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[Comments] (2) 2006 it is: Susie and I went to Disneyland yesterday morning and stayed until around 2 pm. We got on all the thrill rides and even went on the new Monsters, Inc. ride @ California Adventure. But then it started pouring rain, so we headed home.

Susie and I ordered pizza and went to bed at 10. When I woke up, it was 2006.

Today was my first day trying church at 11 am. It's not too shabby--you can sleep in and still get home at a reasonable hour. It was also my first Sunday as a CTR 6 teacher. I've learned that you don't teach five year-olds, though. You do this mix of baby-sitting, snacking, and game repetition to drive home "choosing the right." Our class is three boys and three girls, but two of the boys were gone today. So that left me with 3 princesses and a boy with Down Syndrome (he's the reason we teach the class--no one else would and they knew, from observing me in Nursery, my unending patience). He's not too hard to handle--he colors well. You just have to watch the door, cuz he likes to run away.

Five year-olds are funny. Every thing I say leads us off on some undesireable tangent:

Me: Does Jesus love you?

Kid #1: My next door neighbor does. Her house is blue, and ours is green.

Kid #2: My dog loves me. His name is Napoleon Dynamite. That movie is so funny. Have you seen it?

Kid #3: I'm hungry. I like Goldfish.

Me: So, does Jesus like it if we choose the right?

Kid #1: Yes, but sometimes I choose the wrong.

Kid #2: Christopher always chooses the wrong. He's mean to everybody.

Me: Who's Christopher?

Kid #2: A boy at school.

Kid #1: I go to the same school as Charlotte. But not Joshua. He's in Hawaii on vacation.

Kid #3: I have marker on my hand.

Kid #2: Do you remember Summer?

Me: I don't know Summer.

Kid #2: From Napoleon Dynamite. Her boyfriend is wierd. And we should vote for Pedro. That's choosing the right.

Can't hardly wait for next week!

[Comments] (2) My Name is Asher Lev: I like to tease my nephews and nieces. In particular, I like to tease them about tacos. It started with always asking Ember how many tacos she wanted for her birthday/how many tacos she thought Santa would bring her.

I started teasing Tyler in the same fashion recently. He thinks it is very funny to joke about such things. In fact, he started telling me that his name is no longer Tyler David Van Oostendorp, but is now Tyler David Van Taco. My sister and brother-in-law confirmed for me that he does indeed instruct others to address him as such. Who needs Playhouse Disney and Gerald McBoing Boing to "develop a child's sense of humor" when there are tacos?

[Comments] (2) From the Mouth of Babes: So, today's primary class was also full of its surprises.

Teacher in general session: So we should do the right thing. You know, not watch R-rated movies, etc.

Girl: My dad watched an R-rated movie last night.

Teacher: Ok....

How do you even respond to that?

[Comments] (5) I Agree: So EY has made the "Top 100 Companies to Work For" again (8th year in a row). This article describes how a company that expects so much of its employees can possbily be seen as a great place to work.

It's hard not to agree with their assessment while spending two weeks at the Sheraton. My bed is the most comfortable bed I've ever slept in.

[Comments] (4) Made In America: My new pajamas are falling apart.

There. I updated. Back to studying.

[Comments] (4) To, From: To Mom: I've heard you'd like the family to all be together one day. Well, Jamie and I anxiously await everyone's relocation to Southern California.

To the California Board of Accountancy: Thank you for the six months of endless studying. It is over. I have triumphed. Consider me certified.

To E&Y: You owe my $650; consider me certified.

To Alyson: Another plug for visiting us in SoCal: I haven't seen a Wal-Mart since I moved here. Seriously. And I don't try to avoid it.

To the IRS: I spent three hours this morning calculating my refund. As you can see, my accounting prowess has more than tripled my refund from the prior year. Please promptly send, as I have an Alaskan cruise to pay for, including a helicopter ride and a dog-mushing session.

To Susie: Well, it's my turn to be stuck at home. So have fun in Las Vegas. Don't forget me. And please spend your money on scrapbooking, and not on gambling. We work way too hard. See you Wednesday.

To my primary children: Please go easy on me tomorrow. I'm flying solo.

To my big belly: You knew this day would come. Study time is over. Workout time has come. Please go away quickly.

John

Sabbath-day Silliness: Today's Christian capers started in Sacrament Meeting. This new couple spoke. As is customary, the woman went first. About five minutes into her talk she informs us that she can't go on and excused herself to the bathroom. So they had two ward members bear testimony. She came back, apologized, and finished her talk. When she initially ran out I wasn't sure if it was stage fright, morning sickness (since Susie and I are the only childless couple in the ward), or the normal sick bug. Apparently it was the third option, as she came back and finished up. And it was a really good talk. It was just something I've never encountered before. I think, had I been in her situation, I would have just cut my talk short, bore testimony, and left. But her method is commendable.

Then came Primary. The general session was a disaster. The new primary chorister came in completely unprepared, and the President was missing. Her husband was supposed to assist me today, or so I thought. And Spencer (our little boy with down syndrome) refrused to sit still today. So I had to hold him the whole time. Standing up. Five year-olds are heavy. Kudos to the rest of my class who sat reverently in the meantime. I think Spencer likes me; this justified him testing my boundaries today.

Primary general session ended 15 minutes early. That meant I had to adapt my 45 minute lesson into a 60-minute lesson. And, since it was the fifth Sunday, all the adults were right next door, waiting for me to screw up (our class is on the stage). Luckily, I was very entertaining. I decided to play hangman. Now, I should mention that these kids don't read. Or know how to spell. But they really enjoyed this game. We played it three times, and it filled up the time, cuz they kept picking odd letters like X, Z, and Q. Needless to say, I can't believe I didn't think of hangman sooner. That was the story of my childhood church experience.

I worked out for 2 hours yesterday on the treadmill while I watched "The Pelican Brief." My body aches. But, no pain, no gain.

[Comments] (2) Just Because: After Sacrament meeting today I was asked to meet with the EQ President for a Home Teaching PPI. I really don't think having PPI's in Sunday School is appropriate, but whatever. I also mentioned to him that I teach primary and one of our children has Down's Syndrome so I really ought to be there on time. He didn't seem to care.

I got lectured a little for not home teaching. Never mind the fact that I have never officially been given the calling. I don't even go to EQ. My companion did introduce himself to me, but he never told me who we actually teach. Anyway, I got berated nonetheless and was on my way back to Primary when the EQ President mentions that he needs my phone number. Why? Because he is my home teacher. And we haven't been home taught once in the seven months we have lived here. I gave him the number and reminded him that his counsellor has our number, as we are pretty decent friends. Grr.

That aside, I am quite happy today. Maybe it's because it is 75 degrees outside. Maybe it's because my CPA is over. Who knows. I just feel like listing off some of my happiness today:

I like my job. It's demanding, and working mandatory 55 hours through 4/15 isn't much fun, but the day goes by so quickly I can't even keep up. I like that in a job.

I love teaching Primary. The kids are so much fun, and tailoring the lesson to their needs helps me exercise my creative side a lot. And it gets me out of EQ.

I love our ward. To put it bluntly, BYU student wards suck. Family wards rock. Everyone has been so kind and welcoming to us. We are friends with a lot of the young couples, but also are pretty friendly with some of the older couples as well, including all the parents of our nursery/primary kids. It feels nice to be welcome.

We still don't have teevee hookup. I love it so much. It forces me to read, get outside and exercise, out to the beach. And I missed the stupid parade of the State of the Union. Nuff said.

I love going to Disneyland, even if the Rainforest Cafe doesn't honor our AP discount after 4 pm. The bananas foster was yum!

I love having a temple nearby.

I love playing the piano. Note to self: Play it more.

Most of all, I love my family. I love my sister's standing offer for Sunday dinners at her house. I love frequenting Bakersfield monthly to see my in-laws. I love my wife and look forward to expanding our own family one day, so I don't have to steal everybody else's kids forever.

That's about it.

[Comments] (2) When did I become "uncool"?: Wait! Was I ever cool? Or was it all in my head? Went to my nephew's roadshow. I remember the days of rehearsing high school musicals into the wee hours of the night.

Currently I am watching the Olympics opening session. I remember being there four years ago. That was so cool. And so long ago. I can't possibly be four years older than I was then. Maybe we'll just make it three. Three I can deal with.

When did I get "old"?

[Comments] (5) Blast from the Past: Because it is officially spring in the OC, Susie and I did some spring cleaning this weekend. Now, first, I should mention that my body is very confused right now. It was like 80 degrees today, and was pretty hot even at the beach. I'm not used to seeing "popcorn popping on the apricot tree" in February. But I like it.

But back to spring cleaning. We found some old, unlabeled VHS cassettes that Susie decided must be mine. One in particular was quite old and very dusty. I was certain that we had somehow acquired a copy of that video from The Ring. Well. Upon watching said movies, one was a bunch of taped re-runs of Lois & Clark (soooo not mine), the next was Leonard lip sync'en hard core in the vineyard (I'd give you the name of the song, but I don't follow pop culture too well), and the third was Rachel and Susie doing dance moves to Mariah Carey in Rachel's room. The video concluded with Rachel cleaning her room the following day. Why did she video tape cleaning her room is the question of the day.

Susie really enjoyed watching her family "in history." I guess you'd have to be there, cuz I think I'd rather have taken my chances with the videotape from The Ring.

[Comments] (1) : Only 99 days until our cruise!

[Comments] (8) Just Desserts: Yesterday in primary was very tough without Susie. Spencer, the boy with Down's Syndrome, refused to sit still. I took Susie's rubix cube, which is all mess up now (sorry Susie) and quelled him for about half of the general session. But then during singing time I finally just took him outside and let him run around. When I got back, all the kids were being quite noisy and obnoxious, except for my class. They were sitting quietly like angels. And they were teacherless. Well. Susie says I spoil them with too many treats. But after yesterday's performance, they earned it all. I was very proud.

The four year-old class teacher did not show up. So they came to class with me, in exchange that the Primary President's husband watch Spencer. It went very well, except that one girl got chalk all over her dress. Four year-olds are too young for chalk; yet, there was no time to modify my lesson at that point. Spencer's a good kid, and I feel bad knowing that his mother has to deal with his ailment all day every day. And I only have to do it for two hours a week. I hope God's not preparing me for something here.

In other news, Tyler knows Weezer and Green Day. He truly is a four year-old going on eleven.

In other, sadder news, a friend of Susie's and mine found out her husband is cheating on her. That is so sad to me. Some life experiences I hope to completely allude all of my mortal days.

[Comments] (2) : It is so hard to plan for the future when the past won't leave you alone.

[Comments] (5) Death be not proud: I spent all last weekend making sure that my mother in law will have the funeral she wishes. Then today I was informed that my Uncle David passed away. He was diagnosed with cancer about 10 months ago (while we were on our criuse). Since Susie and I joined in matrimony two and a half years ago, five loved ones in our families have passed away.

I worry about my grandmother. David was her favorite son. Why is it some are taken so quickly after falling ill, while others (my father and mother-in-law) are allowed to linger, yet suffer?

I should probably end this on a happy note. Hmm. Well, Gretel was relocated to a happier home today. Does that count?

