Monday, December 29, 2008

What a Christmas!

Here are some random photos from our Christmas in Bainbridge.
Highlights from the trip included:
*Branagan got engaged. Claire will be an addition to the Webb Family on April 11th! HOORAY.
*Canoeing/kayaking down the river in 80 degrees
*Christmas traditions like going to the Square to hear the BBBB (Bainbridge British Brass Band), scones on Christmas morning, and swimming in the wrapping paper.
*The Zoo with the Harpers
*Family pictures in the Harpers amazing backyard (watch pictures to the end to see some cute ones of Branny and Claire)
*Spending time with cherished friends and family

We hope your Christmas was wonderful too!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Eight Books From '08

Well another year of reading down and now this is my second annual book recommendation post. I love reading a good book and recommendations of a good book. So if you have one to recommend leave it in the comments. Here are my favorites from the year:

8.Massacre at Mountain Meadows

In 1857 a group of 120 men women and children were massacred by Mormon settlers and to a lesser extent a Native American tribe in Southern Utah. Many books have been written on this subject recently, mostly with a polemical bent of one kind or another. This three hundred page book deals only with the events leading up to the Massacre, and not the aftermath. It is not apologetic and is a somber and sad account. I spent every page hoping the tragedy would not happen, that those trying to prevent it and those in authority in Cedar City would stop the events from escalating. I was fascinated with the ingredients that combined and the lessons can be drawn from this event. Three Mormon historians wrote this account after combing the LDS archives and included information that has not been published before. This book is not for everyone. If you like Western or American history or are intrigued by this event, this is a concise account that offers the most up to date account of what happened.

When I went to Monticello with my brother-in-law, Branagan, last year, we went on a slavery focused tour of Jefferson's former residence. The park service had recreated the sheds his slaves lived in and showed us broken bits of plates, tools, and trinkets they had found from an archaeological dig. We were told about Jefferson's mistress, her brother whom he took to Paris to learn cooking, and other slaves and what their lives were like. The tour was fascinating and so I wanted to read more. This book recounts the history of the Hemings family and their relation to Jefferson and spends a great amount of time postulating about Jefferson's relationship and children with Sally. The author is at a great disadvantage because the lives and feelings of most of his slaves passed away without being recorded. A lot of these pages are speculative and I feel like the book could be condensed, but a good read. I think you need to couple this book with a founding fathers or laudatory Jefferson type biography so you can learn more about the strengths and positive contributions of Jefferson in addition to his shortcomings.

6.The Bin Ladens

My father-in-law gave this to me as a gift and it is a quick and informative read. It tells the story of how the Bin Ladens came to be one of the wealthiest families in Saudi Arabia and how their son turned to the dark side. A great book to understand current events and get a peek into a Middle Eastern culture and the interface between our world and theirs.

5.The Dark Side
In response to September 11th, the White House and Congress began to rethink many of its policies in regards to war and terror. As the pursuit of terrorist was ratcheted up, policies and laws that were in place were disregarded and questioned in the pursuit of Al Qaeda. What is torture, extreme rendition, the rights of those accused and those not accused? Does torture work and when is it allowed? What gives America the moral high ground? This book is well documented and explores these vital questions with specific examples. Though it does have a left leaning tint, its well written, researched, and documented and is not just another anti-Bush book.


I try every once in a while to read a book of fiction that I should have read already but haven't yet. Last year it was Moby Dick. This year it was Frankenstein. This is a book you can read in one sitting and it is actually a pretty good read. The passionate chase between creator and monster and the memorable quotes by the monster such as "You are my creator, but I am your master;-Obey." and "I am malicious because I am miserable" make this book live up to its fiendish reputation.

3.Unaccustomed Earth

A collection of short stories, often morose of Indian transplants and their descendants trying to adjust to life in the western world. This author wrote the Namesake, which was made into a slow but great film. I read very little current fiction and am very picky in this department, but enjoyed this book. I admire the authors prose and ability to document life in a literary way. My favorite story is about Rahul, the alcoholic brother who comes back into his sisters life and the Sisters ambivalence about the part she played and will play as he returns. Her short stories that are pretty gripping and great for someone with a low fiction tolerance, like me.

2.Ghost Hunters: William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life After Death

This is a fun book. Around the turn of the century, before the study of the paranormal was pushed to the fringe, mainstream scientist were trying to settle the questions of the soul and afterlife through the scientific method. The author narrates spooky events. Prominent scientists going to seances, documenting deceased people appearing and peoples ability to sense that a love one has passed away that is away. One scientist tries to figure out why someone weighs less the moment after they die. Though ultimately scientists moved on to other fields of study after this, it's fun to learn about academia and general spiritual beliefs in the late eighteen hundreds.

