Monday, December 22, 2008

Sickness and singing

Sadly, my time off for Christmas has begun with several days of sickness. Why does our body wait until we have some free time to give up on us? It doesn't seem right. School let out Friday and that very night I began to feel horrible. Saturday day was miserable and there was little sleep that night as I made the trek from the bed to the bathroom over and over. Relief did not come on the Sabbath so I missed my meetings and even today (Monday) I am weak and less than able to fulfill my duties for the season. It appears I may have a stomach flu bug and it just has to run its course but I DON'T LIKE IT one bit. When I'm king of the world, I will make it illegal for any bugs to infect us during our vacation times. They will only be allowed to afflict us during working days and the employers we work for must make adjustments in the way they do things to accommodate this change. And if the bugs don't like it, then they can go bother the other primates or mammals of this world. So there!!!

As I sit around being miserable, I have the opportunity to listen to a great deal of Christmas music coming from our radio. Mostly it's pretty good but I have noticed that there are some arrangers, composers and performers who do much better than others. For instance, most every Christmas carol arranged by Chip Beck (Mannheim Steamroller) or Kurt Bestor is excellent. Even some of the songs that have been on the bottom of my favorites list can be made enjoyable with the right hand at the helm. I have never really liked 'O Holy Night' but the productions by both of these artists are very enjoyable and move way up my favorites list. And anything that Karen Carpenter sang (she has passed on for those of you not aware) is very pleasant to the ear.

Sadly, the same cannot be said for many of the 'modern' performers that ply their trades. And I think I have discovered the reason so many are distasteful to the ear. One young lady, singing a quaint little carol, was unable to decide which of the many notes in the scale of music should be used for her rendering so she seemed determined to use them all. Her "warbling" became so obnoxious and difficult to endure that I finally had to turn off the music. Most singers of the modern age seem to feel it is better to cast about, looking for the right note and never settling on anything in particular, rather than choosing one tone and sticking with it. Even performers who have better control are prone to wander about, letting us guess where they might eventually land in their search for quality music. If you listen to those who are trained in real music, you will seldom hear a note that slides or is indefinite in its performance (I am currently listening to Garth Brooks as he sings 'God Bless Ye Merry Gentlemen' and he slides on almost every note he sings). Maybe that is why I enjoy performers like Karen Carpenter, Neil Diamond (who doesn't really sing but still hits the notes) Andy Williams, Josh Groban and others. They act like they know where they are going and make sure they get there with good quality. I suppose the younger generation may consider this being nit-picky but I believe it is a sign of good quality singing.

While I am on the subject, I have a bone to pick with some performers on their choice of music. I greatly enjoy most of the music Josh Groban offers on his albums, but when he delves into the popular songs, he is stepping to an area his voice does not fit. His rendition of 'A Bridge Over Troubled Waters' is almost painful to endure and I cringe when he tortures 'Starry, Starry Night'. Someone needs to help these very talented folks remember what genre of music they are designed to share. Oh, I know there are guys like Michael Buble' who can do most anything but they are more rare than people want to believe. I mean, can you imagine James Taylor trying to sing something from Phantom of the Opera? Or Ludacris crooning like Frank Sinatra? And what if Alan Jackson decided to branch out and sing some of the music from Les Miserables? Performers need to be selective where they use their voices so they don't look ridiculous doing things that don't fit their style.

OK, I know this is something I shouldn't bring up, but when I hear Barbra Streisand, Barry Manilow or Neil Diamond singing Christmas carols, I want to giggle a little bit. Like I said, I shouldn't but I do. And one last thing!!! Right now the radio is playing "My Favorite Things" from The Sound of Music and they are calling it a Christmas song. WHAT does that song have to do with Christmas? OK, that's enough on music for one day…but don't be surprised if the subject comes up again.

I was going to get a little more introspective but I think I will save that for next time. I hope all have a wonderful Christmas and remember the reason we celebrate these special days. The Lord Jesus Christ has come to THIS world and we have been blessed by His presence, even though it took place 2000+ years ago. His message of peace and love for all mankind is the substance of what the Gospel teaches us all. May we learn from Him and find our lives more like His so that we may be with Him. He is our Lord and Redeemer and the Light of our lives: The only Light that can take away the gloom of this mortal, imperfect world and bring us to God our Father. I love Christ and the Father and will follow Them thru Eternity. Merry Christmas to you all. MW

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Greetings and Salutations for Christmas

I haven't had time to really think much about Christmas because we have been very busy in our home. It occurred to me today that I haven't even put up Christmas decorations in my classrooms yet so I took a few minutes and took care of that at the Jr. High. Not sure what to do for the HS but I will see what I can do. Joel and Teresa have done all the festive improvements at home so I am thankful for their efforts. It's not like I haven't thought about things, but with tithing settlement and house repairs and being lazy (oh, that one wasn't supposed to get in there), I just haven't done very well. There are still a few days so maybe I will improve…probably not!!!

Last night I was under the house (crawl space) looking at some of our plumbing and noticed there was a pipe joint that was dripping quite badly. Now, I am a fix-it man of sorts but there are two areas where I am always reluctant to take a risk: plumbing and electrical. Both of these areas of repair have challenged me my whole life and if a project is deemed (by myself or Teresa) to be too large or two dangerous, we call in professional help. My discovery was determined by me to be much too dangerous and so I contacted a plumber and he came to give us an estimate on the work. Sadly, these guys are much better at finding problems than I am so by the time he left we had found about $1000 in work for them to do. Overnight Teresa decided that part of it that had to do with her daycare could wait so the price has gone down substantially but it is still a big shock. So much for getting a new receiver for our sound system (the old one died a couple of years ago). Ah, but we will be safer from flooding and water damage now that we have had the problems fixed.

The Christmas season has caused a huge time shift in Joel's focus. He is part of the High School Madrigals and they perform nearly every night leading up to Christmas. Sadly, I have not been able to attend because of my own scheduling conflicts but I hope to be able to attend the school concert on Wednesday (tomorrow) and maybe another performance this weekend. Teresa says they have been exceptionally good and it has been a pleasure for her to be with them. She has been one of the drivers for many of the performances so she has seen them in a variety of circumstances. I guess they had a little girl pass out last night because she locked her knees. Sorry I missed that one…maybe someone will copy her antics..!!??

