Thursday, December 22, 2011

The New World of Books

This blog isn't going to get very popular until it is a source for more frequent postings. That will be possible in the near future, but now it is part of this learning experience that all bloggers go through, some faster than others.

When I was a freshman in high school, there was an introductory class required of all new freshmen. I think it was about learning how to cope with high school. In my immature mind it was a waste of time so for this attitude I was taken out of the class and put into a new experimental class teaching speed reading. I loved this class as it was a challenge and results were shown almost daily. The readings while we learned new techniques were usually from the Reader's Digest and we were timed and then tested for comprehension. I remember my speeds got up into the thousands of words per minute with over 90% comprehension. This probably began my love of reading. It may have been coupled by the English teacher requiring the memorization of a poem. I memorized The Raven by Poe and can still quote parts of it.

After marriage, my wife noted a stack of books that eventually would live on the end table next to the bed. Usually 3 to 8 books would be there, all of which I was reading. She commented more than once over this habit as often I would wake her up with some new observation or fact from one of the books. One year I decided to discover how many books I actually read for that year and it was 72. When you read enough, it is possible to read some material much more quickly than more complicated stuff. Also, you begin to make judgements about the authors and their writing approaches. It also instills the desire to try writing on your own. 

In 2007 I was waiting in a Doctor's office, (Isn't that what you are there for, the wait? Don't they call it the "waiting room?") when I noticed an article about the Amazon Kindle in Time magazine. I read it twice before I was invited in. By that evening I had ordered the Kindle for $399! I've never looked back. We had custom made bookshelves made by a son-in-law that were filled with books, most of which I had read. I used to discard fiction books unless I thought they had a purpose later on. I had read many of the Louis L'Amour books in paperback and collected them so that I wouldn't buy that one again, but one day my wife decided they were taking up too much space on the shelves so she contributed them to a library. Oh well, they are light reading and always entertaining if you are as familiar with the Southwest as I am.

The Kindle was huge in my life. I could hear about a book and within a few minutes it was there to begin reading. I told many people about it but most were put off by the price even though the books were less expensive. Many would get excited but then say something like; "I love to hold the books in my hands." or "I like the feel and smell of a new book." Now the book world has changed, especially for those who like to read a lot. We now have two Kindles and I have the Kindle app on my MacBook Pro. It is wonderful. Unfortunately the first Kindle has died and so another is in my future soon. My wife took over the second one.

Now, another part of this story. Lots of us think we would like to write a book. I think many try and start one, I know I have. My Mom wants me to write one. When you would read about the difficulty and percentage of actually getting published it was daunting. Now you can write, get a little non-publisher help online and post a book on Amazon then get paid for selling the books. It can be done quickly and done to the highest standards. You can also have paper copies of it made for purchase on demand on Amazon and other ebook sites. So, being retired and seeing all of this develop over the past few years, that is the incentive to go forward with a book. Even the software to help you do this is available and affordable. With the cost of an ereader like the Kindle well under $100 now more and more people will have one. By the way, now with a Kindle you have something better to do in the "waiting room."

I have now begun this new trail into the world of becoming an author. One brother has already become one and done well. I now declare that in only my spare time over the last month I have written 12,000 words of my target novel of about 100,000 words and it has been fun. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Black Friday and Better News

Once again good feelings in the Church at Esperança. Shirlyn signs up for lunch with the missionaries whenever she knows we’re going to be in town. This Saturday sounds like meatloaf.

Along with so many others we are dismayed by the violence accompanying “Black Friday.” It seems that the name is appropriate for what it has become but perhaps not so much for the original meaning of “in the black” from the retailers accountants. One person recommended next year to wear a bullet-proof vest and carry a Taser. Oh well, we won’t be there anyway. 

We did have lunch here in Ipatinga, Brasil at the mall (know here as "Shopping") and for the short time we were there saw no evidence of such madness. The only excitement was perhaps the long line to get into the new Breaking Dawn #1 movie. No pepper spray line cuts were observed.

For many families, today is the 1st Advent Sunday. We read the post in Deseret News by Eric D. Huntsman - The First Sunday of Advent: Hope and then reviewed the meaning and approach to using this as a planned way to help a family appreciate and understand the significance of this season. I think each Friday he will follow up with his family’s way of celebrating in this way. I loved the recommendation to use songs associated with the theme of each Sunday’s focus. This week was O Come, O Come Emmanuel and I found this song very well done by Enya.

The Deseret News has taken the place of Fox News for my daily news read. It has much more up-beat news and less of the continual focus on the bad news.

  • Do you use the Advent approach in your family for this season?
  • If you went, what do you think about the movie?
(Click on "comments" below to add yours. We would love to hear what you think.)

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Today is special and certainly a day to acknowledge that feeling of thankfulness as a result. There are too many points to list but here are a few that are very real parts of life right now:

  1. Our Anniversary - Today marks 46 years of friendship, love, challenges, family and memories. On that day, 46 years ago we were legally and eternally joined. It was the day before Thanksgiving on which day we celebrated by eating hamburgers!
  2. The birth of our incredible, loving, considerate Amy, the wife of Wade and mother to five of our formidable grandchildren.
  3. To have our three parents still expressing love and concern and giving their guidance and example on a regular basis.
  4. To see the great blessing of seven children, the parents of 29 grandchildren and watch them living meaningful, contributing, serving lives themselves.
  5. To have this great opportunity to serve here in this land of Brasil with extraordinary, loving, caring people that we love and who express their love us.
  6. To have seen many of the joys and afflictions of life that have been part of the tapestry that we take with us every day and which have made us stronger today.
  7. To have been born and raised in a land that allowed the freedom of choice, education and the pursuit of happiness.
  8. The friendship and influence of many truly great people around us in both the good times and the afflictions that have come our way.
  9. To have had the ability to have sufficient for our needs through work and service.

