Tuesday, November 29, 2005

3... 2... 1... We're On Live!

The new Curious Workmanship website is up and running with a limited product selection. More products will be added as I get photos prepared, but I wanted to go live as soon as possible so that I can sell that which I do have ready in time for Christmas shoppers.

I would appreciate it if my three blog readers would take just a minute and check out the site. In particular I'd like to know if you can see the PayPal Verified logo that should appear in a box at the top of the right sidebar. I can't see it at home, but FH and my sister say they can see it at work. We've tried and tried to get it to appear, but it just refuses to do it on our home computer downstairs (it will, however, appear upstairs). I tried emptying the browser cache, because I've refreshed that page about a hundred times and I'd had a problem like that before that was fixed by emptying the cache. But that didn't do the trick, and we're having the same problem in IE, which I haven't used at all to view the page before.

If you would really like to help me test it, and you trust me, I would like to do at least one "live" test purchase, with payment actually sent. I would, of course, refund your money right after your purchase is made if you're not actually interested in buying anything (drop me an e-mail and let me know if you'd like to do this for me). I just want to see if everything will go through properly, and I don't want to find out it's not working the hard way. FH offered to give it a try, but in light of the problem I'm having with the PayPal logo, I'd kind of like to have one that's not done from our computer at home.

UPDATE: I did nothing, but the PayPal Verified logo is now showing up on my downstairs computer.

I also added gift certificates. Let me know what you think.

Sonshine's Theological Observation Of The Day

"Guess what, Mom? We're all inside God's snowglobe!"

To which Bagel adds, "Jesus!"

Tentative Blogname for the Bun

I'm seriously thinking about calling Baby #4 "Knuckles" on the blog. He beats me up something fierce. It seems like I never get a break from the pummeling, even at night. Even when I'm walking around, which is normally a quiet time for tummy-tots, Knuckles is still moving. Does that kid ever sleep???

Monday, November 28, 2005

Adventures In PHP

I should start off by saying: I know no PHP whatsoever. I have some inkling how PHP works, but that's about it. I know no commands and no syntax. I can't do anything in PHP except maybe change the text that it prints on the screen.

My dear Favorite Husband, sweetheart that he is, installed an open-source shopping cart (ZenCart) on our server. I've been wanting this for a long time; this is the second consecutive year I've put it on my Christmas wish list. Now I am busting my butt trying to get it configured and working so that it can replace my current website, which has gotten some compliments for looks, but is really not very functional. I only have FrontPage with which to edit it, and FrontPage for some unfathomable reason thinks the HTML code that I use for my shopping cart buttons ought to have p-tags in it, which renders the code absolutely useless for actual shopping. Every time I edit the damn website, some other button goes belly-up. And the only way to see which one it is, is to go into the code and look at every Godforsaken line, or else have a customer drop me an e-mail saying "I really want this, but I can't add it to the cart."

This new stuff is all PHP-based, which makes it a bit hard for someone who knows no PHP to customize. Still, in the last 24 hours, I've managed to get rid of most of the stock messages it comes with ("Sales Message Goes Here") and make it at least basically functional. I've got five products entered in so far, just to test how it works. So far, it works very nicely and I just know that once I get past the learning curve on this, I'll like it much better than what I have now. I still can't get the PayPal logo to appear, and I can't get any shipping option but flat-rate shipping to work either, but the latter wouldn't be a disaster if I had to run with it.

A Day Of Progress

This morning, Sonshine read a small book. He is now officially a Reader. He's been making a lot of progress toward this goal over the last few months, and we are proud of him.

Bagel is making much slower progress toward being a Talker. Or, rather, toward speaking English. He's clearly talking all the time; we just don't understand what he's trying to say. He gets very frustrated when he speaks to us in Baby-Lonian and we don't understand him. While he understands his own name and a wide range of words (including "hot," "yucky," "yummy," "sit down," and "diaper change"), he doesn't say them. He's had two English words-- "dada" and "this"-- for ages, and he recently started calling my mom "Nana" even though the other kids call her "Nonny". We've thought we heard him use other words and even phrases-- "look at this," "candle"-- but he never used them consistently to refer to the same thing. At this age, he should have more than three words in his vocabulary, and I'm starting to worry about him. But today we can confirm he's picked up another word: "Jesus".

