What's In This Blog

I created this blog for my journal. I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In this blog I keep many of the things I come across as a member of the church. I also share my experiences on the ACE Train and getting to work, my experiences in Manteca where we have lived for three years, and other things I think are noticeable.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

To the Movies: ****Snow White and the Huntsman

I didn't realize this was a Kristen Stewart movie before going, but was pleasantly glad it was.   Again we have Kristen dying and coming back to life, just like Twilight.  This movie is Snow White with motivation and characterization.  The black forest is scary, which makes it not good for kids but it is very entertaining for adults.  The mean witch/queen is very eery as well.  I really like the hunts man, and the dukes son creating a three way relationship.  My son didn't like the faerie scene, but I did.  The white stag was incredible.  And the arrow was so unexpected.  This is a movie with a strong female lead, almost Joan of Arc feel.

I would recommend this movie to those who want a good time.

Movie Night: ****^Twilight Series

I watched the Twilight series last weekend from our home collection.  These these are the Stephanie Meyers vampire books.  The movie has grown on me and now I am anxiously awaiting the fifth.  I read the first book, and found it a bit boring as the theme of whether she could trust him was rehashed ad nauseam.  However, the movies add more intrigue as they progress.  Movie one ****"Twilight" introduces us to the vampires, which is interesting.  It stars Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson as Bella and Edward.  We are introduced to vampire skills and like as Bella falls for him.  A vampire takes after Bella, and her vampire lover has to save her.  The ending is intense.  Bella's leg is broke, but she makes it to prom.

Movie two, ****^ "New Moon" introduces the Indian wolf men, who protect the tribe from the vampires.  The actor Taylor Lautner portrays Jacob Black, who set up with the pack to protect Bella.  This is because Edward has gone away, thinking this will keep Bella safe.This movie shows how they are hopelessly in love.  Bella goes through deep depression, and turns to  Jacob who is also a family friend.  However, in the end she takes greater risks with her own life, thinking it will bring Edward back.  In one of these, Edward perceives she has died through his sister's special vampire power.  In the end it is Bella who has to save Edward as he is determined to be destroyed.

The third move is *****Eclipse.  This movie has the most action. Victoria, Bella's enemy since the first movie, amasses and army of newborns, recently turned vampires, who are more hungry and stronger than vampires.  The wolfmen join the vampires, who are traditional enemies, in the fight against the newborns and Victoria.  It is very intense, resulting in the death of many newborns as well as Victoria.  Jacob is injured, and treated by the father of the vampires, who is also a doctor.  Bella has a choice to make, and loves both the wolf and the vampire.  She chooses the vampire.

****^Breaking Dawn part I is the next movie, which presents the marriage of Bella and Edward, as well as the birth of their baby.  I guess vampire babies grow fast in the womb.  The pregnancy threatens Bella's life, but she goes through with the pregnancy anyway.  The wolves decide it is evil, and are determined to kill the baby, but Jacob imprints on the baby, so its all OK in the end.  The imprinting thing is sort of vague, but that's how things work with wolfmen.

Life in Manteca 47: ****Taqueria La Mexicana

I think we have finally found a taqueria both Sheri and I can both enjoy.  Taqeria La Mexican is on Yosemite, and close to the library.  This taqueria has good chips and salsa and good tacos, and maybe that is all you need.  It lacks in decor, is a bit small, and didn't have many customers.  They had a very nice orange fountain drink.  The salsa bar included radishes and peppers.  I had a combo plate with enchilada and taco carne asada.  Sheri just had a taco.  There meat was nice.  Maybe too much salsa on the enchilada, but I like to mix the salsa with the beans and rice.  The plate also had guacamole and lettuce which mixed in nicely.  Sheri and I completed our evening downtown with window shopping along Main Street.  We looked at drums, antiques, rain sticks and tee shirts. 

I have decided that the best place to look for used books is the Library.  They are 25c for paper backs or five for a dollar, 50c for hardback unless individually priced.  The selection is limited, but you can usually find something you want.

Manteca Stake Conference

Stake conference last weekend was insightful, spiritual and enjoyable.  Sheri and I attended the temple session, and ran into people from our old ward, the Taylors and Brother Wightman.  There were a few people from our current ward, but it lets me know that I don't know many people in the stake.  We almost filled the large room however, which was fun.  Mark and Dianna (sister) let us tag along with them and people from their ward and we went to the Creamery in Castro Valley.  It was very good, although a pit pricey.  They specialize in ice cream.  Sheri had French dip so-so and I had Philly cheese steak, very nummy.  I also had the baked beans instead of fries.

Saturday evening I sang in the men's choir.  I wish I would have done better, but missed a couple notes.  President Crockett talked about keys, and mentioned the following day with the temple, mission and stake presidents all together, all of the keys of the gospel would be present the next day.  The mission president then mentioned the same thing.

