Wednesday, June 29, 2005

This Land Was Your Land

The CEO of Freestar Media is looking to take advantage of the recent Supreme Court Ruling on eminent domain, to purchase the land owned by Justice David H. Souter, in order to build a hotel there. The ruling allows the city to sieze personal property and sell it for a company to build on, if it will benefit the community as a whole through increased tax revenue and the like.
The proposed development, called "The Lost Liberty Hotel" will feature the "Just Desserts Café" and include a museum, open to the public, featuring a permanent exhibit on the loss of freedom in America. Instead of a Gideon's Bible each guest will receive a free copy of Ayn Rand's novel "Atlas Shrugged."

Clements indicated that the hotel must be built on this particular piece of land because it is a unique site being the home of someone largely responsible for destroying property rights for all Americans.
If they can pull it off, I'd plan a special trip just to stay there. That ought to increase their tax revenue.

Hat tips: My good friend Dan, and the World Net Daily

Mary's ideas

Again, Mary has provided some thought-provoking ideas that I think are worth addressing as a new blog posting. And again, I disagree on certain points. Regarding Pakistan, Mary's suggestion for what Bush should be doing to affect changes:
First, Pressure the president to let the woman travel. Tell him He is the one giving Pakistan a bad image, not her.
A recent San Francisco Chronicle article says:
"I am very happy. I feel that justice will be mine," she told The Chronicle later as she relaxed at a women's refuge in Islamabad. "I feel like going outside and running in circles."

The ruling was a crucial victory in a three-year legal saga that highlighted abuses against women in rural Pakistani society, stirred outrage around the world and, more recently, led the Bush administration to chastise President Pervez Musharraf, a key ally in the war on terror, for trying to muzzle Mukhtaran and prevent her from traveling to the United States.


The outrage finally reached the White House. Bush administration officials often turn a blind eye to human rights abuses in Pakistan, a key ally in the hunt for Osama bin Laden, but this time Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice telephoned Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri to complain about a situation her spokesman described as outrageous. The travel ban was lifted, though Mukhtaran's movements are still restricted by the heavy security that surrounds her everywhere she goes.
Again, this is the SFC--hardly a bastion of conservatism. While the Bush administration doesn't consider it their duty to babysit Pakistan, it's not like they're being completely oblivious. In this particular case, the Bush administration has already done what you suggested and it appears (again, in this case) to be making some significant ground. I do think that we ought to be encouraging Pakistan to make more sweeping changes; they certainly have problems that need to be addressed. Overall, though, I see hope for this democracy that has made, and continues to make significant steps toward becoming a responsible and contributing member of the world community. If I were the president of the U.S., I think I'd rather focus on working with them rather than telling them how to run things. This argument applies to starting schools over there, too. Working to stabilize the region politically and building the Trans-Afghan pipeline will help Pakistan to focus on improving their own position. This doesn't really compare to Iraq, where no amount of help that we could give would have benefited the people there without removing Saddam Hussein and his regime from power.

Another comment from Mary:
And Honestly, Bush himself wouldn't even need to do this, but rather encourage the public to do so.
I think you're right, that this is the way to go about things. Allow and encourage American individuals and companies to make voluntary contributions, rather than spending tax money, which is forced out of people, to help other nations. Our nation's government gets criticized now and then for not contributing to relief organizations and such in an amount proportionate to the nation's wealth. What people don't realize, though, is that part of the reason for our nation's wealth is that we don't tax our citizens and businesses to death, which allows them to make contributions out of their own pocket, which they do in sizeable amounts. Somehow I doubt that Bush's simple encouragement would get the amount of media attention that you suggest, unless more liberal elements sieze it as a reason to criticize Bush for not being willing to put his (i.e. the nation's) money where his mouth is.

Another "brilliant Idea":
During the 3 months of school that teachers have off, have the US govt. pay their plane ticket to some country, where they then teach during their off time.
Smart, but there's only so much a person can do in 3 months; you'd barely get started on something before you have to leave. This is probably why LDS missionaries are called to serve for 1.5-2 years. So instead, why not have a program where well-educated, civic-minded people can go for a couple of years and teach people and help them to build bridges and other things that will help to better their community for the long term? Oh, yeah, it's called the Peace Corps. But then, what will those poor, civic-minded schoolteachers do all summer? How about serving the community at home, like the USA Freedom Corps suggests. You may remember, Bush announced the creation of the Freedom Corps in his State-of-the-Union address in 2002. Funny thing is, I never heard about it in the media after that speech. Perhaps if we paid really close attention to everything Bush said and did, we'd get a different picture than when we just listen to headline news.