Bagel is a big fan of seasonal displays. He was fascinated by pumpkins this fall; he took daily trips out to the yard to see and pat the pumpkins, and he gave me dirty looks when I carved scary faces in them for Halloween. Yesterday we put out our nativity set, so naturally Bagel wanted to take a look at it. I held him up and pointed out the pieces: "This is Joseph, this is Mary, this is a cow, this is the baby Jesus! Shhh! the baby Jesus is sleeping!" (Our baby Jesus has its eyes closed.) Bagel was fascinated by the nativity set and wanted to look at it for extended periods of time. This didn't surprise me, but I was astonished when this morning he pointed to it and said "Jesus!" He's done it several times now, and he doesn't call anything else "Jesus," so that makes "Jesus" an Official Vocabulary Word.

It's not exactly your conventional baby vocabulary word, and it doesn't solve very many of Bagel's communication problems, but it'll do. Personally, I would have preferred he learn some of the useful words we've been trying to teach him for months, like "baba" and "more," which would reduce his dissatisfaction rate by quite a bit. Then again, Sonshine's first word was "fish," so I suppose he fits right into our family.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Shopping On Black Friday

We had a great Thanksgiving up in Logan. FH and I went to see Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire. I couldn't remember the last time we had been on a date. I think it's been at least since August, but probably longer than that because we didn't have time to date in all the pre-move craziness.

On Friday, we decided to go shopping while we had the chance to go together, just me and FH, entirely kidless. I'd been out shopping on Black Friday before, and it had been total hell. The last time I went, I went to JoAnn Fabrics for the 99 cent a yard flannel (which, by the way, I'm still working my way through). I arrived before the store opened, and there was a huge line out into the parking lot. I stood for hours in line at the cutting table. It was not fun, and definitely not something I'd do while six months pregnant and wearing my uncomfortable shoes (I couldn't find the comfortable ones before I left).

If you wait until about 9 am, though, you can avoid a lot of the insanity that accompanies Black Friday. We didn't need any of the things that were in the 5 a.m. specials in the ads, and we wanted to visit mostly local businesses anyway instead of chain stores. We did go to Michaels, because I had to get some framing supplies, and Borders, because we needed some books. But what I was really looking forward to were my trips to Kitchen Kneads and Bluebird Candies. At the latter store, I bought two pounds of my favorite assorted chocolates. You can't get anything near as good in the grocery store. And Kitchen Kneads is the only store I know of that carries the Ariel brand of dealcoholized wine (which, by the way, they started doing at my suggestion). It was not hectic at all in the stores (except for a little bit at Michaels). We had all our shopping finished by lunchtime.

I love shopping in Logan. Everything is so close. They have the same stores you can find in larger cities, but they're pretty much all within a mile of each other, and there are also tons of cute little local businesses with great merchandise. You can get just about anything you want there.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

I Just Can't Win

Today I slipped on a magazine that Sonshine had left on the stairs, and fell halfway down the stairs while carrying a large bin full of clothes. Luckily, I fell on my back instead of on my pregnant belly. This accident came less than a week after impaling my foot on a broken pick-up stick that Sonshine had left on the stairs. That wound is finally healing, after I had to operate on it myself. When it was still hurting like heck after a few days, I opened it back up and pulled out a piece of dead callused skin that was still attached to the edge of the wound and had gotten tucked inside. I didn't notice it the first time because the entire thing had been covered in blood.

Sonshine, in retaliation for the guilt trip I gave him (which he so richly deserved), purposely slipped on my satiny robe, and then complained that I had left clothes on the stairs and he had slipped on them. That was rich-- I keep trying to throw that robe in my clean laundry pile. He keeps kicking my clean laundry pile all over the house even though I have begged him to leave it alone, and that was how the robe ended up on the stairs in the first place. The last time I saw that robe before his "accident", it was (as usual) halfway between my clean laundry pile and the stairs.