Highlights from the general session--the stake choir did much better, and the songs were really fun.  "Take Time to Be Holy" had the coolest bass part.  This is the first verse which was accapella.

It is arranged by John Longhurst and the lyrics are written by W.D. Longstaff.  I especially liked the lyrics to the third verse:

Take time to be holy, let Him be thy Guide;
And run not before Him, whatever betide.
In joy or in sorrow, still follow the Lord,
And, looking to Jesus, still trust in His Word.

It seems we so often want to do what we want to do, and then ask the Lord to agree.  Sometimes the Lord's ways are not our ways.  We need to be humble, and willing to bend our will to His.  That is often a struggle in life, but in doing so we avoid sin and heartache.

The mission president's wife talked about "Letting Your Light Shine."  She talked about a sister, recently baptized, who was so enthusiastic about sharing her light she had to talk to others about the Gospel.

President Maxfield talked about  Hope.  he quoted a scripture:  1 Thessalonians 5:8  But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.  Paul uses this theme again, but says the helmet of salvation.  Isiah also uses the theme, helmet of salvation as does Joseph Smith.  But Paul in Thessalonians adds the word "hope."  President Maxfield talks about Hope, and how it is hope that protects our mind from discouragement--hope in salvation.

Moroni 7:41  And what is it that ye shall hope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise.

There were of course other parts to conference, but these are the thoughts I wish to share.  The Gospel's true, Jesus is our Savior, and through him we can gain the greatest price, that of eternal life.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Book Review: ***^The Cat Who Smelled a Rat (to mmboe)

This is my first experience with a Lillian Jackson Braun book, and this is obviously not the first.  Inside the cover it has 25 other "Cat" books. This was published 2001 so there are likely more, however Sheri says the author has now passed away. Since we are now cat owner, I figured I would give it a try.

This book tells the story of a semi retired columnist.  He still writes his column, but seems to be independently wealthy.  He has two Siamese cats.  The cats sense something is wrong.  The fires are not accidental.  And so we have a mistery which the columnist helps to figure out, with the aid of the cats.  The clue they need is discovered by one of the cats.  I don't think there is a moral or theme to the book, other than having a good time--which I needed this week.

I think I enjoyed this enough to venture to some more books.  Sheri says she has read them all.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Movie Night: **^That Shaggy Dog, ***^ Three lives of Thomasina,

I don't know the schedule, but BYUTV regularly shows old Disney movies that I watched as a youth.  The Shaggy Dog is a fun show, and the switch from man to dog to man is unpredictable which makes for some interesting dilemnas.  My only confusion with the show is with the young woman's father turning out to be a spy, no one really explores her feelings about it--I think she's suppose to just be OK with it.

Of these two movies I prefer The Three Lives of Thomasina.  I liked this movie as a child.  It features the children from Mary Poppins.  The did three movies together also including Bed Knobs and Broom Sticks.  This show is fun, and the cat coming back to the little girl restoring her faith in the world.  The only part I didn't like was the Egyptian cat bit.  That was just stupid, but I guess you had to have some way for her to come back to life.  This is a nice presentation of Scottish culture.  The "witch lady" does a very good job of her part.

Life in Manteca 46: Caleb's Music and New Park

This is old news, but I wanted to document a couple of things.  For the tri-stake dance a couple weeks ago Caleb's band "Hot Spud" played.  Maddie Banks recorded a couple songs for imc.  This is a cover of "Animal"  by Neon Trees.  The band went away from jazz and to something the kids could dance to.

Caleb is life guarding at the community pool.  Next to the pool is a park we hadn't noticed before.  Tony likes it because he is into monkey bars lately.  There was a set with uneven bars that Tony navigated very well.

One other thing, we hit the trains in downtown Manteca--15 minute wait.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Caleb's high adventuring

Caleb is week is off this week high adventuring, so I decided to past some past photos of his adventures.  This is a trip to high Sierras with Saratoga Stake, 2010.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Movie Night: ****Bang the Drum Slowly, ***One for the Money

**** Bang the Drum Slowly,  I enjoyed this movie more than I thought I would. It is a Paramount film from 1973, which I watched through Netflix DVD.  It stars Robert De Niro and Michael Moriarty.  It is about two ball players, working through the inevitable death of one.  The catcher, who has always been a journeymen has cancer has Hodgkin's disease.  The pitcher, is a star, and insists he stay on the team as part of his contract.  The coach is left with a mystery, and finally uncovers it.  The actor, Vincent Gardenia, who portrays the coach won an Oscar.  But the story behind this is the friendship between the two main characters, and the reaction after the year is over and they have won the pennant, but the catcher ends up in the hospital after the clinching game, and passes away during the off season.  He is almost forgotten at the end.  The song "Streets of Loredo is featured, being sung by another catcher.

