Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Science and religion--a different set of rules

I really like discussing science and religion. I went so far as to write my thesis on the topic at BYU. (Not that it says much!!) But Sonnet's post reminded me that it continues to be an important conflict that influences people's faith, including my own. My take is that truth is eternally in harmony with itself (I'm probably paraphrasing a quotation here) and whenever there is a perceived conflict between science and religion, we shouldn't be too eager to make conclusions. History is full of conflict between science and religion, and frequently religion ends up putting a lot of effort into an apologetic that becomes unnecessary a hundred years down the road when the science becomes more clear and it turns out the entire nature of the conflict has changed.

As far as the specific question of evolution goes, I liked this site that I recently found. The site quotes the D&C where it says specifically that all things will eventually be revealed, including, "Things which have passed, and hidden things which no man knew, things of the earth, by which it was made, and the purpose and the end thereof--". I never considered that that scripture may be referring to questions of science that "no man knew." There's also another website that seemed pretty comprehensive in addressing science questions that are relevant specifically to an LDS view. You can find it here.

Another point about science and religion that I learned in a class called, remarkably, "Science and Religion", was that they are hard to compare because they each have a different set of fundamental rules. For example, science assumes a set of natural axioms are true in order to make sense out of the universe. Physical laws are followed everywhere and at every time in the same manner. The borders of the universe--both spatially and temporally are instances where this assumption breaks down (at the time of the big bang, for example), but typically we assume that it is true because science doesn't really work without it. Religion, however, doesn't really need that same assumption. And hence, we shouldn't get out of sorts when the product of religion and the product of science don't mesh perfectly all the time.

Anyway, it's a good topic.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Pious Baby

Sam is really good at folding his arms for prayer and has been for a while. In fact, he is so good, that at Friday night's Institute potluck he kept his arms folded as he ran away from little Ronny Guymon who was trying to "share" something Sammy was holding. Sam will even remind us to pray--sometimes at meals when we had genuinely forgotten, and sometimes at odd times, like driving down the road.

Sam is not quite as good at being reverent during the sacrament meeting. We've tried everything to keep the kid quiet, including treats, activities, stickers, etc. Boss usually tries to limit to a book with pictures of Jesus in it that Grandma gave him during the Sacrament. The only problem is, the book contains an illustration with dogs in it. So, while Boss was trying to turn away from the dog page in favor of a nice picture of Jesus doing something quiet without a canine friend near at hand, Sammy was insisting she turn back to his favorite page so he could show off to the ward at the top of his lungs that he can pronounce with impeccable accuracy "doggie!!!" over and over ad infinitum. Posted by Picasa

Friday, February 24, 2006

Do you have HBO?

Do you remember that kid in second grade who went around asking everyone in the class if they had HBO? Remember how if you said yes (which I didn’t cause we didn’t), he’d say: “You have Human Body Odor!” and laugh like he’d just invented the whoopie cushion? Yeah, me too.

I still think of that malodorous acronym every time people talk about “having” HBO. This is relevant because I suddenly find myself wanting to have HBO—the programming, not the stench—because of this new show.

Predictably, lots of Mormons are upset about it.

I don’t think they should be.

Speaking as a Mormon, I think we collectively try to distance ourselves from our polygamous past. We perpetrate myths about why the early saints practiced plural marriage ("to care for the widows"), or minimize the extent of the practice ("only 10 percent"). But our caginess just makes the topic seem more mysterious and unsavory than it needs to be. If we believe that prophets led the church then as they do now, why are we so uncomfortable saying: “They were following the commandments as they understood them.” Why do we say instead, “We don’t do that anymore.” What should be a testament of our ancestors' faith in the face of opposition has become an embarassment.

Let me be clear: I’m glad I have just one husband, and I’m pretty sure Coach is glad to have just one wife. If we were to get a call from our bishop suggesting changes to that arrangement, I’d have a thing or two to say about it. I want no part in plural marriage. But I do think people who do should be able to. Plural marriage should have been legal in 1870, and it should be legal today. What right does the state have to restrict individuals from practicing their religion?

I'm also compelled by an argument I've heard from practicing polygamists. If society takes no legal stance against a man fathering children with several female partners, why should it object to that same arrangement undergirded by a legal commitment to love and care for all of the wives and children involved?

Opponents of polygamy (by my count, that’s pretty much everyone but me and the polygamists) talk about the abuses and deceptions that often accompany modern polygamy, but I maintain those are not an inherent part of the system, and should be treated separately. Spousal and child abuse are illegal and immoral; polygamy doesn’t have to be illegal to prosecute perpetrators of such acts. Welfare fraud falls into the same category.

It's not that I’m against changing a law or two. I think polygamy should only be practiced by consenting adults. Where necessary, legislative changes (such as raising the legal age for marriage with parental consent, requiring judicial approval before young teens are allowed to marry, etc.) should be made to ensure that young women are not coerced into marriage. (Utah has made some such changes, somewhat recently, I believe.)