I just can't keep up with all of this. How do those other mothers do it? I walk into their houses and they're clean as a whistle. I keep thinking that if I ever get my house to look like that, it will be because I invest in a tranquilizer gun. When I catch the kids starting to make a mess, I'll just pull the trigger and they'll sleep while I clean up what they started. That would be nice, because the way things are right now is more like I'm washing dishes while Bagel pulls milk cartons out of the trash, Sonshine cuts up papers into tiny little pieces, and Princess pours cereal all over the floor. For every mess I clean up, three more are being made. I just can't win against that kind of exponential growth.

Do They Make Straitjackets In Size 18 Months?

Bagel's having another of his insane mornings, wherein he wakes up screaming and won't stop screaming no matter what you do. He will reach for your water cup and cry, "This-this-this!" but when you try to give him a sip, he'll throw it (and the water). Everything you do for him is like that. He wants it, but he doesn't want it. And then he gets so frustrated that he will arch his back, throw back his head into the bridge of your nose, claw at your face...

On days like this, the best we can do is put him back in his bed and hope that when he gets out of it again, it'll be on the right side this time.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Stupid Medical Stuff

Today I did my glucose tolerance test. I hate that test. For those who have never taken one, first they make you skip your usual meal schedule, which is hard enough when you're pregnant. Then they make you drink this hideous sugary drink that tastes like licking the Sugar Plum Fairy's behind. Then they make you wait a whole other hour, still without food. And then they stick you and take your blood and see how much sugar is in it. And if it's too high, they put you on a grapefruit diet or something, where you only get to eat a wedge of grapefruit for breakfast and maybe a chicken strip for dinner. If you haven't used up your Fat Allowance and your Faux Dairy Allowance, you might be allowed to dip the chicken strip in ranch dressing.

My doctor also took a routine urine sample, and he told me the sample was way maxed out on sugar, meaning that I'm probably going to fail my glucose tolerance test. Well DUH, Doc, there's too much sugar in my system. That's because YOU TOLD ME TO DRINK IT. I drank it anyway even though I knew the combination of not eating and drinking that sugary crap would give me a sugar buzz like you wouldn't believe. I don't normally eat that much pure sugar, especially on an empty stomach. If my blood sugar levels are high, they're artificially so because of the stupid test YOU made me do!

But the DOCTOR won't be the one allowed to eat nothing but grapefruit for the next several months, oh no. That would be ME.

I normally do a very good job of keeping my diet balanced. I eat healthy foods. I don't eat junk, except for the occasional chocolate binge. I snack on things like cheese. I have the occasional soda with dinner. I eat in moderation, small meals and snacks throughout the day. I have to eat something the minute I get up, and something right before bed, and then I do all right. I certainly don't chug sugar syrup. But the stupid doctor and his crazy test screwed all this up, and now I'm going to get treated as if it were something I did all the time.

Thanks a lot, Doc.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


It's official-- IKEA is coming to Salt Lake City!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Sorry, no posts

I'm kind of in a blogging slump lately. Even when I don't have much time, I usually will throw a tidbit up on my blog. But I just feel so uninspired right now. Every time I think of something I'd like to blog about-- something cute Bagel did, something I thought about-- I just can't get up the will to blog about it. If I blog about politics, I risk alienating half my family. If I blog about breastfeeding, my friend will complain that my blog is too "lurid" for his taste. If I blog about my kids, my sister will come along and proclaim me the poster child for birth control in the comments. If I blog about how I feel about what's happening in my life, or how different Tooele is from Logan, I come across as a whiny beyotch. Normally I don't give a flying Fig Newton about what all these people think of me, but lately I just haven't had the will to deal with it.

I've started a new job as an online tutor. It pays pretty well and it's nice to set my own hours. But I can only do it while Bagel's napping. We put him down to sleep a lot, but he doesn't sleep, so he's just tired all the time, and when he's tired, he's extraordinarily difficult. Since the jailbreak, when he dismantled his own crib, he's been having trouble adapting to the toddler bed. There have been a lot of sleepless nights. He's started actually sleeping through most of the night again, although I do have to go in and help him find his water bottle about 4:00 every morning. But the worst part is that he's gone back to nursing again, after he'd been weaned for about a week. My nipples are already tender from the pregnancy, and so now they're just sore from all the heavy-duty toddler nursing. Plus it takes energy out of you to nourish a child, and I'm doing double duty.

