Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Superstar Faith Crises - 2014, 1972, and 33 or so A.D.

My first true twitterpation was with a dear girl a year older than me. That made her within the Mormon cultural expectation of no-dating-before-16, but I, alas, was only fifteen. Of course she was Lutheran so the whole thing didn't matter from her perspective.

She wore a red velvet cape in cooler weather. She was into Mary Stewart's Hollow Hills and Egyptian mummies, especially how they took the brains out with a hook through the nose. She loved the word "goodly." What was there not to like? And she was a big fan of Andrew Lloyd Webber's and Tim Rice's Jesus Christ Superstar (1970).

Well aware that many consider the Rock Opera heretical and spiritually offense, I have no problem if you skip this posting. I worried about it back then. There was guidance from my church that it was irreverent and offensive. A girl in my ward, also a year or two older than I, once gave a talk about how she stood for her religious principles and refused to sing "Hosanna" from Superstar with the school choir. I had seen her down at Juanita Beach attempting a tan on her back with the top of her two-piece untied, so I didn't give much heed to what she said (Yes, I was very judgmental in those days for which I repent).

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Welcome: Vaughan Home

Our house now has a name. I named it. My wife is cool with it as she was in Britain and saw how it's very common that even the smallest home has a name. They are not all that unique as the popular names, like "Rose Cottage" are used over and over again. But if you're in a village or on an estate and ask for Rose Cottage, they will usually guide you to the right place. There is likely no street address otherwise.

Most often (even in the case of "Rose Cottage") the names are practical and simple explaining something unique about the house even if the village next door also has one by the same name. I guess that's part of the simplicity.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Personal Embossing Tool

My children are the greatest in the world! Each in their own independent and unique way contribute to the world and to the happiness of their parents. United, they are a powerful force for love to be reckoned with.

Honest praise for my children seems more appropriate than just showing off the best Christmas gift ever! They pooled creativity and resources to present me with a personal embossing tool for my library.
It comes in its own little case!

They used the logo from my Vaughan Family armorial, "the Strangled Boye!" OK, my wife still thinks it's creepy and refuses to claim the family, but I proudly do!

The first book I crimped was a new book for Christmas that Santa ordered for himself (but Mrs. Clause is reading the Llewellyn Fawr [the Great] series, so she'll get to this one), The Sunne in Splendor by Sharon Kay Penman. I thought I'd give old Richard III a chance. The second book was my Welsh translation of the Book of Mormon:

Still the 1852 translation with no chapters or verses. There is a new Welsh version in preparation by a BYU Prof & Adjuncts.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas from Henry Vaughan (1621-1695)

For Christmas Love, Joy, and above all Peace, we bring you a Christmas Poem by my ancient cousin, Henry Vaughan, the Silurist:


My soul, there is a country
     Far beyond the stars,
Where stands a wingéd sentry
     All skilful in the wars;

There above the noise and danger,
     Sweet Peace sits crown’d with smiles,
And One born in a manger
     Commands the beauteous files.

He is thy gracious Friend,
     And—O my Soul awake!—
Did in pure love descend
     To die here for thy sake.

If thou canst get but thither,
     There grows the flower of Peace,
The Rose that cannot wither,
     Thy fortress and thy ease.

Leave then thy foolish ranges,
     For none can thee secure
But One, who never changes,
     Thy God, thy life, thy cure.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

"Nights Should All Be Silent, Days Should All Slow Down"

It's time for my favorite Christmas song! It is an odd choice, I know. But it is the one song I can play over and over (and I do!) and I don't ever tire of it. (My family bans it so I listen on ear buds). And doubly odd as it's sung by the sleepiest songster ever, Perry Como (but then he sang, "The Bluest Skies" as well. Look it up.)

Yes, "Christmas Dream" featured in the opening credits of a very good anti-Nazi thriller, The Odessa File. Jon Voight plays a reporter in 1960s Hamburg and comes across the diary of a Jewish survivor of the Holocaust who commits suicide. Voight is captivated by the diary and goes off to search out the SS Commandant referenced. No spoilers here, but it's the best kind of story with a surprise ending that makes sense looking back at the movie or seeing it again. And it has that great song.

