Tuesday, January 22, 2013

On Leg Lamps and Fishnet Stockings

I never thought I'd see the day when any of my children would ever be involved in a pageant, and I never hoped to see the day that it might actually be one of my sons! Daniel has thrown his hat into the ring as a contender for Mr. Maple Mountain, and what a crazy thing this is turning into! It's been dragging on for what seems like weeks and weeks with him scrambling around and staying up late preparing talent numbers and turning himself into a leg lamp.  Yes, I said a "leg lamp."  You know, like the major award in the movie "The Christmas Story"?  I guess they are going to have all of the boys on a stage with only their decorated leg showing, and the student body is supposed to try to figure out whose leg they are looking at.  My son put immediate dibs on the leg lamp idea, so no one else could use it. Being that it seemed like the obvious, if not the only, choice, it has me wondering what the others are going to do, but since I don't have to care about them, I don't wonder about it for long. So last night, after playing in a city league basketball game (and doing so in a very masculine manner, might I add?), he and a few of his buddies go running around all over the place looking for a high-heeled shoe that would fit him (size 11 did, if you can believe it), and (worse!) fishnet stockings!  Can a mother be more mortified than to walk into a room to find her son cramming his long, hairy leg into a fishnet stocking? 

I nearly needed the smelling salts, I can tell  you. After recovering from the shock, and stifling back the many sarcastic comments that were just begging to be released, I came to my senses and realized that the lampshade that normally shades the lamp in the room, had been released from its post and was sitting innocently next to him on the couch.  Not being born yesterday, I astutely put two and two together and realized that he must be planning to use my lampshade for his leg lamp.  There was just one problem.  His leg was not going to fit through the quarter inch hole on the spider fitting (it took a lot of research to figure out that term), and the only way he was going to be able to use that shade, was to remove it (the fitting, not his leg--although, in hindsight, that might have been easier than what happened).  Here's a picture of a spider fitting, if you don't know what one is:  

Being the supportive mother that I am, I told him that he was absolutely not going to ruin my lampshade for this silly activity.  He said, "It will be okay, Mom.  I can weld it back."  "You know how to weld??" I asked, incredulously.  "Well, I have lots of friends who do," he answered confidently.  Riiiight, I'm thinking.  Probably due to the lateness of the hour (it was now past midnight), and in an effort to save my possession, I took total leave of my senses and decided to help him figure something out.  I figured we could just use coat hangers and butcher paper and make one ourselves.   We got out the supplies and I sat there a long time looking at that lampshade, trying to figure out how to cut the shape that we would need.  Without actually taking the thing apart, I was having a hard time visualizing what it would look like laid out flat.  (I probably never did very well on those spatial relationship tests at school, either, but they never showed us our results, so we never knew if we were good at those things or not.  Only the teachers knew, and they wouldn't tell us.)  Then it occurred to me that all we should need to do is take the circumference of the small circle (feeling pretty smug that I knew that word) and draw a line that long on the paper, and then take the circumference of the large circle and draw a line that long underneath top circle, and then connect the top lines to the bottom lines and cut out the pattern.  Piece of cake!  Next step: figure out how to find the circumference of a circle.  From a place buried deep in the recesses of my memory, I seemed to recall that they tried to teach us that in math class in high school.  I said, "Hey! Isn't that pi R squared?"  Then I squealed with delight, realizing that this was the first time in my life that I had ever needed to know that.  I did learn something useful in high school!  Woot!  "I am so brilliant that I scare myself sometimes," I had the audacity to say out loud. (Of course, then followed what pride cometh before. . .) When we plugged the numbers (or what we thought were the numbers) into that equation, the result was that our small circumference was about 10 feet long.  Not being born yesterday, as I mentioned before, I again astutely surmised that something had gone wrong. (As you no doubt already know, pi R squared is how you find the area of a circle, and pi times diameter is how you find the circumference.) Another way to find the circumference, which is actually easier than getting out the calculator, is to wrap a string around the top part of the lamp, and then measure the length of the string, then do the same for the bottom part.  Doing that, we managed to get the two lengths needed for the pattern to cut out of the white paper.  Here's what that looked like:

