Saturday, June 29, 2013

Utah Territorial Pen - Where Families Meet

Utah Penitentiary at Sugar House (date & source unknown)
Approximately same location, Sugar House Park & Highland High School
(note the peak above me in the center is in the other picture on the left)
There is a particular branch in my family tree haunting me. And I mean that in a good way. I can't go into the personal and family reasons in a public forum, but the series of incidents lead me to a spiritual conclusion that this is no accident.

Having been recently startled photographically and geographically by connections to the Rice Family, I shouldn't have been too surprised when my collaborator cousin of my Dad's family sent me some information on the Bybees. Among the materials was this about my 2nd-Great Grandfather, David Bowman Bybee (1832-1893):

Friday, June 28, 2013

Wendy Davis: Democratic Hero

Jimmy Stewart in filibuster as "Mr. Smith"
(public domain from trailer via Wikipedia)
U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) has recently staged a couple of old-fashioned filibusters and proposed others in the populist style of Jimmy Stewart in “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” However, it was a Texas State Senator who won the respect and love of Democrats throughout the country Tuesday night when her filibuster delayed the vote on a restrictive abortion bill.

Abortion is a very challenging issue of the culture wars. While MormonDems bloggers support the LDS teaching that abortion is a serious moral issue, we also support the Church’s provision for rare but sometimes necessary exceptions. These include rape, incest, “serious jeopardy” to the “life or health of the mother” and when “the fetus has serious defects that will not allow the baby to survive beyond birth.” These exceptions should only be considered after discussions with the woman’s family, her doctor, and bishop or branch president. As this is a challenging personal and religious issue, the law should allow those consultations and decisions with the least amount of intrusion. It should be recognized that the Church takes no position with regard to any particular abortion legislation. You can find the Church’s official statement at this link.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Republican Honor Roll - Immigration Reform

The U.S. Senate passed Immigration Reform today!! It's not perfect, but it follows principles of enforcement,  a pathway to citizenship, opportunities for entry to work, etc. It's a "compromise." Just like our wonderful, inspired Constitution itself.

Indeed we could say it follows the principles of the Utah Compact supported by the LDS Church along with the admonition that immigration reform should balance enforcement with respect for families and all people.

It passed with all of the Democrats, both Independents, and a good number of Republicans. The Republican "yeas" are those who get my "statesmen (and women)" award this evening:

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Ancestor Watch - William Kelsey Rice (1822-1913)

Have you ever felt that your ancestors are watching you? I was startled yesterday when a photo popped up with an ancestor staring me down. Maybe he'll do the same for you when you click on "Read more" below.

I am amazed to see the new resources on New.FamilySearch, particularly the Family Tree that is much more navigable and has links to source materials, histories, and photos that people have uploaded. I was playing around in there when Grandpa Rice jumped up. This was the guy born in Manchester, New York when the Smiths lived nearby. His family joined the church in Michigan and went to Nauvoo where Grandpa married Lucy Witter Geer and received their own ordinance work in the Temple. They were pioneers of '47 (Hunter-Foutz Company, October 1, 1847), only two months and a week after the first arrivals. William (Bill) settled in Farmington, 1848 and donated the land for the Farmington Cemetery. He  helped defend Echo Canyon during the Utah War (1857), and helped relieve Johnston's Army of some of its government cattle up in Wyoming.

I've known for some time that my 3rd-Great Grandfather Rice died in Centerville in 1913. While wondering where he may have lived, I was clueless as to where or how to figure it out. That changed after he stared me down out of that picture.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Mormon Conspiracy Theorists

Well, leaving the infamous Bro. Beck to the side for a moment, Anonymous D and I have been highly entertained this week by the LDS Church debunking anti-government conspiracies about modifications to the Church's welfare canning operations. The Church put out this statement:
Over the past several weeks, misinformation and unnecessary concern has been circulating on blogs, over social media channels and by email regarding changes in operations at the Church’s home storage centers, which are located in the U.S. and Canada. No home storage centers are being closed, but the Church is making welcomed modifications in its operations at most of these centers that will help to better serve the needs of members of the Church, as well as significantly improve efficiency.
There's a bit more to the statement you can find at the link above or by going to Newsroom at

Anonymous D and I went to some of the websites spreading "misinformation" which I decline to link here. But you can find them. One has a special 3-DVD course you can buy on home storage for only $150!! It also has gun training for women, etc. Another is by a Cleon Skousen wannabe who I just don't think is brazen enough to get as far as Bro. Skousen (SLC Police Chief, Teaching at BYU, etc.) But you can buy this new guy's books on his site too!! (Seems to be a common theme here I'll leave for now.)