[Comments] (3) It's just never good enough: My sister and her husband flew up to Utah for my uncle's funeral. So that meant we got to watch the boys all weekend. So that meant that John had to take a sick day at work on Friday to prepare for an arduous weekend. And that meant telling a lie. Sort of. After all, sick of working too much is still "sick". Monday morning, everyone saw right through me. Well, mostly everyone. And they all commended me for taking time off to recuperate. Interestingly enough, the one who didn't see right through me, the one who actually thought I was sick, is the one that left me two voicemails on Friday re: so-called urgent matters.

But it was nice. Susie and I spend time together. And went on the rockets at Disneyland while I listened to work voicemails.

Friday night we started watching the boys. Tyler was saving a movie for me to watch with him: "Winnie the Pooh's Heffalump Movie." My sister does this on purpose, mind you. She saves all the stuff she doesn't want to do with Tyler for me to do with Tyler. Hence, I've seen every boring episode of Wallace & Grommit. Apparently, being a parent means doing things you don't want to do. All of the time. And feeling guilty when you try to opt out. It's not easy on the conscience.

Saturday morning brought rain, which brought cancelled baseball games, which brought a restless day indoors. Finally Tyler, exhausted from fighting with Chad, fell asleep on the stairs. It was a blessing and a cursing. Blessing, cuz he was quite ornery and I needed a break. The curse comes later. That night we took them to Boomers for dinner and video games. I don't know why they give you coins denominated in quarters at these things, cuz nothing cost a quarter. All the good games were $1. Which meant John went through money quicker than originally anticipated. And we had to search long and hard for a shooting game that did not involve blood for Tyler. I don't believe in shooting games. But we found one where you shoot robots instead of people, so I let him play. He told me repeatedly that he loved that game. It's nice to live in such a safe area, cuz we must have lost the boys at least 12 times in the 2 hours we were there.

Saturday night was spent at our house. This allowed my sister to pick them up Sunday morning on the way home from the airport and we could still make it to Primary on time. Tyler did his best to vandalize our home in the short time he was there. Thanks to his earlier nap, he had the energy of five toddlers. He spilled milk on the bed cuz I'm a softie and let him drink on the bed (at least he didn't spill the red punch). And Chad complained that our apartment smells. But how do you explain to a 12 year old growing up in South County that not everyone has money? His net worth is bound to be higher than mine, after all. They were bored cuz Tyler monopolized our only teevee to watch Peanuts movies, and we have no cable, no video games, no TiVo, and no fun. In fact, Tyler asked me why we have no toys. I told him, because we have no kids. To which he replied that we did have one kid. When I asked him who that kid would be, he replied that it was Tyler. So I'm a parent. And a bad one at that. I lost my patience with him a few times in the course of only two days.

Finally I herded them into the living room for bed. And they actually quieted down and started reading, and went to sleep. Without me losing my temper. I could not believe it. Something went right after all. Luck was a babysitter that night.

Can't get no satisfaction: Been looking for a new pair of jeans. Whey do they all come pre-tattered and torn? I can do that myself, thank you very much. Why in the world would I pay $40 for jeans that will die in a month when I used to pay $20 for jeans that lasted a year? I wouldn't.

[Comments] (2) Gender Issues: My coworker just notified me that Dennis Quaid has "manorexia." And all this time I had no idea that the english language was gender specific.

[Comments] (3) On the way to work: Saw a bumper sticker that reads "King Kong is not my grandpa." What does this mean, exactly?

[Comments] (4) Living Large: Went to D-land again on Saturday. This past month, the parks have been overrun with perky, pink cheerleaders from around the nation. When it was our turn to go on the Tower of Terror, we saw the elevator full of 15 year-old drama queens. We opted for the next elevator. The castmember noted that we made the right choice. Maybe it's cuz I was never that cool in jr high or high school, but seeing these "transparent" cheerleaders made me ill. Or maybe it was just that they were wearing more makeup than a clown, and I'm scared of clowns. I'll stop now. I'm sure they can't all be bad. After all, they did invent the alternate spelling for rowdy (r-o-w-d-i-e).

Today in church the sacrament meeting was quite empty. Having put in about 10 hours into this week's lesson, I was understandably upset. But we actually had all our kids present for our lesson on missionaries. So I made each of the kids mission badges and wrote their names on little strips of paper. Then they were blindfolded and taped their names on the map to decide where they would serve their missions. We visited each continent, noting what missionaries might do there. Obviously, the bulk of the lesson was on Asian missionaries. We listened to Chinese music, looked at Chinese money and pictures, and learned how to eat marshmellows with chopsticks. It was one of my best lessons and I was glad to have the whole class there to participate.

On the funny side, the primary president asked the kids what our goal in life is. One of the kids in the other class answered that it was to find gold and hide it in your house. My children, of course, always answer all of the questions correctly. That's cuz I tell them the answers. Since Clayton sat next to me, he got to shout out all the right answers. Matthew, understandably upset by this, said, "hey, tell me the answer next time." I believe the jig is up.

[Comments] (1) The Story Behind the Numbers: As Accountants, we are always trying to understand the story behind the numbers. This is our so-called "sanity check" that, at the end of the day, the numbers match some pre-conceived notion. If they don't, there must be some story to dictate any such deviations.

My final CPA score shows that I scored, overall, in the top 94% of all exam applicants. I also applied for my yearly gratis credit report today. I scored higher than 79% of all Americans, and apparently as high as a person can who has never owed on a mortgage. What is the story here? Simply, that I am a perfectionist freak.

[Comments] (5) Another Week, Another Weekend: I forgot to write that last weekend I went to my very first professional hockey game. It was the LA Kings vs. some people wearing blue @ Staple's Center. It was a recruiting event for our intern and a potential hire, along with me and a manager. We got to sit in the suite. And that means dessert cart! I tried the orange dreamsicle cheesecake, and it was amazing. Yes, the Staple's Center has one up on the Cheesecake Factory.

Hockey is a pretty fun sport. Though I don't quite understand why they let them fight. I mean, they are wearing a lot of padding. But still, who wrote into the rules that fights are allowed? Don't get me wrong, the fights are fun to watch. But really. After having seen Canadian parliament on teevee, I've decided some hoser in our neighbor to the north must have written that rule into the agenda.

This week, on Wed. night, they had a post-busy season party at a pub. I don't normally go to these things, but since Susie was playing hostess at our place that night, I went. It was awful to sit there and watch people, so-called professionals, get so hammered. I didn't drive there, but I did drive a group back to the office. The next day I asked my coworker how he ended up getting home safely. He said he drank a lot of water and sat around the office for another hour "working" until he felt ok. So staying late at the office is the price you pay for drinking. No thank you. I'd hate to think the kind of work people put out there while intoxicated. But anyway.

This weekend I'm a bachelor. But instead of a night on the town, I'm gonna plan my primary lesson and re-evaluate our IRA's. I guess that is the price I pay for not drinking.

[Comments] (3) The Plague of Singledom: As Susie was out of town yesterday, I once again went to church on my own. Now, I must admit, I really don't care. Most of the people in our ward, I've noticed, don't come when I know their significant other is out of town. I go anyway. But there is a small price to pay when doing so.

I got to church, as usual, about 5 minutes early. Susie and I sort of have a pew that is more or less ours. It's one of the small ones on the side. But the people sitting in front of it this week have a little three year-old girl, Emily, that likes to stare at me the whole meeting (we used to have her in nursery). I didn't want to cause a problem, so I sat in the middle on one of the larger pews. The meeting started, and alas, I had the entire pew to myself. It is as if everyone thought, "Oh, no, don't sit next to the single guy: It might be contagious!" Finally during the sacrament the Waldrons sat next to me with their party of 10+.

For all I know maybe they think Susie and I are separated. We are apart quite a bit on the weekend these days, unfortunately. The Bishop caught me and asked me where Susie was, so I told him she was visiting her mother. I wonder if he bought it?

In class, the lesson was particularly dull this week. So I made a puzzle out of the picture we were supposed to color and we played hangman as one of the activities to win another puzzle piece. Now, these kids like the game, but really can't read. So when it was all said and done I asked them if they knew what they had spelled. Clayton said "Damn It?" This is what comes of having three older brothers, I suppose.

[Comments] (3) Hollywood Horror: Finished reading The Count of Monte Cristo Monday night. Wow. I've seen the movie, and it boggles me that they share the same name. They merged two villians into one, Albert is not the Count's son, he doesn't buy the prison in the end, the Count has a different love at the conclusion, and two very major subplots don't even exist in the movie. I don't even think you could say that the movie is even remotely based on the book. Poor Dumas. Good thing he doesn't know....

[Comments] (2) Adventures in Babysitting: We watched our neighbor Payton so his mom and dad could go to the temple Thursday night. Payton is almost two. He had a lot of energy. He did laps around me at one point for about 10 minutes. When his parents got home, he ignored them and kept on playing with me and Susie. His mom couldn't believe it. Normally he runs to her, she said.

Everyone says this proves I'll be a good father. I still have doubts. It's easy to be an entertainer when you know your energy only has to last for three hours. It is entirely another matter to do it full time.

We're visiting mom for conference weekend. Mostly, we are trying to think up creative things to do with her two-foot Christus she recently acquired. I'm of the opinion that one does not need such things littering around their abode to prove one is a true Christian, to themselves or to others. Tonks sure does like it, though.

[Comments] (4) Sunny Days: All weekend I listened to somebody I am related to complain about Daylight Savings Time. I like daylight savings time, for many reasons.

1. It's a change of pace.

2. I can get home before dark now, and actually do something outside. What a concept.

3. I still get up when it's dark now, so I don't have to feel like a total lazy bum. (I've started working out again to appease Susie).

4. Busy season's over, so who cares about the missed hour of sleep? I mean, really, since the effects of this day are on a Sunday, I slept just as late as I would have otherwise.

5. It saves energy. And that saves money. And I like money.

I went to Priesthood session of conference by myself. And it was no big deal. I don't understand why people are afraid to do things alone. I mean, I know no one in Bakersfield, so what? I went, I got lost in Oildale, I communed, I came home, I ate a blondie. What's the big deal? It was nice to hear President Hinckley talk about racism and acceptance. Which has left me wondering about a certain topic I read about in NewsWeek not too long ago, that is, where do you draw the line on acceptance?

For example, same sex marriage. If we, as a society, decide to accept the notion that marriage is not just between a man and a woman, and can be between a man and a man, then why not between a man and multiple women? Or to animals? Where do you draw the line? And please don't read between the lines, because I don't know the answer, nor am I playing devil's advocate. The essence of the question is that, in order to be more accepting, does that mean accepting everything, or not? And what is the deciding factor? These are the thoughts in my head of late.

[Comments] (3) Not Buying What You're Selling: There is this guy in the office. We'll call him George, cuz that's not his name. Anywho, I was in the service cluster talking to a coworker when he quite rudely and abruptly announced that she was in his way. He came back later and quasi-apologized by adding the following caveat to the end of his justification: "But I'm from New York." He's from New York. What does that mean?

Do they give out rude, prick licenses only in New York? Or was he trying to imply that everyone from New York is a prick, so I should naturally accept it as fact, move on with my life, and avoid New Yorkers like the plague?

