Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thursday, November 27, 2008

My Thoughts Exactly...

A follow-up on the comments I posted earlier about Sen. Clinton and Gov. Richardson as candidates for Secretary of State. It's looking like the spot will go to Sen. Clinton while Gov. Richardson's consolation prize is the Dept. of Commerce. Columnist Ruben Navarrette today commented on the silliness of this selection, and I agree completely:

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

10th Anniversary

My dad passed away ten years ago today. I thought I'd post some pictures of us when I was a little boy:

Here is his obituary, that was published later that week:
LOGAN, Utah -- Richard Raymond Knoll, 41, died Wednesday, Nov. 25, 1998, at the Logan Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Logan after a 13-year battle with cancer.
Richard was born Sept. 5, 1957, in Billings, Montana to Donald R. and Florence Buck Knoll. He married Lora Lee Wight in 1981 in Boise, Idaho. They had three children. They later divorced.
Richard loved the outdoors and spent as much time as he could in the mountains. He was a talented photographer, artist, and writer and was an avid rock collector. He loved music, Star Trek, and most of all, his children. He took many pictures of them and documented all their milestones.
Richard had a great talent for making lifelong friends. He showed tremendous perseverance throughout his trials with cancer. He bore everything he was faced with, and did so with a wonderful sense of humor and touched the lives of many of the people he came in contact with. Richard will be missed.
Richard leaves his children: Benjamin, 15, Michael 13, and Jennifer, 12, all of Hyde Park; his mother, Florence Knoll of Boise, Idaho, his father, Donald R. Knoll of Billings, Montana; his close friend, LouAnn West of St. George, Utah; and numerous extended family and friends.
Memorial services will be held at 3 p.m. on Saturday, November 28, 1998, in the Cranney Mortuary Chapel, 420 E. 1800 N. in Logan with Bishop Lynn Jaggi conducting. A visitation will be held at the mortuary following the memorial services.

Finally, this is my father's headstone that is now in the Logan city cemetery next to the Utah State University campus. As can be seen, he passed away almost ten years ago now. My siblings and I designed this over the summer in honor of my dad's great affection for Star Trek. (Any knowledgeable Trekkie will recognize this as the Original Series insignia.)

My father (and mother) instilled in his (their) children an appreciation for science fiction. When most little boys were out playing ball with their dads, my dad was building models of the Enterprise with me and teaching me the Vulcan Neck Grip. When most dads were out teaching their boys how to change the oil on a car, my dad was helping me make a toy tricorder. Consequently, I still don't know how to throw a ball or change the oil on my car, but I can recite memorable moments in Star Trek history and cite examples from relevant episodes in graduate school political philosophy seminar papers. What can I say? The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

When my brother and sister came out to visit us last summer, we made sure to make a pilgrimage to Riverside, Iowa where the official Captain James T. Kirk birthplace is located. We did this in honor of our father, who would have enjoyed such a venture. Riverside is located approximately half-an-hour south of Iowa City. Behind a little barber shop on Main Street is a stone monument that reads: "Future birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk: March 22, 2228". It should be noted, however, that there is some disagreement over the accuracy of that date. Others calculate a birth year of 2233, but I digress...

So here's to my father, Richard Raymond Knoll. He would have been 51 this year. He was 25 years old when I was born. Coincidentally, I am currently 25 and this year I will become a dad for the first time. I'll be sure to pass on my father's legacy by making sure his granddaughter is well-instructed all about Captain Kirk, Spock, the Enterprise, and the Vulcan Neck Pinch.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Maternity Pictures

This morning my good friend Jessica came over and we took some maternity pictures. She did a good job and we had a lot of fun. :) Ben was a good sport and only made funny faces in some of the pictures.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Stem Cell article

My first official academic "publication" came out this month. It's an entry in The Encyclopedia for Stem Cell Research by Sage Publications called "Congress: Votes and Amendments (Cloning/Embryos)". I got paid a measly $50 for it, but they also threw in $100 of book credits that I used on over-priced statistical analysis books. And, I get an easy line on the CV. So I suppose it was a decent deal, at the end of the day. If you feel like reading it (it's quasi-interesting), you can view it here. I'm also listed among many dozen others on the highly-impressive "list of contributors" page here.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


5th picture in 5th folder (6th didn't work out)

Isn't he cute? and Caleb looks good too.