We beat the drum slowly and played the fife lowly,
And bitterly wept as we bore him along.
For we loved our comrade, so brave, young and handsome,

My only complaint is the season had teams from both leagues, which made it less realistic.  Butof course it was fiction.

***One for the Money  This is a 2012 Lionsgate film which I also watched through Netflix DVD.  It features Katherine Heigl as Stephanie Plum, a bounty hunter.  She is portrayed as being over her head, as she goes after an old flame, a police officer who is accused of murder.  This movie is somewhat predictable, except for the ending.  The officer, Joseph Morelli, portrayed by Jason O'Mara is trying to prove his innocence, and eventually recruits Plum's help.  It is at that point the movie gets tense, as they face the evil heroin dealers.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day 2012

HAPPY FATHER'S DAY: This is untitled but Mark, my son, wrote it.

When I was young and you were not so old
You whispered Spanish in my ear when we
Stopped at a road's edge. My hand found its hold
In your calming hand that seemed to me
Secure as any fortress in the world.
Our ears perked, eyes turned right then left to see
That all was safe, no danger to be found,
We anxiously stepped and soon would be
Beyond the road to fields and playing ground,
The promised place where I had longed to run free.

You are the man in whom I see my God.
Few boys were better taught or so well shod.
 I have always said to the kids, "da me la mano" when we cross roads or go for walks.  They seem to understand, "give me your hand."

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Life in Manteca 45: Gang Shootings, Restaurant Review

The local paper documented four gang related shootings in Manteca last week , with nine injured.  This past Sunday there was a shooting at the corner of Yosemite and Union--one injured.   I remember one night hearing a pop pop pop, and thought it was fireworks, but now think it was shooting.  A couple other shootings took place on Virginia Ave.  There was an instance in which a baby was injured and life flighted to the hospital. 


Now for my editorializing.  That gang members would be willing to use guns in a populated community, tells of their selfishness.  They only worry about vengeance and power, with no regard for others.  I hope the police can get a handle on things.  Those gang members who have spilled over from the Bay Area, should go back.  We want our community back.  I have told Sheri to be careful.  Especially when she is out and about with Tony.  Stray bullets don't discriminate.

Now for another subject.  Sheri and I visited the restaurant **^Taqueria Estrella.  There are actually several around, but we visited one on Main Street.  The tortillas and salsa brought tears to my eyes.  Even the pico do gallo was picante hot.  I was in the mood for a taco with cilantro.  However I ordered fajitas with Sheri.  It was a big letdown.  They did have shrimp in the fajitas which I enjoyed.  However, they weren't very good other than that.  The problem is likely mine, as I had my taste buds set on one thing, and then ordered something else.

Movie Review: ***I Want Your Money

Netflix instant
This is a political movie.  It uses satire, animation, and discourse to make a point.  The point is basically, that you cannot spend and tax your way to a better economy.  It compares Reagan with Obama, the different philosophies and the differing results.  It presents things with a conservative point of view, with the hope that we can get our spending and debt under control.  The theme is, taking money to give to someone else is still theft; no matter how much you say it is for the better good.  I enjoyed this, but felt the animation was too much.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Ar the Movies and Movie Night:***** Unstoppable, ****^Spider Man Trilogy

*****Spider Man: This movie introduced us to Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst, who had flaming red hair in the first movie of the trilogy.  We also see Mary Jane's family, and next door, Peter Parker living with his Aunt and Uncle.  Peter the nerd, becomes Spider Man, after a trip to a science laboratory and a spider bite.  He then faces the Green Goblin, who is also his best friend's (Harry's) father.  The action is great, as is the budding relationship between Mary Jane and Peter Parker.  We also see the emotions of the change, and accepting the responsibility of being a super hero.  Finally Peter realizes those he loves are in harms way, and that effects all he does.  Harry, dates Mary Jane, and Spider Man and the Green Goblin have a war, which results in the Goblin's death.  My only complaint, we want to know how Peter came to live with his aunt and uncle.
***** Spider Man II: This movie takes up where the last left off.  Harry has a sense of vengeance  against Spider Man.  This effects all he does, and his relationship with Peter Parker.  The relationship between Mary (whose hair has toned down some) and Peter continues to bloom, even through a wedding to The Bugle editor's (J Jonah Jameson's) son and Mary Jane.  She shows up at Peter's in her wedding dress, after fleeing the ceremony,  how romantic.  In the meantime Peter makes a friend with Dr. Octavius, whose experiment with nuclear fusion goes awry, turning him into a super villain with eight limbs, four metallic.  He makes a worthy bad guy as the robotics takes over his conscience.  Of course Mary Jane is put in harms way, and she discovers Peter is Spider Man.