It's the second verse that gets me every time. Have a listen (and a glimpse of the film):

Monday, December 22, 2014

Northern Lights in Utah?

From Aurora Borealis Forcast
We were in Cottonwood Heights last night leaving my in-laws when we saw three strange flashes of light in the sky. Actually, I missed the first one sitting in the car but I heard my kids out on the lawn, "Wow! What was that?" I looked out and saw the second and third manifestations. The clouds above us flashed green and pink just for a second.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

No Dystopian Present Thirty Years Past 1984

Our first-born, Christmas 1984
Scanning family photos to put them on the OneDrive (I liked "SkyDrive" better), I just finished 1984. While I know that dystopian novels and movies are more a commentary on the current day rather than predictions of the future, our 1984 was really nice.

We ended up living in three different places that year as I had seen a guy waving a handgun in the parking lot of our apartment complex. We were in a suburb of Baltimore transitioning from a Jewish to an African-American neighborhood. We shopped at Shapiro's and were in a distinct minority in our apartment complex that was mostly African-American. We got along great with our neighbors, but I didn't like the handgun.

We spent that summer renting the upstairs of a beautiful ancient house on Old Court Road, out in the woods, with an address of Granite, Maryland - named for an abandoned quarry. The owner was one of my wife's school-teacher friends who spent most of the summer away except for the few weekends he spent at home. When he wasn't home, we had the use of the whole house and when he was home, we pretty much stayed upstairs and even left when he had his parties as we had inadvertently come across his cannabis supply. We didn't turn him in. We didn't with the guy and the handgun either.
M's place in Granite, Maryland on Old Court Road

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

¡Viva Cuba!

Last night, my little play on The Old Man and the Sea turned out to be so prescient! I had no idea the President would announce the first steps to normalizing diplomatic relations with Cuba today. It's long overdue. Our little Western Hemisphere containment theory hasn't worked all that well, so let's open it up and let in the bright sun.

Cuba still has to reform and become democratic. That works best with international trade. My Brazilians friends, many of them conservatives, may challenge me on this but Presidente Dilma was pretty smart to get Brazil well situated with a new international port established in Cuba. It would be good for the US to get in on some of that economic action and anything at all is bound to help Cuba modernize and democratize (although I'm not sure free-market, capitalist swine have done so well with that in Russia. Just sayin'.)

Cuba and Me

Young Boy of the Sea

My Mom and I, Cruising the San Juan Islands, Washington, about 1964
Another strong memory resurfaced going through old photos to scan. They let me sit out there on the bow as long as I had that orange life-preserver. I notice Mom close by but I could look out ahead seeing just water and I stayed the longest time. I can feel the rare warm sun, see the bright flashes on the water, and could be there still if life hadn't intervened.

There were some great opportunities we had with my Dad's work with the Boy Scouts. These were actual Sea Scouts and my little brother and I were treated like royalty, or at least mascots, as guests on their ship (fairly large cabin cruiser). I seem to recall that we were at Friday Harbor for the 4th of July. I'll have to check that with my Dad. And I have the vaguest memory of a campfire while watching a satellite go by overhead when it was still a big deal. 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Making Utah Connections - Thomas Evans Giles (1881-1959)

So, I was up in the music building at the University of Utah for my son's senior recital (which was very good, by the way), and standing outside the room was a portrait. Noting the name I said, "I know that guy's grandpa!"

That was a bit presumptuous on my part, so I did a quick check on Family Search - Family Tree. And . . . Yep! I was right.

