Wednesday, April 29, 2009
I noticed on the LDS blog Mormon Mentality that people sometimes have an interest if an unexpected Mormon reference is made in a book. For example, you are reading a murder mystery and the suspect runs down the street past two missionaries. See, unexpected, and nothing to do with the plot.
Now since I decided to read 100 plus books per year (this will be my 9th straight year) I have seen quite a few casual references but never thought to mark it down. So from now on I will have a short note at the bottom of book posts that will say:
Followed by “None” or a more detailed response as needed.
by Hakan Nesser
Nothing seems to go right as he, the soon to be retired chief of police, and the two young local detectives pull at loose ends, hoping something will lead them anywhere. After a further murder and the disappearance of one of their own, Van Veeteren slowly puts the story together – but is it in time to save a life?
Not as smoothly written as a Mankell novel, it was still quite good. And for what it’s worth, I sensed who the bad guy was about 30 pages into it, but I did keep second guessing myself as I read. This was Nesser’s first books of many, and given my love for Swedish crime fiction I look forward to reading the next one. Unfortunately they only started translating his books into English in 2006, so only four have been done so far.
Håkan Nesser (born February 21, 1950) is one of Sweden’s most successful authors who has written a number of novels, mostly crime fiction. He has won Best Swedish Crime Novel Award three times, and his novel Carambole won the Glass Key award in 2000. His books have been translated from Swedish into Norwegian, Finnish, German, French, Polish, Danish, English and Estonian. His first novel was published in 1988, but he worked as a teacher until 1998 when he became a full-time author, after having become extremely successful as a heavyweight crime writer with his Van Veeteren series. Hakan Nesser has published 20 books in Swedish. Four of them have so far been translated to English.
Mormon Mention: NONE
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Me - when I started growing my hair
Monday, April 27, 2009
by Colette Livermore
When Colette was 17 years old growing up in Australia, the nightly news was featuring stories about the famine in Biafra, Nigeria. While her mind pondered this suffering she was also preparing for her entrance exams for medical school. Then she saw a documentary about Mother Teresa's order, the Missionaries of Charity, and she knew what she must do. Forgoing her college career she was determined to help the poor and needy now, and she became a nun within Mother Teresa’s order at age 18. I was surprised to learn that the MC’s operated out of dozens of countries and Colette started in Australia.
From there she served among the worlds poor from the Philippines to Hong Kong as Sister Tobit, but ultimately after 12 years of butting heads with controlling leaders she left the order to pursue her original dream of becoming a Doctor. She has spent the time since then serving in the remote settlements of Australia and war torn East Timor. This is a tremendous book that really shows where blind obedience meets faith, and sometimes they clash. The problem she describes in her book, the same struggles that caused her to lose her faith, I have seen within my own religious experience. On a grander scale it is the fight between the Loving and Saving Christ of the new testament and the self-righteous defenders of all that is “right” Pharisees. But to illustrate the main thrust of the book I am reminded of this old urban legend/joke:
An instructor at the Institute of Religion was teaching a course on the life of Christ over in the new East Institute building. On the last day of class, when students arrived for the final exam, they found a note on the chalkboard from their instructor saying that the exam would be given in the old West Institute building, across campus. The note on the board sent all the students rushing off to the West Institute, in order not to arrive late. On the way they all passed a pathetic old beggar who petitioned them for help as they hurried by. Nobody stopped for the beggar, however. When the students reached the other classroom on the west side of campus, their instructor was waiting. He asked the class if anyone had helped the beggar, and learning they had not, he informed them all that they had failed the final exam. The beggar, the instructor explained, was really an actor he had planted in their path. By ignoring him, the students had shown that they had studied the facts of Jesus' life without acquiring any of his compassion.
Sister Tobit’s problem was perpetually thinking she should stop for the beggar as it was her job. When arriving back late for holding one of her charges as he died, or admitting a sick child whose parents arrived on a Thursday (the Mother’s designated day off), or for wanting to fulfill a promise to a non-english speaking immigrant to go help fill out paperwork but not being able to (or even let the person know they couldn’t) because the Mother wanted some pots polished. Having suffering deigned the highest honor as it put you in understanding with Christ, not allowed to form friendships within the order, not allowed to have even a potted plant (or any possessions), having to beg for food from the poor when money was present to buy their own. (please note Mother in this sense is not referring to Mother Teresa, but rather the Mother Superior at her local house)
Anyways, when stopping for the beggar she did not receive the mythical “A”, rather she was berated for having too much pride. “Do you think you are the only one who could help?” “You think you are that important.” In a larger sense it strikes me as ironic that rather than obey the basic rules of the gospel, we overcome this by make more rules about the unimportant. It is more important how we dress, what hand we use in partaking the Sacrament, what color shirt we wear, what meetings we attend, what callings we have, etc. Ultimately I believe there will be some disappointed people one day who think helping out in Scouts, wearing a white shirt, avoiding diet coke & r rated movies, and their blind obedience to any number of Pharisaical rules will excuse their avoidance of the basics of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is love. That is like me creating my own currency then fully expect my local stores to accept it as payment.