****^Spider Man III.  In this were are introduced to the Sand Man, who actually shot Uncle Ben.  Spider Man also faces his dark side, as he comes in contact with an alien symbiotic organism. Peter is then faced with a darker alter ego.  He becomes mean to those around him, but finally beats the symbiode off, and the symbiode attaches to Peter's rival photographer at the Bugle, making Carnage who becomes Spider Man's other rival.  They gang up on him.  In the mean time Harry has become the Green Goblin, and had run ins with Spider Man.  However the Green Goblin comes to Spidey's rescue in the end.  I really dislike the reporters when Spider Man is getting beat up.  They detract from the action rather than adding to it.
Tony loves Spider Man and talking about the symbiode that crashed from outer space and made Black Spider Man and Carnage. 

*****Unstoppable  This came over HBO (which I guess we have as a promotion.)  You would think that a train movie would be boring.  However this is a train with no driver, and runaway speed, headed for an urban area with toxic cargo and with a sharp curve with gas tanks, sure to explode in a crash.  It also has two heroes who defy orders, and chase the train down, putting their own lives in danger, but saving the day in the end.  Great ride.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Life in Maneca 44: New Murals and Best Buy Closure

There is a new series of murals by the library, which tell the history of the Manteca area.  They start with the Native Americans.  The cradle board depicted looked to be made to tule.  Caleb liked the depiction of the animal spirits.  Inside the animals is a human spirit.

It then progressed to the pioneer period.  (They missed New Hope however.)

We then were presented with an agricultural scene.  The watermelon looked delicious.

And finally there is a depiction of some of early industry; including the creamery from which Manteca gets its name, Spreckles Sugar, and early winery, and Caterpillar manufacturer.

Manteca news for the month is the closing of Best Buy.  Now the closest is in Modesto, ten miles away. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Animal Count

I have seen a couple of animals this past week I have never seen before, and a few others I have seen before.  So to start with the unusual and I wish I had a picture department.

The most unusual was a fox family at the church.  We first saw a grey fox at the Breakfast.  Charity pointed it out to me.  However last Saturday, when we showed up to help clean the church, We saw the whole family, mommy, daddy and three babies.  At first we saw just two babies, but a third jumped out of the tree.  They weren't really scared of us.  The babies weren't tiny babies, but were walking and playing and obviously climbing trees.  One of those days you wished you had a camera.

The other animal I saw for the first time was  California King Snake.  This was on our hike to Little Yosemite with the Normans.  This is in the Sunol Wilderness Area.  I didn't even know about this area, but the Normans invited us for a hike.  We were taking a trail to get by the creek to throw and skip rocks and at first the snake was guarding the trail and no one wanted to go past.  He eventually slithered away through the grass, and I got  bad shot of him as he was in the grass.  However you can see it in this video clip.  www.youtube.com/watch?v=HrlMLGPwHPE  We also saw a golden eagle high in the air, and a turkey vulture flying just over us.  Also saw a wild turkey, but didn't get a picture.

I have seen a deer from the train, but haven't seen the wild turkey I saw last year.  And of course there are the normal birds gong through the Bay Area Wildlife Refuge, ducks and seagulls.  Earlier in the year there were lots of egrets, but not so many lately.  I also saw a jack rabbit from the train.  First time I have seen one from the train, but there were lots of jack rabbits in Utah.  There are often hawks through the Altamont Pass or passing Pleasanton.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Movie Night: ****War and Peace

This is the classic based on Leo Tolstoy novel and featuring Audrey Hepburn and Henry Fonda.  It is an essay of Russian Society during Napoleon's invasion of Moscow.  It makes a statement about the horrors of war.  It is also a love story, which is finally put right in the end.  Any movie with Audrey Hepburn is great.  This movie adds Henry Fonda, and the historical character, Napoleon.  Napoleon's attitude about war is classic,  but in the end he loses to the Russians not fighting him, and just sitting him out, until he decides to return to France with his men.  Then the Russians send him off with an action against his rearguard as they retreat.

Henry Fonda portrays Pierre, who at the beginning is a bitter young man, illegitimate son of a wealthy Muscovite.  His father finally acknowledges him just before he dies, and Pierre inherits his estate.  He is friends of the family of Audrey Hepburn, whose younger brother joins the war in the end, and is killed.  Another friend of Pierre, who is also in the military, falls in love with the character of Audrey Hepburn, but break of the engagement due to social standing issues.  He is wounded in action, and near death.  Nursing him back to health, he and Audrey Hepburn over come the issues that kept them apart before.