Thomas Evans Giles was the son of  Henry Evans and Catherine Hughes Giles. Catherine was born in Wales in 1861. Henry, born 1859 in Utah, was the son of Thomas Davis and Hannah Evans Giles. Thomas, the grandfather, was born 1820 in Blaenavon, Monmouthshire, just over the Blorenge from where my ancestors lived in Llanfoist.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

And Now, the Senate Show

Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, appropriately on the left. And Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, who really should be farther right, right off the page
Still Majority Leader, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, has not got the Cromnibus passed yet. The House passed it and now it's t It's the Senate's turn. It's still a bit mired in procedural ploys so Reid is now trying to get as many cloture votes (requiring 60 to stop action) as possible to move forward with his still democratic majority for confirmation of President Obama's nominees to staff vacant political positions in this administration. The big show is at 1 a.m. tonight (technically tomorrow in DC time, and 11 p.m. here in Mountain) when he will call for a vote on Cromnibus. There are two obstacles in the way pictured above.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Boehner-Obama Budgeting - Not Funding Non-Action

The President and John Boehner accomplished a sort of Holiday Miracle by not shutting down the government. The managed to get a year-long spending bill approved in the House. Called the "Cromnibus" as in "CR" for Continuing Resolution, and "Omnibus" for a bill of multiple agency appropriations, the Republicans put enough "crappy" stuff in to make that the "CR" part. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Why I Trust John McCain on Torture

He knows.

This is posted in the best effort to learn from the past. I'm not sure we have, so we need these reminders. Fortunately, John McCain, victim of North Vietnamese torture, is still in the Senate and can rebut most of those in his Republican Party who try to excuse or justify the use of torture by the United States. (OK, if you're still unsure whether "water-boarding = torture" I hope you can at least admit that anal forced-feeding is.)

Monday, December 8, 2014

Alternate Nativities

The extremes of Christmas are represented right here in our little neighborhood. Well, there's no either/or sort of thing. And there's no outright satanist or atheist attack. I'm just glad to enjoy some diversity within just a few blocks in Davis County, Utah.

The first is what you would expect at an LDS Ward Christmas Party Breakfast. The Primary children put on a great nativity with music and costumes. I'm not sure what the girls in yellow are supposed to be, but they sure had fun with their twirly dresses. The one in the yellow top competed a little with some ballet moves. The kids standing in front of the stage had my wife's musical chimes to hit at the time indicated by the color-code on the music director's chart. If you see the goat among the lowing animals, that's one of my wife's many costumes. The best part was that they're all kids from the neighborhood including at least one who is not a member of our church.

My role, because nobody else was doing it, was to monitor the microphone levels with the dials at the opposite side of the cultural hall. I guess I should have realized that is part of the unwritten order of things for a High Priest Group Leader.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Sam Brown's Basic Principles and the Temple - The Body of Christ

There is an excellent review of Dr. Brown's book by George Handley at Patheos. I'm right there with George in his interpretation and recommendation. This is not so much a book review of Samuel Morris Brown's First Principles and Ordinances: The Fourth Article of Faith in Light of the Temple (Maxwell Institute, BYU, Provo, 2014), as it is a thematic introspection taking off from his ideas. Hopefully with the Holy Spirit, and a sharing with you, the reader.

The basic principles of the Gospel - Faith, Repentance, Baptism and other ordinances, and the Holy Ghost - all enduring to the end are very important to me. I think they are a process of a lifetime. And here we have Sam taking those basic principle pretty deep in his linking to the Temple and the idea I hadn't really thought about so profoundly how those principles and ordinances are not accomplished just individually but as a people. We need each other. And that stretches over families, generations, congregations, priesthoods, and a living Faith evidenced through our choices and actions in Hope that our meager efforts will accomplish good and affirm the Faith we strive for.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Servi no Templo EM PORTUGUÊS!

Boy, am I jazzed! That is, if it's OK to be spiritually jazzed!

Campinas, São Paulo, Brasil Temple - Not the one I served in tonight, but it felt like it.
Tonight was my Friday to serve in the Bountiful Temple, and while my Welshman friend wasn't there, I heard the shift coordinators talking about doing some temple work in Portuguese. I let them know that I could help if they needed. I had done it in Spanish before (in a bit of a panic), but Portuguese was my No. 1 second language.

They let me study the card and I had it all down pretty well. They let me take the card just in case. The big surprise was that they said there would be one Temple patron needing Portuguese and then I would switch back to English. But the next guy started off in Portuguese too. I had just dropped the card which I hadn't used anyway, so I went on in Portuguese full of confidence and spiritual power.