Now, I'm not stupid. I know what he meant. Somehow, the efficient nature requires that people not socialize, and get the work done. And being in front of the coke machine hindered his efficiency. But I would assess that characteristic as being more concerned with self-interest than efficiency. After all, it's not like I was in front of the Xerox. And even if I were, so what? Do manners not still exist in an efficient society? And does being from a certain locale exempt me from adopting the culture of my "new" surroundings? For example, is it all right for me to go to NYC and get in people's ways all day long and say "Sorry, but deal with it, cuz I'm from California"? There are other stories involving George, but I won't go there. Suffice it to say, I don't buy the breeding and upbringing argument.

Susie and I went to le Target last night to buy Chronicles of Narnia. But we didn't watch it because we also went to the library. And they had movies to rent. Good movies. Every time I looked for movies in Provo, they were more educational than entertaining, and thus I was not interested. But we ended up coming home with Regarding Henry and Maverick. I should mention that we also rented some books. I hope Cooper's Last of the Mohicans turns out to be a good read.

[Comments] (4) And they call it "Puppy Love": Susie and I went to the Irvine Spectrum last night, just to look around, as Susie has never been there before. There was a pet store there (seemed a little out of place, but that's another topic), and they had the absolute cutest puppies I've ever seen! They were also selling birds for $800, but that's another story.

In particular, I fell in love with the silk terrier, cocker spaniel, and mini schnauzer. I think, eventually, when we have a home, we'll end up with a terrier of some sort.

There were no prices on the puppies, which were all born and bred in Iowa. I guess they wait until you fall in love with them to give you the price. There was a teenage girl clinging to a puppy begging her father to let her have it. After much debate, the father won out. I thought to myself, after witnessing their little display "Duh! You knew this would happen. Why did you go inside in the first place?" One of the workers, who noticed that I had been watching the altercation, told me that it happens every day. Needless to say, I can't go back, cuz I'd come home with a wuzzle.

[Comments] (1) Happiness is: Watching the bunny rabbits eat the leaves on the bushes as I walk to work.

[Comments] (3) Fifteen Minutes of Fame: Today I got an email from "the man" congratulating me on hitting my one-year anniversary with the Firm this week. I don't think one year's that big of a deal; but I suppose that it is in this industry. But of much cooler news, I am looking out my window at work at "the 'other' man's" Air Force One. Bush is down at the Irvine Hyatt, and his plane is next door. I don't think it really matters if you like the guy or not, blah blah blah, it's kinda cool to think he's in the neigborhood. Of course, I also probably think that because his appearance has not disrupted my day (not flying, driving anywhere, etc).

And speaking of "blah blah blah," that phrase helpd Susie effectively convert to KUZZ and all it stands for. My wife is listening to country music--and she's enjoying it. Who says you can't change your spouse?

[Comments] (4) Surprise!: This last little while has been full of pleasant surprises.

1. Susie and I went to Disneyland last night. In three hours we went on Splash Mountain, Winnie the Pooh, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (twice), Indiana Jones, Matterhorn (twice), Autopia, and Space Mountain. We also saw the parade.

2. It was supposed to rain while we were at Disneyland, and it didn't.

3. Only 27 days until Alaksa!

4. I got a present from EY today re CPA exam. It's an empty oak box with a plaque on the outside noting I passed the CPA exam. Not sure what I'll do with it, but still....

5. Today was "bring your kid to work day." So I got my "shred" box emptied by a bunch of kids. And I got to go to lunch with them. And, because kids have small attention spans, all the parents left work early, so now I'm leaving early.

I guess one surprise I got wasn't so pleasant: I got my ethics exam in the mail today. I've got one year to take it. Apparently, the road to a CPA license is riddled with fees, education classes, more tests, and paperwork.

[Comments] (6) Settled: Back from a semi-relaxing jaunt to Bakersfield and then on to Utah. Words cannot express the loss of a loved one. Mostly, I felt like Jellybean all week; that is, lost, alone, and kinda bored. But these are some of the things people have told me that last few days that have had an impression on me:

Hannah: My daddy's in Chicago now. John: Really? What's he doing there? Hannah: Buying me and my brother presents!

John: So where are Jodi and Franco? Ember: On Exile Island.

President Tanner: After my father died, my mother said to herself "That's It" and went to bed to die. Three years later, she realized that it was time to live.

Grandma June: There is nothing harder in life than getting old and being in pain.

Grandma June: (contradicting herself) There is nothing harder in life than losing a child.

Grandma June: I wish I'd had more kids. Like 7, maybe. But I didn't know anything back then. So I guess I should be pretty lucky I had 5.

Grandma June: Raising kids isn't so hard. That's why I kept having more.

Mom: When I get old, will you take care of me?

Me in Primary: Susie's mommy died. Kc: She has a mom?

Alyson: It's easy to be friends; it's tough to be family.

James: (for no apparent reason, I might add) I love you, Uncle John!

Susie: I'm really disappointed about this. You really would think that a Cracker Barrel Store would have cheese and crackers.

Sumana: (to me) I am glad you are a member of this family.

Me: (to just about everybody I met) Frances really wanted to to have _____ (random item in the house).

Also, I have learned a lot of things this past week. I have learned that there is no such thing as a poor mortician, so plan ahead. Uncle Jon is amazing with his hands (he made mom's casket). Cousin Sarah has a very messy room. In-laws are good for more than they may seem. My mother-in-law wanted ribs at her wedding. The Kinsman Society Chorus is a fancy name for congregational hymn. As far as mothers-in-law are concerned, I had the best one around.

[Comments] (2) Grateful: When I tell everyone at work that I am back but my wife is still going through her mother's effects, the stories start rolling. One coworker even told me her husband has one brother that still won't talk to anyone in the family because he didn't get the lawnmower. I'm lucky to have such a level-headed family that cares more about their relationship than worldly possessions.

After getting back from the temple last night, I went to bed until Leonard's friend Peter came with our "inheritance." I couldn't sleep after he left around midnight, so I stayed up rearranging furniture until 2:30 am. I hope our neighbors below will forgive the disturbance, though I have a feeling they were probably still up anyway.

[Comments] (2) Not Again: My childhood babysitter, Anna, died in 1988. Her daughter Mary died in 1986. Her son-in-law and Mary's husband, Harry, died on Wednesday. I miss all of them. Anna lived across the street from us. Mary and Harry had this amazing house up behind the Capitol building in SLC. Right below Ensign Peak. We used to spend weekend nights there with Mary and Harry, who had no children of their own. They gave me a stuffed animal--Papa Smurf. I had that Papa Smurf until I came back from my mission to find it missing. As a side note, I learned that you can't trust your family to protect your belongings while you're gone making them proud.

Harry's obit is amazing. obituary. I never realized he worked for the FBI. Children don't care about that stuff. I just cared that visiting him meant a trip to the Capitol for a cookie.

I think the last time I saw him was five years ago, before he moved to away to be with family. Man, I need a vacation.

[Comments] (2) Quotes of the Week: Elizabeth: Did your kids grow up and get married? Susie: I don't have kids. Elizabeth: Did they grow up? Susie: I haven't had any yet!

Kc: The doctor said that whenever I get headaches it's because I ate too many marshmellows.

Bishop, Relief Society President, et al: Sorry to hear Susie's father died.

Kc: Do you two love each other or something?

Me: Clayton, what's with your mismatched socks? Clayton: Well, my mom and dad are out of town.

And last but not least, Clayton: I'm glad you are back today! Primary was very boring last time.

[Comments] (2) Travelog, A Miniseries: May 24 (day 1): Flew John Wayne to Seattle. The trip including flying over Catalina Island, B-town, Yosemite, and other California scenic areas. It was pouring rain upon arrival in Seattle and I thought to myself, well, this is it. I must interject here that the Seattle airport is, without a doubt, a disgrace. Our terminal had only one place to buy food. And the selection was sparse, so we ended up eating turkey wraps. They were overpriced and bland. Anyway, then we flew to Anchorage. I didn't realize that there is such a thing as Alaska time. I always thought they were on Pacific time. So the flight time was an hour longer than anticipated. Which is good, I guess. I got my whole ethics take home test done on the plane ride there.

About 30 minutes prior to landing, the rainy cloud cover disappeared and we got some sweet views of Seward and Anchorage. There was lots of snow to be seen. We landed in Anchorage, and thus the journey began.

Susie and I were uber-prepared for this journey. So of course we were already wearing superflous layers of clothing in anticipation of our arrival. Well. Anchorage has a mind of its own. It was 70+ F in Anchorage with the sun barreling down on us. We boarded a bus for Whittier, a trip of about 100 miles. The bus also had a mind of its own. The air was broken, so it was like 85 F on the bus. Which is truly unfortunate cuz all I could think of was getting off that bus, in spite of the constant scenic eye candy out the bus window.

Getting onto the Seward Highway, we saw a moose. Just chilling on the side of the road. Then on the Seward Highway we saw Moroni, and the rest of the Anchorage temple. Continuing on this highway, we saw mountain goats and doll sheep just hanging out on rather aggressive cliffsides. They've got guts, I tell you. I'm not sure how they get there, or how they leave, but there they were.

The mountains in Alaska just jut right out of the ocean like there's nothing to it, and I think that's what makes them seem so much more impressive to me than the mountains in Utah. The water is a murky green color in the Gulf of Alaska because of all the glacial silt. The bus driver told us that you can't go out on those beaches cuz you'll sink and this machine has to pull you out. That brought back a memory I may have made up, cuz Susie doesn't remember this, but I think I remember being at Kristin & Aaron's home and Aaron was regaling us with a tale of how a woman in Anchorage went out too far to where the machine could not reach her and she slowly sank to her death. At the time I heard this story, I didn't expect to see these sights for myself.

Right outside of Whittier lies the tunnel of doom. It is a one-way passage, so it alternates traffic direction every 30 minutes. Trains also share the roadway and must be accomodated as well. Luckily we only had to wait 5 minutes and into the tunnel we went. The speed limit inside the tunnel is only 25 mph, but it took us a full 10 minutes to go through the tunnel, meaning that the tunnel is about 4-5 miles long. That doesn't seem long, but it is. Everyone was very very quiet while we went through the tunnel, as though we were on sacred ground. I think some people were holding their breath. But we survived the tunnel and the hot bus ride and arrived in Whittier and our boat.

Now, about the clientele. I would never have guessed it, but probably about 50% of the passengers on our boat were from the south. I guess that makes some sense, cuz most of the old people were from Florida. But there were a lot of people from Alabama and Mississippi. The age makeup was about 65% retirees, with about 15% honeymooners (I guess we fit that category, whether we like it or not), and the other 20% young families with kids way too small to be going to Alaska, IMHO. So the crowd was very mellow and laidback, which was nice.

[Comments] (1) Captain's Log: May 25 (Day 2): We went to bed Wednesday night around 11 pm, and were promptly awakend about 6:30 to see the Yale, Harvard, Smith, & Wellseley glaciers in the College Fjord. We went outside and the sun was already high in the sky for 6:30 am. It was pretty chilly out, but with hat and gloves and a long-sleeve shirt I was fine.

There were huge icebergs floating in the water around us, and in the background we constantly heard what sounded like thunder. This thunder was actually "white thunder," or glacial calving. It was pretty cool to get right up to the Harvard glacier and see these massive chunks of ice fall right into the water.

