Bread making equipment

One of my first loaves of bread

Becca asked for links to the equipment I purchased after reading Flour Water Salt Yeast: The Fundamentals of Artisan Bread and Pizza and deciding to take it up as a hobby>:

Weights and Measures

Proofing Baskets

Oven Equipment

Pizza Equipment

Bread Knife

— Michael A. Cleverly

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Cleverly kids melting pot equation solved

For quite a few years now my sister Becca has said she wanted to figure out what our American melting pot equation was. Wednesday night I decided it was high time we figure it out and solve it once and for all.

Using the new FamilySearch.org website I traced each branch of our family tree back until either:

  1. I reached the "old" world
  2. I hit a dead end where the last known ancestor on a particular line was born in the United States or Canada
  3. I reached a native american ancestor

Here is what we are (rounded to three decimal places):

It is quite likely that the vast majority of the dead end unknowns are really (eventually) from England, putting us either at or just over 50% British.

Origin # of ancestors Avg # generations back Min # of generations Max # of generations
CHEROKEE 1 5.0 5 5
DENMARK 1 4.0 4 4
ENGLAND 293 12.2 3 16
FRANCE 47 11.7 9 16
GERMANY 6 8.3 3 11
IRELAND 14 10.4 6 12
ITALY 2 11.0 11 11
NETHERLANDS 9 14.8 12 16
NORWAY 1 15.0 15 15
SCOTLAND 8 11.3 5 14
SWEDEN 2 4.0 4 4
SWITZERLAND 1 5.0 5 5
WALES 8 12.0 7 15

On my father's side of the family tree I ran into dead ends as early as six generations back and as late as fifteen (average of 10.9). On my mother's side the trail petered out in between nine and fifteen generations (average of 12.1).

Among the original thirteen colonies (in colonial times) the trail went cold in eight of them:

  1. Virginia (28 times)
  2. Connecticut (26 times)
  3. New York (16 times)
  4. Massachusetts (15 times)
  5. Rhode Island and Providence Plantations (8 times)
  6. Pennsylvania (5 times)
  7. North Carolina (4 times)
  8. South Carolina (twice)

(The trail also went cold a half-dozen times in Canada.)

While I was writing this post Caleb had this YouTube video playing in the other room:

Very apropos!

A final slightly depressing thought: while this calculation holds for all my siblings it is only half the calcuation for my own children...

— Michael A. Cleverly

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How you too can be a computer expert!

This xkcd comic is so accurate it's scary (and hilarious)!

XKCD comic

(H/T: Coyote Blog)

— Michael A. Cleverly

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Tk-Cocoa posts

For those interested in Tk developments in the forthcoming Tk 8.6 on OS X, Kevin Walzer started a series of posts this weekend at his blog:

  1. User notes on Tk-Cocoa
  2. Developer notes on Tk-Cocoa
  3. Business notes on Tk-Cocoa

— Michael A. Cleverly

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Easily reading a .pages file on a Mac without iWork (or under Windows or Linux, etc.)

Aside from a Windows laptop my employer forces me to use our family is 100% Macintosh (both PowerPC and Intel). I received a .pages file today from a neighbor. I needed to access the information in the document but the trial copy of Apple's iWorks had expired.

When people email me Microsoft Word .doc files Gmail quite conveniently provides a link to view the document as HTML. No such luck for a .pages file.

Personally, I wish people would just use open file formats, rather than proprietary ones. If I need a text editor I usually use vi. If I need to typeset something I'll use either LaTeX or ConTeXt. But I didn't want to ask the sender to convert it to another format; I was just grateful she sent the information I needed in a timely fashion.

I briefly did some Google searching; when I didn't see anything that seemed remotely relevant on the first page of search results I suddenly had a hunch: perhaps a .pages file is a .zip archive?