George Washington Didn't Say That About Guns Either

As a proud defender of our founding fathers (putting slavery to the side in the context of its times - it was still wrong), I rise again to respond to the latest false meme sighted (or falsely cited) on Facebook. George Washington did not say:
When any nation mistrusts its citizens with guns, it is sending a clear message. It no longer trusts its citizens because it has evil plans.
Nope. Nada. Nothing of the sort. It doesn't even sound like him. It certainly doesn't sound like the President George Washington who federalized militias to put down the Whiskey Rebellion. It's nowhere to be found in any official source from George himself! Check out a few:

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Family Totems - Christmas Edition

When we were young, our dad would set out in December to design and paint his annual Christmas picture on our front window. This is the earliest one I can remember:

Friday, November 28, 2014

Native Earth

We made it up to southwestern Idaho for my dad's 80th b-day celebration tomorrow. The Best Western, Caldwell Inn and Suites, gets good ratings so far. Very large rooms. A pool the grandkids are enjoying. My son is enjoying the hot tub with the Westminster Women's Basketball team here for a tourney. Free internet. It's a win-win-win-win.

My usual travelogue about the pioneer trails and old Highway 30 (particularly with Bliss that used to have cool, cement dinosaurs - kinda like Vernal, UT). And the features on top of Mountain Home mesa (no mountain and not my home). I pointed out to the south and west how we could see to Nevada in the peaks of the Owyhees (I've been to Duck Valley Rez on business) and the far end being in Oregon. As the sun set I tried to explain how the Easterners have it all wrong pronouncing a "gone" at the end of my native state. It hasn't "gone" anywhere. And it has to match the rhyme of the state song, "Land of the Empire Builders/Land of the Golden Sun/Hail to Thee, Land of Freedom/My Oregon."
Vintage Bliss

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving - Henry Vaughan

From my Cousin Poet, Henry Vaughan, the Silurist (1621-1695)

O lead me, where I may be freeIn truth and spirit to serve Thee!Where undisturb'd I may converseWith Thy great Self; and there rehearseThy gifts with thanks; and from Thy store,Who art all blessings, beg much more.
Give me the wisdom of the bee,And her unwearied industry!That from the wild gourds of these days,I may extract health, and Thy praise,Who canst turn darkness into light,And in my weakness show Thy might.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Orienting/Indexing the Tithing Maps of Wales, 1843

Thanks to Twitter at: Archives Wales retweeted
New tithe maps website
I just did the coolest thing!

The Welsh National Archives are asking for our help to index and orient the tithe maps of Wales from the 1840s! I was able to locate several data points that matched a modern Ordnance Survey map with the 1843 Tithe map for Llanfoist, Monmouthshire! (By the way, I also learned that Welsh spelling for Llanfoist is Llanffwyst. It makes a difference.) You can see my work here. Click on "visualize" and you will see the overlay based on my data points.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

James Island: The Original - More Family Totems

Now we wrap long-standing friendships into our family totems. My old friend I've known pretty much since birth (and maybe before) took some excellent photos of oil paintings that my dad gave to his family and another friend from Seattle days.

Evidence of the lengthy friendship is here:

And the paintings are here:

Missionary Gratitude - Happy Thanksgiving!

This just came in my son's latest email from Japan:
Lots of other cools things happened this past week, but because Thanksgiving is coming up, and because I am a missionary, I figured I could get away with doing tacky things, so I made a list of 100 things I am grateful for as a missionary. I will try to write some explanations as time permits. Here it goes.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Mechanism and Meaning - Book Report

Usually I would wait until I finished reading before recommending. No wait necessary with the kindred spirit I've found with Dr. Sam Brown's new book, First Principles and Ordinances: The Fourth Article of Faith in Light of the Temple (Maxwell Institute, Provo, Utah 2014). I just read a paragraph that I have to share:
. . . . Mechanism is not meaning.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Strangers in a Strange Land - Immigration, 1860

