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.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Charity and Anthony are in an opera this weekend, "La Traviata."  I read the story form Wikipedia, and am surprised it is very similar to Molin Rogue.  La Traviata means the fallen woman or woman who strayed.  Violetta has a lover, but while she is sick and unconscious Alfredo visits daily and confesses his love for her.  They leave and have three months together, when Alfredo's father convinces Violetta to leave him for the family honor.  The engagement of Alfredo's sister is in jeopardy because of her bad reputation.  She gives him a note saying she is leaving.  She is at a party with a Baron, also attended by Alfredo.  Alfredo confronts her, and throws money he has won gambling at her feet to pay for her services of three months.  Violetta's tuberculosis returns and the doctor says it is fatal.  Alfredo comes to her from a duel with the Baron.  The Baron was wounded.  Violetta seems to revive, and then dies in Alfredo's arms.

Charity is in the chorus. Townsend Opera in Modesto.  This version is performed with the backdrop of 1980s San Francisco.
Modesto Bee article

Monday, January 28, 2013

Movie Night: ***^Funny Face

Funny Face is a very entertaining movie.  It stars Audrey Hepburn as Jo and Fred Astaire as Dick a photographer.  It also has Kay Thompson as Maggie, a fashion magazine editor.  These three characters do very well together.  The editor has her eccentricities with  lipstick, and a grating voice, but by the end of  grows on you.  The model, who really doesn't want to be  a model, but wants to go to Paris to meet her hero of philosopher of empathic thinking.  And the photographer, who is all business, but is able to keep the model going and performing.  Over time, Jo falls in love with Dick.  Dick finally realizes he returns this love when Jo spends too much time with our philosopher friend.  Dick gives upon everything and is headed back to New York.

The music is by George and Ira Gershwin.  However the music is mostly forgetable.  What is not forgetable is the dance, by both Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn.  Also what is fantastic is the modeling by Audrey Hepburn.  She was a model before becoming a movie star.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Movie Night: ***Huckleberry Finn (1974)

This is a musical telling of Huckleberry Finn.  This is very true to the story of Huckleberry Finn, but the music is really not that impressive.  This is a very low bass on the song "Huckleberry Finn" and Jim sings about freedom.  This story made the point that Jim had a wife and a newborn child.  Huck had been taken in by a couple old women.  So when Huck's father comes asking for $1000 Jim knew the only thing they owned to raise that kind of money was himself.  So he took off, with the hope of earning his freedom and getting enough money to buy the rest of his family, so they could stay together.  They were headed to Cairo, Illinois.
When I was young I didn't understand why.  In fact it seems the were headed to New Orleans.  In both cases it would be because this was during the war, and he was trying to meet the Union army, where the union had already proclaimed that slaves of the states in rebellion were free.
As for Huckleberry's part, he was taken by his father, and locked in his cabin.  He managed to escape, and was also headed down river.  Jim fashions a raft, and together the head down river.  They have many adventures, mostly with Jim staying with the raft, while Huck goes to explore.  Huckleberry ends up in the middle of a feud, and barely escapes with his life.  He and Jim meet a couple con men, and Huckleberry and Jim barely escape with their lives when the pretend to put on a show, but then make off with the ticket sales with no show.  Huckleberry then ends up with another family.  The con men pretend to be long lost relatives of a deceased person, and want to claim the inheritance.  Huck swindles them, and puts the money in the casket.  In the meantime the rightful relatives show up, and things are bad for the con men and Huck says where the money is.
However when he returns to the raft, Jim is gone.  The con men turned him into the slave hunters, and he is headed back to slavery, instead of to Cairo.  Huck manages to set him free, and the run away escaped by the coon dogs and men.  Huck trades him shirts, agreeing to go back to his life with the old women, while Jim escapes.  The movie ends with Jim getting away while Huck watches.
I liked the way this movie presented the desire to be free, and the sacrifice for freedom and family.  It was also very true to the book.  The music was forgettable.
This movie is available through instant Netflix.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Addictions: What is the Cost?

I do not claim myself to be an expert on addiction, but I have seen enough of the effects of addiction to say that the cost is too high.  I work in the mental health field, and addiction seems to haunt those with mental illness.  I have seen the effect of all types of addiction, alcohol, methamphetamine, heroine, PCP, cocaine, pain killers, cigarettes, marijuana and other drugs.  I have seen addictions to caffeine, or food.  I carry over 80 pounds too many.  I have also seen the results of sexual addiction.  When I worked the graveyard shift, I received calls from those with sexual addictions.  This might be the hardest addiction of all.  My son Mark and his band put into music their view of addiction.  It is a very appealing song.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Movie Night: *** 39 Steps

