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.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Book Review: ****^ Holes (to mmboe)


When I finished watching Holes, and they said it was based on a book, I determined I needed to read it.  I found a copy at the used bookstore in Manteca.  The book was written by Louis Sachar and published in 1999.  This is another Newberry Medal book.
I really enjoyed this book.  The movie follows the book very well.  There were a couple things about the character Stanley Yelnats that I picked up from the book.  First is that he was overweight.  Shia Labeouf doesn’t come across as overweight.  The second is that he was a bit of a wimp even though he was large.   The reason the lawyer was able to get him off, is because he was in the bathroom being tormented by a bully (smaller size than he) who came forward as a witness and “He was innocent.”  The reason the family could afford a lawyer in the end, and not at the beginning, is because their father finally came up with something that worked.  It may have been coincidental, but father made his discovery the same day Stanley carried Hector Zeroni up the hill.  When Stanley went back to get his shovel, he realized that he had carried him up the hill much farther  than he remembered.  I think Camp Green Lake ended up being a good experience for Stanley.  He had filled out from all the shoveling, and could no longer be considered a big weakling.  I also don’t think he was going to take any more guff from bullies.  He also made a friend in Hector.  The characters are all enjoyable and interesting.  I really like the flashback characters, Kissing Kate and the onion seller Sam, who is a Black Man.

Movie Night: ****Hondo, John Wayne


This is a John Wayne from 1953 and is available through Instant Netflix.  This is a very enjoyable movie. Geraldine Page is the costar.  She as Angie Lowe has been abandoned by her husband and lives with her son in Indian Territory.  She is confident she will not have trouble, but the Apache are on the war path due to broken treaties.  However she is right, the Apache mean her no harm, but only because the Apache chief befriends her son, who reminds him in spirit of his own sons who have been killed, and who he adopts as a son.  Hondo (Wayne)  had visited the ranch, carrying dispatches for the army.  He leaves the army and goes back to make sure she is OK.  Meanwhile Hondo is bushwhacked by her husband, how is killed by Hondo.  A love interest develops between the two.  She tells the chief Hondo is her husband, saving his life from the Apache.   How can he love a woman, after he has killed her husband?  What price should you pay for happiness?  This story gets more intense when the chief is killed, and then the Apache no longer hold her and her son in favor.  The only complaint may be the number of violent deaths, mostly of Native Americans.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Movie Musical Review: ****Oklahoma (1955)

This is a movie presentation of the original musical.  It seems to be very true to the original, including the overture, interacte music and all of the dance music. It starts with Gordon MacRae as Curly McClain singing "Oh what a Beautiful Morning,"  and just gets more delicious from there.  Laurey (Shirley Jones joins him with her beautiful voice.  Curly is courting for Laurey but she is not sure if she wants him, as she has promised to go to the party that night with Jud (Rod Steiger), their ranch hand.  Jud has a chip on his shoulder for anyone who thinks he is better than him.  At the same time there is a love interest between Will (Gene Nelson) and Ado Annie (Gloria Grahame).  I really like the song "Pore Jud is Daid."  If Jud is just playing along, or really thinking about what people will say when he is dead, I don't know.  However this song is a premonition of what is to some.  Laurey and Curly finally hit it off, and get married in the final scene.  This creates bad blood between Curley and Jud, which boils over on the wedding night. 
My only complaint about this movie is too much dancing.  Some of the dancing is cute, but the scene where Laurey is confused, the dance goes for ever.  The entire movie is two and a half hours.  They could have shortened it at least 15 minutes.  I do love the music,  "Oklahoma" is always a favorite, as is "The Surrey with the Fringe on Top."

Monday, February 25, 2013

Movie Night: *^ Sgt Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band (to mmboe)

This is the Bee Gees singing Beatles music.  The music comes from two Beatles albums--Abbey Road and Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.  It seems like just about anybody in music at the time had some kind of a cameo in this movie.  The best part of the film is Strawberry Fields.  Her songs are crisp and well done.  She is the girl friend of Billy Shears, played by Peter Frampton. 
As for a plot, it is bad.  So bad they have George Burns as the narrator trying to explain what is going on.  When things fall apart in the end, the weather vane fixes everything, and everybody has a big sing along.  Good music, but would have been better as a concert, forgetting any idea of a plot.

Book Review: The Wayward Bus (to mmboe)

The Wayward Bus
This is another John Steinbeck.  This book is a study of characters from different economic circumstances, and from different cultures who are thrown together for a bus ride through the rain, and taking an old road because the bridges are out. 
The characters are interesting in their own right.  Juan Chicoy is half Mexican, and owner of the Rebel Corner Diner and also runs a bus line from there to the coast.  He keeps the Virgin dangling from the mirror of his bus, Sweetheart.  Pimples, who wants to be called Kit, is his assistant mechanic at the Corners.  Juan's wife is Alice.  She has a bad temper which gets her into trouble.  She is also snoopy and wants to find out things to hold over people.  The helper in the diner is Norma.  Norma is somewhat lost in life.  She is saving her money to go to Hollywood. 
The bus passengers include the Pritchards, Mr. and Mrs. and their daughter Mildred.  Mildred has an attraction to Juan.  Ernest Horton is a traveling salesman.  He has plans to get ahead through an invention.  An old man, who is always quoting regulations and destroying everyone's fun.  He has a stroke before they reach their destination.  Camille is a character who changes the dynamics.  She is the last to arrive.  She is a real beauty and the men all want to be close to her.   She is in fact a striptease artist. When the bus gets stuck, Chicoy plays with the idea of just running away.  He comes to his senses, and resigns himself to his current life.  This book has interesting characters, not a lot of plot, but lots of interaction between different people thrown together.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Sacrament Meeting Talk, Feb 24

How the atonement helps me through trials. 

