Friday, March 8, 2013

News Corp (Rupert Murdock) wants to put tablets in schools, and by the way:
The media mogul is counting on future revenues from his educational branch to help shore up the finances of his newspaper and publishing division as it is split off later this year from the conglomerate's vast holdings in television and entertainment.
Disingenuous in the extreme. What happens when business drives education? Profits, and efficiencies of scale. These folks see public education as the next profit center. There is a thin veneer of public good, but the point is profit.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

How Will You Measure Your Life?How Will You Measure Your Life? by Clayton M. Christensen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"Why can't we/they run this school/church/charity/organization/family more like a business?"

I was afraid this was the question which Christensen was pursuing in this book. That was wrong. It is related to that, because he points out here that good and successful businesses must run as caring and giving families. Ethical and purpose-driven business can also be a model for individuals and families. He takes business examples (many used in his other books), to illustrate how we can be successful spouses, parents and happy, purposeful individuals.

Many of these foundational principles come into sharper focus when we understand then in business terms. I do not know why that is, but it seemed to work for me. The story of the trader Nick Leeson who destroyed the 233 year old Barings bank is one example. when he made a trading mistake, instead of owning up to it, he hid his mistake and then continued to hide bigger and bigger trading losses, until he (and Barings)could not recover. Personally, our life's turning points hinge on these seemingly small events. 100% honesty is easier than being honest and ethical 98% of the time. For businesses and individuals, exceptions to the rules of ethics due to "Extenuating circumstances" can become painful turning points.

I highly recommend.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the BrainSpark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by John J. Ratey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

From the last chapter:
The point I've tried to make — that exercise is the single most powerful tool you have to optimize your brain function —is based on evidence I've gathered from hundreds and hundreds of research papers, most of them published only within the past decade. Our understanding of how the brain works has absolutely exploded in this relatively short period, and it's been an incredibly exciting time for anyone interested in the human condition.

This was another eye opener. After reading "The Secret Life of the Grown-up Brain: The Surprising Talents of the Middle-Aged Mind" by Barbara Strauch and "Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength" by Roy Baumeister, I was ready for this informative, well documented book.

Exercise makes us feel good, but now you can have documentary proof that stress, anxiety, depression, attention deficit, addiction, hormonal changes, and even aging are dramatically helped by exercise.

View all my reviews

Friday, July 15, 2011

Grandma Hansen stories

I should probably have started with an earlier part of Grandma's life. In reviewing some of what I have typed today, I ran across this story. Since I think all of us are part of the reason why Grandma's life was spared, you might be interested in this story.

"When I was 3 ½ years old we were living on McClelland Street and 13th South. It was next to the Emerson Elementary School. I used to love to watch the children play at the school. On wash day, Mother made us go outside or in another room when she lifted the boiling water off the stove. She always boiled our clothes. This day in October she sent us outside to play, and I wanted a piece of bread. I went back in just as she had lifted the water off. She told me to run outside until she got it emptied and then she would give me one. I turned to go and bumped into the tub with my legs an fell in on my back. Mother grabbed me out and pulled my little dress off and all the skin with it. She put me in a buggy and headed for her sister’s, Aunt Edna. She lived at 1401 South 10th East.
As she passed Mrs. Hutchenson’s home, she came out and asked what was wrong. Mother told her and she had Mother take me into her home where she called a Dr. A. L. Brown. He took care of me and then every day for the next 6 weeks at around 8:55 A.M., Mrs. Hutchenson would arrive at the front door and Mother would head for Aunt Edna’s. Shortly after Dr. Brown would arrive and scrape all the scabs off my back. He always said, “Is she still alive?” when he arrived. At the end of 6 weeks, he said that I must have quite a mission in life. He knew I would make it now."

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Grandma Hansen's History

I have been for the last few summers (it is long, and I tend to get distracted) typing Grandma Hansen's life history. Grandma was a great storyteller. I think because she told her stories a lot, she was able to remember much of her life as she began writing it down in her later years. I think on this blog I will record some of the stories I find particularly interesting as I run across them. Here is one I typed the other day.