Anyway, D had some great insights I wanted to share, so take it away D!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

"I Don't Need Ethics Because I'm a Good Man."

That phrase was spoken by someone I worked with long ago and maybe in a galaxy far, far away. But it was spoken. The Speaker was LDS and well connected in the community and even to LDS Church leaders. It appalled me. Yet I understood the sentiment.

I think I've explained on the blog that I didn't really like law school because it's a bunch of arrogant smarty-pants competing against each other on stage before professors supposedly trying to make us think and reason by creating impossible-to-resolve hypotheticals. I hate hypotheticals. Once, infuriated by the whole process I told my "Ethics" Professor I understood that one needs to learn the rules of professional ethics to comply with the requirements, but if I didn't come in his room already an ethical person there was no way he could make me one. (I especially hated hypothetical ethics).

But the point is, being good or ethical is not enough. We have to follow some basic rules of professional conduct across the board especially in a profession already suspect because we deal with law, crimes, and peoples' livelihoods and lives. And the biggest problem is that sometimes when we walk into that lecture room or profession being a "good" or "ethical" person, we can fool ourselves into thinking we still are while making terrible mistakes that any five-year-old could point out.

The Utah Attorneys General, current and past, are in the midst of a scandal spinning out of control. The bottom line is this. They had some financial dealings with a man who was a convicted internet fraudster. Some of that was for campaign funds, some for nice holidays at posh and expensive resorts on the fraudster's dime (or hundreds of thousands, actually). Many of the receipts are publicly available (click here). (As a fed, I'd get in trouble for a mere $16 muffin! Actually, gift acceptance is limited at $25. The whole golf resort vacation was a bit more than that.)

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Closing in on the Tailor

We spent some time this evening in the Family History Library with my wife's childhood friend who found some great info on her Jewish side of the family in Nancy, France. In fact, she shared the fascinating information that before the French Revolution, Jews were not considered citizens of France. They were allowed to register as citizens under the Napoleonic Civil Code, so the little dictator wasn't all bad.

Anyway, my wife stole my netbook so I was stuck on the FHL computers and I was googling like crazy on my 1789 illegitimacy problem. Our prime suspect remains the same, but so far it's all still circumstantial evidence. What I found of interest were three different requests for information on genealogical discussion boards on the same guy! Our suspected ancestor! And I learned a little more about the family that they were innkeepers as well as tailors and shoemakers. Best of all, a picture of the inn:
The Three Horseshoes Pub, Velindre (Felindre), Glasbury, Wales
Courtesy of Andy Dolman under Creative Commons license

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Enforce the Law to Change the Law

President Grant - NOT the one I was named for
(That was Heber J.)
Now we compare President Obama to the troubled President, but great Civil War Hero, Ulysses S. Grant. Arguably, Grant was the man who saved the Union by the shedding of blood to free the Slaves, along with Lincoln who shed his own blood in that cause (the myth of the 'lost cause' be danged!). But that's not what we're going for here.

We are all becoming unglued because the government is collecting mega-data on our Verizon cell phone calls. I don't think they are actually reading our Facebook postings over our shoulders to watch our cat videos. But it's the cable news crisis du jour forgetting that we already knew about it all as part of the national security laws including the deceptively-named "Patriot Act." It even connects directly to the big NSA facility under construction right here in Utah where the data will be stored on big flash drives and analyzed by security techno-guys and gals graduating from their moms' basements and much video game training (OK, mostly guys).

Sunday, June 9, 2013

And A Little Child Shall Lead Them

Not able to resist posting my granddaughter, I thought of a theme. Yesterday, early in the morning sun, she crawled over to the picture of the Temple. Of course she crawls to anything at floor level, but she did seem genuinely interested. 

The Temple is a family place. It's where we seal our families, living and dead, into family units to last the eternities based on keeping sacred covenants only possible by the great Atonement of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Our faith system doesn't keep people out of heaven just for being of a different church or religion. But the sealing power has to be performed by the Lord's authorized priesthood and is still available even for all those others, again, living or dead.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Power from on High

John Wheelwright - 1961?
About the time of the story
Being the oldest child of an oldest child up the paternal side, I was privileged to know three of those great-grandparents. John Hyrum Wheelwright was born in 1882 and died in 1963, so my overlap with him wasn't long and we didn't live nearby. There were visits and a story that was passed down about me and Grandpa.

