20 October 2013

The Eyring Method and How to Spread the Gospel

A few years back, President Henry B. Eyring gave a talk about a scripture study method he had used in the past. It was basically to read one verse (or two) a day and ponder it.  He said that he gained so many new insights from taking his study very, very  slowly. I decided that day that I would try that out.

It has been years now and I decided to pick up where I had been reading in the Book of Mormon with chapters at a time (and inconsistently).  I can't say when I started (perhaps three or four years ago), but I began at 2nd Nephi chapter 10 and I am just now at approaching Alma chapter 27.  As you can see, it is slow going!

As predicted, there have been many insights and there is one today.  I don't know if I will blog about this every day, but perhaps this will contribute to more regular posts.  It is from Alma 26:29 (a rather long verse) which talks about two subjects: How to spread the gospel and what reception you can expect to receive.

And we have entered into their houses and taught them, and we have taught them in their streets; yea, and we have taught them upon their hills; and we have also entered into their temples and their asynagogues and taught them; and we have been cast out, and mocked, and spit upon, and smote upon our cheeks; and we have been bstoned, and taken and bound with cstrong cords, and cast into prison; and through the power and wisdom of God we have been delivered again.

So, in homes, on the streets, on hills (find me one around here), and in their temples and synagogues are potential places to teach people about the gospel.  Lately, it is a lot of Facebook and Twitter. The medium is not that important - it is the spreading of the message.

Now, it goes into what you should expect to receive: stoning, chains (in a modern analogue), prison.  It doesn't sound pleasant, but for Aaron and his brethren (who are being spoken of here) it may have been a preparation to enjoy the numerous conversions that came later through his teaching of Lamoni's father, who was a powerful king.

The final statement, the delivery from these trials by the power and wisdom of God, is the reward for persevering in preaching. It isn't that you won't have problems, but that you will endure them and enjoy the joy of watching a soul come closer to God through your efforts.  I have had that a few times, but not nearly often enough.

So, the thought for today is to do more in that thing we call missionary work though it might not be pleasant sometimes.

17 October 2013

A Few Anniversaries

I am happy to note that Lisa and I have been married for 25 years this coming Tuesday!  We will be off somewhere and sleeping in and having the sort of fun we tend to have, which is probably terribly low-key compared to most...

I also calculated something else and it has been fifteen years since "The Great Writing Year", where I penned many of my short stories, the awesome novella Rachel and Her Knight in Shining Armor, and wrote the first complete draft of a book from The Navigiary Series.  That was 1998, while I was bobbing about on the waters off the US Gulf Coast and the west coast of Africa as a seismic navigator.

To celebrate the 15th anniversary of my big writing push, I am giving everyone A Free Copy of "The Joys of Autism and Christian Ethos", which is a collection of many of these stories that is available from my Amazon store.  The book will only be free for a few days, so don't hesitate to get it right now! Of course, I welcome your kind reviews of my writing!

If you are really in a celebratory mood, you can certainly check out other books by Jason Nemrow on Amazon and make me a a little money.

I'll be celebrating over the next few days and you can, too!  Happy days for us all!

03 October 2013

New Mexico Insubstantial Sub-College of Home Economics, Alchemy, and Politics


The New Mexico Insubstantial Sub-College of Home Economics, Alchemy, and Politics was founded in 1925 as “The Sabino Women's College of Household Economy” by Francisco Velásquez of Sabino, New Mexico. The school's first degrees in Home Economics were awarded to five women in commencement ceremonies conducted in early July 1930. Its first building was completed in 1929 on land donated from the Valesquez Ranch Company. The first Headmistress was Annabella “Bubba-Ann” Eaton Mondragon de Velasquez. The name of the college was changed to “The Sabino College of Home Economics” in 1961 incidental to the enrollment of the first man in the college.
In 1963, forty-three degrees in Home Economics were awarded by the faculty of sixteen professors and the campus consisted of ten classrooms and one residential hall. Due to financial pressures, the faculty appealed to the New Mexico Legislature to bring the college and its campus under state control, against the wishes of the headmistress, which resulted in a heated and violent debate in the senate chambers. In 1964, the governor, being empowered by the legislature, ousted Mrs. Velásquez as headmistress and gave the management and facilities of the school to the regents and administration of New Mexico State University (NMSU). Josephine Crenshaw, an NMSU instructor, was appointed as headmistress that same year.