One last thing before I close up. My sweet wife has informed me that I need to do a better job in my scheduling. I don't do very well with keeping a calendar so I often forget things and have to hustle when the item is needed. Her suggestion is to get one of those phones that have a daily calendar built in and start to keep things on that. I do always have my phone so it might be a useful idea. I think my only reservation is that I would want one with a full keyboard, not one where you use the predictive dialing for the words. It makes me crazy when I text and the thing keeps giving me suggestions on words that aren't what I want. And sometimes it won't give the word I am spelling at all. I suppose a Blackberry or something similar will work for my needs. We'll see what happens.

Friday, December 12, 2008

How’s Your Heart?

The other day I was reading the Church News and came across a recap of a message Elder M. Russell Ballard had given at the U of U for Institute students. His companion speaker was Elder John Huntsman Sr. and the message he gave is what struck me the most (not dissing on E. Ballard because his talk was excellent). Elder Huntsman spoke of an experience he had with Pres. Howard W. Hunter, while Pres. Hunter was serving as the Prophet. Here is the part that I was interested in sharing:

He said he had learned much from great leaders he has known, including President Howard W. Hunter.

He recounted that on one occasion, as he was driving by President Hunter's home, he felt a prompting to stop and see how he was feeling. The Church president asked him for a blessing.

"He [President Hunter] said, 'Today, President Huntsman, I had an ill thought toward another individual. It has made me physically sick. I need a priesthood blessing, because I cannot continue to function if I have any ill thoughts toward any man or woman on earth.'"

Elder Huntsman said the incident made him think of the statement by the Savior, blessed are the pure in heart, "for I was in the presence of someone who was pure in heart." (Church News, Nov. 22, 2008)

What is the real power of our actions on our physical health? Here is a man who, because of the decisions he made while in mortality, had reached the point where any negative/ill thought toward another of God's children caused physical sickness in his body. Could it be that there is more connection between our spiritual and our physical persona than we have realized. Those of us who suffer from frequent disorders in our bodies might want to check out our relationships with those we love and serve. I won't go so far as to say that every sin we commit might be a source of sickness or weakness, but it seems logical that we could increase our physical health if we were more thoughtful of our spiritual existence.

There is also that phrase, "pure in heart", that rises up before us, calling for examination of our commitment to Christ and His Kingdom. Can we really say that we have purged our souls of all unrighteousness and are seeking to become like King Benjamin's subjects:

And they all cried with one voice, saying: Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually. (Mosiah 5:2)

This is not a lecture for others, but more of a self-examination of my own motives when I deal with others. There are certain words in my vocabulary that might (or most assuredly would) be considered derogatory in nature when spoken aloud. I have a tendency to use phrases like "knucklehead", "goof-ball", and even "loser" when I describe people I know. Mostly, it comes in anonymous stories and such but it is still something that sets a tone others hear and may assume would include them in different instances. There are also times when decisions made by others seem to be incorrect so, while I may not say anything vocally, I am prone to have "an ill thought toward another individual." Sadly, many of these thoughts are toward people I love the very most and probably manifest themselves in my associations with them.

Could this ability to have a pure heart explain why the Prophets have a tendency to live such long lives? Not being weighed down by the stress of judgment on others, they can focus on the lifting and blessing of Heavenly Father's children. The love that is present when we refrain from criticism and degrading comments must have some beneficial results in our lives. I wonder if this is the "Balm of Gilead" spoken of so much in the scriptures.

My desire is to learn to withhold remarks or thoughts that might put me in the arena of experiences causing harm to my spiritual and physical self. It is a lofty goal, but obviously (at least based on E. Huntsman's story) not out of the realm of possibility. There is a lot of reconstruction to be done and many old habits to weed out of my life, but it is something I would like to tackle as I move closer to the end of my mortal existence. Pay attention and let me know if you think I am doing better.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

News and Views for the week

Nothing special on my mind so I will just freestyle for a while. Sometimes these take on a form as they progress and other times they end up as a long treatise on many things. Let's see how it goes.

The other day, in my 9th grade seminary class, one of the kids asked me, "Brother Whitmer, do you ever sin?" Now most of you who know me realize that this is a really dumb question so I said, "that's a really dumb question." Then this same student said, "Well, what sins do you commit?" I really thought this was a pretty personal question so I replied, "I am not going to tell you because you aren't my Bishop." As I think about that experience I wonder why we ask people dumb questions. Is it really any of our business if someone is going to have a baby? Aren't we running the risk of offending a sweet soul simply because they have put on a few extra pounds? Why take the chance? And why should we be asking a young couple when they plan to have children? What about questions that have to do with the salary range of your job or the price of a new house or car? Can't we let people have some privacy without delving into all their private affairs? I think this all rises from the lack of respect we seem to have with one another in our personal relationships. We have become so 'familiar', calling everyone by their first names and forgetting common manners, that we think everything is fair game for our asking. It would be nice to have some of the courtesy we once felt was common in our lives.

Most of my years teaching have been accompanied by an effort to keep live plants in my classroom. It gives the room a better feel and I am of the belief the extra oxygen is good for the brain power of my students. Unfortunately, there has been a scourge raging through my plants for the past few months. At least 5 long-term residents of my room have succumbed to some form of…something…that has resulted in their deaths. Where I could formerly recover these plants, I am coming up short and losing some beloved friends. My daughter, Melissa, thinking I have a green thumb has sent one of her ailing subjects to my laboratory but it appears what magic I once had is beginning to wane in its power. I fear I shall lose her plant as well as one or two more of my own. Possibly, it is time to get some new victims but I really hate to give up on these little (and big) guys until they are completely deceased. Reports will be posted at another time on the results of my efforts.

Completely Dead ------------------------ On the way to Death (Missy's Plant)

Dead but showing green. --------------------- One of the few that lives!!!

The current rage to watch and read the Twilight series has been of interest to me only because so many of my family and students have participated. I have not read any of the books and have no desire to see the movie. My only reason is that it just doesn't sound interesting to me. Sort of reminds me of when I was in high school and the "Lord of the Rings" books were becoming popular. All my friends were reading them and raving about how wonderful they were but I just never could find an interest in little people and elves and orcs and such. Many years later, when the movies came out, I decided to see what I had missed and found that much of the series was interesting and readable. But those silly poems would have killed me in high school so it's a good thing I didn't try them in those days. Now I know how to skip over dull parts and get to the meat of the book, but then I would have felt obligated to read it all and would have learned to hate the whole series. It is possible the Twilight books will end up the same but I suspect it will take many years to find out.