Here is one more view of Mormon immigrants in Carson Valley from our correspondent to the San Francisco Herald, July 25, 1860:
Considerable number of immigrants have already arrived in this country from Salt Lake; but I regret that they are not generally of a class that we can welcome, being mostly Mormons, or apostate Mormons. As far as I have been able to observe in a three years’ residence in Utah, I see but little difference between the regular Mormon and the apostate; they are all, or nearly all, of the very lowest class of English, Welsh and Danes.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Identity Crisis

My government ID expires this month. It says so right on the front, "NOV2014." I need it to enter the federal building without going through security check like they do at the airports but without the special lines and exceptions. Basically, an undocumented federal employee. So, you might think I would be getting a new one. The answer is . . . maybe.

You see, I agree 100% with the President's goals in documenting the previously undocumented people who live in the U.S. I think our borders should be as open as possible. My idealism says, "Open them all!" But the practical in me agrees with the President's new bumper stickers:
But Mr. President, why now?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Mormon Threat

Going through a source for information on the critical years of 1857-60 in Carson Valley, now Nevada, seeking to resolve some family history issues, I came across this:
Genoa, Carson Valley, U.T. July 11, 1859 . . . . The Mormon Imbroglio

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Poli-Sci 101 - How the Republicans Won

Not being one of the 5% that can hire their own lawn service, I was out mowing (hopefully for the last time this year). My boy was kind enough to rake up most of the leaves.

And it came to me. This last midterm election was a classic. Here's a simple explanation for what seemed like a very complex situation.

First, each party's themes are laid out with their explanations.


The closest I could find to Groucho's "Boogity, boogity!" scene
Here's a link provided by elg below: Boogity link.
"Boogity, boogity!"

"Boogity, boogity!"

"Boogity, boogity!"

"Boogity, boogity!"

"Boogity, boogity!"

Government in general:
"Boogity, boogity!"

The Munchkin Vortex

Don't get me wrong, I've always loved the Munchkins. I just wasn't sure they should be in charge of the government.
Dorothy escaping the Vortex.
The Munchkins won big the other night. But they are caught in a conundrum. The mandate was from a still angry and unsatisfied electorate, most of whom, do not like the President even if they could never beat him in a general election. Yes, a lot of Dems didn't vote in the off-term or they could have prevented this. It's not like we're an organized party or anything.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Graveyard of a Surprising Hero

Free use courtesy of Jim Herman - Many thanks!
Elinor Jenkins Vaughan could be here! We know that her daughter died and was buried in Jacks Valley - also in an unmarked grave. It is very likely that Elinor was too. The earliest grave identified in this beautiful cemetery is from 1860. There is plenty of space and apparent depressions for lost grave sites.

Monday, November 3, 2014

More Family Totems

A couple of weeks ago, I was at my parents' house. And having delivered to my dad a few framed pieces (he prefers a particular framing shop in Salt Lake City), I followed him around seeing some of his work and attempted a few more photos. I don't know what he thought I was doing, but I share here some important, family totems even if the first two weren't by him:

St. Francis by Ben Ortega
Lightning Pattern, Navajo Rug
Ben Ortega is now deceased, so I think the one I gave to my Mom a while back has probably increased in value. It's not like you should be placing values or buying and selling in St. Francis carvings. It sounds rather disrespectful to me and missing the whole point of the Santo.

On the right, is one of many Navajo rugs my parents own. Price is more invaluable as they seem to belong with my parents ever since they fell in love with Santa Fe in 1966. We earned some points with them for our nine years of residence there.

And now back to my dad's work, back to the very earliest days of his good art work. The first is a piece he did just after graduating from Brigham Young. I would have been about four months old. It hung in our house for all the years I can remember in my youth. It's good to have a photo of this one:

(c) 1957, Larry K. Vaughn

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Apoplectic Ebola Syndrome

With only one confirmed ebola death in the US of an individual who contracted the disease elsewhere, and a half-dozen or so cured of ebola in the US mostly contracted elsewhere, the warning must go out about the risk of death by apoplectic fit over unnecessary fear and subconscious political linkage of things from Africa that have a lot of vowels and "b"s.