 The problem was that when I tried to form it around the lamp so we could tape it together, it looked more like a Robin Hood hat than a lamp shade.  A quick Google search revealed what the real shape should have looked more like a rainbow:

Pretty sure I never would have thought of that one. Okay, so I was way off again. (It's getting harder to maintain any level of self esteem here.)  I decided that there had to be something around the house that we could use, so I went on a hunt to see what I could find.  I finally found a little basket that had been sitting on a shelf downstairs, not getting any use, and I thought it would make the perfect shade for a leg lamp.  

I brought it upstairs and we cut out the bottom of it, then duct taped around the edge so the thing wouldn't unravel.  I think we could have just stopped there, but then the same person who had come up with all the other brilliant ideas decided to have a look online to see what the actual lamp looked like that we were trying to copy.  Unfortunately for all involved, the basket just didn't do it, and I finally gave in and said he could use the shade.  (I think the real reason was that I realized that this might be a way for me to get a fun new lampshade, now that I realized that one could buy shades not attached to lamps.)  We tried cutting the connecting wires on the spider fitting (now that I know the term, I must use it as much as possible), but my little needle nosed pliers hardly made a dent in the strong wire they had used. Upon looking further, we realized that the whole spider fitting was just held onto the shade with cloth tape, so we lifted that up and out came the spider fitting.  We made a circle out of a coat hanger (no math this time) and taped it back in place with some white duct tape, obtained by my sneaking into the bedroom where hubby was sleeping, and using the light of the leg lamp's cell phone to help me locate it. The hubs never even knew I was there. I may have to give up the lamp shade business and go into burglary.  I was awesome!  Finally, around 1:30, we had our finished project:

  I told him if he ever hears of a Mother of the Year Contest, he'd better be writing the essay to enter me into it.  I just wrote this up so he'd have something to refer to.  :)  

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Three Degrees of [Visiting] Teaching

I just came across the following excerpt on one of my favorite blogs. After a very long time of not putting anything here, I thought I'd share this.

I also want to report that Sacrament Meeting yesterday was on the subject of Home Teaching. Usually, this subject makes my eyelids droop because the final message is usually to instill guilt to motivate. I just don’t ingest guilt real well.

Our Bishop stood and spoke with so much power and so much of the Spirit, that I was riveted. He talked about Christ-centered ministry to others, and how our whole lives are centered on this one thing, that we serve one another. He outlined the difference between Telestial, Terrestrial and Celestial Home Teaching

Telestial = Reporting you did it, when you really didn’t – lying about it.

Terrestrial = “Did you enjoy the Superbowl? How about the Jazz? Is there anything we can do for you? Can we leave you with a prayer? See you next month.”

Celestial = Ministering to that family’s needs as Christ would, taking the Spirit into their home, blessing them individually, bringing them to Christ, and loving them as Christ would.

No guilt trip at all, just the sweetest truth humbly and powerfully stated.

Then, our Stake President stood, who coincidentally is our Bishop’s younger brother, and he spoke with equal eloquence and power about Home Teaching by the Spirit.

He told this story from his own experience.

He was called to be a bishop in his 20’s. He didn’t have children yet. His ward had a terrible HT tradition. He asked that seven of the families who refused to be visited be assigned to him. He said, the first time he called on them, that all seven refused to let him in. About that time his first daughter was born, and was seven months old. He prayed and prayed about how to get into the door and bless these people. Finally, the idea occurred to him to take his new-born daughter.

He said he showed up on their door on a cold winter night with this little precious bundle, and their hearts were softened. They let him in. He spent just a few minutes ministering to them, and loving them, and then left “because I have my little daughter with me tonight.”

He reported that today, sixteen years later, all of the families are active, and the 5 couples who had not been sealed in the temple, eventually were.