Bingo!

michael$ unzip -l June\ 09.pages 
Archive:  June 09.pages
  Length     Date   Time    Name
 --------    ----   ----    ----
    70187  07-19-09 11:10   QuickLook/Thumbnail.jpg
    20084  07-19-09 11:10   QuickLook/Preview.pdf
      335  07-19-09 11:10   buildVersionHistory.plist
   361897  07-19-09 11:10   index.xml
 --------                   -------
   452503                   4 files

No need for iWork; I just unzipped the QuickLook/Preview.pdf and I could easily open that. The .xml file, especially when pretty-printed with extra whitespace and appropriate layers of indenting, was also quite humanly readable.

So, if you need to read a .pages file under Linux, Unix, Windows or on a Mac without iWork, just run: unzip -j document.pages QuickLook/Preview.pdf

— Michael A. Cleverly

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A comment on "Wayward Children"

I wrote this originally as a comment on Wayward Children—Eternity Is A Long Time, a post on a blog I discovered only yesterday.

... But comments on blogspot apparently have a 4,096 character limit (at a least it isn't a silly Oracle varchar 4,000 character limitation) and I was... um, more than doubly too verbose for blogspot :-).

Here is the comment that that didn't fit (with the benefit of added hyperlinks):

Mormon's Book: A Reader's Edition of The Book of Mormon

Mormon and Moroni saw our day (Mormon 8:34-35) and under divine direction compiled the Book of Mormon for our benefit. I think it is worth looking at the struggles parents in the Book of Mormon have trying to raise righteous children.

The classic example of wayward children coming around in the Book of Mormon would certainly be Alma the Younger and the sons of Mosiah. They go from being non-believers who try and entice and lead others away from the church, to being truly converted and dedicating their lives to the Lord and laboring to bring many souls unto Christ.

Just in the unabridged small plates, however, we find that righteous parents with obedient children are mostly not to be found—certainly the exception, not the rule.

Nephi was "born of goodly parents" and "taught somewhat in all the learning of [his] father" (1 Nephi 1:1). Nephi's father Lehi has his theophany (1 Nephi 1:6-15) and then a dream in which he is commanded to take his family and flee Jerusalem (1 Nephi 2:2-3).

Early on Lehi's eldest sons Laman and Leumeul begin the complaining and murmuring for which they're so famous (1 Nephi 2:11-12). They did not believe what their father taught (1 Nephi 2:13). A close reading shows that even Nephi must have had some uncertainties and doubts at first about what his father was teaching and asking of them: Nephi required the Lord's help to "soften [his] heart" to enable him to believe all that Lehi had been preaching (1 Nephi 2:16). I think we generally overlook this verse and assume that Nephi was born perfect with rock solid faith. Sam believes Lehi because of Nephi's testimony (1 Nephi 2:17), not [only?] because of his father's teachings.

One of the few times that Laman and Lemuel appear predisposed to be obedient is when they Lehi sends them back to Jerusalem a second time to get Ishmael's family. When it came to go back and get the scriptures they weren't interested (1 Nephi 3:2-5); when it came time to go back and get the girls they suddenly have no complaint at all (1 Nephi 7:1-5)!

Ishmael and his wife were receptive to the Lord's spirit and Lehi's invitation to join them (1 Nephi 7:4-6). Four of Ishmael's children were already rebelling from the get go not long after they'd left Jerusalem (1 Nephi 7:6). Not all of Ishmael's children were rebellious (cf. 1 Nephi 7:6 & 1 Nephi 7:19; I suspect the daughter in verse 19 was the future Mrs. Nephi).

The marriage of Lehi's sons was the the culmination of Lehi's fulfilling all of the Lord's commandments. (1 Nephi 16:7; I read the next verse, 1 Ne. 16:8, as Nephi paying his wife a great compliment.) But while he may have fulfilled all of the Lord's commandments he isn't finished praying, hoping, exhorting, teaching and loving all his children. Lehi does not give up on them (cf. 2 Nephi 1:1-29).