This is and older movie (1935,) that was in the dollar bin at Walmart.  It is a British Alfred Hitchcock film.  Hitchcock had been making movies for over ten years when this came out.  This is a spy suspence story.
Hannay is drawn into the story, our spy, Anabella Smith, who has uncovered a plot by foreign spies to get secret information out of the country.  The foreign spy ring is a group called 39 steps.
The movie begins with a demonstration by a man who can remember everything.  At this a shot rings out, and the spy end in the arms of Hannay, and he takes her home.  She tells him of what is going on, and mentions 39 steps.  She shows up at his house during the night, with a knife in her back, and she shortly dies.  He is then accused of the murder, and goes around trying to find her contact, in Scotland, to prove his innocence.
It is amazing how many times he gets away, and how inept people are at catching him, or catching him and letting him get away.  While on a train, he uses another woman, Pamela, in his escape attempt by kissing her as his pursuers go pass.  However she turns him in.  He does manage to get away, and jumps off the train.
Going to land is a bad idea, because instead of finding the contact, he finds the leader of 39 steps, who shots him.
However he escapes harm as the bullet is stopped by a bible.  He reports to the police, who want to arrest him and he escapes again.  Somehow he and Pamela end up picked up by some members of 39 steps pretending to be police.  They realize they are bad when they don't take them to the police station.  They escape when they are herding animals off the road.  However they are handcuffed to each other.  They then head back to London to prove their innocence, but the man who remembers everything saves the day, when asked to tell what 39 steps is, he is shot and stopped, but the bad people are captured.
Too many implausible twists for me.  However this is suppose to be a good movie.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Discussion on Adoption 8: Birth Parents

For Tony's birthday, we are going to have a party with his birth family.  He has a cousin he needs to meet.  He also has a birth mother who has not seen him for a while.
Tony has matured, and he is beginning to understand birth parents and adoptive parents.  He understands that he was carried in the tummy of his birth mother, but he is carried in the hearts of Sheri and I each and every day.
Sheri shared a blog she follows with me, and I found this song, which talks about birth parents and adoptive parents.  This is from an album called sharing.  We have chosen Tony, and love him

This is the blog spot Sheri was talking about

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Book Review: ****^The Pearl (to mmboe)

The pearl was published in 1947.  It was inspired by a Mexican folk tale from La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico.  This is one of my favorite books.  In this book John Steinbeck weaves the different songs, the song of family and the song of evil and they song of the pearl.  It also shows how what is suppose to be good, and quickly turn to evil because of jealous people.  Also in our own pride, sometimes we forget those we love and should not forget.  This is the story of Kino, his wife Juana and their son Coyotito. 
This book presents an island with a distinction in class.  First there is the upper, educated class.  These are the doctors, the clergy, the civil servants and the buyers of pearls.  Then there is the lower class, people who search for the pearls, but who are confined to always be poor, because of their own lack of education.  There is a situation where they have to sell their pearls in town to the local buyers, who all work for the same person, and so the prices are suppressed.  No one can get ahead, except the buyer of pearls.  The only time anyone takes interest in this family is when word has gone through the community of the great pearl Kino finds.  This is the mother of pearls.  The clergy comes to see him, to remind him of his own marriage and baptism of their boy.  The doctor, who wouldn’t see them earlier in the day, also comes to see them.  There is also evil that takes a notice in Kino.  Someone attempts to steal the pearl.
When Kino finally gets to the sellers, they offer him such a deflated price that Kino knows he is being cheated.  So he takes the pearl, proclaiming he will take it to the capital.  However they cannot let this happen.  SO another attempt to steal the pearl, leads to Kino killing a man.  They flee, but are followed by others intent on killing them and getting the pearl.  The status quo cannot be broken. 
Such a story can only end one way, and tragedy strikes the men following them as well as the family.  This book, with the weaving songs is very enjoyable.  It is like the story is being whispered into your mind and you can see the pictures being painted.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Movie Night: ***^The Charade (1963)

This move is available on Instant Netflix.  This is a Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn movie.  It is well done for the most part but there are a couple times Cary Grant goes over the top with showering in his clothes and making funny faces.  I like the twists of the plot and the mystery.  Hepburn's husband is murdered.  But there is some money hid someplace, and his former partners in crime want it back.  It seems the CIA also wants it back.  She doesn't know who to trust.  That is what makes this movie intriguing.  I mildly recommend this movie.  It feels like a Hitchcock but is not and Hepburn is very pleasing to the eyes.

