Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Where Have Real Men Gone?

I'm currently reading When Trumpets Call by Patricia O'Toole. It's about Teddy Roosevelt's years after his presidency. Essentially, O'Toole filled the void left by Edmund Morris, who has yet to finish the last of his three volume biography on Roosevelt. While O'Toole is a gifted writer, Edmund's last volume -- which he is writing now -- will undoubtedly prove superior.

In any case, the When Trumpets Call's recounting of John Schrank's failed attempt to assassinate Roosevelt during the 1912 presidential campaign makes you long for real men in political office. Schrank was seven feet away when he shot Roosevelt in the chest. The bullet, slowed by a metal eyeglass case and a copy of his speech, lodged in Roosevelt's ribs. After the shot, Roosevelt felt his mouth, determined the bullet had not perforated his lung, and dispatched the idea of missing his speech and receiving medical care with these words: "You get me to that speech, . . . it may be the last one I shall ever deliver, but I am going to deliver this one."

During his ensuing eighty minute speech, he informed the crowd what had happened: "I don't know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot; but it take more than that to kill a Bull Moose." For effect, Roosevelt showed onlookers the bullet holes in his speech and pull back his vest, exposing his blood-stained shirt.

On the train ride to Chicago for treatment, he changed his shirt, shaved, and slept.

Too bad men (or women for that matter) like this no longer run for public office. Our nation would be better if they did.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Texas Specialness

We all know Texans fancy themselves as special because they live in a big state and can secede from the Union whenever they feel like it. (Although, we fought a civil war about states seceding, and, lo and behold, consensus is states can't actually secede, but that's neither here nor there.) Apparently, Texans' specialness has reached new bounds this holiday season.

As we were driving to Dem's house, we passed a truck with this written on its side: "Merry Texmas." So much for "Christmas"; I guess the point of the season is now to worship father Texas in all his greatness and glory. I wonder what the Texmas mascot will be? Perhaps a football, or a barrel of oil.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Spelling is Important

I can't resist sharing this third grader's homework assignment I recently discovered. It is a prime example of (1) why spelling is important, and (2) why you should send you kids to private schools. Enjoy.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Christmas Letter

Merry Christmas to All,

We’ve had quite a year. As most, if not all, know, we adopted Elliot Clayton Brown last November. He is wonderful, and we are blessed to have him. He has brought an immeasurable amount of joy to our lives, and we hope we will bring some to his. That being said, let’s recount our 2008 doings.

Until Elliot came to us, we had planned to stay in Lincoln, NE so Demaree could continue teaching high school choir at Northeast and finish her Doctorate of Musical Arts. The more we discussed our future, the more we decided that was not the right course. We decided it was time to move back near family, so we started looking for work in Farmington, NM and San Angelo, TX. After some searching, Marco received an offer from a New Mexico law firm called Miller Stratvert. We decided to take the job, and prepared to move to Farmington when Marco’s judicial clerkship ended.

Marco began work July 1, worked for two weeks, then studied like a mad man to pass the bar exam. Thankfully, he passed. Hours after finishing the bar (whose author is Satan), Marco boarded a plane and met Demaree and Elliot in San Angelo, where they had been since the month previous.

Finally, we were together again. To celebrate we traveled, a lot. While we have chronicled most of our escapades already, we will give you a quick run down.

• We drove to Lincoln, NE and finalized our adoption. My good law school buddy, Henry Wiedrich, handled the finalization for us. He is a stellar attorney.

• We hiked around Mesa Verde National Park. Mesa Verde is a fantastic collection of Indian cliff dwellings. Very cool.

• We were sealed as a family in the Manti, UT temple August 22 at 9.45 a.m. This was the climax of our year. Nothing else comes close. We thank all those who came from great distances to celebrate this occasion with us (e.g., Charmaine Kearl, Jared Shoemaker, Matt and Evige Warner, Ariel Bybee and Jim Ford, Marco’s parents, Demaree’s family, etc.)

• In September, we hiked the Grand Canyon a bit and visited the Four Corners Monument. In addition, we celebrated our seventh anniversary, took Elliot to his first BYU football game, Elliot attended his first symphony (he had previously attended four operas), Marco had his first legal article published, Marco was sworn in and became an official lawyer, and we toured some Aztec ruins.