I don't see bush as promoting almost any programs that are this self-less.
Just because you don't see it doesn't mean it's not there.

Friday, June 24, 2005

More comments on news

Bush recently spoke up in support of nuclear power plants. I think this is a good thing. Americans in general are far too afraid of nuclear technology, and by preventing the development of nuclear power plants we force ourselves to rely on greenhouse gas-emitting fossil fuels, including oil from the Middle East. I wish that we could support the production of nuclear power plants without having to offer investors government-sponsored "risk insurance" as Bush has suggested, but considering the way certain people have used lawsuits and other forms of interference to block the production of nuclear power plants, I don't see any better way. If lawmakers can think of something else that is equally likely to work and less burdensome on taxpayers, more power to 'em! But something has to be done. I may tease France about some of their political views, but they've been productive enough to build 56 nuclear power plants in the time that the United States has been too afraid to build even a single one.

Mary's rebuttal

My great friend, Mary, responded to my last blog posting with some excellent points that I wanted to share.

Firstly, let it be noted that the article I linked to regarding the Kyoto agreement was not an article written by reporters for the Washington Post, but rather a letter to the editor from the Senior VP and Chief Economist of the American Council for Capital Formation, a conservative organization that tends to favor big business, and whose board of directors includes people from several big businesses who would probably stand to lose big if the U.S. signed on to the Kyoto agreement. It was written in response to an editorial written by the Washington Post which said (among other things) that "the White House may soon be the last institution in Washington that doesn't believe that the threat of climate change requires something more than new adjectives." They pointed to the discovery that a White House official had doctored environmental reports in order to downplay the role of pollution in global warming. This official then retired and (suspiciously) got hired by Exxon. The editorial was mostly focused on supporting legislation to allow Congress to continually re-evaluate the caps on greenhouse gases. I haven't done much research on the topic, but it seems pretty reasonable to me. While I think that the Washington Post often goes out of their way, both in editorials and news articles, to cast Bush in a bad light, I also think it's commendable that they are willing to print a critical letter to the editor, even when it's from such an obviously biased source.

Let it also be noted that my blog posting was written late at night after a week of not much sleep. Most of my other comments were (relatively) well-thought-out, but the Kyoto agreement comments were pretty much off-the-cuff, and I definitely should have dug in a little deeper before making any comments. So thanks, Mary for keeping me in check. You've certainly done more research regarding the Kyoto Protocol and environmentalism in general than I probably ever will, and I welcome your insights.

I do take exception, however, to the implication that I think we should "be allowed to have our own dirty secrets." The point of my posting, as a whole, was to say that I think the world's priorities are pretty messed up. I absolutely do not think we should turn a blind eye to the dealings of our own government. As Jesus said, we oughtn't to be so intent on telling our neighbors about the specks of dust in their eyes that we ignore the beams in our own eyes. But neither do I think it is right that the people all over the world are so very focused on the motes in America's eye that they ignore everything good that America has done. Don't get me wrong--we had ought to strive for perfection. As Jesus pointed out, a shepherd will leave all of his sheep to go and find the one which is lost. We do need to focus on our blemishes, so that we can work on scrubbing them out, but we oughtn't to magnify them to the point of distortion.

Once while I was in the bathroom of a hotel, I noticed they had this nifty little mirror on a swivel arm so that women could see their faces better as they primped themselves. Looking in that mirror, I felt like a blossoming teenager again, self-conscious about every pimple on my face. Then I looked in the regular mirror and realized that I hadn't become ugly overnight; this mirror was just shaped in such a way that I could clearly see every pore on my face. I felt sorry for girls that used that sort of mirror on a regular basis, because it magnified every imperfection to the point that it gave the user a grossly distorted view of themselves.