Laman & Lemuel are so wayward, despite Lehi's best efforts at counseling them otherwise, that they contemplate both patricide and fratricide—and who knows but perhaps matricide as well (cf. 1 Nephi 16:37, 7:16, 17:44, 18:11 & 2 Nephi 5:3-5).

The grief and angusih that Lehi and Sariah feel for Laman and Lemuel and their children-in-law is, itself, nearly enough to kill them (1 Nephi 18:17-19). Lehi teaches his son Jacob (and is certainly more than capable to based on his own experience as a father) that children bring both misery and joy (2 Nephi 2:20, 23-25).

Lehi's son Nephi, while certainly stalwart and a prophet in his own right, was not immune from his own personal struggles here in this lone and dreary world (2 Nephi 4:17-35). Nephi's family's (relatives at least, and who knows but perhaps some of his own children) behavior is such that he "pray[s] continually for them by day, and [his] eyes water [his] pillow by night, because of them" (2 Nephi 33:3). Nephi has great love for his family (2 Nephi 33:7).

Parents—like Lehi and Sariah—had (in addition to struggles with their children) their own personal issues to work out in their marriage (see, for example 1 Nephi 5:2-8 and 16:19-20).

Jacob is called on to speak boldly to [at least] his extended family (Jacob 1:15 & 2:7-11, 23-28). The Nephites, who had more light and knowledge than the Lamanites, were failing to live the kind of family life they should—the "apostate" Lamanties are better examples, and the Nephites could profit by learning from them! (Jacob 2:35, 3:5-11.)

Enos, though taught by his prophet-father Jacob, had to go through his own wrestle before God before he obtained a remission of his sins for himself (Enos 1:1-2). Just being the son, newphew and grandson of great prophets was not enough. Jarom seems to have been a righteous son of Enos. He testifies of the Lord's merciful longsuffering to them (Jarom 1:2-4, 9).

Omni—for whom the sixth book of the Book of Mormon is named—himself a son of Jarom, grandson of Enos, great-grandson of Jacob and great-great-grandson of Lehi and Sariah—considered himself "a wicked man" who had "not kept the statutes and the commandments of the Lord as [he] ought to have done" (Omni 1:2). Two additional generations beyond Omni Abinadom reports that revelation and prophecy have apparently died out in this family line (Omni 1:11).

There are a number of other examples—besides Alma and the sons of Mosiah—we could look at in Mormon's abridgement of the large plates and Moroni's abridgement of the Jaredite's record, but this comment is already getting to be far too long, I imagine.

We could certainly all do much better at "bear[ing] one another's burdens" and "mourn[ing] with those that mourn" (Mosiah 18:8-9; cf. Moroni 6:5) and having faith in—and emulating in my own life—"the knowledge of the goodness of God, and his matchless power, and his wisdom, and his patience, and his long-suffering towards [his] children" (Mosiah 4:6; cf. Alma 7:23, 13:28, 17:11) and possessing charity towards everyone, including: ourselves, our spouse, our children, our fellow saints (cf. Moroni 7:44-48, 10:21, 31-33).

Seeing how almost all of the families in the first 321 years (600 BC to 279 BC) of the Book of Mormon struggled helps me put things into better perspective. The Book of Mormon gives me hope.

— Michael A. Cleverly

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Strangest quote I've read today

In a story from CBS 13 (in California):

"The governor is not against condiments. The governor's not against fruits of any kind," said spokesman Aaron McLear.

— Michael A. Cleverly

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Thawing President Kimball's bicentennial address (in a small way)

Among the dozen or so books I have currently on my nightstand is Hugh Nibley's Approaching Zion (also available in its entirety—for free—online!) which I've been rereading recently.

On page 281 (in the chapter "But What Kind of Work?") Nibley writes: "We say, The Prophet! The Prophet! We have got us a Prophet! But when he speaks on the most solemn occasion, the bicentennial of the nation, with the deepest fervor and conviction about the conditions of the time and the course we must take, we give his remarks the instant deep-freeze."