• October brought us General Conference, which we attended, and Elliot’s second BYU football game. Demaree worked privately with local high school students helping prepare them for state competitions, and sang beautifully at a local concert.

• Just in time to vote, November brought political rallies to Farmington. We attended a Mitt Romney rally, and were lucky enough to get a picture of him and Elliot together.

The next week, we headed to Lubbock , TX to visit our friends the Sorenson’s and attend a speech by Associate Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. We took Elliot, who was a little fussy, but enjoyed himself and all the people (there were about 2000).

Demaree’s parents also came up from San Angelo and we spent a good afternoon together at the Lubbock Science Spectrum.

Following some local weekend hikes, we all caught a plane to Washington DC for the annual Federalist Society Conference — i.e., Marco’s excuse to dork it up with other lawyers in DC for a few days. During the conference, Dem and Elliot spent some quality time with Gretchen, Demaree’s sister-in-law. Gretchen is a great tour guide.

After the conference, we drove to New York to visit our good family friend Antonella Delli Carpini and her family. We spent time in Manhattan, saw The Damnation of Faust at the Metropolitan Opera, toured Teddy Roosevelt’s birthplace on 21st Street, and did any other number of touristy things.

Elliot’s first birthday coincided nicely with Thanksgiving, so we celebrate on, you guessed it, Thanksgiving. After gorging ourselves on massive quantities of food the Delli Carpini family made, we sang Elliot happy birthday and let him go to town on his cake. He loved it, as did we all.

Having capped our East Coast trip by visiting Teddy Roosevelt’s home on Sagamore Hill on Long Island, we headed home.

Here are some other miscellaneous tidbits. Elliot’s first word was “uh-oh,” and since then he has developed a vocabulary of maybe six or seven words. Elliot took his first steps around eight months, and has refused to walk ever since. He loves dogs, and by loves dogs we mean he adores them. He dances and snaps his fingers when he hears music. He’s particularly fond of classical music and opera, probably because our musical predilections lean toward those genres. In fact, upon hearing music, he feels compelled to play the piano. He has a smile that captivates any room he enters (it’s amazing to watch). Demaree is enjoying being home fulltime with Elliot, as well as working with the young women in church. Marco is ward mission leader, and will teach an Italian cuisine course at the local college next semester.

We’ll spend Christmas with Demaree’s family in sunny, warm Texas. (Sorry to all our northern friends, but you don’t know what you’re missing.) Can’t ask for anything better.

One last thing, we’ve started the adoption process again. So, if you know a birthmother who is interested in adoption, please let us know. We’d love to speak to her.

Thanks everyone. Hope all is well, and God bless you and your families.

With Love,
Marco, Demaree, & Elliot

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

DC--NYC Trip Day 10

Today we left New York. We were saddened by this evil yet inevitable turn of events. Antonella and her father, who had been so good to us this entire trip, kindly drove us to La Guardia. After removing our luggage from the car, but before entering the airport, Dem turned to me and said, "I think this is the oldest airport in America." She may be correct; La Guardia is pretty old and run down. And yet, it still functions perfectly well.

The flight home was uneventful (no kookie new-agey chick this time). Elliot made some new friends, as he is wont to do, both on the plane and in the Minneapolis airport. Eventually, we arrived, exhausted, in Albuquerque at 11:00 p.m. The Comfort Inn was our final destination for the night.

DC--NYC Trip Day 9: Sagamore Hill

We took the day and went to Teddy Roosevelt's house on Sagamore Hill in Oyster Bay, New York. It's located on the north shore of Long Island, and is actually quite beautiful. Sagamore Hill is the house TR built with his inheritance money, and where he lived before, during, and after his presidency. Here's a good shot of the house on the hill:

Apparently, everyone likes to drive to Sagamore Hill the day after Thanksgiving, so before we could tour the house, we had to wait a couple hours. This turned out well, because we were able to take in the TR museum

and walk the nature trail to the beach.

This was the first time Elliot had ever been to the sea, and while it was a bit cold and he was wearing a snowsuit sized for a two-year-old, he dug it.

Eventually, we did tour Sagamore Hill.

It was about as large as I had anticipated, but had a larger veranda and much larger meeting room. The house is full of animal heads, elephant foot wastepaper baskets, and the like. TR was nothing if not the consumate outdoorsman. The tour was a wonderful experience, but I must admit, perhaps the most satisfying part of the entire day was sitting on the veranda with Dem and Elliot, looking out at the woods and Oyster Bay.

