29 September 2007

Review: The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

I started The Woman in White about about two months ago, but I didn't finish it until two weeks ago. It took me a bit to get into, in part because of the move, but once I did, I just couldn't stop reading. It felt like my teenage summers when I would stay up all night reading books because I just couldn't stop. The only difference was that I only stayed up really late one night, and it was a Saturday when I didn't have to go to church until 1 the next day.

The book is basically a mystery, a pretty intricate one. Throughout the story, this mysterious woman who only ever dresses in white continues to appear. I really can't go too much into the story, without giving too many things away, but the story is about a drawing instructor and his two students. The drawing instructor, Walter Hartright, is a young man, and his two students are young women. The two students, Laura Fairlie and Marian Halcombe, are orphaned half-sisters who live with Laura's decrepit and ill-mannered uncle. Walter soon falls in love with Laura, the beautiful sister.

I found the writing to be completely engaging. The speaker changes throughout the book, beginning with Walter and then changing voices several times. That kept the plot moving along nicely, and made me feel like there wasn't some omniscient speaker who had all the answers. Sometimes I really hate those omniscient speakers because I just want them to tell me what on earth was happening. Because of the several speakers in the book, I felt like I was following the plot at the same time the characters were living it.

I also really loved the characters, even the bad ones. I found them completely intriguing, particularly Count Fosco. But mostly, I lovedLovedLOVED Marian. So much so that when I finished the book, I told Eric that we should name one of our daughters Marian. After all, both of his grandmothers are named Marian. (I was not deterred when I found out that one of his cousins just named her daughter Marian. I still like the name, and I don't care WHO else has it. Besides, second cousins is far enough apart.)

I highly recommend The Woman in White. It was one of my favorite books I've ever read.

28 September 2007

Childhood Misunderstandings

When I was a child, there were a few things I just could not understand. Mostly because I misunderstood the name of the thing or the description of the thing. Here are a few things that were rather mind-boggling to me:

  • Fax machines. How on earth could you put a paper in the machine and send it to somebody else? I imagined that the paper shredded itself into pieces so minute they were invisible. And then, somehow, the pieces joined back together on the other side to be a whole piece of paper again. It think if I had ever actually SEEN a fax come in or go out it would have made more sense. Heck, if somebody would have explained to me that the messages were sent through the telephone wire, that would have made it infinitely more clear.
  • The second verse of "I Am a Child of God." It says, "I am a child of God, and so my needs are great." I understood this as "...and so my knees are great." This of course, sounded odd, but it made enough sense. Except that I didn't think it applied to me since I had been hospitalized for nearly a month for an infection in my left knee. So, I usually opted not to sing that line. After all, I may have been a child of God, but my knees were NOT great.
  • When I was quite small, I didn't understand how the radio or TV worked as far as broadcasting. I thought that the grown-ups could pick the show or song that played. I remember telling my babysitter once that I was glad she turned on the song that was playing since I really liked it. (Sadly, that song was "In the Distance"; I was about 4, in my own defense). I remember flipping through channels wondering why I couldn't find the show I wanted to watch.
  • Baking times. If something should bake for 1 hour at 200 degrees, why not bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees? I remember my mom trying to explain it when I was very small, but it really didn't sink in until I was a little older.
Now my misunderstandings revolve around people who don't like chocolate, people who don't use an RSS reader, and people who think they can cross the double-white lines in and out of the HOV lane. Maybe I will understand these things as I get older.

27 September 2007


Last night while cleaning up after dinner I began the necessary task of teasing my brother-in-law about the girl he is taking to Homecoming this Saturday. I asked him what classes they have together- only choir, which means he only sees her every other day. Then I asked him if he tells her every time he sees her "You have the eyes and hair of an angel." He answered in the negative. I then turned my obnoxious quandaries to Spouse, who was only half-listening to me annoy Andrew, and the conversation continued as follows:

Me: Why don't you ever tell me that I have the eyes and hair of an angel?
Him:Do you want me to?
Me: Of course.
Him: You have the eyes and ears of an angel.

There was of course, much laughing for this slip-up. And then the thought came to me that ears are a funny feature because you'll never (or rarely) say that somebody has attractive ears. But, you will notice if somebody has ugly ears. As far as ears go, they are just ears, or else they are homely ears.

Unless you are talking about me. My ears are angelic.

26 September 2007

The War

We started watching Ken Burns' new documentary The War on PBS Sunday night. I am, so far, very impressed. I like that the film emphasizes the people involved in the various events and battles. I really love the historical aspect of family history. What is the use of knowing (or having on record) a gazillion names and dates without actually knowing anything about the people? This particular documentary really emphasizes the people that took part in it, and frankly that's what really matters. Weapons without men to operate them are completely useless. As are plans without people to carry them out. History is not just events and dates. In fact, history is nothing without people who were affected by Important Names holding Important Events on Important Dates.

I've really enjoyed listening to people explain how the war affected them in the states. It has been fascinating to learn about the racial tensions that developed. And heartbreaking too. It really is tragic that in the middle of the twentieth century our nation was still treating people of different races only slightly better than animals. The documentary has focused on a number of black Americans, especially men. It's been interesting to hear what they have to say about why they did or did not sign up for the military, and how they felt about the way they were treated.

I have learned a lot about how people of Japanese descent were treated as well. Of course I knew about the way our government treated them, but it's seemed more real listening to people who were college students at the time talk about how their lives changed.

As the documentary continues, I look forward to hearing about the segregated Black and Japanese-American military units in the war. It seems they had a lot more to prove than some of the white soldiers.

24 September 2007


BYU creamed Air Force today. UNLV creamed U of U.