Political stuff aside, my bottom line is this: polygamists are real human beings who choose this lifestyle because they believe it is what their God has commanded them to do. It doesn't matter whether I believe in it or not. What matters is that all Americans should be allowed to worship according to the dictates of their own concience, how, when, and what they may.

So to HBO I say: Bravo! (the exclamation, not the network). I think it's about time we (Mormons, Americans, whatever) looked at modern polygamists as real people with convictions, not backward nymphomaniacs waiting for the apocolypse.

And also, let me know if you have HBO.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Why I Love the Dollar Store: A Public Service Announcement for Our Female Readers

We watched Fever Pitch the other night. It made me a little bit crazy. Here's why: A ways into the movie the female lead (Drew Barrymore) suspects that she is pregnant. This suspicion is based on the observation that her period is 10 days late. Drama ensues, but I can't buy any of it past "ten days late." I wonder: Why would she sit around for a week and a half thinking she might be pregnant and not take necessary measures to find out for sure?

And then it occurrs to me: maybe she doesn't know that Dollar Tree stores carry an at-home pregnancy test that is just as reliable as your pricier brands for the low, low price of--you guessed it--ONE DOLLAR! Sure, with the dollar store brand you have to pee into a cup instead of onto a stick, but that's just good practice for when the test is positive and you end up regularly peeing into cups at your obstetrician's office.

Coach teases me, but I like to have at least one test on hand at all times. Even though I'm not expecting to be pregnant in the immediate future, when I am I want to be among the first to know. So I check regularly. Feeling extra tired? Pee into a cup. A little queasy? Pee into a cup. Period 45 seconds late? Pee into a cup. Inexplicably happy? Here's a cup. Get peeing. I pee with reckless abandon when pregnancy tests are only one dollar each. And for anyone who's wondering, I'm not pregnant. I just checked.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Shimmy Sprinkles

Shimmy Sprinkles* comes over twice a week to watch Sam while I go to class. She's a cute undergraduate student who answered an ad I posted at the beginning of the semester. I was nervous about hiring a complete stranger, but I'm so lucky to have found her. Sam thinks so too. He adores her. As soon as she rings the bell, Sam meets her at the door flapping his hands and hyperventilating, the way he always does when something really exciting is about to happen. Today when I told him Shimmy was coming over to play he eagerly repeated "Shimmy!" Thinking this could be my big opportunity, I tried to get him to say Mommy. He wasn't interested.

Later, after Shimmy'd arrived she said, "Mommy's leaving now. Say bye-bye!" Sam ran over distraught. He stopped at Shimmy's knees and threw his arms in the air. She picked him up and reassured him she was staying, and only Mommy was leaving. Relieved, he returned to the business of playing. I left to the vroom vroom sound of Sam's vacuum being used in a game of chase.

I'd be jealous, but he's always so cheery when I get home. And a mom has to love anything (or anyone) that makes her kid that happy. But even better than that is knowing that when I get home, he'll flap his little hands and run toward ME.

*Names have been changed

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Rank List Due!

On Feb 22, I have to put in my match list for residency. If you are familiar with the "Match", skip to the next paragraph. If you aren't, let me sum it up by saying that a med school graduate is obliged to spend thousands (sometimes 10s of thousands!) of dollars traveling the country and interviewing at usually more than a dozen schools to improve the chances of a favorable match. On March 16, I'll get an envelope along with everyone else in the country who is graduating from medical school, and it will tell me where I'll have a job starting in the summer (ie. where I've "matched"). The whole thing shakes out by having applicants and programs make a rank list of their prefferred employer or employee. Someone flips a switch on a computer somewhere once the data is gathered and it spits out all the results.

So, the question facing me is where I want most to be spending the next few years. I have to have my rank list in by Feb 22 (3 days!), and we're still having some question about where the best place will be for our family. So, please advise!

The first choice we have to make is for the transitional year that will start this summer. It's a one year program that bridges medical school to advanced training in a subspecialty. The top three choices are Chattanooga TN, Canton OH, and Akron OH. The pay is better in Ohio, but the cost of living is higher too. The three programs all have a good educational program, so we could be persuaded in any direction.

The second choice is how to rank the advanced programs (radiation oncology). The top three choices are University of Iowa, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, and Cleveland Clinic. Which criteria is most important, the educational environment (quality of training and job prospects), the work environment (the day to day tolerability and comfort of my next 5 years), or the setting (weather, cost of living, already own a house and like Iowa, proximity to family, etc.)?

Further, should I rank the poor radiation oncology programs at all? It's really competitive and I may not match at all given that I applied to over 60 programs and got only 6 interviews. It turned out I discovered that 2 of those 6 programs had major problems when I interviewed there. One I won't rank at all for sure, but the other one I'm ambivalent about. It doesn't have a strong program, but I could possibly endure 5 years of a poor program if the alternative is to not have a job in the specialty I want at all. If I rank it and I end up matching there, I'm contractually bound to accept the position, so it matters whether or not I rank it.

