Monday, November 28, 2011

True "Breaking Dawn" fans, unite!

Old guys who've never read the books won't get it.
Younger women who don't identify with Bella won't get it.
You've pretty much got to be a serious fan to love the Twilight movies, especially "Breaking Dawn."
If you don't know the history, it's hard to see why Bella is so nervous as she marches down the aisle. It's hard to comprehend what Bella is giving up to marry Edward and why it bugs Jacob who is so upset about getting his wedding invitation that he rushes out to phase into werewolf status, tearing off his shirt along the way (always an audience favorite moment!).
You can't really enjoy the love scenes and the honeymoon unless you're invested in the Edward/Bella story.
Now I know people complain that the movie is too sensual and too bloody and to them, I say, "What did you expect of a vampire honeymoon?"
I think it's unfair to expect a tidy story here.
After all, people, the book is about vampires trying to fit into regular society and a love story for the centuries.
Those of us who devoured the Twilight books are loving the movies, seeing Bella and Edward and characters like Alice come to life.
You're all free to be disinterested if you like but just hush about it.
Follow the example set by my good husband.
He jumped in once the furor began and actually read the books.
He's gone to the movies with my daughters and me and he's behaved himself. (For "Breaking Dawn" he sat alone in the front section  — this 60-year-old gray-haired man —while we three females sat a few rows back. We had to buy his ticket later and couldn't get it with us. He looked really cute explaining to all the women around him that he wasn't a dirty old man who had come alone, he had female companions in the theater.)
He's now entitled to an opinion because he knows the back story. (He is not allowed to snicker in the love scenes.)
But the rest of you, if you haven't paid your dues, don't talk to me about how you didn't like it or it didn't make sense to you. So what if werewolves and vampires don't actually exist and a human and a vampire could never make a flesh-and-stone baby? Who cares that a vampire pregnancy wraps it up in a couple of very hard weeks?
Love conquers all, you know.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

No more pumpkin pie

Years ago, I made my Libby's pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving.
It took a lot of work.
The pies have to bake for two different long periods and there are a lot of ingredients to mix in.
I had used the same recipe — off the can — that I had liked for years so I was very surprised when my husband declined to have a second slice.
Apparently it tasted funny to him which is alarming because he'll normally eat anything without a fuss.
I didn't know until later that the pies tasted wrong.
I had eaten some and found nothing odd.
I'm wondering now if I left out the salt or he hit a big chunk of nutmeg or something that didn't break up into the mix.
He says (helpfully) "Maybe you just got a bad can of pumpkin that year."
I don't think I'll ever know what happened.
The only thing I know for sure is I'm not making any more pumpkin pies.
I pass by the displays now without a twinge of conscience and I've flat out told Marc he can eat other people's pumpkin pies.
My feelings are hurt and since I don't know what I did wrong, I don't really dare try the same thing again.
Is that so immature of me?
Marc thinks I'm overreacting.
But hey, if's broke and you don't know how it got broke, it's pretty hard to fix it.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The parenting book I want to see

My expression at the thought
It's been a while since I wrote a "dad-bashing" entry.
Since my 88-year-old father moved into the Legacy Retirement facility in Taylorsville, there's been considerably less daily contact and he's moved from being the topic of the day in my mind to more of an occasional concern.
But Friday, he needed someone to drive him to the Veteran's Administration office to discuss his pension so we were riding along and talking.
"I think I'll write a parenting book," he announced. "I think there are things people need to understand."
I was dumbstruck.
Here was the man I try to forgive daily for ignoring his four children — including me — and he's thinking he did it right? He's thinking he has wisdom to share now?
I had no response for several minutes.
All the missed birthdays and holidays and special events he chose not to note flashed through my brain. I thought about how he cannot name my six children or more than a couple of his great-grandchildren.
I bit back some cryptic comments about comparing important golf dates to less important baptismal dates and christenings.
"The secret is to choose somebody with compatible goals," he added. "You have to agree on what you want for your children.
"I always tried to notice the positive and ignore the negative. That works," he said. "Look at how you all turned out."
I realize there's a backhand compliment in there somewhere but it still made me mad.
"Dad," I said. "You ignored us your whole life! What are you saying?"
He looked at me without any comprehension and went blissfully on, talking about cherishing and love and rewriting history before my eyes.
"You children were always my first priority," he concluded.
My goodness. Where was I this whole time?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Trying to break into the Pentagon