All is well in the Mountain West Conference.

20 September 2007

Wearing Green isn't Enough

You may have heard about the protests in Jena, Louisana this week regarding unjust punishments for racial violence in the small town. When I first heard about the story I was appalled. I just couldn't wrap my head around the blatant racism that was being tolerated.

When I saw a group on Facebook called something like "Wear Green on 20 September for the Jena Six I was happy to do so. Then when I got to work I told some co-workers about the importance of wearing green today, but they hadn't even heard of the Jena Six. I went online to see what I could find about the wearing of green and to see how many people knew about it. (I had heard about it only because a girl from high school joined the group, and so it came up in my newsreel).

One article really got my attention. The basic premise was, "Wearing green is not going to do anything to solve the racial injustices that are still going on in this country. If you want to do something about it, you need to do more than wear green." That really struck me.

So I wrote a letter to Orrin Hatch tonight. I mentioned that although racial tension isn't much of an issue in Utah, it is a national issue. I emphasized that if he would speak about it, more people would realize what a problem it is. He would be able to put pressure on the Louisiana senators to step in. I think it especially would matter because it would be a white man speaking on behalf of black boys. That would show that even white people recognize racial injustice when they see it.

19 September 2007

Ward Paintivity

This Saturday there is an activity in our new ward. From what I understand, the leader of the activities committee (or at least somebody on said committee) really enjoys running.

And so we are having a "Fun Run." The route is two miles long and winds through the ward boundaries, which means that it will be hilly. The gun goes off at 8 a.m.

There are few things I hate more than (1) Running and (2) Not being able to sleep in on Saturdays.

I just don't like to run. It hurts my body. It hurts my knees. It hurts my lungs. Walking is fine, but I'd rather do it in a canyon.

And why, oh why, do I have to be there at 7:45 on a SATURDAY MORNING?

With this sort of painful activity planned, I'm pretty sure next month's activity will involve flogging.

17 September 2007

The Spouse

Today is Eric's birthday. He picked me up early from work so we could spend the day together. We went straight home and took a nap together. Then we went to the gardens at Thanksgiving Point. Eric really loves walking around up there. The gardens are quite beautiful. I especially love the Secret Garden and the Rose Garden. I mostly love the gardens in late April during the Tulip Festival, but it's quite nice in mid-September as well.

After our wanderings we went to the restaurant up there called The Harvest. Eric used to work there when it was called the Garden Wall. We ate food. My soup was great and Eric's meal was great, but my meal was less than stellar. Much less than stellar. Ah well, when we go back many moons from now, I will not order that food. We also got free dessert because of the birthday.

And now for a few reasons why I love Eric:
  • He is always, always, always nice to me. Even when I probably deserve less than that.
  • He knows how to have fun.
  • He is very observant of everything, especially of pretty things. He always notices beautiful scenery. When we're driving I'm constantly reminding him to watch the road instead of looking at the foliage, the sky or the mountains.
  • He is funny. I wish I could tell you what makes him funny. He just is. Oh, here's an example. Today when we were leaving the gardens, we saw a fox near the road, and he stopped so I could take a picture. After a couple of tries I said, "All of my pictures keep turning out blurry." To which Eric replied, "That's what happens to me any time I try to photograph Bigfoot."
  • He gets really excited about the accomplishments of those he loves. His parents, his siblings, me- anyone he cares about. He really is thrilled when good things happen for them.
  • Sometimes he lets me win games and he doesn't let me know he threw the game.
And those are just a few reasons that Eric is fantastic. Happy birthday!

12 September 2007


When a day of work is done, all I want to do is nothing. Nothing whatsoever. Eric usually wants me to do something that isn't nothing.

Lately I've taken to focusing my efforts on nothing toward FamilySearch Indexing which is actually not nothing at all. It's really a great program. Basically it's an extraction program. You download a batch, extract the information that the program tells you to extract, and then send it back to FamilySearch. Eventually FamilySearch wants to have the entirety of the LDS Family History Library completely indexed. That's quite a lofty goal, and I'm keen to help.

So far I've index 2,153 names. Usually I index census pages, which almost always have 50 names per sheet. I've also indexed Revolutionary War Pension files as well as Land Bounty Warrants. All of these are really important records for anybody doing genealogy on their American ancestors. But don't fear, FamilySearch isn't just focusing on American records. Poles are indexing Polish records; Russians are indexing Russian records; Mexicans are indexing Mexican records, and so on.

My goal is to have indexed 10,000 names by the end of the year. And also to get some of you to start indexing! In just 15 minutes a day, you can accomplish quite a lot. I usually can finish one census page in 15 minutes, but I'm pretty fast. I think the average is about 25-30 minutes per census page. Lots of people are indexing. You should help out. You'll never know when you'll need an indexed census.

07 September 2007

Business News

When my boss called me into his office on Tuesday, my first concern, albeit irrational, was, "I'm fired. They don't like me anymore." Then I got into his office and he let me know of some things going on in the company and some things he wanted me to work on. I'm not fired. Good enough for me. Then he asked me if I might be interested in doing some traveling for the company. I'm thinking some various conferences across the country. "Sure, I'd be willing to do that." Then he said, "I'm doing too much international traveling and not getting enough accomplished, so we might be sending you to negotiate contracts internationally. We'll probably send you to Australia, maybe to Paris, and maybe to Mexico City." I told him that sounded great.


When will I go? Later, but soonish. We've got to get some contracts underway.

How will I fly? Coach. Sadly.

Who will I meet with? Various archive officials and content-managers of genealogy companies like ours.

Am I excited? Heck yes.

And I've got to get a passport.