Danny's Dream -- Chapter 3: From the Beginning

That night, after Danny had finished saying prayers with his dad, he carried his Book of Mormon, his lantern, and his blanket over to the window seat. Danny carefully laid everything out like he was going to camp out under the stars. Then he sat down and started to read.

Since he'd already read the verses his brother Tom had asked him to, Danny decided to start reading at the beginning. He'd tried it once before, but it seemed like he could never get past "I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents".

This time, he really wanted to read the whole book. Pretty soon, his eyes started to close, and his head started to nod. Before he realized it, Danny was asleep.

Danny heard voices and started to stir. It seemed very hot under his blanket. Danny pushed it off of himself and opened his eyes. It was bright. He wasn't in his room. He didn't know where he was.

Danny looked around. He was in an alley, there were stone walls on both sides of the alley. One end of it opened out onto a street. Danny saw people on the street. They were dressed strangely, wearing what looked like robes and pajamas. The people looked busy. Some of them were carrying baskets.

A voice cut through the other sounds. "Dried figs! Come and see the finest figs in Jerusalem. Figs and Dates!" Jerusalem? What was the man saying? What was happening? Danny looked down. All of his things were gone; his lantern, his Book of Mormon, even his blanket. Then he noticed that he wasn't in his regular clothes either. Danny was dressed just like the people that he saw.

Danny was scared. He wanted to cry. What was he going to do? Where were his mom and dad?

Suddenly, another voice sounded above the others. "People of Jerusalem, repent! Jeremiah has spoken the word of the Lord and his words condemn you. Destruction is near if you will not set aside your sins and come unto the Lord."

Other voices, angry voices began to swell. "Joshua! Go back to your cave." "We don't want you here Joshua." "Why would the Lord destroy us? We're his chosen people. Jerusalem will stand forever!"

The new voices were saying things that didn't sound right. They sounded angry. Danny wished he could shut out these new voices and hear this Joshua guy. That didn't seem too likely though. People were starting to gather closer together. One of them stood apart from the others. The crowd looked mad. One of them bent down and picked up a rock. He threw it at the man standing alone. "Take that Joshua! All of you false prophets deserve to be stoned." Joshua, the man
who'd been standing alone, started to run. He was headed right toward Danny's alley.

Danny pressed himself back up against the wall. Joshua ran right past him. The crowd followed. Some of them threw rocks at Joshua as he ran away. They were shouting and laughing. Danny had thought he was scared earlier. Now he was terrified. The men chasing Joshua didn't even seem to notice him though. They were too angry.

As the crowd ran past him, Danny started to sneak back out toward the street they had come from. As he stepped out of the alley, he nearly ran into someone. It was a young man, but he didn't look angry like the crowd had. He looked sad, and suprised to see Danny. "Hi there. What is a child like you doing on the streets alone? What's your name?" He asked.

"My name is Daniel, sir. And I'm lost. Can you help me?" Danny asked, his fear of the crowd and his strange surroundings overcoming his normal shyness.

"Daniel, my name is Nephi, the son of Lehi. I'll help you. Let's get you to my father. He'll know what to do, he always does." The young man, Nephi, said. Nephi put his arm around Danny's shoulders and the two of them walked down the road together.

Later, as Danny and Nephi arrived at Lehi's home. They met another young man, a little bit older than Nephi. As they walked through a stone gateway into a yard filled with animals, Nephi called out to him, "Samuel. I've brought Daniel home to eat with us. He's lost and needs our help."

"I'll go and let mother know that we'll have another mouth to feed at lunch. Father's not here right now. He should be home this evening though." Replied Samuel, and he went across the yard into the house.

Danny loved the yard. There were goats and chickens running loose. A box, made out of stone, stood against a low stone wall, filled with water. One of the goats stood in front of it, drinking from the water inside. Standing in a shady spot against a wall of the house several large clay pots were stacked.