Movie Night: ***Tin Tin (2008)

This movie was a pleasant surprise, but I had it all wrong in my head.  I thought it was like Rin tin tin, a movie about a dog.  Instead the dog is a principle character, but Tin tin is the name of the reporter.  Together with Captain Haddock they go on an adventure in search of gold, while facing an intergenerational villain.  I don't know how it works, but it seems the villain and the Captain have memories from their ancestors, and the villain is intent on pursuing an old grudge from his family against the Captain.  How the intergenerational thing works with shared memories, is something I don't understand.  It is one time you have to suspend belief.  This is an animated movie.  But it is a wild ride with motorcycle chases, plane crashes and an evil eagle.  It even has cranes fighting.  Now that is cool.  Available through instant Netflix.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Caleb's Sacrament Meeting Talk on Choices

I was asked to speak on the topic of “why do the choices I make matter.” I was a little taken aback when Bro. Morgan asked me to speak on this topic because he said that It was the perfect topic for me to speak on. I wasn’t sure if I was doing something wrong or if I need to change anything because of this, but often times talks are assigned for the speaker just as much as the congregation. So I will try my hardest to help express to you what I have learned while preparing for this morning.
    The first choice that was made by all of us was in the pre-mortal existence. We were given the choice to follow Heavenly Father’s plan or Lucifers. Something I personally think is really cool is that we were all at one time together in a beautiful place. We met with our Heavenly and that’s much like it will be in the Celestial kingdom. Every person who has lived, is living, or will live, made the choice to follow heavenly fathers plan which means that we all have something very important in common.
    The first time a mortal decision was made was in the Garden of Eden, but after Adam And Eve left they were given the Holy Ghost which is the driving aspect behind the choices we make. This is so important because from then on they were able to know the difference between good and evil. Adam and Eve called upon Heavenly Father in prayer. He spoke to them and sent them an angel and gave them commandments. They made an important choice to follow those commandments and continue further communication with Heavenly Father.
    The key to the choices that Adam and Eve acted upon was the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost is a wonderful helper when it comes to knowing the difference between good and evil and can help us make the correct choices in our lives.
    When I make choices I try to include my heavenly Father as much as possible. If we continue to pray to our heavenly Father daily about questions we have, the Holy Ghost will bare truths in our heart, that we may know what is right. We should always try to include the Lord as much as we can in the choices we make. He is the Father and we should look to him for direction and light.
    The choices that we have made throughout our lives have a direct correlation with the foundation of our faith. The more right we do, the more we will be blessed and have our hearts touched which deepens our faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Moroni 7: 16-17 reads...16 For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.
 17 But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him.

As this scripture states, what ever things we do that help us plant our faith more fully in the gospel are sent from God. They are gifts from him to more fully root ourselves in the faith. President Eyring said in the April 2012 conference:

As a young man I worked with a contractor building footings and foundations for new houses. In the summer heat it was hard work to prepare the ground for the form into which we poured the cement for the footing. There were no machines. We used a pick and a shovel. Building lasting foundations for buildings was hard work in those days.
It also required patience. After we poured the footing, we waited for it to cure. Much as we wanted to keep the jobs moving, we also waited after the pour of the foundation before we took away the forms.
And even more impressive to a novice builder was what seemed to be a tedious and time-consuming process to put metal bars carefully inside the forms to give the finished foundation strength.
In a similar way, the ground must be carefully prepared for our foundation of faith to withstand the storms that will come into every life. That solid basis for a foundation of faith is personal integrity.
Our choosing the right consistently whenever the choice is placed before us creates the solid ground under our faith. It can begin in childhood since every soul is born with the free gift of the Spirit of Christ. With that Spirit we can know when we have done what is right before God and when we have done wrong in His sight.
Those choices, hundreds in most days, prepare the solid ground on which our edifice of faith is built. The metal framework around which the substance of our faith is poured is the gospel of Jesus Christ, with all its covenants, ordinances, and principles.
One of the keys to an enduring faith is to judge correctly the curing time required. …
That curing does not come automatically through the passage of time, but it does take time. Getting older does not do it alone. It is serving God and others persistently with full heart and soul that turns testimony of truth into unbreakable spiritual strength.
Mosiah 3:19 reads  19 For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.

This scripture state that we should be in the world and not of the world. The natural man is an enemy to god.

I know that the choices I make me affect my eternal salvation for better or worse. When I think about the question, Why do the Choices I make matter? The answer is simple. The choices I make matter solely because to live with my Heavenly Father again I must make good choices. The easiest way to do that is with his help. After the age in the mission change I immediately knew that I wanted to leave right after high school. I had felt the spirit and felt in my heart that it was a good thing. Eventually i realized that I had never asked my Heavenly Father what he would have me do. I asked him in prayer if I could leave right away. Of course he said no to that because I still need to finish high school but, he did say that it is time for me to go when I am eligible. I’m so excited to serve my heavenly father in the mission field. Like I said, everyone that has lived, is living, or will live, made the decision to follow heavenly fathers plan. So I’m excited to help my brothers and sisters who are wandering and pull them back on the path toward Heavenly Father. I know and hope that I will be blessed for the choice I made to serve a mission, but I will also be blessed for making the choice to include Heavenly Father in my decision. I pray that we all can include him as we pray to him on our knees. The choices I make and the choices you make matter because choosing good more fully roots us in the gospel, and we must choose good constantly in order to be with our Heavenly Father again

