Friday, November 23, 2018

Did I just read that?

Following this stunning non-sequitur: "However, 400 years later, scientists now believe that they could bring the dodo back to life through cloning of some of its closest living relatives. Scientists recently published a paper which identified the overall genomic structure of dinosaurs."
...we get this quote (I hope mis-quote) from scientists identifying passenger pigeons as dinosaurs, and being excited that birds and non-avian dinosaurs have a lot of chromosomes (because someone thought they didn't?!):
'University of Kent scientists Darren Griffin and Rebecca O’Connor wrote in an article for The Conversation: “We discovered that birds and most non-avian dinosaurs had a lot of chromosomes (packages of DNA). Having so many allows animals to generate variation, the driver of natural selection. Nevertheless, and it is a long shot, it may be possible in future to use Jurassic Park technology to help undo some of the harm that humans have caused. Mankind has seen the extinction of well-known avian dinosaurs such as the dodo and the passenger pigeon."'

Friday, November 16, 2018

Did I just read that?

There is so much wrong with this article that we laughed all the way through.

Start with the simile in the headline (uh--what kind of comparison is that?! Did this person know what a poltergeist is?), and go downhill from there.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Commas Matter.

A couple of things I found while pondering punctuation in the scriptures.
1. "...people, who are of the House of Israel," means something different from "...people who are of the House of Israel." I believe based on the context that the first is used but the latter was intended. (This is just one example where the phrase appears: "...the work of the Father shall commence in preparing the way for the fulfilling of his covenants which he hath made to his people who are of the house of Israel." The comma would indicate He has no other people but the house of Israel, which flies in the face of the doctrine that all of mankind are God's children. Leaving the comma out indicates we are talking about a specific group of God's children with whom he made specific covenants, but leaves open the possibility that He has other children with whom He has also made specific covenants that are not addressed in this verse. We have wars (literally) over this idea--that God only has one people and which is it--and it's all cleared up by properly punctuating.)
and 2. "touch upon them as much as it were possible for Christ’s sake" means something different than "touch upon them as much as it were possible, for Christ’s sake." When I realized it was the latter that was actually used in the scripture, I laughed. The comma turned a perfectly acceptable phrase into a swear, and we've been reading it that way for a hundred years. Oops!

Sunday, October 14, 2018

My Latest Project

One of my most boring and ultimately most valuable classes in college was the senior seminar I took with Royal Skousen doing an analysis of the Book of Mormon text, comparing what's in the printed edition with the handwritten versions.

Some things I learned:

* There were two handwritten editions of the Book of Mormon: the original and a copy of the original they made to take to the printer, not wanting to lose the only copy. The original copy went into the cornerstone of the Nauvoo House, which leaked water and damaged parts and destroyed parts. The Church now owns most of the parts, but a few are in private hands. The printer's copy we have, but it does have a few copying errors.

* The Book of Mormon, as organized by Mormon, had chapter breaks and a few chapter/section headings built in, but they do NOT match the most recent edition's chapter breaks. At some point, someone (I want to say Orson Pratt, but I'm not sure) who had authority broke the Book of Mormon into chapters and verses to match the Bible more closely and make it easier to refer to specific parts, make notes, and study. He also added chapter headings. Later, footnotes were added. The most recent (2013) edition of the Book of Mormon made an attempt to clarify which chapter headings were original and which were added.

*The original 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon has the original chapter breaks and no verse numbers. It is MUCH easier to read without all the "noise" added to make the Book easier to study. But the 1830 edition has errors in it, many of which Joseph Smith himself went through and fixed for the second edition. The errors in the 1830 edition were of two sorts: copying errors and formatting errors. Most of the copying errors came from the difficulty in reading a handwritten text with nonstandard spelling (so we get things like "wickedness" being replaced with "woundedness" in one verse and "Lamb" replaced with "Lord" in another; and thanks to the spelling issues, on the last line of the Book of Mormon we still have no idea if it originally--when Moroni wrote it--said, "wholly without spot" or "holy, without spot."  Fortunately, they mean the same in context so it doesn't matter.)

* The formatting errors in the Book of Mormon came from a peculiarity of the production process. The handwritten manuscript transcribed while Joseph translated did not include punctuation or paragraphing. The chapters breaks were marked with the word "Chapter" but no chapter numbers. New and difficult words (especially names) Joseph spelled out letter by letter (we know this because a phonetic spelling was crossed out and followed by a corrected spelling in the manuscript), but other words were not spelled out by Joseph and are spelled phonetically and nonstandardly on a regular basis, reflecting their dialect (so you get things like "genealogy" spelled in a way that reveals Joseph pronounced it like most people in southern Utah still do).  Sometimes, the person taking the dictation forgot the correct spelling and went back to the phonetic spelling. Usually that was caught and corrected, but the name Pahoran is still spelled incorrectly, even in the 2013 edition (the original manuscript on the first appearance of that name spelled it out as Parhoran.) Anyway, paragraphing and punctuation were not revealed but instead were inserted later, primarily by the printer, EB Grandin. And he did a terrible job, breaking single sentences into different paragraphs and making the whole document a commastorm.

