Blue Spider's Coffee House

Truth, Love, Beauty and all things Virtuous


June 2016

Funeral Songs and Los Cuates de Sinaloa


I’ve heard that one day we are all going to die. So when I do finally lose my mojo I want to make sure everyone has a good time at my funeral. No crying, no whining, and no moaning. People should be glad I died. One of the most important things about my funeral will have to be the music—apart from hymns. I know I could come up with a lengthy list of songs to be played at my funeral and the following would be a small sample of the songs I’d like to be played:

  1. “Freebird” by Lynyrd Skynyrd. I know it’s cliché, but who can deny the greatness of this song. Hands down the best guitar solo ever. One of the few songs where listening to all nine minutes is worth it every time. To make things more entertaining you could also include a clip of the fight scene from the movie The Kingsman: The Secret Service.
  2. “All Along the Watchtower” by Jimi Hendrix. Jimi does justice to these great lyrics with both his voice and guitar playing. But let us stop talking falsely now and move on
  3. “This Will Be Our Year” by the Zombies. A hugely underrated band who needs some love.
  4. “Sweet Georgia Brown” by the Carroll Brothers. Used to be the Globetrotters’ theme song so you can’t go wrong with this choice.
  5. “Beans and Cornbread” by Louis Jordan and the Tympany Five. A song about friendship that simply explains that Beans and Cornbread go hand in hand like “weiners and sauerkraut…like chitlins and potato salad…like hot cakes and molasses”.
  6. “Seasons in the Sun” by Terry Jacks. Pure cheese, but a sad song about death. “Good bye Pa Pa, please pray for me. I was the black sheep in the family. You tried to teach my right from wrong…”
  7. “What A Man” (the Original) by Linda Lyndell. Just sayin’.
  8. “Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone” by The Temptations. Just for kicks and to inject some doubt about my character after my family has made me out to be a saint.
  9. “That’s Life” by Frank Sinatra. “that’s life….You’re riding high in April/Shot down in May/But I know I’m gonna change my tune/When I’m back on top, back on top in June…I’ve been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate/A poet, a pawn and a king/I’ve been up and down and over and out”. Nobody says it better than Frank Sinatra.
  10. “Learnin’ the Blues” by Frank Sinatra. This song should be taught to every lovesick teenager. Your heartbreak is what really cool people used to call the blues. Snap out of it and move on, that’s life!

Dean Frank and Bing

  1. Your Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile” from Annie. Life is mostly about attitude is probably the biggest life lesson I got from the movie Annie.
  2. “I’m So Excited” by the Pointer Sisters. I hope everyone is as excited about my death as I will be.
  3. “I’m Sorry” by John Denver. The theme of my life, also what would a Hansen slide show be without a John Denver song.
  4. “The Last Farewell” by Roger Whittaker. In honor of Mom.
  5. “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” by Monty Python. There are some deep lyrics here if you think about it: “And death is the final word….and just remember the last laugh is on you”. Outside of a hymn, this may be one of the best songs about life and death.
  6. If I Ever Leave This World Alive” by Flogging Molly. Ever funeral needs some heartfelt Celtic Punk ballad.
  7. “Married Life” from the movie Up: For my wife who will surely live longer than me.
  8. “I’m Gonna Be (500 miles)”/”I’m On My Way”/”Then I Met You” by the Proclaimers: For my wife and the kids in memory of our road trips together.
  9. “Return to Sender” by Elvis Presley. Just in case I can’t get into Heaven maybe they’ll consider sending me back to Earth to work on few things.
  10. “Friend of the Devil” by the Grateful Dead: Just in case I don’t get into Heaven and they don’t send my back to earth.

Los Cuates of Sinaloa

Recently, we’ve been watching the Breaking Bad series again and this time around I finally noticed that one of the songs that was played during the series was “Negro y Azul: Ballad of Heisenberg” by a band called Los Cuates de Sinaloa.

Los Cuates de Sinaloa

Their brand of music is called Musica Nortena and I can only describe it as the Mexican version of the polka. I honestly don’t know what the appeal of it is, but it is very popular street music in Sinaloa and Nayarit. Occasionally though there is a song I like and I still get nostalgic for it, but for me a little bit goes a long way.