There are a few things I miss about being a beat reporter.
While it's nice to be able to stay in my pajamas to do interviews when it's snowing or raining outside, I miss some of the perks.
For instance, when you announce to a source that you're a reporter for a major paper, they sit up and take notice. There's an inborn fear of real reporters.
You sometimes get the runaround but in the end you can usually convince the secretary, the assistant or the vice-president that you need to get through to a live person.
Sometimes the threat of using GRAMA is needed (that's the Government Records Access Management Act that tells sources they have to release information the public has a right to know).
Me interviewing magical kids
Working on my own I find I have a little less clout.
I can wheedle, whine and nag but in the end, people just have to decide to be nice or not based on how their day is going and whether they feel inclined to help me.
Right now, I'm trying to get information out of the Department of Commerce and the Pentagon.
Neither wants to be very forthcoming although the Pentagon people get more points than the Commerce folk.
I call up and ask for Public Affairs and they give me Human Resources which then passes me back to Public Affairs when I ask my questions. I spend a lot of wasted time in the loop.
And I'm not asking for anything big, just a couple of phone numbers for people involved with the recent renovations.
You'd think I was asking for classified stuff.
No one knows the answer to my question or can help or knows anyone who can help.
I've gone round and round for a couple of weeks here.
I'll keep trying because I also know that pestering usually works. People will call me back just to get me to stop leaving messages.
But I miss the good old days when I was scary.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Vocal Point focus

For the past couple of months, Monday night has been Vocal Point night for Marc and me.
Because BYU's a cappella group has been singing and succeeding on NBC's "the sing-off" show, I've been watching and taking notes so I could send up stories about them.
In the beginning, I didn't really take into account how many shows I would have to end up watching.
Not that it's been a bad thing.
I really like watching Vocal Point. They are funny and good at what they do. Their songs are enjoyable and they entertain.
It's the other songs and singers that bug me, especially some of the rapper kind of songs that go on and on.
I've never been a rap fan and usually when the song wanders off, so do I.
(Invariably, the songs I dislike the most brings raves from the judges so what do I know?)
We've sat for two hours now every Family Home Evening night for weeks.
We've become so well acquainted with Vocal Point that when we went to the Watch Party at Jordan Commons last week, we felt like family.
Several members of the group were running around hugging and shaking hands and I almost forgot they wouldn't know me from Adam because I've only talked to them on the phone.
Once I told them my name, they recognized my byline but my face was that of a stranger. They had to struggle to think of something to say to me.
"Thanks for the stories," said McKay Crockett (who looks a lot younger and more vulnerable in real life).
"Yeah, they were good," said Keith Evans.
"We liked them," said another group member who was looking around for somewhere else to be.
I didn't mind.
I'm still a fan. So as they were voted off last night, I had mixed emotions. It'll be nice to get back to our home evening lessons.
I've grown to love Vocal Point and their charm. I think they were somewhat rooked because if they had got to where the audience could vote, I think 14 million Mormons could have heated up the phone lines and sent them over the finish line.
Perhaps some politics came into play?
Here's the KSL link to my final story with video. Enjoy. (

Monday, November 14, 2011

Other things I do

For almost a year now I've been writing some stories — officially they're called project profiles — for the Won-Door Corporation.
In case you didn't know, Won-Door manufactures the kind of sliding accordion doors that divide the cultural hall from the chapel in most LDS buildings.
They also have doors in hospitals, schools, government buildings and malls, all sizes, lengths and varieties. (The Pentagon has 20 in each of its five wedges!) They keep out fire, smoke and people from whatever part or parts of a building that needs to be protected.
A Dura-Sound door in a school
I started out knowing very little about these doors and a year later, know quite a bit more. I've learned terms like Fire-Guard and Sound Barrier and why it matters if a door can be closed manually as well as automatically when the sprinklers and smoke alarms go off.
movie theater door
It's been an interesting ride but not very many people know about it or what I'm doing.
Even my daughter admitted the other day that she had no idea the doors in the churchhouses were the ones I was talking about.
I decided it was time to advertise a bit.
The Won-Door Corporation has an office in Salt Lake and district offices all over the United States. They'll celebrate the company's 50th anniversary next year.
The company has my respect, after working with various district managers over the past 11 months. They seem to have it together.
My pieces appear on their company website but you have to look for them. (I have the URL on my links of favorites on the right-hand side. At the bottom of the page, there's a place called "blog" and that's my stuff.)
If you get a chance, check it out.
I think some of the profiles are pretty interesting and hey, if anyone else out there needs something similar done for their company or product, just ask me.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Paying for grades and pictures

Years ago, when my children were just starting into junior high and high school, I decided to motivate them to get good grades.
Foolishly I offered $5 per A on their report cards — not realizing how many As came on each card and how often report cards came out.
Multiply that by six pretty good students and I was facing a national debt-type crisis in my pocketbook.
I couldn't keep up.
I felt bad later when I had to pull back and just offer a hearty "Good job!" instead of cash.
(A similar thing had happened with my oldest son who liked video games. I had told him he could get a new game for each good report and very quickly got into trouble there. He made out like a bandit for a while.)
Even today when my kids have their own kids, they tease me about it but none of them have made the same financial mistake.
It seems I always underestimate what people will do for monetary compensation and the hit on my budget.
(I'm not alone in my faulty promise-making. One year, Ski Utah offered free ski passes to high school kids with 3.5 GPAs and my middle son who never cared about his grades before suddenly hit the books and passed all the tests and earned a ski pass! So did a whole lot of other kids in the state so Ski Utah had to pull back on its offer.)
(I also think the airlines and credit card companies start out with good intentions with their reward programs but quickly pull back when they have to pay up.)
Now, I've started a reward system with my husband that bears the same kind of potential for trouble.
I told Marc he ought to feel like he could buy a new Kindle book each time he took photos for me when I went on stories. He does a good job and takes time out of his busy days to help me, after all.
But that's getting out of hand even though I added, "for published pictures" to the criteria.
I owe him for about five pictures now and I'm getting grumpy when he reminds me about it. It sort of defeats the purpose of having a freebie photographer.
Maybe it needs to be "for really good published pictures that I feel like acknowledging when there's plenty of money in the budget?"