Looking around in today's world, that is what I see happening to America. We are not perfect, by any means. There are a lot of people who do a lot of selfish, greedy, perverted, and intolerant things. But we've been put under this magnifying glass, and we've made ourselves pretty darn transparent when compared to just about any nation at any other time in history. As a result, we see in ourselves (and the world sees in us) so very many imperfections that it seems at times impossible to feel good about ourselves. But when I study history and gain a more realistic perspective of the world we live in, I can't help but marvel at all that we've got going for us as Americans. I realize that even if a lot of people allow greed and sloth and hatred and perversity to govern their lives, that number dwarfs in comparison to the number of good, upstanding, hard-working, and generous citizens in the United States. And I strongly object to anyone that claims that Americans work to increase the level of liberty in "just the [situations] that make our lives easier."

And you're right, Mary, that the so-called Weapons of Mass Destruction were never found by coalition forces. Despite the fact that the world was convinced at the time that Saddam was hiding--if not actively producing--chemical and/or biological weapons, it has now become evident that by the time we invaded, he'd gotten rid of them in one way or another. But there was never any question whether he had them in the first place, or whether he'd be willing to use them. He had them, and he used them on his own citizens, which is what prompted the U.N. to require a full disclosure of the locations of his remaining weapons. It was his lack of full disclosure that prompted the U.N. to warn him of dire consequences if he did not comply. If nobody did anything when he continued to ignore these warnings, then how could anybody in the world respect the warnings of the United Nations? This is where I see irony in the comments made by these U.N. experts, after the United States has proven the hard way that it's not always right to "take well-founded allegations as proven in the absence of a clear explanation by government." And now they are worried about acting immediately or else "we won't have any credibility left."

Thanks for taking the time to comment, Mary. I hope you'll continue to do so in the future. It's definitely a blessing to have friends who "approach things from a different perspective and belief system." It makes me examine my own beliefs more closely, which is always a good thing.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Today's News

A 1991 United Nations Security Council Resolution decided that Iraq must "unconditionally accept the destruction, removal, or rendering harmless, under international supervision" all of its chemical weapons and such. In 2002, they unanimously passed another resolution offering Iraq a "final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations." That's 11 years of pussyfooting around, and when the U.N. Security Council was going to suggest setting a deadline for Saddam to comply, France declared they'd veto any resolution giving Iraq a deadline. We know now that France was benefiting from the Oil for Food Scandal. Bear in mind that Saddam had killed thousands of his own citizens with chemical weapons. In 2003, the United States decided not to wait for the other U.N. countries; they accepted what allies they could gather, and then set out to oust Saddam.

Now the United States has been holding about 520 terrorism suspects at a place called Guantanamo Bay. The Red Cross has been allowed to interview the detainees and inspect the facilities. Their reports included allegations of torture and mistreatment of the Koran. The U.S. Government is going out of their way to provide suspected Muslim extremist terrorists with copies of the Koran, not to mention spending millions of dollars to provide them with "proper" Muslim meals, and they took this report from the Red Cross seriously and actually took corrective action to prevent these things from happening in the future. After Newsweek printed an article alleging serious desecrations of the Koran (which they later retracted), the military launched another investigation that revealed 5 cases of Korans being mishandled (2 intentional) and 15 cases of the detainees desecrating their own Korans, including trying to flush them down the toilet. The government has also conducted investigations into allegations of torture (obviously mostly allegations made by detainees and ex-detainees), and have found Guantanamo to be "being operated at very high standards." But people continue to compare the place to Nazi death camps and Soviet gulags, so some experts at the U.N. have blasted the U.S. Government for not responding to their request to be allowed to conduct an investigation of the facility.

Some quotes:
But one investigator, Algerian magistrate Leila Zerrougui, said: "The time is up. We have to act now. If not, we won't have any credibility left."

"At a certain point, you have to take well-founded allegations as proven in the absence of a clear explanation by the government," Nowak said.
It's kind of funny, in light what the U.N. allowed Saddam to do for over a decade.

Remember how the U.S. (specifically the Bush Administration) took so much heat for refusing to sign onto the Kyoto agreement? Well apparently the EU is having a hard time keeping their commitments, while "the United States has done a better job of reducing the amount of energy used to produce a dollar of output than the European Union has."

