Sumpteretc's Blog

What's on my mind at the moment

Month: January, 2011

Today did not get off to a stellar start. After going to bed around midnight, I was awakened at 5:00 with a splitting headache. I got up and took some Tylenol but could not get back to sleep. I felt like there was more to be done but nothing had any effect. Finally, I just collapsed on the couch and started watching John Wayne and Robert Mitchum in El Dorado. I haven’t finished it, but so far it’s been a pretty decent flick. I guess I expect as much from Howard Hawks.

So, anyway, exercise went by the wayside today. Fortunately, by 8:00, I was feeling better and able to teach Elijah’s homeschool relatively successfully. We’re still plodding our way through ancient Greek culture in history, today focusing on education and theater. He’s doing well in his reading, working this week on words ending in -lt, -nt and -ft. We also practiced playing “20 Questions,” which he is starting to get the hang of but needs more work. In science, we talked about the skin. I probably learned a thing or two. He had fun with exploring the skin on his arm at this website. It’s still pretty fact-heavy, but it’s interactive enough that it held his attention most of the time.

We all bundled out and braved the cold to celebrate Tiffany’s birthday at Thai Express tonight. Her birthday isn’t until Feb. 3, but since that falls during Tsagaan Sar, we figured we had better celebrate early.

Neighbors Give Cancer Patient Generous Gift – Video – KMBC Kansas City

Here’s another story about the neighbors who traded house with Michael and his family: Neighbors Give Cancer Patient Generous Gift – Video – KMBC Kansas City.

Cancer took his leg but hasn’t taken his heart, one Gardner man shares how his neighbors helped out – – Kansas City

Here’s a Kansas City news story covering the story of a high school classmate of mine who has been struggling over the past year with the loss of a leg to cancer. Cancer took his leg but hasn’t taken his heart, one Gardner man shares how his neighbors helped out – – Kansas City.

alien abduction

It seems like I had something really inspired to blog about this morning, but I didn’t write it down, so, of course, I’ve forgotten.

In lieu of that inspiring bit of whatever it was, I’ll treat you to a story Elijah wrote in language arts today:

Once upon a time, there was a nice family living together. One night, Joey was walking home when he suddenly saw an alien ship invading from outer space. He never saw an alien ship before. He was excited to see an alien ship. Then Joey saw the alien ship kidnap two people, one from his house and one of the neighbors. Then, the alien ship landed and then the aliens came out. And then, he was interested and not scared. Then, also his father had never seen an alien ship ever. Then the son told his father. And then he looked outside the window. And then he was also interested when he saw the alien ship there. Then the aliens took off and flew around the city; and then, at the airport, landed on a runway. Then they had a plan to trap the aliens. He planned to make a ground trap, kind of like a gun; except it shot kind of like an arrow and little grapple-hook thingies and then it pulled the alien ship down. Then, after the aliens were down on the earth, then he went outside and got the trap ready. And then the alien ship appeared again. Then he put many grapple hooks in the gun and shot all of them up at the alien ship. And they were also connected together. And then, they got it to come down. And then, the aliens came out. And then they shot grapple hooks at the aliens to tie them up, and then they lived happily ever after. The end.

This is a surprisingly non-violent piece of writing by my first grader. Which reminds me of what I think I was going to blog about. It wasn’t that inspired. It was about the other story that he wrote today.

Well, actually he didn’t write it. It was an activity where we took turns telling a story. I would give a few sentences of the story, leave off at some dramatic point, where he would pick it up and give it a few twists of his own, and so on. I started the story innocently enough; it was about a girl named Jenny and her missionary father traveling by canoe down a river in South America to visit another missionary family. I did introduce the mild trauma of a hole in the boat that required some bailing. Then Elijah had his turn. For a while, the story was progressing nicely. Somewhere, however, it took a dark turn. By the end of the story, there were 13 Indians hacked to death by Jenny’s dad’s machete. Jenny’s father himself lay in a pool of blood on the trail with an Indian spear in his chest. I swear that we do monitor what our sons watch on TV; I think this stuff is innate in them. I don’t remember any Mickey Mouse Clubhouse episodes with that exact plot line.