Oh, and we put Elliot on an apple tree and took a picture. That's all, I'm done now. Peace out.

DC--NYC Trip Day 8: Thanksgiving

Ah, Thanksgiving: the day we celebrate our national bounty by gluttonizing on 7000 to 10,000 calories of turkey, stuffing, etc., etc., etc. This was a particularly good Thanksgiving thanks to Nel Nel's Italian family. In addition to the normal Thanksgiving fare, Maria and the nonne (i.e., grandmothers) made some kickin anitpasti of cold cuts, mozzarella, insalata caprese, and the like. We ate. We talked. We ate some more. All was well.

After taking a short time out from eating, Nel Nel brought out a cake and we celebrated Elliot's birthday.

Having serenaded Elliot with a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday to You, we cut a piece and let Elliot go to town. He was a bit timid at first,

but got the hang of things pretty quickly.

Needless to say, he's a chocolate man.

We topped off the evening with games of Monopoly and Jenga (The following picture is actuall after the Jenga game was finished and the family let Elliot play Sir Destructo with the pieces),

or with all the Thanksgiving episodes of Everybody Loves Raymond (Pasquale, Antonella's father, is a huge ELR fan).

Couldn't ask for a better day.

DC--NYC Trip Day 8

Today was our day in the City with Elliot and Antonella. For this little excursion, we decided our rather large stroller would not do (nor would the small, ten dollar Wal-Mart stroller Gretchen was nice enough to buy us), so we packed Elliot around in our kid-carrier.

We walked and saw Radio City Music Hall,

Rockefeller Center (as you can see, the tree wasn't fully decorated. Somewhat of a dissapointment),

over to Carnegie Hall, and then to Patelson's Music House. Patelson's is a musician's paradise, and Dem and Antonella explored the premises like giddy little school girls for forty-five minutes. Dem ended up buying some Cornelius Reid books, as well as the music to Carmen.

Next stop was FAO Schwartz, which is, I must admit, one kickin' toy store. At this point, we parted ways. Dem and Antonella went to a backstage tour of the Metropolitan Opera, and Elliot and I walked fifty blocks south to see Teddy Roosevelt's birthplace at 28 E 20th St. About halfway there, Elliot became hungry, so I took out the cheerios and held them over my shoulder. Elliot would take it and put it in his mouth. We did this for about twenty-five blocks until Elliot sated and fell asleep.

Teddy's birthplace is an old, unassuming browstone.

The inside (of which I have pictures I will post shortly) was pure Victorian style, and not nearly as large as one would think one of the wealthiest New York families would have enjoyed. After the tour, I spoke with the guide and was pleased to hear Edmund Morris, who has written the first two volumes of a three-volume biography on TR, is writing the third volume now (the guide was a good source since he had spoken to Morris two weeks earlier about the third volume). Of course, this means it won't be out for another couple years, but for TR like me that have been waiting years for the third volume, this is music to our ears.

After a quick change and feeding, Elliot and I walked up Broadway to Time Square, where we met Dem and Antonella. We ate at Le Pain Quotidien, which was quite good before hopping the train back to Nel Nel's.

DC--NYC Trip Day 7

Today was my and Demaree's day in the city together. Antonella and her family graciously took care of Elliot while we galavanted. After entering the city, we decided to walk from Grand Central Station to the Frick Collection on the upper west side (70th St. and 5th Ave. to be precise). They had an Andrea Riccio (Renaissance sculptor who worked with bronze) exhibition; it was quite good.

Leaving Frick, we cut across Central Park and ate at Trattoria Sambuca on 20 West 72nd St. I had a grilled calamari appetizer (of which Dem did not partake). For the entree we had pasta with sausage and broccoli rabe. Good. For dessert we had a warm apple crumb, which was spectacular. Honestly, I believe apple pie is the quintessential Americana dessert, but this, this blew apple pie out of the water. Next time you're in New York, try this dessert. You won't be sorry.

After dinner came the main attraction: the Metropolitan Opera's rendition of the Damnation of Faust.

We had standing room only tickets, which was unfortunate because the staging was vertical, which meant we could not see some of the characters unless we crouched on our knees to get a better angle. In any case, it was a great show and we had a great time.

