Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sapphire Sting vs. the Pestinator

When a new threat arises, a hero must emerge to combat it. After several years of quiet retirement, I, Sapphire Sting, have returned to active duty to combat the menace of the Pestinator.

It started small, as many such things do. A few ants here, a few there, never a conspicuous quantity. Little did the citizens of this tiny town suspect that these were but the advance scouts of an invasion force. The Pestinator had genetically engineered these ants for increased fecundity and resistance to most known toxins. They also bore a custom-built pheromone designed to drive humans mad. The Pestinator had nothing less in mind than total domination.

As the swarm hit, fumigators tried to hold back the rising tide of black trespassers but to no avail. Heroes across the city were left stymied as their powers - flame, ice, and even my radiation failed to have a significant impact against their sheer numbers.

A solution had to be found, and quickly. The invasion was so wide-spread that, even if a defense were devised, distribution might take too long to be effective. I realized, as I began assembling ingredients in my lab, that the ants had invaded there as well! Since they were unfazed by the chemicals and potions I had assembled, I knew they would be useless and, for a moment, I despaired of finding an answer.

I fled my lab and returned to my home, hoping to least protect my wife from the insect interlopers and found her in heated combat with them in our kitchen, holding them back with every ounce of her flaming fury.

Suddenly, my cybernetically enhanced eyes spotted something unusual which proved to be the key to our salvation. While they swarmed over the counters and table, I realized that there were two places they were avoiding - the spice rack and the pantry! I knew there was accessible food in the pantry and wondered why none had invaded there. I realized that the answer was right there in my own kitchen, but I had to act quickly to close off their access points.

I took several of the most pungent spices from the rack and hastily dumped them together in a super-sized bowl, then seized the baking soda from the pantry and added it to the mixture. The ants began to distance themselves from the bowl, but not far; the combined scent still wasn't strong enough! Remembering my chemistry, I reached into the pantry again, grasping the bottle of vinegar and slopped it into the bowl, producing a chemical reaction which carried the scent of the concoction through the house with the vapors of carbon dioxide.

The ants began to flee in an expanding circle, their tiny olfactory organs overpowered by the spicy stench of my stew. Now, the dilemma was to close off their access points before they could develop a resistance and return. Looking again into the bowl, I realized that my powder had become a sticky paste, which could be applied to the crevices, cracks and crannies they crawled through. I flew through the house, slapping the sticky solution wherever the ants were coming through. The flood of ants soon became a trickle, then there were none at all.

I knew I couldn't fly through the city in time to patch every home before the ants took over, but I realized that since the miraculous mixture was made of common household supplies, it could be quickly mixed in large quantities by everyone! I hailed my allies and we spread the word by all possible means and eventually, the city was won. His evil scheme foiled, the Pestinator was quickly apprehended and will now be spending a long time in a cell with a faint scent of cinnamon.

In case your home is still infested, use this recipe to antagonize the ant assailants:

Combine roughly equal parts black pepper, chili powder and cinnamon (can go a little heavy on the cinnamon to give it a more pleasing scent for humans). Add a little vinegar - enough to make a decent liquid suspension - then thicken with baking soda until pasty/sticky, though make sure to add that baking soda very gradually so it doesn't bubble over and make a mess. Water can be used instead of vinegar for a less potent brew.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Baby News!

We've been relatively quiet about our baby. It's been a long road getting here; 5 years of trying and suffering many things of many doctors in Utah and Connecticut. Through the miracle of In Vitro, our baby has been growing in Emilee since the end of March. While things were a little touch-and-go at the beginning, Baby has been a constant reminder of God's love for us since.

With In Vitro, you start getting pictures of your baby earlier than most people . . . A LOT earlier:

This photo, taken March 28th, shows our baby (plus one) at 3 days after conception. We're not sure which of the two is our baby, since both were transferred back that afternoon and only one has grown, but we're happy either way.

At 7 weeks, 5 days, Baby was little more than a nugget with a heartbeat, but oh, what a blessing it was to hear that heartbeat!

At 12 weeks (June 6), Baby was beginning to show a lot more features. The doctor complimented Baby's nose bone and said everything was looking good.