Also, we found one thing (and one thing only) that will help him to sleep: a lit candle in his room. I got a jar candle, which is more likely to put itself out if it falls, and of course we put it up really, really high, in a place where he can't crawl up to get it. He just sits there and watches it at night, and after a while he lays there and watches it, and a while after that he just lays there and sleeps. All would be wonderful, except now I'm catching flak from my mom and sister, who are just flabbergasted that I would do something so horrible as put an open flame in a child's room. Hey, it beats passing out from sheer exhaustion in the kitchen while trying to prepare breakfast and not being able to hear anyone talk over Bagel's screams at dinner, which was what it was like before the candle finally put Bagel to sleep.

Sonshine has entered an extraordinarily whiny period of his life. He whines about everything now, and he poops in his pants. Then he whines about how much he hates having poop in his pants. He whines about how unfair it is that Princess has a birthday and he doesn't, and he won't listen to us when we explain that everybody gets one birthday a year and, come March, he'll be the one with a birthday and she'll be the one without. When he comes home from school, he only stops whining long enough to tell me about his latest little crazy idea. His mouth never stops moving the whole afternoon.

Princess is horribly bored in school. She's got a good attitude toward it, but we are struggling to find her ways in which she can keep on learning new things despite her school. We got her a Saxon math book which she works on during Cursive Time (she learned cursive last year, so her teacher exempted her from cursive practice). But that still doesn't satiate her curiosity, so we spend every evening learning about science, language arts, and more math.

Just when I thought my schedule at the Extension had settled down, MORE changes are in the works. My students are not doing well with this five-hour-block-every-two-weeks schedule (which was originally concocted to go around their crazy shift schedule), and quite frankly I don't blame them. When the administration came to me and explained what this class schedule would be like, half of me was like "well, it'll be a real challenge, but we'll all rise to the occasion and make it work" and half of me was like "NO. FLIPPIN. WAY." The "no flippin' way" part, as it turns out, was the correct part. So now we are faced with the challenge of finding a time and date in which we can all meet. The class was scheduled for the 5-hour block on Fridays because the students on this shift have every other Friday off, but now we have to find an additional day in the week they don't have days off, and make sure it doesn't conflict with any of their class schedules. I could use a hit of whatever it was the people were smoking when they made that crazy schedule in the first place.

Business is not going well, either. The show in Ogden, which I'd been praying would be my big show of the fall, was a spectacular loss. I didn't even make back my booth fee, let alone all the gas I spent driving up there to re-set my display. My merchandise just didn't fit in with the style of the show, which was all schlocky and "country". All my hopes are now pinned on the show this weekend in Logan. That was a really good show for me last year, and I'm hoping that I'll do well, because the show is put on by the Gardeners' Market and so it will attract a lot of the same clientele that were my "regulars" in Logan. But I'm very dispirited by the spectacular lack of success I've had up here. Obviously I need to spend some time researching local conditions and preferences, and change my products or marketing to be more in line with them. But all that takes time. I have one idea that seems to be a productive one, and that's wholesaling my soap holders directly to soapmakers. I've brought in a little money so far with that, but not enough to pay for Christmas.

On top of all this, of course, are all the challenges that normally come with life and with moving. New doctor, new dentist, new everything. New organization (it's nice, though, to finally have enough room to organize my stuff, even if I don't have enough money to buy the furniture it takes to do so.) Our house has two flights of stairs, and some days I just can't manage them. I've been successful at getting my kids to do some things, like bring laundry downstairs. If I want them to do that, all I have to do is call for my "dung beetles" and they will roll balls of laundry down to the laundry room. (They saw dung beetles in a documentary and were, for some reason, quite enamored of the way they rolled balls of dung.) Some days I can do a normal amount of stuff, but some days I'm just so exhausted that I get worn out just being alive.

And today is one of those days. So you'll excuse me if I don't blog any more right now.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

A Case Of Mistaken Identity

FH seems to think it is entertaining to me for him to read me the spam that he gets. If he gets a message about a few million dollars in Nigeria, a source for illicit Viagra or a penis enlargement device, he doesn't hesitate to let me know about the wonderful opportunity.