Ace 32: It's Cold and update on 49er Stadium

It has been cold.  There is ice on the window, and it is cold waiting for the train and the Light-rail.  I always look for sun, but in the morning, sometimes there is none.  This brings up a concern for those living on the streets.  In Santa Clara county this is a problem, as there are not enough shelters for everyone.  Some of the shelters do a daily lottery for beds.  But many are left along the rivers or other places looking for a place to sleep and not be too cold.  I noticed the underpass to the Alameda is crowded with people.  They have even put up some wood to try and block the wind.

sorry about the light reflection

Someone's home along Los Gatos Creek

I had some extra time so took a walk around Diridon, over to the Arena.  There was lots of noise form radio station booths, and what looked like a carnival.  It was a bus entitled Born Brave.  I guess it had something to do with the Lady Gaga Concert to be held that night.  It goes with her song “Born that Way.”  I think the message is you can behave morally any way you like as you are born that way.  I disagree with her message.  I agree we should treat all others with respect and love.  I do not agree that “we are born that way.”  We are not animals, but children of our Heavenly Father with the ability to make decisions. I walked past the arena.  That was a sight to behold.  There were numerous people dressed up to look like Lady Gaga.  There was white and purple and green and pink hair.  I hope they were wigs.  There were many people with pants with multiple slashes.  It was interesting.  My only photo was one I took from the train as we left.

The 49er stadium continues to go up.  It looks like the metal frame work is done.  They are now putting in cement blocks.  They don’t lay the cement in place, but bring it as a slab and then fit it into place. 
As for the Earthquakes Stadium I can’t see that they have done anything.  The lot is still just a vacant lot.  There is a soccer field on it.  There is also a pile of stuff, which may be the beginnings of putting material together for the arena. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Work: Christmas Party Picture

photo courtesy of Diem
This is Christmas Breakfast at the Pruneyard:  Kim Seng, Vanessa, Nancy, Theresa, Diem, Hang, Anne, Annemarie, Audrey, Mikelle,   Marilyn, Nina, Me, Mitra.  Fun time with gift exchange and good food.

My one comment about work.  The air conditioning people are to be congratulated.  Every morning we are met with temperatures which keep my coat on and my legs covered with my blanket.  I hope they do as well this summer.  In the meantime, I would like to be warm before noon.  They always check in the afternoon after the heat has started to work.

Book Review: Cannery Row (to mmboe)

Cannery Row; John Steinbeck 1945
This book is the story of two great parties, one which goes awry, and one which hits its mark.  Doc is such a swell guy; everyone wants to throw him a party.  Mack, who describes himself as one who tries hard, but things just don’t work out for him.  And so more than the parties, are the characters involved.  Mack and his flophouse friends go on an adventure to find frogs so as to raise money for the first party.  They have a great time finding frogs, get drunk, and meet a man who gives them a pup to bring back.  They come back with hundreds of frogs.
They are able to use the frogs to purchase all the items they need for the party from Lee Chong, decorations, food, more decorations and alcohol.  They only problem is that when they have the surprise party for Doc, in his laboratory, Doc doesn’t show up.  As parties will, it gets out of hand, leaving the laboratory in ruins.  Many of Doc’s record albums are broken, as is the record player, glass is broken, books are left about; it’s a big mess.  When Doc does get home, he finds his place in shambles, and takes out his anger on Mack’s face with a couple hard blows.  He then cleans up the mess.
The second party, Doc is expecting, and even though is a surprise party, he has prepared for the party.  His nicer albums he has locked away, as well as other stuff he doesn’t want broken.  There are still fights and damage, broken windows etc.  But this time Doc is part of the party, in his nostalgic way.  He quotes poetry which reminds them all of lost loves.  Lee Chong participates, giving Doc a long string of firecrackers, which they set of in the early hours of the morning.  This is a party they will remember for a long time.
Mixed in these stories of the parties are the characters.  They boy who helps Doc collect from the ocean, who is not allowed to go to school as he has a learning problem, and in his efforts to get something nice for the part sets himself on his way to reform school for stealing; a Chinaman who spends each night by the ocean; Malloy and his wife who live in an old boiler; the flop house friends and their dog-- bums really, but they have a place to stay thanks to Lee Chong.  Lee Chong is the Chinese grocer who is shrewd in business, and has everything you might need in his shop—but nothing is ever on sell.  There are the characters of the Bear Flag Restaurant--    really a whore house; from the bouncer to the madame.
Understanding characters is what John Steinbeck is about.  To understand Doc, one must understand the tides.  He is a student of the tides, which helps him in his collecting of animals to sell to universities.  He visits La Jolla, collecting octopi.  While he is our as far as you can go, before the tide starts coming back in; he comes upon the body of a young woman under the water, wedged between a couple of rocks.  She is beautiful in her way, but also scary and mysterious.  Doc is affected by this, and reports it to a gentleman along the beach who will inform the police.
This is a fun book.  It does not have all the characters in the movie.  However I understand there is a sequel, ”Sweet Thursday.”  Some of the movie is from that book as well.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Book Review: The Moon is Down (to mmboe)

