Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Christmas is coming...

The traditional school nativity was held today. Sammy and Harrison were quite wonderful and sang wonderfully.

As you can tell, Samuel was a king (with Gold) while Harrison was an RM choir member. Very cute!

Only six days left...

Saturday, 10 November 2007

A man who works with his hands...

Louis Nizer, American trial lawyer, author (and part-creator of the American movie ratings system) said;
"A man who works with his hands is a laborer; a man who works with his hands and his brain is a craftsman; but a man who works with his hands and his brain and his heart is an artist."

I have no idea what this guy comes under just that it is pretty amazing. I have no idea how one can be this coordianted! (thanks Grandma Talbot-Ashby for the footage).

No Retford Branch for a while...

The branch that we meet in for church has around twenty regular sacrament attendees (of which the West’s account for 6). Because of this, the branch presidency met with each family and discussed the size and initialised discussion as to closing the branch and amalgamating the membership with one of the surrounding wards or branches.

On the back of these discussions, we recommended closure of the branch. Stake concurred and forwarded the recommendation to Area, along with boundary options. Area ratified the decision and forwarded to the church boundaries committee for approval. A lot of bureaucracy but the Kingdom of God is a Kingdom of order (and we are all lay-ministers).

While waiting for the confirmation, we have been running things as we should, preparing for Christmas and arranging activities…

…Until yesterday morning when the community centre we meet in burned down. (Retford Times article about the fire)

And I mean really burned down.

Everything melted!

And so we now are meeting with Worksop Branch until we get the official word about where each family is going.

Friday, 2 November 2007

Neutrality of Actions, Psi-function and Free Agency

This week I had the opportunity at work to attend a two-day course discussing how to develop a winning attitude (Winning Edge- Mancroft Training). While I personally did not find it the most enlightening course I have ever attended (many of the aspects I have dealt with previously, especially during my mission for the LDS Church) it did raise a number of thought questions surrounding our response to external stimuli that I found particularly interesting.

While at university, I remember the joy of coming to grips with quantum mechanics. I especially found it fascinating seeing the logical conclusion of the Copenhagen interpretation as expressed in such paradox's as Schrodinger's Cat.

Schrodinger explained his thought experiment; "A cat is penned up in a steel chamber, along with the following device (which must be secured against direct interference by the cat): in a Geiger counter there is a tiny bit of radioactive substance, so small, that perhaps in the course of the hour one of the atoms decays, but also, with equal probability, perhaps none; if it happens, the counter tube discharges and through a relay releases a hammer which shatters a small flask of hydrocyanic acid. If one has left this entire system to itself for an hour, one would say that the cat still lives if meanwhile no atom has decayed. The psi-function of the entire system would express this by having in it the living and dead cat (pardon the expression) mixed or smeared out in equal parts.

"It is typical of these cases that an indeterminacy originally restricted to the atomic domain becomes transformed into macroscopic indeterminacy, which can then be resolved by direct observation. That prevents us from so naively accepting as valid a "blurred model" for representing reality. In itself it would not embody anything unclear or contradictory. There is a difference between a shaky or out-of-focus photograph and a snapshot of clouds and fog banks."

In effect, the basic quantum theory progressed to an observable scenario dictates that the cat is in a quasi-state of alive and dead until such time as it is observed.

During my recent course I was reminded of the words of Hamlet "...there is nothing either good nor bad but thinking makes it so". This quote was provided as substantiation of the premise that actions in and of themselves are neutral- it is only our interpretation, based upon our personal values and outlook, that moulds those actions into positive or negative.

While on a micro- a personal- level I can understand and accept this premise as true, I feel that this idea soon becomes as paradoxical as Schrodinger's cat when moving towards application on a macro level.

At around 588BC an aging prophet from Jerusalem taught his sons an interesting principle;

"And if ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not there is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away.
"And now, my sons, I speak unto you these things for your profit and learning; for there is a God, and he hath created all things, both the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are, both things to act and things to be acted upon.
"Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. "Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other.
"And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and last day, according to the commandments which God hath given."

On a daily basis bad things happen. We are faced with all manner of problems big and small. Just this morning my petrol cap would not lock and so I wasted 15 minutes trying to WD40 my key out so that I could start my car and get to work. I was then cut up on a roundabout by a numptee who proceeded to drive at 45mph in a 60 zone for the next 9 miles. In this case these events are neutral- they are neither good nor bad. How I react assigns these situations to a category and will affect my feelings of well being and ultimately affect the success of my day.