"Tess had a baby boy on April 17th. The first of May, she and I took our babies down to Dr. Brown for an examination, and then went to town. We were walking down Broadway or 3rd South between State and Main. There was hole in the sidewalk, and I turned my ankle and went down. There was a loud crack and everybody around thought Greg had bumped his head, as he was really screaming. But my elbow had kept his head from hitting. Tess and I went up in the restroom of the Paris Dept. store, and I stopped Greg’s crying, My elbow hurt a bit, but when I tried to walk, I wanted to cry. My ankle hurt so badly. I said that I was sure that I had sprained my ankle. Greg weighed 20 lbs. and still couldn’t walk, so I carried him all over town with my ankle hurting. We caught the bus and went home. All that week, my ankle bothered me. Sometimes it felt like the bones rubbed together and I would fall down. A couple lived in Aunt Edna’s basements that were our friends. They came over and he looked at my ankle and said it looked like a broken bone he had seen at one time. I told him I could walk on it, so it probably wasn’t broken, but he said he thought a broken foot could be walked on.
So, Royce made an appointment with Dr. Brown and took me in. I t was broken, and I had walked on it so much the bones were rubbed smooth, so I couldn’t put any weight on it for 5 weeks. He put it in a cast, so, I ended up on crutches with a 20 lb. baby!
Royce’s youngest brother, Keith, was just getting out of the Navy and came up every day and helped me, and got Greg down for a nap. Then he came back for supper each night and helped Royce clean up after. It made it a lot easier for me. I really appreciated his help. I would carry Greg and crawl or put my knee on a chair and move it, or hop as I needed to."

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Best Day Ever

"Charles Francis Adams, the 19th century political figure and diplomat, kept a diary. One day he entered: “Went fishing with my son today—a day wasted.”

His son, Brook Adams, also kept a diary, which is still in existence. On that same day, Brook Adams made this entry: “Went fishing with my father—the most wonderful day of my life!””

Saturday June 11th 2011, Keaton remarked at the end of a short fishing expedition, that this was “The best day ever”. Having not caught any fish, his Dad, Lee and I would not have been so positive, but hearing this five year old say it, that made our day special too. I for one was reminded of what the two Adamses taught us about perspective.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

A Lesson In Godly Love

January 25th, 2011, I was having a black, depressing day. My trading business was doing lousy, and the job search was fruitless. Depression was overwhelming me. I did not want to talk to anybody. Everyone and everything annoyed me. Since I had accepted a Church welfare assignment at Deseret Dairy for that morning, I showed up for my scheduled assignment but remained unresponsive to the usual banter of the production line. Our job was truly mindless, counting out and placing packets of powdered gelatin in boxes -just what I needed to forget my perceived troubles.

One of the volunteers was an old man, born and raised in Utah, a redneck, retired carpenter, who volunteers there a couple of times each week. He happily babbled on and on about nothing at all. I heard about his breakfast cereal and what he put on it and why, a horse he once owned. On and on he rambled I only wished he would just shut up and leave me alone.

Then surprisingly, he said that he has a son who is now his daughter. I perked up, waiting to hear the standard blather about how awful this was. To my astonishment, he described how he now speaks to her by phone every day and is so proud of all she accomplishes -accomplishments he of course described in annoying detail.

After confessing that his wife and family did not and would not accept this gender change, he declared, "They are still your child". Continuous, honest and heartfelt love and respect was needed for this and any valued child, he assured us. Another gross misjudgment on my part. My first impression, as usual, was totally wrong. Here was a true father in the highest and best sense. We only understand these confusing issues in part. That requires tender restraint on our part in dealing with it.

This of course leads to the much broader lesson for parents. "They are still your child". Our children, family members and friends will likely, at some point in our lives, disappoint us deeply. Even when they wound us to the very heart, they are still our children or friends. Our responsibility is to love them for what they are and can become. For those who were blessed to be part of Margaret Hansen’s family extended family, you know from first hand experience how one of God’s choicest Saints loved and praised everyone without exception.

Finally, by sending me this sweet experience on one of my worst days, God plainly taught me the lesson that I am his child, and that he loves me enough to pull me out of a deep hole. Can he do that for all of us? Are we too far gone? He says, “Never, Never, Never.”

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Two Letters To Isabelle

We were asked to describe our lives when we were Isabelle's age for a family history section in her class. We thought it might be of interest to the rest of the family. Here are the 2 letters.

Dear Isabelle,

I was your age more than 50 years ago. It is hard to understand what that means when you are just going on 9 years old. Maybe you can understand a little better if I can describe how different the world was then.

When I was your age, I lived in the east part of the city of San Diego. It was an old neighborhood, where the houses were built in the 1920’s, so in the 1950’s, our house was old. In fact, my grandparents used to live there and we rented from them.

My room was the only upstairs room. It had windows all along the front looking out over the street. There was a sink which I rarely used, since most 8 year old boys see little use for sinks.

I do remember riding my bike very freely all over our neighborhood, and got very good at riding. My friend and I quickly found the hills where crossing streets made good jumps. Without helmets or any kind of padding, we rode as fast as we could down those hills and into the air. We thought we were really flying.