Why is it that a small painting project in the house can turn into a major remodeling job? Teresa wanted to paint the walls in the living room, kitchen and dining room and so we decided to give it a go. Now we find that we also need to redo Joel's room (done first BTW), fix the ceiling in the hall, and put in some new lighting in the living and dining rooms. What was going to be a few hundred dollars has become a bottomless project, sucking our checkbook dry as the Christmas season approaches. And it is all our fault. It's not like we haven't had this happen before. Every time we come up with a small change, a cancer breaks out and the whole house decides it needs work performed. One time we wanted a new door and it evolved into a complete change in the family room. Even when we know the changes will be major, we get into things and they increase exponentially in their difficulty. Someday we will get smart and hire someone else to do the work so we can just watch and laugh. But then they will laugh all the way to the bank with our money.

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin passed away last Sunday night. He was a wonderful man who set a great example for all who knew him. I wasn't aware that he had 8 children and only one was a boy. What a household that must have been. He REALLY was a saint to have that many daughters in one home and not go crazy. He will be missed for his direct and pertinent messages in our conferences. I have also enjoyed his dry wit that is sometimes hard to catch if you are not paying attention. May his family be blessed to have strength in his passing and may he truly revel in the reunion with his beloved, Elisa. He is a good man who will be missed by all.

Time to wrap up for now. Christmas is near and there will be lots to report. Hope all are doing well and living the good life. See you next time.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Losing and Not Worrying

Last Saturday was the annual BYU-Utah football game. Because both teams were highly ranked, there was an air of excitement that hadn't accompanied many of the past games. The Utes had the advantage of home field and the crowd was vocal and extremely supportive of their team. Sadly (at least for our family) the Cougars came out on the short end of things, losing 48-24. Ute fans are now glorying in the great defeat of their hated rival and the Y fans are licking their wounds and preparing for the next collision of the teams. But there were a couple of things I noticed from this year's fray that have given me a clue to the difference between the fan base of each University. Here are a few of my observations.

In past years my family has held season tickets to the Cougar games and we have enjoyed the trips to Provo to attend the contests. In all the years (15 or so) we attended games, there have rarely been encounters with fans who were obnoxious or difficult to handle. A few times we had to deal with people who were sitting in our seats and didn't want to move, but they usually relented when they saw we had the correct tickets. Once, we were near a young fan (high school age) who jumped onto the field and tackled a Ute (male) cheerleader but then was pummeled by said cheerleader. There have also been occasional fans who were rude to the other team and some even used foul language to express themselves (usually these were removed by security or other fans quickly encouraged them to change the tenor of their words). But we have never been subjected to drunk, disorderly, rowdy behavior such as can be seen at every (but especially the BYU/Utah game) contest that is held at Rice/Eccles Stadium (the Utes home field). For some reason, people at Ute football games feel it necessary to 1)consume large amounts of alcohol, and/or 2)try to act as stupidly as possible and 3)make as many 'anti-Mormon' comments as they can. It is sad to have to endure such abuse when it would be so much better to enjoy the games as just games.

Last season, when the Y narrowly eclipsed the score of the U, there was a gracious tone to the words spoken by most of the Y fans in my association. Oh, it was nice to remind those who chided Austin Collie for his "Magic Happens" comments that fourth and 18 was our new chant (after using "Harline is still open" the year before) but even those things were done with a sense of civility and jesting. But the rancor exhibited by the fans who stormed the field and began to exhibit unruly and demeaning behavior was just out of line. Here is a cut from an acquaintance who attended the game in person. Bob is a very mellow guy and has a knack for knowing what to say to put out the flames of rivalry. Yet, even he was unable to completely swallow the things that happened last weekend:

Perhaps the best way to start this post is as follows: Every BYU fan should
attend at least one game on the hill. It's an educational experience unlike any
other I've encountered, never more so than after a BYU loss.

In all of those visits, I've either led a charmed life or managed to defuse
confrontations before they exploded into crises. Maybe it's a combination of
both. I also need to add the following:

I know many quality Utah fans, both LDS and non-LDS, who are not only decent but
classy. They're the sort of people I consider it a privilege to have as

Unfortunately and to paraphrase John Dean, there's a cancer growing on Utah's
fan base, which is malignant and metastasizing. Perhaps the best way to
describe it is that I've had moments when I've wondered just how vile and
virulent the demonstrations are outside the Los Angeles Temple these days.
After Saturday, I no longer need to go to southern California. There's a
segment of Utah's fan base for whom the game is just another arena in which to
wage the same cultural war that's raging on Santa Monica Boulevard -- and with
the same fundamental target. Some may say that that's not so, that it's just
BYU, not its sponsoring organization that they despise. To that all I can say
is go see for yourself.

This year, my "education" went to the post graduate level because we approached
the stadium from the south. Whereas we've always parked to the north, about 2nd
South (near the Pie Pizzaria), this time we walked past the tailgating area. To
Utah's credit, their fans know how to tailgate, something I wish BYU was better
at doing (but know it will likely never happen). However, the comments flow as
freely as the alcohol. To the milder jabs, such as "the quest is over," I
smiled and said "not a chance." To be honest, that flummoxed most of them,
which allowed us to continue to the next verbal barrage.

Interestingly, things calmed way down inside the stadium, at least for me. At
one point, I ran into a neighbor, who's a quality Ute fan, with whom we spent
several minutes chatting amiably. Several other fans, seeing my Quest shirt,
laid into a barrage while we chatted, not quite shouting in my ear but clearly
trying to get my attention and goat. I just carried on, as if they were a
figment of one's imagination and didn't miss a beat with our conversation.
After about a minute, they went silent. When I wished our neighbor well and
turned around, as expected, they had vanished, tired of trying to egg on someone
with no results.

While waiting in the lengthy lines to use the restroom, someone behind me asked
if I realized that I could get mugged inside. I turned around, smiled and
responded that I was fully counting on him and the other good Ute fans to
protect me. That generated a healthy laugh, because I could instantly tell that
he was just tossing out some banter, the sort that's harmless and worth handling
in a humorous manner. We then spent a minute or two, enjoying a quality
conversation about the game, which made the wait go all the quicker.

Someone else in line then pointed out that I might not get mugged but could get
used as a urinal by those waiting behind me. I deliberately waited for a
moment, the better to allow the silence to build some anticipation, smiled and
replied, "can't I just get mugged instead?" Another shared chuckle and a
thankful reminder that the rivalry isn't all pathological hatred.