Anyway, if you have any thoughts or insights that might be helpful, please let me know!!!


Sunny disposition!

Hey, Coach. You forgot this one! Ha ha!

Sticking to basics

The blog has gotten off to a nice start as an ode to Sam, so I'll continue that tradition right off by posting a few photos and videos of the kid. I didn't notice until just now that the images I'm posting don't ever show him at his best--smiling. Rest assured he is a happy little kid and there is plenting of smiling going on. Sometimes when he is exploring his creative side by making something in the kitchen (usually from sage and flour), sometimes while playing with toys, sometimes while eating chocolate--just never during the moments caught on film here. Pretty darn cute though, don't you think?

Thursday, February 16, 2006


Words that Sam will say in context without prompting:
  • Garbage
  • There
  • No
  • Boot
  • Wow
  • Uh ooh!
  • Ball
  • Treat
  • Knock knock
  • mmmm! (yummy)
Signs that Sam will use in context without prompting:
  • More
  • Milk
  • Drink
  • Sun
  • Fish
  • Monkey
  • Frog
  • Butterfly
  • Chick
  • Bee
  • Crocodile
  • Say prayer
  • Music
  • Hat
  • Brush teeth
  • Diaper change
  • Alpha-D-glucopyranosyl-beta-D-fructofuranocide
Words that Sam will say with prompting, cajoling, or promise of treat:
  • Daddy
  • All done
  • Doggie
  • Antidisestablishmentarianism
Words that Sam will not say ever:
  • Mommy

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Free stuff online- yeehaw!

Everyone needs a good vice or two, and I haven't had a good one in a while. I don't smoke, drink, or even indulge in caffienated sodas much. But last Christmas all that changed.

You know how every once in a while an advertisement will pop up in your web based e-mail or on your news website claiming that you've somehow qualified for a free ? Well, we've all seen them, and in a moment of curiosity I went ahead and signed up for one. It was a quick little affair--one that I approached with lots of caution, but finally gave it a try when I realized it required no money at all. I just had to sign up for an "offer" from one of its sponsors and the offer I chose had no cost (a free month of blockbuster online). I cancelled before the month was out and I had a $50 gift card to Olive Garden in my mailbox a few weeks later.

I found my vice. Since then I've signed up for *and* received a 32" Sony Wega TV, a 17" Dell flat panel monitor, an iPod nano, a $1000 BestBuy gift card, and several hundred dollars worth of miscellaneous restaurant and department store gift cards. I'm not making this up. I'm a student with no vested interest in yanking your chain.

I decided to give you this little biography since I've told a few people about it and they always have lots of questions. Turns out there are some tricks to the undertaking.

Here's the deal:

  • Always read the terms and conditions before even putting in your e-mail address. There's usually a link at the bottom in tiny print
  • Only use an e-mail address where you don't mind receiving hundreds of spam messages a day (literally). Yahoo mail accounts are free and they have good spam blockers, so it has worked out fine. You have to keep the address though since you can't get the gift unless you receive the certificate they e-mail you once you qualify.
  • I noticed that some of the offers on the "survey" pages are exactly the same as the required offers later on. And some of the offers in one group are the same as offers in a later group (you may have to complete offers from several groups of choices, which become progressively more prohibitive in their cost and terms). So, I've found it works well not to sign up for any of the survey items or offers until I've gone through the entire process. I just right-click links to open the next page into a new window when possible and then keep lots of windows open working backwards from the hardest offers at the end (if I decide to pursue it all once all the requirements are out on the table).

I don't know if anyone will be interested in this or not, but I figured I would throw it out there for the world to see. Oh yeah, and if you want to give it a shot, try this link to help me out: (link is no longer valid)

Friday, February 10, 2006

Cause her baby is the sweetest little cutest little you

Sam's turned into quite a book worm lately. I've been reading the same books to him for months, usually in wildly animated voices with elaborate gestures, and never got much reaction from him. But yesterday, he started whipping his little pointer finger through the air while making a "zzzzz" sound as soon as we turned to the "bumble-bees love buzzing" page in Mommy Loves Her Baby/Daddy Loves His Baby (one of my favorites). Later, while reading Bear's Big Blue House (a birthday present from grandma), he designated one of Bear's lower kitchen cupboards to be the "ba-bage" (garbage). He then mimed washing his hands over Bear's kitchen sink. (OK, so I let him play with garbage. At least he knows to wash his hands afterward!)

It's gratifying to see things clicking for him.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Blast off

This will be a family blog of photos, musings, history, hobbies, commentary, etc. Our family has 5 members, and we drew straws to see who got to pick the blog name. Between the mommy, the daddy, Sam, Malcom, and Bruiser (respectively the Boss, Coach, toddler, dog, and goldfish), you can go ahead and guess who drew the winning straw.

All the best,
The Meaty Chunks

UPDATE: 11/16/2009
A couple new junior editors have been recruited: Miles and Grace. Also, the fish is dead.