I am going to proclaim this Sacrament Meeting, the most uplifting and Spirit-filled Sacrament Meeting of my entire life. Following that, our Sunday School teacher kept that same Spiritual power flowing with a Christ-centered teaching on James 1. After that I had the privilege of teaching the High Priests on the subject of the Second Coming.

What a blessed day!

Brother John

© November 2011, John M. Pontius, all rights reserved. Non-commercial reproduction permitted.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Aren't People Wonderful?

Hero Pilot Pulls Out the Stops to Help Grandpa Reach Funeral: 2011's Most Heartwarming Travel Story?
By WILLIAM LEE ADAMS William Lee Adams Sun Jan 16, 1:55 am ET

The most important trips aren't about getting somewhere. They're about getting to someone. (via Elliott.org)

But in an age of mounting airline fees, reduced in-flight services, uncomfortable security pat-downs and multi-day delays caused by erupting volcanoes, it's easy to forget that.

Amid the cries of "I've already paid for my hotel!" and "You need to get me to Atlanta!" anger and inconvenience frequently blind us to the fact that travel is ultimately about people. We also forget that airline employees - bound by big company rules and regulations - get frustrated, too.

Enter Nancy, whose travel triumph, tempered by a great deal of sadness, has turned an unnamed Southwest Airlines pilot into an online hero. (More at NewsFeed: Meet the 13-Year-Old HERO of the Australian Floods)

Nancy reads a blog by Christopher Elliott, a consumer advocate and journalist, and wrote to him about her husband's recent ordeal traveling on flights from Los Angeles to Tucson to Denver. Their situation makes complaints about leg room look downright petty.

"Last night, my husband and I got the tragic news that our three-year-old grandson in Denver had been murdered by our daughter's live-in boyfriend," she wrote. "He is being taken off life support tonight at 9 o'clock and his parents have opted for organ donation, which will take place immediately. Over 25 people will receive his gift tonight and many lives will be saved."

So early in the morning, after what must have been a torturous night's sleep, Nancy and her husband arranged for him to fly from Los Angeles, where he was traveling for work, to Tuscon, where he would step off one plane and immediately onto another one headed to Denver. "The ticketing agent was holding back tears throughout the call," Nancy wrote. "I'm actually her step-mother and it's much more important for my husband to be there than for me to be there."

Mourning the loss of his child's child, and no doubt worrying about his grieving daughter, he was likely in no state to travel. Airport stress only compounded his despair. He arrived at LAX two hours before his scheduled flight time, but quickly realized that delays at baggage check and security would keep him from making the flight. (Travel photos: Amazing snapshots of travelers stranded by holiday blizzards)

According to Nancy, he struggled to hold back tears as he pleaded with TSA and Southwest Airlines staff to fast-track him through the lines that were moving like molasses. Even though missing his flight could mean missing a final chance to see his grandson, no one seemed to care.

Too much was at stake to simply roll over and cry. When he finally cleared security - several minutes after his flight's planned departure - he grabbed his computer bag, shoes and belt, and ran to his terminal wearing only his socks. The pilot and the gate agent were waiting for him.

"Are you Mark? We held the plane for you and we're so sorry about the loss of your grandson," the pilot reportedly said. "They can't go anywhere without me and I wasn't going anywhere without you. Now relax. We'll get you there. And again, I'm so sorry."

It's hard to underestimate the courage of the pilot's decision. The flight, which ultimately departed 12 minutes late, likely had hundreds of passengers rolling their eyes in contempt. And given that any delay has knock-on effects for passengers at the destination airport, his decision placed Southwest at risk of facing the wrath of travelers, and more than a few demands for compensation.

Elliott, who brought the story to the blogosphere's attention, approached Southwest about the story, half expecting the airline to be outraged by a pilot's refusal to push the on-time departure.

