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Thursday, October 30, 2014

PERCEPTION Review

I think I would have titled this book THE ETERNITY GAME. It's all about longevity treatments, cloning, cybernetics, and chips.

PERCEPTION by Lee Strauss is a gripping must-read. The intrigue clenched onto me like a vice grip. So many dystopian books lately emphasize the hopeless nature of the situation. The idea of a GAP (Genetically Altered Person) girl finding out who she really is and has become because of what's been done to her appeals to me. It gave me hope that she forsook the heritage her parents thrust on her to follow her conscience.

 The premise of religion surviving the massive overtake of science is a hopeful one. Mankind and all of his creations, which are powerful in their own way, still cannot dig God out of their trench. The indomitable search for freedom in a rapidly caving society grabs at me. I want to stand up and root for them. I liked that they didn't stoop to the level of those after them and resort to desperate tactics. Through it all runs a thread of budding romance between Zoe and Noah. That they didn't immediately throw off all their clothes and have wild sex on the nearest church bench makes me wildly happy.

GAPs live in idyllic cities, separated from the unaltered have-nots. Zoe is no different. She's been raised as a privileged socialite on the fast track to success. She'll probably marry her GAP boyfriend and settle down to have her allotted two children and shop for the next 200 years.

At least that's what she thinks until her brother goes missing and is found dead on the wrong side of the 'wall'. Zoe heads to the 'Outside' to find answers. What she finds is more questions--and the son of her family maid, who helps her hunt for the information everyone else is withholding from her.

Shadowy people are trying their best to keep all information about her brother's demise close to their chests. They'll do anything, including erasing memory, murder, and alterations to bodies to guard those secrets. What they don't plan on is Zoe's tenacity and Noah's ingenuity--and their capacity to love each other.


The possibility of a chipped future chills me to the bone. The thought that we could soon in actuality be forced to be chipped makes my teeth itch. The technology is already in use. We already know that cloning and chipping are being done on animals. Certainly somewhere cloning is being illicitly performed on humans. Chipping is. Technology has far outstripped our ideas of what is actually possible outside the realm of sci fi. So what's to stop our civilization heading in exactly this direction?

Nothing.

Not law. Not ethics. Not lack of money. Not lack of talent or drive or greed for money or power. That's why I loved the hope I found in the end of this book. We are starting to experience the potential for mankind's evil.

But can we also experience the potential for overarching good? Please let that be the case. Let there be people like Noah and his father who won't stand for being forced into second class citizenship because they won't mess around with the human soul. Let's hope there are Zoe's who, though born to privilege on a grand scale, still can shuck it off and rise above it.

I've already gone out this morning and purchased the boxed set. I definitely have to know what happens to Zoe and Noah. Check out PERCEPTION by Lee Strauss. You won't need any but the edge of your seat.

Monday, October 27, 2014

What My Sons Should Know


I believe the scripture about men's hearts failing them in the last days is very real. And it's happening now. People are losing the ability to look beyond their own personal bubble to empathize with others' problems and challenges. Hearts are becoming vestigial organs, like the appendix.

If, my son, you are lucky enough to trap a woman into marrying you, there are a few things you need to know for future reference:

The most powerful words in a marriage? "I love you and this is why...." Find something to complement her on every day. Even if she's gained a ton of weight or she's got a bad haircut or something else has happened, there's got to be something you find appealing. Even if it's just her shoelaces or the way her hair shines. Saying something loving will get you miles down the road toward a happy home. And it will do wonders for her self esteem. If she thinks her husband is still interested in her, still loves her even after two weeks of wedded bliss, she'll bloom for you. And she'll try harder to look nice for you. Sometimes she might act like she doesn't believe you, but deep inside she'll eventually believe it if you keep it up. And if you don't, there'll always be that worry that you've lost that loving feeling and she's just running on fumes. Don't make her guess. Tell her.

Take care of your Spiritual Responsibilities. You are the Priesthood in your home. Act like it. Go to the temple. Make it a priority. When it comes time for FHE, call them together and have FHE. Call for family prayers. Give them blessings. Take your son out Home Teaching or to collect fast offerings if that's his job. Call the family in for scripture study. This is your job as a priesthood holder.

Own your own baggage. Everyone has troubles and challenges. Everyone. If you didn't have some flaw, the good Lord would have translated you already. So acting as if you don't, is pure hubris, and it's frustrating for anyone around you. Don't force your wife to consider rigging an angelic visitor because you won't listen to anyone else trying to batter through your lofty throne of pride. You do get some things wrong at times.