Yes, the risk of death by apoplectic fit in the political arena is real. A glance at The Political Graveyard website lists more politicians than you can count dying as a result of stroke or apoplectic fit, some in the very act of politics itself!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Lost Mormons of Carson Valley

Genoa (Mormon Station), Nevada, Pioneer Cemetery
There is another tempting title for this, "Journey to Genoa" that has already been used for a highly fictionalized novel of some of the pioneer people of this area, including my family. It isn't very well written in a literary sense. Most of the entertainment value comes from the whoppers of wrong information such as the Cavalry riding in to rescue disaffected Mormons (in 1853) and a questionably historical visit to a San Francisco bordello and opium den. Sigh.

The different title might have distracted web searchers from the book which is decidedly anti-Mormon. And putting the title in here might have the same positive effect.

Monday, October 20, 2014

"I Need a Drink of Cool, Cool Rain"

Yes, I went the long way home. Well, not home yet. I've crashed in a Super 8 somewhere in Nevada. Reasons for that I'll blog later after more time for contemplation on my quest and a sort through my pics.

The thrill I had was a day cruising down the highway all on my own with no agenda, no time schedule, except to get there before dark, and The Who.

As it was raining from Beaverton on south, that gentle, soft, and beautiful Oregon rain, down through the green Douglas Fir each with its unique scraggle of branches, I went back to my youth in neighboring Washington State. I didn't quite get there this time, but it was beautiful across the Gorge. And I didn't get to the Ocean, but the rain was all I needed to revel in my nearly conquered teenage angst.

Saturday, October 18, 2014


My boy went from one amazing corporate culture to another. It was great to visit Disney, and of course, its "land." Yesterday we had the opportunity to see a new, wonderful world of color, mostly green, but stunningly beautiful.

The Nike Campus
Note the brand of shoes our granddaughter wears now. No more Disney Princess shoes!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Jacks Valley, Nevada, Tugs at Me

Cruising across that dry table land with a less than Mountain Home in the middle, I could feel the Owyhees on my left in the darkness. That's Nevada! We're on our way to Oregon for a Fall Break visit to my boy and his family. My wife has to fly out of Portland Sunday morning for Scout meetings in Dallas. I plan to stay over 'til Monday and start back home but there's no sense getting there before my wife - or at least until my Welsh class in Provo on Tuesday.

It's not that far. . . .

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Matthew Bristow Wheelwright & the Golden Spike

Maybe he was there, maybe he wasn't, but he has not been officially identified in the famous picture:
The Golden Spike
It's been a life-long desire of mine to get out to the Golden Spike National Historic Site and I finally did. The problem is that it's not on the way to anywhere, except the Spiral Jetty, which is where the Utah Science Teachers were having an outing. My daughter invited me to go along with her family. And it was fun.
Two of my Grandsons with the Jupiter and the 119 at Golden Spike National Historic Site, Promontory Pass, Utah

Friday, October 10, 2014

A Book Report - Let there be Luz in Utah's 2nd

The debate between Glenn Beck's associate Chris Stewart, our Congressman, and Luz Robles of the Utah State Senate the other night, was very entertaining. Robles certainly held her own - skilled on the issues from her state legislative experience - confident and secure in her positions. She reflects the best of Utah values. And as a Democrat in red Utah, she is far from a flaming liberal. She has been successful in working across the aisle. You can see a list of her accomplishments at Wikipedia

Vote Luz Robles

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Mia Doesn't Love Us All - Vote Owens

Mia Love, former mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah County, Utah, is running for Congress in the 4th District. Well, actually, she is walking to Congress with her safe, low profile and Republican brand. She is hoping that the electorate forgets that she was put up by the tea party and lost by a few hundred votes to Jim Matheson last time. So, she avoids controversy and relies on the overwhelming Republican affiliation of Utah's 4th to put her in Congress.