Under Mrs. Crenshaw, the school was initially marginalized, as New Mexico State University already had a school of home economics and plans were made to dissolve the redundant school at Sabino in after the 1966-7 school year. As the result of a vision that came to Mrs. Crenshaw over a squash dinner at the Velásquez Ranch, she formed new classes with the intent of making the puncturevine that flourishes in the area, commonly called the “goathead” plant, into a cash crop. Mrs. Crenshaw and the Valesquez Ranch Company formed Goathead Industries, Inc. as a private venture to capitalize on the dream. The regents of NMSU had Mrs. Crenshaw declared mentally incompetent with the phrase “she sounds like a medieval alchemist, trying to change goatheads into money!” and decided to disband the Sabino College immediately rather than seek a new headmistress to complete a more organized closure. The Velasquez Ranch Company bought back the college campus and immediately sold a half-interest in the land to Goathead Industries, Inc in exchange for stock. Classes were resumed and the newly re-privatized school leased the original land and buildings, earning another name change: “The Sabino College of Home Economics and Alchemy”, which became a subsidiary of Goathead Industries in 1969. Mrs. Crenshaw remained at the helm of the college until her death in 1982, when Sabino was acknowledged as the wealthiest private educational institution in New Mexico. The Josephine Crenshaw Chair of Alchemy and Home Economics continues to be one of the most prestigious posts in the field of home economics to this day.

With the death of Mrs. Crenshaw in 1982, control of both the Sabino College and its parent company Goathead Industries fell to the remaining stockholder, Velásquez Ranch Company, which appointed Bubba-Ann Velasquez headmistress for a second term beginning in 1983. Two months into the new school year, the disgruntled NMSU regents, robbed of what they felt was NMSU's share of the Goathead Industries and Sabino College profits, pressured the State Legislature to again take control of Sabino College and assign its management and financial portfolio to NMSU. A delegation of Sabino faculty went to the Roundhouse and successfully blocked the takeover and even won the College a hefty legislative appropriation to explore electronically-based “virtual” education delivery. The enraged NMSU regents prevailed upon the state to seize the real estate leased to Sabino College through eminent domain and gift it to NMSU in exchange for perpetual computing resources for the College and a new Lincoln Continental automobile for half-owner Velásquez Ranch Company. The transaction was completed in the spring of 1985.

In 1985, the college name was changed again to reflect the new direction that legislative funding had opened up. The “New Mexico Insubstantial Sub-College of Home Economics, Alchemy, and Politics” began its new life as a “virtual” campus by taking advantage its perpetual NMSU computer resource rights. Goathead Industries was taken public and sold off its remaining interest in the College to Velásquez Ranch Company as part of the IPO. By the time NMSU received the property formerly used by Sabino College, all they got was twenty acres of goatheads in the middle of nowhere and a hefty new computer services bill.

Since 1985, New Mexico Insubstantial Sub-College of Home Economics, Alchemy, and Politics (NMISCHEAP) has lived on as an independent, privately-held virtual institution of higher education housed on a network server paid for by New Mexico State University. At the death of “Bubba-Ann” Velasquez in 1988, control of both NMISCHEAP and Velásquez Ranch Company passed to the Cooperative Sisterhood of Sabino Home Economists. Although the Sub-College now only awards honorary degrees to deserving home economists, it still ranks as one of the most prestigious virtual institutions for home economics research and advocacy in the world. As most universities are distancing themselves from the term “home economics”, NMISCHEAP is proud to stand behind the name!

Official Team Name: Iron Maidens (for all activities except the speech team); Crones (speech team)

Official Taglines: “Watch Out! You don't want to piss her off!” “Skillet. Run. Hide.”

About Annabella "Bubba-Ann" Eaton Mondragon de Velasquez

Bubba-Ann was the illegitimate daughter of famed “wild west” gunslinger and lawman Frank “Pistol Pete” Eaton and Gabriella Mondragon Herrera and was born on the Mora Land Grant of New Mexico in about 1884. Her parents reportedly met in a bar in western Oklahoma where she gave him an ornate cross (that later caught a bullet and saved his life) and he got her pregnant and skipped town. Gabriella returned to her home in New Mexico to birth the child and raised her on hopeful stories that her father would soon return and give them a wonderful life. In spite of reports to the contrary, Frank Eaton never set foot in New Mexico and never had any contact with Bubba-Ann, which may have been at the root of her legendary temper toward men and New Mexico State University, who insisted on honoring her absentee father as a mascot.

