice of what some have called "defensive" medicine -- the ordering of multitudinous tests and procedures to attempt to limit exposure to malpractice liability -- and (b) "jackpot" jury verdicts (or the threat thereof) in malpractice cases, the cost of which is generally absorbed by insurance companies and passed on in the form of higher premiums. Yet none of the various health-care bills floating through committee on Capitol Hill mentions anything about tort reform, because it would do damage to trial lawyers, a major Democrat constituency and source of donations. I understand it was H.L. Mencken who said, "The urge to save humanity is always a false front for the urge to rule it," which pretty much sums up my opinion of the Democratic agenda in this Congress.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The BYU 65th Branch, 1977-78

I just received the attached photo from my friend Jeff Aldous, which dates back to roughly September 1977. At first I thought it was a photo of the guys from the 7th Floor of "T" Hall in Deseret Towers at BYU; however, then I realized that some of these guys actually lived on the 6th Floor, so it must have been intended to be a photo of all the males in the BYU 65th Branch. (The 65th Branch encompassed the 6th and 7th Floors of "T" Hall for the guys, and both the 2nd Floor of "Q" Hall [at D.T.] and all of Young Hall [in Heritage Halls] on the girls' side. It held church meetings at Wasatch Elementary School on 900 East in Provo.) There were upwards of ninety guys in the branch, so the turnout obviously wasn't overwhelming for the photo shoot (I suspect I was in class or at the library); however, I still remember a lot of these fellows. My roommate, Bob Maes, is on the far right of the back row. Our buddies (and fellow KNOBs) Jeff Aldous and Galen Kekauoha are at the far right of the front row and third from the right in the middle row, respectively. Scott Hansen, who was Chuck Canfield's roommate (and sort of an "adjunct" KNOB), is on Jeff's right.

At the time, Bob's family lived on the west side in Albuquerque; Jeff was from Metairie, Louisiana; Galen was from Los Angeles; and Scott, like Chuck, was from Magna, Utah. Deseret Towers has now been completely razed (with the exception of the Morris Center [a/k/a the "Morbid Center," or the "Morose Center"], which once served as D.T.'s cafeteria, offices, and all-around gathering place, but which is now sort of a conference center), the thought of which brings a bit of a tear to my eyes. I was much too psycho about school ever to have had much fun during my freshman year; I think I went on two, maybe three, dates all year, one of which was a blind date to a stake dance, also at Wasatch Elementary, with the friend of a friend of Bryan Whatley, the guy on Galen's left in the photo. (If memory serves, Bryan was from somewhere in Oregon, as were his friend and her friend -- cute girl! -- who were just visiting in Provo.)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

July 2009 Utah Trip

Dorine, Kiley, and I took Dorine's dad Lynn Wilson up to Utah on Monday, July 20, and we stayed in Grantsville with Dorine's brother Brian and his wife Dona, until today, Sunday, July 26. (Lynn is staying another week and will fly home.) This was really Dorine and Lynn's trip, and, as it turned out, I didn't really get to visit with my brothers, although we did get to spend quite a lot of time with Devery and Easton. On Tuesday, I got to go out to lunch with my friend (and ex-BYU roommate) Bob Maes, and then I spent a couple of hours with him at his office while Dorine and Lynn went around visiting Dorine's aunts Afton Woffinden and Frances Wilson. Later, we went to see Lynn's brother Bob Wilson (and his wife Marilu) in Holladay before going out to eat at the Marie Callender's restaurant on 3900 South; this was the first time I'd been at that particular Marie Callender's since Dorine and I ate there during our honeymoon in December 1984. Later that night, after we'd returned to Grantsville, it was decided to go down to the Maverik service station at the other end of town to get fountain drinks. I'd already taken an Ambien tablet to go to sleep, but I didn't think it would take effect very soon, so I drove. I was okay on the way out, but I started losing my faculties on the return trip, and I nearly ran over several mailboxes and a fire hydrant when turning around at the end of the cul-de-sac (before parking first on the curb and then out in the street). I think I can say with some assurance that it will be the only time in my life that I'll be "guilty" of DUI! Needless to say, I was the object of quite a bit of twitting after that.

On Wednesday, a bunch of us went to the open house at the new Oquirrh Mountain Temple (located in South Jordan near the intersection of Bangerter Highway and 11400 South -- see photo above). The group included (L-R) me, Devery, Easton, Kiley, Lynn, Dorine, Brian, and Brian's daughters Rhea and Olivia. Dorine happened to see my brother Roger and his wife Lynnea (and Lynnea's daughters Jenna and Andrea) there -- they went through with the group after us, but we were able to communicate by cell phone (not while we were inside the temple) and arrange to meet at a nearby Quizno's after the tour. It turned out to be the only time I actually saw any of my brothers on this trip, although I did talk to Kelly and Robin on the phone. Afterward, we drove Devery and Easton back to Provo, deciding to take the "back" route (through Lehi and past Sarasota Springs and Eagle Mountain) to return to Grantsville. That resulted in our biggest adventure of the trip, as we missed both of the two turns that would have taken us to Grantsville (while bypassing Tooele); consequently, we ended up at the Dugway Proving Ground, having to explain to the guards at the gate how we'd gotten lost, and then having to take the "long" way around, via I-80, to get to Grantsville ninety minutes later than expected.

