A Tribute to My Great Granddad – Thomas Lusitania Smith, 1918-2015

Thomas Lusitania Smith, 1918-2015

My Great Granddad – Thomas Lusitania Smith, 1918-2015

On Friday I received word that my great granddad had passed away.  At the age of 97 with his health failing his passing was met more with relief than shock.  He will be truly missed in this life, but we are glad to know that he’s no longer suffering the ills of old age and is being reunited with family on the other side of the veil.  Sadly, because my great grandparents live in Australia I will be unable to attend any sort of funeral services so I wanted to write a brief tribute here.

As you can imagine, my relationship with my great granddad was limited by the distances between our different continents.  However I was able to see him on our family’s three trips to Australia and he also made several trips to the states with my great grandmother and stayed with our family on a number of occasions.  It was always amazing to me to see that despite huge distances, you always have a special connection to your family that you can’t have with anyone else.  I always knew that my great grandparents loved me and were interested in what was going on with my life even though on a day-to-day basis our lives weren’t very connected.

My parents shared on Facebook some thoughts on my granddad’s passing and talked particularly about something that has always fascinated me about him.  In the 1950s Granddad listened to the missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and was baptized a member of the church.  Because of that decision my grandma was raised in the church, and she in turn raised my mother in the church, and my mother raised me in the church.  The greatest blessings in my life have come from the church and in large part stem from a decision that was made about three decades before I was born.  I am reminded of the ripple effects of our choices – nothing we do is truly done in a vacuum.  Our choices affect not only ourselves, but those around us and generations after us.  I will be forever grateful for that one decision that he made all those years ago.

Later my granddad fell away from the church.  On one of his trips to the US he was sitting next to my dad during a sacrament meeting.  After singing “Hark All Ye Nations” granddad leaned over to my dad and told him, “We use to sing that song all the time back in England in the pubs…but, the words were all different… come to think of it, none of those words would ever be said in a church.”  It’s now a family joke whenever we sing that song in church that we’re all singing a drinking song.  My granddad left the church for 40 years.  That’s amazing to me, 40 years is more than my entire life span so far.  What’s amazing about it though, is that after 40 years – he came back.  You would think that after all that time his choices and attitudes towards the church must have been totally solidified and there was no way he’d come back.  Yet, when he was in his 80s he chose to return to the church and died after almost two decades of faithful membership.  One special memory I have is that he and my great grandmother were able to attend Eric’s and my wedding.  Traditionally the father of the bride and the father of the groom act as witnesses to the sealing.  However, as Eric’s dad is a sealer and was able to seal us we had an extra witness seat.  At the last minute my mom thought we should ask if granddad would like to be that witness.  I felt bad that we asked Eric’s brother at the last minute to concede that role (sorry!), but it was a really special thing that after all that time of being away from the church, here was my great granddad – all the way from Australia – assisting in one of the most sacred ordinances.  It was a very special thing to me that he could come and be such an integral part of that very special day.

As I reflect on this part of my granddad’s life one thing sticks out to me – it is never too late too change.  You are never too old.  You are never too stuck in your ways.  It is never too hard.  You may be 2 or 102 but you still have your agency to choose that tomorrow you will be different than you are today.  I think this is both thrilling and terrifying.  Tomorrow you could choose to eschew poor habits, create a new life, start on a better path.  Or tomorrow you could choose to leave behind all that is good and glorious in your life and make choices that will lead to misery.  No one is immune.  We should never look at someone and think, “oh, they’re too far gone, they’ll never turn their life around.”  Nor should we think, “well they’ve clearly got it all figured out and they don’t need any help from me.”  We all need each other, every day.  Let us choose each day to be a little better than the day before.  Let us look at others with more compassion for where they might be.  Let us never give up on anybody, ever.  You never know who that person might be tomorrow.

Thank you Granddad to the example you were to me, for the love you have showed to my family and for the foundation you gave for my life.  I will be eternally grateful for all the good things that you made possible for my family.  God be with you until we meet again <3

Miracle Headache Cure!