Friday, November 14, 2008

A New "Team of Rivals"?

So the news today is that Pres-elect Obama has had discussions with Sen. Clinton about offering her Secretary of State. Apparently, Obama is attempting to channel Abraham Lincoln by appointing former rivals to his cabinet. It was a genius strategy for Pres. Lincoln, and while in the abstract I whole-heartily approve of this idea, I must admit that Sen. Clinton is not the ideal candidate for State. The same gesture could be accomplished by offering her something like the Dept. of Labor, HUD, or even UN ambassador (the world still loves her husband and she could be very effective there). Secretary of State should be reserved for more qualified people with more familiarity with the world arena like Gov. Bill Richardson or even Sen. John Kerry. At any rate, it's ultimately very magnanimous of Pres-elect Obama to even discuss it with her. It appears that he also has a meeting with Sen. McCain scheduled for Monday. I'm now intensely curious: just how far might Obama take this whole "team of rivals" idea...?

UPDATE: It just broke that Pres-elect Obama has also had discussions with Gov. Richardson about Sec. of State. Hear, hear.

Monday, November 10, 2008


Thank you to everyone! We feel so blessed and well taken care of. Our little girl (still yet to be named) has been given many gifts and Ben and I really appreciate everyone's generosity. We feel that people are especially nice to us because they know how difficult it was for us to conceive and they are so excited to celebrate with us now that we are closely approaching her debut. I'm overwhelmed by the kindness that so many have shown to us. Thanks again to everyone!

These pictures are from a combination of two showers. One was thrown by my two good church friends Rachel and Samantha. They both worked so hard to make the shower fun and cute. I enjoyed it. Several of my ward friends attended as did Sarina Martini.
The other shower was thrown by my friend Natalie Erlandson. She and I were colleagues at West Liberty High School. I love her! The house was elegantly decorated andthe treats were perfect.

My face is SO chubby. Ugh!

This pictures is semi-okay. Still super chubby.

Saturday, November 8, 2008


I am sad, and glad, to report that I have finished my fifty hours of observation that I needed for my ELL (English Language Learners) Practicum. I observed an elementary class at Mark Twain Elementary for about three hours a day every day during the month of October.

I really enjoyed being in a classroom again and it was fun interacting with the students. I was impressed by how well they listened to the teacher and how most of them did their work quietly when they were asked to. WOW!

One student told me that she liked having me there and another student chose me as his partner for a group activity. I think that he just wanted me to give him the answers, but it was still fun. I had several students buy small gifts for my baby and the teacher had them all write me thank you notes. I received more notes from this class than I ever have from my high-school students. :)

It was a good experience, but it took up a lot of my time. Now I am focusing on finishing all my papers and projects as soon as I can.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Election Ruminations

Due to overwhelming demand (and I'm counting 1 person as "overwhelming"), here is my take on the presidential election. And I promise Katie that now that the election is over I’ll try to do fewer political-related posts…

The outcome of this election really wasn't about candidates, personalities, campaigns, etc. It was primarily about two issues: economics and the unpopularity of the incumbent president. Election forecasting models run by political scientists almost a year ago predicted that the Republican candidate would attain 48% of the vote this year, based solely on economic indicators and President Bush’s approval ratings. They were off by only 1.6%. Almost any competent Democrat would have beat any competent Republican this election. From a political science perspective, this election wasn’t a statement about a post-racial America or about age/experience vs. youth/inexperience. It was about the economy, and that’s why the Democrat won.