This book is part of the series of short John Steinbeck Books I am been reading.  It was originally published in 1942 by Viking Press.  I have read it before, as all of these books, but enjoyed it all the same.  An invading army easily takes over a city.  It is assumed to be the Nazis and most likely Norway.  The city has a coal mine and a port.  The coal is important to the invading army, and so this city is of importance.  The invasion was planned well, and with the help of an inside man, they take over the city with no casualties on the part of the invading army.  However, when the local militia of twelve men return from target practice, six of them are killed by machine gun fire, another three are wounded.
This story pits that of the invaders and the conquered, and the roles they play in resisting each other.  Of course the invaders would like to be accepted, to be loved; but such cannot be the case.  And so resentment, hatred and rebellion fester with the people.  Some of the locals escape to England, but still the situation is precarious.  When one of the minors gets upset, for being forced to work when he is a “freeman,” he kills a German officer.  He is brought to a mock trial, with the mayor supposedly presiding.  The mayor refuses to condemn him to death, saying he will only do this when the 20 men who killed the local militia are also brought to justice.  However, he has to be executed, so this is done without the mayor’s good graces.
The resentment continues to boil, and finally the mayor is able to get a message out, to inform the English of their resistance.  They are rewarded with dynamite, dropped down in parachutes, which they can easily use to blow up the tracks, and slow down the extraction of coal. 
So in the end, the flies had captured the flypaper.  The invaders could threaten, could execute, take away rights, but in the end, freedom wins out.  You can’t take away the will of the people to protect their freedoms.  I highly recommend this book.  It has been published in many languages, used during WWII to stimulate resistance, and depicts accurately the will of people to resist the conqueror. 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Stillborn Births, Conference Talk, and My Thoughts


This is a talk from this last conference.  It was given by Shayne M. Bowen of the seventy.  After teaching of the atonement today, it seems appropriate to me to share this talk.
Sheri and I lost our first baby he was stillborn.  I must admit our experiences were not the same as those of this elder.  I don't want to speak for Sheri, but I don't think I ever felt bitter.  But we have felt the blessings of the atonement in our lives.  It is when the Lord gives you the peace that things will be OK, that you can get on with living your life, with a hope of being an eternal family.  I like his quote from Joseph Smith, “The Lord takes many away, even in infancy, that they may escape the envy of man, and the sorrows and evils of this present world; they were too pure, too lovely, to live on earth; therefore, if rightly considered, instead of mourning we have reason to rejoice as they are delivered from evil, and we shall soon have them again.”
I  have always thought of Billy Boy (as we affectionately named our baby) as one of those blessed, waiting for us on the other side of the veil.  Sometimes I think I can feel his presence.  Sometimes I ask him to help me in my struggles, to be an influence for good with his siblings.
Of course stillborn, is different than passing away in infancy.  This is from an article by Val Greenwood, "The question of whether stillborn children will be resurrected and belong to their parents in the hereafter is really the crux of the matter. This question is, as yet, impossible to answer with certainty. Elder Joseph Fielding Smith wrote that “there is no information given by revelation in regard to the status of stillborn children. However, I will express my personal opinion that we should have hope that these little ones will receive a resurrection and then belong to us.”" (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:280.) Greenwood further states, "Though our knowledge of the plan of salvation does not explain why miscarriages and stillbirths take place, nor what the eternal result will be, we can know with confidence that God, who is the father of all spirits, is merciful and just. We can know also that there is hope. Worthy parents can trust in him and know that they and all his spirit children will—one way or another—receive a just reward for their efforts and sacrifice, perhaps in ways that we do not presently comprehend."

San Joaquin Distrist Honor Choir: 2013: Caleb Wardle

For the second year (both years we have lived here) Caleb was in the district honor choir.  Caleb sang the tenor solo.  I am posting a couple song now, and will wait for the DVD to post the rest.  We also watched orchestra and band.  Caleb was the only guy from Sierra High School.  There were also three women.  Clayton Williams from our ward and Manteca High School was in the concert band.  Ben Tolman was also in the band as was Joshua Cook from "Hot Spud."
The Last Words of David
This is the song with Caleb singing the tenor solo.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Movie night: ****Of Mice and Men