The other memory is of spending entire Saturdays at the San Diego Zoo. All by myself, I would bring 2 dimes to ride the number 7 bus running along University avenue directly to Balboa Park to get off at Zoo Place. I always saved the second dime for the return trip. Since I was not such a good planner, I usually forgot to pack a lunch, so drank a lot of water and usually found unshelled peanuts people dropped. That was part of the adventure. I spent hours watching the monkeys and the hippos and came to memorize the zoo’s layout. I knew where every animal enclosure was located.

At the end of the day, I would go back to the bus stop and use my other dime to ride home, never concerned for my safety, or worrying about getting lost. In those years a young boy or girl could go almost anywhere without fear or concern for his safety.

A couple of years later, we moved to Lemon Grove. La Corta Street was in a housing development where most of the houses looked the same. I learned that La Corta Street was an uphill dead end so it had very little traffic. It was perfect for daredevil boys with wheeled vehicles.

About this time, I learned that you could use old skates to make a “skateboard”. I thought this would be a perfect way to ride down La Corta Street. Skates were then metal wheels with clamps to fasten to your leather soled shoes. If you unbolt them, you had separate front and rear wheels.

I cut a 2” by 4” board about 18 inches long, pounded the skate’s clamps flat and nailed the wheels to either end of t
he board. Now I had a “vehicle” with no brakes and no real steering –perfect for flying down a steep sidewalk. Without any “safety” equipment but my sneakers and shorts, I determined to give it a try after gaining my balance riding down my short driveway. Steering entailed leaning and shifting weight. I was now a skateboarding “expert”.

I carried the skateboard about halfway up the hill, and jumped on, barely able to hang on down the hill, and got better by falling off less and less frequently. When I got to the corner, I could not make the turn. Luckily, there were no cars coming on that quiet cross street as I flew off the sidewalk and onto the asphalt. A couple more tries and I was able to negotiate the curve of the sidewalk to an even steeper street and jump off.

That emboldened me to carry my now battered skateboard to the top of the hill with the determination to ride all the way down without falling off and getting around that corner –at a much faster speed. What I would do after turning that corner onto the steeper downhill, I really gave very little thought.

At the top, the street actually looked much steeper and longer. Butterflies fluttered in my stomach, but I launched myself down the sidewalk hoping that there would be no kids or dogs wandering into my path. With no helmet, no knee pads, and no elbow pads, I sincerely hoped I would not crash, though what else could happen I did not consider.

On the way down, I was feeling very good, like I was some kind of an expert, invincible rider. That meant that I remained on the sidewalk and the nails holding the wheels on did not fall out. So far, so good.

When I got to the corner, I had to face the reality that I was going much too fast to make that turn. That was actually a good thing since the prospects of going down the cross street were even more dangerous than the track I had been following. As I started into the turn, I had the feeling that I just might not slide too much and stay on the sidewalk. Unfortunately, metal wheels do not grip concrete sidewalks so well, and I went off the sidewalk. When the wheels hit the parking strip grass, it abruptly stopped, sending me into the street.

Fortunately I hit the asphalt on my side, and except for plenty of scraped skin on my legs and hands, I suffered little damage. No truck ran me over, I had no broken bones, and there was no concussion though my head was wholly unprotected.

You are growing up in a wonderful time, Isabelle. There are great adventures and experiences awaiting you. It is however, a different time. In many ways better and more protected than when I was growing up, but in many ways more dangerous. God bless and protect you in all you do.

Love, Grandpa Earley February 13, 2011

Dear Isabelle,

How nice to be able to share something with you about my childhood. It will be interesting for you to see where your life differs from my life as a child.

My home life was a little different from yours in one way because where you have 2 sisters, I had 4 brothers. I was the oldest girl just as you are though, so in that respect maybe we are a little bit alike. Although, I had an older brother, my parents depended on me to take care of my younger brothers just as you are depended upon to help with your sisters. Having 4 brothers and no sisters made me the “princess” of the home. My dad always called me princess, and I truly thought I was. I had my own room, but all four of my brothers were in the same room. We only had a 3 bedroom house, so that was the logical solution, right? Other things that were a constant in our home are that we went to church every Sunday and ate dinner together every night at home—except on Friday night. On Friday night we went to Arctic Circle and got hamburgers 5 for $1.00.

As far as activities that I enjoyed, the one thing that will be most different from the way things are now is that we had a lot more freedom. I had friends that lived on the same street. Because the world was different then, my friend and I would ride our bikes for long stretches—sometimes taking the whole day. We would eat our lunch by a stream and eat wild currents. I would also go with my brothers over to the local lake and go spear fishing from their raft, or ice skating in the winter. Your great-grandma Hansen never worried much about us because it seems the world was safer then.