Despite what may be said in the news, this was not a “realigning” election. It was not a “game-changer”, and it certainly isn’t comparable to the elections of 1932, 1964, and 1980. Check out the county-by-county map of 2004 and 2008:

Yes, there’s more blue on there than in 2004, but notice that they don’t really look all that different. The blue parts of the country stayed blue while the red parts stayed red. The difference is that the blue parts were bluer than in 2004, and that’s how Obama obtained a 6-point popular vote victory. Essentially, all that happened was that Obama was able to strengthen support in traditional Democratic areas like the Pacific Northwest, upper Midwest, and Northeast. That’s also how he was able to carry Colorado, Nevada, Florida, Indiana, Virginia, and North Carolina – by racking up bigger margins in the urban areas than Kerry did in 2004, not because he was really able to fundamentally "change the map" or make inroads into traditionally conservative social groups. He merely won over the fence-sitters in the urban and suburban areas of traditionally Democratic areas. I say "merely" - but that's all that was really needed...

Obama got 34% in Utah! (25% in Cache County and even 18% in ultra-conservative Utah County where BYU is.) That's the best a Democrat has done since voting 37% for Hubert Humphrey in 1968. If he can do that for Utah, what might he be able to do for the rest of the country?

Despite any rhetoric tossed around, I do believe that John McCain is a decent person and would have made a “good” president (policy differences aside). He unfortunately went semi-nuts during the election in an effort to win, but that’s what usually happens. I don’t blame him too much. Fundamentally, he still deserves respect for his life-long service and for not vilifying Latino immigrants for political gain with his Republican base.

Despite what may be said in the news, I don’t think this election represents the end of racism or racial issues in America. If voters voted only by race, then you could make the argument that an Obama victory represents the end of racism. Voters do not vote only by race, however, and the election is mostly the result of the economic conditions of the last few months and incumbent president than anything about a post-racial America.

I was glad to see Minnick beat Sali in Idaho’s 1st congressional seat.

More than any effect that will be had on domestic policy, the outcome of the election is perhaps most important for foreign-policy and how the U.S. is viewed in the eyes of the world. They pretty much all have grown to hate us over the past few years. This is important because you can’t lead someone whose respect you do not have. Pres. Obama will be able to re-gain that respect on the world stage that we need to be able to lead the world effectively.

Ted Stevens, the convicted felon senior senator from Alaska, so far leads in the vote count over his Democratic challenger 48%-47%. Either 1) Alaskans are idiots to reelect a convicted felon, or 2) they understand that if he wins, he will be forced to resign, and Gov. Palin will get to appoint a Republican senator to replace him. I’ll give Alaskans the benefit of the doubt and assume it was option 2. Maybe average voters aren't so ignorant about the processes of governmental institutions after all.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Random Thoughts

We went to the doctor on Thursday and things seem to be going well. Our little girl is growing and she is strong and active. The heartbeat sounded fine and the good news is that she is moving. She was breech a couple of weeks ago and I have been contemplating what a c-section would be like. Now she is head down and we hope that she stays that way. Now I can start contemplating childbirth. Ack! 

We attended our childbirth class last Saturday and so now we are "ready" for her to be born. Actually, I am not ready to have a newborn yet and I am not uncomfortable enough to want her out. I really enjoy feeling her movements and her kicks. It really is a neat experience to have her inside of me to feel so immediately close to her. I am excited for her to be born, but I want to enjoy this experience for a little longer yet. I still have five weeks to go!
Ben's misspeak:

We were at an institute activity dinner and I was talking with a friend. She has a little boy and is expecting another boy early next year. We were talking about the pregnancy and our excitement for the baby's arrival. Ben came in the room and she asked him: Are you excited? Ben looked at her and with genuine excitement said something like "Yeah, the election is so soon and Obama is doing really well." We both looked at him in disbelief and I told him that he failed the "dad" test. He argues that he had just come from school and his mind was on politics still. It was pretty funny.
Here is my November 1st pregnancy picture. I am getting bigger and unfortunately, it really shows in my face. :(