Saturday, July 30, 2005

Steve Young, Hall-of-Famer

Barney posted this inspiring story about Steve Young over on Odd Bits. Although I'm not a big NFL fan, I do like college football, and I have fond memories of spending Saturday afternoons in the bleachers at what was then called Cougar Stadium, watching and cheering the BYU football team during its glory years in the 1980s. They were coached at the time by LaVell Edwards, for whom the stadium was later named.

In fact, I was present at one of the first games -- perhaps the first game -- in which Steve Young appeared as quarterback. Jim McMahon was the star QB at the time, at least on the field. He set his usual quota of NCAA records just about every weekend, but some of his off-the-field antics were, shall we say, inconsistent with the image BYU has always tried to present to the world. (Some of those traits became far more obvious once McMahon left BYU and joined the NFL.) I don't recall who the opposing team was on the day in question, but McMahon was pulled out in the fourth quarter because BYU had a comfortable lead and Coach Edwards wanted to give Young some experience. This was towards the end of Jim McMahon's final season, and although Steve Young did well enough that day, I remember lamenting that BYU's best football years were probably over, because McMahon was leaving, and who could possibly fill his shoes now?

Of course, I was pleasantly surprised by what happened after that season. Steve Young never did fill Jim McMahon's shoes, simply because they proved to be far too small for him. And off the field, Young -- who, incidentally, is a direct descendant of none other than Brother Brigham himself -- participated actively in the LDS Church and set a far better example as a role model than did his predecessor. When he left BYU, he of course went on to bigger and better things: a marvelous career with the San Francisco 49ers, followed by marriage, at around age 40, to a lovely and remarkable young woman. And now, induction into the Football Hall of Fame. If we still lived in Ohio -- we were only about 75 miles from Canton -- I would want to be there for this occasion.

Well, that's my two bits worth. But don't let it substitute for what Barney has to say.

Sunset during duststorm

Sunset during duststorm
Originally uploaded by gwilmore.
I took this picture about a week ago. It isn't the world's greatest sunset photo, but I thought it was good enough to share with everyone, so here it is.

I hope to post more and better pictures soon. A couple of nights ago I had to run some errands, and as I was driving home, I noticed off to the west one of the prettiest sunsets I have ever seen. (A co-worker noticed it, too, and commented about it the following day.) I drove home as quickly as I could to retrieve my camera, so distracted all the while by the sunset itself that I was afraid of having an accident. I then drove about a mile to what I thought would be a good vantage point, but unfortunately, it turned out not to be particularly good after all; but more importantly, by that time the sunset had pretty much faded away, and with it my opportunity for a wonderful photo. Better luck next time, I hope. Fortunately, I live in a state known for spectacular scenery and beautiful sunsets, so I hope another chance presents itself soon.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Fun camping trip!

Since it's in a "draft" mode, I can't comment on it, but would like to thank you, Barney, for putting it up for us to see. I really enjoy mountains and hiking, but don't have much of the latter here in Ohio, and can't hike very well anymore, so I enjoy those times I can hear about fun adventures like that! Thanks for sharing!


Friday, July 22, 2005

Resurrecting a fond memory

I am currently reading a book titled The Last Word, which was loaned to me last week by a co-worker. An anthology of interesting obituaries published in The New York Times, the book is edited by Marvin Siegel and contains a foreword by Russell Baker, who has long been one of my favorite writers and humorists. Mr. Baker takes the view that obituary-reading should be something to savor, and I agree with him, because someday each of us will be the subject of an obituary, and who wants his or her final exit to be marked with one of the all-too-brief and anemic pieces of what usually passes for an obituary in this hectic, impersonal age? ("Joe Blow, age 78, died of natural causes on July 22, 2005. Beloved husband of Zelda, father to Joe Jr. and Angie. Retired longshoreman and Korean War veteran. Funeral service to be held at 11:00 a.m. on Monday, July 25, 2005, at the Church of the Apostate Brethren, 123 S. Main St.") Yecch!