Now, while Democrats are busy fighting the Patriot Act and Republicans are busy trying to amend the constitution so that Congress can make it illegal to "desecrate" (i.e. burn) the flag, the Supreme Court decided that local governments can kick citizens out of their homes to make room for shopping malls. So while the Democrats are worried that the law enforcement agencies are going to start spying on people for fun, and the Republicans are trying to outlaw a very legitimate (albeit wrong) activity, the judicial branch of our government opened the door for cities to remove "problem areas" by inviting Wal-Mart to come in and kick the residents out. Has the world gone mad?

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Hi ho, hi ho...

... it's back to work I go.

Well, I've been re-hired at GE Healthcare for a week. I was surprised to find how hard the folks here had to push in order to get permission to bring me back for a week. I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised, though. GE is such a gigantic company that it's next to impossible to break the corporate mold and actually get something done. I was actually really surprised when they told me they'd been able to get permission to bring me back. I guess I didn't realize how hard they were willing to pull for me.

Monday after work, Liz and I went to Nate Landon's birthday party. Nate is a neat guy who organized the Lindy Exchange a few years ago (and actually took some heat because of a little-known law about dancing after 2 AM). Recently he had a nasty bout of meningitis and they had to amputate some fingers, half of one of his feet, and a fair portion of one of his legs. I had no idea that meningitis could do that. Anyway, he's home from the hospital now, though he'll be going back to get some prosthetics and such. So a bunch of us Swing Kids went over to his house to wish him a happy birthday and hang out at his house. After that, Liz and I went to see Robots at the dollar theater with Mary and Dave Jones. It wasn't spectacular, but it was a lot better than I'd expected.

Tuesday after work, Kristen (another swing kid) brought her dying laptop computer over for me to fix up. After trying some basic stuff with it at Nate's house the day before, I was convinced it would take a clean reinstall of Windows to get it really working right, which meant I first had to back up all of her files to my external hard disk, and then reformat her hard disk, reinstall Windows with its Dell drivers, upgrade it to Windows XP Pro (which for some bizarre reason takes about as long as installing Windows XP Home in the first place), and then install any programs that she'd need and finally copy all of her files back to her computer. It took most of the night, mostly due to transferring her large music collection back and forth, but we finally got it running really smoothly, complete with Antivirus software and a couple of anti-spyware programs to keep her computer protected in the future. I always get such a rush out of making computers run smoothly. I think if I'd been born 50 years ago, I would've been really into cars.

Anyway, now I'm just sitting here waiting for some guy in Milwaukee to return my voicemails, emails, and/or chat messages from the past two days, so that I can get on with the project I'm working on.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Pack Meeting

Casey and Cy got some awards and rank advancements at their pack meeting last night.

Now that is one happy kid!

Salt Lake City Library Pictures

After stopping by Liz's work to give her flowers on our 16 month dating anniversary, I walked around the Salt Lake Library for a while, enjoying the sites. This is what I saw...

Monday, June 13, 2005

Sacrament talk

Following is the talk I prepared for Sacrament meeting yesterday. I paraphrased a bit as I spoke, but stayed pretty close to this:

Brothers and sisters,

I’ve been asked to speak to you today regarding missions. As I prepared this lesson, I pondered on why it is that missions are so important.

Matthew 12:36-37 says:

36 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.
37 For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

I pray that the Lord will give me the words that you need to hear today. Please forgive me if I misspeak.

In the Old Testament, a “wise woman” who understood the nature of God’s mercy said the following:

14 For we must needs die, and are as water spilt on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again; neither doth God respect any person: yet doth he devise means, that his banished be not expelled from him. (2 Sam 14:14)

It is for this purpose that God called Jonah to preach to Nineveh, a city full of people ripe for destruction, but people whom nevertheless God had prepared to hear His word.

I’d like for you all to pull out your scriptures and turn to Jonah. It’s a very short book, so you should be able to follow along pretty easily. Everybody knows the story—especially if you watch Veggie Tales—but the scripture itself provides important insights that I wouldn’t want you to miss.