So it's that last part that has bothered me for years.

I find the official study edition very, very difficult to read because of the formatting. Single sentences are broken into different verses. Paragraphing is nonexistent. People read it like they do poetry, with little pauses at the ends of lines instead of where the meaning breaks. For years now, when I wanted to just read the Book and not cross-reference and footnote and mark it, I've turned to my trusty 1830 replica edition. I can't just read the study edition that is the official edition. It's just about impossible for me to get through because of the formatting, chapter breaks, etc. I mean, the original chapter breaks were put in by the original authors, and if you read them you find that they are thematically organized. The new chapter breaks actually obscure this layer of meaning that was put in by the original ancient authors (which breaks this author's heart!).

For years I've longed for an 1830-style format with the 2013 corrections of the errors introduced by Grandin (and by the printer's manuscript), and with updated formatting and punctuation because Grandin did just a dismally awful job with those.

When President Nelson made his request in conference that the sisters read the Book of Mormon by the end of the year, I knew I couldn't succeed unless I had my 1830 replica edition so I could read fast and easily. And it was packed. So I prayed for help finding it, and then I stood up and surveyed the room. One box stood out to me, and I opened it up and there on top was my 1830 replica! So out it came, and I started reading with a pencil in hand to start marking, as President Nelson requested, the parts that mentioned the Savior.

But reading with pencil in hand totally put me in editor mode, and I found myself horrified and distracted by the awful punctuation of the 1830 edition. Commas everywhere, without rhyme or reason. It was unreadable with a pencil in hand because my copyeditor instincts took over and I found myself marking the thing up--copyediting.  I checked the 1981 edition I use for studying and found that the Church has corrected a lot of Grandin's punctuation storm, but it looks like they still relied mostly on what he did to punctuate. A lot of it is still not correct according to the rules of punctuation.

So....I looked up the copyright permissions on the website, and it says you can use the church materials for personal use. So I downloaded a copy of the Book of Mormon--just the text of the 2013 edition, so it's the most updated and corrected text, and I prayed and asked Heavenly Father if I could make myself a copy of the Book of Mormon in the format I want to read, with the non-revealed parts fixed, and the text left untouched. I got a resounding YES! answer to my prayer, so I set to work.

I've basically said to myself, "If I were in Grandin's spot, how would I have done this?" My rule is that I can't change anything that was revealed to Joseph Smith (no word changes, no shuffling paragraphs, etc.), but anything anyone else added to the text is fair game (line breaks, paragraph breaks, punctuation, chapter headings, false chapter breaks, etc).

First thing to go was the new chapters and verses. I went back to the original chapter breaks, and I'm putting in normal paragraphing. And finally, I'm doing a complete re-punctuation of the entire text. Everything else I'm faithfully, religiously sticking with what the original authors wrote. Just redoing the formatting to make it easier to read. So far I've finished all of First Nephi. I wish I'd found a way to keep the footnotes, but my computer would not process the formatting of footnotes. (I'm using Google Chrome Docs instead of Libre Office, so my formatting options are sorely limited.)

And, lo and behold, it's SO Much easier to read without all the bad punctuation. The Book of Mormon text says it's plain and simple to read, and I've never found it completely simple. But it turns out a lot of that is the punctuation being in all the wrong places, so your brain pauses where it shouldn't, obscuring the meaning.

In doing this, I've engaged in the meaning of the Book of Mormon in ways I never have before.  I've learned things and internalized and understood things that I missed before. And I've discovered some linguistic "forms" that are used throughout the text that are kind of fun. And I've really finally felt the clarity and simpleness and plainness that Nephi said he gloried in, and that we buried in a flood of commas and semicolons that mostly marked the end of lines instead of segments of meaning. It's quite delightful.  I can't wait to get to the rest of the Book!

I think when I'm all done, I'll find a way to print a copy for myself so that finally I will have an edition of the Book of Mormon that is easy to read to myself and easy to read aloud to my children. That would make me very, very happy indeed.