We sat in the southwest corner, almost directly above the band. There were a
few Utah fans near us, who were all decent and a credit to their school.
Towards the end of the game, I suddenly felt something wet on the back of my
neck and wondered if I was hallucinating. I ran my hand over it and discovered
that it was indeed a liquid of some sort, though devoid of any alcohol. A few
seconds later, it happened again. Where it originated, I know not, just that it
wasn't from the Utah fans who were near us.

Afterwards, I chatted with the wife of one player, who was making her first
visit to the g&sb. She sat not far from us and asked if I had seen the fight
between a drunken and large Ute fan, who came wading into the BYU section and
was tackled by several BYU fans who held him there until the police could come
and remove him. Due to his size and limp behavior, it took several minutes to
physically carry him out of that section.

Time to lay aside diplomacy: I have lost all respect for Kyle Whittingham,
courtesy of what happened with BYU's team set up to do the haka -- in front of
BYU's fans. Utah's players came over into the area, looking for a confrontation
and nearly got it, ala the Oregon player in Las Vegas, when BYU did the haka the
night before the game on the strip. The officials were scrambling to keep it
from developing into a full-fledged fight, with the Ute coaches nowhere to be
seen. Simply put, that sort of behavior is either orchestrated by the coaches
or passively allowed to continue. I told those around me that we were likely to
see a fight occur, before the game was over. Had BYU won, I suspect that would
have been the case.

After the game, John Frank talked about how it was a good thing; that Utah
needed to keep the haka from happening in their house. I find it interesting
that BYU can go to any other stadium, perform the haka and have fans either
enjoy it or ignore it. I thought back to the statement, "he who takes offense
where none is intended is a fool while he who takes offense where offense is
intended is an even bigger fool." Then again, considering that Utah's head
coach took offense when Joe Glenn told a Wyoming student pep rally that he
guaranteed a win and found it necessary to execute an onside kick, while
blowing out the Cowboys, in order to teach Glenn a lesson, that speaks volumes
about him and his "little brother" mindset, as evidenced again on Saturday.

I have long said that I understood why Kyle stayed in Salt Lake: Money and a
comfortable, existing environment. I also think he's a good coach. After what
I saw on Saturday, I want nothing to do with him, ever. However, I have no
doubt but what he already did that to us a long time ago.

It's obvious that he's purged his Lavell protégé roots and gone the Urban Meyer
route, a modus operandi that Pat Reilly applied to Red Auerbach when he described
Boston's management as "the Klingons of the NBA." I want a coach who's
comfortable with who and what he is and doesn't need to act like a petty bully
or thug by sending or allowing his players to disrupt another team's pre-game
activities. If you're good, really good, you save it for the field. You don't
need to go around looking for offense in everything you see and hear. Kyle is a
good coach and has shown it. However, he's not good for BYU.

As the fourth quarter progressed and it became increasingly apparent that BYU
was going to lose, it was interesting to see the hand lettered signs that
appeared, some created in reaction to game events and many unrepeatable. One,
which caught my eye, was on the backside of a sign that someone had been waving
since before kickoff. That side had a message about how BYU fans needed to
follow their leaders, specifically listing the First Presidency and Quorum of
the Twelve who had gone to the U. The back side, written as the game neared an
end, had a message that was obviously cut from a different cloth and an
interesting contradiction of positions.

Did the TV show what happened when fans stormed the field, with about 45 seconds
to go? The grounds crews had to dismantle the goal posts before the fans could
finish tearing them down. It was quite interesting to see the uprights and
cross bars carried off the field, with time still on the clock. I had to wonder
what would have happened, had either team scored in that situation. I guess the
only option would have been to go for two.

The post game on-field melee was deserving of description. Since BYU rushed the
field in a similar manner after the Miami game, I will cut Ute fans slack for
going on the field after an undefeated season. What was inexcusable was how
they behaved, once on the field. There was so much happening that all I could
do was pick a given spot and watch as events unfolded. In my case, I saw one
BYU player fighting -- literally -- to get off the field and into the locker
room, surrounded by 3 Ute students who were pushing him in all directions, every
step of the way. At the time, he was at about the 10 yard line and showing
remarkable restraint, considering that he had a helmet, pads, weighed around 270
and could have easily decked all three combatants, had he desired.

I spoke with another player, who indicated that some players were hit with beer
as they exited the field, since there's no protective canopy for the entrance to
the visiting locker room.

Fortunately, I saw Fui get some genuine congratulations from some Polynesian Ute
fans and something of an "escort" as he made his way off the field so at least
there were some circles of sanity in an otherwise sordid celebration.

By that point, I figured it was time to leave and start digesting the loss, so
off we went. Not much happened thereafter, just some whooping and cheering by
Ute fans, all appropriate and confined to their success, rather than jabs at

To end where I started, everyone should experience a game on the hill, at least
once. It's a beautiful stadium -- albeit incredibly cramped in the concourses
and restrooms. Many who attend are decent and good people. It's a shame that
so many of them have turned a blind eye towards the segment that views the game
through a much different -- and distorted -- prism.

I know that some will consider my comments those of a bitter losing fan but I really am not that upset by the loss. In fact, I had a good idea that we might lose (though not by quite so much) before the game even began. And I have been remarkably calm in the aftermath of such a horrendous melt down. But the actions of the Ute underworld contingent has me worried about the status of this rivalry. My hope is that someone with a cooler head will see what is coming down the pike and make some changes to alleviate the situation. Nothing can be done for those who are hateful because of religious or moral differences, but much can be done to remove those things from the stadium and the television screen. As the title of the blog says, losing and not worrying about the loss is much easier than making it something that is full of vitriol and venom.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I have ranted for two times in a row so I think I should take a little lighter tone in my message today. I can't always be preachy (something my children accuse me of quite often) every time I sit down to write. So I promise that this entry will be much more mellow and interesting than the previous two.

Once a month I try to make a call home to talk to my parents and make sure things are going well. The conversations are not usually very deep (though we often talk about their work in the temple) but it is good to hear from them and see how their lives are going. I try to pay close attention to the attitudes and experiences they have because I realize that it won't be too many years before I will be in the shoes they are now wearing out. Mom is only 15 years older than me and Dad is just a shade less than 20 years my senior. Maybe if I listen well enough, I will be a little better prepared when my children start to send their children on missions and marry them off and such things. Or maybe I will be just like I am now and learn nothing in particular but have a good time on the journey.