And to those of the “I show my love by wearing a white shirt”, etc; I say Merde de Bulle!! You show your love with LOVE. Christ’s life was a mission to bring others equal to him – to have all the Father has. In trying to emulate Christ is your mission in life to have everyone have all that you have? I suggest this, when serving others do not follow the prescribed path of forcing your religion on them as part of the deal. Just serve them and the converts will take care of themselves. Help where you can help, give where you can give, sacrifice where you can sacrifice. In my very limited opinion that will leave you in a lot better stead than just looking "good."
Here is a short video of Colette talking about her experiences:
Finally - little factoid I learned - the nuns shave their heads. Maybe that is the norm and I am just ignorant, but interesting nonetheless (there must be a pun in there somewhere).
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Steve (checking into a hotel on a business trip): I hope the porn in my room is disabled.
Check-in clerk: No, it's regular porn you sick pervert.
So Lisa and I were talking about the kids the other day, about how well they seem to fit in at school. They stand out because of their unusual names, but it works for them. Then she said this:
Lisa: Naming them (the oldest two) Gunnar and Qatar really worked out well. At least we didn't give them a boring name like Joe.
Yeah, that's what she said. So I replied:
"Like our other son, Joe?"
Because like a lot of you, Lisa forgot her own son JT, where the J stands for Joseph.
What an excellent mother.
I found my first penny of the season (i.e. the snow has melted).
Overheard the following from Qatar: "That is what I hate, Chinese people all look like women."
I think it has something to do with pokemon.And finally I saw this cartoon on the internets this week.
And while it is funny on its own, it is bloody HILARIOUS when your oldest son has a good friend named Rex. I made sure I got him a copy to put on his wall immediately.
by Neil DeGrasse Tyson
Saw this in the new non-fiction shelves and it looked funny. It goes through the history of Pluto, its discovery, its place in the solar system, its decline, and all the aftermath associated with the decline. It's surprising how many people have STRONG feelings about Pluto as a planet. Anyways, a great short read on all you ever need to know about Pluto to be impressive at parties, except with true astrophysicists and other space nerds.
Peaks and Valleys: Making good and bad times work for you--at work and in life.
by Spencer Johnson
Johnson is a modern writer of fables that explore life events and decisions. As typical he tells some great truth through a short story that if it works right you should sit back and go Ah ha. That is shortly followed by some great insight to your own life. While a little simplistic for me, they are fun to read and all but the most jaded should get something out of it. The premise of this one is life's ups and downs are connected to one another through a giant continuum. Consequently how you act in the ups will determine how soon and how long you will be in the downs; and vice-versa. And to get to any great peak you must travel though a valley. So the lows aren't so bad, but rather an opportunity to learn.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
by John Harvey
Having read John Harvey’s later works I knew he was a great writer. It was this faith that has sustained me through the first four books of his Charlie Resnick series. Charlie is a divorced, forty something, jazz-loving Detective Inspector with the Nottingham police force who solves crimes one plodding step at a time. I say plodding in a good way as he does not make unbelievable jumps in reasonable logic to suddenly solve the case; rather he takes the information at hand and pursues it relentlessly. The Resnick books are just plain old good police procedurals.
The weakness of the first four has been the lack of character depth and the tightness of the plots, but having read his Frank Elder series, I know he developed those writing skills with time. Wasted Years, book five in the series, is where he makes that change. The book itself is 100 pages longer than any of the others, but at the same time less plot points are mixed in. Harvey is telling a very tight story but in a much more realistic and life like way.
In this book we see the juxtaposition of two bank robbery teams, one from 10 years previous and one from today. In the upcoming parole of the original criminal and the beginnings of another career on crime, they all come together with Resnick. We see choices made and consequences meted out, and see how small and simple things can lead to a life, or a lot of Wasted Years.
Could this book have been better, yes, but I am really looking forward to the rest of the series.
Monday, April 20, 2009
by Henning Mankell
One of my top five favorite authors,best known for his detective stories featuring the Swedish Inspector Wallander. BTW, they have all been translated from the Swedish and well worth the read.