Sheri and I with three of our children have lived in the ward for almost two years.  We live about as far South, and as far West as you can go in the ward.  A couple blocks farther South we would be in Ripon Ward, a couple blocks West we would be in the Lathrup Ward.  Sheri is primary president and I teach Sunday School.
A few years ago, Sheri's brother and his wife lost their high school son, who was struck by a car while he road his bike.   As I observed their grief, I tried to write a poem, but could never get past the first line.  Parents are given a seat of honor at their child's funeral. "There is one thing I would never want to be, and that is the guest of honor at a funerary celebration."
When Sheri and I were first married, our first home was in Duckwater, NV.  I worked for the Shoshone Tribe.  Duckwater is close to the center of Nevada, where there is almost nothing. It was 70 miles over good road to the grocery store, and doctor care; 50 miles over bad road to the high school; 120 miles to the county seat.  I was older (if 26 is older) when I married and anxious to start a family.  However, Sheri's first two pregnancies ended poorly, the first in miscarriage and the second in a stillborn birth.  I wrote this poem sometime after the birth of our stillborn son.
 For Billy Boy
The baby's gone,
But gone to where?
The baby's gone
He is not here.

And so I grope
As a bungling fool
There is no hope,
Night time is the rule.

We sleep too soundly
For we have no cares,
Our lives too roundly
For no one's there.

The cradle board is empty
Our genes not alive.
The baby doesn't see,
Cry, eat, slobber or thrive.

They say the baby rests
In the ground where laid,
But the words don't arrest;
My longings just don't fade.

And damn I say
Inside my heart,
Didn't I pay?
Then why this part?

Why must I play the role
Of a grieving father, almost?
Being a father was my goal
And for now it's turned to rust.

And so we say,
"We'll try again."
But how much must we pay?
Eleven months of pregnancy...
And so much pain.
There she sweat, labor intense
The pain, Oh God, the pain.
The baby's cry, a sweet incense
I can't hear, though I crave.

And still the tears,
Still the lump in my heart
That day full of anxiety and fears
In my life, just won't depart.

And still I grope
Like a bungling fool
Where is there hope?
It seems night time is the rule.

It was through frequent prayer, and yearning to God that I found peace in my heart.  I received an assurance that God would make things right in the end.  At this last general conference, Shayne M. Bowen spoke of the loss of their 8 month old son and his process of turning to the savior somewhat reflected mine.  "As I felt the guilt, anger, and self-pity trying to consume me, I prayed that my heart could change. Through very personal sacred experiences, the Lord gave me a new heart, and even though it was still lonely and painful, my whole outlook changed. I was given to know that I had not been robbed but rather that there was a great blessing awaiting me if I would prove faithful.
My life started to change, and I was able to look forward with hope, rather than look backward with despair....  I have learned that the bitter, almost unbearable pain can become sweet as you turn to your Father in Heaven and plead for His comfort that comes through His plan; His Son, Jesus Christ; and His Comforter, who is the Holy Ghost.

Father Lehi said, 2 Nephi 2:  25 “Adam fell that men might be; and men care, that they might have joy.”   As I think about this statement, I wonder if Lehi may have been mistaken.  These statements appear to be contrary.   Adam fell, Men are fallen, how can the purpose of the fall be, "To Have Joy."
moses 6: 48 Enoc seems to contradict Lehi "And he said unto them: Because that Adam fell, we are; and by his fall came death; and we are made partakers of misery and woe."
The "True to the Faith" pamphlet says:  As part of Heavenly Father’s plan of redemption, you experience adversity during mortality. Trials, disappointments, sadness, sickness, and heartache are a difficult part of
life, but they can lead to spiritual growth, refinement, and
progress as you turn to the Lord.

I think of the matchmaker, Yenta from Fiddler on the roof, “Meanwhile, we suffer. Oh-ho-hoh, we suffer” and later, "we suffer in silence, right, of course right."  (Yenta, Fiddler on the Roof).

Returning to "True to faith"  Adversity comes from different sources. You may at times face trials as a consequence of your own pride and disobedience.  These trials can be avoided through righteous living.
Other trials are simply a natural part of life and may
come at times when you are living righteously. For example,
you may experience trials in times of sickness or uncertainty
or at the deaths of loved ones. Adversity may sometimes
come because of others’ poor choices and hurtful words and

When Adam fell he was told: Genesis 3:
cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;

 18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;

 19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

In this world we are subject to a mortal existence.  There are biting bugs, bodies that break down, others who in exercising their free agence, may hurt us emotionally or physically.  We all, in our own way, face trials and adversity.
Adam and Eve were able to find joy.  Moses 5:   9 And in that day the Holy Ghost fell upon Adam, which beareth record of the Father and the Son, saying: I am the Only Begotten of the Father from the beginning, henceforth and forever, that as thou hast fallen thou mayest be redeemed, and all mankind, even as many as will.
 10 And in that day Adam blessed God and was filled, and began to prophesy concerning all the families of the earth, saying: Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God.
 11 And Eve, his wife, heard all these things and was glad, saying: Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient.

If we had continued to read Lehi's words we would have see this is what he meant.  2 nephi 9:  20 O how great the holiness of our God! For he knoweth all things, and there is not anything save he knows it.
 21 And he cometh into the world that he may save all men if they will hearken unto his voice; for behold, he suffereth the pains of all men, yea, the pains of every living creature, both men, women, and children, who belong to the family of Adam.

