Saturday, March 17, 2012

Swinging on a Star by Bing Crosby

My father used to sing a song from the Bing Crosby movie Going My Way (1944). In the movie, Crosby played the unconventional priest Father Chuck O'Malley who convinced some rough boys to join a church choir. The film was released during World War II, about a month before my father went into the service at the age of 17.

I like how the song reminds us that it's really up to us if we swing on a star, or end up like a mule or a monkey. The film is nearly seventy years old, but I am sure your kids or grandkids (and you) will still get a kick out of it. 

Here's the clip from the movie. The lyrics follow.


Swinging on a Star

Would you like to swing on a star?
Carry moonbeams home in a jar?
And be better off than you are?
Or would you rather be a mule?

A mule is an animal with long, funny ears,
He kicks up at anything he hears.
His back is brawny and  his brain is weak,
He's just plain stupid with a stubborn streak.
And by the way, if you hate to go to school,
You may grow up to be a mule.

Or would you like to swing on a star?
Carry moonbeams home in a jar?
And be better off than you are?
Or would you rather be a pig?

A pig is an animal with dirt on his face.
His shoes are a terrible disgrace.
He has no manners when he eats his food.
He's fat and lazy and extremely rude.
But if you don't care a feather or a fig,
You may grow up to be a pig.

Or would you like to swing on a star?
Carry moonbeams home in a jar?
And be better off than you are?
Or would you rather be a fish?

A fish don't do anything, but swim in a brook.
He can't write his name or read a book.
To fool the people is his only thought,
Yeah, and though he's slippery, he still gets caught.
But then if that sort of life is what you wish,
You may grow up to be a fish.

And all the monkeys aren't in the zoo,
Every day you meet quite a few.
So you see it's all up to you—
You can be better than you are.
You could be swingin' on a star.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

My Annual Rendezvous with Pain

It's late winter and it's time once again for my annual ritual.

I am embarrassed for my friends to see me on crutches again, but here I am. Again, in this context, means eight years running.

Every spring for the last eight I have had gout. Makes me want to choke just saying the word. This year I was determined not to have my yearly collision with pain, but it happened anyway. In spite of my best efforts. I had kind of a break down when I realized my failure on Tuesday night.

I have been on a very strict diet, apparently to little avail. I eat mostly vegetables, fruits, berries and nuts. I have had, like, three servings of chicken in the last year. No beef or turkey. Almost no dairy. Minimal sweets. Extremely minimal. Even with very few dietary sins—small ones at that—I have not won the epic battle I had hoped to win this spring.

At the doctor's office today, the nurse practitioner said, "You're an unusual case."  Everyone likes to be special, but, I can think of other ways I'd like to be described as "unusual."

As I relearned in a talk I heard last Sunday, the Lord asks us to "give thanks in all things" (Mosiah 26:38-39). This means we need to be thankful for our trials. I am thankful for them because of what I learn from them, and for the many blessings that come my way because of them.

One of the blessings I see clearly today is the ability to walk. Some I have known—my mother among them—have been deprived of this gift for life. Shouldn't I be grateful that my illness is temporary?

I am grateful that I didn't have to go to the ER this year. I am grateful that I didn't get rid of my crutches. I am grateful for paid time off work which allowed me time to recover and time to get a small but important repair done on our truck. I am grateful for the time I had to fix one of my web sites that had been hacked. And I am grateful for the rest. I am grateful to have found the time to finish reading the Book of Mormon. I am grateful for a chance to ponder and reevaluate. I am very grateful for a wife who understands how to tenderly care for a sick husband. I am grateful for an illness that forces me to lose weight, which drastically reduces my high blood pressure and chance of heart attack, which has probably saved life (we have a history of heart trouble on my paternal side).

I am grateful, but still ashamed.

Tonight I volunteered to help make one of my favorite salads, cutting vegetables on cutting board on our bed. It was a welcome  diversion, and a welcome treat. I had hoped to go to our state's caucus meeting tonight, but alas, it won't happen this year.

A few weeks ago, I had an idea. I think it was a bit of inspiration. When I realized that this flare usually happens to me in late winter, "Vitamin D" came to mind. T-cells, which have Vitamin D receptors, turn into killer cells, killers of viruses, bacteria and other invaders, when Vitamin D is present in the body. Most of our Vitamin D comes from exposure to the sun which is of course sorely lacking in the winter. I have felt some improvement when taking Vitamin D with Vitamin K (which helps the Vitamin D to be assimilated).

Next year, to be sure, I need to take a good quality Vitamin D supplement with K through the winter. And be ready for whatever comes next spring.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Is Aging a Choice?

Yesterday, my wife and I went to the gym to work out. I was on the chest press and my wife was on an elliptical machine. A man about my age (or a little older) was to my right doing pectoral flys.

He turned to me and made a remark about himself that I won't repeat, but it had to do with how tough it was for a man his age to exercise. Immediately after he made that remark, a thought came into my mind that I have been wrestling with.

"Aging is a choice."

I have been turning this thought over and over in my head. What does it mean? Is it true?

I think no matter what we do, we are all going to age and eventually die. We cannot avoid that. Or, rather, very few have avoided it. (Moses and Alma, for example, were "buried by the hand of the Lord" [see Alma 45:19 ]). You can't very well choose out of your mortal destiny.

But there are a lot of choices you can make that can affect or accelerate your aging. Smoking, drinking alcohol, eating sugary, fatty, high calorie or empty calorie foods, failing to exercise or to be physically active, pursuing addiction, carrying a grudge or refusing to forgive, accepting hopelessness as a way of life. All these and more—both physical and spiritual choices—can lead to an unhappy life, rapid aging and early death.

What about genetic predisposition? Many feel their destiny is chiseled in marble due to their inherited genes. Yes, genes have a huge bearing on your life, but in most cases, they don't control everything.

Given my family history, some may judge that I have a genetic predisposition for alcoholism. I can count four of them on my paternal side. Does that mean I am doomed to be an alcoholic? Certainly not. I personally abhor alcohol because I have seen it's devastation at close range. So, a genetic predisposition can present factors in your life, to be sure, but some of them you can just flat ignore.

Over the last year, I have learned that my choices in diet, exercise, supplementation and sleep habits can and do have an amazing effect on my well-being, strength, stamina and disposition. I can't choose when and how I will die, but maybe I can fend death off for a time with consistent, healthy choices.

I remember President Gordon B. Hinckley saying that "the Golden Years are laced with lead." (He could make me laugh. And he did it often.) It's not that I merely want to have a long life—it's that I want to have a fulfilling life, laced with a lot less lead. As little as possible. And my choices can make a difference.

So, in that sense, I suppose, aging is a choice.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Sayings from the '70s

The other day, our daughter need some saying from the '70s for a school assignment. My wife found a list online and here are some I remember. If you grew up in the '70s, they'll put a smile on your face.

Bummer!

Can you dig it?

Catch my drift?

Catch you on the flip side.

Decent!

Don't give me that jive.

Dream on!

Dy-no-mite!

Far out!

Foxy mama!

Funkadelic.

Gag me with a spoon!

Gimme some skin.

Good night, John boy.

He's such a wackoid!

Here's the skinny...

Keep on truckin'.

Let's blow this taco stand!

Let's book it out of here.

May the force be with you.

Mellow out!

Outta sight!

Pop a wheelie.

Righteous?

Say what?

Slam dunk.

Solid!

To the max!

Trippin'!

Tubular!

Unreal!

What's happening?

Do you remember any '70s slang that you'd like to add?