It’s been a while since I have heard the term cuate. The straightforward translation of cuate is buddy or pal, but the way it’s used in Mexico the meaning is closer to hommie than it is to buddy.

I can’t believe it’s been almost 30 years since I was called to the Mazatlan Mexico mission covering the states of Sinaloa and Nayarit. I remember initially being disappointed because I wanted to serve a European mission more specifically I wanted to serve a mission in France like my older brother (and later on my younger brother). With four years of French in high school and I thought for sure I was a shoe in, but the Lord knew better and He nailed it, although at first it didn’t seem like it.

It took a while to get accustomed to the humidity and the cockroaches, large spiders, and the iguanas I’d have to share housing with. For the first little while it seemed like the Spanish they were speaking was not the Spanish I had been taught. But after a couple of months my Spanish became functional and things got a lot better. Half of my mission was smack dab in the heart of Mazatlan, serving there twice. Besides Mazatlan, I also got to serve in Tepic, Nayarit, Culiacan Rosales (Culiacan), and Guamuchil. I loved Guamuchil, not only because I had a lot of success there, but because they ate flour tortillas (tortillas de arena) instead of corn tortillas. The way some of the women cooked those flour tortillas was a real treat when you put butter and strawberry jam on them.  I am pretty sure it was the lard that made those tortillas so good.

Mazatlan Cathedral

Sinaloa does have a bad rap because the Sinaloa Cartel is so powerful and can be ruthless. El Chapo is actually from Sinaloa. The cartel got its start a little bit before my mission began. By the time I was there, Culiacan had become known as the Chicago of Mexico because of all the gang activity. The Federal government at one point in time had to take over the local police force because it has become so corrupt. And we were not allowed to go out into the rural areas. But those were things we had to be cautious about but in no way did they define our daily experiences.

Most of our time was spent walking or biking up and down the dirt roads of our assigned barrios. As missionaries we were very lucky to have been invited into the humble abodes of some wonderful people, who despite being dirt poor and somewhat oppressed by a corrupt government, full of faith and extremely generous. Literally, their casa was tu casa. I got to meet some real spiritual giants in these poor areas of Sinaloa and Nayarit who I would want for my neighbors in a heartbeat, who would be pillars in any community.

Scan 3 3708-copy_edited-3

Don’t get me wrong like any other country Mexico has its share of criminals, gangsters, abusers, two-time losers, no good cheats, and palookas. And Mexico like any other country does have more than a few rat finks, double-crossers, haters, frauds, and philatelists. And there just might be a sprinkling of gainsayers, whoremongers, fanilows, peeping wizards and ne’er do wells in Mexico as well. But I can tell you the influence of one good, virtuous, faithful, and hard-working person on their family and on their community can be immeasurable and generational, outweighing the influence of many bad people. And if they want to leave Mexico they might as well come to America. Heaven knows we could use as many good people as we can get.

Mexico 1988 Mazatlan Neighborhood
The other side of Mazatlan

Needless to say I enjoyed my mission a lot, in fact I liked it so much that towards the end I started to go native and began to contemplate ways I could stay in Mexico after my mission. As missions are wont to do, you end up realizing that all the time you spent teaching other people that you were the one being taught the most.

Poutine and French Canada

In a tribute to Tammy’s French Canadian background, we went to the St. James Brassiere restaurant up in Reno and had our first taste of poutine. I’d give it a thumbs up, but I wouldn’t call it fine cuisine being it’s only slightly more fancy than a Kentucky Fried Chicken Bowl. Finding out about Tammy’s  French Canadian ancestry explains so many things (wonderful things) about her. Quebecois blood runs deep in Tammy’s family.

The Branchaud branch of her family immigrated from Western France to Quebec in the 17th century and lived there for many generations before immigrating to Max Bass, North Dakota, a town with a current population of 91 people.


“There never was an angry man who thought his anger unjust.”-St. Francis de Sale

On Bears, Hobbits, and Quakers


Tammy and the boys went to Yellowstone this week and I got to stay home and help the homeless. I didn’t have enough annual leave to go seeing as I had to use it up when I was asked to “resign”. But I am not a bitter man. Tammy and the boys had a lot of fun doing all the Yellowstone things: seeing Old Faithful and other geysers, visiting the Canyon Waterfalls, going to the Tetons, and visiting Jackson Hole.