Monday, October 08, 2018

Sometimes we run to aid, sometimes we stand as a beacon

I had an experience recently that has ended up being very important to me, and I wanted to share it. The easiest way is to just cut-and-paste from my journal. So here you have it, from my entry on September 26, 2018:

On Tuesday, we drove an hour to Great Sand Dunes National Park. I had prepared myself for something like the sand dunes we went to when I was a kid. I was not prepared for what it really was: a two-mile-high, 30-square-mile mountain of sand, accessible only by hiking across nearly three-quarter mile of relatively level but overly soft sand that in the spring is covered with shallow water but was dry this time of year.

We checked out the visitor’s center and then sunscreened up to go play in the sand, in the pounding sun. The edges of the flat section had small, scruffy trees, but the dunes themselves were Sahara-bare. So Tim and the kids set off toward the dunes, and Emmy and I trailed along behind, the sand hot and sneeping into our sandals. It was really hard walking, like on a beach, and we got about a third of the way to the dunes before we were both done. Emmy said she didn’t want to jump on the sand anyway, and I didn’t, so we turned around. Immediately, I spotted a shady spot beside a fire pit, away from where most of the people were coming into the area, but on a hillside in the shade. So we turned back and went there.

I had deliberately worn a bright neon pink shirt so the kids could spot me in a crowd, and it ended up being a good thing. Tim realized we didn’t make it, and he jogged back across the dunes and found us just fine because of my shirt. We told him we were going to stay right there in the shade and play. He went back to the other kids, and they played a while and then Nathanael trotted back to us, spotting my bright pink shirt and making a very straight line right to me. Then Tim brought Elijah and Jack back. We dug down to the wet sand not far under the surface and made sand castles. Soon all the kids and Tim were back again.

So we went off to find a place to fill all our 10 gallons of empty water jugs and have a picnic, and finally settled on an empty group camp site. I filled the jugs first, while Tim set up a picnic, and it was a good thing I did because not long after I had them all stowed away, a volunteer camp ranger came and kicked us out of that site because it was for camping, not picnicking (never mind that nobody was there and nobody was going to be there). We had done what we needed that part of the park for, so we picked up and asked where we were allowed to picnic, and then we left.

By then, the wind had picked up and dark clouds had blown in. There was a tiny trinkling of rain, but not much, and the kids wanted to play in the sand again. Caleb and Anda and Tim were done. But Nathanael, Elijah, Benji, Dan, and Jack wanted to hike back to the dunes and try a sled we’d found abandoned by the garbage cans.

It didn’t work.

But it wasn’t hot anymore, so I followed the boys across the flat to the dunes because I figured Jack would get tired and want to come back right away, and I could walk him back. Emmeline had on a bright pink jacket and she and Tim were playing in our same spot from earlier in the day. I could just see her, a bright pink speck in the distance, but I knew I could find them from that bright pink speck. It was surprising, standing up on the dunes with the boys, that the spot we were playing in was far to the right of where most people were going, and it didn’t look “right”. But I knew it was right because I could see Emmy’s bright pink jacket bobbing along. She was doing was I had done earlier with my bright pink shirt--acting as a beacon to show me the right way to go. She was so very tiny that she was easy to miss--it was easy to look the wrong direction, and I had to really choose to search for the little pinprick of pink. But once I found her, I could focus on her little bobbing dot and move toward it. She was a “beacon”--but she was just a point of pink. Hard to see. But not impossible. So that’s where my family was, and the van, and rest and shelter.

Pretty soon, a vicious wind picked up. It was so strong that a crow trying to fly into the wind was blown the other way and finally had to turn around and fly where the wind willed. The boys had abandoned the sled, so I was holding its rope and I’d filled it with cast-off shoes. Once the sun was obscured by the storm clouds, the sand was no longer burning hot, and so the shoes came off. Even filled with the shoes, the wind picked the sled up and tried to whip it from my hands. The sand blasted Nathanael’s bare legs (he was in shorts, and I in jeans). It was so hard he would turn his back on the wind and curl up inside his coat until the gust passed. Jack would crouch in his coat, too, and Daniel (such a saint), would immediately drop down behind Jack and lay on his side, making an effective wall against the wind to protect Jack. Nathanael quickly got weary of sandblasting, and he and I decided to head back. Jack wanted to stay, so I let him. Dan promised not to lose him, so Nat and I headed back toward the big kids and Tim, following Emmy’s bobbing pink dot to know where to go.

We had to wait for the wind to soften a bit, or Nathanael couldn’t walk for all the sandblasting his shins were getting. But we made it, sled and shoes in tow. I looked back at our track when we arrived at Tim and the big kids and Emmy (ready to fall face first onto the sand and rest). It was very wobbly. We did not make a very straight line because the pull toward where everyone else was going was so strong. We kept drifting that way and then spotting Emmy’s pink jacket and correcting our path. She was a lighthouse for us.