The rest of the day was spent lounging on the boat and relaxing. We went to some wildlife classes they offered onboard and went out to the hot tub. The hot tub wasn't hot enough and was very splashly, so we didn't stay long. That night the fog started rolling in as we entered the Gulf of Alaska and it got quite chilly. But still no rain! With nothing to be seen, we headed to bed that night at 8 pm in anticipation of a full day ahead of us.

Now, about these cruiseships. The decor is so tacky that words really can't describe. And you can't take pics, cuz your camera will break. But Susie got it right when she told me "I think they make the ship look so blatantly ugly so that it'll never look out of style because it could never have been in style to begin with." Truer words were never spoken.

I should also mention the food. It's not that great. The appetizers can be quite exotic and fun, but the rest of the food is nothing I couldn't do on my own. And the desserts are too fancy, and always have some sort of coffee or liquor ingredient in their chemical makeup. The menu was basically the same as last year's cruise, so we didn't get too excited about eating. So why did we decide to cruise again? Well, last year we went to Mexico so we could go on a cruise, but this year we went on a cruise so we could see Alaska. See the distinction? We felt the best way to see such a large state was on a very organized boat that did all the legwork for us. A majority of cities in Alaksa cannot be reached by road. So cruising left me more time to relax and enjoy the ride.

Day 3: Sitka: We arrived in Sitka Friday morning. Sitka is a tender port, meaning that going ashore is a pain. The boat stays a couple of miles out and smaller boats take us into port. We got onto land around 10 am and walked around town. Sitka was the Russian capital of Alaska, and is where Cap'n Seward bought Alaska.

Just by setting foot on land, we knew Alaska was better than Mexico. The town was five minutes away, and thus did not require being taken advantage of by taxi drivers. Anything and everything is within walking distance. We went to the Russian Orthodox Cathedral and went shopping and wandering through town.

It was overcast all morning, but cleared up around noon and the skies were very blue. In the afternoon, we went out on a boating expedition to see sea otters and sea lions. The sea otters tie themselves up in the kelp and just kinda hang out. They are very cute sitting there cleaning themselves, but they hate humans so the only way you can see what they are doing is through binoculars. The Russians practically killed them all off for their pelts, but the otters are doing better now. The sea lions were perched on the end of Jacob's Rock, the last rock between us and Japan. The water was swelling a lot out there, and Susie had to take a vomit break.

We still couldn't believe that we had no rain. But we were not complaining!

[Comments] (3) Next Stop, Juneau: This morning we boarded a helicopter bright and early at 9 am to fly over the Mendenhall Glacier. It was my first trip in a helicopter. I'll take a helicopter ride over an airplane any day. The ride seems so smooth and natural. The pilot played Enya music and LoTR music on our journey, and I felt like I was flying to light a beacon in RoTK. From above the glacier we could see large crevasses and large pools of Windex-blue water. The water is so blue because the ice is so condensed that all colors enter the glacier but only blue can get out, as it has the shortest wavelength of all of the colors. We could also see footprints in the snow on the tops of the mountains, which I would assume were made by mountain goats.

Landing on the glacier, our next leg of the journey was made by dog sled. These huskies were the most friendly dogs I've met. They were friendly, but not overly so. They didn't really jump all over me like some dogs, but just let you pet them. We got to take turns driving the dogsled. The huskies don't like it when we would stop for pictures. They really live to pull dogsleds. They nearly lifted me off the brake a number of times. Talk about service! At the end of the journey we got to see the husky puppies! Our puppy liked chewing on Susie's shirt. I've decided it's because she spills all over herself and the puppy was well aware.

Even though I was on a glacier, we only wore a light jacket and, of course, sunglasses. We also saw some small avalanches happen. The trip home was sad, as we didn't want to leave. But the next leg of our journey took us on the Mt. Robert's Tramway to the top of, you guessed it, Mt. Roberts. Here was got a great view of the city, and went on some limited hiking trips. The hiking was limited because the snow on the mountain was melting and the trails were all quite muddy. But we did manage to see a marmot up there. They also have a bald eagle up there held in captivity due to an injury. Although it's not the same as seeing them in the wild, you could really see how majestic this bird is. I was told that Ben Franklin hated bald eagles and wanted the National Bird to be the turkey. I'm glad he didn't get his way. Sorry, Ben.

Today it hit 70 F, and we were sweating in our layers upon layers of clothing. Still no rain; not even a raincloud! The trip just kept getting better and better!

[Comments] (15) Conflicted: I swore to myself that I'd finish posting on Alaska before I posted on other things, but I just can't help myself right now.

Geez, you leave the lower 48 for a week and look what happens. Not only does CNN.com headline "Bush to back constitutional ban on gay marriage," but a flyer was distributed in church yesterday noting that the First Presidency would like me to write to Barbara Boxer & Diane Feinstein to support such an amendnment.

Susie and I discussed this issue at large last night, and the following conclusions were finally reached:

1. A letter was written from the First Presidency on May 26, 2006 and must have been read in church while we were on vacation. There is no posting of this message on the church's website, which means that, since I didn't hear it and cannot read it, I am not bound to follow its precepts.

2. I did find some excerpts from a trusty site that Nate Oman posts on, and I agree with his premise @ timesandseasons.org.

3. I really really hate the phrase "or the legal incidents thereof."

4. Why can't we all just get along? I mean, hey, if my church decides that they will not condone these actions by allowing same-sex marriages within the church, I am ok with that. It's a private institution, and that is their prerogative. But it is an entirely different matter to say that same-sex marriage is constitutionally defined and is strictly prohibited by the Bill of Rights. Ironically, I think anytime a prohibition pops up there, the whole system becomes a paradox.

5. I think people's views change largely through experience and relationships. I think I am fired up about this topic now because I finally know some people who have chosen an alternate lifestyle. They are happy, good people. Why should they be denied such "legal incidents"? But for too many of the masses who don't have these relationships, they don't care. I would propose for them to assume that their sibling/child/best friend were gay and then think about the issue. But for too many of these people, I'm afraid the proposal would only fall on deaf ears.

6. How does allowing civil unions threaten what I have in a marraige anyway?

7. Susie and I really hope this does not pass.

[Comments] (3) Laugh Shack: Me: Clayton, what did you do on Saturday?

Clayton: I went to Luke's house.

Me: Fun. What did you do there?

Clayton: Went to the bathroom in his backyard.

Me: So, Luke, I heard you went to the bathroom in your backyard.

Luke: How did you know that?

Me: Don't worry, I won't tell anybody.

Luke: Cool! My first secret!

[Comments] (2) Skagway it is: Mother Nature decided that it was finally time for Alaska to be Alaska. The winds of change (literally, the south winds from Hawaii exchanged with the north winds of the Arctic) blew in, and we were in for it. Of course, being on a nice comfortable boat, Susie and I were none the wiser. And having spent the previous day in Juneau sweating to death, Susie and I decided to wear tevas today.

The sea was angry that day, my friends. The winds were coming in at 25 mph, and it was cold. And we could do nothing about it, as we quickly boarded a catamaran for a 30-mile jaunt down to the Davidson Glacier. At least the boat was warm. And we saw a whale.

Upon arriving at the glacier, I'd had enough and put on my socks from my backpack. I felt like a regular Utah idiot wearing socks with tevas, but the warmth on my toes reminded me that this was indeed a wise choice. Who was there to judge me anyway? A crowd of 60 year-olds hardly constitute a branch of the fashion police.

Anyway, we hiked a mile to the outpost and put on two more layers of clothes and big old rain boots. I was now wearing seven layers on my upper body, and was ready to brave the storm. We entered our canoes and began paddling furiously upstream to the face of the glacier, passing floating icebergs along the way. Now, we got some sweet pics of the glacier. But it's really hard to appreciate the size of the glacier without going onto it. Our guide told us it took him three hours to hike to the top, to give you an idea. It looks like a 30 minute stroll would get you there. But none of us regular civilians are allowed out of the canoes at the glacier. I wish they'd put a cardboard cutout of a bear or something on it so that we could gauge the size of the thing with a bit of added relevance to it all. But oh well. Just trust me that it's a doozy.

The way home was treacherous, as the winds were making the sea pretty choppy. Landing back in Skagway, we quickly went back on our boat and changed shoes. Then it was time to experience Skagway. Skagway has a population of about 1,000 people in the winter time, and 4,000 during the summer tourist season. It is about 25 blocks long by 5 blocks wide. That's all that can fit on the valley floor. There is an LDS chapel on the corner of 11th and State. It is the easiest entrance to the Klondike and thus was the famous starting point for the gold rush of 1898. It is also famous for whore houses.

In fact, the whole state of Alaska seems to think that whore houses are national monuments. What a joke. These old people don't care about that stuff. No one that goes on a cruise ship wants to see a burlesque house. Only single, horny men want to, and they don't cruise to Alaska. I don't see how these houses make any money. I didn't see anyone going in. But the girls working there were hanging out of windows calling us in. Luckily, we got distracted by a man who was taking our picture on the main street so the girls didn't bother us. This man, I'm assuming, was from England. Instead of saying "Say Cheese" he said "Have any good sex lately?" Needless, to say, Susie and I are smiling pretty big in that picture. Neither of us answered his question, though. We were both so dumbstuck.

Cars in Alaska are interesting. They are all laced with political bumper stickers. There were a lot of stickers about immigration, and I couldn't help wondering why Alaskans care. After all, no one illegally immigrates to Alaska. That would require swimming across the Bering Straight. But they are part of the Union, so they do have a say in these matters. One bumper sticker really spoke to me: "I have to go to work today; people on welfare depend on it." Nuff said.

Even though it was cold, still no rain. That night we were exhausted from the canoeing, so we went to bed at 8 pm and woke up at midnight for the midnight buffet. We missed this buffet last time due to my cabin fever. Once again, not all that impressive. It was fun, and I did sample two different cakes. But I really shouldn't have wasted the calories. We went back to bed at 1 am and slept until 9 or so the next day. It was a much needed rest.

"Ketch"ikan of the Day: Today was got to Ketchikan around 11 am and once again had to tender ashore. We had no formal plans this day, so we basically walked the entire city. We found a museum that had a self-guided city tour with monument placards along the way. It was a fun thing for us to do. Ketchikan reminded me a bit of San Francisco. Lots of hills, and lots of tall, skinny houses. Actually, the houses must be mentioned. Most of the houses are seriously four or five stories tall. And the main entrances to all of these houses are on the top level. Needless to say, there must not be a single person out of shape that lives in Ketchikan. Susie about died when she saw this spectacle. I wonder why they build them this way? Though on many of the houses it did appear that the bottom two floors may have been little more than unfinished areas used for storage, based on the structure of the house. I can't imagine hauling groceries up so many stairs.

The city also has a district with houses built on stilts partially over rivers. Hong Kong had similar areas like this in the fishing communities. They all looked quaint, with the exception of one more whore house.

The city walk loops around, so that you take a different pathway home. This took us up a rather steep hill to walk back along a residential ridgeway. There were eagles circling the skies and few decided to land on trees whose tops were level with us being high up on the ridgeway. So we got some excellent pics of wild eagles, and that was a neat thing to me.