I was too young to have heard, remembered, or read President Kimball's July 1976 address, though I have read it before as an adult. Given that today is the 233rd anniversary of the signing of the Decleration of Independence I think it is appropriate to share President Kimball's bicentennial remarks more widely. (I'd be surprised, for example, if all my siblings have read it.) I've taken the liberty of adding some emphasis to what follows.

President Spencer W. Kimball

The False Gods We Worship

I have heard that the physical sense most closely associated with memory is the sense of smell. If this is true, then perhaps it explains the many pleasing feelings that overtake me these mornings when I am able to step outdoors for a few moments and breathe in the warm and comfortable aromas that I have come to associate over the years with the soil and vegetation of this good earth.

Now and then, when the moment is right, some particular scent—perhaps only the green grass, or the smell of sage brought from a distance by a breeze—will cause me to recall the days of my youth in Arizona. It was an arid country, yet it was fruitful under the hands of determined laborers.

We worked with the land and the cattle in all kinds of weather, and when we traveled, it was on horseback or in open wagons or carriages, mostly. I used to run like the wind with my brothers and sisters through the orchards, down the dusty lanes, past rows of corn, red tomatoes, onions, squash. Because of this, I suppose it is natural to think that in those days, we were closer to elemental life.

Some time ago, I chanced to walk outdoors when the dark and massive clouds of an early afternoon thunderstorm were gathering; and as the large raindrops began to drum the dusty soil with increasing rapidity, I recalled the occasional summer afternoons when I was a boy when the tremendous thunderheads would gather over the hills and bring welcome rain to the thirsty soil of the valley floor. We children would run for the shed, and while the lightning danced about, we would sit and watch, transfixed, marveling at the ever-increasing power of the pounding rainfall. Afterward, the air would be clean and cool and filled with the sweet smells of the soil, the trees, and the plants of the garden.

There were evenings those many years ago, at about sunset, when I would walk in leading the cows. Stopping by a tired old fence post, I would sometimes just stand silently in the mellow light and the fragrance of sunflowers and ask myself, "If you were going to create a world, what would it be like?" Now with a little thought, the answer seems so natural: "Just like this one."

So on this day, while I stood watching the thunderstorm, I felt—and I feel now—that this is a marvelous earth on which we find ourselves.

Nevertheless, on this occasion of so many pleasant memories, another impression entered my thoughts. The dark and threatening clouds that hung so low over the valley seemed to force my mind back to a topic that the Brethren have concerned themselves with for many years now—indeed a theme that has often occupied the attention of the Lord's chosen prophets since the world began. I am speaking of the general state of wickedness in which we seem to find the world in these perilous yet crucially momentous days; and thinking of this, I am reminded of the general principle that where much is given, much is expected. (See Luke 12:48.)

The Lord gave us a choice world and expects righteousness and obedience to his commandments in return. But when I review the performance of this earth people in comparison with what is expected, I am appalled and frightened. Iniquity seems to abound. The Destroyer seems to be taking full advantage of the time remaining to him in this, the great day of his power. Evil seems about to engulf us like a great wave, and we feel that truly, we are living in conditions similar to those in the days of Noah before the Flood.

I have traveled much in various assignments over the years, and when I pass through the lovely countryside or fly over the vast and beautiful expanses of our globe, I compare these beauties with many of the dark and miserable practices of men, and I have the feeling that the good earth can hardly bear our presence upon it. I recall the occasion when Enoch heard the earth mourn, saying, "Wo, wo is me, the mother of men; I am pained, I am weary, because of the wickedness of my children. When shall I rest, and be cleansed from the filthiness which is gone forth out of me?" (Moses 7:48.)

The Brethren constantly cry out against that which is intolerable in the sight of the Lord: against pollution of mind, body, and our surroundings; against vulgarity, stealing, lying, pride, and blasphemy; against fornication, adultery, homosexuality, and all other abuses of the sacred power to create; against murder and all that is like unto it; against all manner of desecration.