The Lord accomplished the great atonement.  Some of the blessings of the atonement are: We will all be resuurected, We can all be forgiven of our sins, Babies our pure in Christ and have no need of baptism and the point on which I want to focus, We can be comforted and receive peace of the Lord in this life, because he has felt the weight of all our afflictions.

alma 7  11 Alma said, And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.
 12 And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities

He took upon Himself our sins, our guilt, our depressions
Our faults, our needs, our indiscretions.
He went below all things
He carried our sorrows.

He suffered for us all, if we would repent;
Which suffering caused that God the greatest of all
Should shrink, and tremble in pain
And suffer both body and spirit,
And bleed from every pore
As it where, great drops of blood
Which fell down to the ground.

Isaiah 53: 3 The prophet Isaiah wrote,  He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4  ¶Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
5  But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
Because Jesus has experienced the pain of all our afflictions, he can help us in ours.  It says in Preach my gospel p 52  As we rely on the Atonement of Jesus Christ, He can help us endure our trials, sicknesses,and pain. We can be filled with joy, peace, and consolation. All that is unfair about life can be made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
In modern scripture we read,
D&C 133: 53 In all their afflictions he was afflicted. And the angel of his presence saved them; and in his love, and in his pity, he redeemed them, and bore them, and carried them…
D&C 88: 6 He that ascended up on high, as also he descended below all things, in that he comprehended all things, that he might be in all and through all things, the light of truth;
Some years ago our family visited Liberty Jail.  A place where Joseph Smith and his friends went through tremendous hardship.  However is is also a place where we received beautiful scripture.  The Lord recited to Joseph the trials Joseph had gone through and then he concludes.  "D&C 122 7 …know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.  8 The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve said: “When … difficult times come to us, we can remember that Jesus had to descend below all things before He could ascend above them, and that He suffered pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind that He might be filled with mercy and know how to succor His people in their infirmities (see D&C 88:6; Alma 7:11–12)” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1995, 91; or Ensign, Nov. 1995, 69).

Robert D. Hales said
 the purpose of our life on earth is to grow, develop, and be strengthened through our own experiences. How do we do this? The scriptures give us an answer in one simple phrase: we “wait upon the Lord.” Tests and trials are given to all of us. These mortal challenges allow us and our Heavenly Father to see whether we will exercise our agency to follow His Son. He already knows, and we have the opportunity to learn, that no matter how difficult our circumstances, “all these things shall [be for our] experience, and … [our] good.”13
We have an idea as to why we are tried.  It is because in trial there is growth.  I have been organizing old pictures of my great great grandfather.  Looking at his image, I feel closer to him.  When he was 20 he found himself with the Martin Handcart Company, pulling his friend, Langley Bailey, who had become sick with ague   in the handcart over much of Iowa and Nebraska.  Langley said everything went through him like a funnel.  Isaac said the trip went well until they hit the snow.  Isaac had no shoes, or they had worn out and he left bloody foot prints in the ground.  At one point he fell to the ground and says he wouldn't have gotten up, if someone hadn't come to his assistance.   When they arrived at Martin's Cove, they had left most of the handcarts behind, however they needed some to carry camp equipment.  Isaac was one who took his handcart into the cove.  When he got there he was spent.  One of the Valley Boys asked him to gather wood.  He said he would not, but was just going to sit there and die.  The man insisted.  Finally on the third request, Isaac complied.  That action probably saved his life, as he warmed and reinvigorated himself in the gathering of wood, old cedar trees.
I like to think Isaac reflected the words of Frances Webster, another handcart traveler, who later in substance said,  "We suffered beyond anything you can imagine and many died of exposure and starvation.  ...everyone of us came through with the absolute knowledge that God lives for we became acquainted with him in our extremities.
“‘I have pulled my handcart when I was so weak and weary from illness and lack of food that I could hardly put one foot ahead of the other. I have looked ahead and seen a patch of sand or a hill slope and I have said, I can go only that far and there I must give up, for I cannot pull the load through it.  I have gone on to that sand and when I reached it, the cart began pushing me. I have looked back many times to see who was pushing my cart, but my eyes saw no one. I knew then that the angels of God were there.
“‘Was I sorry that I chose to come by handcart? No. Neither then nor any minute of my life since. The price we paid to become acquainted with God was a privilege to pay, and I am thankful that I was privileged to come in the Martin Handcart Company.
 This handcart song is based on these words. 
We Became Acquainted With God
The Spirit of God rested on our hearts
That spirit saw us through,
Helping us through times of doubt,
Because we traveled for Thee.

In God there is great power
You can feel it hour by hour.
God's miracles are real
We thank him when we kneel.

The angels of God helped us on our way,
Giving us health and strength
To push and pull our handcarts,
Because we traveled for Thee.

You'll not hear us complain,
With God we did acquaint.
The price we paid was small
To heed a Celestial call.

We know God is there we felt Him in our bones
With every step we took
And in our extremnities
We became acquainted with God.

God will not leave us alone in our time of need.  Sometimes, His ways are not our ways, and we don't understand, but he will not leave us without support. 

The Weaver

My life is but a weaving
Between my Lord and me,
I cannot choose the colors
 He knows what they should be.

Oftimes He weaveth sorrow,
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I, the underside.

Not till the loom in silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Shall God unroll the canvas
And explain the reason why.

The dark threads are as needful
In the Weaver's skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned.

- Author Unknown

In the Bible we read,
John 16:  18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

At this last conference Elder Christensen said,
(Craig Christensen:)  The Holy Ghost is also known as the Comforter. During times of trouble or despair or simply when we need to know that God is near, the Holy Ghost can lift our spirits, give us hope, and teach us “the peaceable things of the kingdom,” helping us feel “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding.”