P.S. I am also thankful for these wonderful digital tools and while postings to this blog have been sporadic, over the next few weeks and months they will be more regular as we aim towards the next phase of our life back in the USA.

Monday, November 14, 2011


   As we do more research, we are finding more considerations regarding how and where we will live in the period after returning to the USA in late February. There are so many family members and friends to visit that initially we don’t want to be anchored to a “stick house.” It is a comment that we have visited and experienced more of Brasil than we have ever visited in the US. This is another issue that can be solved with mobility. Since we are already well versed in motorhome traveling and usage, this holds few concerns or fears for us as a couple. Since our intent is to not drive more than a few hours between interesting places and we want to stay in a place of interest for days or weeks at a time, mileage and gas use will be much less per month than our previous life. We generally had two (or more) cars and we were putting on 15 to 20+ thousand miles per year on each vehicle.

  Here is a summary of our adjusted Options A and B.

OPTION A - Motorhome, Class C and Later a Towable Small Vehicle (TSV)

  • The motorhome needs to be solid and “four season” which means well insulated to be comfortable in both cold and warm weather. 
  • The choice after reading posts by people who use them has come down to the Lazy Daze 27 foot, Mid Bath unit. We like the floor plan and the powerful Ford V-10 engine. 
  • It will need solar panels - eventually enough to power the unit with computers, air conditioner and microwave running for many days. It should also have a generator for those sun challenged days. 
  • It should initially have fewer than 50,000 miles on it. I think we will drive fewer than 12,000 miles a year. 
  • The TSV should have four-wheel drive and be somewhat comfortable to drive. Perhaps a pickup like the Ford Ranger or the Ford Escape. 
   We made this Option A as we like the feature of being able to walk around while in route to get a snack, take a nap, make lunch or use the restroom without leaving the vehicle. With the eventual TSV we will have mobility during the times the Motorhome is situated in a comfortable place. With four-wheel drive, we can explore interesting places with ease and safety.

OPTION B - Travel Trailer with a Comfortable Tow Vehicle (CTV)
  • The travel trailer needs to be solid and “four season” which indicates that it will be comfortable in both cold and warm weather. 
  • The choice as of this date remains the Northwood Arctic Fox 25S model. We have basically eliminated the fifth wheel models as we would prefer a CTV that is not a pick up truck but more like the Ford Expedition. Climbing into a truck is a little more difficult than we want. 
  • The CTV should have less than 50,000 miles on it. We feel comfortable with this mileage on a well maintained CTV as we have driven such units to more than 150,000 miles with good results. We believe we will put less than 12,000 miles per year on the vehicles. 
  • The CTV should also have four-wheel drive. 
   With Option B we would have a little more room in the kitchen and bathroom, but it would be less accessible while driving.

   Since we have a few more months yet we know that things can change very quickly. We may find other considerations move our plans significantly. We may have opportunities open that we do not expect. We don’t expect to “grow up” much in the next few months however. AND getting in good visits with our loved ones is a top priority right after our return to the USA.

  What do you think about the options here for us? Can you see how either would benefit our growing family? Do you have another option to suggest?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Day of the Dead

Today in Brasil the Day of the Dead or Finados is celebrated. It would perhaps be thought of as a day to remember our relatives that have passed on similar to our Memorial Day. It is very quiet this morning and probably many stores and services are closed. Schools are out for sure as we have not heard the vehicles that usually come around early picking up students. We were planning to visit another town today for our annual cards of permission to remain here but being a holiday it will have to wait.

Using a Journaling Program

As Shirlyn will attest, new software has an allure that often entices me to change the way I use the computer. When an application seems to offer a way to make a chore more efficient and more usable it may find itself on my MacBook Pro. Since I have made many journal entries over the past couple of years using Pages, the program that came with the computer, some of my gripes about the process  of journalling seem to be alleviated with this new application called MacJournal that automatically sets the date (and time if you want it) for each new entry. I know, I’m a little bit lazy but this is a great time saver. You can put a title on each entry if it is appropriate. It also lets you start as many journals as you need for other projects that you might want to track in this format. You can find it here: and you might see some other applications they make, one of which is MacGourmet Deluxe, a recipe organizer that we may explore one day. Another neat feature of the journaling program is the ability to add tags to the entries which enables a quick search for any topic that was mentioned or “tagged” in other posts to the journal. Uploading to a blog is another feature that I intend to use with my blogs as I can control the draft more effectively before deciding to send it off into the blogosphere. The cost of the program was about $40. 
The problems that come with most great programs such as this one include the complications that present themselves when discovering the various options that may be used. The initial recommendation with this program is to just use the basics to get comfortable and as competence is gained, you can add different options and tools to make it better. Otherwise, it can become a burden more than a help. I have already seen this in practice and so will continue to grow in its use little by little.