They saw a lot of wildlife: Buffalo, Marmots, Elk, and Antelope. They even got to catch a glimpse of some Grizzly bears and some Black bears.  On one occasion, they were coming around a bend and a Black Bear popped his head up right by the road.  Tammy stopped the car in the middle of the road and had Tyler take a couple of pictures from the passenger side of the car. When Tyler finished taking the pictures he noticed that Austin was on the floor of the car. When asked what he was doing on the floor, Austin said he didn’t want the bear to get him. We are glad the Black Bear didn’t get him and we are glad they got home safely.

Coincidentally, at the same time that Tammy and the boys were in Yellowstone there were two major incidents in the park. A 23 year-old man from Oregon fell into one of the hot springs. Taken at face value, it’s pretty hard to imagine how someone walking on the boardwalk one minute falls into the hot springs the next minute. But, then again I have had some incredibly clumsy moments when I have been in deep thought.

There was another incident in the park when a father and son got burned when they slipped into a hot pool. Supposedly the father was carrying his 13-year old son when he slipped. That’s a pretty big baby boy! Clearly, we were missing some key information.


Meanwhile, I stayed home. Andrew was visiting for the weekend. We had a pretty good time playing basketball and NCAA Football 14 (can’t wait for NCAA football to make its comeback). He went to a football camp at UNR for partof Saturday and then spent the afternoon watching a TNT marathon of the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings. I am not sure why but whenever he visits he ends up watching one of these shows. I have seen them so much that I can tell you all about Durin’s Day and have finally figured out that Gimli is the son of Gloin, one of the Dwarves in the Hobbit.

Soon after Andrew left, I got a man-cold. Feeling feeble and not wanting to make the man-cold worse without Tammy around, I did as little as possible laying around inexplicably binging on Mr. Selfridge shows and nursing myself with a Roman Punch for Kids recipe. The “doing as little as possible” kind of backfired on me when Tammy got home. She wasn’t as sympathetic as I had hoped she would be. In fact at one point I felt like she was mocking me.

More Family

But it wasn’t all for naught, I did figure out way to get my daughters married proper and bypass all the ups and downs of dating. In Sweden when they celebrate Midsummer, one of the customs they have for unmarried women (maidens) is to have them pick seven different flowers and then they are supposed to put the flowers under their pillow before they go to sleep on Midsummer’s Eve. Apparently, if you’ve picked the right set of flowers the man you are supposed to marry will come to you in your dreams. If he doesn’t then you’ve picked the wrong flowers.

Quotes and Church

“Those things which we call extraordinary, remarkable, or unusual may make history, but they do not make real life. After all, to do well those things which God ordained to be the common lot of all mankind, is the truest greatness. To be a successful father or a successful mother is greater than to be a successful general or a successful statesman.”—President Joseph F. Smith

Discussed “true greatness” this week in Elder’s Quorum and we had a good discussion given the recent spate of celebrity deaths (yes, this is what is going to happen when I am asked to teach Saturday afternoon. I going to go topical) and the fact that one of Muhammad Ali’s tag lines was “I am the Greatest”. Also had my balloon busted when a friend mentioned the other day that Walter Payton—“Sweetness”—one of my childhood idols was a hardcore womanizer. So we had to discuss that. It makes sense. Why should he have been different than the others? I am still in denial. Sometimes, it can be brutal coming out of the cocoon.


Family History

Well, I have a new family favorite name: Pluright J. Sisk. He was born in Culpeper County, Virginia in 1766 and died in Woodford County, Kentucky. He is our 5th great Grandfather through Mom’s side going through the Magee side of her family. Pluright married Ruth Boone in 1790 in Culpeper County.

Coincidentally, Ruth Boone (1769-1845), born in Berks County, Pennsylvania, was the granddaughter of George Boone IV, who was the brother of Squire Boone, the father of the great Daniel Boone. So the rumors are true we are related to Daniel Boone, just not directly. The Boone’s came to America from Exeter, Devonshire, England to escape religious persecution because of their Quaker faith.  George Boone III, who migrated with his family to Philadelphia in 1690, is our common ancestor. He is our 8th great Grandfather.