The nickname “Bubba-Ann” is said to have been given to her by a group of rough teenage boys, mocking her very crooked teeth. They apparently confessed to the name-calling after she had finished assaulting them and sent them crying to their mothers. The nickname stuck and the incident was the beginning of Bubba-Ann's reputation for being a crafty woman that no one wanted to cross.

Due to her mother's dying wish that she give men another chance, Bubba-Ann married Francisco Velasquez and moved to his small ranch near Sabino in newly formed Harding County. The land was unyielding, the living conditions were deplorable, and her husband was a complete failure as a rancher and provider. Ultimately, the couple was financially supported by Bubba-Ann's doiley-making cottage industry and fed from her expansive squash patch. One evening, after Frank had returned drunk from another “business meeting” in Springer, Bubba-Ann became so enraged that she beat him repeatedly over the head with a cast-iron skillet. Strangely enough, after this incident, conditions on the ranch drastically improved and the entire operation soon became profitable. Frank and his new Velásquez Ranch Company became one of the wealthiest endeavors in the county, though no one ever saw him in public again and Bubba-Ann was seen to use a power of attorney to handle all his affairs.

Rumor has it that Frank may have died the night he was hit with a frying pan because, less than a year later, the creation of a school for girls “to combat the effects of worthless men” was financed in his name and Bubba-Ann was appointed to be its first headmistress. When Bubba-Ann was brought to court in Mosquero several years later on suspicion of murdering her husband, she brandished the same cast iron skillet and challenged the defense attorneys and judge to stay coherent long enough to accuse her again. This is when the judge exclaimed the celebrated statements, “Watch out! You don't want to piss her off!” and, in light of her gunslinger heritage, declared a mistrial. One of the lawyers called her a “crone” during the proceedings and was promptly brained, resulting in a Sabino College speech team mascot and tradition of brandishing iron skillets at every debate contest.

Bubba-Ann was the headmistress of The Sabino Women's College of Household Economy and later, The Sabino College of Home Economics, from its founding in 1925 until she “resigned” under a provision of the state legislative act providing public funds for the school in 1964. She also served as headmistress of The Sabino College of Home Economics and Alchemy and the New Mexico Insubstantial Sub-College of Home Economics, Alchemy, and Politics from 1983 until her death in 1988. She never left Velásquez Ranch in Sabino, where she always asserted that Frank was in the back room of the homestead “sleeping it off”. People still say that Frank must have wandered off after her funeral when he discovered that he wasn't getting any more squash dinners or beer. He was never found but his supposed generosity will never be forgotten.

18 March 2013

Seeking Virtue

The BBC today reported what I would consider to be a rather local story of a circumstance in Ohio where two young American football players were convicted of raping an supposedly unconscious girl at a party. I suppose what makes this, on any level at all, international news is the fact that this incident was played out on Facebook, complete with pictures of the act and is creating quite a stir.

Let me say that I have not studied this Ohio incident at all and that I will make some assumptions in the case. I think this is a honest thing to do, as I seriously doubt that any media reports I could find to expand my knowledge of the matter would be rather tainted by one side or the other in the legal battle, therefore run through with misdirection and half-truths. I really don't want to study it and I don't want to particularly hear the rationalizations on either side on the matter. In the short report that I heard, it was obvious that significant camps on both sides were making excuses, accusations, and bald-face threats, also through Facebook, and I weep for the effort toward justice on the court's part. Given modern tactics, I would be surprised if this situation ultimately even made it to a courtroom past the plea-bargain stage of American jurisprudence. Frankly, I don't want to waste precious life digging into the slanted particulars of this story, but only to use aspects of it to highlight larger cultural and societal ills.

I want to write most here about the idea of virtue. I hear that this is a very quaint thing in the modern world, but I do see it as the only way to a better world that I, who may very well stand alone, hope to create. If there were more virtue in the world, the situation in Ohio would have never happened and, at the very least, would not have made international headlines.