After a long train ride, we made it home around 2 a.m.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

DC--NYC Trip Day 6

Gretchen drove us to Reagan National Airport and we picked our exceedingly expensive one-way Toyota Carolla rental car from Avis. We spent the ensuing six hours driving from DC to Antonella Delli Carpini's house in Hopewell Junction, New York. We experienced fairly little resistance, except for the long, dreadful hours in New Jersey (Garden State my foot).

Meeting Antonella's family was a real treat. They made us fettucini and meatballs for dinner. We ate. We talked. All was well.

DC--NYC Trip Day 5

We awoke and went to a Spanish Speaking sacrament meeting before heading into the city. We went by Union Station,
the Capital,

the Supreme Court,

and the Library of Congress.
We then went home returned to Gretchen's house, hung for a while, and packed for the next day.

DC--NYC Trip Day 4

Last day of the National Lawyers Convention started with a panel on second look doctrines enabling people and legislatures to overturn judicial decisions. Then on to an administrative law presentation on Chevron. Lunch afforded the best discussion an infinitely fascinating discussion between Michael McConnell (my legal hero) and Richard Posner about judicial decision making. McConnell is an originalist, while Posner is a judicial pragmatist who believes judges should make decisions based on their best policy estimations. The back and forth was lively yet restrained (both have great respect for each other). I learned Posner believes the Bill of Rights is "fluff." (An audible gasp echoed through the crowd with that statement.) Wonderful, wonderful stuff.

The rest of the day consisted of a debate on congressional regulation of judicial education trips authored by Russ Feinstein (D-Minnesota). Feinstein sent his aide Robert Schiff to defend the proposal. Poor Schiff, he was sorely outmatched by DC Appeals Court judge Raymond Randolph and UCLA professor Eugene Volokh. They pointed out the obvious problems with Feinstein's proposal, and exposed the fact Schiff didn't actually know what his bill meant. It was like watching two cats bat around a mouse before they dismember and devour it.

Final address was Antonin Scalia's. He spoke for approximately thirty minutes about originalism before taking five or six questions. Turns out his favorite operas are La Traviata and Madama Butterfly. Good stuff. And with that, the Convention was over. Three intellectually stimulating days that will keep me going for another year.

After the Convention, we all picked up dinner at an indian restaurant in Pentagon City.

DC--NYC Trip Day 3

Arrived a little late to the Convention this morning, but still caught the lion's share of a panel discussion on whether life tenure for judges is a good idea, and if not, what other system is preferable. Amazingly, this subject engenders much animosity among some law professors. University of Pennsylvania Professor Stephen Burbank was especially obnoxious in his advocacy for lifetime tenure. He described those who disagreed with him as engaging in "judicial navel looking" and "tendentious." Those who disagree with life tenure had good arguments, but I ultimately believe they're wrong in their assessment. Next, there was a discussion on judicial independence. On one side, Thomas Wells, President of the ABA, talked about how the Judiciary is under assault from all sides (blah, blah, blah). On the other side, 5th Circuit judge William Pryor talked about how questioning the Judiciary was a healthy part of democracy, and ultimately makes the Judiciary stronger. Unfortunately, the discussion devolved somewhat into how the ABA is a liberal partisan organization, but up to that point it was very interesting.

Lunch inlcuded a panel on civil litigation under the Robert's Court. Could have been interesting, but it wasn't.

The post-lunch talk by Mark Steyn, author of America Alone, the single most enjoyable presentation during the Convention.

Steyn, a Canadian who now lives in New Hampshire, talked about how he was brought before three Canadian Human Rights Councils because a few Canadian Muslims found some passages from his book insulting. (They didn't argue what he wrote was incorrect, just that they didn't like what he said and found it insulting.) It was a laugh riot. Steyn is a gifted story-teller with an insightful mind. The funniest portion of his talk was his description of returning to America after attending the HRC's kangaroo courts (his words, not mine). When the border guard asked Steyn the reason for his visit to Canada, he responded, "I was put on trial for crimes against humanity." The guard looked at Steyn, undoubtedly saw the smirk on his face, and said, "Well, welcome home." Classic.