In Italian Shoes a lost soul has exiled himself to a self imposed prison on his tiny family island in the Swedish archipelago, living out his meager existence with his dog, cat, the anthill in his living room, and the occasional visit from the island mailman. A surgeon who made a grievous mistake he has given up on life as repentance, but one winter morning that all changes when a lone woman appears just off shore standing on the ice.
This is a story of a man reborn, redemptive love, and the possibility of making something ugly beautiful. To me, and I could be way off base here, the Shoes represent something perfect made by an imperfect man. it just takes time and patience. What once was dead (the leather) has now been made better for the experience.
Anyways, if you are looking for a short standalone book to get a taste of Mr. Mankell's writing style (without the violent homicides), than this is a great place to start. Be aware that the ending is "messy". By that I mean the conclusion is left up to you the reader.
Henning Mankell is a Swedish author who gained bestseller stardom with his series of crime novels featuring inspector Kurt Wallander.
Internationally acclaimed author Henning Mankell has written numerous Kurt Wallander mysteries. The books have been published in 33 countries and consistently top the bestseller lists in Europe, receiving major literary prizes and generating numerous international film and television adaptations.
But did you see the standout from this week's show?? Young Shaheen from Wales shows incredible composure after being stopped by Simon mid-performance. Dislike Simon all you want but this clip shows that he knows what he is talking about, and young Shaheen has changed his life with one song.
by Rick Hanson
It is too bad but this book has all the same problems as the last one I read by him. The plot is silly, some ongoing characters have absolutely nothing to like about them, and while occasionally funny, it is not funny enough to overcome the plot.
Erstwhile sculptor and part time detective has to find his missing brother in law. Turns out he has been kidnapped in one of those stealing your body parts scams and so on.
Anyways, if unlike me you have nothing in your to read pile, then by all means pick this or any of the others in the series up - currently going for 1 penny used on Amazon.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Gunnar & Jeff's Eagle project suggestion for sprucing up the Cementary
Working in the meat industry, I can confirm the letter writer is wrong.
From the future, Cenny, Lisa, and me on vacation, 2039
by Ben Sherwood
Sometime in life a bad situation will hit you and you are just SOL (i.e. you are just going to die) and sometimes you will be blessed beyond belief. But surprisingly though, a lot of people are in the great middle, they die though they probably didn't have to. Their deaths were preventable if some simple actions had been taken. This book looks at people who haved survived terrible events and identifies what actions they took that made the difference. It is also filled with fun facts and statistics about survival rates about many events. For example:
- 1 in 60,000,000 chance of being in a plane accident on any given day (9 times more likely to be in a car accident)
- 95.2% chance you will come out of a plane accident okay.
- 2 and 8, the first 2 minutes and the last 8 minutes of a flight are statistically the most dangerous.
Anyways, this is a great book and you might just learn a thing or two to help you survive.
The MOST important thing for survival - the will to live. Most people die because they just give up.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
As I go about my online life I try to add helpful comments where I can, using that BYU supplied social science degree to make the world a better, happier place. Sometimes it pays off and I don't even know it. I recently shared a touching missionary experience I had back in Coventry, all about the power of personal testimony. So spiritual in fact a Church owned publishing company used it in their newspaper. That's right, I was quoted in Mormon Times, the new supplement that comes with the Church News.
Here is the whole article online. And here is the quote from about 2/3rd's the way down.
Quotable comment: "Testimony of a 5 year old on my mission. I know the Book f Mormon is Blue, and Joseph Smith is a man. Still works." -- TStevens,commenting on "Mormon rhetoric: the social uses of meaningless words."
In terms of Mormoniness, I totally rock as a Church published author now; up there with the GA's. Everyone must Bow Down before my greatness now when I make comments in Sunday School, because I am the man! The big call will becoming any day now - I feel it.
And Steve - autographs only AFTER Sacrament - NOT during.
Me: That is when something is in a special or particular order, like 1, 2, 3, etc,
Somebody Else: Or like the shiny things you sew on clothes.
Flatulence expert defines 'normal' output rate
That was the headline for a Canadian TV story. Open apology to my sons, I didn't realize that you could make a career out of it.
Why do church leaders constantly have to over sell meetings. We have Stake Conference tonight and they have been billing it for weeks as the most HISTORIC CONFERENCE LIKE EVER!!!! It is the religious equivalent of a tractor pull add on the radio. Unless we are cutting down to two hours or getting tithing discounts for having more than four kids, it probably isn't historic. All it does is undermine your credibility. Outside guess is they are cutting off one of the outside wards for another stake, but that isn't really historic. (Un)fortunately, due to Lisa cutting out I have all the kids and will not be attending.