Last week (Thursday 13 Nov.) our eldest son, Josh, was playing dodge ball at his work (wouldn't it be nice to have a job like that???) and threw the ball at another fellow when he felt something in his arm (left) move in the wrong direction. He immediately went to the sidelines and sat down and began to experiment with further movement. He found that he could not move the arm in a normal way and also felt some strange 'floating' substance in the upper part of his arm. His work had him go to a clinic where the x-rayed him and found that he had a double fracture of the humerus (stupid spell checker wants me to spell this humorous but I know that isn't right) bone. It was so bad that there was concern whether they would need to do surgery or leave it alone to heal. He was in great pain when I got to the doctor's office and they were pretty slow to help him find some relief, but he eventually was wrapped up (literally) and sent home. He has since seen two other doctors and has been advised to HAVE the surgery so things can be put in place more securely with a plate and screws. My guess is that he will have that surgery tomorrow (Wednesday) and start recovery again at home. Thankfully, since the injury was at work (imagine the conversation with upper management when that report comes in… how did this employee hurt himself….he was playing dodge-ball…on company time…yes, we have the facilities for the employees to play games…but why is it on our workman's comp…because he was at work…no he wasn't , he was playing…but playing is part of our work…since when…since you authorized us to create the gym where they can play…) he is covered by Workman's comp and it won't come out of his insurance. Unfortunately, since it is Workman's comp, they require that he use up all his vacation and sick time before the Workman's takes effect. I think his boss is trying to help by finding things he can do from home. Hope he heals quickly and doesn't get too bummed out sitting around home all the time.

Teresa and I have decided that we will buy ourselves a new big-screen TV for our Christmas this year. I have been looking around for the best bargain and found a really nice one on the internet the other day. I will attach a picture of it at the end of this message. It is HUGE and it really looks like a lot of fun. Josh has one that is just a bit smaller but the picture is really fantastic so I felt like it would be a good deal. Maybe it is silly to buy something this big but we are getting older and it takes a bigger picture to let us see all the detail (at least that the rationale I am using for now). Sure hope we enjoy this.

For the past several months, Teresa and I (with occasional help from the kids) have been digging out the crawl space under our home. Our plan is to make a small room where we can hide a large cache of guns and ammo so we will be protected from the oncoming assault…not really. We are actually going to use the room for some food storage so we can get our spare room back. It is slow and painful work because we have to haul the dirt out in 5-gallon buckets (40-45 lbs./bucket) from the basement to the main floor. Our little truck can only hold about 24 buckets before we start dragging bottom so we have to find somewhere to empty the dirt. Mostly we have been going to the dump where they let us unload for free, but recently the baseball coach has agreed to take some of the dirt to use on his field. This stuff is very heavy clay material and is perfect for working around the pitcher's mound and batter's box. It feels good to be useful to someone when we have expended so much effort. It will also be nice to have a room where we can put away a little more food supplies. That is if we live long enough to enjoy them.

I believe that is enough rambling for one entry. Joel has a swim meet (I still haven't had any success with that video of his meet) so I better get on over to the pool. Long live …..something.

Samsung - 56" 1080p Slim-Depth DLP HDTV

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Tolerance and Bigotry

For the past several days I have been watching the responses from the varying sides in the "marriage" debate and have been struck by the attitude and conduct of those who claim to want tolerance for their lifestyle. They claim that those who support marriage as an essential and lasting covenant between a man and a woman only are bigots and are trying to take away the rights of a small, persecuted group. Freedom of choice and civil rights are verses of the song they sing when they accuse us of preventing them from practicing their desires to change a standard that has stood for millennia. As one advocate of change put it, "When do I get to vote on your marriage?" What they don't realize is that the vote was taken thousands of years ago and established as the way things should be for the benefit of all mankind. It is not a debatable topic because the norm has been set by God and cannot be changed.

Actually, I have erred somewhat in that last statement. We can alter many of the laws of God through our own choices… but only at the peril of mankind on this earth. The God we worship (or fail to worship but who, nonetheless, is still God) has given us the right to make choices for ourselves in this life. He has said to Adam and Eve "Thou mayest choose for thyself" and when the choice was made, He accepted that as their desires. Sadly, we often forget the other end of the "choice" stick which is consequence. Every time we exercise our right to agency, we also invoke the consequences that are attached. When we decide to live in harmony with God and His commandments, we receive from Him the joy and blessings that accompany those choices. The inverse is also true: when we live in violation of the laws of God, we reap the misery and sorrow those choices exact (whether we recognize immediately does not eliminate the truth that they are still there). We cannot avoid the results of our choices…they are as much a part of this life as all the other parts that are in God's plan. To put it in a more simple form, I can live as if the sun will not come up in the east and shine its radiant light on our world but that will not change the fact that the sun will come up and warm us every day.

Now, back to my original thought on tolerance and bigotry. While the pro-marriage side has won the election, there is no real joy in the victory. Oh, not because we are not happy that a sacred principle has been protected from the wiles of those who would destroy all that is good (think abortion, living together w/o marriage, pornography, alcohol and drug use, honor, greed, trust in leaders, and so many other forms of wickedness that have become rampant in the world). We are not reveling in the joy of victory because we are busy defending ourselves, our property and our beliefs from those who claim to be tolerant. Protesters have destroyed personal property, defaced sacred edifices and disrupted the lives of people who have nothing to do with the circumstances in California, Arizona, and Florida (BTW, why are those propositions not mentioned like Prop. 8??). While we may support those who seek to keep marriage sacred, we did not vote, nor did we participate in the debate in those states. We may have encouraged those who did to make good choices, but we did not take part in any of the run-up to the election. Yet, we have had demonstrations in Salt Lake City, New York and several other places, calling our people vile and filthy names. And all this from a group preaching that we should be tolerant and let them live like they want.

Let me put this in a more personal form. According to the 'gay-marriage' side, I am a bigot because I choose to defend something that is sacred and holy to me and my posterity. Yet when they want to destroy something that is so vital to the survival of our society, they are only asking for us to be tolerant of desires that rage against the core foundation of all this nation represents. If I protest their desires I am prejudiced and violating their civil rights but when they block me from attending my worship services or call me horrible names they are only practicing their free speech rights. Brothers and sisters, you can't have it both ways. If I am a bigot, they you must join me in that boat and accept the same appellation. Frankly, I do not see my actions as bigotry (and I'm sure you don't see yours that way either) and I will continue to use my right of conscience and the power of choice to defend all that I believe is worthy and sent from God. And I promise never to come to your homes or your places of worship and disrupt your life. Please offer me the same consideration as you exercise your own rights.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Well, It's over for now!!