That such a cry should be necessary among a people so blessed is amazing to me. And that such things should be found even among the Saints to some degree is scarcely believable, for these are a people who are in possession of many gifts of the Spirit, who have knowledge that lets them put the eternities into perspective, who have been shown the way to eternal life.

Sadly, however, we find that to be shown the way is not necessarily to walk in it, and many have not been able to continue in faith. These have submitted themselves in one degree or another, to the enticings of Satan and his servants, and joined with those of "the world" in lives of ever-deepening idolatry.

I use the word idolatry intentionally. As I study ancient scripture, I am more and more convinced that there is significance in the fact that the commandment "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" is the first of the Ten Commandments.

Few men have ever knowingly and deliberately chosen to reject God and his blessings. Rather, we learn from the scriptures that because the exercise of faith has always appeared to be more difficult than relying on things more immediately at hand, carnal man has tended to transfer his trust in God to material things. Therefore, in all ages when men have fallen under the power of Satan and lost the faith, they have put in its place a hope in the "arm of flesh" (D&C 1:19) and in "gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know" (Dan. 5:23)—that is, in idols. This I find to be a dominant theme in the Old Testament. Whatever thing a man sets his heart and his trust in most is his god; and if his god doesn't also happen to be the true and living God of Israel, that man is laboring in idolatry.

It is my firm belief that when we read these scriptures and try to "liken them unto [our]selves," as Nephi suggested (1 Ne. 19:24), we will see many parallels between the ancient worship of graven images and behavioral patterns in our very own experience.

The Lord has blessed us as a people with a prosperity unequaled in times past. The resources that have been placed in our power are good, and necessary to do our work here on the earth. But I am afraid that many of us have been surfeited with flocks and herds and acres and barns and wealth and have begun to worship them as false gods, and they have power over us. Do we have more of these good things than our faith can stand? Many people spend most of their time working in the service of a self-image that includes sufficient money, stocks, bonds, investment portfolios, property, credit cards, furnishings, automobiles, and the like to guarantee carnal security throughout, they hope a long and happy life. Forgotten is the fact that our assignment is to use these many resources in our families and quorums to build up the kingdom of God—to further the missionary effort and the genealogical and temple work; to raise our children up as fruitful servants unto the Lord; to bless others in every way, that they may also be fruitful. Instead, we expend these blessings on our own desires, and as Moroni said, "Ye adorn yourselves with that which hath no life, and yet suffer the hungry, and the needy, and the naked, and the sick and the afflicted to pass by you, and notice them not." (Morm. 8:39.)

As the Lord himself said in our day, "They seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness, but every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own God, whose image is in the likeness of the world, and whose substance is that of an idol, which waxeth old and shall perish in Babylon, even Babylon, the great, which shall fall." (D&C 1:16; italics added.)

One man I know of was called to a position of service in the Church, but he felt that he couldn't accept because his investments required more attention and more of his time than he could spare for the Lord's work. He left the service of the Lord in search of Mammon, and he is a millionaire today.

But I recently learned an interesting fact: If a man owns a million dollars worth of gold at today's prices, he possesses approximately one 27-billionth of all the gold that is present in the earth's thin crust alone. This is an amount so small in proportion as to be inconceivable to the mind of man. But there is more to this: The Lord who created and has power over all the earth created many other earths as well, even "worlds without number" (Moses 1:33); and when this man received the oath and covenant of the priesthood (D&C 84:33-44), he received a promise from the Lord of "all that my Father hath" (D&C 84:38). To set aside all these great promises in favor of a chest of gold and a sense of carnal security is a mistake in judgement of colossal proportions. To think that a person has settled for so little is a saddening and pitiful prospect indeed; the souls of men are far more precious than this.

One young man, when called on a mission, replied that he didn't have much talent for that kind of thing. What he was good at was keeping his powerful new automobile in top condition. He enjoyed the sense of power and acceleration, and when he was driving, the continual motion gave him the illusion that he was really getting somewhere.