If you’d seen this trick posted before and wondered if it would work, let me tell you – it does! Yesterday morning I woke up with auras in my vision.  At first I thought it was just my contacts readjusting and tried to give it awhile and just get ready.  As we were about to head out the door I realized that they’d gotten a LOT worse, and not better like I would have expected.  I finally recognized that I had the beginnings of a migraine. I’ve never actually had a migraine before but my mom has had them for years and so I knew the warning signs.  I took some headache medicine and hoped I could ward it off as I was supposed to be helping teach Sunday School for my 4 year old’s class in about an hour (not an ideal environment for a headache).

I got to church and the light was hurting my eyes, my head was pounding and my stomach hurt.  The auras were worse and I just felt terrible. I ducked into a dark classroom during sacrament meeting hoping the medicine would kick in.  I sat there alone in the quiet in the dark as it slowly got worse – I was wearing my sunglasses in a room that was almost completely dark with the exception of a small window in the door, and the glare from my cell phone screen.  It was pretty bad.  After a half hour I gave up and finally texted my husband to take me home.

I remembered seeing this trick for headaches and looked up the picture to make sure I did it right.  The text I’d seen with the picture recommends frozen peas at the base of your skull with your hands sumberged in warm water.  I did exactly what it shows in the picture and started to have some relief, but I wasn’t comfortable in that position.  Really I wanted to try and sleep but obviously balancing on my bathroom counter wasn’t a great place to fall asleep. I decided since the principle was making your neck cold and feet warm I had Eric heat up our rice bag for my toes.  Then I laid on our bed with the peas under my neck and rice bag on my feet.  Thanks to our blackout curtains I was able to take a nap in the darkness with my extremities at different temperatures very comfortably.  Two hours later I woke up feeling almost completely better. I’m guessing the medicine helped too, but it hadn’t done anything for me until I had the ice pack and rice bag, and there was relief within minutes once I tried it.  That simple solution was nothing short of a miracle cure for me.

Anyways, I’ve tried a lot of different things from Pinterest and I’m always skeptical about how well they will work so I wanted to give this one my personal stamp of approval.  I highly recommend it for anyone who struggles with headaches.  Three cheers for Pinterest!

Happy Mother’s Day – to Women Without Children

UnMother's Day

Today as we celebrate Mother’s Day I feel keenly aware of the women within my circle of friends for whom this day is a reminder of the imperfect situations they might find themselves in.  Whether they are unmarried, or struggling with infertility, or single parents, or feeling overwhelmed with too many children, or have wayward children, or children they gave up for adoption, or children who have passed on before them, or those who have lost their own mothers, or don’t have the relationship with their mother’s that they desire.  Mother’s Day can be a difficult day for many people.  About a year ago one of my friends who had struggled with infertility for a long time posted how she would go to Relief Society on Mother’s Day and then go home with the Mother’s Day treat and cry feeling like she’d been given something that she didn’t deserve. This broke my heart to read of how a wonderful day for so many which is a bitter reminder for others of a blessing which they have been denied.

Particularly for those who are struggling with the challenge of not having yearned for children I wanted to share this thought.  When I first discovered my favorite blog, Women in the Scriptures, I went through and read a bunch of her blog posts at once, one of the first posts I read was this one about infertility.  I want to share one particular quote used in that post from Sheri Dew –

” …While we tend to equate motherhood solely with maternity, in the Lord’s language, the word mother has layers of meaning. Of all the words they could have chosen to define her role and her essence, both God the Father and Adam called Eve “the mother of all living”—and they did so before she ever bore a child. Like Eve, our motherhood began before we were born. Just as worthy men were foreordained to hold the priesthood in mortality, righteous women were endowed premortally with the privilege of motherhood. Motherhood is more than bearing children, though it is certainly that. It is the essence of who we are as women. It defines our very identity, our divine stature and nature, and the unique traits our Father gave us…

…Motherhood is not what was left over after our Father blessed His sons with priesthood ordination. It was the most ennobling endowment He could give His daughters, a sacred trust that gave women an unparalleled role in helping His children keep their second estate. As President J. Reuben Clark Jr. declared, motherhood is “as divinely called, as eternally important in its place as the Priesthood itself.” (Are We Not All Mothers, Ensign. Nov. 2001)