Of course this place will be one of the highlights of our Iceland vacation in June. Read the article to get more background.
And finally, we have this article where a judge ruled that pole dancing is in fact art, and thus qualifies for a tax exemption. How did he do it? Through hours of watching DVD's of pole dancing. I bet the judge had a hard time (HA!) making that decision - "I need more footage (HA HA!!) of the dancers." But the best part is this quote from the lawyer for the Nite Moves dance club and Utah ACLU member (HA H - well you get it, the puns write themselves here) wherein he compares Erotic Dancing with LDS Temples. Here is the quote:
Nite Moves' lawyer, Andrew McCullough, is a Mormon and a board member of the Utah chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. He told the New York Law Journal he sees similarities between objections to strip clubs and new Mormon temples.
“They say, 'It's lights, it's traffic, it's noise,' ” he said. “But what they really mean is, 'We don't like your kind.' ”
Awesome, just awesome.
Please Note - Shorts are just that, short little happenings or news items too short for their own post.
by Roopa Farooki
Friday, April 10, 2009
by Rick Hanson
The plot was tenuous, the writing okay, the humour had its moments, but overall the best thing was the length. Based on that alone, I will read another one in the series hoping it will be better on the other characteristics.
Splitting heirs stars ex-Vietnam vet, ex-policeman, part-time sculptor, amateur detective Adam McCleet, his dedicated and sophisticate girlfriend, and obnoxious sister. Allegedly he did a good deed for a recently deceased millionaire, and according to the will he gets 2.1 million dollars along with the other 7 inheritors. All he has to do is prove that someone in the room (at the will reading) is a murderer by the time they meet again in a month. And so on and so forth. Like I said the plot is really stretched, but maybe if I had wrote 4 books already m writing would be to. So like I said I will visit and earlier work in the series and see if it is any better.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Choir in old Tabernacle
Today when the kids got home from school they started begging Lisa if we could watch some more conference today - especially our youngest two (JT and Cenny). They were quite upset when we said we couldn't today because Lisa and I began our Dave Ramsey Financial Peace classes. How did we achieve such rapid turn-around with the kids - and it only took 30 seconds??
Well on Monday I was reviewing the commentary about conference on the blog By Common Consent when I saw comment 134 by Rob on the Saturday Afternoon thread. It said:
So, to keep our children engaged, my wife is picking one word for each session. As we watch the session, if the key word is spoken, there is a bowl of candy and each person can get a piece of candy. For this session, the word is Temple. My 14 year old daughter complained at the start of the session that they wouldn’t use that word enough. We’ve each had the opportunity to partake from the bowl 7 times this session — 5 during the statistical report, and 2 during Elder Pino’s talk.
So we opened a bag of Sweet Tart Jelly Beans and told the kids the word was "Faith." They all sat riveted to Elder Hales talk and upon review they all could tell me exactly what it was about. I think we got the jelly beans three times. Our kids are now conference fiends!
And once again another opening in the big chairs and I was yet again passed over - for this yahoo.
Elder Neil Andersen
Crazy, I know.
by John Harvey
As I have said before, every outing Harvey's writing becomes a little bit better and this is no exception. Off Minor is book 4 in the Charlie Resnick series, the Nottingham police detective.
The basic plot involves the disappearance of two little girls over the period of three months, then the first one turns up dead. With conflicting evidence Resnick believes they have found their man, but did he kill both?
Saturday, April 4, 2009
We sit down to watch the 10pm hour and are into it about 10 minutes when the phone rings for Gunnar - it's a girl.
Gunnar: Uh, yeah - I will have to take this.
Lisa & Me: We are watching it now.
Gunnar: I will watch it later.
Us: We are going to delete when we are done.
Gunnar: I will find it online somewhere.
Rather talk to a girl than watch 24 (when you are involved in it already)
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
The solution, access the power of our connected society and let citizen scientists transcribe the information online. So if you are interested in being part of this project, have time to volunteer, or just want to be part of history; go online to the North American Bird Phenology Program at the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. There you can watch a short training video and began entering the information.
Of course there is the other side of the story, mainly from this picture I found online several months ago and haven't been able to use, until now.
I guess they believe bird watchers are sick pervs that need to be stopped. From their website though I found this quote "Most disturbing are the groups of bird watchers seeking vicarious sexual gratification in the woods. Oftentimes they gather in relatively large groups and, aroused by birds’ mating rituals, they get involved in sickening mating rituals of their own, without any regard for birds’ privacy." I guess certain people among the 48 million bird watchers get so turned on they end up doing it in the woods.
So I am not passing any judgements, but both groups are looking for volunteers.