One of the obits in this book brought back a fond memory which does not surface all that often nowadays. Fresh out of college in 1925, Allan G. Odell went to work for a company called Burma-Vita, Inc. (The fact that the company was owned by his father doubtless helped him to get the job.) At that time, Burma-Vita was producing a brushless shaving cream, and the senior Odell enlisted his son's help in marketing the product. The result was the Burma-Shave signs that once were commonplace in rural America, but are mostly forgotten now. They consisted of six signs, placed 100 feet apart on a stretch of rural highway, and each containing a line of a catchy jingle. The final sign always contained only the words "Burma-Shave." At the time, the national speed limit was only 35 mph, so motorists passing the signs could read the jingle as they moved down the road, although it was impossible to read the punch-line until one was directly upon it. I remember seeing Burma-Shave signs in Indiana and Ohio when I was young, and being quite entertained and amused by them. Unfortunately, the roadside-jingle ad campaign ended in 1964, and I'm sure all the signs have been taken down by now. I don't recall seeing any during the five years we lived in Ohio in the 1990s. So my personal thanks to the editor of this book, and to Mr. Baker, for bringing back this nearly-forgotten piece of Americana.

Mr. Odell's obit includes a few of the jingles, which are worth sharing here:

"Within This Vale
Of Toil
And Sin
Your Head Grows Bald
But Not Your Chin -- Use

"Henry the Eighth
Sure Had
Short-Term Wives
Long-Term Stubble

"Pity all
The mighty Caesars
They pulled
Each whisker out
With tweezers

My personal favorite was this one:

"With Glamour Girls
You'll Never Click
Like a

It is also reported that in 1953, the author Vladimir Nabokov tried unsuccessfully to submit, in his wife's name, a Burma-Shave jingle of his own, to-wit:

"He passed two cars
then five
then seven
and then he beat
them all to Heaven

Friday, July 15, 2005

Meet Elbie Jaye

Elbie Jaye
Originally uploaded by gwilmore.
This is a picture of one of our three birds. I'll post pictures of the other two as soon as I have some that turn out as well as this one did. Click on the picture itself and read my commentary, some of which echoes from one of my very first posts on this blog.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Julie D.'s meme challenge

I've never done a meme before, but Julie, at Happy Catholic, has thrown out a challenge that I have decided to accept. Here's her post. What follows is my own version of it, for whomever might be interested:

1. Five favorite snacks: Chocolate chip cookies; Oreos; peanut butter; graham crackers; French vanilla ice cream.

2. Five songs of which I know all the lyrics: "O mio babbino caro," from Puccini's Gianni Schicchi; "Country Roads," by John Denver; and I'm embarrassed that I don't seem to know any more at the moment. (I am intentionally excluding LDS hymns and the numerous Mad magazine parody songs I memorized as a teenager, most of which I still remember today.) Come to think of it, though: there is at least one other song, to-wit, the theme from the Batman TV show back in the 1960s.

3. The first five things I would do with $100 million: Pay tithing; pay off all our debts; help my sisters-in-law, some missionaries, and a few other distressed individuals we know; invest what remains in a trust fund; travel with my family.

4. Five locations to run off to: Florence; Rome; Greece; Cyprus; Spain.

5. Five things I like doing: Reading; blogging; church work; travel; swimming in our backyard pool.

6. Five things I'd never wear: A certain t-shirt I did wear in college and law school, but for which I have long since repented; Speedos; necklaces or chains; tattoos; facial hair, other than on an occasional day when I am too lazy to shave.

7. Five recently-seen movies I like: "Cinderella Man;" "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants;" "High Noon;" "The Perfect Man;" "Shall We Dance?"

8. Five famous people I'd like to meet: Gordon B. Hinckley; Pope Benedict XVI; Rush Limbaugh; William F. Buckley, Jr.; Sean Hannity.

9. Five joys I am experiencing at the moment: My son's progress; a boss who treats me like a prince; my friends and family; some wonderful photos available on Flickr; the New Testament.

10. Five favorite toys: I don't have many toys, but I'll take a stab at this anyway. Let's see: my Waterman fountain pen; my bicycle; my Walkman; my camera (which is soon to see a great deal more use, now that I am a Flickr addict); our swimming pool, which I suppose does qualify as a toy.

11. Five people to tag for participation: I'm skipping this step, and memes are something I won't do frequently myself. But this one has been fun!