All along, his father had been content with saying, "He likes to do things with his hands. That's good enough for him."

Good enough for a son of God? This young man didn't realize that the power of his automobile is infinitesimally small in comparison with the power of the sea, or of the sun; and there are many suns, all controlled by law and by priesthood, ultimately—a priesthood power that he could have been developing in the service of the Lord. He settled for a pitiful god, a composite of steel and rubber and shiny chrome.

An older couple retired from the world of work and also, in effect, from the Church. They purchased a pickup truck and camper and, separating themselves from all obligations, set out to see the world and simply enjoy what little they had accumulated the rest of their days. They had no time for the temple, were too busy for genealogical research and for missionary service. He lost contact with his high priests quorum and was not home enough to work on his personal history. Their experience and leadership were sorely needed in their branch, but, unable to "endure to the end," they were not available.

I am reminded of an article I read some years ago about a group of men who had gone to the jungles to capture monkeys. They tried a number of different things to catch the monkeys, including nets. But finding that the nets could injure such small creatures, they finally came upon an ingenious solution. They built a large number of small boxes, and in the top of each, they bored a hole just large enough for a monkey to get his hand into. They then set these boxes out under the trees and in each one they put a nut that the monkeys were particularly fond of.

When the men left, the monkeys began to come down from the trees and examine the boxes. Finding that there were nuts to be had, they reached into the boxes to get them. But when a monkey would try to withdraw his hand with the nut, he could not get his hand out of the box because his little fist, with the nut inside, was now too large.

At about this time, the men would come out of the underbrush and converge on the monkeys. And here is the curious thing: When the monkeys saw the men coming, they would shriek and scramble about with the thought of escaping; but as easy as it would have been, they would not let go of the nut so that they could withdraw their hands from the boxes and thus escape. The men captured them easily.

And so it often seems to be with people, having such a firm grasp on things of the world—that which is telestial—that no amount of urging and no degree of emergency can persuade them to let go in favor of that which is celestial. Satan gets them in his grip easily. If we insist on spending all our time and resources building up for ourselves a worldly kingdom, that is exactly what we will inherit.

In spite of our delight in regarding ourselves as modern, and our tendency to think we possess a sophistication that no people in the past ever had—in spite of these things, we are, on the whole, an idolatrous people—a condition most repugnant to the Lord.

We are a warlike people, easily distracted from our assignment of preparing for the coming of the Lord. When enemies rise up, we commit vast resources to the fabrication of gods of stone and steel—ships, planes, missiles, fortifications—and depend on them for protection and deliverance. When threatened, we align ourselves against the enemy instead of aligning ourselves with the kingdom of God; we train a man in the art of war and call him a patriot, thus, in the manner of Satan's counterfeit of true patriotism, perverting the Savior's teaching:

"Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

"That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven." (Matt. 5:44-45.)

We forget that if we are righteous, the Lord will either not suffer our enemies to come upon us—and this is the special promise to the inhabitants of the land of the Americas (see 2 Ne. 1:7)—or he will fight our battles for us (Ex. 14:14; D&C 98:37, to name only two references of many). This he is able to do, for as he said at the time of his betrayal, "Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?" (Matt. 26:53.) We can imagine what fearsome soldiers they would be. King Jehoshaphat and his people were delivered by such a troop (see 2 Chr. 20), and when Elisha's life was threatened, he comforted his servant by saying, "Fear not; for they that be with us are more than they that be with them" (2 Kgs. 6:16). The Lord then opened the eyes of the servant, "And he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha." (2 Kgs. 6:17.)

Enoch, too, was a man of great faith who would not be distracted from his duties by the enemy: "And so great was the faith of Enoch, that he led the people of God, and their enemies came to battle against them; and he spake the word of the Lord, and the earth trembled, and the mountains fled, even according to his command; and the rivers of water were turned out of their course; and the roar of the lions were heard out of the wilderness; and all nations feared greatly, so powerful was the word of Enoch." (Moses 7:13.)