Last panel of the day was about freedom of speech v. anti-discrimination laws. Interesting, scary but interesting. This was my first time seeing Andrew Koppleman. He's almost as utterly obnoxious and unwittingly uninformed in person as he is in print.

I skipped out on the Barbara K. Olson Memorial Lecuture by Edith Jones to eat dinner with Dem, Gretchen, and Elliot. We ate at Old Ebbitt Grill near the White House.

Since this was one of Teddy Roosevelt's old haunts, I ordered one of his favorite dishes: calf's liver and onions (his favorite dish was fried chicken). It was quite good, little grainy and minerally, but very enjoyable.

Home it was after the meal.

DC--NYC Trip Day 2

Today started the first leg of our DC--NYC trip. I awoke early and Gretchen drove me to the metro so I could catch a train to the Federalist Society National Lawyers Convention. After opening remarks by Mitch McConnell (R-Kenutcky), I attended a panel on judicial selection, then listened to an address by Michael Chertoff (Homeland Security Secretary). During lunch we had a panel on the International Religious Freedom Act, which was, for someone like me, an incredibly interesting experience. Next was a panel discussion on the implications of the reaction to climate change. (During this panel, I learned Obama wants to reduce US carbon emissions by 80% of 1991 levels by, I think, 2030. This sounds fantastically great, until one realizes those levels are equivalent to emission levels of such great industrial nations like Angola and Somalia. Ah, pipe dreams that will bankrupt the American economy and send us back to the dark ages: that's change you can believe in.) Next was a panel on the Heller case (Second Amendment case handed down this last term). After listening to the panel, I'm pretty convinced Scalia was wrong and the federal government had the contitutional authority to ban handguns from DC.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the day was the annual dinner. After an exceptional surf and turf meal, we listened to Michael Mukasey (US Attorney General). About twenty minutes into his talk, he began to slur his speech. Ten seconds later, he slumped unconscious over the lecturn. We all gave an exasperated gasp, Secret Service rushed the stage, and people yelled out, "Is there a doctor in the room?" There was, which was lucky because it took paramedics fifteen minutes to arrive. We left after Mukasey was taken to the hospital. He was at work the next afternoon.

DC--NYC Trip Day 1

We started our trip to DC and NYC by flying to Baltimore. Before even getting on the plane, we had what we now affectionately refer to as our Dharma and Greg moment. (For those who don't watch much TV, "Dharma and Greg" is a show about an odd married couple. The wife, Dharma, is a new agey wierdo, and Greg is a straight-laced Republican lawyer. Good show. We recommend it.)

We sat down and this woman named Kim immediately turned around and attached to Elliot like a pitbull on a poodle. After interacting with Elliot for two minutes, Kim announced Elliot is a crystal child. Now, for those utterly ignorant regarding crystal children (don't feel bad, we were once one of you), they are kids with divergent DNA who will lead the world into a new age, an age without conflict, lawyers, or books. She then informed us our duty as parents of a crystal child is to get out of his way, and to let him teach us. Evidently, the reason Elliot loves dogs is because he can talk to them.

Things started going south when Dem put some lotion on Elliot. Elliot whined a little. Kim then said, "I want to let you know Elliot's talking to me right now. He says he doesn't like the lotion because lotion impedes his cells' ability to communicate with his environment. But, if you do insist on using lotion, you should believe the lotion will have no effect. That way, the lotion won't do anything and his cells will be free to fully interact with the surroundings." Kim's previous overall kookiness was almost endearing, but the lotion thing was too much for Dem. She saw it as an afront to her mothering skills (and she was right). Thankfully, we boarded the plane at this point.

We arrived in Baltimore around 10 p.m. We drove to Gretchen's house and fell fast asleep.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Another Fun Saturday

Saturdays are the only way I make it through the week. This morning we went for a hike on one of the mesas near Farmington (We're going to Texas next weekend, so we stayed close to home this weekend).

After our hike, we watched a San Francisco Opera broadcast of La Rondine by Puccini at a local movie theater. Angela Gheorghiu sang the Magda de Civry role, and was wonderful. Seeing this opera wet our appetite for The Damnation of Faust which we will see at the Metropolitan Opera in New York later this month.

To cap the day, we went through our standard "put Elliot to bed" routine. It consists of (1) reading a column of the Book of Mormon in Italian, (2) praying (whoever prays gets to pick the language), (3) Demaree reciting The Going to Bed Book from memory, and (4) turning on a children's CD.