Friday, July 08, 2005

To the British people on 7/7

My thoughts, prayers, and sympathies are with the British people in the wake of yesterday's terrorist attacks in London. But I am not worried for them. This is, after all, the same race that produced the likes of Drake, Nelson, Elizabeth I, Churchill, and other heroes and heroines too numerous to mention; and as Churchill himself noted, the British people did not become what they are by being made of sugar candy. If history is any indication -- and as a lifelong student of history, I believe most assuredly that it is -- they will come through this very well indeed, and in a manner worthy of their illustrious past.

So in that spirit, the following quote, by Elizabeth I herself, seems appropriate. During the Spanish Armada crisis in the summer of 1588, she spoke thus:

"I have always so behaved myself that, under God, I have placed my chiefest strength and safeguard in the loyal hearts and good will of my subjects, and therefore I am come amongst you as you see, at this time, not for my recreation and disport, but being resolved, in the midst and heat of the battle, to live or die amongst you all, to lay down for my God, and for my kingdom, and for my people, my honour and my blood, even in the dust. I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a King, and a King of England too, and think foul scorn that Parma or Spain or any Prince of Europe should dare to invade the borders of my realm, to which, rather than any dishonour shall grow by me, I myself will take up arms, I myself will be your general, judge, and rewarder of every one of your virtues in the field. "

Also, on Happy Catholic today, someone suggested that G. K. Chesterton's poem "Lepanto" should be read aloud on both sides of the Atlantic. I concur, and you may therefore read the poem here.

The real meaning of education (and beauty)

I found this article today in Jewish World Review. Although it is about education, some of the ideas presented in it could also be applied to the concept of beauty -- more specifically, to what makes a person "beautiful." I have always believed that a person's true beauty comes from within rather than without -- which I know sounds like a worn cliche, but the author of this article would obviously agree with the notion, which is comprised in the concept of chen. (I leave it to him to explain it, which I hope gives you some incentive to read the article itself.) To illustrate the idea from my point of view, however: I find the actress Gwyneth Paltrow incredibly attractive from a purely physical standpoint. However, I know she has a potty mouth and an immoral lifestyle, so I also find her chen unappealing. Thus, from my perpective, Gwyneth Paltrow cannot be said to be "beautiful."

As I read the JWR article, I thought of some of the things I have seen during my now-frequent visits to Flickr. For instance, the picture of Agnieszka, which I recently posted on this blog, revealed her chen, which was why I found it so appealing. In this connection, it is worth mentioning that Agnieszka has posted dozens of self-portraits on the Flickr site, all of them carefully crafted and well-executed, without ever appearing to be conceited, self-centered, or narcissistic in any way. Not many people could manage to accomplish that, but she has. Again, it's her chen. What she has on the inside is well worth sharing with the world, and I think Agnieszka knows that somewhere in the core of her being, although she is far too modest to admit it. The feedback she gets for her pictures suggests that even people who only know her through the medium of cyberspace genuinely love her, which I understand because I share the feeling. I believe they are also attracted to Agnieszka's chen. (By the way, if the Flickr crowd ever decide to get together and designate one of their number as the official Flickr homecoming queen, I suspect it will be none other than Agnieszka herself. She has my vote, anyway.)

I had similar thoughts about this picture, also from Flickr. It is of the contributor's wife, who took this self-portrait while he was away on business. She was quite proud of her new hairdo, but what really struck me about the picture was how happy the young woman appeared. And it comes from inside her somewhere; her whole countenance just seems to glow. I wrote a comment to the contributor, which appears below the picture.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Independence Day

I know there are many from all around this beautiful Earth that check out this blog, and most know that today, July 4th, in the U.S., we celebrate Independence Day. While I am very grateful for those who fought and died for our independence in this great country and the blessings of it, I was sitting here, realizing EACH of us, no matter where we are from or where we live now, has times in our lives when we are (hopefully!) able to experience our own "Independence Day".

Perhaps we can only relish that greatness for a short time, but I feel pretty confident in saying that there is a spark of this "Day" for each of us at some time. I know that in my life right now, I am having one of those sparks and it is wonderful to have, to be able to feel confidence in an accomplishment, to overcome a challenge, to realize I can stand on my own two feet and make it through some really tough times. (Not alone! Lots of support around and above to help me!) But to be able to feel that sense of accomplishment that I associate with something as big as this "Independence Day" that we celebrate -

May we each have some joy in our own "Day" -