She's not always wrong. It's statistically impossible. Someone once said a room full of monkeys typing random letters on typewriters will eventually come up with the works of Shakespeare (poor monkeys). Well, your wife will sometimes be right. You need to acknowledge that. It really doesn't take much effort to let her know. But it will mean the world to her. When you hog all the credit, it's a total mental beat-down. Recognizing this gracefully makes you a real man.

Do your own personal housekeeping. Sure she might stay home all day with nothing to do but eat bon bons and watch Netflix (extremely unlikely) but she isn't your purchased slave. Pick up your own dang socks. Put them in the dirty clothes hamper. Take your place settings to the sink. Do your chores happily. If there is something broken around the house, it's your job to fix it. If you don't know how, learn. It'll save you loads of money not having to pay someone else to do it for you. And best of all, it'll save arguments. Also, she should be able to alert you to the fact that something is broken without being called a nag. If you have to be told countless times, that is firmly your problem.

You need to work. Hard. That's a fact of life. You are the provider for your wife and children. Nobody else should have that responsibility. That means that you need to study hard in school. Put forth the effort to make great grades so you can then get into college so that you can then get a good enough job so you can feed and clothe your family and put a roof over their head. And you need to start that now. Life doesn't have to offer you nonstop entertainment. It's not one big video game convention. And don't just think you can test video games for a living. It rarely works like that. Find something to do to contribute to society. Find the work you love and love the work you find. But you're going to have to get off your rear and DO SOMETHING. Because if you don't make that choice, life will make it for you, and you might not like what it picks.

Your wife is your bride. Never forget that. Even if she looks dragged out or chubby. You chose her. You put that ring on her finger and signed the license. She isn't your love slave, your maid, roommate, or unpaid cook. She certainly isn't your punching bag or doormat.  She's your wife. She's your Queen. Treat her like that. Remember that you aren't giving her these rights. She alreadyhas  them by virtue of being a daughter of God. She shouldn't have to earn your love or respect. And she shouldn't have to earn her children's respect either. She has just as many rights as you do. Her job is simply different. 

Be her champion. And I don't just mean just when you're out in public. Always. Don't make her fight all her own battles with the kids. If you act like it's not a big deal when they yell at her, or tell her "no" when she asks them to do chores, or lie to her, they'll push the boundaries they do come up against. Pretty soon your home will just be an armed camp, and your wife will snap. You'll have 156 lbs of screaming hag on your hands, rightfully. Yes, your wife should act like an adult. But it isn't really your job to raise her. It is your job to raise your children. And if you allow them to treat your wife like she's a third class citizen, you're reaping the tornado. They won't respect anyone. Be her champion with loving patience. Also she won't have to deal with a constant barrage of barrier challenges.


Don't abuse her children either. There's a fine line between being a father and being a friend to the exclusion of your wife. Don't always force her to be the bad guy. Be the friendly father. There are going to be some times when you can't be their friend, but you can discipline with patience and kindness and love unfeigned. Set boundaries for your children. Enforce them lovingly. Let them know with velvet gloves on, that you won't allow them to treat your Queen like they are. Believe me, your life will run much smoother when your children understand that your wife isn't champion-less.

 Ask her how she's doing, preparing for an honest answer. When she tells you, respond with kindness. If you give her a calm way to address the things that happen in her day, she'll adore you for it. If you don't, she'll have to go elsewhere to work out her problems, and sometimes it's not where you'd like her to go. More importantly, if she's going elsewhere to talk about you, she's not really fixing the problems with the only person who can actually work on the problem with her.
 Pillow talk is a fantastic thing. When she's feeling fragile, it's your job, as the Prince she married, to find out why. It's not always your task to fix it, but you need to at least listen. Find out what makes her feel loved and do that thing if it's right. If what makes her feel loved is drinking a bottle of whiskey or pushing people in front of trains, that's not an option.

I'm convinced that, in general, women think on a broader bandwidth. Men have compartments in their heads. I call them rooms. The big important things have larger rooms. Men can go into a room in their head, shut the door, and ignore all the other rooms. Women can't. That problem will bite at their high heels right up until it gets solved. I once handed my husband a penny-sized box. When he finally asked what it was for, I told him it represented the Heidi room in his head. Everything else had enormous rooms: work, computer everything, Church callings, the kids. He never responded, which made me think the cube I'd given him was much too big. Give her the second biggest room in your head. God and Christ are the only ones who should have a bigger room.