No on 8 Hate, Cali Style

I've chronicled some of the actions taken against Mormons in the wake of Props 8's passage on my babbomormone blog. I warn you, some of the quoted material is vulgar, but it's worth reading. Say hello to tolerance liberal style.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Voting in New Mexico

Instead of braving election Tuesday, we voted early Saturday. To vote we simply filled out a registration card without showing ID. When we voted we fully expected to be asked for some form of ID, but no, no, no, they just asked our name. We were then allowed to vote. (Come to find out, New Mexico law prohibits poll workers from asking for picture ID.) I was floored. I could have been Victor from Moscow, or Alessio from Florence, or Jim Bob from Arkansas and they would have ushered me through to vote in a federal election. What kind of evil joke is that? You'd think we would care more about the integrity of our federal election system than to allow anyone, absolutely anyone to vote. Apparently, I was wrong.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Reading is Fun

I just finished 1776 by David McCullough and How the Irish Saved Civilization by Thomas Cahill. 1776 is classic McCullough: readable, engrossing, and somewhat vulgar — i.e., of or relating to common people. I think, however, John Adams is the superior and more insightful book.

As for Cahill, enlightening read. I think he plays fast and loose with some history, but absorbing this Everyman book was time well spent. Here is a short review I wrote on Facebook:

Thoroughly enjoyable and informative read. I had no idea the extent to which culture had declined after the fall of Rome (Dark Age indeed), and that Ireland was the savior of Latin literature. Keep in mind, Cahill takes us on a literary journey in this book. In this way, this is a different type of historical text: one built not so much on dates and socio-cultural minutiae as on personality shown through the prism of poems, epics, and biographies. This makes sense, however, since the story of Ireland saving civilization is the story of being saved through literature and determined individuality.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Mitt Romney Political Rally

This morning, Mitt Romney came to Farmington and held a McCain–Palin rally. Neither of us much care for McCain, but we're big time Mitt Romney fans. In fact, I have a rather long-standing man crush on Mitt.

This was Elliot's first political rally, and he seemed to enjoy himself. A random woman gave him a flag, which he promptly put in his mouth.

After Mitt's "vote for McCain and all the other Republicans here present" admonition, he started shaking hands. We met him briefly (he's better looking in person than on TV, by the way); and, like every good politician, he acquiesced when we asked him to take a picture with Elliot.

Ah, Mitt. What a beautiful man you are. You might have lost this time, but we look forward to seeing you again in 2012.


October 31: Elliot's first Halloween. Demaree, in her infinite goodness, made Elliot's costume.

As you can see, we (read: Demaree) decided on a jack-o-latern. It was a cute idea. We filled it with crumpled newspaper, and put a makeshift stem on Elliot's head.

We all went to a trunk-or-treat at the church, where we ate chili dogs (yeah, I was surprised by that as well) and played some games. Good times.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Baby Gates and Syphilis: Together at Last

So, Elliot is crawling all over creation, and loves the stairs. Up to this point, we've only had a a gate that fits on the top of the stairs, which is, indeed, as useless as you think it is. Thankfully, we just bought a nice baby gate, one that actually fits on the bottom of the stairs. The one unfortunate side-effect of a properly working gate is Elliot hates it. He seems to believe he can make it through bars not unlike those that kept Capone behind in jail while dying of Syphilis. When Elliot realizes he can't squeeze through, he gets upset. He cries. He whines. Moreover, he believes this crying and whining will convince the bars to move themselves so he can get back to climbing stairs. When they don't, he cries and whines more. Eventually, but only after inspecting every inch of the gate, he moves on, and picks garbage out of the trash can. There is no way to win.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Haircut, First, Elliot

This last week we cut Elliot's hair for the first time. Before busting out the clippers, we put his hair in a pony tail and cut it off, all for history's sake I guess.

He was incredibly good about it. He didn't cry and he sat quite still. Perhaps the best part of the process was the ridiculously orange drape we put on Elliot's to keep the hair from falling all over him.

And the end product was much shorter and more manageable hair.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

BYU Game II: Electric Boogaloo

Having procured tickets from an old mission companion (thanks Jake), we went to the BYU v. New Mexico game. The game time weather was a balmy 43 degrees, so we clothed Elliot in his winter coat (with his cougar outfit on underneath, of course).