The boys played on the dunes a while longer, and Tim made pictures with rocks in the sand while Anda used rocks to play a game of sand bocce and Caleb took pictures and audio recordings (he collects visual textures and random foley-like sounds). I sat beside Emmy and her sand castle and Nathanael sat on her other side and she and he kept building. And I talked to the big kids and Tim and kept my eyes on the dunes where I could not see the kids, but knew they were playing. I could just see little speck figures moving around, but not our kids. Eventually, the wind picked up again (it was cold!), and I saw the boys appear, one at a time. Elijah I recognized because he had his coat off and he was swinging it. Then he put it on and started trudging toward us. Behind him I saw Benji, who I could recognize by the flash of bright orange--his shirt--inside his coat. So I knew the figure beside him was Daniel. But no Jack?

I knew right away that Dan had to be carrying Jack. I had no doubt about it--I knew he wouldn’t have left Jack. But that trek was difficult with just walking myself across the three-quarters of a mile of sand. And Dan was carrying a heavy 5 year old, and battling the wind. I turned to Tim and said, “I’m going to take the sled back out there and drag Jack back. Dan’s carrying him.” I pointed out the kids and Tim said he should go--he could piggy back Jack back and it would be faster and easier. So he set off on a jog toward the kids.

Meanwhile, Elijah was battling the wind, head down, and he had veered off course. He wasn’t looking for me, and so he was heading too far to the left, to where most of the rest of the people were going. And then I could see he was to the left of that, even. He didn’t even realize he was heading astray. “Turn, Elijah, turn back….” I kept saying to him, but I didn’t even bother to shout. It was over half a mile away, and the wind carried my voice the wrong direction.

Anda, Caleb, Nathanael, and Emmeline headed for the van to get out of the wind. And I knew Tim was going to have to rescue three kids at once: Dan from the weight of Jack, Jack from being too little to go any further, and Elijah from getting lost. I started to fret--I was standing here doing nothing, while Tim was running across the sand and my boys were struggling. I saw Benji double back to try to help Dan, but it was too much. I started to pace, needing to help, but I was too far.

Then the thought popped into my head: Just stand still so they know where to go. That is helping. They need to see you. 

I threw my jacket wide so my bright pink shirt was visible from so far away, and I stood as still and tall as I could, being a beacon to them--the same lighthouse that Emmy had been for me.

Tim then caught sight of Elijah going the wrong way, and he diverted his course to catch the one who was going astray. He got Elijah back on track, and then he doubled back to Dan and Benji and relieved them of their burden of caring for the weakest of us. And I stood there, watching them all and knowing that I was helping by showing them where they were supposed to come to.

So I stood there, my pink shirt pointing the right away and helping them find the most direct route back through the blowing, shifting sands, and the Spirit whispered to me, “This is why we stand in holy places.” Tears flowed down my cheeks while I still stood, being the anchor and the beacon so that my little brood could get out of the painful sandblasting storms in the quickest, easiest way possible. My tears flowed and I pondered. I wanted to help, but this was a job for the priesthood. So I sent my priesthood holder out to fetch the one who was too weak to make it back, to strengthen the ones who were struggling to help, and to catch the one who was going astray before he was too lost to turn back. But then all of them--priesthood included--needed me to stand and show them where to go, and that someone was waiting to receive and comfort them and acknowledge their struggles and thank them for their sacrifices and love them and give them a refuge and a rest and food when they got back. We stand in holy places, I understood, to show others where they need to aim for, and because being the beacon helps them get there. We stand in holy places so the ones going astray can find the way back, and so the ones on their way but struggling have somewhere to look for comfort and hope and encouragement, and so they don’t get lost, too. I understood that sometimes we run out to rescue, and sometimes we stand still so everyone can find their way back. Especially when the pull of the wrong way is so strong.

When Elijah got within earshot, he said, “I was going the wrong way, but Dad told me and once I saw you, I knew where to come.” His track was very straight. I remembered earlier in the day when Nathanael had been the very first to trudge back through the heat to the sandy, shady shelter we’d found. I had marveled at what a straight line he made in coming to me. I asked him how he had found me, and he said, “Dad told me which direction to head, so I did and once I saw you there, it was easy.” I realize now that it was important for them to see me, but before they could see me they had to trust Tim and follow his instructions. This is so much what faith is, and what we are supposed to do. Nathanael couldn’t seem me at first, even though I could see him. The lay of the dunes obscured me. But he followed his father’s instructions perfectly and made a straight line until he could see, and then he could come right to me. Elijah spotted me from afar and came toward me, but the storms were too strong and the pull of the way most people were going was distracting, and once he couldn’t see me, he ended up going astray by accident. But his father saw that and redirected him, and he followed those instructions until he, too, could see, and he came to me.

