Not a place to bathe your baby

 Society today is a conglomeration of weird rituals that have little practical use in our lives. And yet we cling to these traditions like a toddler when his mom decides he doesn’t need that sucker anymore. And one of the most baffling instances of this is the modern baby shower.

In my mind, the baby shower is a way for friends and family to give the mother-to-be gifts that will be useful for them in raising the baby. Simple, right? And it was with this intent that Katie and I perused the registry of a friend who is expecting soon. On it we found a temporal scanner thermometer that is identical to one that has been great for us, so we got it for her. The next day Katie attended the baby shower, and when she told me about it later we both realized something odd. Perhaps it should have been obvious, but baby showers aren’t about getting something useful for the mom. They’re about gathering around to coo “Awww” at cute tiny clothing, because that’s what most people bring to these things. Never mind that diapers and wipes are far more practical (and we have given those many times for that reason), it seems that the social aspect of the ritual is more important than the original reason for these gatherings.

So, this is one of those things that does actually make a kind of sense once you understand what it really is, kind of like that movie The Happening. If you think about it as a B movie, it’s… well, it’s still pretty terrible. But it makes more sense that way. Every time I have a realization like this it feels kind of like breaking a secret code, as though one more little piece of the universe just fell into place.

How about you? What have you learned lately?

Hot (like the fires of Hell) Tamale

One of my coworkers brought a small vending machine to work, and uses the proceeds to fund continued purchases of candy. But shortly after I started working there, we discovered that the current stock of candy was more or less fossilized. So she replaced it, and we began to notice that different people were receiving different amounts of candy for their quarter.

Eventually we decided that the amount of candy you receive is proportional to your righteousness. So I thought I'd give it a go...

Well, I can't say I'm totally surprised.


A couple of weeks ago, Allison turned four.

The dress says, "Let's play!" And the hook says, "With your entrails!"
It's interesting to see the different personalities of our children as they grow. Allison loves the stereotypical girl things like princesses, but she's also not afraid to have a sword fight with you or hunt for bugs. A lot of that is the influence of an older brother, but it's nice to see she's well rounded so far.

She is a different person from Sam, though. She is generally well-behaved and obedient in preschool and primary (not that Sam is bad, but he does get a little mouthy). She loves to play mom with her toys and help around the house. I think she'll be a great big sister to Buttercup (what she wants us to name the baby), and we feel lucky to have her in our family.

Biddy and the Beast

Imagine that one stormy night, you hear a knock at your mansion door. You answer the door only to see a hideous old woman standing in the rain. She demands that you allow her to spend the night in your home. She's a stranger, and you have many valuable things that you are reluctant to entrust to her presence. In the end you decide not to risk yourself, your servants and your property and tell her to be on her way. Maybe you even offer her some money to find a hotel room.

Refusing to take no for an answer, she again insists that you not turn her away just because she's an ugly old woman. You stick to your decision and tell her no. Then she removes her mask and reveals that she's a beautiful young woman. She decrees that because you didn't want a potentially dangerous stranger spending the night in your home that means you have no love in your heart.

The woman then waves some magic wand and turns you into some kind of huge animal thing. Not satisfied with that crime, for good measure she then changes all your servants (who are all completely innocent bystanders) into various pieces of furniture and other household items, making sure they retain their consciousness and memories so they can experience every moment of this living hell in perfect lucidity.

She imposes an arbitrary date by which you have to fall in love and have it returned, a subjective experience in any event, and made much more difficult because of your new and grotesque appearance. If you fail, these changes will be permanent, and your entire household will be trapped permanently in this nightmarish existence.

Seriously, Gaston should have just married the "enchantress" from the beginning of the movie. The two jerks would have gotten along just great. And if the prince would have let her in to begin with, what would she have done? Married him? Is she not being just as judgmental as he supposedly was?  The crazy witch is really the bad guy in Beauty and the Beast. If there were any justice we would have learned that she was subsequently hunted down and burned at the stake.

Goal Tending

I think I've mentioned this a couple dozen times before, but I've never really liked setting goals. They generally conflict with the "Let's live from day to day and not try to worry about self improvement and ooh look there's something shiny" mentality I've worked hard to cultivate.

But since I started running I have found myself not only feeling better physically, but somehow my brain has betrayed me into trying to improve as well. So far these are mostly just goals related to running, but if I'm not careful I could actually wind up on the path to becoming a better person.

One good thing about some goals, at least, is that once they are accomplished you never have to try for them again. So with that in mind, I'm happy to say that this last week I met two running goals I've had in mind for quite a while. The first was to run a sub-1:30 half marathon, which I achieved thanks to an anonymous woman, who was running at an incredible pace that I tried keep up with for a few miles. Thanks, stranger, for reminding me that as long as we compete pridefully, we can achieve our goals (a lesson I first learned when setting goals as a missionary).

Anyway, I set the second goal a couple days later when, due to lack of time, I shortened a five-mile run to 5k. I decided to go for another personal best, and finally did it in under 20 minutes.

Fortunately, these are completely meaningless achievements, and aren't likely to lead to a run for the presidency or a vow of poverty (which would be redundant in any case). But I still get the sense of accomplishment that comes from doing something much harder.

What about you? What pointless goals have you met lately?

Wax On

Remember the short-lived infatuation of Americans with karate in the 1980s, largely due to the influence of The Karate Kid? Well, I don't recall ever begging my parents for karate lessons, but maybe it just skips a generation. Or maybe it's because I was an incredible sissy as a kid. Anyway, for several years Sam has been interested in (read: obsessed with) Japan and martial arts, and he begged and begged to be able to take karate. But for a while we didn't think he was old enough (read: it was too expensive).

Once we got to Lehi, however, we noticed that the local rec center had a martial arts class that was reasonably priced. Not only that, but it was hapkido, a Korean martial art that I had been interested in learning. And so, we were eventually able to banish thoughts of "Put him in a body bag, Johnny!" and signed him up in January.

It's been interesting so far, and I think it will be good for Sam to learn some discipline and get good exercise. I've been thinking of joining the class too, as long as it doesn't interfere with my running. I should probably do it, though, because otherwise I'm pretty sure that within two years Sam will be able to break boards—using my head.