President George Q. Cannon said: “No matter how serious the trial, how deep the distress, how great the affliction, [God] will never desert us. He never has, and He never will. He cannot do it. It is not His character. He is an unchangeable being; the same yesterday, the same today, and He will be the same throughout the eternal ages to come. We have found that God. We have made Him our friend, by obeying His Gospel; and He will stand by us. We may pass through the fiery furnace; we may pass through deep waters; but we shall not be consumed nor overwhelmed. We shall emerge from all these trials and difficulties the better and purer for them, if we only trust in our God and keep His commandments” (“Remarks,” Deseret Evening News, Mar. 7, 1891, 4); see also Jeffrey R. Holland, “Come unto Me,” Ensign, Apr. 1998, 16–23.

When the fiery trials come, we can be supported through Jesus and his atonement,

Helaman 5:  12 And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.
Scripture Study
In this last conference, Neil L Anderson provided ideas for overcoming trials.
  These fiery trials are designed to make you stronger, but they have the potential to diminish or even destroy your trust in the Son of God and to weaken your resolve to keep your promises to Him. These trials are often camouflaged, making them difficult to identify. They take root in our weaknesses, our vulnerabilities, our sensitivities, or in those things that matter most to us. A real but manageable test for one can be a fiery trial for another.
How do you remain “steadfast and immovable” during a trial of faith? You immerse yourself in the very things that helped build your core of faith: you exercise faith in Christ, you pray, you ponder the scriptures, you repent, you keep the commandments, and you serve others.
When faced with a trial of faith—whatever you do, you don’t step away from the Church!
When you are faced with a test of faith, stay within the safety and security of the household of God. There is always a place for you here. No trial is so large we can’t overcome it together.
The Lord invites us to come to Him.  These words are based on Lehi's dream:
He Will Heal You

He will heal you, He will heal you.
Bring to him your need, and He'll give you peace.
Peace, peace, peace. Peace be unto you.
Because of your faith, Peace be unto you.

Come unto Me, all ye who are heavy laden,
And I will give you rest.
Take of my fruit
And you will be blessed.

Come take of the fruit.
Come take of the fruit,
for it is the love of God,
And He will bring you peace.
He will bring you peace.

I would like to finish with words of comfort.  When I think of trials these words help me feel better.  First from Elder Robet D Hales.
He knows your sacrifices and your sorrows. He hears your prayers. His peace and rest will be yours as you continue to wait upon Him in faith.
Every one of us is more beloved to the Lord than we can possibly understand or imagine. Let us therefore be kinder to one another and kinder toward ourselves.

And finally these words with which our prophet as he concluded this last conference.

    Thomas S. Monson
Let us be of good cheer as we go about our lives. Although we live in increasingly perilous times, the Lord loves us and is mindful of us. He is always on our side as we do what is right. He will help us in time of need. Difficulties come into our lives, problems we do not anticipate and which we would never choose. None of us is immune. The purpose of mortality is to learn and to grow to be more like our Father, and it is often during the difficult times that we learn the most, as painful as the lessons may be. Our lives can also be filled with joy as we follow the teachings of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Lord admonished, “Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” What great happiness this knowledge should bring to us. He lived for us and He died for us. He paid the price for our sins. May we emulate His example. May we show our great gratitude to Him by accepting His sacrifice and living lives that will qualify us to return and one day live with Him.

In the name of Jesus Christ Amen

Friday, February 22, 2013

Music Review: Joni Mitchell: Blue 1971 (to mmboe)

This is on You Tube.  Joni Mitchell put out this album in 1971 when she was 27.  She wrote most of the music as she traveled through France after leaving a relationship.  She starts with the song "All I Want."  I like this sentiment from the song. 
All I really really want our love to do
Is to bring out the best in me and in you too
All I really really want our love to do
Is to bring out the best in me and in you

Isn't that what we should focus on in relations, making each other better.  

California starts out as peace anthem, but is more Joni singing about coming home to California.  It was in California where she recorded this album.

Sitting in a park in Paris France
Reading the news and it sure looks bad
They won't give peace a chance
That was just a dream some of us had
Still a lot of lands to see
But I wouldn't want to stay here
It's too old and cold and settled in its ways here
Oh but California

California I'm coming home
I'm going to see the folks I dig
I'll even kiss a Sunset pig
California I'm coming home

However the highlight of this album is "River."

I wish I had a river so long
I would teach my feet to fly
I wish I had a river I could skate away on
I made my baby cry

This theme is repeated several times throughout the album.  In referring to baby, it appears to be talking about a love, but may be a veiled reference to her own baby who was adopted by others when Joni was young.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Book Review: Number the Stars (to mmboe)

This book is written by Lois Lowry and is a Newberry Book.  I picked this book up because I was looking for something to read on the train.  I like short books.  I also like young adult literature and this fit the bill.  However after getting into this book, it became totally drawn in by the story.  Turns out this is historical fiction, which I also like. 
This is the story of a girl, Annemarie and her best friend, Ellen.  It takes place in Denmark, during the Nazi occupation of WWII.  Ellen and her family are Jewish.  When it is announced, with a couple days notice, that all of the Jews in Denmark are going to be relocated, these two families jump into action.  Ellen stays with Rosemarie, pretending to be her deceased sister, while Ellen’s parents are taken elsewhere to hide. 
This is the story of individuals who cared enough for each other to say “no” to the Nazis when they tried to expel the Jews.  It is also a story about a people who followed the same suit.  It tells a story I had never heard before, but is a true story.  It is also a story about bravery, and having to approach danger, even when you’re scared.
I recommend this book highly. 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Movie Night: ****^True Grit (1969, John Wayne)

