Room for One More



Impulse buying is never a good idea. And when that involves acquiring a living creature, that makes things even more interesting.

A couple weeks ago we got the whole family into the van and went off to look at mattresses. Katie and I had been feeling that it was time for a new one, and Sam had been complaining for months about his. On our way home I decided to have us stop at the pet store to buy some frozen rats to feed Monty. While there, I played with a cat they had found abandoned outside the store with a litter of kittens. They were taking care of them and were selling the kittens, but the mom needed a home too. So we decided to bring her home.

I had been considering getting a companion for Dortmunder for a while. He’s pretty good with other cats and has made friends with a couple, so I figured he would adjust. When we brought the new cat home, we named her Vin. Vin is the main character in the Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson. She’s a small girl who was orphaned, but she becomes a powerful assassin. This cat is little but a prolific hunter, so it seemed to fit. And she likes being around us, but she’s not a lap cat, which also fits the way her namesake isn’t big on physical touch.

We mostly kept Vin and Dortumunder apart for a week, but when they met… it was not good. There was much hissing and chasing. As it turns out, Vin is actually the aggressor, which seems odd with her being the one coming into unfamiliar territory. The first night that I locked them in the garage together I sat out there for a while with the spray bottle to keep them separate. Poor Vin got pretty wet. Now every night Dortmunder just hides under the steps, and they still hiss at each other when they get close. I’m hopeful that eventually they will at least tolerate each other. But for now we’re at least happy to have Vin with us. As with any family member, you have to take the good with the bad.


It’s interesting that Dortmunder is good at catching mice (and birds), and Vin is an insect killer. So between the two of them, we should be free of pests. Even neighbor children, as it turns out—one of them tried to bring something back to our house and said Vin wouldn’t let him up onto the porch. That could come in handy during school fundraiser season…

A Star Is Bored

I had an interesting experience a couple weeks ago, and as my de facto journal this is probably the best place to record it.

I enjoy the sketch comedy show Studio C that airs on BYU Television. It’s family-friendly, fun, and probably some other nice word beginning with F. Fuchsia? Anyway, a couple months back they put out a call for extras, and I signed up without really expecting anything. Then I got an email saying I was in.

So on Thursday evening I went down to Provo for the dress rehearsal. Mostly I hung out in the green room with the other extras. We talked about the instructions we had been given for the different sketches, and there was a TV in there where we could watch what was happening on stage until it was time for us to go on. It took a couple hours to get to our sketch, but finally we went backstage. Someone from makeup powdered our faces a bit (any excuse to wear makeup!), and then we were on.

From what I had seen before, the extras usually hung around in the background acting like nothing much was going on. But we were actually seated at tables with cast members, which was fun. We talked for a minute before the skit started, then we ran through it once and were done. It was a little anticlimactic to be there for three hours to spend five minutes on stage, but that’s what we signed on for. Apparently they were running behind and expected to be there rehearsing until 2 a.m.

Friday night was a little more lively. For one thing, there was an audience there. We were still stuck in the green room, but we could see them having fun with the audience between sketches, and things moved a little more quickly. We managed to corral the director before going on and ask the big question we had: were we supposed to act like nothing was going on, or react normally to something happening in the vicinity? He said to act natural. I have no idea if I succeeded, and won’t until it airs sometime in October or November.


I’ll try to post an update later when it airs. In the meantime, let’s do lunch. Have your people call my people.

You say potato, I say poooooooooooootaaaaaaaaaaaaatoooooooooooo

I have a theory about how men and women communicate. As with all such topics, this is probably just something that might apply in general across a population, and may not necessarily be true for one individual man or woman (assuming there’s any truth her at all). But here goes.

As we go throughout our days and weeks, we build up a reservoir of things that we would like to share with other people. This builds up like a balloon inflating, with the pressure increasing. For women there is no escape from the pressure except to share it with someone. If they are able to share more frequently, less has built up; if it’s been a while since they have talked with someone, there’s a lot more to deal with.

Men, on the other hand, are leaky balloons. If time goes on and they don’t share something, it leaks out and is eventually replaced with other things. So there’s a constant influx of incoming and outgoing things as with women, but the balloon stays more or less the same size. The pressure doesn’t build up as much, so there’s less actual need to talk.


As with any analogy, there will be flaws here, but I think it’s interesting. What do you think?

A Tangled Web


It’s time for a moral conundrum! As if we need any more of them in our lives. But here we go.

The first summer after we moved in, we noticed these huge crazy orb weaver spiders that loved to build webs on and around our house. I found it quite charming and did what I could to avoid disturbing them. We were unable to use the back door for a month, unless we ducked under a spider web with a behemoth the size of Shelob sitting in the middle of it. I don’t have any particular fear of spiders, but crouching underneath one that could arbitrarily decide to jump onto the back of my neck can still be a little unnerving.

The next year they were not only building on and around the back door, but on the side of the house around the air conditioner. I’m fairly certain they didn’t actually rupture the copper tubing that was the cause of the Hot Mess that last summer became, but who knows. I decided to clear away the webs in the doorway, hoping they would get the hint and stop building there.

