Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Lava Lamp

Tonight's mid-singles Institute class was once again taught by Bro. Peter Breinholt, and our topic was Elder Dallin H. Oaks's message "Desire" from the April 2011 general conference of the Church.

Bro. Breinholt shared many interesting points from this talk, but one in particular stood out with me. He quoted Pres. Henry B. Eyring, who said (I'm paraphrasing here, as I neglected to copy down the quote; if anyone has a link to it, I would appreciate it greatly):

"You will eventually get what you want, and that is what scares me."

Why would us getting what we want scare him? I daresay it's because we oftentimes have no clue what we really want. We might think that we do in the moment, but in the long run, we really don't.

As an example of this having occurred in my own life, I submit: the lava lamp.

To give a bit of background on this, I will state for the record that I am a child of the '70s. I was born in the '70s, though I don't really remember them at all. However, I have long been a nerd of such '70s things as disco music, and I have a disco ball. In the same ballpark, I have wanted to own a lava lamp for some time - or once thought I did. Earlier this year, in fact, I finally purchased one.

It was nice to look at - I daresay "groovy" - for a day or two. But I soon got tired of it. Plus, it was a pain in the behind to assemble, it took up more space than I was comfortable with, and it was also heavier than I imagined. In short, I was not too happy with it. I recently packaged it back up and dropped it off at the local D.I. after going through another one of my spring (summer?) cleanings.

My point is that there are things in our lives like that lava lamp. We just need to be sure that we really want them sitting up there on our shelves.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Baby, You're a Firework!

Over the weekend, the family, including Dave, Jessica, and their kids, now safely back from their trip to San Diego, gathered to celebrate Pioneer Day. At the same time, we met to mourn the unofficial end of the fireworks season with one final fireworks show (though I'm sure the pyromaniac neighbors will continue to launch them off through - and beyond - the July 26 deadline imposed by the state).

At any rate, we first enjoyed a good meal of barbecued hamburgers and hot dogs. Afterward, Mike and Jeff took charge of putting on the fireworks show at dusk as the rest of us gathered on the front lawn to watch.

Any fireworks show we're involved in also has to have the obligatory Lord of the Flies tribute, which involves kids of all ages dancing around the pretty, flashing firework, the name of which I don't know. The only thing that is missing is the "Kill the pig! Bash it in!" chant. And, of course, I'd be lying if I said I didn't join in on the fun.

With the loosening of Utah's fireworks laws this year, we were able to conclude the show by shooting off several Roman candles and other very loud things high into the air, and they were pretty neat to look at.

And so, as Jeff noted, we bid a fond farewell to fireworks for the next 345 days.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

One Hundred Years of Machu Picchu

When Francisco Pizarro and the Spanish conquistadors invaded Peru in the 16th century, they got their hands on all of the gold and treasures they could - except for the those at the mighty citadel of Machu Picchu. The Spaniards, in fact, never did find Machu Picchu, a fact that is somewhat of a source of pride to Peruvians today.

Flash forward to July 24, 1911 - 100 years ago today - when a Yale University professor named Hiram Bingham discovered the lost fortress and began to spread its fame to the rest of the world.

Well, there you have it - your useless trivia of the day. Or your history lesson. Take it any way you want to.

It's a big deal to me because, well, Machu Picchu was part of our mission boundaries in Peru, located just a short train ride from the city of Cusco, where I spent five months. It's a holy place to many Peruvians, to the religious and non-religious alike, but most especially to the Latter-day Saints, some of who believe it is the setting of some important Book of Mormon events.

Whether or not that's the case is really anyone's guess, but if you've been to Machu Picchu, then you can state unequivocally that you've stood in one of the most beautiful places on Earth.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Morons on the Loose

Earlier tonight, Dave and Jessica and their three kids, who are in the middle of a visit to Jessica's parents (who are serving a mission at the Mormon Battalion Visitors Center) in San Diego, were stopped at a traffic light when an 18-year-old drunk driver, traveling (according to Dave's estimate) somewhere between 40 and 50 MPH, plowed into the back of their van, sending them 50 yards forward and totaling the vehicle.

When police arrived on the scene, they administered a breathalyzer test, which registered a blood alcohol level of .22, to the drunk driver. That's twice the legal limit - even in California.

Dave further tells me that it was the girl's second DUI offense - let alone the fact that she hasn't legally reached the drinking age - and she was driving a stolen car, to boot.

Fortunately, no one was seriously hurt. Two-year-old Kira was taken to a local hospital to be checked out, and she's fine, but everyone suffered bumps and bruises. I can only imagine that the worst part of this ordeal is the psychological effect it has taken on the three kids.

After I spoke with Dave on the phone and was assured that everyone was okay, he sent me these pictures of the totaled vehicle:

We are extremely grateful and are counting our blessings this evening that nothing worse occurred, and we hope that Dave and Jessica and their clan will soon return home safely.

I also sincerely hope that the drunk driver is not allowed behind a steering wheel, if ever again, for a very long time. Holding a driver's license, unfortunately, is too often treated as a right rather than a privilege in our country, and it is one that is far too often abused.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Fringe Benefits of Performing Improv

If you've known me and/or have followed this blog for any length of time, then you know by now that performing Improv is one of my cherished hobbies. It's always unpredictable, though last night at ComedySportz in Provo was also unforgettable - for myriad reasons.