  1. Blue Tail Fly (with the Jimmie crack corn chorus)—Burl Ives and the Andrew Sisters. Gotta have me some Burl Ives. Did not know this was a slave song.
  2. Atheist Don’t Have No Songs—Steep Canyon Rangers and Steve Martin. Heard Steve Martin perform this live. Steve Martin’s a genius. If you don’t like Steve Martin then you must hate Santa Claus, too.
  3.  Take My True Love By the Hand—The Limeliters. If you liked Glenn Yarborough’s singing in the Rankin Bass Hobbit movie you have to get this song. Plus it’s played during the last season of Breaking Bad, playing as Walt rolls his one remaining barrel through the desert toward his new ride after Hank is killed.
  4.  Bonny Hielan’ Laddie—The Kingston Trio. I belief my love for this type of folk music must begin with Dad’s Kingston Trio record that we had forever. Curiosity got the best of me.

I am not kidding these songs are on my Ipod and I do listen to them just ask the kids. More on folk music, why don’t we have kids sing folk songs anymore? It’s a great way to get in touch with your past, learn history, and pick up some good language skills. Europeans do it, why don’t we?


 “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Cor. 4:17–18.)”







On Nimble Air Benign

Angry birds pic 1

Kind Woman

Rushing to go pick up Andrew in Truckee, I found myself stuck in a huge traffic jam once I got into Reno. Hoping that this would soon pass, I was briefly entertained by the man in the Mercedes in front of me. Every few minutes he would break out into some violent hand gesturing as if he was angrily pleading to someone, but I couldn’t see anyone else in his car.

As the traffic moved ahead I noticed that my car was starting to feel sick. A few minutes later I noticed that smoke was coming from the Mini’s bonnet. I immediately turned off the air conditioning, opened the windows and started to make my way over from the far left lane to the emergency lane, four long lanes away. I desperately made my way into the other lanes, testing the patience of other drivers, as the smoke coming from bonnet thickened. Finally, I got over to the emergency lane, turned off the car, and made plans to walk to the Burger King within sight of where the Mini was parked.

As I started walking in the late afternoon heat, someone softly shouted from their car and asked if I needed a ride. Looking up I saw the voice came from a grandmotherly looking lady. I told her most certainly and hopped into her car. We had a short pleasantly awkward conversation. Not sure what the etiquette is for talking to strangers who do you a solid. I mean I thought about asking her the standard questions about work, family, and her background, but thought that would that be too intrusive for people who hadn’t known each other from Adam five minutes ago and would surely never see each other again. Ah well, we did our best for the brief time we were together.

Finally, we got to BK and she dropped me off and as sincerely as I could muster I thanked her and off she rode into the distance, probably to help another stranger. Whoever that lady was— she did tell me her name but like the oblivious person I am I forgot her name as soon as she told it to me—I have to say thank you again. You didn’t have to offer me a ride— a complete stranger. You had no idea what was going to happen, especially given how dangerous and mysterious I look with my goatee, but you did it anyways. You reached out to a sinner, who hadn’t changed the fluids in his car in a while and gave me a lift when I surely needed one. Thanks kind woman.

The rest of the evening went okay. We were able to get the car, gasping, to a repair shop. We were able to pick up Andrew at our normal spot, the McDonald’s in Truckee. Unbeknownst to many, McDonald’s parking lots are popular exchange spots for kids of divorced parents because it’s normally safe, it has clean bathrooms, and if your kids are hungry you can get them a cheap meal. Having said all of this, now that my kids are much, much older they really hate eating at McDonald’s and I think I finally get why.

Because my wife had made plans to take the grandkids to Yellowstone the following day, I had to rent a car at the airport. My car rental professional showed me my rental car and as I started to inspect the car, I heard my professional mumble that I was only to report scratches the size of a dollar or dents that were golf ball sized but it was too late, I had already pointed out a dent about half the size of a golf ball. My car rental professional was clearly annoyed that I had not listened, and repeated in a lecturing tone what he had said. At that point—five hours into what is normally a two hour journey— I was past feeling and could care less that junior was bugged by my thoroughness. Happy with my cheap rental car, I cranked on the AC and drove out of the airport parking lot like a bat out of heck, eager for another opportunity to abuse the tar out of another rental car.

