Sunday, October 21, 2012

Family Perspectives

During my run yesterday I listened to Neil A. Maxwell's talk "Family Perspectives" from 1974.  

I thought Elder Maxwell's talk was interesting because he mentions a troubled economy, women's rights, the definition of the family, energy problems, and several other ideas that are the issues of today.  For example, he said, "Isn't it interesting that at a time when patriotism is called into question, that some fail to realize that one cannot really have a sense of country without a sense of kinship..." which was part of his larger plea to not forget that we are all God's Children.  

I appreciate the positive attitude of the leaders of the Church. Later Elder Maxwell said, "When he sees the imperfections all around him, the disciple of Jesus sees such imperfections as an invitation to help."  There is always room to move forward.

Here is the link to the full text and the audio file: Family Perspectives

This talk came from one of the various podcasts that include General Conference talks, BYU devotions, CES firesides, etc. Just search in iTunes for "LDS", etc.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Good day on the trail: Better for some than others

With the start of the semester, I didn't run much in September. I'm trying to get back on track in October. Yesterday, I was feeling pretty good about our run. Laura, the girls, and I did 4 miles together. Laura's pace was really good. If it weren't for the few stops that the girls make me do (to pick dandelions, to get a stick, to turn around to get items dropped from the stroller, etc.) Laura and I would have been on the same pace. Laura doubled back to do a portion of the run to let us catch up.

I love running with the stroller, but Chloe has the habit of taking off her shoes and socks once she's strapped in. We were finishing our 4 miles and I had only come up with two socks and one shoe. I missed where Chloe had dropped one of her shoes and I didn't find it on the way back home. Rather than accept the loss, Laura went up the trail again while I played at the park with the girls.

The good news is that Laura found the shoe, rolled off on the side of the trail in a little bit of brush. (They are probably our favorite pair for Chloe.) Even better news is that Laura clocked in another 2 miles (1 up and 1 back) to find the shoe. Just as I was feeling good about doing 4 miles for the day, Laura did 6 - and she pretty well bolted back once she found the shoe. Laura took 20 minutes to walk out to find the shoe, and only 10 minutes to get back to the park. Speedy. Good job Laur.

I think she's gonna be ready for her race at the end of the month.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

SOMEONE needs to be committed! (pun intended)

Since the first of May, I've been averaging about 17 miles a week. A couple of miles or more each week is just walking, but I've been running a respectable amount. I've been trying not to push myself too much, just get out and exercise 5 days a week. The distance for my runs have been determined by how far I can get away from home and still feel like I can get back without exhausting myself. Now has come the time to commit to a schedule.

After a run one morning, Laur and I stopped by the park to let the girls loose. While we let the girls have some play time, my wife was talking with a couple of our neighbors who were there with their own kids. The neighbors asked my wife if she was training for a particular race (nope, just running), and then suggested that she should run the Halloween Half-Marathon down the Provo River trails with them. This is a race that encourages costumes and benefits from being a down-hill run.

Now, if you're wondering where the possible mistake was, Laura mentioned the invitation to her sisters. Tammy replied to Laura's email with a phone-call and said that she is now going make the trip down from Alberta to do the half-marathon. Laura got herself committed to the race JUST AFTER she finally decided to herself that she wasn't going to do it.

Laura has run half marathons before, but she's had two kids since she last ran on that kind of a schedule. I've never run more than 9 miles in one bout (and that was helping to support one of her previous training sessions for a half-marathon). For now, I'm planning on helping with Laur's training. I've adapted a couple versions of an online training plan, and I'll be following along with her distances. I don't think I'll be running the race (someone's got to tend the girls and I enjoy cheering for Laura in her races), but I'll probably break my 9 mile barrier this time around.

Back to the possible problem: Do we need to stop talking to the neighbors?, my wife's sisters?, or just learn to say "no"?

Honestly, I'm looking forward to training with Laura for the race. It's always exciting to see what she can do once she gets started. She's always had my race day congratulations.

17 weeks to go!!!

Thursday, June 24, 2010


Today, I defend my thesis.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Wind-up

My Thesis Defense is scheduled for Thursday, June 24, 2010. It's essentially the last day before my committee scatters into the wind. One for the rest of the summer, and one for good.

I've got good data. I'm just aiming for some sense of coherence.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Thesis timeline

Here is the short version: TOO LONG.

Now for a little bit longer version: TOO LONG, but it may end.

And for further details:

My graduate studies have had a few breaks here and there. I didn't go to any classes for an entire year. (I did attended one class, but I didn't get credit.) I got married in the middle of one semester. I went through a strange change in my program of study and traded out one committee member for another the next semester. I still really like this former committee member (Hi, Cliff), but I moved from a thesis in Science Education to one outside of Education. Next up, there's no financial assistance during the summer. There's a year for you.