While you’re pulling out your scriptures, here's a brief history lesson:

In Jonah’s time, Nineveh was the capital of Assyria, and was described as “an exceeding great city of three days’ journey.” If we take this to mean the time it would take to walk around the city, then it has a circumference of about 60 miles. Nineveh rested on the eastern bank of the Tigris River, across from the modern city of Mosul, Iraq. Modern translations of Genesis state that it was founded by Nimrod, the great-grandson of Noah. Nimrod (according to the 1st century Jewish historian Josephus) was a tyrannical dictator, who convinced his people that their happiness came from their own courage and that submission to God was a sign of weakness, and oversaw the building of the Tower of Babel so that if God decided to send another flood it wouldn’t be able to reach to the top of the tower. This all happened long before the time of Jonah, but I thought a little background would be nice.

Located midway between the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean, Nineveh benefited greatly from trade in the area and grew into a great city. We see a classic example of the pride cycle here, where the people of Nineveh became so great that they turned to evil ways.

So God asked Jonah to leave Israel, where he was loved and respected, and go to preach to a very wicked people in a distant land. We can only guess at what Jonah was feeling when he received his call. Why did he flee? Nobody likes to be told that they’re being evil; perhaps he was afraid that he would be killed, or imprisoned in Nineveh long enough to witness God’s wrath firsthand. I know I’d be a little apprehensive about walking into a city that I knew was going to be destroyed in 40 days. Or maybe Jonah didn’t want to give the people of Nineveh a chance to repent. It wasn’t a matter of laziness; in order to escape his mission call, he tried to sail away as far as he could in the other direction. The way he acted, we almost have to wonder if he wanted Nineveh destroyed and figured that preaching would only give them a chance to escape the wrath he felt they deserved.

Whatever his reasons, Jonah did what he could to get away and learned that, in the end, you really can’t run away from God. He was swallowed by a “great fish,” which we generally understand to be a whale, and he lay in the belly of the whale for three days.

Now, take a moment to imagine what that must have been like, laying for three days, breathing the rank gases inside this whale, probably lying in a solution of sea water and digestive juices of some sort, tosses about by every movement of the whale in the sea. Even had he dared open his eyes, there would have been no light to see by, neither from sun, nor moon, nor stars. It must have been hell! It’s no wonder in chapter 2, he says, “out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice.” The word he used there for “hell” is the Hebrew word for the spirit world. Jesus later compared this three-day period to the time that He would be in the spirit world after His temporal death. Jonah understood that he had sinned, and that if he had died at that point he would have been experiencing the anguish of the spirit prison. But when he was vomited out onto dry land, he realized that it was by the grace of God that he was saved from death.

In this experience of an unwilling prophet, we can catch a glimpse of God’s plan for all people. The fact is, we all are sinners. We do things we know we are not supposed to do, and we think thoughts that we know are not of God. And yet, for those willing to submit themselves to God’s will, He has extended a hand of mercy. Will our sins be without consequence? No. There are always consequences for sin, and we find that—in this world or the next—our sin will cause us to experience the anguish of having turned from our God: the anguish of being separated from His light. And yet, by the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we have been saved from death. We will be saved from temporal death—where our spirits were separated from their bodies—because Christ exercised power over his own death to become resurrected. And because Christ atoned for our sins, we can also be saved from a spiritual death—where our spirits are separated from our Heavenly Father.

After this experience, Jonah traveled into the heart of Nineveh and told the people there that God was going to destroy them in 40 days. They believed, fasted, and repented. So why wasn’t Jonah happy? It sounds to me like he was bitter about the fact that God was willing to relent. Maybe he was upset because God had led him to issue a prophecy that hadn’t come true. Or maybe he hated the people of Nineveh so much (whether because of their past deeds, or simply because they weren’t Hebrew) that he didn’t want them to receive God’s mercy. As we have seen at several points in scripture, God used the example of a plant to represent human beings. He showed Jonah that these plants bring Him joy when they grow strong, but that there is a worm that causes them to sicken and die, which brings Him great anguish. Jonah felt more remorse for the loss of a little plant than he did for a city of over a hundred and twenty thousand people!

Brothers and sisters, we have all been called to preach to the world: “Every member a missionary.” But in order to really live this commandment, our actions must stem from a desire to rescue our fellow man. When we truly come to believe in the worth of souls, how can we desire anything but to stamp out the worm that is plaguing them? Brothers and sisters, ask God to help you to develop a greater love and compassion for your neighbors.