Communication isn't just a perk of a great marriage--it's essential. Talk with her. Respond to her questions and dig deeper. It's utterly essential. And it can't just be surface stuff about the kids or the bills or whether the dog needs a vet. You need to dig into the deeper layers and really get at the feelings and spiritual essence. And you need to do this while you're dating too. Practice something more than face-sucking. Surface talk is for roommates and people you don't particularly care deeply for. And don't wuss out and fall back on the "Oh men don't talk" thing. That's the Natural Man rearing his hideous, lazy head. Caring men do talk.

Show her you care about who she really is. Don't just hand her the flower you got at church on Mother's Day and call it done for the year. This is a daily thing. She uses those words of love and encouragement as fuel. Good fuel can fill your home with happiness. Bad fuel will nuke the place. You choose what you want to come home to.

Don't accuse her of nagging. If she has to tell you repeated times that something is wrong, GET A CLUE. Something is not right in her world. How else is she supposed to address it? Apparently wigging out and lopping off body parts is frowned on. Don't wait until she feels like doing that. And yes, it might be painful, but you have to rip the Bandaid off and examine what's beneath it. Maybe it needs Neosporine. But maybe, since you've left it so long, it's going to need amputation. Don't let it get that far. Hello. Man up and address it.

When you have an argument (because you will) don't lie in wait for her like a lurking shark. Dredging up all her past wrongs and flogging her with them is wrong. How can she address something you've glazed over? It's not fair. She may even have forgotten about the problem, it's been so long. This isn't a court room. She shouldn't have to subpoena witnesses, keep a record of every offense, and formulate a defense. If you have a beef, address it as quickly and Christ-like as you can, and not in front of others (certainly not the children unless you're both doing it deliberately to show them how to do it correctly and with kindness). Saving things for the next big argument will make it World War III and she'll feel like you're sniping at her from the building across the square. Own your mistakes. Work to address what's wrong. Give her credit where credit is due. Be honest about your feelings. Give tangible, logical, workable ways to fix the problem. Don't sweat the stupid small stuff. Be patient. Actually work to change what you've done wrong. Squash pride and selfishness.

Sometimes you're going to have to go out of your comfort bubble. Do it. Her happiness is worth a night of dancing or a trip to the theater. Do things she likes to do sometimes. I don't mean you have to be surgically sutured to her side, but it shows her how important she is to you when you gracefully endure discomfort or boredom to do things she likes (graceful being the operative word here. If you complain, all bets are off). And she'll be more inclined to do some things you like to do. Also, she might need a cooling down period too. Moms never get to go home from work. They live at work, and they don't get paid for it very often. You try working for the occasional child's smile or the split second the house is actually livable.

Don't ask her to do something and then make it impossible to do. My husband hates it if I touch his things. At all. And yet he likes a clean house. But to clean, I need to dust and move furniture and dusty stacks of papers. Sometimes he loses things. If I've moved anything an iota out of the way, he accuses me of their loss. He hates not being able to find tools in the shed but he won't let me clean it, putting everything in clearly marked containers. He wants to do it (or not) because he knows where everything is. But he forgets that he isn't the only one living in his house, or his bedroom. For years we haven't been able to walk into the shed or find anything out there, because he has to have it just so. All my growing up years my dad yelled at me until everything was clean. Now my husband yells at me if I touch anything. This is a great frustration to me. Don't do that to your wife.

When you want to do something, plan it with her. Otherwise she'll feel like she's only accidentally along for the ride. She has valid points and hopes and dreams (and a working brain) too. She should be your first mate, not the skivvy. And when you're out there on that family vacation, treat her like she's your love. Walk with her. Hold her hand. Thank her for things. Ask her how she's doing. If you want to buy a new car or a house, consult with her. She'll probably be spending a fair amount of time in it.

Open her door even after the ring is on. Take her out on dates. They don't have to be expensive, but something with just the two of you. Don't make her beg for them and complain when she does. You chose her, after all. In case you don't realize it, THIS IS BIG. This marriage thing is for real. It should last for the rest of Eternity. It takes maintenance. You can't just flick a ring on her like in a ring toss game and call it quits. You have to work hard at it constantly. And yes, you have to, or you'll fail. Lots of people do. It's never going to be easy with anybody. Ever. If you think it is, someone is selling you a water-spanning structure.

Treat her like you'd like to be treated, or better. If you would rather not be sniped or yelled at, and you'd like the Kingly treatment, imagine how she must feel. Nobody wants to be treated badly, and certainly not from the mate they've chosen to spend Eternity with. You're the guy she's dreamed of and planned for and secretly kissed her pillow for. You're her Prince. Act like it. Believe me, it'll be worth it.