Family History

My new favorite family name belongs to Zibiah “Sibby” McCarley McDonald Birdino. She was literally born somewhere in the state of Pennsylvania in 1786 and passed away in Calhoun, Iowa in 1860, a town that is only slightly bigger than when she passed away with a population of about 10,000. She is our 4th great grandmother through Grandma Hansen’s family.

The other day I was going through some stuff in the garage and came across some family histories. One of which was my Uncle Harold’s memories of Grandma Hansen. For a man that seemed a little gruff when I was kid, this guy is a big teddy bear inside. He is a straight shooter when he writes but very sincere. As a side note, we used to joke about his hair when we were kids, but it now looks like I inherited Harold’s mighty head of hair. Sometimes when my hair is getting tall and I comb it back and look in the mirror and start to ponder where I’ve seen hair like that before and it dawns upon me it is Uncle Harold.

The one thing Harold touches upon in his history is the Hansen way of showing of emotion. I always wondered where this came from and apparently it’s generational. I no longer feel like freak. I do loathe goodbyes because it requires a lot of awkward hugging stuff and having to be outwardly sincere. I prefer Harold’s take on all of this:

“While I was in the Navy (about 1945/1946) I saw Mom only occasionally. To me she seemed no better or worse during this time. I was always glad to come home and see her. There was not a lot of outward emotion shown, but I knew she was happy to see me. I guess it was just kind of an understanding.

Even though there was not a lot of outward display of emotion or affection in our family, I think we love one another and we have some very close ties. I feel strongly that real love must be sincere and not just a public show. When I feel, I say it or show it in my own way. This may sound like the Hansen philosophy to some…”


Like I have always said just know I love you, do I have to always say it or show it. Holy cheese and crackers! How many hugs do you need to know that I love or like you? You know how I know my siblings love me? It’s when they joke about one of my many troubling handicaps or bring up some painful moments from my past that I have only just begun to get over on my long, dark journey to become an emotionally stable adult. That’s when I know they care.

Of course, that philosophy doesn’t work so well with my wife and kids. So to deal with that I have developed the following formula: for every insult I have to say at least five kind or encouraging things. Once I hit the magic number of five, I get to insult them again. So far it’s been pretty successful. We’ll see how the rest of the week goes.

Speaking of family: congratulations to my cousin Erin who got married in Anchorage, Alaska the other day. Make it a good one! We miss your Dad too! He was good man.

Suggested Music

1. Don’t Let Nobody Drag Your Spirit Down by Eric Bibb, Maria Muldaur & Rory Block
2. All I Do is Dream of You sung by the incomparable Dean Martin
3. Those Memories of You by Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt, and Emmylou Harris
4. Through the Years by Kenny Rogers

The Death of Celebrities

Don’t get me wrong I thought Muhammed Ali was great just like most everyone else, and have a deep appreciation for most of David Bowie and Prince’s music. But Good Golly! Why does the media try to shove down our throats how much these people impacted our lives and try so hard to make these mortals and their works immortal. It’s like they are trying to force us to idol worship, force us to fall down and worship the big heads like they did on Easter Island. The worst was Michael Jackson whose life had become for quite a while a joke in the media up until his death. And then all of the sudden we are supposed to feel like our meager lives will never be the same because Michael Jackson was no longer in it, when his life had become one big mess.

Maybe it’s Baby Boomer thing. A desperation to have things or people they have always put their faith in from their generation last forever. Realizing too late as Dean Inge said that “he who marries the spirit of the age soon finds himself a widower”.