I loved this definition of motherhood.  When Eric and I were first married we lived in Wymount and it seemed like a majority of the women in our ward were mothers.  Our plan at the time was to wait to have children until Eric was done with school and I was working full time to support us while we got to that goal.  I felt excluded from the mom club – the circle of women who passed their days in the middle of the quad at the playground chatting.  I remember the first time my visiting teachers came to visit me with their toddlers and in the process of getting to know one another I of course told them that I was working full time.  While they didn’t say anything disparaging about that, I felt very much like they were looking at me with an air of, “Oh, you’re one of those working girls.” (please read that in your head with all the disdain of a 20’s era society woman to a factory woman)  At the time I felt like I had a hard time defining myself.  I’m the oldest of 5 children and my mom has called me the second mother in our home. I grew up carrying around babies, playing with kids, babysitting and loving being around children.  However in that season of my life I was without children – far away from my siblings and not yet having children of my own.  At the same time, I still felt the inherent mother-ness in me.  I had a hard time figuring out how to refer to myself as a married woman without children and would often try to call myself a single mother – which was ironic since I was completely the opposite – but I struggled to find the name for this state that I was in of not being a mother although travelling down that path.  I think I felt similarly displaced to those mothers who find themselves without a father to aid them which is why I would gravitate to that title.  The other title I would come up with was “childless mother” which also felt odd since it seems weird to call someone a mother who doesn’t have her own children.  I certainly struggled with my identity in the context of other women at the time.

In retrospect I think the title of “childless mother” is actually the right term.  Despite not having children, I was a mother.  I liked what Sister Dew stated about our motherhood as women beginning before we were born.  Motherhood is not dependent on 9 months of pregnancy, it is inherent in our calling as women.  Motherhood is the qualities of women that dispose us to teaching, building and growing not only children but the world around us.  You can fulfill that calling as a sister, daughter, aunt, friend, teacher, office worker, CEO, relief society president, yoga instructor or whatever role you find yourself in.  Just as a man is no less a priesthood holder for not being a bishop, women are no less mothers for not having children.  Motherhood is part of who you are.  I know that might not be much consolation to those who would like to discharge that calling in the most conventional way, especially when proffered by one who has been given that more conventional mother role.  However, I hope you know that whatever your contribution to motherhood is I honor you for what you are building and the love you show for those around you.

So take that cookie offered to you in Relief Society with pride, you are a mother.  Happy Mother’s Day, to all women, whatever circumstance you find yourself in.  You are a daughter of God, and we want to celebrate the divinity within you <3

What’s Santa bringing you for Christmas?

When I was a little girl I remember every year being excited to sit on Santa’s lap, tell him what a good girl I’d been and ask for something special for Christmas.  I loved watching Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman and How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  My parents didn’t make a huge deal of Santa but he was still an integral part of our Christmas celebrations.  When I was in fourth grade my friends started to tell me that Santa Claus wasn’t real, that it was just my parents who bought the gifts.  In all honesty, I think I knew logically by then that was true, but it didn’t bother me too much.  I still loved the idea of Santa Claus and chose to keep believing anyways because he was part of the magic of my Christmases and I didn’t want to give it up.

Now, a full two decades later I find myself on the other side of the Santa Claus celebration.  Instead of believing in Santa Claus – I am Santa Claus for my three sweet children.  I love that part of Christmas where I now have the chance to prepare surprises for Christmas morning for which I will not take credit.  I love trying to find something that will make my kids eyes light up on Christmas morning and bring joy into their hearts.  Even though I want their Christmas to be Christ-centered, I feel like the tradition of Santa Claus can turn their minds, and mine to the Savior.

However, I have been troubled by the first question that my kids are asked this season by almost every adult they see at this time of the year, “What’s Santa bringing you for Christmas?”  Since I’ve already claimed that I really do love the tradition of Santa Claus so much, how can this bother me?  It’s an innocent question and it is fun to see the things that kids are excited about for Christmas morning.   But I feel like it places too much emphasis on the wrong part of Christmas for young minds.

Earlier this week a friend posted this article by Jen Hatmaker called The Christmas Conundrum.  In it she describes her experience as a pre-teenager being totally disillusioned by finding out that the presents she received on Christmas morning weren’t what she expected, and how it ruined her whole Christmas.  She goes on to say how sad it is that her Christmas was completely defined by material things with no actual thought of the real meaning of the season – the birth of Christ.