After reading the book, I decided to watch the movie.  To see some of this acted out, can be a bit disconcerting, so it has a PG-13 rating.  For the most part it doesn't show a lot of blood, but it does show violence.  This movie is available on Netflix Instant.  It stars Gary Sinise as George and John Malkovich as Lenny.
It is very true to the story, but it starts with the later flashback.  Lenny gets in trouble touching a woman's soft dress, and being accused of attempted rape.  A posse goes after George and Lenny, but they escape in a ditch.  They then show up close to a farm by Soledad, and are hired to help with the barley harvest. 
Soledad, loneliness, and that is what John Steinbeck portrays, is lonely, insecure people.  It shows us the boss' son Curley who is lonely, wishes he were bigger, is over jealous his new wife might  not be faithful, and is controlling and abuses her.  We see his wife, who is also lonely, not allowed to talk with anyone because of her husband's loneliness, the boss who gives the Black farm hand "hell" when anything goes wrong.  Candy, who has his old mutt for company.  However his mutt is blind, and stinks, and the other bunk mates don't like it and convince him to have the dog put down.  Carlson uses his pistol.  Slim, the foreman, who really doesn't have anyone, and the other ranch hands are all working to get their $50 so they can take it into town on blow it on beer and whores.  The saddest case is Crooks, the stable hand.  His back is crooked from having been kicked in the back by a horse.  He is African American, and has his own room, but is not allowed with the other men, and only has books to read.  He is lonely too, books aren't enough when you are aching for company.  We never see the boss' wife, or Curly's wife might have had a friend.  As such she wanders among the farm hands looking for companionship.
In this mess of people, Lenny, George and Candy make a plan to get away.  It just might work.  Candy has some money from his losing his hand, and saving up.  With the pay at the end of the month, they could swing getting their own place, where they could live and support each other.  If they could just make it to the end of the month.  This movie lacks some of the lines I liked from the movie.  It does have a similar ending; except George isn't met by the farm hands at the end, but sneaks off in a cargo train.

Movie Night: ***^Les Miserables (2000)

This is not the version currently in the movies, but a 2000 miniseries version which is available through instant Netflix.  It has an international cast with Gerard Depardieu, a French actor, as Jean Valjean and John Malkovich as Javert.  Malkovich is eerie in his roll of Javert, as he is so persisitent in his pursuit of evil.  
This version does not have the music, and has a couple of plot twists different than the musical.  These mostly involved the Thernadier family, as Thernadier ended up in prison after his first experience with Valjean for selling a child.  His other experiences were just as distressing, and lead to his harboring great bitterness.  By this we understand more his motivation to rob Valjean when they meet again in the city.  The emotions are in this movie, as in the other versions I have seen.  They make Eponine to be uglier, and with less of a crush on Marius.  However Marius is the neighbor to Thernadier.  It is he who warns Javert of the robbery of Valjean, and put Javert on the trail of Valjean again.
Marius' grandfather has a larger roll.  And takes his grandson in after the barricade.
My only complaint was the suicide.  Javert walks into the river.  Could you really complete a suicide that way?  Cosette is truly beautiful, and could easily steal a man's heart at one sighting.  This movie is entertaining. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

What I do at Work

When asked what I do at work, I like to say I recycle papers.  This is because when I get something done, I put it into the confidential waste bin, which quickly fills up and then I take it to the bigger confidential waste bin.  But what I actually do is more complicated.  I work at the Callcenter.  I take 10-15 calls every day and try to help people figure out who mental health services are best.  Each call is different, and can mean a report to CPS, referring to Mental health Urgent Care, referral to community resources, or referral to county mental health programs.  We also get calls for other things, sometimes for medical appointments, checking on appointment times, residential or homeless programs etc.  In addition I do a few special tasks.  I guess we have close to 50 special tasks we do between all of us.
 special projects       
ATS review: I clinically review the Assessment and treatment summary forms from the fee-for-service providers.  We review the annual or semiannual ATS submissions for the 1000+ clients who are seeing outpatient fee-for-service providers.  (100+ a month)
6-18 Spanish speaking referrals: I Process referrals for 6-18 year olds, Spanish speaking.  I receive the referrals from pediatric MDs throughout the county, VMC and other private providers and process them and connect with outpatient services.  I then respond to MD with the disposition.  (ten+ a week)
Adult Spanish speaking physical health care referrals: I Process adult physical health care referrals, Spanish speaking referrals.  I follow-through on referrals we receive from physical health care providers and facilitate connection to outpatient services.  (two or three a week)
Numbers monitor: Weekly I monitor the number of referrals.  I run report of referrals so far this month and put this information on the white board for all to see.  It shows how many referrals have been made to particular programs so we know if we are over sending referrals to a particular program.  It also lets us know if certain clinics have reached their capacity for the month.
MHRC post auth referrals: I process post auth referrals from the MHRC program.  MHRC is the connecting point to mental health services for those on juvenile probation.  They send the post authorization form which I enter into Unicare after checking insurance.  (less than ten a month)
NOA-A: Enter NOAA (notice of action) information into Unicare as an alert so this information is available to Callcenter staff as well as other providers.  (a few)