At numerous points in a process that began the night of the alleged alcohol-saturated party, an injection of virtue could have made the outcome better and kinder for all involved. I suppose that it is beyond anyone's reckoning that the girl and the two football players could have skipped the party as everyone was likely aware that there was going to alcohol present. My local police often complain that they spend their weekend-night shifts breaking up "keg parties", typically with a nice mix of adults, youths, and young children present. My town is not unique in this way and I would imagine that each weekend features over a million such alcohol-laced gatherings across the United States. Basically, this looks like a typical case of a bad party.

Lest you think I side with the poor, little, "victimized" girl, I think she was just as culpable as anyone else on the scene. The girl could have chosen to avoid the alcohol, which I am sure will set off much moaning in my readers, or chosen to imbibe lightly to avoid a blackout. I am sure everyone will complain that I am being unrealistic toward teen behavior, but that is actually at the very root of the problem: society expects teens to go to parties and expects them to get "pass-out" drunk. Can I sneak ahead in the possibilities and say that the societal view must be that girls have no restraint when invited to parties and are offered alcohol and that this is an untouchable "women's issue"? Basically, this looks like a typical case of a bad girl.

Lest you think I am protecting the football players here, the behavior of the boys is totally inexcusable. Again, our society is quick to forgive them, as they are likely lionized local "sport figures" in embryo and intelligence tells us that such people are little more than animals and should be avoided by decent folk. Their behavior is acceptable as long as they score points in games and bring victory for their school, as far as sport sensibilities are concerned. Those boys could have chosen to help the girl avoid drinking so much, left the passed-out girl alone, avoided snapping photos and uploading them, or a number of other opportunities to exercise even a particle of self-restraint. Nothing of the sort happened, as far as my BBC report concluded. Basically, this looks like a typical case of some bad boys.

Lest you think I defend the justice system in the handling of this case, the outcome seems a classic case of political-correctness in siding with the girl. In my mind, no matter the specifics, she is likely just as culpable as the boys, though she will likely get fawned over, wined-and-dined by the media, and perhaps even get a book deal or become a well-paid spokesperson for underage drinking. One night's "indiscretion", properly manipulated by prosecutors and image consultants, could net her a fine career! Surely, this "victory" is a notch in the prosecutor's belt and justice, which should have seen the girl punished as well for her own lack of self-restraint, pats itself on the back in protecting "snookered and easy" girls everywhere. Basically, this looks like a typical case of bad justice.

I suppose I could go on with the "blame game", as it is called. Everyone wants to blame objects, circumstances, attitudes, and everything else for what happened here. In my estimation, everyone involved should get some punishment. Frankly, I think there should be some good, old-fashioned "hickory switch" action for everyone, from the owners of home that tolerated an alcohol party to go on, to the judge that tolerated the term "victim" being applied to the girl. Better yet, let's just line them all up for a stiff Southeast Asian caning. It seems the perfect punishment for a system gone horribly wrong. Perhaps everyone should take a few stripes for allowing our society make any step of this farce acceptable in any way.

I may have a better solution.

The parents of that girl should have whipped her for going to such a party. Whatever fallout (Facebook or otherwise) she "suffered" should be chalked up as natural consequences for getting herself into such a situation. After the whipping is done, give her a hug and help her face the damage.

The boys should be completely banned from sports along with their jail time. They should expect to be shunned by society and have no respectability except as much as they can piece together from very kindly people. I hope the parents of those boys hug them a lot as they face such punishment, which is very deserved. Hopefully, they will learn that actions have consequences and those must be faced rather than covered over or dismissed through the excuse of small fame.

I don't know what to do about society, which both excuses the sins of "celebrities" and deifies every act of perceived "minorities". We need to stop rationalizing bad behavior, no matter who does it or what the circumstances. We need to applaud those who do the right thing, even when that right thing includes admitting fault and accepting punishment. I know that I have far more respect for a person who admits their wrongdoings rather than the one that twists words and "gets off" punishment based on legal technicalities or adoring masses. Above all, we must consistently encourage people toward being and acting better and better.

Again, at any point in the situation in Ohio, any one of the people involved could have made just one better choice and this whole maelstrom could have been completely avoided. We should give virtue a try occasionally. One right step...