While I've been in school I'm sure I could have done more along the way, but some of the time has seemed to slip on by. After babies being born (we've got two you know) and Laura's surgeries following having babies (she's had two you know), I lost a little bit of time to just taking care of the family. Laura wasn't supposed to be lifting our girls for a good while after each surgery. Some class loads have been heavy some semesters, and it's hard to work your TA hours part-time and study full-time and see your wife at least some-time.

And then there is the total work load. ¿Who knew that there would be so much work to sorting all of these bugs? So many people have put some time into these bugs:
- a dozen and then some undergraduate students
- at least four graduate students
- 30+ secondary science teachers.

Some people have put in less than 10 hours. Others put in a few hours a week for a semester. A few have committed to a solid 10+ hours per week for more than a semester. I have no idea how much time I have spent with these bugs, but I'm sure I've pulled every sample out of every bag at least once, if not twice and many of them 3 or more times. SO MUCH TIME.

here are the numbers:
- 11 Orders of insects
- 13 Orders of arthropods
- 44 families of flies
- 66 overall taxa
- 71 samples sorted completely, and another dozen partially but we won't use their data.
(one bag got lost somewhere that we did want to sort, but what can you do.)
- Over 81% of the individuals identified was a fly of some sort. In non-scientific terms, you could say that we had "a lot" of flies. (one, two, many, lots).
- 62,497 individuals have been identified, and sized. (a few estimates were done with a couple of groups, but seriously... i checked the accuracy of our estimation procedure and 62,497 is the number I'm sticking to.)

I personally had gone through all of the samples at least once by Friday, March 5th. By then, every insect had a name label connected to it. There were bugs that still needed to be sized after that, but all of them were named. ¿Didn't I tell you that our experimental design guaranteed that every bug was going to get handled at least twice? YEESH.

Since March 5th I've consolidated multiple spreadsheets, corrected spelling errors from all of the different people who have entered this data on to a computer, and tried to make one coherent body out of this information we've collected. Spreadsheets, pivot tables, databases, statistical and community analysis software. With scientific names, there is a high propensity for misspelling. Misspelling really makes your data come out wrong when you're trying to explain how many groups of things you have caught.

I also spent time going back and identifying insects that were named wrong the first time through. There are a few names that I knew gave other identifiers problems. There were a few names that I knew that gave me problems. I got smarter, so I went back to as many of the problem children as I could find.

I have made quite a sum of graphs and charts this last month and a half. Today, I slapped some of the results together into PowerPoint. I had my Defense of Research. The Defense of Research is with your committee members. I basically got to say, "Here is my data so far," "This is how I plan to analyze it," and the committee tells me what I REALLY should be doing instead.

We collected in two habitats, during two summers, with two types of traps. From what I've analyzed so far the habitats are significantly different, the years are probably significantly different, but trap type doesn't seem to matter.

My committee likes my data. During the defense they wondered if I could do both a methodology paper (trap types) and a diversity paper from my data. Then, right at the end I remembered that I had done a bunch of Jaccard's similarity indices with my data. ¿Why did I do that? Nerd is the answer. The abundance analysis (#s of individuals per category) in my presentation says that habitats are different, but the richness analysis (# of types of bugs) using Jaccard's says that habitats are very much the same. My little "oh, yeah" at the end of the defense gave my committee even more reason to consider two publications. And if we don't get two publications, we lump the whole study into one submission and try again.

Here is some other good news. I was going to do a species listing of Bombyliids (Bee Flies) from the Escalante-Grand Staircase National Monument, but my current data will give me enough to graduate. I didn't present any data on the Bombyliids today, and my committee was fine with that. Riley would like me to finish my work, but my Master's will not depend on finishing the Bombyliid study. I can sort Bombys after I submit my thesis at the first of July. It would be good for me to work for another publication or two and I know too much about Bombys to just let them slip away. Above all, it's nice to know that I don't have to also have all of that sorting done by the end of June, in addition to writing up all of this work.

All week long I was working out how I was going to discuss the Bombyliid issue. I got exactly what I was hoping for: A place to work on those bugs if my time works out for that, but I can still graduate without knocking down that next mountain before July.

Here's to defending my thesis at then end of June. Whew!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Running again

Saturday (April 17th) may well have been the perfect day for a run. Everything was great.

This past winter Laura and I bought an almost new double-jogger stroller which we have used for a few walks, and I have run with Maggie a few times. The cold weather which started out this month was gone. Our girls woke up happy and they let us get them ready. I needed to do my run for the day and Laura wanted to get out of the house too. Everything was ready for us to get out on the road. I pushed the stroller and we were on our way.