1.The Nine (By Jeffrey Toobin)
I love books where I can learn about a subject I don't know much about and wouldn't be able to tolerate in another form. I guess what I'm saying is I love an author who can explain and introduce a world that was before foreign or difficult for me. I'm no lawyer. I get bored reading about the law even though I know its important. This book translates the highest court's personalities and desicions to non-lawyer types such as myself. How should the law be interpreted and how do the characters of all the justices interact and affect the law? What direction is the court headed and where is it going? For a guy like me (and perhaps Governor Palin) who can't name many court cases, this is an excellent and remarkably breezy introduction to the recent history of the supreme court. The profiles of the justices are fascinating. The book really is written to inform more than a pulpit for the author to say who is right or wrong or what should happen. This book is great and I recommend it to all.


1.Note On rereading:
I try to re-read some Flannery O Connor each year, so that doesn't count as a new book this year. I recommend her fiction to all. She's my favorite fiction writer. I reread Wise Blood and it was funny and intelligent and on message as I remember it. Also we podcasted Jesus The Christ which is great to listen to when driving. I reread Rough Stone Rolling which is a great read if you are in to LDS Church History and studying the life of Joseph Smith.

2. Here is a list of 2008 books I got through and took my favorites from:

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Baby Gabe and Santa

Christy and Luis were not only gracious in accepting my invitation to the church Christmas party but let me hold Gabe the whole time (except for the few seconds when I let Santa hold him). Tessa the Messa, one of Christy's students, sure is hot stuff now as she was the first to see Baby Gabe and have her teacher watch her in the Christmas play.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

CTR 8's are GREAT

We had an end of the year party for our primary class. I single-handedly tried to control 11 eight year-olds in a movie theatre while we watched Bolt. It is about a dog (Bolt)with super powers in a T.V. He really thinks he is a super dog and enters the real world and has to learn that he really is a super dog without the special powers. The kids didn't seem to get it because after the movie I asked them how they liked it and they said, "Why did they take away his super powers?" I tried to explain that he never had them but they insisted that he did.
We then shipped the kids to our little apartment for pizza and cupcakes. We soon realized that our place is much too small for 11 kids and spent the rest of the time outside. We have grown to love these kiddos. I get a kick out of the mischievous boys. I asked one what another girl's name was in a different class and he said, "Blob." We will miss them in January.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Tis The Season

The Christmas tree has been put up at the Lindgrens.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Million Dollar Baby

I have never been good with confrontation. When put in a sticky situation, I normally suck it up and then stew about all the things I should have said to get my point across. I guess I just don't like anyone to feel awkward or maybe I'm just not that quick on my feet. It can even be as simple as when I get my hair cut and I don't like it. I will lie and say "it's great" and then spend the next week wishing I had her even out the layers. Confrontation can be a really good thing, even necessary when done tactfully and without getting emotional. Ryan does a great job at this when working with people with borderline personality that are trying to manipulate him. There have been many times I have asked him advice on how to deal with difficult patients and situations. Finally, an event has occurred where I walked away thinking I did it right.

I have been wanting to go to this kickboxing gym for a while. It is a real training gym with a ring in the center and punching bags all around. I bought hand wraps and got my old sparring gloves out of storage. The gym is in an old warehouse and a little intimidating with big burly guys everywhere. The owner told me to pay after the class as it had already started. A punching bag is great way to get out frustration and aggression. Class finished and I went to pay.

First, the owner told me that I read the price wrong from his website but when we both revisited it, he was clearly wrong. I then corrected him again on something else and
he said, "What's your name?"
me----- "Cheyney"
Him---- "Janey, you are f*@$asdling getting on my nerves!"
SHOCKED Me-- "Really, the F word. You think that is appropriate."
Him------- "This isn't Jenny Craig. I say _____ ____ and _____ whenever I want."

My first instinct was run. Do I pay first and then feel horrible about it? It seems obvious now how to respond but I wavered a bit. I had to go against my nature and stick up for myself. I mustered a little courage and notified him I was not paying, was no longer interested in a membership and made my exit.

Still after, I thought of what zingers I could have said to him about how he treated customers, how he had a personality disorder, or where he could stick it. But then I was proud that I said what I needed, didn't stoop to his level, and didn't cry.

Do you have any examples of when confrontation has worked for you?