As he and Nephi walked across the yard, Danny looked at everything. As they reached the house Danny realized that there was no door, just a heavy sheet of fabric hanging in the doorway. Nephi pulled it aside and the two of them entered.

Danny spent the afternoon with Nephi. They had lunch soon after arriving. Instead of sandwiches and milk, they ate a strange kind of bread dipped in some kind of sauce and small chunks of cheese. The bread was round and flat -- Nephi would tear off a piece, scoop up some of the sauce and eat it like Danny would have eaten dip with potato chips. The cheese was white and hard, it tasted salty. As they ate, Danny and Nephi drank warm water. Danny wondered what Nephi would have thought about cold milk and fresh baked cookies.

After lunch, they went out and to gather wood. As they worked, Nephi and Danny talked. "What's it like having a prophet for your dad?" Danny asked.

"A prophet? You must be thinking of somebody else. My father is a merchant." Nephi replied. "Jeremiah, now he's a prophet. Some of the men who follow him are prophets too, like Joshua from the market today."

"Joshua is a prophet? But he said that Jerusalem is going to be destroyed! Shouldn't we leave or something?" asked Danny.

"He's a prophet all right. Jeremiah teaches the same thing.'' Said Nephi. "My father says that they speak the word of God. Samuel and I believe them too. My older brothers don't though. They think that because we are of Israel's line, Jerusalem will never fall."

"If a prophet says so, then it'll happen." Said Danny.

What I Don't do at Work

As promised, here's another tidbit about work. I thought I'd start out by talking about a couple of things I'm not working on at work.

First, I'm not working on the fabled 'Digitize everything in the Vaults' project. I know things are being done, I don't know how much, how fast, or how accessible things will be. (I am hopeful that there are cool things happening somewhere here at church headquarters.)

Second, I'm not working on the Family Search Indexing project. It looks really cool, except that it requires Windows and IE. I've heard that it's going to go into use fairly soon -- I don't know what scale to measure soon by though.

Third, I don't work on any of the existing LDS web sites (LDS.org, ProvidentLiving.org, JosephSmith.net, etc.) There are a lot of cool things hiding out there though. Even though I don't work on any of them, I do try to make good use of them -- if you're not familiar with them, maybe you should be.

Oh, yeah, there are some other things I don't work on at work -- my writing projects (blog or otherwise), Free Software that we're not using, and a variety of stuff like that. That's what I do when I should be sleeping.


Danny's Dream -- Chapter 2: The Birthday Boy

Danny stirred a bit, then woke up. He wasn't in his room! Where was he?

"Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday dear Danny. Happy birthday to you."

The lights came on and suddenly Danny knew where he was. The reading room, only it didn't look the same. It looked like a bedroom. It looked like his bedroom!

"Hey kiddo, do you want breakfast or not?" Asked Mary. "I'd be happy to eat those pancakes for you if you're not hungry. Besides, I want to see you open up your presents."

The smell of pancakes and bacon cut through the excitement and Danny realized that he was hungry. Very hungry! "I'll eat them myself, thank you." Danny answered his sister, and he picked up his knife and fork and did just that.

"We're sorry you can't unwrap our present to you." Said his mom. "We hope you like your new bedroom."

"Like it? It's great!" Danny said between mouthfuls of breakfast.

"I'm glad you like it Danny." Said his Grandpa. "This used to be my favorite room in the house when I was little. I'd come up here when it was my dad's library. I can still remember falling asleep on that window seat with a favorite book. It seems like it happened almost every day. I learned to love a lot of books here in this room. I hope that you will too." Grandpa handed Danny a nicely wrapped bundle. "Happy birthday!"

"Wow grandpa. You used to use this room when you where little? That's too cool." Said Danny. He unwrapped the bundle and found a flannel blanket.

"I used to wrap up in that blanket while I was reading." Grandpa said.

"Open mine next." Said Mary, handing another box to Danny.

Danny unwrapped it and found a battery powered lantern. "Neat! Now I can stay up late reading." He said.