I don’t think we’ll be going to her extreme of cutting out Santa from Christmas entirely, but I do want to help my kids from a young age be more aware of the real meaning of Christmas, rather than the consumerism aspects.  While I like knowing what my kids want for Christmas I’ve never had them sit down and make Christmas lists, or badgered them for what they want most.  We’ve gone to visit Santa Claus (although with very little success getting our boys to sit on his lap so far) and we’ll talk a little about things they might like, but I really try to focus on other parts of Christmas.  I try to find ways to read Christmas stories with them, or sing songs, or serve others, rather than expending too much of their energy on what they want to get from Christmas.  In addition to taking the focus away from Christ, I think focusing on what you’re hoping to get sets kids up for disappointment.  If you have high hopes of getting the 5 things on your Christmas list and you only get 4 of them then you’ll be sad.  But if your focus is on other things than yourself then anything you get is just a sweet surprise.  I would like to suggest some alternate questions that we could pose to young children that would help bring the focus back to our Savior and less on Santa Claus.

  1. What are you going to give this year for Christmas? I will never forget listening to this inspired talk by President Monson back in 1995 called Christmas Gifts, Christmas Blessings which he gave at the Christmas Devotional that year.  He suggested rather than asking what someone got for Christmas we should ask what they gave for Christmas.  Quite often we put a lot of thought into what we’re giving different people for Christmas and it’s much more exciting to focus on how we’re hoping to make someone else’s life brighter.  I think if we try to ask this question to kids it will help them to want to do things for other people and be a little more selfless rather than selfish.
  2. Do you love the Christmas music at this time of year?  What song is your favorite? Yes, you might still get answers that are more about presents and snow and jingle bells, but the music at Christmas time is inspiring to the soul.  There is a joy in that music that helps bring in the spirit of the season better than almost anything else.  You can even take that chance as an opportunity to share your favorite Christmas song too, maybe one that bears a small testimony of the Savior.
  3. Who are you spending Christmas with? I’ve heard people say before that the meaning of Christmas isn’t to be with family, but I think that’s baloney.  Our Savior died so that we can be with our families forever, so what more fitting way to celebrate His birth than by spending time strengthening those family relationships?  Children will get excited at the thought of grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, or even just having a day or two extra at home with their mom or dad off work.
  4. What is your favorite part of Christmas? I’m sure many children will respond with an answer of Santa Claus or presents, but it opens the door for you to include your favorite part of Christmas too.  Whether that’s serving others, or the love people show at this time of year, or Christmas music.  Even if their initial answer isn’t part of the real meaning of Christmas I think it’s a good way to at least suggest to their minds that there’s more to this season than just presents under a tree or in a stocking.
  5. Does your family have any Christmas traditions that you love?  When I was growing up my family had the tradition that on Christmas Eve we would all get a new pair of Christmas pajamas that we would wear to bed that night and then we’d stay in them all day on Christmas.  For whatever reason that always seemed like such a treat to me when I was younger, and that day spent at home, with my family, in our PJs is still one of my favorite memories of Christmas time.

It takes a little creativity, but I think we can find ways to help our kids turn their focus from Santa to Christ.  I’ll try to post some more traditions and suggestions to help your family’s Christmas be more Christ-centered this year.  But for now I’ll leave you with this one challenge – as you try to engage the kids you see in talks about Christmas, will you try to find ways to bring their focus away from Santa and towards our Savior?

What other questions could we be asking our kids instead of Santa questions?  I’d love to hear your suggestions!  Leave them in the comments below 🙂

Adventures in Motherhood

Today was an interesting day and I just thought I needed to share it with you all.  Don’t think that there’s something profound to be had from this post – there isn’t.  Just a crazy day that needed to be documented.

So, my parents are in town because my mom woke up on Tuesday and decided that they should come to Utah from California that day.  That’s when most people plan their vacations right?  So, my mom was here when we woke up this morning.  After feeding the kids breakfast we started tackling some cleaning projects in my kitchen.  I finally removed some sticky tape from one of our cabinets, my mom cleaned out the bottom of our pantry and swept and mopped, my boys “helped” clean the windows (there was a lot more spraying of Windex than wiping it back off again) and Maeli happily rolled around the family room.  While we were engaged in these cleaning activities someone knocked on our front door.  I assumed it was one of my boys’ friends coming over to play, but instead I was pleasantly surprised to see a friend from Thousand Oaks!  We had been trying to arrange a time to get together for over a year, particularly as she had some clothes to pass along to Maeli, and every time we’d make a plan something would come up and we’d end up having to postpone.  This morning she finally decided to throw her two girls in the van and just bring the clothes up.  So nice of her!  And smart too, the best way to outsmart getting sick before a playdate is to go up unplanned so that the sickness doesn’t know to come 🙂  So of course we invited her and her girls in and let the kids play for awhile.  It was so fun to see her again, catch up a little bit and the kids had a blast.