Ketchikan gets 13 FEET of rain a year, which means about almost half an inch a day. Wow. That's a lot of rain. But once again we didn't get rained on. The Vacation Gods were indeed smiling down on us. The city also has a lot of totem poles that were removed from the surrounding area to be preserved in the city. They're very tame for totem poles--the Hollywood make believe ones are much more colorful. I wish they had signs on them detailing where they were found with a guesstimated creation date. But oh well.

That night our waiter at dinner asked me and Susie about polygamy. He is from the Philippines and I told him about my mission to the Kong a few days earlier. I could tell he worded his question very carefully, as he didn't want to offend us and thereby get fired. I tried to explain that we don't practice it anymore, but that it is a Christian rite that can be seen in the Bible, and is only practiced by certain people at certain times and left it at that. I think this is one reason that I have become more liberal in my acceptance of ideas that are foreign to me. Polygamy is a touchy subject that a lot of people, including myself, don't understand. How could I look myself in the mirror each day if I condemned others for being different when I am so different, peculiar even, to so many people? It would effectively take my persecuted heritage and revolve it into a persecuting future. I'm not willing to do that. My heritage is too important to me to belittle it like that.

Canada, the Maple Leaf State: Made it home safely. Our flight through Seattle was cancelled so instead we flew to LA and were shuttled home from there. As fate would have it, we got home at the exact time we would have otherwise, so I guess it all worked out.

In Vancouver, our bus ride to the airport took about 40 minutes and was actually a nice little narrated city tour. The city of Vancouver decided not to employ freeways, which I see as good and bad. The good, which is really good, is that city life downtown flourishes, as do the small businesses located there. The bad news is that getting from here to there can be a real drag.

We sat behind a little boy and his grandpa on the bus. Their conversation went something like this:

Boy, age 5: Poppy, I'm gonna miss you when you die.

Poppy: Well, I guess I'll be watching over you and sissy, then.

Boy: Poppy, I wanna play football.

Poppy: Boy, I know you like to play and get physical, but football's too dangerous.

Boy: Well, then I'll just play fake football.

Poppy: There's no such thing as fake football, son. You need to concentrate on learnin how to read, like Sissy.

Boy: I know my ABC's.

Poppy: That ain't readin. You need to concentrate on your studies, son.

Wow. What a conversation! Anyway, being a poppy sure does sound fun! Maybe I'll just skip fatherhood and go straight to being a grandpa.

[Comments] (2) Stairway to Heaven: I wanted to post this so as to alleviate any confusion that may currently exist regarding the LDS faith and its tenets.

Letter from First Presidency of the Church to Church Leaders in the United States

We are informed that the United States Senate will on June 6, 2006, vote on an amendment to the Federal constitution designed to protect the traditional institution of marriage.

We, as the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, have repeatedly set forth our position that the marriage of a man and a woman is the only acceptable marriage relationship.

In 1995 we issued a Proclamation to the World on this matter, and have repeatedly reaffirmed that position.

In that proclamation we said: “We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.”

We urge our members to express themselves on this urgent matter to their elected representatives in the Senate.

As you can clearly see, I am merely asked to express an opinion on this matter, either yay or nay as I see fit, as long as it supports the family as the fundamental unit of society. On the flipside, for those who so callously accuse me of not following the prophet, did you actually call your senator? If you did not, then you also did not heed his counsel.

Now to the meat of the conversation, which has unfortunately been taken out of context, The Family: A Proclamation to the World:

We, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator's plan for the eternal destiny of His children.

All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.

In the premortal realm, spirit sons and daughters knew and worshiped God as their Eternal Father and accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize his or her divine destiny as an heir of eternal life. The divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave. Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally.

The first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God's commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.

We declare the means by which mortal life is created to be divinely appointed. We affirm the sanctity of life and of its importance in God's eternal plan.

Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. "Children are an heritage of the Lord" (Psalms 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, to teach them to love and serve one another, to observe the commandments of God and to be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.

The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities. By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed.

We warn that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.

We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.

Now that it can be read it its fullness, I'd like to express my opinion on this statement. I believe in it. I love it. I take it very seriously.

I do not find within its meaning any clarion call to save the wicked world from the sin of homosexuality. What I do see in it are the attributes that I as a husband and potential father must strive to assimilate. I do not read this statement and think, well, time to go preach to the world how wicked they are. Rather, I see within it a statement that I can use to contemplate, plan and prepare ways to improve myself in regards to my relation with my wife, extended family, et all.

And sometimes it scares me, because I don't yet feel prepared to be a father. The Brethren state: "We warn that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets." I see a plea to families to be true and faithful to one another, and see divorce and disrespect of spouse and children to be the disintegration that is set before me. And that is a problem that is inexcusably growing within the LDS church. I see nowhere in this statement a requirement to blatantly persecute those with beams while my mote grows and blossoms in a redwood tree. Because I should know better.

Of course it is easier for some to say this does not apply to them, that all is well in Zion. "Surely the Saviour is talking about those not of his fold." I sincerely ache for such people. This is a statement for me, and for you. May we use it for ourselves.

In closing, the Saviour spent much of his ministry with the publicans and sinners. And they accepted him, because he did not call them names like "publican" and "sinner." He did not condone their incorrect traditions, but he LOVED them until they changed. May we go and do likewise.

[Comments] (1) Anti-Dentite: Went to the dentist yesterday, who has become very high-tech in the last six months. Instead of putting film in my mouth for x-rays, the dentist stuck a digital camera of sorts in my mouth. And the images popped right up on the screen before me instantly. I thought that was pretty neat. Then the assistant left them there for me to stare at for the duration, which got old. They're teeth x-rays, for crying out loud.

The dentist came in and told me I had no cavitites. Then he started buttering me up by saying how lovely my teeth were and that, to increase their loveliness, I should get my silver fillings replaced with white ones. But insurance doesn't cover this, so it will cost me $625. I might add these fillings are on my back two teeth, that no one can see anyway. I don't think so.

In college my roommate Alex had silver fillings in all of his teeth. He told me that their dentist growing up was a crook and put in fillings falsely. I guess when it comes to things like teeth and cars I place my trust in the system because I don't know any better.

I miss the days of getting a prize from the dentist for not having any cavities.

[Comments] (1) For the Birds: Here are some stories I've been meaning to write about:

Story 1: I must have very iron-rich blood. On our cruise, every time we went through a metal detector it would go off, even if I was going into the store and not out of it. I figured it must be the ship's problem. But then in Target the other day I set it off again going into the store, but luckily not going out of it. Now every time I see a metal detector I break into a cold sweat, look for a way around it, and pray as I tiptoe through it.

Story 2: Clayton, a 5 year-old in our Primary class, kept telling me that his brother is in rehab. His brother's like 14, and I had not seen him pass the sacrament lately. I thought that seemed really sad that the poor kid was on drugs. It can happen to anyone, I guess. Well, we had some of our friends in the ward over for dinner, and one of them teaches his Sunday School class. So I asked him about it. Turns out it is a physical therapy rehab center because the poor kid blew out his knee playing volleyball, hence why he wasn't passing the sacrament.

Story 3: Last night at Disneyland Susie and I got front and center seats in front of the castle to watch the fireworks show. In the middle of the show this duck takes off into the sky out of the moat. Just as the duck gets above us, fireworks shoot out from every direction, and the duck turns our way. As he does so, he loses control of his bowels and dumps poop all over the people behind us, and luckily only a tiny amount splashed my way, and none onto Susie. Now I know where the term "scared sh*tless" comes from.

[Comments] (5) Never a Dull Moment: We went and saw "Cars" last weekend. Lessons learned: Even Pixar can have a bad movie. Not that it was bad, it just was not as good as the previous Pixar films.

We had the missionaries over for dinner on Thursday night. Lessons learned: they eat more lasagne than they care to, and not enought pizza.

Today Susie is having a baby shower at our house. Lessons learned: Crystal punch bowls apparently are not supposed to match.

We went to Disneyland last night, and saw the setup for the movie premiere of Pirates 2, being held there tonight. Lessons learned: It's really tough to get invited, even if you're an AP.

Last week in Primary I mesmerised six children for 45 minutes simply by bringing our Disney Mr. Potatohead to class. Every time the children answered a question right, they got to put another piece on him. Lessons learned: I'm really trying too hard. Such simple ideas are usually the most effective.

Susie and I are flying to Utah on Wednesday for the Fourth of July weekend. We are kind of frustrated because we want to see some old friends while we are there, but will not have a car. And my family isn't returning my calls about borrowing theirs. Lessons learned: There are more ways than one to become an orphan, including cabin season.

And last but not least, the year of the mouse ends on July 16th, and we are not renewing our Disney passes. To fill the void in our lives, we are considering a NetFlix membership. Anyone know if this is a good idea, so we can avoid learning some lessons the hard way?

[Comments] (2) You Don't Know Jack: Yesterday was the grand re-opening of Pirates of the Carribean at Disney. Jack Sparrow now appears in the ride three times, and they added a few new special effects, including this cool mist screen with Davy Jones on it. The line had us wandering around through Frontierland, but it was moving really fast. Every line last night said one to two hours wait, but the longest we waited was 45 minutes. Go figure.

I am still in the habit of clicking on mom's weblog every day to see if she's updated. Obviously, she hasn't. Can I break the habit?

[Comments] (2) Enjoying the Inheritance: I've been perusing some of the 19 scrapbooks. Mom was obviously very proud of Leonard's intellectual prowess in high school. She has every newspaper clipping available. Herein are the highlights of his interviews:

"Don't label me as a product of my generation. I have no generation."

"Leonard has chosen to attend UCLA in the fall, because it's in California."

There is also a picture of a Christmas tree, circa 1982, that seems to have no base, and two tops. I think the base is far right on the Christmas tree and has a huge bald spot on the bottom left, making it appear to have no base. Susie's convinced that she must have picked it out. I'm convinced Charlie Brown must have picked it out.

[Comments] (6) yada yada yada: Wow. I've been meaning to update for a while now, yada yada yada, it's been a month. Here are the highlights:

For the Fourth of July, we flew JetBlue to Utah. Our teevees were malfunctioning half of the time. But the extra leg room on JetBlue is nice. While in Utah we stayed at Justin's condo in Park City. The pool in the Racquetball Court is pretty cool. It has a water slide and these jets in the pool that shoot you around the pool through these islands, etc. It's kinda like a ride. Logan and I tried to walk against the current and you seriously cannot. It was fun. There is also a rock climbing wall at the condo now. Though it is not very tall, it's pretty tough. Of course, it is also scary because we do not have belay equipment. Yada yada yada Hannah calls that place "Atlantica" now. Because there were so many of us, I, Susie, Erin, Logan, Ember, James, and Hannah slept on the floor downstairs. It was good times.

We also went and visited Grandma June, who was having a very bittersweet day. She went to visit the doctor, yada yada yada, she's not dieing.

We also went to the cabin and had multiple treasure hunts. Susie and I also got up very early and hiked Timp Cave and did the tour. It's a very strenuous hike, yada yada yada there were only five people in our group.

