Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Millstream's Got Talent, Again!

Monday night's family home evening featured another entertaining ward talent show - and by now, if you've been following the Epistle for any length of time, you know that Millstream Ward talent shows are definitely not to be missed.

The night featured several musical acts, including Pepe’s rendition of "Bless Your Beautiful Hide" from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers; a couple of numbers by my brother Ben on the violin; and some tune by Justine on the accordion (the name Among the other highlights - at least, the ones I have pictures of - were Austin's, Kurtis's, and Scott’s performance of The Fray’s "How to Save a Life" and Allison's rendition of "The Hot Canary" on the violin - costume included:

Our new high counselor, Bro. Jon Schmidt - yes, that Jon Schmidt, the pianist - also contributed his talents by playing an improvised blues duet with his son and accompanying his daughter Sarah on a song he’d recently written.

Among the other acts were Austin’s juggling showcase and Steve Allison’s amazing karate skills, breaking several wooden boards before our very eyes.

Yours truly contributed with another dramatic reading, this time doing my best (or is that "worst"?) interpretation of Britney Spears’s "Oops! . . . I Did It Again."

Good times were had by all.

Monday, March 28, 2011

It's Raining, It's Pouring, and Uncle Paco Is . . .

In the past, I've talked about the concept of "blind spots" here on the Epistle. As a recap, I use the term blind spots (taken from a talk by John Bytheway) to refer to those habitual things that we all do that embarrass us - things that perhaps might be quite obvious to others without our noticing the problem at all.

Well, yesterday I became somewhat more aware of one of my blind spots: snoring. It's not the type of blind spot that I I necessarily have any control over, though it does cause me some embarrassment to hear about. To a certain degree, I can control when and where I sleep and, as a result, snore.

It's been a rather confusing thing for me, too, because my snoring seems to have begun to occur only in the past couple of years or so. I never heard any of my missionary companions comment about it, and I can only assume it wasn't a problem - or much of one - back then.

Going back to yesterday, I momentarily dozed off at our bi-monthly family dinner at Mike and Jana's house. My parents and siblings were already somewhat aware of my snoring, but my nieces and nephews, some of who were playing nearby, were not. As I awoke, my brother talked to me and mentioned that the monstrous noises coming out of me were a little bit unnerving to the kids, in particular to my two-year-old niece, Kira. (Poor thing; I can't say that I blame her.)

Is anybody out there familiar with any techniques to stop or at least tone down one's snoring? Just wondering aloud - for future reference.

Friday, March 25, 2011


Here is a link to my cousin Eden's latest filmmaking endeavor:

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Lego Strikes Back!

I just picked this up at the store today:

Consequently, I won't be in for the rest of the week.

Yes, I'm a nerd - and proud of it.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

60 Seconds to Win It

Tonight, some of the truly fearless members of my ward and I took part in an event, under the direction of the Activities Committee, based on a popular TV game show; I think it's called "Sixty Seconds to Win It."

As with the TV show, each game required superb skill and/or talents to complete, and, of course, we were given 60 seconds to finish each challenge. Unlike the TV show, however, the "it" we were all trying to win was not a large cash prize but instead a bag full of goodies. But who's complaining? What's a wad of cash compared to bragging rights?

I was a bit late, having first watched the end of the BYU vs. Wofford NCAA basketball tournament game - like many others, namely Jill, I've jumped firmly onto the Cougars/Jimmer Fredette bandwagon - but, fortunately, I found that I had missed only the first two of several games when I arrived.

Among the events we Millstreamers competed in were "Nut Stacker" (pictured above), in which players had to stack ten metal nuts on top of each other, using a chopstick (no one could do it successfully, though some made it to nine); "Back Flip," in which players had to throw pencils up into the air with the backs of their hands and then catch them; and "Defying Gravity," in which players had to keep three balloons up in the air without grabbing or holding onto any of them.

Yours truly took part in "Nose Dive," in which we smeared a bit of Vaseline on our noses and then had to (using only our noses) pick up cotton balls from one jar and place them into another; and "Junk in the Trunk," during which we tied tissue boxes filled with ping pong balls around our waists and had to shake and shimmy to empty the contents. I *ahem* finished first in my "Junk" bracket and came close to winning "Nose Dive."

I don't know what the St. Patrick's Day correlation was to tonight's festivities, but this much I do know: Kiss me - I'm one-eighth Irish.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Mr. Plowman's Opus (So Far)

Since they were published nearly a year ago, many of you have inquired about the three volumes of educational books that I co-authored for my workplace, Reading Horizons.

It just hit me that I had not previously publicized these books here on the Epistle, so this post is meant to correct that. The books, collectively called the Reading Library, are a result of literally years of researching, writing, editing, rewriting, editing again, and rewriting some more. They are intended mainly for children or young adults (from beginning readers to high school students) but, hopefully, will appeal to all age groups.

Mainly, it's just nice to have something published that - I dunno - didn't end up in the National Enquirer or something.

If you're so inclined, you can read an official company PR blog post, authored by my colleague Angie Stevens, about the books here:

If you're interested in purchasing the books (I will autograph them for free), you may find the link here:

Sunday, March 13, 2011

"Relative of the Year"?

Last week, my 11-year-old nephew Dallin wrote the following paper for a school project. With his (and his dad's) permission, I present it here on the Epistle, unedited and unaltered by me:

(Defiantly not uncle Peat!)