When she left I decided it was probably time to get my kids dressed.  Yaknow, since it was 12:30pm (we have high standards in this household).  So I got the kids dressed, and fed them some lunch.  Then we headed out for the adventure we had planned for the afternoon – the new children’s museum!  Some of our best friends from our newly married/college days were in town and had found some time that we could get together!  They had suggested meeting up at the new children’s museum, which was great for us since we have a pass there anyways and so could get them in for half price and ourselves in for free (well, not really free, but a prepaid sunk cost 😉 ).  When we got there it was INSANE.  The line for admission was literallly out the door.  I knew that the museum has been packed since it opened but I think this was extra packed because of the holiday.  Our outing was really fun.  The boys loved all the cool exhibits and hopped from one to the next quite happily.  But, it was super crazy trying to keep track of four energetic boys in a loud, packed museum.

After the museum we hopped over to Adobe to give our friends a tour of the campus.  After the general loudness of the museum it was SO nice to have some time with them where we could hear ourselves think.  It was fun to show them the campus and give them a glimpse into Eric’s world there.  We enjoyed visiting with them some more and catching up on events of the past few years.  Hopefully we can coerce kindly convince them to move back to Utah to be near us again someday!

When the tour was finished our family headed over to the new food complex that has recently opened across the freeway from Adobe.  We were excited as we’d seen that a new Smashburger had been built and that’s one of our family’s favorite places to eat.  We have long waited for one to be nearby and we were thrilled to finally have one so close!  When we got there however we realized that we had a bit of a snag in our plans – Smashburger’s new location doesn’t open until much later this month!  So we decided instead to try out Cubby’s, just one door down.  We’d heard good things about it and thought we’d give it a shot.

While we were getting ready to order Eric noticed Sam wiggling uncomfortably.  He asked Sam if he needed to go potty, and of course the answer was yes.  We decided that I would take Sam to the bathroom while Eric waited in line.  When Danny saw that someone was going somewhere he immediately had to come too.  So off I went with two little boys and Maeli in the BabyBjorn to the bathroom.  When we got into the bathroom I found out that Sam really did need to go to the bathroom as he relieved himself of a decent volume of liquid.  Naturally, since we were in the bathroom, Danny decided he too needed to use the facilities.  I was hoping he just wanted to pee as well, but I had no such luck.  Now, my boys for some reason aren’t good at sitting on the toilet seat when they have solid waste to get rid of, and instead they have to squat on top of the toilet seat.  Which means that they have to remove their shoes and pants entirely.  In a public restroom.  Awesome.  Danny’s only just getting the hang of being potty trained so I couldn’t very well refuse to let him go… so off came his pants and boots, but luckily I was able to convince him to keep his socks on – at least a little layer between him and public bathroom germs, right?  As I took off his diaper (that he’d been wearing all day) it was totally dry!  That was a first for him to go that long so I was very proud of him.

Danny started by peeing… but without great aim.  About half of the urine ended up in the toilet, and half went straight out in front of it onto the floor.  Great.  So while he continued his business I got some paper towels and tried to mop up the floor with my feet without disturbing Maeli.  He continued to produce some solid excrement as promised and I praised him and wiped his bum.  As I went to pull him off the toilet he slipped and his foot fell.  Into the toilet.  With his poop.  *shudder*  I pull him off and he is (understandably) extremely upset about this and starts crying loudly.  I remove his wet sock and his other sock (so much for that layer of protection), and dry off his foot with a paper towel.  I then re-clothe him and convince him to put his boots back on without his socks (don’t forget – all of this with Maeli in the BabyBjorn, and Sam giggling in the background).  We wash his hands and leave the bathroom – with Danny still upset about the ordeal.