Election day is over and the votes have been counted, recorded, and winners announced. Barack Obama is our new president and many of the faces in congress have changed from one party to another. What it all means for our nation is still a mystery but I 'm sure we will find that the tenor of rhetoric will change with the new leadership. I will truly miss Pres. Bush and the firm stand he took to keep our country safe. Many have accused him of being out of touch but I believe he has sought the best interests of our country in all the decisions he has made. When he decided something needed to be done, he did it and never worried about what the consequences might be. Someday in the future it will be decided that George W. Bush was one of the better presidents to lead our nation. Oh, he has his faults but he is a man of honor and has done all he can to protect and lead this country in a difficult time. I only hope the new President will be as certain and unwavering in his efforts.

This morning I was reading our local newspaper online and came across an article concerning some happenings in Los Angeles at the site of our Temple. It seems that a large contingent of protesters were gathered to proclaim their dislike for the LDS Church involvement in the recent Proposition 8 efforts ( If you look at the photos that accompany the article, you will notice that the protesters have written graffiti on the gates of the temple saying "bigots" and "liars". Having had some interest in this whole Prop 8 business, I have followed the dialogs of each side and have noticed that most of the rancor and name calling have come from those who are advocating tolerance for views outside the norm of society. Those who believe in the values of marriage between a man and a woman are scorned because we have the audacity to want to keep that sacred union sacred. This is not a political or social issue (as the gay-rights forum would have us believe) but it is an issue of doctrine and belief in the teachings of God. Unlike the civil-rights movement, the gay-activists are not seeking to right a wrong that has been perpetrated by the wickedness and greed of men, but, rather, they are seeking to impose immoral behavior on a people who are seeking to live moral lives.

I was interested to read that there were a group of protesters who stood at the gates of the Temple, waving signs and shouting obscenities at those who were trying to attend. Another case of this also took place at the Oakland Temple a few weeks before the election. In both instances, it was noted that the experience by those who were being mocked reminded them of the vision Lehi had of the 'great and spacious building.' If you recall, the people in the building were seen laughing and shouting in derision at those who were trying to reach the Tree of Life. My guess is that we will see much more of this behavior in the future and we will have to decide how we will respond. Will we opt to try and make peace at all costs with those who believe differently than we do. Or, will we stand firm and 'hold to the rod' as we move closer to the Tree. I, for one, hope that I find myself closer to the Tree than the building when all is said and done.

Enough politics for now!!! Our family is all healthy and happy. Joel just finished the musical for his school. They performed Pirates of Penzance and he had a dual role: a pirate and the Police Sergeant. He was hilarious in both roles and seemed to have quite a good time. I will include a picture or two at the end. I have also added a video of Joel's swimming efforts. This is his first year so he is constantly improving. He is having fun and we enjoy watching him.

That's all for this post. We have grandkids over for a "sleep party" so I need to help get them to bed. See you next time.

(the video didn't work so I will try again later)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Random Thoughts as I sit here typing.

It has been a long day at school and I am taking a few minutes to relax and do what I enjoy. Over the years I have found it very therapeutic to write thoughts and feelings that have been running around in my head. Maybe that's why I have so many volumes to my journal. Anyway, the following is for public consumption but not necessarily pertinent to anything real or life-changing.

Have you ever noticed that certain types of music are best for certain types of work? Right now I am listening to my "car" music and it is making it little hard to focus on my task at hand. THERE, now I have changed to some softer, more relaxing tunes (Jim Brickman) and I am much less distracted. When I study I can't have anything that is too wordy or exciting because I get lost in the music and never learn anything of worth. On the other hand, if I am travelling and I have someone like James Taylor or Don McLean on for too long I start to doze off and become a hazard to other drivers (some might say it doesn't take music to cause that problem). Other times I need the beat of a good band to get some blood flowing in my system. And, if I'm doing work on the house or an outside project it takes good 'ole country stuff to help me get through the day. Thankfully there are many genres of music so I can mostly find something that will fit my situation. Now if I could just get out of the 70's and 80's with my selections.

I am currently trying to create a movie of Joel's recent musical (Pirates of Penzance) but the software (Pinnacle Studio 11) I am using is making it especially difficult. I have upgraded to the new version that is supposed to work with Vista and I have gone out to get all the patches and additions that are necessary to work on my computer. I have also purchased increased memory and added an larger hard drive to eliminate some of the other problems. But I still have major problems with the stupid software. Every time I try to create the DVD for the movie, the software either shuts down or it pretends to work and then says I have an illegal DVD that is not only illegal but it is also not blank. Yes, the system is correct that it is not blank because IT JUST LOADED A BUNCH OF STUFF ON THE DISK BUT NEVER FINISHED THE PROCESS. Usually, after wasting 3 or 4 new DVD's I get lucky and one of the works but it is getting very expensive to keep trying. Someday, somewhere, someone will write a program that will do everything it says it will without all the finagling and jury-rigging this package requires. We have had varying degrees of success with several versions of this product but all versions have had their little (or big) quirks. Unfortunately, this seems to be the best of the category (we have tried others and friends have warned us about some that are even worse) so we keep trying.

What is it about chocolate and ice cream that make them so satisfying to the human palate? I am a faithful Latter-day Saint and I do my best to observe all the commandments God has given us through the prophets but I find that those two items have become somewhat of an addiction for me. I experimented yesterday to see if I could go a whole day without either and discovered that I will not die if I do not consume these two tasty treats. There even might be some proof that a reduction in my partaking would lead to a healthier life, but it is an unthinkable thought to consider eliminating these delicious morsels from my diet on a permanent basis. Maybe chocolate was what Eve was really tempted with but the ancient prophets disguised the fact by calling it 'fruit'. Whatever the case may be, I am certain that there can be no more desirable food on the planet than chocolate and when it is added to ice cream, the combination becomes heavenly. Ahh, but like so many other good things, the after-effects are felt for a long time and must be 'worked' off so that the physical stature is not permanently damaged. That brings me to the end of this edition because I need to go run on the treadmill for a while. Maybe Teresa will let me eat some "Moose-Tracks" while I run/walk.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Election thoughts

It occurs to me that most people who know me probably think I am not very partial to politics and the attendant hoopla it provides. I seldom offer strong opinions on candidates or issues and I am not one to stand and shout when things don't go as I think they should. And despite the dearth of real choices, I am not going to change my methods very much. There is no candidate that I feel good about in the Presidential race (Obama is WAY too liberal and McCain is really a democrat in the Republican party). Despite what the media and others have said, I wish we had someone more like GWBush on the ticket so I could at least have the semblance of a choice. My biggest fear is that this race will be remembered as the beginning of the great slide into oblivion for our great nation.

