Saturday, January 21, 2012

The World’s Most Dangerous Activity

I’ve been curious about the safety of the various activities in which we engage and decided to do some research. According to some internet sites, the world’s most dangerous activities include things like BASE jumping, racing motorcycles, bull riding, and big-wave surfing. I’m sure the mothers of people who engage in these activities pray daily for the safety of their children. As church members we frequently pray for the safety of the missionaries and those serving our country in the armed forces. However, according to my very informal research, the people for whom we most often request divine protection are those members engaged in the death-defying activity of . . . driving home from church.

Driving home from church; what’s so dangerous about that? I’m not sure myself but it must be very dangerous or at the conclusion of nearly every church meeting we wouldn't pray; “bless us that we’ll all arrive home safely” . Have you ever prayed to arrive safely at church? I don’t ever remember doing so. Therefore it must only be the drive home that’s dangerous.

Perhaps the drive to church is so much safer because members arrive at a variety of times. Some come early; some on time and the rest of us arrive 5-10 minutes late, thereby reducing congestion. Conversely, at the end of the three-hour meeting block, a big school bell in the hallway rings and tired, hungry toddlers, frazzled parents, restless teens, old people with low blood sugar and football fans all race to the parking where the Bishop yells; “Brothers and Sisters, start your engines.” OK, I made that last part up. He really mutters; “Depart ye fiends.”

Still, even with everyone departing at the same time it doesn’t seem as if driving home from church warrants the frequency of requests for divine protection. There must be something more to it. I’ve given it a lot of thought and decided that requesting divine intervention to protect us on our journey home is a tradition handed down from the pioneers. You see, back in the old days people used to walk to church or even ride horses or in horse-drawn buggies.

Horses can be unpredictable and after being tied up during church they can runaway or buck off their rider. Walking home was also dangerous; pedestrians could be trampled by runaway horses, trip and fall or perhaps even get a blister. Because of these many perils, one Sunday, while giving the benediction, someone said; “please bless us that we’ll all arrive at our homes safely.” This new phrase instantly joined “nourish and strengthen us” in the prayer phrasebook where it remains today—firmly ingrained in the LDS lexicon.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

I’m Not Sick, I Look like This on Purpose

After I married Ms. Wonderful I started gaining a few pounds. Over the years the few became many and I became much too short for my girth. In truth, according to fine people at The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), I was trampling on the line separating “overweight” from “obese”. I’ve never liked the word “obese” (in relation to myself) because it sounds so harsh. Since we pay the salaries at the HHS I think they should use friendlier terms like; skinny, healthy, chubby, chunky and colossal. Nevertheless, according to their charts, I was somewhere between chubby and chunky.

Over the years I’d made some effort to slenderize myself, but with only moderate success. However, last year Ms. Wonderful stopped eating sugary substances and lost 15 pounds. Seeing how “easy” this was, I decided to give weight loss a real try. Giving up sugar was easier than you think since the person doing most of the cooking stopped putting it in the food. My choices became; stop eating (unlikely), make my own meals (even more unlikely) or eat less sugar. I chose option three.

Well, I didn’t lose much weight. Apparently weight loss also involved something called “exercise.” I decided to try that as well. Beginning an exercise regimen was slightly harder than giving up sugar. I chose running (slow jogging really) because it was cheap and easy to learn. According to HHS statistics, every time I went running I was carrying extra weight equal to a five-year old (that explains the slow time in my first 5k race—the five-year-old in me would not keep up!).

Eventually I discovered the secret to weight loss. It works kind of like this; Consume fewer calories, eat healthier foods and exercise five times a week. I plan on writing a book about my discovery. I’ll make millions. I’ll call my book; “The Really Hard Way to Lose Weight.” By carefully following this regimen, I began to lose weight, two or three pounds every month at first then a little less after that. Over time my efforts really started to add up. I started asking my wife if she could tell that I’d lost weight. At first she humored me and said that she could certainly see the miniscule difference. Since then I’ve asked the same question 500 times—she no longer humors me. I think she thinks I’m now asking just to show off. Is that so bad?

Now that I’m thinner there’s one word I particularly enjoy hearing; “skinny.” I even heard it while I was in a buffet line in Las Vegas. A couple of months ago we went to visit my cousin in Wyoming. I really like visiting people I haven’t seen for a while as they always use the “skinny” word. So after visiting with my cousin for a couple of days I’d still not heard the word. I was beginning to wonder if his eyes were failing. Finally he took the opportunity to talk to my wife alone about my appearance—he used a different word, “sick”. He thought maybe I had disease or something and was afraid to say anything. No, I look like this on purpose; in fact, if you buy my book when it comes out I’ll tell you how I did it.

People always want to know how much weight have I lost? Well, let’s just say the five-year-old has gone missing and the HHS describes me as ‘healthy weight.”