We re-enter the restaurant and can’t find Eric anywhere inside. Just when I’m about ready to wonder if he heard Danny’s fit and thought he wanted nothing to do with us and left – I find him outside.  Our food comes and the wind starts blowing.  Dinner is a game of trying to eat our food and keeping the packages from flying away.  Eric eats his food quickly, helps me clean up as much as possible and then has to leave for a boy scout meeting that had started 15 minutes ago about 15 minutes away.  As he starts to leave Danny is upset that his dad is leaving to go anywhere without him.  He throws a huge fit, hides under the table, bonks his head on the table, tries to run into the parking lot and sits down to cry.  Oh, and he hasn’t eaten hardly any of his food yet.  Finally I promise him that if he will finish all of his food we will all go to scout roundtable with dad – yay.  So, slowly, I get him to finish off start eating his grilled cheese sandwich.  By the time he finishes, it’s 7:55pm.  And now Sam needs to go #2 too.  Ugh.

So, back to the bathroom we go.  Me, Sam, Danny & Maeli in the BabyBjorn – who’s starting to get a bit fussy because she’s hungry and tired.  Going back to the bathroom wouldn’t be so bad, except Sam is the slowest pooper of all time.  I spend the next 20 minutes in the bathroom, bouncing Maeli, and trying to distract Danny.  I have to tell him repeatedly not to turn of the one dim lightbulb in the bathroom, or turn off the water to the sink, or take paper towels out of the trash can, or touch the drain on the floor.  We sing “Popcorn Popping on the Apricot Tree”, and play “where is your [fill in body part here]”, and count his fingers, and jump up and down.  Finally, Sam finishes his business.  As we walk out of the bathroom with our whole troop a lady waiting in line for the restroom says, “Wow, you’ve got your hands full.”  Lady, you don’t know the half of it. We leave the restaurant to go to roundtable.  Roundtable of course ended at 8pm and it’s now 8:15pm and Eric is now in a meeting with the Stake Young Men’s president that Danny definitely couldn’t attend, but a deal is a deal so I start driving towards the stake center.

Fortunately, before I get too far down the road Danny is fast asleep in the backseat and I am able to just go home.  (Confession: This is exactly what I was hoping would happen when I promised him that we would go to his dad’s meeting, but if he was awake I knew it was important that I followed through anyways.  Even if it meant that I needed to take a tired, cranky almost-6-month old to a church building while we waited outside a classroom for Eric to come out).  We get home and Danny doesn’t even flinch when I take off his pants and boots and tuck him in bed.  Sam goes through his bedtime routine quickly and is soon sleeping as well.  Shortly after Sam is out Maeli follows suit and goes to bed as well.

What. a. day.  It was a fun one and I’m so glad that I got the chance to catch up with some good friends and do some good things with my family.  But it was definitely a rough day there at the end.  That’s sorta the epitome of motherhood though I think.  It all comes together, the good, the bad and the ugly – but it’s all worth it.  Even though I certainly had some moments today where I was thinking, “What?!  WHY IS THIS HAPPENING!?!?” it’s all worth it, and we got through it.  I’m just grateful for the opportunity I have to be a mother and to have these wonderful, crazy adventures with these cute kids of mine.  I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Still, sometimes this is the very best view of all –

Sleeping Kids

My Thoughts on SOPA/PIPA

Since I blacked out my site today in protest of the SOPA/PIPA bills in congress right now, and spent a good amount of time today linking to related pages on the subject, I figured I ought to write my own thoughts as well.  Also to give a bit of an explanation of *what* it is about these bills that is so terrible as to cause as much upheaval as it has.

First of all I feel that the most important thing for me to note is that I am VERY anti-piracy.  It is my opinion that if you wouldn’t take it off the shelf at Best Buy and hide it in your backpack, you shouldn’t be pirating your friend’s copy or bit-torrenting non-free software/videos/games/music etc.  I know that is an unpopular stance among my peers, but just because something is in a digital format and it is easy to steal doesn’t make it any more right to steal it.

However, even while I believe that intellectual property rights do need to be protected and that piracy needs to be addressed, the SOPA and PIPA bills that are in Congress right now are totally the wrong way to address these problems.  I hope you’ll indulge me while I illustrate my oppositions with two major scenarios that this bill would make possible that should not be a reality in a free country.