This movie is a true classic.  John Wayne as Rooster Cogburn won an Oscar.  Glen Campbell stars as Texas Ranger La Boeuf and also sings the theme song.  And Kim Darbie as Mattie Ross, whose father has been murdered, round out the team.  You have to admire the grit of all three of the characters going after the murderer Tom Chaney.  Chaney is hooked with a bunch of other bad men, lead by Ned Pepper (Robert Duvall).  Cogburn and Mattie Ross are not a match made in heaven, but find each other paired together on a dangerous journey into Indian Territory.  Cogburn is a rough man, and drinks too much.  Mattie too is a stubborn person.  La Boeuf is interested in Chaney for a previous murder in Texas, and for reward money.  Wayne's vinegar and sauce won him the Oscar, but Darbie could just have easily been nominated.  Her character is very strong.  This is Wayne at his best, and a great movie.  In the end it is La Boeuf who saves everyone.  Oh I hate rattle snakes.

Movie Night:***^ Honey I Shrunk the Kids; **^Honey I Blew up the Kids

The movie, Honey I Shrunk the Kids was a very original movie with a good idea, and showed us how differing sizes could be relative, such as you could ride an ant, or sleep in a Lego, or a drop of water could be a deluge.  And Rick Moranis is just perfect in his roll as the bungling scientist Wayne Szalinski.  I love him in his get up to find the kids, hanging over the back yard in with his magnifying glass.  His wife played by Marcia Strassman is steady.  I also like the neighbors, the Thompsons, played by Matt Frewer and Kristine Sutherland.  The adventures and sparks of the kids are effective, but this show is enjoyable watching the adults.  Man, who would know a lawn mower can create such havoc.  I guess we should be careful with our machines to make sure there are no little people about.

Honey I Blew up the Kid does not have the same magic.  It has the mean executive who is shutting Wayne out of his own project.  It also has cute gadgets, but in the end is just a noisy bunch of goo which doesn't work.  It does show a mother's love in the end, "Man that is a big Mama!"  But this movie isn't near as fun as the original.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Musical Movie Night: **^The Frog Prince (1986)

This is not the Disney version, but a made for T.V. version, which not only has the prince who has been turned into a frog, but also two princesses, nieces of the king, and only one is a rightful princess.  The older sister is elegant and gives off the look of a princess; but she is also mean spirited, and treats others poorly.  However the younger sister has self esteem issues, mostly brought on by her sister who is always putting her down.  She wishes for a friend, and finds a frog.  However she and she frog become friends, and she now has someone to talk to.  Her sister notices the change in her, and kidnaps the frog, putting him in a pit where he is sure to die due to lack of water.  The music in this musical is forgettable, but I liked it for the characters, the king who has a good heart, the prince and the younger sister.  Aileen Quinn (also Annie) stars as the young princess, Helen Hunt as the mean sister. 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Inter-Country Adoption

Inter-Country Adoption.
In 1980 I wrote an essay on inter-country adoption.  I want to revisit what I said at that time.  Inter-country adoption is in the news lately as Russia has decided not to allow their children to be adopted out of country.  Currently about 136,000 (2008) children are adopted each year.  Of this number, about 13 to 14 percent are inter-country adoptions.  https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/adopted0708.pdf

There were 5,633 transnational adoptions in 1975, which represented a big increase over previous years.  Inter-country adoption continued to expand.  This increase in the rate of adoption occurred during a time when the total number of adoptions was going down.  In the article I wrote, I speculated several reasons for this trend.

The increased number of abortions affected the number of children available for adoption.  In 1976 there were 1,115,000 abortions in the United States.  The number of abortions peeked in 1990 when 1.6 million abortions were performed and since there has been a slow decline.  However, there has not been a year with less than 1,000,000 abortions.  In 2008 there were 1.21 million abortions in the U.S.  They rate has been steady at 1.2 million abortions annually for some time.  With this number of abortions, the number of children available for adoption has decreased.

Another force leading to a lack of adoptable children is the number of children being kept by their birth parents.  In 1980 it was estimated 93 percent of mothers who were to bear illegitimate children planned to keep them. 

The trend of available white babies fell steadily for some time, and has never recovered.  Much of the focus for adoption went to social services and efforts to get children permanent homes rather than languishing in foster care.  In 2008 half of all adoptions were through private parties.  This would include stepparent adoption.  Over a third of the adoptions were through social service agencies.  Finally about fifteen percent are inter-country adoptions.
Another factor which has influenced the number of international adoptions was a change in attitudes of people towards people of different ethnic backgrounds.  To summarize this subject I quoted from Inter-country Adoption guidelines 1980:
As the availability of young adoptive children in the United States lessened, and as more parents sought to adopt, the inter-country adoption movement gained momentum.  Increased numbers of families began to seek out foreign-born children, not only through the more established U.S. based agencies, but also through independent search of the contacts within countries that placed orphaned children for adoption with families in the United States.

Adopting a child internationally can be a complex process, with the U.S. government being involved, State governments, foreign governments as well as local agencies.  A visa is required to bring the child into the country.  INS requires a home study be completed.  The example of Russia, which recently said they would not let children be adopted in the U.S. highlights some of these problems.  This is more a political issues, but it was justified in the minds of the Russian government by the for-profit nature of the adoption business. 

There are a couple of things to be aware of with regards to inter-country adoption.  Some couples have brought children home with inaccurate information about their history or health history.  At times children have been adopted with a history of sexual molestation, and the adopted family was not aware.  Also there have been children placed with serious health problems.  Some countries do not do thorough medical examinations before a child is sent for adoption.