There are many great relatives in the world, like Uncle Joe, Aunt Suzie, and don’t forget every ones favorite Grandpa Joe. I mean every one loves him. Remember the time he burped the alphabet? I mean who can forget. He choked on j and had to go to the hospital! Oh, that silly old man. Even though there are so many great uncles, aunts, grandpa’s, grandma’s, moms, and dads non compare to my uncle Jonathan! There are may great things about my uncle, he’s takes me on my birth day to the store. He has lots of things in common with me and loves to do improve. Can he get any better? No! So this is what he disserves to be the relative of the year.

The best part about my uncle is that he is almost exactly like me. He loves Star Wars, which is my favorite show ever. Well not the best show ever I mean their are thousands of shows that I love. Lets just say that its one of the best shows. The reason why Star Wars is one of the best shows is that it has really cool is that it has everything a good show needs. One of the things it has is action it is so entice that once you start watching it you won’t want to stop with just the first no you’ll have to watch them all. The other reason why we have a lot income, is that we both love playing Star Wars Lagos on his x-box 360. There’s no doubt about it. He’s much more better at playing it then I have ever been.

The second best part about Jonathan is that he takes me out on my birthday to the store and to go and eat. When we go to the store he lets me buy sum thing that costs 20$. Once I bought tow toy that each cost ten dollars each he know me so well that he said "I thought that you would try to do that". then when we go to eat lunch he lets me buy what ever what I want. Like this year I went to artic circle. He let me buy a large milk shake, mozzarella sticks, medium French fries, a medium drink and guess what? I ate it all. Yep that’s right I ate every last bite. that’s why I love going shopping and to eat with my uncle Jonathan.

The third reason why I know my uncle Jonathan disserves the title relative of the year is because he is in improve. The reason improve makes him grate and so that he should relative of the year is that lots of people love improve. I love improve because is every thing a good humor show needs. Like is super funny random and is just fun to watch. Is funny because they do hilarious games like slid show. Is a game where you have people that turn on and off the lights and people who take a pose. Then when the lights turn on the light two other players make up a little story to go with the other players poses. Is much more fun then it sounds.

So if you think that Grandpa Joe is still the best. Well then think again because even though Grandpa Joe is super funny he doesn’t disserve being relieve of the year. that’s right Grandpa Joe is no mach for my uncle. The only reason why Grandpa Joe is so grate is because he’s a laughing stock I mean he chocked by burping the alphabet. So if you can and haven’t all ready voted than pleas vote for my uncle and not for the silly Grandpa Joe.

Do I really deserve the title of "Relative of the Year"? I'll let Dallin's teacher be the judge.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

I've Got a Brand-New Pair of Rollerskates

Earlier tonight, Mike had to attend a meeting, while Jana was away at Annie (she just landed the role of Grace) rehearsal, so they played the "uncle card" on me, and I ended up taking Kylee, Dallin, and McKenna to Layton Classic Skating. The occasion was a Morgan Elementary School party, and for about three hours I got to chaperone (i.e. keep an eye on) the wee bairns.

It had been far too long since I’d been to a rollerskating rink. Classic Skating - there used to be one closer to home, in Woods Cross - was one of my favorite hangouts in my own elementary school days. My friend Chris Hibberd and I got passes for the summer, and we would carpool together every Saturday for the afternoon skating session. Ahh, the good old days.

Well, tonight I ended up sitting out the session so I could keep an eye on the kids, but they really didn't need much supervising. It was fun to sit and observe them having fun out on the floor, and all three of them, even seven-year-old Kenna, are actually really good skaters.

Kylee and Kenna took a short break to share a snow cone:

Later on, Kylee challenged me to a game of air hockey, and Kenna filled in for me for a couple of points:

Toward the end of the evening, Dallin competed in a two-lap race around the track with the other boys. He was actually holding his own and was in third place until one of the mutant 12-year-old boys, who is as tall as I am, accidentally bumped into him and knocked him over. He was a bit dejected about the outcome:

. . . but I reassured him that he had raced well.

In the girls' race, Kylee, who is already well known for her speed on the soccer field, took second place.

As we were leaving, a roller derby team (as in the movie Whip It) was getting ready to take the floor, and Kylee chatted up one of the girls and asked her all sorts of questions about her team and about the sport. Roller derby girls, it turns out, are actually really cool and friendly in addition to being tattooed and physically very tough. One of the girls, I believe, was competing under the name Dawn Treader (get the Narnia reference?). On the car ride home, in fact, roller derby was all that Kylee could talk about, and she told me that she wants to participate in the sport when she’s older. The scary thing is, she would be quite good at it.

Well, I guess her parents will have to have a good, long talk with her about that. I just hope they don't blame the chaperone.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Sushi: A Four-Letter Word?

I had the oddest experience today: On a whim, I tried eating sushi once again, for probably the tenth time, and I actually liked it.

Those first nine attempts, I didn't enjoy sushi too much. I wanted to, because I was surrounded by friends who were eating sushi on purpose and who raved about it like it was the greatest thing since Gutenberg's invention of the printing press, but I honestly didn't like it. In fact, I rather hated it.

In general, I'm not much of a fan of fish. It probably has to do with the fact that I ate a lot of fish and seafood while on my mission in Peru, and once those two years were over, I felt like I'd ingested enough seafood to last me for the next 50 or 60 years. Part of it, I feel, was also a "when in Rome" thing; you do what you have to survive sometimes.

At any rate, for today's lunch, I did not set out intending to go anywhere in the neighborhood of any sushi. I was, in fact, dining at the local Chinese buffet - one of my guilty pleasures - and they happened to be serving sushi rolls, much like the ones in the above photo. I would even go so far as to write that the rolls I tried were delicious.

Well, I survived to tell the tale. And I might just try sushi once again, if given the opportunity. Perhaps the tenth time is the charm.