It was all so amazingly laid out before me--the understanding that I was working even by holding still, and that sometimes you can barely see the indicators of the right way to go and you really have to cling to them because it’s just a prick of light instead of a bright beacon--to stay focused and tune out the distractions or you lose sight of the way, and of why we stand in holy places, and that sometimes we seek and sometimes we stand, and the idea that we follow the instructions first even when we can’t see and that eventually leads us to see so we can move forward more quickly and surely. And all of this is faith and the gospel.

We loaded up in the van and headed back, watching a gorgeous sunset as we drove.


This has been important to me as I listened to General Conference. The prophet asked the women to step away from social media, which I was attempting to use to help people see issues that we need to act on. At first, I thought, "I can't leave people who need help! What about the immigrant children, and people who need more information on a topic, and people who need encouragement, and....and...and...." and the thought came to mind, "Sometimes we seek; sometimes we stand."

Sunday, July 01, 2018

Mister Doomsy

3 yo just informed us that Black Widow (Marvel character) has a brother named Mister Doomsy, who is 9 years old and wears a pink shirt, blue pants, and green shoes because that's the only clothes he has.

His attacks, apparently, are "punching gloves," which he has for his hands and his feet.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Sneaking out at night.

Me, to my teenagers: "You guys don't sneak out at night, do you?"
14 yo: "Uh...does the back porch count?"
16 yo: "If I'm sneaking out, I'm so sneaky that even I don't know I sneaked out!"
12 yo: "My friends all go to bed early, so there's nothing to sneak out for."
14 yo: "If you provide the Victorian clothes, I'll sneak out with you, Mom." (Man, I would do that!)
9 yo: "I sometimes sneak out to the freezer to get a pizza."
14 yo: "Sometimes I sit on the front porch and whittle at 3 am...."

I guess every time they've snuck out at night, I've proposed it. I'm good with that.

And now they're teasing me because I'm awake all night anyway....I mean, I asked them all this at 3:45 am, when nobody was willing to get in bed.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Kids are so funny!

Me, explaining to 3 yo that her grandparents are on vacation, so we can't call them easily: "Grandma is in a cottage in England right now."

3yo, in a very serious, solemn voice: "She probably got captured!"

Apparently 3 yo thinks her grandparents are either super spies or superheroes.

Me: "Emmy, who captured Grandma and Grandpa?"

3yo: "Grandpa didn't get captured. Only Grandma! By Hydra!!"

Then she called the police on her TV remote to report it so they will go rescue her. She says Grandpa didn't get captured because he stayed at home.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Did I just read that?

From the Times Call today:

"Longmont was among the most-battered areas of Boulder County by powerful gusts that reached as high as 80 mph Tuesday afternoon, downing power lines and trees that caused thousands to lose electricity, multiple roadblocks and damage to at least one home."

Those are some trees--they cause thousands to lose electricity, to lose roadblocks, and to lose damage to their homes?

Monday, April 02, 2018

Easter Post, a day late

My favorite chapter of scripture, for Easter. With a few notes (in italics is my words) thrown in so you can understand how I read this, and hopefully why I love it so much.
Isaiah 53/Mosiah 14
Who hath believed our report, and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? (Indeed, to whom? to me? This is answering that question--who gets to see the arm of the Lord in their lives?)

For he (Jesus) shall grow up before him (God) as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground (not an easy, silver spoon kind of upbringing, so we have something in common there); he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him there is no beauty that we should desire him. (Jesus was not beautiful. I suspect Satan is. Why not Jesus? Perhaps so we follow Him for the right reasons? But also to emphasize that the glory and wonderfulness of Jesus was not his beauty.)

He is despised and rejected of men (so He gets it when we are, too); a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief (I saw a modern translation that rendered this "familiar with pain."  But no no no! Grief is pain plus something else. for him to be acquainted with grief means He didn't just become familiar with the concept, but He met the experience of Grief personally--He understands); and we hid as it were our faces from him (are we ashamed of Jesus because He is not appealing to the world, either in body or in doctrine?); he was despised, and we esteemed him not (esteemed him not is such a great phrase--not just we didn't pay attention to Him, but we gave him no esteem--we didn't think He was worth honoring or listening to, but nevertheless....).

Surely he has borne our griefs (Surely has two meanings: indeed, and reliably, unfailingly, without hesitation, trustworthy--like a sure-footed donkey that can safely and surely carry you down a steep mountain road or bear its load without faltering or complaining; I prefer the second definition in this verse), and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. (Isn't that beautiful? And also painful to read? Jesus was hurt for us, and his pain heals us.)

All we, like sheep, have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord (God) hath laid on him (Jesus) the iniquities of us all. (Nobody is exempt from needing this healing. We all need it.)