On a brighter note, I ran across a few more familiar lines in Alexander Pope today, especially in “Eloisa to Abelard.” First, there was “Thy eyes diffused a reconciling ray/And gleams of glory brightened all the day,” which inspired a line in Charles Wesley’s “And Can It Be.” Then, about 50 lines later, “How happy is the blameless vestal’s lot!/The world forgetting, by the world forgot:/Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!” And then, in Epistle I of “Essay on Man,” “Hope springs eternal in the human breast:/Man never is, but always to be blest:/The soul, uneasy and confined from home,/Rests and expatiates in a life to come.” As Tiffany commented, “This man is a poet’s poet.” I don’t really consider Alexander Pope a household name, but I’m beginning to think the number of his maxims that have entered modern conversation rivals that of Shakespeare.

unread books

Well, I only watched about 15 minutes of the State of the Union address, but I don’t suppose I missed a lot. I’m guessing it was mostly “Rah, rah! Let’s fix the economy and create jobs. We need more bipartisan effort, and I fully support our troops.” Did I get most of it? I’m cynical about a lot of things, but politics is high up on the list.

I’ve been reading Alexander Pope in my free time, and I am amazed at how many well-known phrases came from his “Essay on Criticism”–“a little learning is a dangerous thing,” “to err is human, to forgive divine,” and “fools rush in where angels fear to tread.” I’ve barely heard of Pope, so I was shocked to hear such common phrases originating with him. I’m reading “The Rape of the Lock” now, which I have actually heard of, although I know precious little about it.

I spent a big chunk of my afternoon listening to a webinar on “10 Commandments to Counteract Dependency” with Jarvis Ferguson, Ibero-American area director for Global Partners. It was some pretty challenging stuff, as our church here is very dependent on North American dollars, and I haven’t seen significant moves to break free of that system. I want to encourage the church toward greater self-support, but we’re basically starting from zero, so it’s going to take some major brainstorming and probably progress at a rate slower than I would like. My friend Dave Horne gave me the book When Helping Hurts back in October, but it’s still in a stack of a bunch of unread books on my desk. I think I’m just going to have to make reading it a part of my weekly schedule, so that I can get some clarity on how to begin to resolve this issue.

This stack of books is actually beginning to bug me. There is so much that I would like to read, but I just don’t make the time for it. I’m devoted to finishing this volume of the Major British Writers before I get too heavily into anything else. After Pope, I just have Boswell and Johnson, so maybe I’ll get through it sometime this year!

Speaking of books, I saw an interesting sign here in Ulaanbaatar yesterday; it said “Center of English Book.” I think if you’re going to bother to have an English book center, you ought to go to the trouble of using proper grammar in your signage. I suppose they could have just been referring to the center of a particular volume, but….

Tiffany has been helping me with some of our donor communication, so we should have a print newsletter coming out in the next week or so. Since everyone reading this must sure have an e-mail address, you probably won’t get a print copy, but if you do, save me some money next time by sending your e-mail address to By way of communication, we’re also working on getting a video postcard put together. There are a few churches that have requested videos, but I hope we’ll be able to make it available to whoever would like to see it.

the slow pace of getting things done

Sometimes I forget how long it takes to get stuff done here. I spent some good time this afternoon down in the church office visiting with some of our office workers and some of our youth. But then I decided I ought to run down to the State Department Store, since they are apparently the local distributor of Lexmark printing supplies. I haven’t seen Lexmark ink anywhere in the country, but today I actually saw some on the shelves. It wasn’t the kind I needed, so I despairingly asked a saleslady if they had any others. She handed me over to a gentleman who opened a drawer and produced the ink I was looking for. Unfortunately, they only had a black/color combo pack, while I just needed to purchase the black. Moreover, the price was 70,000₮, which I thought was a bit overpriced. (I ended up buying just the black ink on eBay from a supplier in Taiwan; we’ll see how that works out.) The real struggle was getting home. I waited quite a while for a bus, and when one finally came, it was quite full, so I found a place to stand. The farther we went, the fuller it got, and the more uncomfortable positions I was cramped into. Traffic was pretty heavy apparently, and it probably took me close to an hour to get home. I probably could have jumped in a taxi and been home in 15 minutes, but I squeeze every tugrug until it cries.