So when he started reading me this e-mail that began, "Hi, this is Lola. My girlfriend Susanna and I have been together for a year and a half now..." I just rolled my eyes. Another co-ed lesbian webcam mail-- you know how they go, they don't say anything truly explicit, but you know exactly what they want you to go to their site and see. Then it started getting interesting: "Susanna's daughter just got out of Marine boot camp, and we've been having a lot of fun..." I thought, OK, naked co-eds is one thing, but three-way mother-daughter action is not for the faint of heart. The e-mail went rambling on, and I thought it was an interesting touch to add some of the geographical details to make it sound more personal: "I've always liked motorcycles and I recently started working at this motorcycle shop on such-and-such street in Sacramento..." and I was like, how kinky do you have to be to want to watch three-way mother-daughter Marine motorcycle Sacramento action on a low-quality webcam??? And how long would this e-mail go on before it invited the reader to look at the pictures of this wild, wet Boot Camp graduation party?

I pointed this out to FH, and he informed me that I'd mis-heard the name at the beginning. It was a letter from one of his old Air Force buddies... his MALE Air Force buddy Lowell.


Friday, November 04, 2005

On Fluoridation

Fluoridation is up on the ballot in Tooele this year. I'm happy to have the chance to vote on fluoridation again. A similar measure was defeated a few years ago in Logan, and evidently about six years ago in Tooele as well. The measure is back up on the ballot again, and I relish the opportunity to vote for fluoridation once more.

The pseudo-scientific garbage arguments ("fluoride is POISON!!!!!") don't have any credence in the face of actual scientific research showing the benefits of fluoride. The only anti-fluoridation argument that makes any sense at all to me is the libertarian one-- "friends don't make friends drink fluoride." However, I don't think the libertarian argument holds water here. For one thing, we ALL are made to drink fluoride-- and chlorine-- and God knows what else is in our water, both naturally and by the hand of man. If our water has natural traces of arsenic, we are "all being made to drink arsenic." We cannot control what is naturally in our water, and my understanding is that Tooele's water already has a fifth of the fluoride level that is being proposed in the measure. As for what is put into the water by man, it is put in for our benefit. I hear no one arguing that "friends don't make friends drink chlorine" or that people ought to choose whether or not to have to boil their own water. What constitutes "our benefit" is decided on by the people, which is exactly why we have a ballot measure on fluoride in the first place. If the measure passes, it will be the sign that fluoridation is considered to be for the good of the public. Moreover, I would argue, in fact we are NOT being made to drink anything-- we are perfectly free to go over to Wal-Mart and pick up some tasty, fluoridation-free bottled water.

To the argument that we will be fluoridating our lawns more than our children, I say, the lawns don't give a crap (and, by the way, we chlorinate our lawns more than our drinking water too, even though the lawns can handle the bacteria). To the argument that people who want fluoride can go to the pharmacy and get it, I say, the people who don't want fluoride can go a few aisles over and get themselves some bottled water. I hear you can even have bottled water delivered right to your door, something that you can't say for the doctor's prescription necessary for fluoride supplements. To those who argue that fluoridation costs money, I would ask them how much their own dental expenditures cost, both directly (through their own services) and indirectly (through rising insurance rates)-- that is, if they even have dental insurance. And to those who cry "for The Children!" I say, "You mean those kids over there with the gold and silver teeth? The ones whose parents can't afford to get their teeth checked all the time, because they know there will be another cavity that they won't be able to pay for? Those children?"

On Soap And Ritual Cleansing

I was talking to a soapmaker yesterday about people's attitudes toward soap and cleanliness. She and I have been doing some B2B trade in soap sacks (my soap sacks are selling much better through her than they are direct from me), and someone asked her how washing with a soap sack could possibly get you clean if you didn't wash the soap sack in the washing machine after every use. Evidently it had never occurred to the questioner that "washing" consists of "agitating with clean water and soap" and that the soap sack would be in continuous contact with water and soap, obviating the need to put it in the washing machine. All you'd have to do, my friend pointed out, is rinse the sack a bit when you're done. Somehow, a bar of soap is "clean" no matter how many times you've stuck it underneath your arms, but wrap it in a textile and suddenly it's a hotbed of germs, waiting to sicken you at any moment.