And that brings us to this year. Having taken over the back and side of our house, the spiders also began building on and around our front porch. Every surface became covered with webbing and tens of thousands of tiny corpses—the insects attracted by the porch lights. It was starting to look like the Addams Family lived in our house. And while I love them, I can’t rock a mustache like John Astin, so I finally decided it’s time to stop letting the spiders control my life.

Sam and I began clearing the webs off the house, and I used a large stick to transport spiders through the backyard and onto the other side of the parkway trail, where I hoped they would find someplace else to hang out. But there were SO MANY, I realized it would take hours. And the population would probably continue to grow every year. So here’s where the moral dilemma kicks in.

I’ve tried hard to help Sam develop a reverence for life. We try not to kill things, even when they annoy us (an important lesson for anyone with siblings). But I decided that I had to kill at least some of these spiders, or someday archaeologists would use lasers to cut through the massive petrified web surrounding the house, uncover our desiccated corpses, and try to reconstruct our lives. Seriously, one night we were out at 10:30 trying to gently clear away spiders from the garbage can to take it to the street.

So… last night while Sam was otherwise occupied, I cleaned all the webs off the house and killed the spiders I could. The house looks much better, and I slept just fine. I’ll just hope he doesn’t ask me where they all went.


Zombies vs. Aliens

Last night I dreamed up a movie plot that combines two popular genres into a surefire smash hit. Picture it:

Humankind is on the cusp of interstellar travel, about to begin in earnest the search for intelligent life elsewhere in the universe. Suddenly, an advanced alien race arrives and attacks the Earth, apparently intent upon destroying all life. There are no negotiations, only destruction. A rag-tag band of humans is fighting back, sacrificing their lives to give humanity a chance to survive. As the battle for the planet rages on, we discover that the aliens have a weakness. If only we can exploit it in time!

Our little group begins preparations to execute a devastating counter attack against the aliens, to ensure mankind’s survival and ensure his rightful place in the cosmos. As the time draws near, however, a new surge of panic spreads throughout the world. A new virus is spreading like wildfire, devastating the remnants of humanity. And not just humans. It affects plants, animals—every form of multi-cellular life. Even the aliens exposed to it in the course of the fighting succumb. This disease turns every form of life into a zombie!

Now the leader of our desperate band realizes why the aliens are attacking. They’re trying to prevent this devastating disease from spreading throughout the cosmos. This war is a merciful culling, destroying one planet to save countless others. Suddenly, our leader is faced with a choice, on which rests the fate of the galaxy. Does he execute his plan to defeat the attackers, at the risk that humanity’s survival will doom the rest of creation?


Ladies and gentlemen, I give you: Zombies vs. Aliens! Or, Sophie's Choice in Space.

Ten

*I wrote this a couple weeks ago, but never hit publish. Our anniversary was 6/24.

Let’s say for a moment that there was a terrible accident on the freeway between Provo and Salt Lake. The hypothetical accident is so bad that the freeway is actually shut down for a period in the morning. Naturally, this would be a nightmare for people traveling. Say you were expected somewhere that morning, like oh, I don’t know, the Salt Lake Temple. And let’s get even crazier and say that you’re a bride who was supposed to be getting married that morning, and now you’re incredibly late. That would potentially be pretty stressful for your husband, who might be sitting there anxiously, wondering if he had been left at the altar. I mean, it would be pretty funny, right?

Ten years ago yesterday, I was that husband, a nervous wreck waiting for Katie to arrive. I finally got a phone call letting me know that they were trying to find another way to get up to Salt Lake. Eventually, instead of arriving 90 minutes before the ceremony, as the bride is told, she arrived ten minutes before our scheduled time. Fortunately, Katie was not at all a high-maintenance bride, so she just got her dress on and everything went forward mostly on time.

It’s interesting to think about how much has changed in the last ten years. Four different homes, the arrival of three kids, a bunch of job changes, illnesses, and a lot of fun times. But the thing that helps me deal with uncertainties is knowing that she’s always there to rejoice—and even suffer—right by my side. Happy anniversary, Katie. Let's see where this crazy ride takes us in the years to come.

A Flood of Evidence

Okay, I tried telling this to a few people, but nobody really cared. So I'm using my blog to talk about it. Caveat qui legit.

First of all, the subject of the Flood has always fascinated me. Where did all the water come from? How many animals were on the ark, and how did eight people clean up after all of them?
Well, I don't know about the poop scooping, but we might be a little closer to answering the first question.

I had a geology teacher at BYU who was LDS and accepted the Flood as a historical event. But he didn't think that the whole Earth was covered at once. Personally, I've felt that it was all covered, but wondered at the mechanism. I think God is the master scientist and created the laws of the universe, and obeys those laws, even though we don't yet have a full understanding. (And if you think mankind understands everything about the natural world, try googling "grand unified theory." That's why I've never had a problem reconciling science and religion.

So, here's the biblical verse describing where the water came from:
https://www.lds.org/scriptures/ot/gen/7.11?lang=eng

And today I came across this article:
I don't always take the verbiage of the Bible to be literal, but this is a fascinating idea. In the end our faith shouldn't be dependent on physical evidence, but that evidence can strengthen our belief. So it's fun to think about.