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb so he opened not his mouth.

He was taken from prison and from judgment; and who shall declare his generation? For he was cut off out of the land of the living; for the transgressions of my people was he stricken. (He was cut off young--his life was tragically ended, and He didn't even try to protest or defend himself or talk his way out of it. Why? For our transgressions.)

And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no evil, neither was any deceit in his mouth. (Such ultimate unfairness. This is so profoundly unfair. So He gets it when life is unfair to us--our unfairness doesn't even rise to the level of the unfairness He faced.)

Yet it pleased the Lord (God) to bruise him (Jesus) (Why would it please God to hurt Jesus?!  Because it was a fulfillment of His plan, and imagine how pleased God was that Jesus did it--because if Jesus had agency, and He must have, then He had the choice Not to go through with it, and He didn't want to at one point. So this makes me think of God as a super-pleased parent, that His son did this amazing and impossible and glorious thing and saved Everyone); he (God) hath put him (Jesus) to grief; when thou (me!) shalt make his soul (Jesus) an offering for sin he (Jesus) shall see his (Jesus) seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord (God) shall prosper in his hand.  (We become Jesus sons and daughters by making his soul an offering for our sins--in other words for accepting His offering paying for our sins, in accepting the healing). 

He shall see the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied; by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. (this is the summation of the Atonement, and it's wonderful!)

Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death; and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bore the sins of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. (I just love the phrase poured out his soul unto death--such a sacrifice, and He did it for me.)

So the answer to the question? To whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? Remember, the Lord throughout this chapter is Heavenly Father, not Jesus. And to whom is His arm revealed? To us. Through Jesus and His atonement.

We so often see this chapter as Isaiah prophesying about Jesus' death so that when it happened, it would be recognized because it was foretold. But in getting caught up with the prophecy-come-true aspect of it, we miss the promise-of-salvation-to-us aspect. This is a beautiful promise of salvation, a wonderfully poetic description of the atonement and its purpose, being to save us. With his stripes we are healed! When we accept His gift, we become His seed--and what is your seed if not heirs to your kingdom, and also beloved? Tied up in this chapter is an explanation of the unfairness of Jesus's lot in life, but also the beauty that comes of it.  I just love this chapter. Reading it brings a reverence, calm, and centered-ness to my soul that it needs. It helps me feel connected to Jesus.

So then I discovered today that it connects very nicely with Isaiah 54, so I'm putting that here, too, so you can read it in the context of Jesus and the atonement. It's like chapter 53 was Jesus and the atonement with a focus on Jesus's experiences, and 54 turns that around and is about the results of the atonement from our experiences--the promises and blessings and what life can look like for us because of Jesus: what does it mean to become His seed, and what does it mean to have the arm of the Lord revealed?

Isaiah 54

Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the Lord.

Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes;

For thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited.

Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed: neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt not be put to shame: for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more.

For thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.

For the Lord hath called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when thou wast refused, saith thy God.

For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee.

In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer.

For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee.

For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee.

O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires.

And I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones.

And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children.

In righteousness shalt thou be established: thou shalt be far from oppression; for thou shalt not fear: and from terror; for it shall not come near thee.

Behold, they shall surely gather together, but not by me: whosoever shall gather together against thee shall fall for thy sake.

Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an instrument for his work; and I have created the waster to destroy.

No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord.

I won't paste more here, but I encourage you to read on. Chapter 55 is an invitation to come and join and become Jesus's seed.

Sunday, April 01, 2018

lavender oil for fibromyalgia?

Learning about lavender oil, and reading a summary of the research here:

Turns out it treats nerve and muscle pain, brain fog, anxiety, and sleep problems.

Sounds like fibro, doesn't it?

and remember this blog post?    The one where I was pondering on acetylcholine and coenzyme-A?

Well, it turns out that lavender oil is involved in the acetylcholine system, just like coenzyme-A is.

They've found if you use anti-opioid medication, anti-nicotine medication, or muscarinic receptor blockers, it blocks lavender oil from working. That means it works through the same neurological systems in the body as opioids (blocking pain) and nicotine. Those receptors (the nicotinic and muscarinic receptors) are part of the acetylcholine system, too. But there is no sign of "central adverse effects."  It's not bad for you like nicotine or opioids. Those systems in the body help control nerve impulses, which seem to be out of whack for people with fibro. In many, many studies, lavender reduces pain and speeds healing from all kinds of pain and all kinds of injury, including reducing pain and duration of migraines, menstrual cramps, and menopause, and reducing pain and increasing mobility in back pain patients.

It also apparently causes wounds and injuries to heal faster and minimizes inflammation in the body. All of those things seem like they would help people with fibro.