We were at their home in Ogden and I was about three. My parents and great-grandparents suddenly noticed that I was no longer there. I had gone out the door, down the steps, and on down the sidewalk along Quincy Avenue. It was probably my dad who ran and scooped me up. My Great-Grandpa Wheelwright chuckling on the porch said, "Let 'im go! He seems to know where he's going!"

Yep. A great family story. Yet tonight sitting in the Temple as my daughter received her endowment of priesthood power from on high for her upcoming marriage sealing, I seemed to hear those actual words from Grandpa in dim folds of memory or maybe he was there whispering to my soul.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Real Men Shop Not Stalk

Spousal abuse is the most cowardly deed a person can do. It is overwhelmingly committed by males on women. I don't call them men, because they are disgusting bullies, not real men.

Today we read in the Salt Lake Tribune that Utah's Number One gun lobbyist and activist is no man. His guns are to be taken away, maybe permanently, under the law. (This is the same bozo who had an AR-15 stolen from his vehicle a while back.)
It was a surprise to me the other day when my friend at linked to one of my recent blogs about trying to help my wife find a Mother-of-the-Bride dress. It was the come-on to her link "Going where few men are willing to tread." that made me feel oddly heroic, which is what I was going for with my whole Don-Quixote-Parsifal-Galahad-Disney's-Prince-Philip thing. With that sort of fantasy life, you might expect me to be living in my mom's basement working at a comic book store. Nope.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Anonymous D Revealed as Tevye from "Fiddler on the Roof"

This is sort of a Guest Post from our good friend D. It is significantly altered and cut down not just in changing names to protect the innocent or guilty, as the case may be. Neither of us are the ultimate Judge and should only engage in "righteous judgment" as we navigate this world of sorrow with our individual agency trying to keep our souls intact. But he has shared some interesting insight with me that I cautiously share here:
The Mormon thing I find frustrating is the idea that all of us don’t fight against our darker sides all the time.  Men are carnal, sensual and devilish after all, the fall of our natures making us that way. So, all of us fight against those things all the time as we are supposed to. The sin, then, isn’t to have a fallen nature, the sin is to stop trying to throw that nature off and become a Saint knowing full well that we are going to fail a good deal of the time. The Church's stance on Boy Scouts is in line with that doctrine, that you can put off the natural man and become a Saint through the atonement of Christ. [Mosiah 3:19]  You have fight against those things that keep you away. Hetero men as well. We should invite every sinner of every stripe to come and join with us with the one stipulation that all of us are trying to throw off our sins not that we’ve actually done it, and that by trying and having faith in Christ he makes us clean every wit. Perhaps some future day, far off in the eternities we’ll be able to say that we now stand on our own being full of grace and truth, but we’ll never be able to say that we did it alone.
That course of action, repenting, isn’t available to you if you insist that you did nothing wrong in the first place of course.
With regard to a certain, ongoing critique of Hugh Nibley on another blog:

Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Miracle of the MOTB Dress

Remaining a believer in the Spirit guiding me not knowing beforehand where I was going, I have to share how I was inspired to buy a dress yesterday. Then I learned that it had to be confirmed by the mouths of two or more witnesses.

My wife is a simple dresser. She's not one for fancy fashions or trendy display. She is a beautiful woman even though she sometimes doesn't believe that. She hates buying things for herself unless she can find them at a super sale at Kohl's taking advantage of all the coupons, stickers and Kohl's cash she can. That's how she justifies her personal purchases.

Closing in now on our daughter's wedding with no time left to put it off, there has been serious discouragement in the house because she now has to find a suitable Mother-of-the-Bride (MOTB) dress. We've checked on-line. Our two daughters have given her considerable advice and suggestions. I've even been to Macy's and Nordstrom's at City Creek with her and thought we had things that would do but she is a challenging shopper. She's been to a lot of other stores around the Valley. She's even been to Kohl's. She has a skirt or a top that she thinks will work. But this is our youngest daughter and she, and all of us, are entitled to present ourselves well (within our moderately respectable means) for this wonderful occasion. (We even like the guy she's going to marry!)

Yesterday for my lunch break, I walked over past the Gateway to the UTA place that sells bus passes. It was the last day of the month. As I passed the Gateway there is a Bridal & Prom shop with "Latter-day Brides" line of wedding dressing prominently advertised. I wondered if they might have MOTB dresses that would work (there is the whole appropriate Latter-day MOTB attire-thing to consider as well). I walked on by then stopped. Yeah, I should just go in and check. I went to the door just as a young bride-looking woman and her mother went in. My girls watch those Bridezilla shows on TV and I wanted no part of that scene. (And we do have a bit of a Bridezillita at our house). So I turned back and went on down the street past the store.