Another day in paradise

I don’t know what the temperatures got up to today, but I’m glad I didn’t have to go outside in it. At the moment, the Weather Channel desktop application says it’s -22 and fair, with a “feels like” temperature of -35.

My devotional reading this morning was Joseph’s interpretation of Pharaoh’s dream and his accompanying advice. Joseph must have been pretty convinced that he was speaking for God, since two years in prison is not generally considered sufficient qualification to be a royal advisor.

Wii Fit Plus continues to cause me great pain. My weight crept up a bit over the weekend, as I think it generally does. I still can’t tie Elijah’s high score on push ups & side planks. I don’t know how he scored 100 on that, but I can’t believe he did it fairly. I consistently get 91 and the trainer asking me if I dropped my hips. After a couple of tries beating that, I moved on to other exercises. I came back and did some planks later. Holding that position for 90 seconds, after doing a 30-second rep and a 60-second rep was just too much for me.

The hot water was out this morning (pretty typical), so I decided to hold off on a shower until later, and then talked myself into foregoing shaving as well, since I had no plans to leave the house. The church office is closed on Monday, so there’s not much point in dragging myself down there.

Elijah and I continued studying Greek history. Today, we focused on the Spartans, from both a negative and positive perspective. I think I can safely say that I’m glad I didn’t grow up in Sparta. We did a little “What if…” brainstorming in language arts, and it was interesting, as always, to hear his perspectives on matters both silly and serious. He still has no concept of money or big numbers, so the “What would you do with a million dollars?” question was pretty well lost on him. He eventually managed to buy himself a beach house (and a beach) with it. In science, we talked about the sense of hearing. We tried to watch a short video but had some trouble with the QuickTime player. We found another site on How the Body Works , which had some interesting articles on hearing, although they didn’t add a lot to what we had already studied.

Off and on, during breaks in my day, I played The West. I haven’t played for quite a while, and I’m trying to make sure it doesn’t become too time-consuming. That’s what I actually like about it; you can play very casually. You play for a few minutes, and then you don’t do anything in the game for several hours.

I also spent a little time today trying to get through “The Chronicles of Riddick.” I still haven’t finished it. All I can say is that, if you’re going to make such a silly movie, don’t put a word so close to “ridiculous” in the title. I can only imagine that the critics had a heyday with that.

While I was teaching Elijah school, my father-in-law sent me an email to say that he was watching House Hunters International on HGTV, and that they were featuring Ulaanbaatar. We only caught the last five minutes or so, but the apartment that the guy ended up choosing was in a building just 100 meters or so from ours. We walk past it all the time. His apartment cost $100,000, which makes us think ours might be worth more than we previously thought. We’d like to see the whole episode, so if somebody notices that it’s going to be on again, give me a holler.

guest post by Elijah

Mommy and Daddy’s Horse Race
Mommy and Daddy have said they would do a horse race, and it was Mommy versus Daddy so they were racing against each other. And then the person that says “Ready! Set! Go!” is saying “Ready! Set! Go!” And then the gun banged, and Mommy and Daddy’s horses started to run towards Michael and Daniel’s house. Mommy and Daddy got to Michael and Daniel’s house first, and then they were on a turn and were running back towards my house then. And then Daddy’s horse fell down and got back up again. The same thing with Mommy’s horse; it fell down and got back up again. And then their horses started running again back in the direction of my house. And then, there was a tie. Mommy and Daddy both crossed the finish line first. So they both get the gold trophy! And then, the race starts all over again.
The End

2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is on fire!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A helper monkey made this abstract painting, inspired by your stats.

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 2,300 times in 2010. That’s about 6 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 45 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 291 posts. There were 3 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 4mb.

The busiest day of the year was June 19th with 64 views. The most popular post that day was Mongolian Greetings and Farewells.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were, Google Reader,,, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for mongolian wedding traditions, mongolian greetings, mongolian greeting, 10.0 magnitude earthquake, and history channel transcripts.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Mongolian Greetings and Farewells June 2010
2 comments and 1 Like on,


transcript of History Channel’s show on Kublai Khan May 2009


Mongolian Wedding Traditions April 2010


UB Might Get Hit with 10.0 Magnitude Earthquake January 2010


Receiving God’s Blessing August 2009