Next time I'll write to my daughters.

(Published in like form on another blog by Me)

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Great Trek

It's been quite the week. On Thursday night (actually Friday morning) we left at around 1am for Utah via Las Vegas. We drove on the new bridge at the Hoover Dam and then went back to the dam and walked around. There was a line because they were working on the barriers. I know 'cause we asked them. We saw a mountain goat that had made its way down into the land next to the river.

Then we did a trek down the Strip in Las Vegas. It looks quite tawdry (shabby) in the daylight. Without its sheen of glittery light the cracks and rough places show up like an old

We went to find my publishers so I could talk to them. We were going to print with SUNRISE OVER SCIPIO but then they stopped it looking for another option. Anywho, because of rush hour we got there ten minutes late and my editor was gone and we never could meet back up. We had two missionary's stuff to take back to their parents's clear back by the Oqquir Mtn Temple...an hour and a half back the other way. We got to the in-laws pretty late. They're so patient and understanding.

The next am we watched Conference the first session and then raced over to Salt Lake to see the second. Unfortunately we didn't have tickets and had to watch it from the Tabernacle...the hard wooden seats behind a pillar. But it was still cool. There's just something about being that close to truly great men. I loved the talks and can't wait to re-experience them in the Ensign. It was surreal being that close to the Prophet and Apostles, even though we were so far away that they looked like they were on TV. The bummer was that when the guy spoke in his own Portuguese we only had subtitles and I couldn't take good notes. While we waited for the men to get out of their meeting, I met John Bytheway and one of the actors for Saints and Soldiers 3 and another writer. Very cool. The picture was great!

Monday am we took off for Idaho. We had lunch at Idaho Falls. Bit and I fed the birds before we saw the don't feed the birds sign. Pretty fun. Then we went and saw my dorm at Rexburg and saw the temple. We ended up seeing 13 different temples this trip! We even saw the new Payson one. We got to Yellowstone late in the afternoon and had just enough time to set up camp and go for a walk before the sun went down. We saw lots of kicking, charging bison and I think we heard a whole pack of wolves that night. I contemplated for a few minutes the terribly thin nature of those ripstop nylon walls of our tent. We also saw a moose. What I didn't see was the full eclipse. I was trying so hard to just get a half hour of sleep that I refused to open my eyes at 4:30 when it occurred. I think that was the half hour I got.

The next day we did Yellowstone. Mostly in the morning it was very misty. I got some great pictures of the mist and steam, but not so good pics of guysers until it warmed up and the steam abated. We saw Old Faithful blow twice. I hoped to see the one that's bigger than Old Faithful go off, but we weren't that lucky. We saw all kinds of bubbly hot sulfur holes of all colors. I remembered Morning Glory pool fondly as a gorgeous blue hole. Apparently people dumped too many things in there and it lowered the temp of the water and now it's no longer a gorgeous blue. Now it's a gorgeous blue-green and red and yellow. Mostly green. I loved the hike, though. No people but me and the Hubs charging along ahead of my puffing, gasping self.

On the way out we saw a huge grizzly bear heading off into the weeds across the river. We also saw lots of elk and deer and a pretty little fox right on the side of the road. We went up to the Grand Teton Nat'l. park next. Wow those mountains were jagged and majestic! I loved them, especially the jagged-iness. We got pizza in Jackson Hole and saw all kinds of elk. We passed a plethora of tiny less-than-200-people towns. But that part of Wyoming was so much prettier with trees and mountains than the rest we saw before. There is just something so post apocalyptic and dreary about a sere landscape full of nothing but calf-high sagebrush.

That night we spent with my in-laws (got there late) and then the next morning we took off for Nevada and Lehman cave. It was a pretty cave. The operative word being WAS. Most of the stalactites had been chopped off. It was really sad. Apparently in the 20's they gave a stalactite to anyone who could pull it off the ceiling. Some of them had new little soda straws growing from the stubs. I think the Hubs and I knew more about the geology than the ranger did. I kept anticipating her spiel with questions. She told me I'd probably been there before and was amazed when I said I hadn't.

On the way back to Utah and Richfield where my cousin lives, we stopped at the state line and the Boy and I stood in two states at once and two different times. In other words, we were time travelers...rofl Now I expect The Doctor to swipe me for a little Companion action momentarily.