Towards the other end of the spectrum, I saw today that a young student was murdered in Purugia. In this situation, as with many others that we unfortunately see regularly, it is impossible to say that the action is neutral regardless of the values of witnessing individuals rather, as so eloquently stated, there is a law decreed by God and according to this law we are free to "act" or to be "acted upon".

While there are definite consequences to good or bad volition in respect to these laws, so to are these consequences to our response to these things. In this case, that of our personal interaction with these actions (good or bad), it is our choice to act or to be acted upon- to react or to be proactive.

For me this was the great message of my training this week- that true success in life comes through our adherence to social (including corporate) and eternal laws and guidelines and our proactively responding to the good and bad stimuli that we each experience on a daily basis.

Friday, 19 October 2007

33 and 66

That's 33 days until Thanksgiving and 66 until Christmas. Until then we are trying to get the family over a stomach bug that seems to have been making the rounds of the area and getting back into the routine of work and school.

David is away with work quite a bit over the next few weeks and the kids are on half-term so Rebecca is running the show in it's entirety. Should be fun. We just have to keep the kids focused and busy- Becky is great at that.

We are just looking at what decorations to get for the holidays. B&Q have got a great range so we are excited to pour some of David's bonus back into the company... they have got some black and orange gnomes that will look great on the stairs!

Now we just need to re tile the kitchen floor and make the new serving hatch to the dining room look pretty... plenty of time!

West Holiday October 2007 in Pictures

Day one was at the pleasure beach in Blackpool. After dark we cruised the strip (as much as you can in a Mormon wagon) and saw the illuminations

this ride is awesome- it’s a giant pendulum that takes you 100ft in the air then waves you around. I’m the one (David) that has the long legs and waving.

Just Cruisin'

Where baby, I don't care

I love my family!

Valhalla is by far the coolest flume ride. This was Rebecca and Sammy’s first go… I guess someone forgot to mention that it was a little wet (ooops!)

the kids loved this one- they must have taken seven rides over the course of the day

at least there was no hat-knapping


Target sited... fire!

Micah… like a shark sensing blood in the water…

he attacks… a fatal bite!

I'm cheesy!

mmmmm... blue

wow- steam!


I see no ships!

at the Beatrix Potter attraction. The models are amazing…

some are a little scary though!

don’t touch the exhibit! But she is just so darned cute!

Lara is so defensive of her brothers

a red tree!

and huge rhubarb... stuff

a gate in the middle of the forest?

probably the most pointless "maze" in the world (Muncaster)

What did he see?

Sammy got to touch an eagle owl (they are soft and warm in case you are wondering)

Everyone is tired by the end of the day...

this is why we love the Lake District so much!

Excitable little fellow!

YMCA- you can see that Rebecca and I are the product of the Church Youth program!

so beautiful!

We got good vibes when we arrived at the South Lakes Wild Animal Park and saw some meditating lemurs sitting on the entrance gate.

I had no idea giraffes tongues were so long

I have not seen a robin for years

This guy sat at the top of this 50ft pole howling for over an hour

this one was watching it’s howling friend… he looks about ready to climb the pole and push him off!

I’m on to you… stay away!

Having four rambunctious rapscallions of my own, I felt some affinity with this poor lemur…

these penguins must have been hungry… or just plain vicious…

after Lara's bum

and tender Micah cutlets

Oh no! Micah! Wake up! Don’t let your guard down!

Bonzai! Lemur attacks!

Brothers bear

These pygmy hippos were so chilled- these monkeys were jumping on this pair for ages

I love seeing adults and young together. It is easy to see why people personify animals when you see the young learning and playing.

This made me smile when I was looking through the photos later in the day. I guess everyone got tired of the school groups!

stupid piggy!

the ferocious bunny, after stalking his prey, attacks his unsuspecting victim…

Sammy Irwin chills after a hard day of animal hunting

I was surprised how fast tigers are. This chicken was fixed about 20ft up a telephone pole and the tigers had them and were down again in less than five seconds.

What? Me? You want to sit on my lap? I am so honoured!

What a great holiday... and none of us got really sick (unlike holidays taken during the past two years). Walking in the beautiful countryside, playing with lemurs and wallabies, feeding giraffes. All with the family. Wonderful...