Instead, they told him they were "proud" of their pilot, a man who clearly understands that taking a child off life support has consequences that run deeper than a flight taking off late. As Nancy wrote: "My husband was able to take his first deep breath of the day." Hopefully, over time, his daughter can do the same. (Southwest Airlines Photos: The History of Co-Founder Herb Kelleher)

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/s/time/20110116/us_time/httpnewsfeedtimecom20110113pilotwhocaresthemostheartwarmingairlinestoryof2011xidrssfullnationyahoo

NOW AVAILABLE! One Thousand Gifts!

It's finally available! The most amazing book I have ever read. Life changing from the first chapter, and it just gets better with each page. Watch the video to hear part of it being read. I've read the Kindle version, and I'm now awaiting the hard copies which were shipped today! (Oh! It's a holiday. The mail won't be moving today. I think the waiting could kill me.) Can't wait for the audio version.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

God vs. Science

 This is Good!   
'Let me explain the problem science has with religion.' The atheist professor of philosophy pauses before his class and then asks one of his new students to stand.

'You're a Christian, aren't you, son?'
'Yes sir, 'the student says.

'So you believe in God?'

Is God good?'

'Sure! God's good.'

'Is God all-powerful? Can God do anything?'


'Are you good or evil?'

'The Bible says I'm evil.'

The professor grins knowingly. 'Aha! The Bible!' He considers for a moment. 'Here's one for you. Let's say there's a sick person over here and you can cure him. You can do it. Would you help him? Would you try?'

'Yes sir, I would.'

'So you're good...!'

'I wouldn't say that.'

'But why not say that? You'd help a sick and maimed person if you could. Most of us would if we could. But God doesn't.'

The student does not answer, so the professor continues. 'He doesn't, does he? My brother was a Christian who died of cancer, even though he prayed to Jesus to heal him. How is this Jesus good? Can you answer that one?'

The student remains silent. 'No, you can't, can you?' the professor says. He takes a sip of water from a glass on his desk to give the student time to relax. 'Let's start again, young fella. Is God good?'

'Er..yes,' the student says.

'Is Satan good?'

The student doesn't hesitate on this one. 'No.'

'Then where does Satan come from?'
The student falters. 'From God'

'That's right. God made Satan, didn't he? Tell me, son. Is there evil in this world?'

'Yes, sir..'

'Evil's everywhere, isn't it? And God did make everything, correct?'


'So who created evil?' The professor continued, 'If God created everything, then God created evil, since evil exists, and according to the principle that our works define who we are, then God is evil.'

Again, the student has no answer. 'Is there sickness? Immorality? Hatred? Ugliness? All these terrible things, do they exist in this world?'

The student squirms on his feet. 'Yes.'

'So who created them?'

The student does not answer again, so the professor repeats his question. 'Who created them?' There is still no answer. Suddenly the lecturer breaks away to pace in front of the classroom. The class is mesmerized. 'Tell me,' he continues onto another student. 'Do you believe in Jesus Christ, son?'


The student's voice betrays him and cracks. 'Yes, professor, I do.'

The old man stops pacing. 'Science says you have five senses you use to identify and observe the world around you. Have you ever seen Jesus?'

'No sir. I've never seen Him.'

'Then tell us if you've ever heard your Jesus?'

'No, sir, I have not..'

'Have you ever felt your Jesus, tasted your Jesus or smelt your Jesus? Have you ever had any sensory perception of Jesus Christ, or God for that matter?'

'No, sir, I'm afraid I haven't.'

'Yet you still believe in him?'

'According to the rules of empirical, testable, demonstrable protocol, science says your God doesn't exist... What do you say to that, son?'

'Nothing,' the student replies.. 'I only have my faith.'

'Yes, faith,' the professor repeats. 'And that is the problem science has with God. There is no evidence, only faith.'

The student stands quietly for a moment, before asking a question of His own. 'Professor, is there such thing as heat?'

'Yes. '

'And is there such a thing as cold?'
'Yes, son, there's cold too.'
'No sir, there isn't.'