These pictures were taken today (almost 24 weeks) and Baby has some beautiful bones. Here are presented a spine, a leg, an arm and a view of the back of Baby's head. We also found out today that my hunch was right, we have a girl! The biggest indicator to me that we were having a girl is that we had a very easy time picking a girl's name (chosen before baby was even conceived) but were having a very hard time settling on a boy's name. Her name shall be:

Alanna Virginia Watson

In our first musings on nomenclature, we hit on the name Alanna Jade over 2 years ago (while we were still driving the Cadillac) but we realized when we started thinking about it more seriously (January or February) that Alanna Jade sounded too much like something out of Dungeons and Dragons. We still liked Alanna and as we considered further, my dear Great-Aunt Virginia came to mind (the one who gave us the Cadillac) and we realized that the names flowed together beautifully. I cannot think of a woman I'd like her to be grow up to be like, except perhaps for my wife.

Thank you to all of you who have offered prayers and support through this time, as we have had our rough spots along the way. With a mid-December due date, we've still got a while before we officially welcome her to the world but it's nice to have a pronoun and a name to call her.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

On the subject of tolerance

After some recent discussions I've had with family and friends, I've felt the need to jot down and share some thoughts I've had with regard to the term "tolerance" and its application in today's society.

There are many today who, espousing a particular viewpoint or belief, will declare that those who disagree with them are "intolerant," quickly followed by accusations of hatred. Yet, by what definition is a person declared to be "intolerant?"

I must suppose, to begin, with the assumption that everyone believes that their personal beliefs have some degree of merit or, in other words, that they are in some way "right" in feeling or thinking the way that they do. Drawing upon an easy example, conservatives feel that conservative ideas have merit and liberals believe that liberal ideas have merit and each one feels that they are right and that the other is, by default, wrong.

Does this inherently imply that one side is intolerant of the other? While I do my best to try and see the logical basis behind any argument no matter how much I may disagree with it and while I am familiar with the idea that "A is right for me and B is right for you," many such ideas and beliefs are directly contradictory and I cannot conceive of a rational human being accepting all ideas presented to him/her as being correct and incorporating them into their philosophy.

I am, for example, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, more commonly known as Mormon. As such, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of mankind. I also believe that God still speaks to mankind through a prophet, just as in ancient times. I believe the Holy Bible to be the word of God inasmuch as it is translated and preserved correctly. I also believe the Book of Mormon, written by ancient prophets on the American continent and revealed to a modern-day prophet, Joseph Smith, to be the word of God. These beliefs separate me ideologically from all but about 14 million of Earth's inhabitants which, compared with a little under 7 billion or so people on earth, is a fairly small group.

I am hardly immune from the right vs. wrong paradigm. Yes, I believe that I'm right. This implies that, while I believe that a lot of other faiths have valuable truths in their creeds, I believe that everyone else, at some point, is wrong. Does this make me intolerant? If so, does that automatically make me a hater and, thus, mean that I hate nearly 7 billion people?

By no means! One of the basic foundations of Christ's gospel, as I've discussed elsewhere in this blog, is to love everyone. EVERYONE. Think about that for a moment. I can wait.

While I cannot honestly state that I have achieved this perfect love of all mankind, I think I can honestly state that I don't currently hate anyone. Thus, in my case at the very least (and I believe that this extends to the rest of humanity as well), disagreeing with someone does not mean hating them, nor does it mean that one is "intolerant."

After all this, how do I define tolerance and, by extension, intolerance? To my way of thinking, it boils down to how we feel about and treat those who disagree with us. Do we attach a derogatory label to them by default, like one of my professors at BYU who, when it comes to politics, seems to automatically assume that anyone who disagrees with him is an idiot and, ergo, not worth his time nor a shred of politeness? This, to me, seems the very height of intolerance. As another real-life example, I recently heard of a friend of mine who had been labelled intolerant by a group of his peers because he disagreed with them on a particularly touchy political subject. A member of this group decided to buy cupcakes for everyone except my friend. Remind me, who's being intolerant here?

By contrast, getting back to the principle of loving all mankind, I believe that tolerance means loving and respecting everyone, whether they agree with you or not. As I once told a friend of mine while discussing another friend who had made what I believed to be a less-than-appropriate life choice, if I limited my circle of friends to those who strictly follow God's law according to *my* interpretation of it, I couldn't even be my own friend. The same applies for politics: If I only made friends with those who think the same way I do, I would have had VERY few friends in Connecticut. Thus, I still consider that previously mentioned BYU professor my friend (which is why he remains nameless here).

I leave you tonight with a scripture taken from the words of Christ which, while it never uses the word "tolerance," demonstrates my point well.
Matthew 5:43-48

43Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.

44But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

45That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

46For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?

47And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?

48Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

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