Perhaps a more serious problem is helping children adjust to their new environment.  Dr.  T Barry Brazelton contended there was a condition known as adjustment shock which made children newly placed more susceptible to mental as well as physical ailment.  None severe illness could become severe when placed on top of an adjustment shock.  Also there is a shock experienced by a family.  In a pregnancy, the family has nine months to prepare.  Such is not always the case with adoption where there is uncertainty about the actual timing of the placement. 

Another issue with regards to children, as they age is that of identity.  Adopted children deal with an identity, generally during teenage years.  “Who am I?” is a common question.  This crisis can be more serious for those who not only experience personal identity issues, but also social identity issues.  However, studies have determined that this effect is not as serious as might be expected.  Differences in adjusting may depend on the home rather than the adoption of the child.  (see Melissa Norvell and Rebecca Guy, “A comparison of Self-concept in Adopted and Non-adopted Adolescents.  Adolescence, Vol 12(47) Fall 1977.

As a result of these concerns, there has been a trend to more open adoptions, and helping children contact birth parents.  However truthfully, only a small percentage of children have these issues.

Inter-country will exist as long as there are parents seeking adoptive children, and children needing homes.  It has been a great resource for helping children have a stable life, when they would flounder otherwise.  I concluded this essay, quoting a song by Vivencia, a group from Argentina.  This song reminds me of children (and sometimes adults) who use to come onto the buses or trains and leave candy on the seats, hoping someone would take the candy and leave money.  You can see the lyrics here with English translation;http://whilhelmsthoughts.blogspot.com/2013/02/vivencia-pequeno-pasajero.html or listen to the song.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CI2l4JtC6Sk

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

TV Review: ***^Rosemary and Thyme Season 1

I have found a wonderful British detective series on Netflix Instant.  It ran from 2003-2006 and starred Felicity Kendal as Rosemary Boxer and Pam Ferris as Laura Thyme.  This is a couple elderly women, in the case of Laura Thyme, recently separated, and Rosemary is recently laid off from her job for a university.  Rosemary is a doctor of plant science, and they set up as private gardeners and expert gardening problem solvers.

They are good at their job, however their only problem is death seems to follow them.  The first couple episodes, people were uncovered.  One episode even a horse was unburied, and then later a woman.  Lucky they are very curious.  Laura is an ex cop and her son is a current cop who sometimes helps them secure information.

My favorite episode was "The language of Love."  A man had planted flowers with specific meanings, which his wife finds out to discover that he had an illegitimate daughter, whose mother then committed suicide because of the way she was treated.  His wife only discovered this after he had died, and a book was published about the language of flowers.  It is the daughter who went about killing the family members. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Musical/Movie Review:****Saturday's Warrior (to mmboe)

This is a 1989 made for video version of the popular Mormon Musical.  I was once in the chorus, and my bias is they could have used the chorus backing up many of the songs.  There is more depth with the chorus, and there were parts where the orchestration was naked.  Maybe they were trying to save money.
The story comes through in both versions.  There were a couple special effects I enjoyed.  Talking through the cloud of heaven at earth didn't work for me.  However when Todd and Julie are singing a duet, even though far apart, their hands are overlapped.  This was very effective.  I enjoyed Julie and Todd the most.  I hadn't realized how whiny Jimmy was.  "Isn't there a some one who will take me as I am, build me up not put me down, make me feel like I'm as good as another.  This just comes off like a complainer.
This movie gives a view of what preexistence may have been like.  However it is not doctrinal, nor meant to be.  It does touch the heart of the LDS community and has done so for many years.