I also liked to play with my Betsy McCall doll. Playing for me was having my dad set aside a place in the yard for my dollhouse. I planted lawn around the doll house. Your great-grandpa helped me pour cement for a swimming pool, patio and sidewalk. I decorated the orange crate house with carpet scraps and made drapes for the windows. My friend and I made furniture for the rooms. Honestly, after I finished the whole creation it wasn’t that much fun to play with my doll anymore. I think I enjoyed the creation of the house more.

I remember having a pet horned-toad for awhile that I kept in my room. He didn’t fair very well. Neither did the ants in the ant farm that I created in a canning jar.

Music was a big part of my life after I turned 10. My parents wouldn’t get me a piano until I turned 10, but after that, I learned how to play and would play and sing for hours. No iPods then. We had radio, record players, and TV. I loved to watch the Hit Parade on Saturday Night, but mostly I created my own music

In school, I tried to always do my best. I loved to learn, and still do. In the third grade I got a prize for reading the most books. (Maybe that is why I am a school librarian now). I always loved books. I loved the Nancy Drew series so much that I tried my hand at writing my own Nancy Drew type novel in the 5th grade called the Mysterious Staircase.

I realize Isabelle that you love reading and you love to do your best, and that you love music. You are already a talented singer and dancer. Maybe we are the same in a lot of ways even though I grew up in a world much different than the one today. I am so glad that you have part of my name in yours. You are wonderful Isabelle.

Love, Grandma Belann Earley February 13, 2011

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Backslider

A surprise.

I did not expect to enjoy this book. It would not appeal to those not familiar to Utah/Mormon culture, since it so very specific to that culture. It spoke to me though very strongly about the foundational principles of Christianity without beating me over the head with it. The story stands on its own. You have to like Frank. He exudes common sense and honesty, and his obvious flaws make him endearing.

Frank is a young man who decides he must straighten out his life. He has however, a truly flawed sense of who God is and how He sees his wayward children. He sees God with Frank in his rifle sights, just waiting to pull the trigger. Frank feels he must "balance the books" of behavior, so that his "good deeds" outweigh the bad. He tries and tries, but finds it just impossible to do more good than bad. Growing up, he never came to understand the role of the Savior, Jesus Christ, though his parents were themselves devout Mormons.

His new Lutheran wife is the surprising catalyst to help him understand the role that the atonement of Jesus Christ plays in our recovery and acceptance by God. They help each other toward balance -mainly by making plenty of painful mistakes, and then coming to the realization that the process of making mistakes and redemption is the narrative of a full and complete life.

As Deja continued to tell me, "...just wait until you meet the cowboy Jesus". That is when Frank finally gets it.

This book could not be recommended for young readers. There are adult themes here, even though handled with discretion.

Understanding the Book of Mormon

I gave this book 4 stars because I was so pleasantly surprised at how much I appreciated Hardy's exhaustive treatment of the three narrators, Nephi, Mormon and Moroni. But then, I usually do not go far wrong in taking Deja's book recommendations. A brief example:
The narrators provide a controlling perspective that can bring together diverse incidents, voices, and documents in the service of major themes such as the nature of faith, the reliability of prophecy, and the role of Israel in God's providence. Indeed, it is through the narrators that we are most likely to ascertain the primary message of the Book of Mormon. Nevertheless, the meaning of the text is neither unitary nor static. The editors/historians are portrayed as living, thinking individuals who develop as characters over the course of their writings. In addition, there are differences of approach between the narrators. Mormon and Moroni, in particular, appear to have quite distinct ideas about how to best persuade their readers.
By evaluating the text, Hardy reveals so much more about these three prophet/historians we might not so readily uncover ourselves. In examining the extensive use of parallel and allusion, we see the connections between these prophets and others whose material they draw on so heavily. We also see the great care these editors took to instruct readers.

I particularly enjoyed the connections he drew to Isaiah. Isaiah continues to be quoted and applied throughout the entire Book of Mormon, more in fact, that we would think.

Not all of Hardy's assumptions are strong. I would not agree that this book might be so appealing to a non-Mormon. He makes a case for the Book of Mormon as literature, but when he constantly tries to point out its powerful meaning whether one imagines the author as Joseph Smith or Mormon, I doubt that this analysis would hold much interest. His real audience is believers, and he would have been better served if he had not tried to make his appeal so broad. This is not a book to read before you read the Book of Mormon.

Even believers who have read the Book of Mormon once or twice without digging deep would be lost here. Few will follow or recognize the many references back to the scriptural text.

If however, you are an avid student, and regular reader of the Book of Mormon and are looking for a fresh perspective to gain a new appreciation for its power and depth, this will be a breath of fresh air. You will experience many "aha moments" whether you agree with each of Hardy's conclusions or not.