Back at home, we've enjoyed the last of Disneyland. We took Tyler with us one last time before they move to Canada. He thinks the driver on the Casey Jr. Train was very good. And he loves the Winnie-the-Pooh ride. We ate at the Blue Bayou with him (the restaurant in Pirates of the Carribean) and he was so confused that it got dark so quickly. He really thought we were outside. He kept asking me if the stores were closed now. Anyway, when we got back outside and saw the sun he finally realized we were not eating outside. He wouldn't sit still during lunch yada yada yada Susie spilled ranch dressing all over herself. We bribed him out of the park at the end of the day with a Jamba Juice.

Rachel went to Serbia yada yada yada we have a cat. I'm thinkin' she'll be our first and last.

And last but not least: Tomorrow's my 26th birthday yada yada yada I get to come to work!

[Comments] (2) Moving on: One of my coworkers is moving back to Utah. And he's getting a raise to do so. A friend of mine and Susie's just bought a house in Plano, TX, and will be moving shortly. And yet another friend of ours is moving to Arizona. The exodus begins.

Though I'm sad they are leaving for greener pastures (pun fully intended), I'm also happy. Their ability to leave empowers me. Their success at finding decent/good jobs in a smaller market that still supports a one-income home with more than two children gives me hope. My day will come! Until then, I'm stuck with the 405 freeway, a one-bedroom apartment with no cable and no air conditioning, and an indoor cat that thinks our nice, expensive couch is a scratching pole.

[Comments] (3) Continue moving on: Jamie and family left CA last weekend. They stayed with us Saturday night and left early Sunday morning. It really didn't hit me they were leaving until we went to their house Saturday morning and saw it completely empty. I spent the whole morning cleaning their refrigerator, and the afternoon entertaining the kids so Jamie could officially check out of her house.

So it's official. Susie and I are now orphans in CA.

I guess we're not totally orphans. Susie and I now possess a cat. Jellybean, to be exact. She is siamese, if you please. And she'll ruin your furniture and your beauty sleep, if you don't please. Luckily we have a deck, as the smell of cat food in the house was driving my crazy. She's so needy, I can't even go to the bathroom in peace. But she's house trained, which is more than I can say for some people's family members, so I guess I can't complain too much.

These past two months I have worked more than I care to think about. And will continue to do so for another couple of weeks at the very least. Now that the heat wave has subsided, I'd rather be home than stuck at work, and it's getting harder and harder to be a yes-man around the office. But the bills don't pay themselves, so there you have it. Sometimes I think Susie is lucky, because she can hate her job, knowing full well it is not a career. My mindset has to be different. If only I weren't such a responsible person. If only....

But on the bright side, Susie and I are going to New York for Thanksgiving, and I'm excited. I've never been to NYC (for reals, not like the whole "John's never been to SF" extravaganza), and think it will be neat to go to Rockefeller Center and see the Christmas tree, wander aimlessly through Central Park, go to Times Square and see my office (I must be insane to think that sounds like fun), and possibly see the Olsen twins. Or at least one of them; I think the other one dropped out of college. It'll be just like in "The Great Gatsby." Hopefully by then I'll be allowed to carry toothpaste in my carry-on, as I detest checking luggage.

[Comments] (4) Deep Doctrine: Susie and I went and saw X-Men 3 at the $1 theater Saturday night. I really can't decide if I liked it or not. Too many people died, and then they ended it with rather lame promises of a sequel. When is enough enough? I mean, so many characters are now dead. What new direction can they take the movie in?

Though I've decided I like the general theme of X-Men. It shows what happens when hatred and fear of different peoples comes out swingin'. It shows sheer bigotry (on both sides) and reminds us that our goal should be a society without classes.

Susie and I also received the first disc of "24" from NetFlix and watched the whole thing yesterday. Susie didn't even want to watch it, and there we were. Teevee has a way of evolving. The 80's were full of sitcoms, the 90's brough on reality shows, and now, in the 21st century, the new theme is to make shows that are almost incoherent, yet drag you in. And I say that in the nicest way. But between "Lost" and "24" it just seems that I really don't have a clue what's going on. But I must like that feeling, cuz I kept watching.

Yesterday in Primary, the lesson was on obeying the law. So we played tic tac toe, but only after the children explained the rules to us. Of course, they missed so many rules that Susie and I cheated as much as possible to illustrate ignorance in the law. Anyway, I also brought a bag of Skittles, and every time the kids could explain why we have a certain law, they got a handful. One of my examples was "Taxes." Elizabeth says: "Oh I know what that is. It's when you don't have a car, so you call the man." Great. I went from a professional to a chauffer. Maybe that means I get overtime now....

[Comments] (5) Organ Donor: Susie and I have yet another new joint calling: Ward Organist. Now, I should mention that neither of us plays the organ. Nor do either of us enjoy accompanying congregations, especially those filled with people that do know how to play the organ.

Today Susie and I went to the church and received a crash course in organ playing. Now, having played the piano for 15 years, I suppose I should know that the organ does not have pedal sustainment like a piano, but I didn't. Apparently, when one plays the organ, one plays it differently than the piano to acheive note sustainment. Otherwise, the notes sound all disjointed and choppy. It seriously felt like I was learning how to play a brand new intstrument. And we go live tomorrow. Not to mention that the six year-olds still require a lesson at our hands, and the primary program is in six weeks.

But on a good note, I do actually get Labor off from work this year on account of good behavior. Susie and I are going to the zoo. And gas has also dipped back into the $2 realm. I filled up for $2.91 today and the total bill was just over $20. That makes a person smile. Time to go watch more "24."

[Comments] (8) Waiting my turn: Now that Susie has officially blessed the announcement, I too would like to post that we are having a baby, due February 28. February 28. Yeah, right. Due March XX.

I am very very very excited about this. We waited a few years into our marriage because I never felt ready for this responsibility, and always figured I never would. I really assumed that Susie would one day break me on this one, and we'd have a baby. But that's not how it's played out. I'm excited, I feel like I'm ready to be a father, and I want this.

I already have such a wishlist for our unborn child: that he will be healthy, that he will get Susie's good looks, that he will be smart, that adopted grandparents (or that various aunts and uncles) will replace the void of the missing ones, etc.

NB - For all those that told me birth control takes 2-6 months to wear off, poo poo. Here, indeed, history is bunk.

[Comments] (3) The Twilight Zone: In UT recruiting for the man. Wierd things that I have observed/experience while here:

1. Gas in UT is $2.80. It was $2.70 when I left California.

2. The hotel cancelled my reservation. Rather, they say I did. But I didn't. They only had one room left, and it was the room right off the lobby. Hence, it was a tad noisy.

3. At the pre-interview dinner, I was seated at a table full of potential audit hires interested in our Palo Alto and Bay Area offices. I'm in tax in SoCal. Not sure of the correlation there.

4. I discovered that two of my coworkers are Mormon. I had no idea they were Mormon, I guess, because they went to ASU and not BYU. I felt pretty stupid that I didn't know that.

5. I was to meet Grandma June at IHOP for dinner. She didn't show. Turns out, even though I had to drive from BYU and made a pit stop at the Provo Cemetary, I still beat them there. They were so late that I left to go find them at the WellsFargo next door. When we later came back to IHOP (45 minutes later) the menus were still in our booth waiting for us. I was embarrassed. But the really wierd part was that I actually enjoyed my IHOP lunch for once.

6. When I told my family that I was sad that there would be no one to help me bless my baby, their response was that we should bless the baby in UT to accomodate them. Hello. Susie's gonna give birth, then we have to take the baby to UT after that ordeal? They can't come see us? Fine, I'll break tradition and host the first single priesthood-holder baby blessing in the church. With style.

The only normal things that reminded me that this trip was NOT an episode of the twilight zone are: my flight out was delayed, it was snowing and I only brought flip flops, no one from BYU is interested in moving to the OC, I had to clean off the Richardson headstone at the cemetary from the recent mow job and rainfall, and that my nieces and nephews were excited to see me!

[Comments] (1) Lessons Learned the Hard Way:: Never read a Dan Brown novel on an airplane. The man next to me wouldn't shut up about it. I think I finally convinced him that the novel is fiction, since the word fiction is printed on the side of the book. Then he went on a whole tirade about Iraq, morality in America, etc. And he is an expert, because he knows someone who's been to Iraq, and knows someone who is gay. Please. Like that means anything. Lucky for him, I kept my big mouth shut and just listened. I mostly amused myself by laughing at his wife across the aisle.

The entire rest of the plane was going to Disneyland. I think they were all related somehow. Not exactly sure. But there were lots of kids, and I could tell that they bothered her immensely. They were all very excited for their trip.

Another lesson I learned the hard way on Sunday is regarding accompanying the ward choir. They sang hymn 96, Dearest Children, God is Near You, and I played impeccably. In retrospect, I should have messed up a little. I always mess up a little. I think this was my first flawless performance. Which means that I am now doomed to accompany them for the rest of my life.

[Comments] (4) The Haps: The verdict has arrived: we are having a princess!

Here are the Top Ten reasons I am excited to be having a daughter:

1. I have delayed investing in the video game industry.

2. I get to have a daddy's girl.

3. I don't have to buy play guns.

4. I made my nieces (who are very much outnumbered in the family) very happy.

5. Two words: potty training.

6. Girls grow up and live by their parents. Boys grow up and live by their in-laws.

7. I'm gonna get loads of bragging rights when my daughter becomes the first female ____________.

8. We can keep calling her beet.

9. I can still do all sorts of "boy stuff" with her, and get to do the girl stuff too.

10. Maggie's such a cute name to go to waste.

DISCLAIMER: The purpose of this list is not discourage the breeding of boys, to make people who currently or in the past have parented boys, to discriminate against boys in any way, or to initiate a comment war. It is merely a father's way of expressing excitement over his little princess.

[Comments] (3) A Universal Disappointment: Went with Susie, the woot, and Rob to Universal Studios Hollywood on Saturday. I wanted to get there at opening hour (9 am) so we wouldn't miss a beat. Well, we didn't. We had done everything by 3 pm. Everything. The longest line of the day was like 20 minutes. And the weather was perfect. That's the good news.

The bad news is that it wasn't fun. They had this stupid Van Helsing haunted house thing that wasn't scary at all, the Jurassic Park ride just takes you up to see a bunch of fake dinosuars and gets you slightly wet, and the Backdraft exhibit is just a bunch of smoke and flames.

The Mummy ride wasn't bad. It did go backwards, and the beetles eating my feet were pretty scary. But it was a pretty short ride. The backlot tour was also ok, though the earthquake wasn't as scary as it was the first time I experienced it. We did get to see Wisteria Lane since they weren't filming that day, but since I don't even watch Desperate Housewives, it wasn't that thrilling.

The consistency to the day was the fact that every ride involves a lot of mist, water, and something poking you. Every ride. I guess it's done to remind us that all that Hollywood is based on smoke and mirrors.

They also had a waterworld show that was quasi-entertaining. Except I've never seen the movie. Susie, woot, and Rob all noted that it's a pretty stupid movie. So I'm not sure why they chose to make a show out of it. I have beefs with a lot of the concepts to the movie idea in general.