"Not too late, Sport." Said his dad. "Don't forget to open your present from Tom."

"No way I'll forget that one Dad. I've been waiting all week to open it." Danny replied as he picked up the package from his brother. He carefully tore open the brown paper wrapping uncovering a blue book with gold lettering. "The Book of Mormon! My very own copy. This is
so awesome."

"Check inside." Danny's mom said.

Danny opened up the front cover and saw a note from Tom. The note said:

I've given out a lot of these, but this one is the most
special. It's only one more year until you get to be
baptized. Before you take that step, you should read this
book and know that it is true. Did you know that Heavenly
Father promises each one of us that we can know for ourselves?
His promise is right in this book. Read Moroni 10:3-5.

You should also start reading at the beginning and go right
through the book. I'll give you an extra scripture to read
every week in my letters until I come home. It will be just
like I'm teaching you out here.

Love your brother,
Elder Thomas Moroni Jackson

Danny's mom started to pick up the dishes from breakfast. "Why don't we let Danny get used to his new room, and maybe get a little bit more sleep." She said as she led the rest of the family out of Danny's room.

Danny wasn't tired, but he knew just what he wanted to do. He collected his new gifts and carried them over to the window seat. He turned on his new lantern. He curled up in Grandpa's old blanket. He picked up his Book of Mormon. "Where is that promise? Moroni ... Chapter 10. Okay. Here it is verse 3."

"Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these
things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, ye
would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the
children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the
time that ye shall ponder these things, and ponder it in your
"And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you
that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of
Christ, if they are not true; and if ye shall ask with a
sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he
will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the
Holy Ghost."
"And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the power of
all things."

"Wow." Thought Danny. "He did promise me. I can know if it's true." Danny curled up a little bit tighter in the blanket. It was nice and warm. Soon he fell asleep.

"Daniel." A voice called.

"Daniel." It called him again, and Danny started to stir. "Daniel, I want you to read the book."

Danny's eyes opened. there was someone in his room. A man, dressed kind of like an Indian, not with feathers and stuff, but like the Indians down in South America -- Danny remembered seeing pictures of them at school.

"Who are you?" Danny asked.

"I am Moroni. You just read my promise. Daniel, I want you to read this book. Pray about it, and Heavenly Father will let you know that it's true. Just like millions of people before you. Just like your brother, Thomas. Just like your father, William. Just like your grandfather, John." Said the man.

"Danny!" He heard a voice. "Danny!" It was his mother. Danny started awake, he must have fallen asleep on the window seat. "Danny, it's time for our devotional. Come on down." His mother called.

"I'm coming mom. You won't believe the dream I just had." He picked up his Book of Mormon and started down the stairs to join the rest of his family.

Food Storage, Day 1

Well, things didn't start so well. Yesterday we were going to eat out of just the basics we had stored (more or less the 1 month kits available through the Canneries). Alas, we awoke to realize that we'd not set up the bread maker to deliver nice, warm bread for the morning, and that we'd forgotten to soak the beans for rice and beans for lunch.

We had a pretty hurried (harried?) morning as we tried to put things right, and ended up not doing too badly. We did use some of the basic spices we'd already built into our storage, and things didn't taste too bad (though my kids might disagree). After dinner, we took comments around the table about what we should add to the basics (there was a lot of input about that, and soy sauce was high on the list of requests). We also voted on which two items we should pull out of our 'secondary storage' to supplement our meals for the week — peanut butter was a clear winner, and we decided to hold off on the second item until later in the week, but it'll probably be either frozen veggies or maybe a roast for Sunday's dinner.

We seemed to have learned our lesson about preparation though, since we soaked beans for soup and put a loaf of bread on before we went to bed last night. Boy, that bread smelled good this morning!


Danny's Dream -- Chapter 1: Prolog

Danny slept quietly while the rest of his family was hard at work. You see, today was Danny's birthday and his family had a tradition. Each person in the family, on their birthday, was awakened to their favorite breakfast -- served in bed. The family would sing 'Happy Birthday', and give their gifts to the birthday boy (or girl).