Or maybe it’s a celebrity thing and we are truly surprised when celebrities of our generation, whose works have been slowly fading in the background, pass away. Do we really believe they are not like us and are immune to decay, aging, illness, and death? I don’t know? It’s hard to put a finger on the media’s obsession with the death of celebrities and the hyperbole about their impact on our lives. And the irony is that the media are the ones usually leading the charge to destroy our heroes when they are alive, eager to show us just how mortal they are. Muhammed Ali would have been eaten up by the chattering class on Twitter if he were in his prime today and he would have been subject to hours upon hours of analysis by ESPN on why he isn’t doing this or that. My biggest take away from Prince’s death was his distrust of the media.

Last Thoughts

“In the last resort, man should not ask, ‘What is the meaning of my life?’ but should realize that he himself is being questioned. Life is putting its problems to him, and it is up to him to respond to these questions by being responsible; he can only answer to life by answering for his life. Life is…a mission.”-Viktor Frankl

A Chest Full of Spanish Gold: Service, Empathy, Cookies, and Twisted Sister


It’s no big secret that the only thing of real value in our lives is the relationships we make as we go through life. They are the only thing that endures in this life and beyond, if you’re inclined to believe that this life does not leave off in one dark abyss of nothing. Some of us understand it early in life and some of us understand it later on in life. Hopefully nobody misses that ship because living only for yourself can only leave you sad, lonely, and bitter; leaving you an empty shell of a person and that would be just a shame.

Recently, I had to give a talk in Church on service and it was a little humbling to do so because I am so bad at it. I am not one of those people who bakes cookies for people when they are ill or when they are going through some tough times. And I should be. Of course, I know that there is nothing magical about baking cookies for someone. Cookies never physically or mentally cured anybody as far as I know. Nobody ever ate a batch of Uncle Jimmy’s snickerdoodles and suddenly overcame Lupus or suddenly found employment. And I know for dang sure no plate of cookies ever cured crazy. It’s a well-known fact that crazy people go bananas for cookies. But I do know a plate of cookies symbolizes well-placed empathy for another human being, it symbolizes time, effort, and thought towards someone else’s needs other than ours. And the world needs a lot more of what it hasn’t got and that is empathy. So bring on the cookies!


My Dad celebrated his 80th birthday yesterday. Happy Birthday to the man, the myth and the legend! He might as well be turning 60, he has kept himself in such good shape he has hardly aged. He along with my dear mother have quietly led a charmed life and have earned every bit of it.


Whether we end up choosing to be a Democrat or a Republican, we have to face the fact that we are stuck choosing between two sides of the same coin. Sooner or later we are going to find ourselves saying ridiculous things like: “I believe him or her, even though I know they lie.”


Go Warriors! The series between Golden State and the Oklahoma Thunder was great. The series between Cleveland and Toronto was not very good. After watching that series, you have to kind of agree with Charles Barkley when he said the NBA stinks. There are really only a few teams worth watching and even at that you don’t really have to watch a game until the third quarter. In most cases, the first half of an NBA game is meaningless.

On LeBron James. I can’t put my finger on it. I mean I know they guy is a great basketball player both offensively and defensively, but his game has to be the most boring game of any of the “great players” I have witnessed. I’d almost rather watch Adrian Dantley score 30 points a night for the ’81 Utah Jazz than watch LeBron score 30 against the Raptors.


 Give the following songs a try and thank me later:

1. La Gaviota by Mariachi Los Arrieros del Valle
2. Ginza Samba by Vince Guaraldi & Bola Sete
3. Everybody’s Gotta Live by Arthur Lee


Watching the Twisted Sister documentary on Netflix. Dee Snider seems like a good guy and all but if there ever was a guy that should not wear make up it was him. Dee Snider looked like a proboscis monkey tried to put make up on another proboscis monkey. But I do have to admit that the song “We’re Not Going to Take It” and the video were pretty fun when they came out.

Eating too much chocolate chip cookie dough the other night. It kept me up for a while. I should have chosen the blueberries instead, they were right next to the chocolate chip cookie dough.

Blaming my wife for cooking a half batch of chocolate chip cookie dough and putting the other half in the fridge right next to the blueberries. That didn’t go over well.


Very few of us really do believe that this life is all there is and our relationship with our parents and friends end when they pass. There are believers, believing non-believers, and then there are atheists and very few of us fall into that camp. You don’t have to be religious to want to believe something bigger than just yourself. As George Santayana once noted humans are “incorrigible animist”.


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