I will be leaving in mid-August, and after a short time in the MTC I will go to share the good word of our Lord’s mercy with the people of Paris, France. In the past, I’ve had many occasions to laugh at the many ways in which the French are different from us, but when it all comes down to it, they are just as much the sons and daughters of God as you and I. Please pray for me as I prepare myself to serve this mission, that the Lord might move the hearts of those I teach, and that I will have enough of a Godly perspective to appreciate the results. Also, please make a serious and concerted effort to share the gospel with those around you, and to act as a sign of God’s compassion for them. Even if it’s just a matter of bearing your testimony to someone that needs to hear it. As you do this, know that you and the world will be greatly blessed because of your obedience. Just as we need to show our faith in God by acting on His word, we also need to show our love for one another by sharing with them those things which bring us joy.

I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Lessons of Time

These are some lessons I've learned:
  • It doesn't take very much time at all to have doubt cast on your beliefs, if you heed sources who are intent on casting that doubt.
  • It takes a lot of time to research relevant topics to the point where you can cast enough truth on those doubts to strengthen your testimony.
  • In my experience, every time somebody causes me to doubt the truthfulness of the doctrines and revelations of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Book of Mormon, and other such things, deep research always results in a deeper understanding and a stronger testimony of my religion.
Based on these discoveries, my conclusions are thus:
  • It is wise to study deeply any question that has been raised, if it has shaken your faith.
  • In such cases, it is unwise to rely on the people who raised those questions as a primary source of information for your research.
  • It is unwise in the first place to heed the words of people who would raise those questions, unless you have enough free time to devote to deep research.
These truths have become increasingly clear to me over the past year or so. Time after time, I have found these things to be evidenced by various experience--even beyond the scope of religion. I am not one to turn a blind eye toward people's misdeeds, but neither am I one to point out the speck of dust in my neighbor's eye, whether my "neighbor" is a friend, relative, stranger, the President of the United States, or a prophet. All these people make mistakes; I'll never pretend otherwise. But I'm not about to listen and accept the words of people whose sole goal in life seems to be finding fault in authority.

Don't watch Fahrenheit 9/11 unless you're ready to watch Fahrenhype 9/11. Don't read The Da Vinci Code unless you're ready to read The Da Vinci Hoax or something like it. Pay no attention to anti-Mormon shock talk unless you're prepared to read through a lot of information. And when you've seen enough and heard enough that you learn to recognize propaganda on sight, be willing to set aside curiosity now and then, and spend time doing something that really matters, like raising a family.

Student Loans

I was just looking over my expenses and realized that my student loan payments went through at the end of last month. That means I now have zero personal debt. I haven't used my credit cards for a good month or so, since I'm trying to simplify my accounting in preparation for my mission. My car was paid off years ago--just a few months after I bought it, in fact. And now I just payed off over $10,000 in student loans. I took the loans in case I needed to use the money, but I kept as much of the money as I could saved up in a special account where I didn't touch it. Due to the nature of the loans, the government was willing to pay interest on them up until 6 months after I graduated. I figured I'd get it taken care of early, though. Boy, does it feel good!

Now I just need to keep saving for my mission. I just called the registrar's office at school to find out whether they'd got me officially graduated yet. It takes a couple of months for them to sort through all the paperwork and such, but I need to get evidence that I graduated in order to qualify for my Extended Good Student Discount on car insurance, which is due this month. I also need to take care of my car's annual registration, but I'm going to wait until later on in the month to do that. Liz is buying my car when I go on my mission, and apparently she can just transfer my registration if she buys it within two months of my registering it. It may be a bit of a hassle, but it saves money, and right now that's important.

Speaking of money, the folks at GE OEC Medical Systems, where I worked last summer and last school year, are trying to get special permission for me to come back temporarily and work on a couple of projects for them. While I was working for them I automated some processes for them using some VBA programming. Now they're making some procedural changes and want to update the programs I made, but since I'm the only person they know of that knows how to do it, they're pretty eager to get me back for a little while. Job security is a funny thing.

Saturday, June 04, 2005


Mom's out of town at an E. Excel convention and I've been watching the kids since Thursday. It's been tiring, but fun. I guess there's not really a lot more to say about it, but I thought I'd mention that that's where I've been the last couple of days. Mom gets home Sunday.