That's why everyone was downstairs gathering gifts, blowing up balloons, and helping get Danny's favorite breakfast ready; walnut pancakes with real maple syrup, bacon, orange juice, and a big glass of milk. Everyone except Danny's older brother, Tom. Tom was serving a mission. He was living in Joplin , Missouri.

Tom still remembered Danny's birthday though. He had sent a special package, just to Danny. "Don't open until your birthday!", was written all over the outside. Tom was Danny's hero. They wrote letters back and forth every week. It had been very hard for Danny not to open Tom's box. He didn't want to let his brother down though.

Danny's sister, Mary, had mixed the orange juice. His mom and dad had made the pancakes. His Grandpa had gathered a tray and dishes to serve Danny's breakfast on. They set the breakfast onto the tray and started up the stairs. They went right past the second floor where Danny's room was though. They climbed right up to the third floor. The only room on this floor was the one they called 'the reading room'.

The room had been turned into a bedroom. Bookshelves lined the walls, filled with hundreds of books. A bed had been put into the room, and a pile of pillows filled the ledge of one window turning it into a wonderful spot to sit down and read. Three boxes sat on the bed. Two of them were nicely wrapped, the third was Tom's gift. "I'll put the bow on the door, you go down and get Danny." Said Danny's mom to his dad.


A couple of things

I've posted a lot of technical stuff in my most recent posts here -- hmmm, with my lack of posts, it's hard to think of any of them as recent, The next batch won't be so technical. Let me tell you what I've got planned.

When my son, Michael, was first taking on early chapter books, I started writing one for him, Danny's Dream. Sadly, he blew through that stage before I finished. I'd like to post what I've got though, as a sort of serial. Maybe I'll even finish it this time around. At one point, I'd thought about making this into a series of books, but I never found the time.

I'd also like to comment a bit on an experiment my family and I are trying. We're looking to live off of our food storage for the week before Thanksgiving. We'll be starting tomorrow (so that I can start cooking for Thanksgiving next Wednesday). I'm hoping to write up some posts about how things go, and which (if any) recipes are worth trying.

If you only come here for technical stuff, I'll try to work some of that in soon too -- I just wanted to let my other side show for a bit.


A little bit of Ruby for work

I've always used, but never really like ab for looking at Apache performance. The big things that I've wanted to do with it was hit multiple urls according to a defined ratio. After a bit of hacking on the bus, I've got a working kernel (uner 150 lines of Ruby). I can run a script like this:

config = {
"http://localhost/first" => '50',
"http://localhost/second" => '30',
"http://localhost/third" => '20'}
urls = RWBBuilder.new(config)
tests = RWBRunner.new(urls, 10000, 100)

and I'll get back a report like this:

Concurrency Level: 100
Total Requests: 10000
Total time for testing: 48.786909 secs
Requests per second: 204.973018479199
Mean request time: 0.0048786909 secs
Results for http://localhost/first
Numer of runs: 4864
Shortest time: 0.02031 secs
50%ile time: 0.036371 secs
90%ile time: 0.045528 secs
99%ile time: 0.263913 secs
99.9%ile time: 1.555193 secs
Longest time: 1.556691 secs
Results for http://localhost/second
Numer of runs: 3142
Shortest time: 0.021777 secs
50%ile time: 0.035928 secs
90%ile time: 0.045415 secs
99%ile time: 0.289059 secs
99.9%ile time: 1.49962 secs
Longest time: 1.554188 secs
Results for http://localhost/third
Numer of runs: 1988
Shortest time: 0.016705 secs
50%ile time: 0.03639 secs
90%ile time: 0.04559 secs
99%ile time: 1.256631 secs
99.9%ile time: 1.496296 secs
Longest time: 1.544625 secs

Once I get it cleaned up a bit more, I'll release it for general use.