Book Report: Helping Children Cope with Loss and Separation

This is a report I wrote while attending graduate school.  It is written by Claudia L. Jewett, The Harvard Common Press, 1982.  Claudia Jewett was a pioneer in large adoptive families, and thus providing a home for older children.  I don’t know what foster care caseworker and adoption workers read these days, but I feel her books should be required reading.  I am reviewing this book report to remind myself in my daily interaction with my children, who each struggle with separation in their own way.
This is the second book I have read written by Claudia Jewett.  Her other book, Adopting the Older Child, has been accepted as a basic text for people thinking about adopting and for adoption workers.  This book compliments her earlier work fairly well and I feel will also be accepted as a basic text for child care workers and parents who deal with children suffering from loss.  The ideas, thoughts, treatment methods and experiences have helped me gain a greater understanding of the grieving process involved with a loss and how to help a child work through a separation. 
Each chapter deals with a different aspect of loss—from telling a child about the loss, to finishing the grieving work and moving on.  The first chapter deals with telling a child about a loss.  Jewett feel the person closest to the child should tell her about the loss.  The message should be as strait forward and honest as possible.  Any possibility of the lost person returning should be explored realistically and any questions should be answered. 
In the second chapter the author presents an outline of the grieving process.  She includes three stages: early grief, acute grief and subsiding grief.  Each of these stages has several substages. 
Under early grief Jewett includes shock and numbing, alarm, and denial.  This stage includes the initial shock and reaction to the loss.  Quite often the child withdraws or behaves in a robotish fashion.  Feelings of vulnerability and fear of another loss are also included in this stage.  Another thing to look for in this stage are physical reactions to the loss—sleep and eating patterns, muscular tension, and hyperactivity.
The second stage of the grieving process is acute grief.  It includes: yearning and pining, searching, strong feelings, disorganization, despair and reorganization.  This stage includes fantasies that some way things will work out for the better (I’ll get them back some way); searching; dealing with feelings of sadness, anger, guilt and shame; despair with the reality.  This stage finally includes a step in the right direction, reorganization of the child’s life.
The final stage, integration of loss and grief gives the child a sense of mastery.  The child realizes the worst possible thing happened and she survived.
The third chapter of this book deals with working with feelings.  Often times a child has difficulty expressing feelings because of family norms which indicate feelings are not acceptable.  Jewett suggests several techniques to help children come to grips with their own feelings.  The most notable is the five faces technique.  The worker identifies five basic emotions: sadness, anger, happiness, fear and loneliness.  The child is encouraged to draw pictures of how she looks when she feels these particular emotions.  Several games can then be played using these emotion cares—What feeling is this?, When do you feel this way?, storytelling and several more.
The child’s need to make sense of the loss is the topic of the fourth chapter.  An important concern is the child’s tendency to blame herself for the loss.  A worker can assess this problem in a child by asking directly, observing developmental behavior or asking indirectly.  The author also gives suggestions for talking to the child about specific reasons for the loss—abuse or abandonment, mental illness, imprisonment, incest, parental immaturity, neglect, alcohol or drug abuse, physical illness, and parental rejection.  This section is a good reference. 
This chapter also includes an important section on helping the child understand their own personal history.  She suggests several different methods; using a time line for younger children and a time graph for older children, storytelling with doll figures or puppets, and using a life story or history book.
The fifth chapter deals with the child’s loss of self esteem as a result of the loss.  It is very easy for a child to feel negatively about herself after a loss.  To explain this concept Jewett uses the bucket comparison.  In the bucket we contain our self esteem which is filled by what others say of us and how they treat us.  In the case of separation it is very hard to fill the bucket because of the losing a caretaker and needing a person to fill the bucket.  Many children resort to negative behavior to get attention.  To combat this a worker can teach positive ways to fill the bucket, use praise to restore self esteem and teaching the child to make good choices for herself.
The final chapter deals with letting go.  Because the child has already experienced loss, the termination of work with a child should be a gradual process.  In the final meeting the worker should be as open as possible about her own feelings, “I am glad you’re doing so much better, but I’m sad I won’t be able to see you anymore.”
This book is a useful tool for working with children experiencing loss.  As a future child caseworker I can see how a periodic review of this book will enhance the services I might be able to render.  The philosophy and ideas presented are an important part of the knowledge needed to be an effective caseworker.
The professor, Orla Shaw added this note: The age of the child makes a great difference in what you do! “Younger” and “Older” are not specific enough.  I would have liked more of your own ideas.  I’m glad to know about the book which I have not read. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Ace Train 33: Mattresses on drive to work and 49er Stadium

It seems that in the drive to the train station there are at least four mattresses dumped along the road, along with some furniture.  We take Woodward to McKinley Ave.  I must admit I took the pictures a  week ago, and the trash in the under pass has been removed.  The other mattresses are still there.

Progress continues on 49er stadium.  From the train side it appears all the cement blocks have been placed. 

49er Stadium Progression

April 2012--preparing for the work and making a different entry to 49er training camp.  The stadium is marked by and orange meshing.  These pictures are all taken from the ACE Train. 

In September there were big cranes and the lower bowl was going up.

And later in September the middle bowl was completed.

November started work on the framework for the upper bowl.

December the framework of the upper bowl was completed.

January the started sliding cement blocks into the framework.  You can see work on the upper bowl here.

Now, first of February, all the cement panels are in place.

This is going to be a beautiful stadium.  I understand there are negotiations to have the Super Bowl here within a few years.  I think it is scheduled to open in 2014. 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Movie Night: ***^The Quick and the Dead (1987)

This is a Louis L'Amour book made into an HBO movie starring Sam Elliot as Con Vallian.  Elliott portrayed a Westerner who befriended a new migrant family, and took them under his wing in protecting them from a gang of outlaws, because a Ute he was trying to get revenge with, was part of the gang.  The gang starts out as eight, but their number slowly dwindle.
The migrant family includes an ex Union Sargent from the Civil War, his beautiful wife and their son.  This movie is about family, and family loyalty, and finding inner reserves and strengths.  It is also about friendships, and supporting each other when there is need.

Movie Night: ****^Holes

I like the movie Holes.  This is a Disney Movie we have in our personal collection, but it is available through Netflix DVD.  It is fun.  The premise is that Stanley Yelnats (Shia LaBeouf) is sent to a youth correctional Camp Lake Greenlake, a camp without a lake nor much greenery.  It is in remote Texas.  What this camp does have is daily chore of digging a hole five feet cubed, the length of a shovel wide both ways and that deep.  Not a lot of water, but plenty of dust.

However this area was not always so dry.  But is hasn't rained since the murder of Sam the onion man (Dule Hill) because as a black man he had befriended a white woman, Kissin' Kate Barlow (Patricia Arquette).  Kissin' Kate as a result went from school teacher to bandit, leaving a wake of murder and theft.  One theft was that of Stanley Yelnats I.  Otherwise the family may have been living in luxury.  As it is they struggle as Stanley's father (Henry Winkler) tries to invent a substance to counteract foot odor.

When arriving at camp, Stanley realizes this is no fun camp.  He meets Mr. Sir (Jon Voight) the camp director and Dr. Pendanski (Tim Blake Nelson).  At camp Stanley IV befriends Zero (Khleo Thomas).  Zero is a cast off of society who has been separated from his mother.  They realize, after Stanley finds an old lipstick tube with the initials KKB, that the warden (Sijourney Weaver) is looking for Kissin' Kate's treasure.  Zero and Stanley run away from camp, into an uninviting desert environment with rattle snakes, scorpions and poison spotted lizards and no water.  This is the same area where Stanley I was stranded after being robbed.  He saved himself by going to the thumb of God.  Stanley and Zero do the same.  They see a rock in the distance that looks like a thumb.  There they find a small oasis with onions, Sam's onions.  As they rest, they realize they know where the treasure is.