When I arrived at the club at call time (approximately an hour before the first show), I found that I had pulled into a parking spot next to my colleague Garr Van Orden. It had been a while since I had seen or performed with Garr, though this is not the unusual part of the story. The unusual part is that I have a personalized license plate that reads "LDSJEDI," while his is "STRWARS" - and here we were, parked side by side. People passing by must have thought there was a geek convention going on.

Halfway through the evening's first show, the next unusual event occurred when singer Harry Connick Jr. walked into the club. We are used to seeing Utah celebrities at ComedySportz but never anyone of HCJ's fame.

Semi-disguised in a baseball cap, he was nevertheless quickly recognized by several members of the audience, and politely he agreed to pose for pictures with a handful of them during our halftime intermission. Apparently, our club owner Tonia, who was present for all this, told me that HCJ's daughter lives in Provo, and he was there to take her to the show.

The third unusual event of the evening occurred during the night's second show, when one of our players accidentally dropped the F-bomb in his dialogue on stage. I say "accidentally" because (1) he's a rather recently returned missionary, (2) he's not the kind of person who would use this kind of language at anytime, and (3) we don't use swear words in our shows - ever. (At least, not on purpose.) Rather needless to say, he was brown bagged for this infraction.

I'm keeping his identity secret because he's a friend and also because he was somewhat embarrassed by this and apologized profusely both to the other players and to the audience. Still, in more than six years of performing Improv semi-professionally, it was definitely a first and an unusual occurrence.

Driving home, I couldn't help but think, "This is why I do Improv." Like Forrest Gump's box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Elder Sanders Goes to Provo

My 19-year-old cousin Eden was set apart as a missionary Tuesday night, entered the Provo MTC yesterday, and has now begun his missionary service.

I am looking forward to following his mission and blog and e-mails and to learning about all of the great experiences he's going to have during these two years.

I'm also quite a bit jealous because, after three weeks at the Provo MTC, he's going to fly down to Peru to spend the remaining six weeks of his MTC experience at the Lima MTC before then heading out into the field and Ecuador.

His mom especially is a bit nervous about all this, and it's okay to feel that way. But the time will pass quickly, and after two years, we'll all look back and wonder where the time went.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

LDSJEDI Strikes Back!

When I returned to my car after church had ended Sunday, I found the following note scrawled on a piece of paper that was on my windshield:

"Solid license plate! Good goin'!

"P.S. If you're a chick . . . here's my number."

He then, as you may have guessed, left his name and cell phone number, which I won't post here for privacy's sake. The little devil on my shoulder suggested texting him and pretending that I'm a "chick" just to mess with his head, while the little angel on my shoulder convinced me otherwise.

Sigh. Only other guys - never any females - ever comment favorably on the license plate. That's just the way it is.

My other reaction to this experience is that I can't blame the guy for trying. And I wonder if he has a sister who likes Star Wars.

Friday, July 8, 2011

"Eanimation's Final Animation"

As I mentioned in my previous post, Eden is headed off on a mission to Ecuador. But before doing so, he has posted one final film online.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Celebrating the Fourth on the Second

The Plowman family party that began Saturday afternoon with McKenna's baptism continued on into the evening, when most of us, including Scott and Claudia and their kids, assembled at Mike and Jana's home in Layton for barbecued hamburgers and hot dogs and pizza and to celebrate Independence Day together - albeit a couple of days early.

At the onset of the evening, Dallin, McKenna and friends put on a show for us in the basement theater, presenting three short skits that they titled “The Three Little Hamsters,” “Leech Forest,” and “Li’l Rapping Riding Hood.”

Summer was pulled up on stage to join the girls in an impromptu musical number, but she rolled right along with it.

Jackson also sang some sort of song for us on his microphone. It was tough to make out exactly what song it was, but then again, he's only three years old, and we can cut him some slack.

Following dinner, most everyone gathered on the front lawn for several rounds of "Cuub," our favorite family summertime game.

If you haven't played "Cuub" with us, well, you'll just have to witness it in person and/or join in with us the next time we play.

Jackson, in the meantime, continued to entertain the masses, this time with his tennis racket-handling abilities.
By this time, the sun began to set, and that brought out the fireworks, complete with the nutty pyromaniac in both young and old.

This family event also marks the last time we'll see our cousin Eden for two years. On the 13th, he'll enter the MTC and will begin to prepare for his mission to Quito, Ecuador. As Mike observed, he's about as prepared as a missionary can get, and we look forward to hearing about his experiences through his e-mail/letters.

Happy birthday, America.

McKenna's Baptism

On Saturday afternoon, my eight-year-old niece McKenna was baptized and confirmed a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by her dad, my brother Mike.

All of the Plowmans were in attendance for this fun family event. The service also included a short talk by Biz on the subject of baptism, and Dave, Ben, Steve, and Jeff sang an arrangement of "Our Savior’s Love."

Afterward, our motley crew, including several members of the Jackson clan and assorted friends, gathered for lunch at the bowery adjacent to the chapel in Kaysville.

Here's the girl of honor, McKenna Kathleen, wearing her white baptism dress and standing alongside her grandmother and namesake:

Some the kids, such as Jenna (pictured here), enjoyed feeding the nearby horses:

Good times were had by all.