Monday, June 23, 2008

Snatch the Pebble from my Hand

I know my boys are spoiled and my wife overindulges them, but I love them all the same. They've had more unique and interesting experiences in their short lives than I had by the time I was 25, but I know that ultimately it will be be to their advantage.

Luckily for us, and by us I mean my wife Alisa, the kids have extremely busy summer schedules complete with swim team, scout camp, ceramics classes, and now, Kung Fu. Yes, all four of them will be studying this martial art of the Far East. I cannot imagine what motivated Michael to ask for Kung Fu lessons. Yes, we recently saw the movie "Kung Fu Panda," but I just don't see the connection.

I can see it now. I arrive home from a long, stressful day of work, anticipating a quiet, relaxing evening at home with the wife and kids. Suddenly, four black-robed Kung Fu masters emerge from the shadows, intent on my slow, painful demise. I try desperately to fight them off, armed only with my wits and superior physical strength. Yet they are too many, and I fall victim to Tiger, Mantis, Viper, and Monkey.

Actually, I'm excited that they're interested in Kung Fu because it puts a little more emphasis on the mental-emotional-physical nexus than other marital arts. But mostly I just want to call them "Grasshopper."

Sunday, June 15, 2008


Father's Day was bittersweet for me today, having buried my father about two weeks ago. My wife, kids, and in-laws are always great on Father's Day, though. Alisa always gets me a card and a nice gift, and the kids always make something special at school or in Sunday School. Usually it's a custom tie with the kids' picture on it, or a hand-made card, piece of pottery, t-shirt, etc. Alisa is much more deserving of Mother's Day than I am of Father's Day. The kids are deserving of nothing. Sounds harsh I know, but in our home, every day is Kids' Day.

The kids are counting down the days until school is over; I imagine their teachers are too. They get out on June 18 and go back the day after Labor Day. Michael had a particularly difficult year. The transition to middle school was not smooth for him, but the challenge has made him stronger and I'm sure next year will be much better. His grades were surprisingly good, compared to how the year started. There was something discernibly wrong with him at the beginning of the school year. After a lot of research and doctor's visits, we discovered he is allergic to most foods. Wheat, corn, soy, eggs, milk, tomatoes, and yeast, to name a few. He subsists primarily on rice and teriyaki chicken or beef. He can eat fruits and vegetables, but he is unwilling to do so. The other kids are also mildly allergic. Michael takes some digestive enzymes and other treatments for the allergies. The doctor says that his allergies should subside at some point in the future. I had a missionary companion who had similar allergies, but he could not resist his food temptations. He also couldn't resist the temptation to go on splits with another missionary and see a Van Halen concert. Too bad for them some church members saw them in the crowd, but that's another story. Every so often this unnamed companion of mine would go on a binge and eat an entire half-gallon of ice cream; he'd then spend the rest of the night in the bathroom. Everything he ate would eventually come back out, but I'm not sure which end.

Joseph is the best for eating healthy foods, but he's also the one with the biggest sweet tooth. The number of different things Adam eats can be counted on one hand: potatoes, meat, cheese, rice, and fruit. Benjamin's tastes are similar to Joseph's. At least they eat my homemade chili, which is mostly beans. I love beans and legumes. There's so much you can do with them, and they're so good for you. Alisa's uncle used to say "The more fiber it has, the more you should eat. The less fiber it has, the less you should eat." I'm kind of nutty about fiber. I take a fiber supplement every morning, just to make sure I'm getting some during the day. Some days I don't eat well, so I know the fiber is doing some good. My brother's friend, a gastroenterologist, said if you're not getting enough fiber in your diet, a supplement will help. Most Americans don't eat nearly enough fiber; too many prepared and processed foods available. That's why colon cancer is so prevalent in this country. We are also too sedentary. We've moved past the agricultural age, through the industrial age, and now reside squarely in the information age. There's not a lot of physical movement required in the information age. It used to be we had to work, physically work, 8-12 hours a day in the field. My grandparents grew their own fruits and vegetables and lived quite independently until a couple years before they passed away. Grandpa and Grandma Passey lived to be 96 and 97, respectively. Their lives are a great example of work ethic and cooperation. My Grandma Krogh was a workaholic. I learned a lot about a hard day's work from her. She would put us to work mowing the lawn, clipping the hedges, raking leaves, painting, helping with the roofing project, you name it. I'm very grateful for these examples, because I think we're slowly losing the work ethic of the previous generation. People say that we are busier and work longer hours today than we did in the past. I would agree we are busier, but that doesn't always mean work. I think more and more people are becoming allergic to work and exercise.

A lot can be said about the relationship between physical activity and mental, emotional, and spiritual health. The benefits of physical exercise on our brains and our spirits is often understated. My goal is to get more physical exercise, and more sleep, so I can be a little sharper. I'm going to go pump up my tires so I can ride my bike to work tomorrow.