The professor turns to face the student, obviously interested. The room suddenly becomes very quiet. The student begins to explain. 'You can have lots of heat, even more heat, super-heat, mega-heat, unlimited heat, white heat, a little heat or no heat, but we don't have anything called 'cold'. We can hit down to 458 degrees below zero, which is no heat, but we can't go any further after that. There is no such thing as cold; otherwise we would be able to go colder than the lowest -458 degrees. Everybody or object is susceptible to study when it has or transmits energy, and heat is what makes a body or matter have or transmit energy. Absolute zero (-458 F) is the total absence of heat. You see, sir, cold is only a word we use to describe the absence of heat. We cannot measure cold. Heat we can measure in thermal units because heat is energy. Cold is not the opposite of heat, sir, just the absence of it.'

Silence across the room. A pen drops somewhere in the classroom, sounding like a hammer.

'What about darkness, professor. Is there such a thing as darkness?'

'Yes,' the professor replies without hesitation.. 'What is night if it isn't darkness?'

'You're wrong again, sir. Darkness is not something; it is the absence of something. You can have low light, normal light, bright light, flashing light, but if you have no light constantly you have nothing and it's called darkness, isn't it? That's the meaning we use to define the word. In reality, darkness isn't. If it were, you would be able to make darkness darker, wouldn't you?'

The professor begins to smile at the student in front of him. This will be a good semester. 'So what point are you making, young man?'

'Yes, professor. My point is, your philosophical premise is flawed to start with, and so your conclusion must also be flawed.'

The professor's face cannot hide his surprise this time. 'Flawed? Can you explain how?'

'You are working on the premise of duality,' the student explains... 'You argue that there is life and then there's death; a good God and a bad God. You are viewing the concept of God as something finite, something we can measure. Sir, science can't even explain a thought.' 'It uses electricity and magnetism, but has never seen, much less fully understood either one. To view death as the opposite of life is to be ignorant of the fact that death cannot exist as a substantive thing. Death is not the opposite of life, just the absence of it.' 'Now tell me, professor.. Do you teach your students that they evolved from a monkey?'

'If you are referring to the natural evolutionary process, young man, yes, of course I do.'

'Have you ever observed evolution with your own eyes, sir?'

The professor begins to shake his head, still smiling, as he realizes where the argument is going. A very good semester, indeed.

'Since no one has ever observed the process of evolution at work and cannot even prove that this process is an on-going endeavor, are you not teaching your opinion, sir? Are you now not a scientist, but a preacher?'

The class is in uproar. The student remains silent until the commotion has subsided. 'To continue the point you were making earlier to the other student, let me give you an example of what I mean..' The student looks around the room. 'Is there anyone in the class who has ever seen the professor's brain?' The class breaks out into laughter. 'Is there anyone here who has ever heard the professor's brain, felt the professor's brain, touched or smelt the professor's brain? No one appears to have done so. So, according to the established rules of empirical, stable, demonstrable protocol, science says that you have no brain, with all due respect, sir.' 'So if science says you have no brain, how can we trust your lectures, sir?'

Now the room is silent. The professor just stares at the student, his face unreadable. Finally, after what seems an eternity, the old man answers. 'I Guess you'll have to take them on faith.'

'Now, you accept that there is faith, and, in fact, faith exists with life,' the student continues. 'Now, sir, is there such a thing as evil?' Now uncertain, the professor responds, 'Of course, there is. We see it Every day. It is in the daily example of man's inhumanity to man. It is in the multitude of crime and violence everywhere in the world. These manifestations are nothing else but evil.'

To this the student replied, 'Evil does not exist sir, or at least it does not exist unto itself. Evil is simply the absence of God. It is just like darkness and cold, a word that man has created to describe the absence of God. God did not create evil. Evil is the result of what happens when man does not have God's love present in his heart. It's like the cold that comes when there is no heat or the darkness that comes when there is no light.'

The professor sat down.

If you read it all the way through and had a smile on your face when you finished, mail to your friends and family with the title 'God vs. Science'
PS: the student was Albert Einstein.
Albert Einstein wrote a book titled God vs. Science in 1921...

I did not have a smile.  I was in tears as the message of this sank  into my heart.