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Archive for the ‘Living well’ Category

Every July for 40 years, the North Las Vegas Stake of the LDS Church has put on a Pioneer Day celebration that has become legendary. Here are the fireworks from the end of last night’s festivities. Yes, they are close to the crowd, and yes, this is done with the permission and supervision of the fire department! Sorry for cutting off the first bit of the first song.

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  • List of technology-enhanced activities for secondary English classes.
  • Examples of worthwhile technology-enhanced lesson plans.
  • Quick thoughts from the Hardings, homeschooling parents of ten who have sent seven kids to college by age 12.
  • Recently found this silly video I made for a class I was taking two years ago.  Amusing.
  • Instapundit nails it: the humanities lost relevance when they decided to preach that nothing has intrinsic value.  It’s been my experience that students (yes, even at-risk, underprivileged minorities!) appreciate the classics.  Everybody likes the egalitarian ideal of participation in the uniting, universal canon, rather than manufactured niche curricula that only panders to trends.


Language & Literature

  • Great WSJ essay on one of my favorite books, A Confederacy of Dunces.
  • Cute chart collects insults from famous authors who hated each other’s work.
  • Fascinating memoir of writing the script for Star Trek: Insurrection. Included here because it shares so much about that specific writing craft.  Also, Insurrection is often over-maligned—it is not great, but not nearly as bad as many say.  This long essay shows how it could have been great.
  • Long lost introduction by Anthony Burgess to Dubliners.



Living Well


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I noted these in a biography I read last year:

“The sun shines not on us but in us, as if truly part and parent of us. The rivers flow not past, but through us, thrilling, tingling, vibrating every fiber and cell of the substance of our bodies, making them glide and sing…”  –journal, 1872.

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where Nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul.”  –journal, (1888?)

“The American forests, however slighted by man, must surely have been a great delight to God; for they were the best he ever planted. The whole continent was a garden, and from the beginning it seemed favored above all the other wild parks and gardens of the globe.”  –first line of “The American Forests,” Atlantic Monthly, 1897



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Took the kids to see this recently and it was excellent.  You’re basically seeing a mini-IMAX production for a fraction of the cost (digital projectors have replaced the glorified film strips we had as kids), and while the quality of the film’s narration is scattered (the How the Universe Works series is much better written), the visuals are perfect.  It’s amazing to sit back and glide into the edges of a galaxy, and see the colorful dust of space wash over and around you.

I learned stuff, too: there are small pockets of stars floating around out there that aren’t in any galaxy at all.  Have there been any sci-fi stories about these lonely areas of space?

The sound quality was surprisingly lower than the visual display, but still, this is a great show.

The CSN Planetarium is a decent place with comfortable seats, friendly staff, and a regional sky orientation in each show.  Plus, you can go use their huge telescopes at the end of the night, even if you don’t pay to see a show!

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A few weeks ago, we had one of those generic gift certificates that apply to lots of places, so we picked a new place at random to try.


The little Divine Eatery cafe in Northwest Las Vegas is, just as its name suggests, a miracle.

Run by Chef Esther, this hole in the wall of a strip mall in a residential neighborhood makes the absolute freshest food we’ve ever eaten.  When my wife and I had our first bite of the appetizers, we went wide-eyed and shared a look that said, this is something special.

Talking to the waitress revealed some things you want to know:

  • They don’t even have a freezer on the premises–the food must be that fresh
  • Esther has worked at some big Strip hotels, and was offered an executive position, but decided to try for fame and fortune with her own place.
  • The menu is very flexible–request to modify what’s on the folded sheet of paper they give you, and Esther will impress you.
  • Prices are very reasonable–and you definitely get your money’s worth.
  • Esther runs the place almost single-handedly.  She’s trying to train others to cook her way, but it isn’t easy.  She’s unique.
  • We had garlic fries and potato wedges at first, then a pulled pork sandwich and adobo chicken, finished with some deep fried stuff for dessert. All highly recommended.
  • They’re almost at the point where they need to take reservations.  By the time you read this, they might be there.  They’ve only been in business for about five months.