Memory problems caused by dysfunction of the cholinergic systems in the body (acetylcholine again!) can be healed by lavender oil, including reducing symptoms of mental decline like in Alzheimer's (at least in rodents). It can cure brain fog, apparently.

It helps you fall asleep faster and sleep longer and better. And it can apparently help prevent and cure neuronal damage. Also helpful for fibro.

"Cholinergic system is suggested to play a role in lavender analgesic, antianxiety, antidepression, and anticonvulsant effects of lavender."  There's that acetylcholine again!  I need to learn more about this system.

It also interacts with the dopamine systems (D3 receptors) and the GABA-a receptors, and "enhances inihibitory tore of the nervous system" (which is great if you have an overactive nervous system!).

Overall, it appears that lavender oil helps regulate the nervous system. And since recent research is indicating fibromyalgia "pain is primarily maintained by a dysregulated central nervous system," regulating the nervous system might be a good first step to helping fibro. (

Lavender reduces activity in the the pre/post-central gyrus and frontal eye field of the brain. The pre- and post-central gyrus are the parts of the brain that control sensory information. Fibro is widely considered a disorder of sensory input, so it makes sense that something that interacts with the sensory part of the brain might interact with fibro as well. The sensory information is integrated in the temporal gyrus. Interestingly, in a study released this month, researchers report that they found that "FM patients had reduced connectivity within default mode network, between middle/inferior temporal gyrus and visual cortex." These are areas in the brain the lavender directly affects. (  Lavender apparently affects the brain waves in a way the makes them match the brain waves of people who say they are "comfortable."  What is fibro but constant discomfort? 

Apparently people with fibro have disruption in their alpha and theta brain waves. And lavender increases both alpha and theta brain wave activity. In addition, the connections in the posterior cingulate gyrus in people with fibro are wrong somehow (hard to read neurology research!), and lavender increases activity in the posterior cingulate gyrus. ( for more on brain stuff in fibro).

The nice thing is, lavender oil works in people like us who can't take fish oil.

So what does this all mean?

I have no idea. I just didn't want to lose my notes before I figure it out. Meanwhile, it might be a good idea to test lavender oil (silexan) on fibro.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Did I just read that?

Last sentence of a news article: "She has brown hair and eyes with tattoos on both shoulders and feet."

I just can't figure out why she has eyes with tattoos on her shoulders and on her feet.

Or does this mean she has feet?

This sentence needs some help.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Turning down the dream

A couple of months ago, I had a dream that I was approached by a top-secret spy agency who were recruiting. They thought I might be amazing as a spy, and they gave me some very cursory training and then I took an aptitude test. By doing what was right, being honest, answering with my gut instead of second-guessing myself, I aced their test and was immediately offered a job. Promptly the office was attacked by bad guys and the boss was killed, and I escaped with some of the staff. They were so impressed with my skills that they offered me an undercover position in England for a two-week mission. High pay. Only two weeks. Tim was facing immense stress at the time in his life, and if I left I would be abandoning him to face that stress alone, not to mention raising all 8 kids alone and working more than full time. I looked at the pay and the excitement and the fact that they loved me and thought I was amazing for talents that I valued (and that my kids do not), and I abandoned my family and took the job. Just for two weeks, and then I'd be home, I told myself, and it would make a lot of money for my family and take the pressure off Tim. So I set off and the training included doing things that I am morally opposed to, but it was part of the job....

I woke up with the distinct feeling that I had chosen WRONG. That my family is my mission right now, and leaving them for glory, excitement, praise, and to use neglected talents that I value would be a terribly bad mistake that could cost me my soul.

So a few days later, my dream job came up (a real-life kind of dream job--nobody would ever really hire me to work in a spy agency, even though intelligence analysis really is one of my dream jobs) in a museum working with artifacts and writing up info about them for displays and newsletters. The job was down in Denver area, doing local history work at a history museum. It's the job I've wanted since I was in high school. Writing. Physical history. Artifact preservation. Teaching. It's like all my talents rolled into one lovely position that someone would actually pay me real money to do--a good wage, too.

But I remembered the dream and its warning, and I didn't apply.

And then I forgot about that dream.

But I remembered today, after a week of being invited to head up or join the leadership teams for various committees, online groups, real-life groups--all fighting for causes I believe in and care about. All asking to use talents that I value and that often go unrecognized and unused. All accompanied by praise for things I want very much to be praised for (especially since most of the things mothers get praised for I'm a completely failure at!). It all sounds very exciting--a chance to use my brain to do cool things that sound important, to get praise from people for being smart, to analyze information and use my writing to lead people to better things and better ideas.

All this came because of opportunities I had last fall to help in a political campaign. And I suppose it would be the start of a path that could lead far and wide, to interesting ways to use my brain to do interesting things.