Sunday was a fun day. Susie was up on the stand playing the opening hymn when the Heil family came in and sat two rows behind us. Their 6 year-old Lucas came and sat next to me. He's not in our primary class, but he wishes he was. Anyway, we played cars and he drew a picture of an alien that got destroyed by bombs, dogs, guns, and gerbils. Susie liked the gerbils. It was kind of fun to sit through Sacrament Meeting with a six year-old by my side, though I didn't catch a single word that was spoken from the pulpit.

Next Sunday is the primary program, and Susie and I are both excited to get it over with. It's torture to both kids and teachers alike. But religious traditions die hard, so there you have it. We practiced for two hours straight yesterday. The kids were so restless by the end. A treat has been promised next week after the performance. It had better be good. And I had better get one. It's about time I got a treat in Primary. I know all the answers.

[Comments] (3) Tech Deck: Last night Susie and I watched Labrynth. The subtitles were on, and I don't know how to turn them off. But it was actually pretty entertaining with them on, as there was a lot of stuff I don't I would have picked up on otherwise.

We also went to Wahoo's for dinner and I have the shrimp enchilada meal, which came with two enchiladas, beans, and rice. What I really wanted was the shrimp quesadilla. But for some reason the quesadilla was more than the whole meal thingy I got. I really don't understand retail.

[Comments] (3) Stupid Indian Summer: It's gonna be 85 again today. I really don't know how these SoCalians can stand so much sunshine. I kinda miss having "weather."

Anyway, I won a free gym pass to 24 hour fitness. And not just any 24 hour fitness, the fancy one with the showers and spa and all that stuff. And the pass is good for a whole year! I can no longer say I never win anything. I am very excited about this, as my current gym membership at our apartment is a disgrace. I'm always afraid the treadmill is going to eat me it's sooo noisy.

Susie and I have spent the last few weeks pondering the meaning of life. My favorite coworker is relocating to UT to work with my other favorite coworker who left in September. I'm getting pretty tired of people asking me if I'm moving back to UT, especially because I don't know the answer to their question. Susie and I are doing our best to stay in Cali, but it's hard. We spent all last week looking for cheaper housing opportunities, but I just don't have the energy to move right now. So, for the time being, we are staying put. Out of sheer laziness, which bothers me because I'm normally not a lazy person. Maybe I'll call it sheer exhaustion and feel better about it.

Shifting gears, our primary program was on Sunday and literally in spite of the presidency our children all did very well. We practiced for three weeks and then the day of the program there was a new seating chart implemented and half our kids weren't sitting with us. And I couldn't yell at somebody about it because I was at the organ playing prelude. During the lesson I asked our kids who loved me and their little hands all shot way up. And Spencer sat on my lap the whole time during sharing time without causing problems. That's the stuff that makes it all ok. I hope my own daughter will be that crazy about me.

Lastly, last night we had a BYU alumni dinner sponsored by the firm and Buca di Beppo. I really don't like their food, but it was a lot of fun. Susie wore a maternity shirt so that no one would mistake her for being fat (she's still kinda in that inbetween stage) but we really didn't need to worry. At least half of the women there were pregnant. One thing's for sure, you wouldn't mistake us for a meeting of the OC Choppers.

[Comments] (6) Mr Sandman: Susie is a happy camper because she got to sleep in today. She's also happy because, five months into her pregnancy, people can finally tell that she is pregnant. Though she technically is still in the inbetween phase of "I can't ask her if she's pregnant....She could just be fat." She seems bothered by it. I'm ok with it. Less to lose in the end.

Today in Sacrament Meeting we had another pew visitor: Elizabeth. She was very excited to sit with us, and we gave her Spencer's goldfish, since I had noticed that he was not in church today. I enjoy primary a lot. What I don't particularly enjoy is being the ward choir accompanist. When I told the director we'd be in NYC for Thanksgiving, she decided to cancel the November song instead of get another substitute. That's what I get for being a good director-follower.

Yesterday Susie and I went to the LA temple. We've been meaning to go to that temple since we celebrated our third wedding anniversary, and finally made it there yesterday. It was a sad sight. That temple could hold over 200 people in a session and there was maybe 50 people in ours. The Newport temple, on the other hand, can hold about 50 people, and is always packed. We also were asked to assist in some sealings. It was a good trip. I need to make it there more often.

I finished Lemony Snicket's final book the other day. Not sure what to make of it. I guess, if nothing else, it's over. Any book suggestions on what I should start reading now?

[Comments] (2) A Bachelor's Weekend: Susie ditched me this weekend to visit the woot. I spent Saturday cleaning out the fridge and Christmas shopping. I think we got everyone's gifts, except for my mom's, which we will pick up in Utah. Very productive. And very lonely.

Church went well. I had to play. We sang "Prayer of Thanksgiving" for the opening hymn, as it is November, and we sang "Adam-ondi-ahman" for the closing hymn. No one was singing. I felt like I was playing an organ solo up on the stand. After the bishop told me "Well, they'll know it next time." Honestly, don't people get sick of singing "I believe in Christ" every week? I also have to play for a baptism tonight, last minute, and don't know what I'm playing. Well, they'll get what they pay for.

In primary I had to take on an extra class for a no-show teacher. And since Susie wasn't there the 1st counsellor had to sit in. The lesson, on service, was (as usual) a complete waste. I had to make my own. We made little coupon books with items of service the kids can do for their parents. Thanks to my sister's generosity in utilizing leftover scrapbooking mats, the coupon books were tres chic. Then we played a game: the kids had to toss a bean bag into one of three buckets, then answer a question based on the bucket number. If they answered it right, they got a skittle. I thought it was a good lesson, but the 1st counsellor didn't seem to find it conservative enough. Prediction: I won't be in primary next year.

But life is good. We leave for NYC in two weeks. Jon & Sharon are visiting us this week. The holidays are coming. I don't have to work late anymore for a while. Thanksgiving's in the air!

[Comments] (6) For British Eyes Only: Watched the first half of "Arrested Development: Season 3" brought to me via Netflix this weekend. I can't stop laughing thinking about the following humorous aspects:

1. Anything & Everything to do with Mrs. Featherbottom. I really should re-watch those scenes with the subtitles to see what Tobias is actually singing.

2. Is it just me, or is the narrator getting increasingly witty with his remarks? All his corrections/contradictions were hilarious.

3. The whole Steve Holt/Gob extravaganza. I didn't realize it is spelled Gob because it stands for George Oscar Bluth.

4. Maebe's job as a screen writer. "Marry me!"

5. George Senior's surrogate father.

6. Wee Britain. I especially love the US-style restaurants there, with their huge servings of extra-fattening foods. And, of course, Mary Poppins.

7. I loved the episode with the train set and the jet pack, where Tobias dressed up like a mole and attacked the city in front of the Japanese investors.

8. Motherboy.

9. Anything to do with George Michael. Poor George Michael.

10. The various chicken dances performed by Gob, Lindsey, Lucielle (not to be confused with Lucielle 2) and George Senior.

That just cracks me up!

[Comments] (6) : Why is it that nice guys always finish last?

One Moment In Time: This week has been very good to me. I was in LA the first half of the week living it up in a hotel eating out expensive food that I didn't have to pay for. The second half of the week found me not working much, and enjoying my coworkers company a lot. Nice, now I know how it works in industry. I feel like I work at the place in "The Office" now. I had better enjoy it while it lasts, cuz it won't be long.

And tomorrow I am going NYC. My coworker gave me a list of restaurants to peruse, as he lived there for five years. And we're having dinner with my old mission companion Monday night. My only dilemma is I am unsure what to pack, having never been to NYC. On the today show today, some people were in coats, others in long sleeves, and others in short sleeves. Where does that leave me for packing? Somewhere between the moon and NYC I suppose.

An Affair to Remember: We apparently had to go through Atlanta to get to NYC. Our original tickets didn't say that, but no worries. Because "Lucky Susie" was with me, both of our flights landed about 30 minutes early. While waiting for our luggage, I casually commented that our luggage should be first on the belt. I felt this would be so because we were early on our flight at John Wayne, so it would have been loaded FILO method, and that means that on our ride to NYC from Atlanta it would be on the LIFO method! And it was true! Delta totally redeemed themselves yesterday.

Our first flight put us next to a screaming toddler. Pretty much, I'm sold on not taking the babe anywhere far until she can talk. I felt so bad for the parental unit. To drown her out, I watched the in-flight movie "My Super Ex-Girlfriend." It was stupid. Now let us never speak of that show again.

Next stop: Astoria. Leonard & Sumana's abode is very quaint. It reminds me a lot of our first apartment in Provo. Small & cozy, and nice & new. Today we ventured through the NW section of Central Park, and perused the Met. It is too hard to see that museum all in one day, and my poor feet paid the price. But we did it. We also brunched with Leonard, since that is apparently how it is done in NYC. I enjoyed the brunch, but my problem with brunch is that I never know when to eat lunch/dinner after.

The subway is very confusing, but since Susie and I are having a nice, leisurely trip with not too many set plans, we can get lost and not worry about the consequences. I am told that is how NYC is best experienced: by observation and attention to the journey. Thus far, it appears to be true.

Tomorrow awaits!

[Comments] (1) In a NY Minute: I can't keep up with this city. Time keeps getting away from me. Today, we walked the Brooklyn Bridge. It is about 1/3 the length of the Golden Gate Bridge, I think. It was a nice jaunt that gave us a surprise view of Lady Liberty. In Brooklyn, we went to Junior's upon the recommendation of a coworker. We had a hard time finding it (contrary to popular belief, not everything can be "just over the bridge"). I had matzo, Susie had split pea, and we shared a piece of their famous cheesecake. We took the subway back to Wall St, and saw big business at its best. The NYSE and Trump Building were daunting figures, but not so much as the chapel at Trinity Square. We saw the tomb of Alexander Hamilton, laid to rest right in the middle of the downtown financial district. Obviously, his tombstone does not mention anything about RIP.

We then made our way to Union and Washington Square, including perusing NYU, which apparently has no campus. It seems to be strewn across midtown. I'm sure it's a very nice school, but I enjoyed having a college experience more excluded from the city itself. Though they would mock that I call Provo a city, so there you have it.

A lot of the trees have fences around them and grow cabbage in the dirt. I find this odd. At first thought, I decided it was a mini-victory garden. But then I noticed all the dogs going to "the met" there, so it must be for show. Which is also odd, since cabbage is not the most beautiful plant I can think of.

We had dinner in Little Italy, which was decked out for the holidays. To get there, we met my mission buddy and his wife, who walked us through Chinatown. Both Susie and my friend's wife did not care for the Chinese experience and I must say, neither did I. I guess I wasn't in the mood for the Asian equation tonight.

We had dessert at "Rice to Riches," which was very fancy. Susie and Alyssa had the rocky road rice pudding, Nate had the pecan rice pudding, and I had the pumpkin rice pudding. It was all very tasty. I also sampled the coconut pudding. I wouldn't mind going there again.

To recap, my feet are tired, my nose is cold, and my tummy is full. We're having fun!

[Comments] (3) Three Hour Bore: Today we did the Circle Line Tour. Three hours of history and bridges. It was really neato. We got up close and personal with Lady Liberty (which was really cool) and saw parts of NYC I would never have otherwise seen, including Harlem, the Bronx, and Yankee Stadium.