On Thursday, Dorine and I went and did an endowment session at the Salt Lake Temple, which I believe was the first time I'd been to that temple in upwards of twenty years. (I'd almost forgotten what it was like to do a "live" session!) Kiley was able to do proxy baptisms there at that same time with her cousins Rhea and Linsey, after which they went to the Joseph Smith Building and the Gateway Mall, where we picked them up later.

On Friday, the big event was our going to see a matinee showing of the new Harry Potter movie in Tooele, and yesterday, Saturday, Brian and Dona conscripted their home teacher into providing his collection of kayaks (along with his trailer and his person) for a family outing at a reservoir near Grantsville (see photos). Devery and Easton had Friday (Pioneer Day in Utah) off work, and they came up and spent a couple of nights with us at Brian and Dona's house, so they were there for Harry Potter and the lake. Kiley, who didn't want to go to Utah in the first place (and who complained mightily for much of the time we were there), took along her cello and spent a lot of time practicing her Youth Symphony music in preparation for camp next week at Hummingbird Music Camp in the Jemez.

Now I get to go back to work. Oh joy!

Friday, July 17, 2009

My Dream Guitars

Here they are -- the guitars I would buy if money were no object. One, a shell pink Fender Stratocaster. (The one pictured was made in Japan; perhaps, if I were rich, I'd order a custom-made American Stratocaster, but it would have to be in shell pink -- man, I love that color!) Two, a Gretsch Double Jet. (The one pictured was made in Korea; again, if I were rich, I'd probably buy an American-made model, but I love the silver-flake finish.) Three, a Martin D-45 acoustic guitar. (The D-45 was the Cadillac of mass-produced acoustic guitars in my youth; nowadays, there are other brands that sell for as much or more than Martins, but I still feel partial to the D-45.) And four, a Gibson Les Paul Standard. (I would finally indulge my teenage dream of owning what most people still regard as the ultimate rock 'n' roll guitar. I might waver between a flamed sunburst finish or a gold-top finish [as pictured here], but it would have to have the standard-size humbucking pickups and cream-colored trim.)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Future Missionaries at Philmont, 2004

This picture is now five years old. It was taken on June 30, 2004 in Pueblano Camp at the Philmont Scout Ranch near Cimarron, New Mexico. Jordan Roper, the kid sitting to my left in the green shirt, just returned last Saturday from his church mission in Los Angeles, where his assigned areas ran the gamut from Compton to Malibu. (Jordan and I both spoke in sacrament meeting last Sunday -- boy, was he a tough act to follow!) My son Darren, the one in the middle with the camo pants and hoodie, now has only five weeks left on his mission in Honduras, which, given the current political situation there, are bound to be the longest thirty-five days of my life. Curtis Twitchell, the blond kid in the brown shirt, is now eight months into his mission in Peru, although now it appears likely that he will soon move over to Bolivia (the country he was originally called to) as the church starts sending gringos back there.

Looking at this photo makes me remember just what a good time we had at Philmont in 2004. Our crew got along extremely well together, and we wrung just about all the fun out of our trek that there was to be had. I want to go backpacking again soon!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Sleep Disordered, Part (yawn)

I hesitate to devote yet another post to my ongoing sleep woes, in large part because of all the wishful thinking incorporated into my previous posts on the subject, but I am trying a few new things. One, I'm currently taking Temazepam every other night, except that it will probably work out to three times a week, with my taking it on Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday nights. On the other nights I've been taking a whole cocktail of over-the-counter supplements or meds: melatonin, L-Ornithine, Valerian root, and diphenhydramine hydrochloride (i.e., benadryl). This "OTC cocktail" produces some fairly profound drowsiness while at the same time not inducing sleep, at least immediately, which is a strange sensation to say the least.

Moreover, even when I finally fall asleep on my "OTC cocktail," I haven't been staying asleep for longer than three-plus hours, and then I lie awake the rest of the night. I can't blame that on swallowing air from the "VPAP Adapt SV" machine, because I reduced the "EEP" (End Expiratory Pressure) setting on it from 10.0 to 6.0, which immediately alleviated the air-swallowing problem. (I've since raised the "EEP" gradually to try to find the point at which I start swallowing air again, and that seems to be right at or near 8.0; last night I set it at 7.6, which seems to be the maximum I can tolerate before I start swallowing what feels like gallons of air; I guess I'll find out over time how much of a breathing aid the machine really is for me at that setting.)

I'm also trying some "cognitive behavior therapy" (CBT) techniques to see if I can develop better, balanced (and hence more positive) thought patterns respecting sleep. I'm working on becoming more-optimistic that my "OTC cocktail" can take the place of heavier meds like Temazepam, and that I can ultimately drop the antihistamine ingredient in it and rely wholly on its herbal constituents. I would certainly consider it an acceptable long-term result to be able to sleep 6-7 hours on most nights through (a) using the "VPAP Adapt SV" at a setting that causes me to swallow only a minimal amount of air, and (b) taking only melatonin, Valerian root, and L-Ornithine.

I'm wary, for several reasons, of taking prescription sleep meds on an indefinite basis. One, it's not a pleasant feeling to be dependent on them, especially when various people (e.g., pharmacists, insurance reps) seem to regard you as only one small step removed from being, say, a tweaker or a crack addict. Two, most of them are controlled substances, which makes it dicey to get prescriptions for them in the first place. And three, it's easy to develop a tolerance for them and to require larger doses of them to get the same effect. Herbal remedies don't pose any of these concerns -- if I can get to the point where they help me sleep more than they do currently. However, that will require that I get my mind working for me instead of against me, which is where CBT enters into the picture.

Now we'll see....