Living in New Mexico brings a whole new meaning to this game, and thankfully we pasted them 21-3.

Everyone loved Elliot's coat. We had five or six who thought it was a cougar coat. (It looks more like a bear coat, with the ears and all, but you know, people see what they want to see). Anyway, we had a great time.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Temples Abound

This was a big temple announcement weekend for the Browns. President Monson announced the Cordoba, Argentina and Rome, Italy temples. Dem already had a temple in her mission country, but this is my country's first. Since Dem isn't writing this post, I'm going to talk about Rome.

This temple is a major coup for Italian Saints. They have yearned for a temple for nearly fifty years. According to one account, when Italians heard the announcement "[C]'e' stato un boato di gioia . . . . Sembrava che l'Italia avesse vinto la Coppa del Mondo." [there was a roar of joy . . . . It seemed as if Italy had just won the World Cup.]

So, here are some reactions to the news. First, here is a link to a Corriere Della Sera article. Here is one blogger's reaction to the news (it includes an ariel view of the property, which is across the streat from an Ikea). The temple will be built in the sette bagni neighborhood, just north of Rome proper. Click here for the GoogleEarth view of the location, or look at it here.

also, if you're interested, the Church has a Rome temple construction webpage. If you subscribe, you'll receive notices whenever new news or photos are posted. Turns out right now there is a villa and a bunch of grass on the land.

Dem and I have already started saving for our temple dedication vacation.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

General Conference, the Spirit, and Protesters

We attended General Conference this weekend (Saturday afternoon to be exact). It was an overcast, somewhat rainy day, but beautiful nonetheless.

Once inside the Conference Center, we heard prophetic discourses by Joseph Wirthlin and Jeffrey Holland. I must admit, I love listening to Holland speak. His command of language and emotion is exceptional, and his messages are always inspiring. Lawrence Corbridge, a member of the Seventy, also gave an exceptional talk on Christ's eternal roles.

After exiting the Conference Center, and snapping a photo or two,

We happened upon the protesters. While I wouldn't normally post about this stuff, I think this is important, so bear with me.

The one holding the "Read the Bible" sign informed us "When you get before the bar of God, He'll recognize you as lower than the Sodomites. You're all dishonest. You're so dishonest you won't even tell your families that you're lying to them." Needless to say, being called a liar and lower than a bunch of gay gang rapers was, shall we say, an unfortunate occurrence.

In the midst of this, however, there were some glimpses of true Christian service. For example, see this picture.

Notice the man with the two umbrellas standing left of the protester. His look (suit, tie, etc.) and demeanor (standing quietly) tells us he's a Mormon holder an umbrella for the man proclaiming he's going to hell. What a beautiful example of serving those who despise you. Only the truly humble could ever do such a thing. May we all follow this man's example. And here's another great example to follow.

This is a group that obtains permits and sings hymns to passersby. This is an ingenuous idea that has two main strengths: (1) it takes permits away from protesters, and (2) it brings a starkly contrasting spirit to the sidewalk. Whoever first came up with this idea deserves a medal.

Now, this might seem an odd thing to say, but I'm actually grateful for these protesters. They are doing what they believe is right, and that is honorable. While I don't agree with them, and I find their tactics distasteful (I mean, honestly, who would put up with this sort of thing outside, say, a Jewish temple. No one), I love the fact they are free to express their religious views. God bless America for this freedom.

This last thought brings me to the only guy who annoyed me:

He was very vocal about Mormons being cast into the infernal pit of everlasting damnation, so on and so forth. Fine. Who cares. What got me was when a man walked by with his wife and smiled, the protester yelled the following at him: "Don't you smile at me. I'm being serious." Apparently, the protester thinks it's okay to express himself by verbally denigrating Mormons, but Mormons shouldn't be free to express their emotions by smiling. Such a view is unacceptable. If you freely exercise the right to express your beliefs, then afford the same right to others.

After Conference, Dem had a lesson with her voice teacher, Ariel Bybee. We then dropped my mom at her brother's house in Magna, and drove back to Provo, where we stayed in Denis and Lisa's apartment (thanks again Denis and Lisa). The next day, it was home after six hours of driving, passed largely by listening to "New Moon" by Stephanie Meyer.