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Book Review: Of Mice and Men (to mmboe)

Of Mice and Men was written by John Steinbeck and published in 1937.  It was subsequently made into a play, and there are three or four movie versions.
I think this is one of my favorite stories of all time.  It has to do with hope, and shattered hope; as well as being there for each other.
I like the way John Steinbeck describes things.  I can see Lenny in the dusty barn playing with the pups; the African American man with the crooked back, and his resentment about not being included; I can hear the clang of the horseshoes as they hit the stakes, and the groans of the men as they fall off, or the cheers as someone scores a ringer.  I relate to that rural life.  Steinbeck has a way of describing people, but also nature.  I paid attention to the crane that grabbed the water snake.  I had missed that little description when I read before.
And the dreams of Lenny and George, which seem to be larger than life.  The little place with a cow and some chickens and a few rabbits.  An alfalfa field to feed the chickens.  This dream eventually includes a workman who lost his hand in a farm accident, Candy.  With his stake it seems their dream might really happen.  But sometimes things are not to be.  "The best laid schemes of mice and men Go often awry, And leave us nothing but grief and pain, For promised joy!"  (Robert Burns)  When everything falls through, it is Candy who is most grieved. "'You an' me can get that little place, can't we, George?  You an' me can go there and live nice, can't we George?  Can't we?'  Before George answered, Candy dropped his head and looked down at the hay.  He knew."  (Steinbeck)
I can see how some people may be disturbed with the ending, but in its way, it is a beautiful ending to a tragic story.  Could it have ended any other way?  Throughout the story, George and Lenny talk about how they are different, they have each other.  And so George takes care of Lenny, and doesn't leave him to any mob.
This is a beautiful book.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Book Review: The Red Pony (to mmboe)

The Red Pony
This short novel be John Steinbeck was originally published as four short stories in various magazines from 1933 to 1936 and published as a book in 1937.  The main character is Jody Tiflin, his parents, a work hand Billy buck, and people who visit.  The first story deals with the red pony form which the book takes its title.  I think this is one of my lesser favorites of John Steinbeck.  Part of that is the stories do not always flow into each other.  However the book has two themes, which each come up a couple of times.  The first is the boy and his ponies.  The first chapter deals with the gift from his father, and the struggle to keep that gift.  The third book has to do with breeding their horse, and the struggle to get the baby colt, after almost a year.  Both these stories take dramatic twists, and don’t have happy endings. 
The concern I have is the other two chapters are not about horses.  The second chapter of the book is about an old man who returns to the ranch to die.  He takes and old horse from the ranch and rides into the mysterious mountains to accomplish his aim.  The last chapter is about the maternal grandfather, who lead a wagon train to California in the days of Westward Migration, but after arriving at the Pacific, his life was pretty well done, and now he just talks about his life.
I am reading this book from a six-novel set, which explained that John Steinbeck’s intent was to help people understand his characters.  In this novel, the father is always seen as unsympathetic.  I must admit I never did understand his motivation.  He would give gifts, (the red pony) and promises, (sending the mare to stud) but also is negative and critical of his son, destroying whatever relationship there may have been.  This attitude is also heaped on his father-in-law, as he doesn’t want to listen to his stories.  I liked the other characters however; Billy Buck trying to do right by Jody, his sympathetic mother, the old man Gitano who comes to die, and Jody himself.
Even though this is my least favorite, it is still well written and provides an interesting study of a boy dealing with loss and heartache.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

To the Movies: ****^ Les Miserables (2012)

I have seen a few opinions about Les Miserables from--the best movie ever to too dark.  And after visiting the theater yesterday, I can understand both remarks.  Les Miserables is a dark story to begin with.  However with all the expectations, many were predisposed that it was going to be the best ever even before seeing it.  I wave watched the ten year, and 25 year anniversary concerts over and over.  And granted those were concerts not theatrical productions.  But they music from those far surpasses  that in the movie.  The movie was going for character and story, and took the risk of casting theatrical actors in musical parts.  Sometimes it worked, and others it didn't.  So the pluses and minuses.
Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean worked.  His singing does not compare to Colm Wilkinson, but he carried the roll.  "Hear my Prayer" is the highlight of the show, and although I would have liked to hear Colm Wilkinson, Jackman delivered the emotion of the song such as to be effective.  It is just so beautiful the way Wilkinson holds that last note.
Russell Crowe as Javert did not work.  The song "I Swear by the Stars" sounded more like some one singing in the shower than a prayer to the stars.  Crowe did  make the suicide scene more believable than I had seen it.
The added song of Valjean singing his love to Cosette added depth to the character.  You also can love instantly.  Being a foster/adoptive parent I know this is true.
The three young people, Cosette (Amanda Seyfried) Eponine (Samantha Barks) and Marius (Eddie Redmayne) were the highlight of the show.  They carried their trio and other performing parts with energy and gusto.  I left the theater humming "heart full of love."  "On My Own" was also well done.  However keeping with the dark theme of the director, was done in the rain. Marius sang "Empty Chairs," with such beauty and emotion, I think everyone who has seen this has cried with him.
Fantine (Anne Hathaway) was somewhat of a controversy.  Lea Salonga sings which much greater skill, energy and professionalism.  However, in the mood of the film, Hathaway did an incredible job.  The song "I Dreamed a Dream" was presented later in the movie, after arriving at the bottom, rather than just starting the slide, so there was a different tone (darkness) to the song.  I especially like her in the death scene at the end. 
The innkeepers are a welcome comic relief.  The must have worked so hard at coordinating everything.  I especially like their entrance through the carriage to the wedding. 
So there are more things to like and love about this version of Les Miserables than there are to dislike.  The music is worth going to see, the action is well done, the characterization is good, and the sets are effective (except for the sewer which is over the top) and the theme that when we show love to each other, we show love to God is timeless.  Oh Colm Wilkinson does have a cameo as the priest.  His baritone voice resonates, and somehow he is in the final scene at the pearly gates.  A nice touch.  I recommend this movie, but don't go so far as to say it is the best ever.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Ace Train 31: Fare Inrease