Still, though, it brings to light the notions that people have regarding cleanliness and germs. I would say about half of our ideas about personal hygiene have anything to do with actual germs, and the other half have to do more with ritual cleanliness. For example, we wash our hands after we use the bathroom. But how many of us actually wash them long enough to be effective? How many of us wash the backs of our hands or the webs between our fingers? And how many of us use our newly cleaned hands to grab the doorknob on the way out of the bathroom-- the very same doorknob we grabbed with our germy, pre-washed hand just a few short minutes before? Hand-washing may actually kill some germs, but part of it is a sort of ritual, a talisman against germs.

There are some basic hygiene ideas that do save lives-- washing hands after cooking or using the toilet or before doing germ-sensitive things; covering the mouth when you sneeze; and countless others. But we also cling to peculiar notions, such as the idea that hand-washed clothes just aren't as clean as machine-washed clothes, or that food that has loitered, delinquent, outside the fridge longer than the FDA guidelines will allow has automatically been rendered poisonous. We won't use a washcloth previously used by another, even if that person is someone with whom we've just shared physical intimacy; and we don't like the thought that others use the same toilet as we do (although, as a matter of convenience, we will overlook it whenever they are not visible using it). In a sense, we still believe, as we used to so long ago in grade school, in the existence of "cooties."

Archaeologists of a future date may indeed find our bathrooms and conclude, rightly, that they were chambers of ritual cleansing, where daily rites took place in every home.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Try To Explain That To A 5-Year-Old

Any of you who have (or have had) a five-year-old know how difficult it can be to explain things to them that they don't want to hear. They can pull themselves into high dudgeon, crying and fussing, when you explain to them that they will not always get change back from the cashier when they buy something (and that this does not constitute theft on the cashier's part). They will pitch a fit when you tell them they're grounded on Halloween night because they did not follow the safety rules. And, apparently, five-year-olds will pull the Senate into closed session if you don't tell them what they want to hear about intelligence mistakes.

Oh, did I say five-year-olds? I meant Democratic senators.

You'd think that Senator Reid, having more than sixty years on my little Sonshine, would behave better than that. These senators say they want to "get to the bottom" of it. Something gives me the feeling that once they get to the bottom, they're just going to keep on digging, looking for treasure that isn't there. And if they don't find it, they're just going to assume that it's because they haven't reached the "real" bottom yet.

Keep digging, folks. I hear that if you dig deep enough, you can go all the way to China.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Flu Vaccinations Done Right

Kudos to the Tooele County School District! We just got notes sent home today with the kids, indicating that they're offering free at-school vaccinations (with FluMist, the inhaled vaccine) for all school-age children.

This is exactly what I had blogged about earlier, that we might save more seniors' lives by vaccinating kids (which are major disease vectors) . And, to give credit where credit is due, the Tooele Transcript-Bulletin had an article about this same idea last month.

I hope it catches on, and that most Tooelians will sign up to have their kids vaccinated. Your tax dollars at work-- good work.

A Case Of Religious Discrimination?

When I first heard this news blip on the radio a few minutes ago, I was astonished:
Airman 1st Class Andrew Howells of Salt Lake City says his commander threatened to kick him out of his unit if he did not remove his sacred religious undergarments. The undergarments are worn by faithful members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

His commander complained the garments showed through his uniform.
First of all, by way of background: FH was in the Air Force for 8 years, and for most of those years was an endowed member*, meaning that he wore the religious undergarments in question. These garments are usually white, but they make special garments for service members that conform with uniform standards, particularly color standards, since a large white patch in the midst of a camouflaged camp would be like putting a neon sign out that said "Shoot Here". In particular, the BDU uniform that FH wore on a regular basis required a crew neck olive-drab shirt, so the garments were crew-neck and olive-drab and differed from the usual BDU undershirt only in their religiously significant markings, which were invisible when the uniform was worn as intended. White garments were worn with the dress uniform, and again garment-wearers are indistinguishable from non-garment-wearers when the uniform is worn as intended.