What are we to fear when the Lord is with us? Can we not take the Lord at his word and exercise a particle of faith in him? Our assignment is positive: to forsake the things of the world as goals in themselves; to desist from idolatry and press forward in faith; to carry the gospel to our enemies, that they might no longer be our enemies.

We must leave off the worship of modern-day idols and a reliance on the "arm of flesh," for the Lord has said to all the world in our day, "I will not spare any that remain in Babylon." (D&C 64:24.)

When Peter preached such a message as this to the people on the day of Pentecost, many of them "were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?" (Acts 2:37.)

And Peter answered: "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and... receive the Holy Ghost." (Acts 2:38.)

As we near the year 2,000, our message is the same as that which Peter gave. And further, that which the Lord himself gave "unto the ends of the earth, that all that will hear may hear:

"Prepare ye, prepare ye for that which is to come, for the Lord is nigh." (D&C 1:11-12.)

We believe that the way for each person and each family to prepare as the Lord has directed is to begin to exercise greater faith, to repent, and to enter into the work of his kingdom on earth, which is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It may seem a little difficult at first, but when a person begins to catch a vision of the true work, when he begins to see something of eternity in its true perspective, the blessings begin to far outweigh the cost of leaving "the world" behind.

Herein lies the only true happiness, and therefore, we invite and welcome all men, everywhere, to join in this work. For those who are determined to serve the Lord at all costs, this is the way to eternal life. All else is but a means to that end.

— Michael A. Cleverly

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RIP: David Eddings

Via Will comes the news that author David Eddings has passed away. (See also this obituary.)

Eddings is the author of some of my all-time favorite fantasy novels (along side the likes of Tolkien and Guy Gavriel Kay).

Eddings fantasy masterpiece was The Belgariad, a series of five books whose titles all bore chess themes:

  1. Pawn of Prophecy
  2. Queen of Sorcery
  3. Magician's Gambit
  4. Castle of Wizardry
  5. Enchanters' End Game

I was introduced to them as a sophmore in high school. I read the first book in a single sitting, I was so enthralled (though, in retrospect, having re-read the series, relatively little actually happens in the Pawn of Prophecy, but boy, was I hooked from the get-go).

Eddings followed up with an encore series of five books, The Malloreon involving the same characters:

  1. Guardians of the West
  2. King of the Murgos
  3. Demon Lord of Karanda
  4. Sorceress of Darshiva
  5. The Seeress of Kell

Between writing Sorceress of Darshiva and The Seeress of Kell Eddings went off and wrote the first two books in an unrelated trilogy, The Elenium (that was itself followed by a follow-on trilogy, The Tamuli, in the same manner that The Malloreon followed The Belgariad).

Having to wait two years, and see two unrelated books come out, before The Seeress of Kell was published to wrap up the story of the characters I'd come to love so much through nine books was extremely frustrating. I might have liked Sparhawk better if he wasn't holding up the closure I needed for my friends Garion, Ce'Nedra, Belgarath, Polgara, Silk, Durnik, etc.! :-)

As a result of the impatience & impotence engendered by this tramautic forced-waiting I decided, as a general rule, to henceforth eschew beginning an incomplete series. For example (as previously noted), I didn't jump on the Harry Potter bandwagon at first, always using as my excuse the fact that the series was incomplete.

As proof of the wisdom of this approach, consider the sad state fans of Robert Jordan found themselves in when Jordan up and died while working on the twelfth installment in his Wheel of Time series!

Eddings did go on to write additional books (several prequels to The Belgariad) but he lost me in 2000 with The Redemption of Althalus & the whole talking cat thing. I haven't read any of his later (post-Y2K) works.

— Michael A. Cleverly

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Under the weather report

I went to the Instacare tonight (Shauna made me go) and found out I have Acute Bronchitis, not Swine Flu like some had worried.

— Michael A. Cleverly

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