I hate to be negative, but here goes anyway.  Ten percent jump in rate as of January first.  (This for me is almost $30.)  You would think this might mean better service, but I rode the train five times this week, with three late arrivals, one a late pickup in the freezing cold.  It would be nice if they turned up the heat on such days.  We arrived an hour and a half late Wedesday as they said a car was stuck on the tracks.  The other two days were switch problems or "congestion."
I know things happen which are hard to control.  But that is not my only complaint.  I feel the Lathrop/Manteca fare is steep compared to others.  The monthly fare for the three stations over the hill Pleasanton, Livermore and Vasco is the same for all three $197.50.  The fare then jumps to $256.25 to Tracy, thirty minutes from the Vasco Station.  The train then travels ten minutes to Lathrop Manteca but the fare jumps to $316.25, A $60 a month jump.  It then goes to Stockton, another fifteen minutes, but the fare is only$330; a jump of $13.50.  So the result I get is the people in Lathrop/Manteca support, through unfair rates, the people who board in Tracy and Stockton.  If the fare went up equally the Manteca fare would be $301.  It could be that city governments support riders from Stockton and Tracy.  However if this is not the case, it would appear riders who board in Lathrup/Manteca do support them with an artificially high rate.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Life in Manteca 61: Crime

Unfortunately not all is loverly in Manteca.  We live between Stockton and Modesto, two of the highest car burglary cities in the state.  Stockton is also known for murders, and jewelry theft.  I had heard of car before, at the movie theater mostly.  We also take turns at church patrolling the parking lot.
However this week, this problem effected my family directly, and it doesn't sit very well.  We were all enjoying a game night, and Charity got a call that someone was using her credit accounts and card.  She went to her car and discovered the back window had been broken.  Some attempts at her account were declined, but some were not.  They also need to replace there back window.
We live at the end of a cul de sac, but there is pedestrian passage to the street.  They took advantage of this.  They had  their accounts closed, and have to careful in redoing them as are still vulnerable to identity theft.
It makes me wonder why we tolerate this kind of behavior in others?  Why is it so easy to make crime pay?  What kind of inhuman would try to spoil the Christmas of others?
I guess we go on; but it is not fun to be violated.  I dealt with it by sweeping glass.  Police were informed.  However it would only be luck if something comes out  of that. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year

Our New Years Eve was mostly uneventful.  We played Trivial Pursuit last night, but played a fast version as we weren't very good at the questions.  I had said I was going to bed early, but stayed up piddling on the computer until after I could hear fireworks outside.  Part of this was because I had to pick up Caleb from the church dance.  His band played. He said they did a good job.  I took the van to load up with drums and instruments.  I had used some Driscoll Fruit coupons expiring 12/31/2012 earlier in the day, but they wouldn't let me use more than one at a time, so I went back to Safeway, to use the last, but they closed for the holiday so I had one unused coupon. 
Today we went to the beach, it was cold.  We did enjoy walking through Capitola, and visiting the Thomas Kinkade Exhibit.  Impressive art, incredible how he manipulates light.  We came home early and everyone went to see Les Miserables while I stayed home with Tony.  We have been watching "Avengers" cartoons.  I have been trying to recover from a bad cold and sinus infection.

Grandson Elliott

Trying to get Elliott to wave goodbye.  He is focused on his cereal.

Life in Manteca 60: Wood Chipping the Orchard

This is an update on a blog from November, announcing that the orchard behind our house had been knocked down.
Our orchard is disappearing.  It is being turned from knocked over trees, to mulch, which is being hauled away.