We tried to make it to Cove Fort that evening but we missed a turn and went to Oak city first. By the time we got there, the Fort was closed, so we went to KFC and then to my cousin's. The next morning we went to Fish Lake and saw the world's biggest living entity...a stand of aspens. They blazed with color. We bummed around a dilapidated lodge and I dreamed of what it would be like to buy it and clean it up and have all kinds of things there...reunions, SCA events, church camps, Boy Scout events. Would be cool. While we were there, we saw a muskrat chugging around in the marina. It was so cute.

On our way home, my cousin got a call saying that her youngest daughter had been hit with a baseball bat in P.E. She had to have stitches in her chin and they were watching her for a concussion. We couldn't do much, though, so we went to Cove Fort. It was a way cool little fort. My aunt and uncle worked there until 2 weeks ago. We just missed them. I'll show you the pictures when we get them off my camera.

We went back to the cousin's to sleep and in the morning we went to see Scipio where my book is set. I'm happy to say that most of what I wrote was pretty spot on. We took a few pictures and then went to a glorious little camp ground called Maple Grove. Talk about scarlets and golds and all flaming colors in between!!! It'd be a great place to have a family reunion, esp. in the fall. After that we took off for Richfield Walmart and then home.

We saw AZ, NV, UT, MT, WY, and ID. We saw bubbly mud, spouting steam, and gorgeous sulfur pools. Giant aspen stands, gorgeous Victorian houses, tiny towns, ancient barns, and miles and miles of empty, waterless land, sky-ripping mountains, ranks of pines both of the pinion and fir types. There were horses, cattle, elk, deer, mountain goats, regular goats, bears, moose, bison, chipmunks (mini-bears), squirrels, muskrat, llamas, dogs, cats, and maybe wolves.

The trip back was a total fly-by. I had a good book on my kindle, so I read until nearly dark. Amazingly there was very little sleep-age, which is weird since road trips render me comatose. We hardly even stopped except to get gas, making it home at around 7:45. It was pretty strange getting home before dinner time.


Pictures to come when I get them off my camera.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Why I'm Late

My blog furniture and invisible books don't 'know' me anymore it's been so long. But I have reasons.

First of all my book is coming out momentarily!!! (I can't keep my pinkie off the exclamation point button. It goes there of its own volition today.) I've seen the last iteration of the cover and love it. I've examined every inch of the inside and the work has passed my strict magnifying glass, even down to kerning. (If there are kerning problems, they had to be there. Kerning is the space between words or letters.)

So here is the cover in all its glory:





I've blacked out a couple of places until I get the news I'm hoping for (hopefully) today. (Can I just say I HATE my paint program? I've used various programs and this one I seem to be stuck with is absolutely wretched. Anywho, back to the party.) I can't wait!!! I can't believe this book is finally coming to fruition. Plus I just got the word that we're going ahead with SUMMERHOUSE for Spring and they want a synopsis of LETTERS FOR STEPS. Finally, the train is pulling out of the station.

So that's the top news. Here are a couple of other things that have kept me from coming to write as much (besides doing massive edits on the book pictured above):

I'm working on a book called MARIN AT THE WELL, researching the Middle East in the time of Christ, plus parts in the New Testament which deal specifically with Christ before He was resurrected, and writing the story of Marin Peregrin.

I've also joined an amazing choir. (They just changed the name to Tucson Interfaith Choir--TIC) The music is, for me, quite difficult since I'm not the world's best sight reader. We're singing about twelve songs, two of them in German, and most with very complex melodies. I love it. Quite the challenge. We'll be performing on the 24th and 25th of October at the Ft. Lowell chapel and East Stake Center in Tucson respectively. We're also probably going to do parts of Bach's Christmas Oratorio for Christmas among other things. At least that's what I believe Brent said.

The last thing that kept me away this last week was a trip North. I'll tell that in another post so this one isn't so long. Plus hopefully I'll have pics by that time. I have some glorious ones of the fall colors and Yellowstone in the mist and of temples (especially the Salt Lake Temple) and the family members who went.

So those things plus driving the kids everywhere (I thought when I had fewer of them home things would calm down. NOT.) and doing Rel. Soc. President-y things and Boy Scout-y things make for a huge pile of excuses. I'm going to take a running start and fling myself into that pile, like landing in a big pile of gold and scarlet leaves, scattering them everywhere.

Anyway, now I've got to go contribute to another couple of blogs and put clothes away and jump around like a crazy person and have breakfast (it's 1:50), and whittle (more like hack at with an ax) my mountainous to-do list. I have not forgotten you...;o)