Scenario 1

Suppose on an international-domain website I were to be selling t-shirts and I had a competitor t-shirt seller that had decided I was taking away too much of their business and wanted to get some of that business back.  Under the laws that are being considered, all my competitor would have to do is file for an injunction that I had copyrighted material on my website that did not belong to me.  Whether or not that claim was true, or even if the material in question was put up there by me (as opposed to a commenter on my website or some other 3rd party) the granted injunction would go to all US-based search engines and payment processors who would immediately be forced to sever all connections to my website completely.  No chance to clear up the misunderstanding or warning to me.  Now my website is down until I can go through the process of disputing that claim.  This means no one can easily access my site or buy my t-shirts and my competitor is stealing all of my business.  My credibility would be ruined among my customer base and my whole business is sunk.  For a claim that wasn’t difficult to place, and might not even have any veracity.

Scenario 2

Sometimes I like to use Google Talk to have a video call with my parents.  It’s a nice way to show off the kids and enjoy feeling close to family even though they’re 704 miles away (yes, I did just check 🙂 ).  If I were to have some music playing in the background while on this call and someone were to report me for it I could face felony charges and a 5-year prison sentence. Not a misdemeanor or a speeding ticket-esque fine, felony charges.  You know, like they hand out for rape, murder, grand theft auto?  Somehow forgetting to turn of your stereo just doesn’t seem worthy of those consequences (even if my mom didn’t like the music I was listening to 😛 ).

Now, the writers of these bills would say “that’s not the intention of these bills” or “nothing like that would ever happen”.  Which is a nice thought, but if that’s not their intention then they need to write better legislation.  The whole point of laws is that they’re a contract between citizens and government that outlines the expected behavior and the consequences of not living up to that behavior.  If the contract doesn’t include internet censorship, or felony charges for minor infractions, then the contract needs to be written up differently.  Like I said, I’m all for intellectual property protection, but they need to do it correctly, and not by putting people in harm’s way who don’t deserve the harm.

If you agree with these sentiments and haven’t already taken action please go to http://americancensorship.org/ and contact your congress people and let them know that you do NOT support SOPA/PIPA legislation.  I’d also recommend reading Eric’s post on the subject.

Toilet Troubles!

So…we had an interesting experience this weekend. Our toilet in our bathroom has never been particularly good at doing its job, that is, actually flushing things down the drain.

But if you jiggled the handle just right and/or flushed it a couple times, you usually could get enough pressure to help everything move along. Until last night, that is.

After taking the plunger and other various devices to the commode, we gave in and called the plumber, and this is what he did:

  1. First he tried using his tools to break up any clogs he could find. Since that didn’t work, he said he needed to remove the toilet!
  2. He tried going at it while it sat on our lawn:
  3. But when that didn’t work, he hooked up a hose to our washing machine spigot to try and spray water through the pipes and clear it out:
  4. But alas, it was not to be. The toilet met its fate due to minerals in the hard water (thanks Utah water system!) building up to form a solid rock in the tubes that could not be removed:

So it was a very interesting day, overall! The toilet was replaced the next day, but I had flashbacks of my time in Taiwan and China when I saw the hole in the floor!

Making a stand

When the Supreme Court of California overturned a defining marriage law that passed 2-to-1 in the popular vote, I wonder where the voice of the people has gone. I find it somewhat disturbing that the justices can change well over 3,000 years of written history defining that marriage is between a man and a woman. The interesting thing is that this law was also designed to guarantee the same basic civil rights to homosexual partners. There was no tangible discrimination in this. It is just a plain, verifiable fact. Homosexuality is a trait that defies the basic laws of nature. With all do respect, gays and lesbians are literally freaks of nature. I don’t say that to be mean, it is simply a scientific fact. Why then should the definition of marriage change? In my opinion, it shouldn’t.

Now with this law being overturned, the precedent has been set against us, and I truly think we need to act fast to set our own precedent wherever we can–an amendment to every state constitution in this country that defines marriage being between a man and a woman. Because sooner or later, our first amendment rights will become threatened…

Here’s a story about a Pastor who was put on trial because of his personal beliefs: CBC

If you read the article, you will notice that only one side of the argument was considered:

“Nichols had complained to the human rights commission, too, arguing that for the province to require him to perform same-sex ceremonies contrary to his religious beliefs was discriminatory. The commission did not allow that complaint to proceed, however.”

I am not saying we do not or should not respect people’s choices and individuality, but I will fight for my right to practice my religion, just as I will fight to allow anyone else to do so.