This movie shows the importance of family, through the generations.  Turns out Zero and Stanley are also connected through the generations.  I like movies about family, because families are important.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

ces fireside

Brother Uchtdorf gave a very good talk last month for the CES fireside.  He was talking about truth, and being able to discern truth.  He started by telling the story of the six blind men and the elephant.
He asks the question: How can anyone know the truth?

Heavenly Father knows all truth.  Some day we will as well.  Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life.  If we seek him diligently we will find him.  We are expected to come to a personal knowledge of the truth.   We learn precept on precept, line upon line.  We have the gift of the Holy Ghost to teach us all things.  We must live worthy of his constant companionship.

Our search for truth will lead us to our Lord and Savior, the way, the truth and the life.  This truth will make you free.  

I recommend this talk to anyone seeking truth.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Movie Night: ***A Gift of Love

one of the songs
This is a 1978 made for TV movie.  It is available through Netflix DVD.  This movie stars Marie Osmond.  I ordered it well before Christmas, but it was put on back order.  It is a cute story based on  “The Gift of the Magi.” It does not follow faithfully the O’Henry story.  It actually starts sometime before and present exchange which makes the story famous, but is the love story of the young woman (Osmond) who has two suitors, the rich man she does not love, and the common laborer she does.  The story is familiar to everyone, of the gift exchange, he selling his watch to buy her combs for her hair, and she cutting her hair to buy him a chain for his watch, it is still moving.  To love such that you would give up your most prized possession is love indeed. 
Marie Osmond sings a couple songs.  However the songs to not sound period and don’t really add to the story.  The ice skating of the couple is cute.  Also the bird hunting of her first fiancĂ© is also very funny.  It was actually the first fiancĂ©, who realized they would not be happy, and suggested breaking off the wedding.  He, in the end, had more courage than he was given credit for.
And so she displeases her uncle, and goes after the man she loves.  It is Christmas Eve they are married, and Christmas day the gifts are presented.  I enjoyed this show, and feel others might as well.

My Stake Conference Thoughts

All of Northern California had stake conference yesterday.  It was also conference for 68 stakes throughout Northern California.  Both the adult session Saturday, as well as the session seen by 68 Northern California Stakes on Sunday, dealt with the new announcement with regards to the age of missionaries.
We have all heard about the excitement with regards to this announcement, and the great movement among our youth.  The number of missionaries in the field is going up at least 50 percent, maybe more.  You might think this is a temporary increase due to the overlap of the next year or so.  I don’t think so.  I think the new age will encourage young people to go on missions.  Sometimes when you put something off it doesn’t happen.  Less and less people will be putting off their missions.
On the stake level they talked about the great excitement among our youth.  The missionary preparation class has almost doubles in size.  There are at least 25 people who are working on getting their papers in.  This is in comparison to the normal of four or five.  Of course some of them will have to wait until the finish high school.  But the bottom line, our young people are preparing to go on missions.  And not only are they preparing, many of them are going to be better able to carry out their missionary tasks.
L. Tom Perry also talked about this excitement.  Where normally two apostles doing the missionary assignments is normally enough, he said it is quite common now to require six apostles to work on this project.  He watched people’s faces in the conference center when the age shift was announced.  He read this announcement as part of his talk.
However, this change causes a concern on my part.  Caleb is one of those who was excited by the change.  He is attending the missionary preparation class and is excited about serving after finishing high school.  But what if we as members, do not catch this same excitement?  Then we will have more missionaries, without more work to share among them.  Missionaries want to be busy.  If there is not an increase in the amount of work to do, how will they keep busy? 
This was the idea I came away from conference.  It falls on us as members to also catch this spirit of excitement.  That excitement needs to be carried forward to inviting people to hear the missionaries.  In Caleb’s case, I don’t think it is too early to start praying that the members, in what ever area he may be assigned, will catch this missionary spirit, and begin planting seeds that he can harvest.
At the Saturday session it was mentioned members should be doing the finding, missionaries the teaching.  However Elder Perry said missionaries have two jobs, to find and to teach.  However the more time they can spend teaching, the more success they will have.  Members can help with the finding.  I think of Paul saying, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”  (Romans 1: 16)  I want to stand firm like Paul, and give my voice by inviting people to come unto Christ by listening to the missionaries.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Fostering Babies: Gripe Water

When Sheri and I were fostering babies exposed to drugs in utero, we found gripe was our favorite friend.  Babies born in this circumstance have a higher chance of being colicky, and this stuff really helps.  You don't know what a relief it can be to have a few minutes peace, and this stuff would give a baby a few minutes peace.  We would usually dip the binky in this stuff and let it do its magic.

Mormon Movie Review: ****Cipher in the Snow

This is a 1974 short film produced by Brigham Young University.  It is based on a story by Jean Mizer with screenplay by Carol Lynn Pearson.  It tells the story of a teenager who passes away in the snow.  As the title implies, he was a Cipher, a nothing.  The movie presents his step-father as emotionally abusive and controlling.  It makes you want to reach into the TV and slap him across the back of the head, wake up!
The author of the story, Jean Mizer, makes a commitment to herself to be on the lookout for those who sometimes fall through the cracks.  I am not a teacher, but even so, it leaves you with a desire to do better in your endeavors.  In my case the be more courteous and available for those who might call on the phone.
The original story of Jean Mizer is available here.