Monday, November 7, 2011

Tootsie Roll Pox Pops

When my second son was a baby he got the chickenpox and he suffered.
There wasn't a half-inch of clear skin on his little bottom. Everywhere you looked there was a red, painful bump made more bothersome by the heat of his diaper.
He was too little to understand "Don't scratch!" and just big enough to know he was miserable. He looked at me with an "Why don't you make it all better?"expression.
Two weeks later, my daughter had them and two weeks after that, my oldest. I figured it was the nature of things and never considered sending everybody to a chickenpox party so they'd get it all at once.
That's why when I read a story about mothers buying lollipops licked by someone with chickenpox and then mailed to people who want their children to catch chickenpox, I was appalled.
It's a really bad idea, an outgrowth of the chickenpox parties of 20 years ago.
It toys with the balance of the universe, risks lives and invites abuse all in the same sentence.
What is someone thinking?
(It's inevitable, I suppose, that people will reckon their kids will get the disease anyway so why not schedule it in on purpose.)
I get that people want to plan their lives and some may even think this way they are protecting their kids from getting chickenpox when they're too big for a children's disease.
I guess there's some logic to protecting those bigger boys who could have serious side effects from chickenpox.
But how about just going for the gold, hoping one's child doesn't catch it or if he or she does, that it's a mild case that leaves some immunity behind?
There are probably folks reading this who think that's kind of what the logic is behind vaccinations: give the injectee a little bit of the disease so his/her system will become capable of fighting off the disease entirely.
Acceptable risk, maybe?
Perhaps. But I can promise you that if I send a grandchild a lollipop, it will be a clean, still-in-the-package sweet with no germs invited along for the ride.
And viruses are not welcome at my parties.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The construction puzzles

These days it's a challenge to drive anywhere in Utah and Salt Lake counties.
You have to be able to negotiate lots of little orange barrels and drive on the side of the road where the stoplights are not.
You need to be ready to slow and stop at a moment's notice and hope-hope-hope the cars behind you do the same.
I don't know how we'll manage in the winter.
It's a maze.
SR-92 is always drifted over and impossible to see in a snowstorm.
You add these jersey barriers on both sides and a couple of unexpected lane changes and it'll be a collision course.
Oh, and guess what? UDOT just informed the people along the route that — surprise — the roadwork won't be done by the end of October. (A real surprise given they sent out their news announcement the first of November!)
Drive this way
It's literally driving most of us crazy as we try to get from here to there.
There's nowhere to go that isn't littered with orange and flag people.
And as soon as you figure one route out, it changes to something else.
The other night I was trying to get home from Orem to my daughter's home in north Lehi.
I took the new 2100 North exit and headed up 300 West to Bull River Road.
Suddenly there was a "Road closed" sign ahead of me but there was nowhere I could see to go.
I thought I would have to turn around in the dark when the road suddenly dropped away.
I was now driving on dirt in what appeared to be an excavated zone. A tiny sign said "Keep Right" so I did and now I was on a narrow curving road that headed east.
My granddaughter was alarmed.
"Grandma!" she said. "They took away the road! It's gone!"
I assured her it wasn't gone — just different — and drove on, not at all sure that I wasn't headed for disaster.
We came out close to her house and arrived safely but I'm thinking she's pretty much right.
The roads as we know them are gone.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Flying away

Jack the kid
Also Jack
It seemed like a good idea.
We want to see our grandson in England in person and the best way to get there is to fly over the pond.
He's four and growing up fast without us and even though Skype is a marvelous thing, virtual hugs aren't quite the same as the real ones.
So we bit the financial bullet and bought airline tickets last night.
Now we're wholly committed even though some of the plan is kind sketchy.
Originally we were going to trade our timeshare week for a week in coastal England.
I figure if I started early enough, we could snag something decent in a part of the United Kingdom that we hadn't already seen.
I threw in our hat. I picked out three places I liked,  registered with the Interval International people, paid the exchange fee and waited.
It's been more than two months now and nothing has come up for exchange.
Because I'm not really very patient and I like to plan ahead, I have begun to feel a little uneasy.
I didn't dare buy our airline tickets because I wasn't sure what week might come through but the prices for the time we want to fly are rising fast and a lot.
Finally, last night, I just jumped off the ledge.
I bought the tickets and I've booked a rental car and I'm starting to mentally pack up. (No matter that I don't know for sure where we'll hang our hats or park our rental car.)
When I called this morning to expand the exchange area and maybe increase the likelihood that we'll still effect an exchange, the lady said, "You know, you might want to have a Plan B in mind. English exchanges are really very rare."
Perhaps I should have been told that in the beginning.