But my mission right now is not to save the world from political chaos or help run a myriad of interesting organizations fighting for important things, as much as I want to do those things. My mission is to restore order to my home, to put together foam puzzles that are going to last three days, and bake birthday cakes, blow bubbles, and help kids sculpt things using graham crackers and frosting. My job is to read stupid stories over and over and over. And to kiss imagined owies that don't really exist. To teach math and try in vain to keep house. And to love and love and love and love. And saying it out loud sounds like I'm choosing the stupid over the intelligent, the mundane over the exciting, the mediocre over the excellent. And by many measuring sticks, I am.

But every job has mundane and boring and stupid parts. I suspect that every job is actually mostly dumb stuff, but we do it to accomplish the goal or vision or mission the job includes. It's possible to see where these mundane steps are leading, so they're possible to tolerate. The trouble with mothering is we often forget the mission in the tidal wave of tedium, but that doesn't mean there isn't a mission or that we aren't actually doing it. A former army sniper told me once that he would sit in a tree for five days to get in one good shot at his target. Sounds exciting, except for the 4.999 days stuck in a tree just waiting and waiting and not even allowed to get down to sleep or go to the bathroom.

Really, someone else actually can do the intelligence analysis--and better than I, since politics and policy don't light a fire in my belly, although thinking and research do.

But the day before I die, I will not regret having turned all the fancy chances down, even if someone else becomes president some day because they took them instead of me. But I will regret doing the things that nobody else can do--mothering my children, being a wife to Tim, writing my novels, being a sister and daughter to my siblings and parents, making my quilts, writing curricula in the way that only I can, teaching and playing and building my home into a sanctuary from the world. I will never get famous doing those things. I will not change the world. Nobody will likely remember me who doesn't carry my blood in their veins.

This week, I choose the mundane. I choose to hold a puking toddler and a bucket and hope they connect. I choose playdough and candy houses and verbal horseplay with teenagers and failing at bedtimes (despite my best efforts) and messy floors and full bellies and music and laughter and forgetting to take the garbage out.

It's not fancy and nobody will notice me. I won't change everyone's world. Someone else is going to fight for truth and justice. Someone else is going to shut down tribalism and push for compromise. Someone else is going to work their way through the channels to an eventual political appointment or office. Someone else is going to get paid to think and write.

Not me this time. Who knows if I will get another flood of opportunities like this.

 But it feels like the right choice.

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Making a paracord whip, the "recipe"

So now I want to make another paracord whip but sorting through the last "as I go" post is a pain. I accidentally used the heavier weight paracord last time, so the measurements are for that weight of cord. I don't know if that matters or not.

So here's the "recipe"

85" paracord, gutted (or whip length plus 13-16 inches)
Thin piece of metal for the handle, around 5-6" long
metal BBs
electrical tape

Short form instructions as a reminder: Gut the paracord, melt both ends, but melt one end wide like a funnel. Insert handle in narrow end and melt it in. Fill the rest with BBs down to about 12 1/2 inches from the end. Wrap in electrical tape tight and smooth to just past the BBs, making it tight enough below them that they can't move or fall out. When you weave the belly, weave to 2-4 inches past the BBs and then stop because you want the overlay to end with about 8" of paracord from the core hanging out to tie the fall knot with.

8' cord (or 1 times the length of the core plus 2 feet)
12' cord (2 times the length of the core)
two 17-18' cords (3 times the length of the core), alternately, one 18' and one 19'
Electrical tape
gut string from cord for lashing

Gut and seal cords. Weave a loop. Insert core. Weave around the core, dropping either at 1/3 or 1/2, then 2/3, then weave to end and past a little bit. Cut ends to stagger and wrap the end with electrical tape to keep it from unweaving. Or tie. Either way, leave the core strand at least 6" longer than the others for the fall tie (preferably 8-12 inches so you can weave the overlay down it some). Roll the belly against something hard (like concrete) with a book or board. Lash the transition tightly and then tape the handle three times in alternating directions (2" past the handle, 4" past the handle, and 6" past the handle) to strengthen the transition.

7' or 9' cord (gradual or steeper taper) (1.5 times core)
10' cord (1x core plus 4')
14' cord (2x core plus 2')
18' cord (3x core)
two 22'-24' cords (4x core or 3x core plus 4')
2' cord NOT gutted.
6' gut from a cord (for the cracker)

Weave around core. Drop strands every 1/5 of the whip. Weave past end but leave 6" of both core and the last four overlay strands (5 strands together, each at least 6" long). Attach fall and tie it all off with a fall tie. Make and attach cracker. Trim and melt all ends. Crack the whip.