We ran one of my regular routes. It's a loop that goes down to center street from our house, over to Seven Peaks and on up around Kiwanis Park before cutting through campus to come back home. The whole route is just over 3.4 miles.

We got out of the house at 10:00am and the weather was great. The day wasn't too hot, there was enough sun and good fresh air. For a long stretch of the run we were looking at the high contrast of a snow covered Timpanogos against a deep blue as we ran along streets lined with blossoming trees. Being out with the whole family was great, but the surroundings really added to the day.

The route starts out with about a half-mile of flat, followed by nearly two miles of varying incline, before the final mile heading downhill towards home. Laur had to work for it, but she pushed herself and did really well. She's been exercising at home for the winter, but the cold weather and tending her girls has limited her options for cardio. I've been ready to get us all out there for a while. This was Laura's second run for the spring and she felt pretty good at the end of it. She was a little sore on Sunday, but we don't think that she pushed it too hard.

Best of all, it was fun to get out with the whole family. Chloe wasn't as happy as she could have been by the end, but Maggie is a nut for the stroller. She loved every minute of it. After a long winter of running alone, it was fun to have us all there.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Observations on Diego: i've seen too much

Over Christmas break we found out that Maggie is a fan of Diego from Go Diego Go. Grandpa Evanson had DVRed a bunch of episodes. After seeing a couple of episodes, Maggie asked for Diego almost every day.

i may be projecting my own feelings onto Maggie, but i think that she at least likes Diego more than Dora. i feel a little better about that. Diego has animal stories and she can be quite cute as she says and signs all of the animal names. Her dancing and singing to the music is pretty good too.

Laura and i had avoided those kinds of shows for a long time; not having cable and much less TV in general made it easier to avoid the 30 minute commercials for kids. But now, Maggie's hooked.

To keep Maggie content from time to time, we have checked out a few DVDs from the library. I have seen too much Diego. ¿how do i know? i know because i have questions, queries and complaints about the strange place Diego comes from.
- gravity is SLOW: rocks, branches, ropes, and animals take FOREVER to fall.
- BRANCHES are DANGEROUS and apparently quite loosely connected to trees: i have seen parrots, marmosets, chinchillas, sloths, kinkajous (and possibly other animals too) barely escape these perilous limbs, and i haven't seen that many episodes.
- Diego is not very bright and needs more parental supervision: Adults are hardly ever around and for some reason and Diego is not the sharpest kid. Apparently he's to slow to realize that it's easier to get down a SNOWy slope with a SNOWboard than it is with a telephone. (idiot!)

And i keep waiting for the real animal lessons to kick in. i am a biologist after all.

Diego: Baby kikajous are afraid of harpy eagles!
Why?! Because harpy eagles EAT baby kinkajous!

or ¿how about this correction?

Diego: Help get the baby mountain gorillas out of the net before the poachers come back to cut off their hands to sell as ashtrays!

well, maybe those lessons won't happen anytime soon.

in the week or so before our requests for Diego from the library came up, Laura tried to find some episodes on YouTube. She didn't find any real episodes, but rather an abundance of odd Diego and Dora iterations.

i've seen a few video mash-ups, and have never been very impressed. i don't really like the music much, but i must say that this one isn't bad. they really synched up the audio and the video. watch for a bit. Laur and i got a chuckle out of it.

0z iEiO


and officially... i beat the 80-year-old by almost 6 seconds... not that that makes me feel A WHOLE LOT better

Official times

Here are the official times. I'm going to put them into that earlier post, but here they are for now:

Finish time

Rank by Age

minutes per mile



1st of 1




3rd of 6




9th of 22


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Things i forgot to include about race day

i knew that i wasn't going to get my personal record for a 5k, but i did want to do well. of course race day felt a little jinxed.

i stayed up late a couple of nights last week to work on my thesis, and i think that helped me to catch the cold that my girls have. i started getting sick Thursday night, and on Friday the sore throat and stuffy nose were settling in.

The best part was Friday night. it was our family's worst night's sleep in two months or more. the girls weren't settling down and were restless all night. Laura and i didn't really get to sleep for the night until about 1:45am. i was back up trying to feed Maggie and get her back to sleep around 2:30. i think i was up again with Maggie between then and 6:00am (the night was one big blur), but for sure we were all up and out of bed with both girls at 6:00am. Laura saw every hour on the clock between the two girls, and by 6:00am she decided that she and the girls were up for the day.

Laura was good to me and let me go back to bed and i got some sleep between 6:30am and 8:00am. i was still asleep when my parents showed up to get to head to the starting line together.

the day wasn't completely jinxed. at least the rain and coldest temperatures waited until after the race was over. even with the less that ideal conditions, my race still felt pretty good.