Each day on the subway someone asks us for money for meds. I guess it's good I haven't given yet, because then I'd feel bad about giving to some and not to others. On the other hand, giving is good, and next time I have more than 5 cents in change, I will give.

In the movies, NYC is always stereotyped as having loads of homeless people talking to themselves. I keep thinking I see these people, but really, I don't. Rather, a lot of people just have earphones for their cell phones.

Today we also hit Times Square, where, apparently, EY is king. Our headquarters is there, and I didn't see any of the other firms there. Our sign is not missable, as it covers the length of the entire building. I wonder where the other firms are hiding. It was cool to see, mostly cuz I didn't have to go in there. Whenever I think about moving to this cool city, I think of how much more people work on the east coast, and cancel that idea. I work enough already.

Now, about the subway. It is an awesome system, but could use some upgrades. I think paper tickets should be done away with in favor of an electronic plastic refillable ticket. I also think that the conductor narration should be done away with in place of an electronic PA system. I can't understand those guys anyhow. Other than that, I have enjoyed using the Metro. Twice Susie and I have gotten on express trains, and twice it (luckily) stopped where we needed it to. We saved a lot of time that way, actually. So I suppose I could complain about express trains, but I won't.

We also have been staying up late and sleeping in. So technically we are staying on our CA work schedules pretty well.

Lastly, delta.com sent me an email yesterday to remind me what I can/cannot take on the plane. Nice. AFTER my flight has occured. Those turkeys. Oh well, I suppose it is Thanksgiving after all.

Pie & the Sky: This morning we somehow roused ourselves at 6:30 am to hit the Union Square Farmer's Market. I didn't see any amish, but I saw purple carrots. We bought loads of Thanksgiving yummers. We came home, rested up a bit, and continued back to Manhattan. We hit Saks Fifth Avenue and Rockefeller Center. Note to the world: that skating rink is really really tiny. The tree is there, but not yet decorated.

We went to the Top of the Rock, which is the 70th floor of Rockefeller Plaza. It's not the Empire State Building, but we liked the view better for the following reasons:

1. We got to look out AT the Empire State Building.

2. We got a better view of Central Park from the Rock.

3. We didn't have to wait in line, as our tickets were good at a certain time. The ESB ticket is good all day, so it's really hit or miss and when people will go.

4. We didn't take our chances with King Kong. Nothing happened, but still....

5. It was $.50 cheaper per person this way.

After the Rock, we wandered over to Broadway & 8th Avenue. We saw the Manhatten Temple, and wandered through Central Park with a pretzel and hot dog in hand. We bought an I Heart NY onesie for the Beet, and a Christmas present for my mom. It rained on us today, but not a lot. Just enough for it to be fall-like and Sinatra-esque. Dinner was pizza with Leonard, served by people who speak real Italian! This crazy city.

It's been pretty cold here. Usually in the 40s, the 50s if we are lucky. Rain is expected all day tomorrow, but we are resting and eating tomorrow anyhow. Lots to be thankful for. Better go give her a kiss.

Happy Thanksgiving!: I am thankful for a loving wife, an upcoming Beet, yummy food (including smashed potatoes), and all the rest. All things considered, it's been a great year.

Random Squares: Been thinking. I've really got to visit the Kong again. I think I've got it all wrong. I used to think everything foreign to my limited frame of reference was Chinese. Now having visited NYC, I realize that some of what I experienced in the Kong was just big city-ness and not necessarily Chinese. For example, people taking shopping carts with them to the grocery store. Also for example, total disregard for litter. Also, smoking. Also, being ok with living in small spaces. Also, good cuisine. Also, less overweight individuals. I'm sure there are more examples. But all these things I assumed were Chinese in nature are simply part of doing business in a big city. Some differences that do seem to be true include: people in NYC have more subway etiquette, and the street vendors are less regulated in the Kong.

Our flight home showed a Christmas episode of "The Office," which I found very funny. As it was NOT the British version, Susie too laughed. I should note that three of our four flights over Thanksgiving got in early, and the fourth got in on time. No luggage was lost, no long lines were had, and I actually got to sit behind people that didn't recline their chairs for once! Add a book of Sudoku to the list, and that adds up to fine holiday traveling.

When we got home, both our cars were pretty dirty, so we went and washed them. Having just returned from NYC, I thought of how lucky all those people are. They don't have cars to wash....

Lastly, church today. Once again, Elizabeth wanted to sit with us in Sacrament Meeting. Here was our conversation:

Elizabeth: Ask me if I'm playing baseball this year.

Me: OK. Are you playing baseball this year?

Elizabeth: No. Too many people died last year.

Me: Oh. Where did you get that joke?

Elizabeth: From tv. Actually, it's from "Anchorman." That show is so funny!

Later on, in Primary, the president was talking about a time she ran out of money to buy milk for her baby and then a "tithing" miracle occurred. Elizabeth turned to Susie and said "Why does she have to buy milk for the baby? I thought that's what those things on your chest were for." Honestly, she asks us every week if we are having a boy or a girl cuz she can't remember, but she remembers female anatomy quite well.

Later on, the president asked how tithing blesses us. I whispered to Matthew that we will never be poor (which maybe isn't true, but it's a simple answer I thought he could relay on). Matthew, instead, says "We will never be born." Frustrated, I whisper back to him "Not born, poor." So he yells out "I mean porn." Yikes. I think I almost got fired for that one.

[Comments] (1) : French Freedom Christian Fries. I noticed yesterday that In-n-Out has scriptures hidden on the bottom ring of their little palm tree cups. Also, the family sitting next to me held hands and had a prayer in the joint yesterday. I personally think that blessing fast food is asking for a bit much. But at least it wasn't McDonalds I guess.

I finally yesterday received the green light on my CPA! The catch: $200 more for my first license, and then $200 every other year for the rest of my life. And the certificate won't arrive in the mail for another 180 days from the date they receive my money. Ah, the joys of being a professional in a government-regulated field.

[Comments] (1) How the BCS Stole Christmas: The holidays have come early to SoCal, at these for those not of the "University of Spoiled Children" persuasion: UCLA tromped all over USC's football program, dashed their hopes of a national championship, and realigned the egos of half my coworkers. I'm in seventh heaven, practically skipping all over the office inquiring about the "big game." I'm lovin' it!

[Comments] (2) Ho No No: I love this time of year. In church on Sunday, the other 6 year-old class teachers didn't show. We saw them the night before at the creche competition, but whatever. So of course, with no advance notice, we added three more kids to our class. Good thing I always come prepared with lots of treats.

So seven kids against me, a pregnant wife, and a Beet. Susie mostly sits in the corner these days and watches me at work. Poor thing. One of the kids from the other class is intense. He can't sit still. During sharing time, I had him on one lap (he's very affectionate) and Matthew on the other lap. For almost thirty minutes straight. Now I know how Santa feels.

Speaking of Santa: that's how I made it through this whole ordeal. The kids were out of control in class. So I told them that I saw two of Santa's elves on the way in to church this morning, so they had better be good. It really jolted a few of them. Susie says that someone did peek through the window into our classroom, and Elizabeth confirmed that it was and elf.

It was interesting to watch this whole scene play out. Half of the kids said they saw an elf peek in our classroom at some point or another, while the other half said they never saw one. So what motivated half of the kids to say they saw an elf? My guesses are:

1. They saw the man who very briefly peeked in at the beginning of the class, didn't recognize him, and assumed he was an elf because I told them so.

2. They don't believe in SC, but helped me perpetuate the myth to keep order in the classroom. I hope this is not the answer. Six year-olds should still believe in a little Christmas magic, IMHO.

3. They wanted to be cool and see an elf, so they said they saw one to fit in. Not seeing would have terrible implications.

4. They really think they saw something, because they wanted to, and they have wonderful imaginations. The big wreath at the end of the hall could be an elf dressed in festive green and red, some movement seen between people walking in the halls could be an elf hiding amongst the populace, etc.

Whatever the reason may be, Christmas is fun when you have children to share it with.

[Comments] (3) You never can tell with Busy Bees: Busy lately. The weekend of Dec 9-10 Susie and I attended a primary breakfast with Santa, went to the temple, and attended a Christmas party wherein it was determined that Susie and I know each other better than any other couple present. This party also consisted of a white elephant gift exchange, wherein I received a belt hanger that I actually like. It's funny, because I always thought that white elephant meant wrapping up junk around the house, but it seemed that most of the couples went out and actually bought junk to wrap. And yet, the junk from around our house was the most fought-after gift of the entire party (a Williams Sonoma pumpkin bundt pan that we never used).

This week I spent slaving over the piano learning how to play a funky rendition of "Silent Night" for the ward choir. I doctored the music quite a bit, and it actually sounded ok. Not sure how the choir sounded; wasn't really paying attention.

Then we moved. Rachel and I, in 8 hours, moved everything from our old apartment to the new. We also cleared out our storage closet full of baby stuff into "Rachel's room." Saturday the missionaries and the EQ presidency came and helped us move the hutch, fridge, piano, couch, and bed. And they did a much better job than our $2K movers did when they moved us in! What a joke. I felt guilty for using the EQ when I never help with moves (I blame being primary, but who am I kidding?) so I got them all Jamba Juice gift cards. And we're taking the missionaries out to CPK tonight.

The new place. I felt very hesitant to unpack the sheet music and bookshelves, and for good reason. Last night our neighbor complained about the piano, so I moved it onto the wall by our bedroom so as not to disturb his idiot box time. And actually the place looks much better that way. Luckily the baby's room is on the outside, so he can't complain about that....

Yesterday, primary was very chill. We watched the Peanuts Christmas show, made Christmas cards, and ate rice krispie treats. The kids deserved an easy Sunday, and so did I. We find out Wed who our new class is for next year (apparently good help is hard to find and we are not being released, in spite of the beet).

Yesterday in sharing time the kids dressed up as BoM characters and we had to guess who they are. Parker, a three year old, yelled out "It's Captain Jack Sparrow." It wasn't; it was Samuel the Lamanite. And here I thought Samuel the Lamanite was a gingerbread man....

Finished Lost: Season 2 last night. Very interesting show.

Leave for UT Friday. For now: Back to work.

[Comments] (3) The Pursuit of Happyness: The other day I was at a client, who I probably should not disclose, doing Sarbanes Oxley control testing surrounding their income tax process. It was amazing. They were the friendliest bunch of people I've ever met. Everyone says hello in the halls with a big smile, even though they had no idea who I was. It was cool. They were even nice to me when I broke their copy machine!

Last night Susie and I attended the ward Primary party. We found out that we get to use a different teaching manual next year, which is very good news, as we were dreading revisiting the old one again. We are teaching the same class, I think mainly because of Spencer and his condition. I'm excited. I didn't want to do 6 year-olds again because they can't read and write. Now that we know all our kids are literate, our range of activities has increased exponentially. Matthew's mom was very excited we were sticking around; she said Matthew loves our class.

Susie, however, seems a bit disappointed. She thinks I spoil the kids too much and wanted a chance to start with a fresh batch that would have lower expectations for such spoilage. She also seemed disappointed that we won't be released when the Beet is fully harvested. All the primary president would say was "The Bishopric said no; they have full confidence in you." The real question, then, is if we have that same confidence in ourselves....

Today is my last day of work until 2007!

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