The last thing needed in this time of struggle is an alarmist, but there are signs that some of the prophesied events are in the works for our world and especially this country. I don't think Obama or McCain is the anti-Christ spoken of in Revelation, nor do I think the time for the fall of Jerusalem is near, but there are other things that have been shared by modern prophets that give me cause to consider where we need to be and what we need to do.

A book recently read has a few comments that have proven to be a poke in the side for me in my life. The following is taken from "The Coming of the Lord", by Gerald N. Lund (p.56-60). He refers to some statements made by Brigham Young, Joseph Smith and other prophets. See if this strikes a chord with the events we are witnessing today.

The Constitution By a Thread

One of the things that has made the United States of America unique in the annals of government is its Constitution. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that such a document is too unique to have come solely from the minds of men. The Lord has stated clearly in his revelations that he established the Constitution by raising up wise men for that very purpose.22 These principles of government by the people for the preservation of freedom are divinely inspired, and the wars and destruction that are coming will not make them any less so. But the prophets have indicated that these principles established in the Constitution will be forsaken by the country in general and that this will be an important factor in bringing about the destruction of the United States.

Many of the prophets have referred to the time when the constitutional principles would be in danger, and it has been clearly prophesied that these principles would be saved or found only in the Church. Brigham Young reported that Joseph Smith was the first to teach this doctrine. In an Independence Day celebration speech Brigham Young said:

Will the Constitution be destroyed? No: it will be held inviolate by this people; and, as Joseph Smith said, "The time will come when the destiny of the nation will hang upon a single thread. At that critical juncture, this people will step forth and save it from the threatened destruction." It will be so.23

Early in the spring of the following year, Brigham Young intimated that the holders of the priesthood would be the ones to save the Constitution.

When the Constitution of the United States hangs, as it were, upon a single thread, they will have to call for the "Mormon" elders to save it from utter destruction; and they will step forth and do it.24

Some people have argued that such a critical threat was posed to the Constitution during the Civil War and this is what the Prophet Joseph meant. However, this would not account for the "elders of the Church" saving it, for the Civil War passed over the Church with relatively minor effect. In addition, three years after the Civil War was over, Brigham Young again referred to this prophecy as yet being in the future .

How long will it be before the words of the Prophet Joseph Smith will be fulfilled? He said if the Constitution of the United States were saved at all it must be done by this people. It will not be many years before these words come to pass."25

Elder Orson Hyde of the Council of the Twelve was also present when Joseph Smith made that prophecy, but he made a slight variation in his report.

It is said that brother Joseph in his lifetime declared that the Elders of this Church should step forth at a particular time when the Constitution would be in danger, and rescue it, and save it. This may be so; but I do not recollect that he said exactly so. I believe he said something like this-that the time would come when the Constitution and the country would be in danger of an overthrow; and said he, "If the Constitution be saved at all, it will be by the elders of this Church." I believe this is about the language, as nearly as I can recollect it.

The question is whether it will be saved at all, or not. I do not know that it matters to us whether it is or not; the Lord will provide for and take care of his people, if we do every duty, and fear and honour him, and keep his commandments; and he will not leave us without a Constitution."26

President John Taylor spoke of it as a saving of the constitutional principles rather than the actual government itself.

When the people have torn to shreds the Constitution of the United States the Elders of Israel will be found holding it up to the nations of the earth and proclaiming liberty and equal rights to all men, and extending the hand of fellowship to the oppressed of all nations. This is part of the program, and as long as we do what is right and fear God, he will help us and stand by us under all circumstances.27

Orson Pratt felt that although the United States would lose the power to govern in the chaos that will be present, the spirit of the Constitution would be preserved in the government set up by the members of the Church.

. . .He will speedily fulfill the prophecy in relation to the overthrow of this nation, and their destruction. We shall be obliged to have a government to preserve ourselves in unity and peace; for they, through being wasted away, will not have power to govern; for state will be divided against state, city against city, town against town, and the whole country will be in terror and confusion; mobocracy will prevail and there will be no security, through this great Republic, for the lives or property of the people. When that time shall arrive, we shall necessarily want to carry out the principles of our great constitution and, as the people of God, we shall want to see those principles magnified, according to the order of union and oneness which prevails among the people of God.28

President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., issued a solemn warning about the costs of sacrificing the principles of the Constitution.

Brethren, let us think about that, because I say unto you with all the soberness I can, that we stand in danger of losing our liberties, and that once lost, only blood will bring them back; and once lost, we of this church will, in order to keep the church going forward, have more sacrifices to make and more persecutions to endure than we have yet known, heavy as our sacrifices and grievous as our persecutions of the past have been.29

President David O. McKay said on more than one occasion that the maintenance of constitutional principles was one of the most important tasks that members of the Church had before them. In an editorial in The Instructor in 1956, he said: "Next to being one in worshipping God there is nothing in this world upon which this Church should be more united than in upholding and defending the Constitution of the United States."30

So it seems evident from what the prophets have said that the Constitution of the United States of America will be severely threatened in the crises that are to come, but its principles will be preserved by the members of the Church. In view of such developments as the flag burnings, "peace" marches and slogan chanting of the seventies, President John Taylor's remarks of ninety years ago are particularly appropriate.

It is our duty [to defend human rights] that our families demand of us; it is a duty that the honest in this nation demand of us, and that God demands of us; and we will try to carry it out, God being our helper. And if other people can afford to trample under foot the sacred institutions of this country, we cannot. And if other people trample upon the Constitution and pull it to pieces, we will gather together the pieces and rally around the old flag, or what is left of it, and proclaim liberty to the world, as Joseph Smith said we would.31

In this day of anarchy, bombings, violence and assassinations, it is not too difficult to see the conditions fermenting which could topple the stable government of this nation.

George Q. Cannon also spoke of the day when such factions would rend the government, and there would be no stability outside of the members of the Church.

. . . The day will come-and this is another prediction of Joseph Smith's-I want to remind you of it, my brethren and sisters, when good government, constitutional government-liberty-will be found among the Latter-day Saints, and it will be sought for in vain elsewhere; when the Constitution of this land and republican government and institutions will be upheld by this people who are now so oppressed and whose destruction is now sought so diligently. The day will come when the Constitution, and free government under it, will be sustained and preserved by this people.32

Doctrine and Covenants 101:77, 80.

Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 7, p. 15, July 4, 1854. (Italics added)

Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 2, p. 182, February 18, 1855.

Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 12, p. 204, April 8, 1868.

Orson Hyde, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 6, p. 152, January 3, 1858. (Italics added)

John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 21, p. 8, August 31, 1879. (Italics added)

Orson Pratt, Deseret Evening News, Vol. 8, no. 265, October 2, 1875. (Italics added)

J. Reuben Clark, Jr., The Improvement Era, May, 1944, p. 337. (Italics added)

David O. McKay, The Instructor, February, 1956, p. 34.

John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 23, p. 239, August 20, 1882.

George Q. Cannon, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 23, p. 104, November 20, 1881. (Italics added)

Events in California, Massachusetts, and other states make it clear that we may be in for some exciting days ahead. The elections of 2008 may only be the precursor for a great upheaval in the land that we love.

So, what are the options we have? One idea espoused by a popular LDS author is found at the following address Some of what he offers seems a little radical, but I understand his desire to protect our rights as citizens. I guess I am more inclined to look for a different type of answer. Maybe an alternative is to look at something like the messages found in our recent LDS Conference. Two of the members of the governing body of the Church counseled us to look toward our families and the growth of the Kingdom as a way to create the Zion-like existence that will overcome the struggles of this world. Elder Todd Christofferson and Pres. Henry B. Eyring have shared some sound ideas to guide us and keep us safe from the trials that lie ahead. That is not to say we should abdicate our duties as citizens in the government process, but it does mean that the focus of our actions should be on doing the things Christ would do if He were here.

Like so many others, I am nervous about our future and the challenges we will have in the next few decades. But fear is only the tool of the adversary so I refuse to give in to his efforts. The days ahead will be glorious and there will be many wonderful experiences we will all enjoy. And if the Savior comes during my lifetime, I will welcome Him and fall at His feet with joy. But I will not wring my hands and stand quavering in the corner while the world self-destructs. Our efforts need to be to build a place where we can all be safe and where the teachings of God will be foremost in the lives of those who live with us. Not a compound where one person rules as a demi-god, but a society where God and Christ are the principle focus of all who dwell therein. When that happens, there will be no need to worry about who is President because we will have the Leader of all mankind as our Guide.

Monday, October 20, 2008

A New Adventure

Since the kids have all started blogging, we have felt left out and want to rectify the situation. It's not like we have lots to say, but we do want to make our voices heard in the world. I suppose this will be a venting place or a place to share some ideas about life and its vagaries. Whatever it ends up being, our hope it that it will be entertaining and enlightening to those we love and respect.

Last Saturday I went fishing on Strawberry Reservoir with Josh and his lovely wife, Heather. This was Heather's first trip but Josh and I have been there many times. The day was pleasant and the weather was mild as we arrived and began our ministrations to the aquatic friends in our lake. It seemed, for some time, as though we had forgotten to apply the proper deodorant, for the fish were avoiding us and so were the other boaters. Heather was the first to receive notice that the finned friends were willing to collaborate with us on this mission. She pulled in a nice looking cutthroat trout and proudly held it up for us to see. Unfortunately, by the time I got the camera out the fish had flip-flopped itself back into the watery abyss from which he had come. Then it was another lengthy wait until Josh was able to raise a scaly beast from the depths of the 'agua-pura'. Again, I was struggling to get the camera ready and Josh gave up and released his catch before I could record the event (I suspect it would probably do all our posterity great service if I was not allowed to be the photographer on these little trips. That seemed to be Josh and Heather's consensus, as they took the camera from me for the rest of the day) :( .

But there is justice in the fishing world and the following will prove that fact. Our time to fish was fast approaching its close so we began the long "paddle" to the shoreline to remove ourselves and our equipment from the water. Having tried many different flies during the day and having no success, I desperately resorted to a fly purchased recently because it looked a little different from anything I had used before. I guess it was sort of a muddler/bunny combo and was in a dark green color. For some reason, we stopped near each other and I was handing something to Heather when I noticed my rod bouncing up and down with great fervor. Grabbing the rod and setting the hook, I felt the satisfying pull of a good sized fish at the end of my line. When landed, I realized that this was a healthy cutthroat and was of decent length (don't know for sure how long because my stripping apron was not on my pontoon. I would guess about 21" or so but all fishermen think their fish are larger than reality). No sooner had I sent my fly back out than I was rewarded with another fish, comparatively similar to the previous. And when I cast my offerings a third time, it was but a few short minutes until the twin brother of the second came to rest on my lap for a brief visit. Life was good and my failures as a picture taker had been removed from the history of our trip because of my fabulous success.

Ahhh, but fate (and I am sure, a loving Father) intervened to restore the humbleness that is necessary for all those who pursue the piscatorial habit. When my last fish had been released and the glow of success had begun to fade, we again prepared to return to shore. Sadly, the state of the weather had changed...and not for the good. What had been a mild and pleasant day had suddenly become a blustery, windy, nearly hurricaney afternoon. And having the larger of the three watercraft in the group, I was most susceptible to the forces of nature that fell down upon us. Oh, it is a surety that Josh and Heather struggled to push their boats through the water, but my pontoon was nearly impossible to push any closer to the shore while this typhoon was blowing away at us. It seemed that for every inch I crept closer, I was pushed back a full 12 inches away. There were moments when the flashing of life's images was beginning to start in my head and I chided myself for allowing a silly fish to take me so far away from my homeland and family. OOOOHHH, the misery and the pain that would be with my family and friends when they pulled my lifeless body from the deep of this dastardly body of water!!! If there had been paper and pen on my person, there might have been an anguished goodbye letter written to my sweetheart and companion. But alas, none were available and so the fins on my feet continued to paddle up and down and desperately try to save the wretched man that I am.

Anyway, it was hard to get to shore but we eventually made it and got loaded up and on our way. We made it home in time for Teresa and I to go to the Hale Theatre and Josh and Heather went to see a movie. My knees hurt considerably but other than that, it was a wonderful day with my two children and some of God's little fishy creations. I hope we can do this again very soon (but as I mentioned to Teresa, I will have an electric motor on the pontoon the next time I try this stunt).

My first entry seems to ramble some, but it is a good indication of how I write and how I look at things. Hope you enjoy and I really hope I can keep up with this in some orderly manner. See you next time. MW