Monday, April 20, 2009

Healthy Snakes May Prevent Childhood Obesity

We're in the process of moving, which means going through all our belongings and stuff, sorting through it all, and deciding which to keep and which to toss. There's something satisfying about an occasional good, thorough purging.

For the past three years I've been an instructor in various university classes, from the undergraduate exercise physiology lab to weight lifting to water aerobics. Working with students has been a lot of fun, it's part of the reason I'm going on in my own education--so I can keep on teaching.

Occasionally, students would turn in assignments that they wrote on the fly and it was clear that they weren't too careful about what they wrote. Most times the resulting errors were pretty funny. I wish I would have saved them all and compiled them for future laughs. Unfortunately, such foresight usually escapes me.

Here is the choicest gem of them all, one I managed to keep around. Deb and I frequently refer back to it. Writing about physical fitness in school-aged children, one student wrote, "The best way to fight off obesity in your children is to have only healthy snakes and diets in your home." (Emphasis mine)

I suppose if your children are terrified of any kind of snake, especially healthy ones, having one in the home might increase their daily physical activity levels as they run from room to room whilst pursued by said healthy snake.

I have no doubts that healthy snake-induced increases in physical activity coupled with a healthful diet will prove beneficial in fighting the onset of childhood obesity. But always consult with your children's pediatrician before implementing a healthy snake-based physical activity program in your home.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Sakura, Sort Of

I know sakura actually refers to cherry blossom or cherry tree. I have a brother in Tokyo and I'm sure he's livin' la vida sakura right now. But that's besides the point.

I was greeted this morning by sadness. The two beautiful plum trees that I've passed under nearly every day for the past four years were greatly damaged by late spring snow.

Most of the snow we've gotten all winter has been light and dry, powder, if you will. It's that way year after year after year in Utah.

But yesterday and today brought a very wet, heavy snowfall. The plum trees in full bloom couldn't handle the extra weight of the snow.

I'd say about half the trees' bulk was lost.

Before the week is through it will all be cleaned up and the trees newly manicured.

By the end of the summer few will remember the damage and terrific loss.

I will remember.

Wet unwelcome snow
In spring breaks beautiful bows.
Sakura, sort of.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Great Day!

Yesterday I formally defended my thesis. A total of eight people showed up to watch the show: my loving wife, Deb, the three professors on my committee, another professor I've worked with on some research, and three of my fellow students.

It was a smashing success, made the more so because I brought some suafa'i, or banana soup, which I've blogged about previously. Try it out. My committee congratulated me on my defense but didn't ask for more. They did, however, all ask for the recipe for suafa'i. The moral of the story? A good bowl of banana soup trumps a boring thesis. Anytime.

But passing (with revisions) my thesis defense wasn't the best part of the day. Not by a long shot, though it was an important segue to what came after: a letter from the University of Hawaii.

"I am pleased to inform you that you have been admitted for the Fall 2009 semester to the Nutrition-PhD program," the letter read. I won't know, however, until May 1st whether I've been selected to be a TA in the undergraduate nutrition classes. Without that funding life in Hawaii would be prohibitively expensive. Please pray for Deb and me that things work out.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

He Lives!

"What is the one single event that has most influenced and changed human history? The disciples of Jesus Christ have only one answer, which they proclaim without reservation, indisputably and absolutely: the dying and rising of God's only-begotten Son, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!"

So wrote Bishop Paul S. Loverde of the Catholic Diocese of Arlington for his Easter Sunday homily. To my knowledge no one before Jesus Christ claimed power over death and no one has claimed it ever since. Sure, there have been plenty of self-proclaimed messiahs and saviors pushing their particular versions of the social gospel on their fellows, but none ever has claimed the power to lay down their lives and take them up again. Only Jesus Christ made and fulfilled that claim. We are the blessed beneficiaries of His labor of love.

I love Easter time. I love the reminder it brings that life should be filled with hope that regardless of how difficult it gets we have the promise that life continues beyond the grave and that all will be made right in the hereafter.

For his own Easter message, Pastor Chuck Worth of the True Word Christian Church in Franklin, Virgina, wrote,

"Everyone you know was born! Granted, Christ’s birth was miraculous, like no other. We should celebrate it. But there is only one man who ever walked this earth, died and rose from the dead to never die again. That man is Jesus of Nazareth."

In truth, were it not for the miracle of the first Easter Sunday, we wouldn't have any cause for celebration on Christmas day. So continues Pastor Chuck,

"...[O]n [Easter] Sunday morning the hope of every Christian was born. He arose! It is about much more than this singular event. In His resurrection we all have faith that death is not the end. We will one day rise just as He did. In Christ we have our hope of eternal life. In Christ we have the perfect sacrifice to complete the law of God, not do away with it. In His life we may all have life!"

In one of the greatest sermons on Jesus Christ's atoning sacrifice that I have ever heard, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, one of Christ's living apostles and witnesses said,

"Brothers and sisters, one of the great consolations of this Easter season is that because Jesus walked such a long, lonely path utterly alone, we do not have to do so. His solitary journey brought great company for our little version of that path—the merciful care of our Father in Heaven, the unfailing companionship of this Beloved Son, the consummate gift of the Holy Ghost, angels in heaven, family members on both sides of the veil, prophets and apostles, teachers, leaders, friends. All of these and more have been given as companions for our mortal journey because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the Restoration of His gospel. Trumpeted from the summit of Calvary is the truth that we will never be left alone nor unaided, even if sometimes we may feel that we are. Truly the Redeemer of us all said, 'I will not leave you comfortless. [My Father and] I will come to you [and abide with you].'"

Now let me add my voice to the worldwide chorus of Christians who celebrate and sing praises to God for the incomparable gift of His Only Begotten Son Jesus Christ. He does live! He is our hope and our joy. The price of discipleship is worth paying, for this is life eternal: that we might know God and Jesus Christ whom He did send. May the dying and rising of Jesus Christ most influence and change you as it has me. I wish you all a very joyful Easter Sunday.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Good Read

I recently began rereading the Book of Mormon and am finding that I am learning and seeing more than I previously have. Like the Bible, the Book of Mormon is meant for frequent study, teaches of God's interaction with His children, testifies of Jesus Christ's divinity, and illustrates the consequences of righteousness and sinfulness. You can read the Book of Mormon online for free, or you can request a free copy of the Book of Mormon, the Bible, or other media. Here is a nice video about the promise associated with the Book of Mormon.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

At Long Last

And the big news is...

My thesis defense is officially scheduled!

The secretary to one of the associate deans in our college of Health and Human Performance emailed the following to 123 people inviting them to my defense. Of course you're invited too. In fact, the whole university of 30,000+ students, staff, faculty, and administration is technically invited. Too bad the room will only hold about 20 people.

Thesis Defense


Exercise Sciences (Master of Science)

“Development of an Exercise Test to Predict VO2peak in Children and Adolescents”

Committee: Vehrs, Hager, George

April 13, 2009 2:00 pm 119 Richards Building