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A Grandfather

My grandfather lived from 1910-2000.  Last month, for no special reason, I wrote out some short notes about him.  I really didn’t know him that well, and can now only wish I’d spent more time with him.  I suppose these memories reflect myself more than they depict him, but it feels good to do this:

  • My grandfather kept a garden in his backyard, in which he grew rhubarb.  He loved rhubarb.
  • He often took long, quiet walks by himself.
  • He kept a collection of big books downstairs.  I remember him having a copy of (the then-new novel) James Clavell’s Noble House, which he freely agreed to let me read.  As a child, I predictably couldn’t make it past the first page.  I just read it a few years ago and loved it.
  • He went to church on Sundays and, when he was in town, made sure to take my brother and me.  When we got home, he told our parents that we had been “good as gold.” (more…)

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When I was younger, I would have dismissed these stunts with some nerdy, smarmy snark, but as I age I appreciate physical skill more and more.  Life is for living, and these guys have reached goals that are not only fulfilling for them, but inspiring and entertaining for others, as well, including me.  Some of these are clearly fake, but they all make for good viewing.


A great list here called, “50 Reasons We’re Living Through the Greatest Period in World History,” focusing on medical and technological advances, quite rightly.  We have now basically become the gods of the ancients, able to do unimaginably fantastic things.

It’s not just the lifestyle progress, though.  I’m reminded of a remark the historian Will Durant made when asked what the greatest period in history was.  He replied that it was today, because we have the largest inheritance of cultural experience and creations of any civilization.

Which brings us back to technological progress–the Internet brings us so much of that inheritance with ease and panache.


Graphic showing 35 simple productivity tips.  Saved to hard drive.

Nevada’s best-kept secret’ offers hiking, camping and stargazing.  Note to self: visit ASAP!

“The 60 Most Powerful Photos Ever Taken That Perfectly Capture The Human Experience”  Many of these are truly wonderful–thought-provoking and humbling.

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“The Years Are Short”

“The days are long, but the years are short.” –Gretchen Rubin.  One of the wisest things I’ve ever heard.



It’s always amazingly scary to think about how tiring, how busy and stressful most individual days are, but then to look back on the last year, or the last five years, or even the last ten years, and realize how much happened in them, and how much seems missed, and how it all went by so quickly.

I have children who are rapidly approaching adulthood, and I constantly wonder where their childhood went.  How did it disappear so suddenly?

I’ve now been teaching high school for more than three times as long as I went to high school, and the student part of my life actually feels like it lasted longer than this part.  Weird.

It’s true what they say, isn’t it?  At some point, every year seems to go by even faster than the year before.

I think if you’re not consciously being corny and sentimental, at least some of the time, you may not be doing it right.  There will likely be more regrets.

*sigh*  Don’t mind me.  I’m still just bummed out about How I Met Your Mother being over.


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Sunset at UNLV, January 2014

View from the third floor of Wright Hall, UNLV, around 5:20 PM on Wednesday, January 29, 2014.


sunset 1












sunset 2 sunset 3

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I remember this being one of my favorite games from the early 90s.  Watching these videos of it reminds me why.  Time to find an emulator online?


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Red Bull Rampage

A few Saturdays ago I saw some of this event on TV.  Pretty impressive stuff!  The first clip is a “best of” intro, the second is a hair-raising POV shot of one brave rider!

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Watched this series the last two summers.  The kids love it, too.  Pretty entertaining, and inspiring to see what they achieve.  At the end of last summer, this guy got further than any other American has: almost the end of the 3rd stage of the 4-stage final course:

Here’s a guy on the original Japanese version making it all the way, showing all four stages:

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Think of every illness you’ve ever had: not just the serious sicknesses, but even every cold and flu.  Canker sores and rashes, too.  Seriously, make a list.  You’ll be surprised.  There must be dozens.  Your body has recovered from them all.

Think of every injury you’ve ever had: not just the broken bones, but every paper cut, every jammed knuckle, every bruise, every stubbed toe, every sprain, and any and all boo-boos since you were born.  There must be dozens of these, too, if not more.  Your body has healed them all.

Think of every headache, every sensitive tooth, every stomach ache, every stiff back, and any other soreness you’ve ever had.  These could number in the hundreds.  Your body has persevered in spite of them all, overcome them all, and continued to serve you and allow you to live each day after they’ve been forgotten.


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The Difference Between People

A child is someone who needs to be guided, coerced, or even forced into doing things that are necessary but unpleasant.

An adult is someone who does these things freely, understanding the importance of obligations.

But people who do these things with quality and passion, we call leaders.

People who these things for others, we call saints.

People who do these things with a commitment to find beauty and joy in them no matter what, we call happy.

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