So it shocked me that anyone would complain that the man's garments showed through his uniform. Unless the uniforms have gotten much more diaphanous in the eight years that FH has not been in the Air Force, there was no way in hell that this could even be an issue.

I decided to do a bit more research on the case, because clearly there was some missing information here. And here is what I found out:

Airman Howells isn't in just any old Air Force unit. He's a member of Tops In Blue, the Air Force's elite entertainment corps. Tops In Blue takes only the best in the Air Force and has even launched some entertainment careers (Sinbad is a Tops In Blue alum). (Side note: FH took first place in the worldwide Air Force talent competition that is a prerequisite for admission to Tops In Blue, but he didn't want to be in it for various personal reasons.)

Tops In Blue performers often perform in groups and it's not unusual for them to be required to wear a costume or matching outfits, so it made more sense that Airman Howells' garments would show beneath something like that. And in fact, that's exactly what happened:
Off the stage, Tops in Blue members must wear a black polo shirt without a T-shirt underneath. Howells said the collar of his religious undergarments barely showed while wearing his black Tops in Blue polo shirt.
And now I was beginning to get a little cheesed off at Howells. White garments for everyday wear come in a few different choices of necklines. Men in particular can choose between the crew-neck style and a scoop-neck style. The latter is specifically designed so as to NOT show under a polo shirt or a button shirt with the top unbuttoned; the former is designed to show at the neckline in any context in which a normal crew-neck undershirt would. FH regularly wears polo shirts with the scoop neck garments, and his garments never even "barely" show. It sounds to me like Airman Howells had made a poor pairing of garments with outer clothes.

Now, it's possible that what was meant by "showing" was the outline of the garment becoming apparent under the polo shirt. If that's the case, it's got to be an extraordinarily cheap and thin polo shirt, because FH's medium-quality polos are too thick to show the outline of the garments. You'd think they'd invest a couple extra dollars in getting something better than the cheapest possible shirts for the elite Tops In Blue.

And it also looks like Howells got some poor advice as well:
Howells sought help from a Mormon chaplain based in Qatar, who suggested Howells wear a black T-shirt on top of his flak vest and underneath his black polo shirt to hide the undergarment.
Just for the record, endowed Mormons are allowed to remove their garments wherever those garments would interfere with a normal activity. You don't, for example, wear them while swimming. It's not too much of a stretch to, say, take them off for a brief appearance in a modest polo shirt, then get thee to the nearest Church Distribution Center and buy thyself a scoop-neck garment top. If Howells wasn't allowed to wear a white T-shirt under his polo because no T-shirts were allowed, what on Earth made the chaplain think the solution was to wear TWO shirts?? The issue wasn't color clash; it was that a T-shirt shows through the neckline of a polo.

Still, though, it sounds like the commanding officer was insensitive:
Howells said the July 18 ultimatum came at an airport in Incirlik, Turkey, just before Howell's unit boarded a plane to Qatar, Iraq.

He said his commander told him, "(You) have a choice to make: lose the shirt or leave the tour.''
It wouldn't surprise me if the polos had been handed out to them practically as they boarded the plane, but surely in that case the commanding officer should have realized that he was asking for a precise standard in dress that Howells could not have prepared for without advance notice. But even if Howells had been given his polo in advance, and told about the requirement of no-shirt-underneath in advance, and for some reason could not obtain a scoop-neck garment so that his CO would never have even known he had his garments on beneath the shirt, the CO should still have been more sensitive to the guy's religious requirements. And on top of that, polo shirts have not only buttons, but buttonholes as well. You could, you know, button it up one more button. I know of no polo shirts that will not hide a crew neck when buttoned up.

Now, we don't have all the evidence here, but based on what we do have, I just don't think this rises to the standard of discrimination. It sounds to me like the CO didn't understand the requirements of the garment, and was kind of gruff and hasty (as people under pressure are wont to be); but he didn't actually kick the guy out for being Mormon, and THAT would have been discrimination.

* Really, what did you think "endowed member" meant? Well, why do you think Mormons have so many kids?? ;)