Monday, June 9, 2008

T.M.I. (Too Much Information)

I'm no English scholar, but I've always been fascinated by words and etymology. Probably comes from my dad, who loved a good play on words. I know the question will come up sooner or later, so I might as well dispel the great mystery about the name of my blogsite now. My dad loved to give ordinary words unique and complex spellings, as well as come up with new words and names for things. He also created his own pet names for his children, such as "Skarpathian Pugsforth," and "Buford Paisley" (Buford, you know who you are). "Skarpathian" is a bit of a stretch from "Scott," but then again, that was my dad.

In college I had a couple roommates who shared my interest in vocabulary. One of them had a copy of the Oxford English Dictionary (the print was so small you almost had to use a magnifying glass) and we'd look up various words for fun. One day we came across the word "gymnos." This is a Greek root meaning "naked" or "in the nude." It is evident from the art and history of the ancient Greeks that they had great admiration for the human form. It is said that athletes and Olympians in ancient Greece would compete in their events either completely naked or with very little attire (count me out for wrestling!). My roommates and I would jokingly use the word in such context as "I'm going to get gymnos and take a shower now." It is fairly clear how the words "gym," "gymnastic," and gymnasium" are derived from this root. Unfortunately for me, these words elicit some disturbing imagery every time I hear them. I am mildly revulsed at the prospect of holding a meeting or event in the "gymnasium," and the thought of my son taking a "gym" class is somewhat troubling.

Yes, words can be interesting, but sometimes too much information is a bad thing.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Dee Clinton Passey, 1935-2008

It is difficult, if not impossible, to sum up the measure of a man’s life in a sentence, paragraph, or even a page. Dee Passey’s greatest legacy will be his example and the attributes that live on in his posterity.

I remember many examples and hidden life lessons taught by one who was scarcely aware he was teaching. I remember Dad teaching my deacon’s quorum in Taylorsville, Utah – I don’t remember the lesson, but I do remember the bag of Chips Ahoy cookies he brought for the team that got the most answers right. I remember the fun we had when we were kids playing around in the yard, shooting off rockets pressurized with water. I’m sure this came from the rocket scientist in him, as did the Red Devil firework displays each year. I remember how each of the boys in our family won first place, or close to it, in each of the scout pinewood derby races we competed in. Dad shaped and crafted our racers with the meticulous precision that only an engineer could possess. I remember one year he was responsible for providing the trophies, and in an attempt to get the glue to dry quickly, he accidentally melted them in the oven. They resembled shiny wilted flowers.

I knew Dad to be a man of few words and simple means, but he could make your head spin on many subjects, including politics, religion, science, medicine, and technology. I’m just beginning to grasp about half of what he tried to explain to me – when we meet on the other side I will ask him to clarify the other half. I cherish our many telephone conversations in which we exchanged various observations and philosophies on life. I remember a man who was smart, witty, talented, and extraordinarily creative, yet his humility and quiet dignity belied his education and intelligence. Dad’s deadpan sense of humor was arguably his best asset, and that attribute can be seen in many of his children and grandchildren. No doubt he got it from G.I. Passey, the original funny man (“Sit on the ground and let your feet hang over”).

Dad had an infectious smile, was always glad to see you, and had a genuine concern for each member of his family. He was always interested in what others were doing – the epitome of selflessness. I remember a man who, at times, was weighed down by life’s burdens, yet he carried those burdens with a positive attitude and a hope for a new tomorrow. Dad was by no means perfect, but who can achieve perfection in this lifetime? I know that most things he did were for the purpose of improving his family’s lot in life. Dad has had an immeasurable impact on my life, and when I see him again I will thank him for his love, concern, and contribution to who I am. Thank you Dad, I love you.

Hitting the Dreaded 40's

This is my first foray into the world of blogging, so please bear with me as I negotiate the landscape. I've always been a few years behind the curve, except in the case of DVD players. I remember buying one of the first DVD players on the market, a Toshiba model, for about $350 on sale. I typically avoid being the first to invest in new technology; I'd rather let someone else victimize himself by being the beta tester.

Anyway, it's been a tough adjustment to admit I'm middle-aged. Scrapes and bruises don't heal so fast anymore; I always feel tired and sore, even when I'm trying to exercise; and I can no longer hide my male pattern baldness. My dad went bald much earlier in life, so I can be grateful that my hair has lasted about 15 years longer than his. Yet I have reached a crossroads in which I have to make a fateful decision. I can try to grow my hair out to obscure the "island," the small tuft of hair remaining in the front, or I can cut everything else so close that I'm practically bald anyway. I'm leaning towards the latter. I've always thought the "comb-over" look was ridiculous, and I've never seen anyone hide their baldness with any degree of success, except with a hat. For someone who always had thick hair it will definitely be a different look for me, but I'm okay with it. I just don't want to get sunburned. I suppose the natural reaction is to compensate for this loss in some other way, like body-building or buying a new sports car. However, I am disinclined to pursue either.