And I heard her on a news report about her appearance in front of a friendly crowd with Mitt Romney as a friendly supporter. She was giving her platitudes on freedom and "government-is-the-problem" which she wants to prove by governing badly. She closed with the idea that they were going to promote "OUR American Dream!" (emphasis in the original.)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Law Is an Ass

Thinking today about traditional marriage, I read an article about how short-lived our modern concept is. It wasn't that long ago that the Western concept of marriage was that the married couple was a single unit and that unit was the husband. A married woman generally had no legal rights separate from her husband. It was almost as bad as chattel slavery in human beings. We've come a long way, Baby, and I don't think we want to go back.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Back in the Blue with Sam Wang

See http://election.princeton.edu/ for more explanation
It was getting a little scary there for a few days. But Princeton Election Consortium has its polling prediction back with the Democrats plus the Independents for a win in the Senate to maintain control.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Live-Blogging LDS General Conference, Sunday PM

M Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve
Cataract Canyon activity - checked the NPS website - guide emphasized safety rules. "Stay in the Boat!"
Crisis of faith and all other challenges of life
The old ship Zion. If you're out on it you might think it's not and jump overboard.
President Young - God is at the helm and will stay there. For the Lord is here.
Given the challenges we all faith, how do we stay
We need to experience a continuing conversion throughout our lives.
Experienced river guides can be likened to church leaders.
We will not and cannot lead you astray.
Those lost and confused are those who have forgotten that when the 1st Presidency and Quorum of 12 speak as a united voice, that is the word of the Lord for this time and circumstance.
They don't live in a bubble - more out of a bubble than most people meeting with President. leaders of other churches and everyday people.
Always wear a life jacket and hold on with both hands.
We need to become like the sons of Mosiah who waxed strong in the knowledge of the church
Search the scriptures. Study and live the Doctrine of Christ. Give ourselves to much prayer and fasting.
Stay focused on these simple things and avoid being distracted.
Joseph Smith the fundamentals of our religion are the testimonies of the Apostles and Prophets of the Savior. Keep our focus on the Lord.
Sometimes members and investigators fail to focus on the essentials and focus on the appendages.
They become preoccupied with less important doctrines.
Questions are OK. Members are always free to ask questions and learn greater understanding.
What matters most. Our Heavenly Father's plan and the Doctrine of Christ.
Stay in the boat. Use your life-jackets. Hold on with both hands to the good ship Zion.

Live-Blogging LDS General Conference, Sunday AM

President Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles
Human logic and intellect get us only so far - we need direct, personal revelation from God
How the Church was restored - Joseph went and asked of God based on James 1:5
Lehi had visions, but Nephi went and did what did because the Lord commanded.

Story of the breaking of the Teton Dam. Directing the relief efforts fell to a Stake President who was a farmer. The feds came and pompously announced what was to be done, the Stake President said those things were already done. Fed guy said he thought he would sit down and listen for a while.
The leader of the Fed team arrived early for the next meeting, "President, what would you like me and the members of my team to do?"

Sealing power, only by direction of the President of the Church.
Pres. Eyring went to convey to a local man outside the US. He does so by the authority of - and he names the current prophet who holds the keys. The man's wife could neither read nor right and didn't feel worthy to go to the temple with her husband. Pres. Eyring taught her that she knew enough by revelation and testimony.

Revelation continues in the church, the President for the church, each church leader for their responsibility, father for his family, each individual for himself.
[And he did already tell a story about his mother's revelation to teach him]

Elder Holland's Talk on the Poor - LDS General Conference, Saturday PM

The official church meme from Elder Holland's talk
There were a lot of tweets and Facebook posts about Elder Holland's talk on the Poor. And knowing and liking him as I do, I wanted to hear it. I pulled up our recording made while we were on the band trip to Logan and I watched it - skipping back a few times to make sure that I got it right. You can check out the recording at


Here are my notes:

Jesus proclaimed his ministry as to the poor. Ancient prophets condemned Israel for mistreating the poor. God said, "They [the Poor] shall not suffer." [Imperative demand]

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Blogging General Conference (Late) Saturday A.M. (got the 2nd half)

A notice for my many fans and readers (both of you). I will not be able to live-blog Saturday Sessions of LDS General Conference as I have to go to Logan (Logan! Of all places!) to support my boy's high school marching band.

I will comment later in an authentic and uplifting manner.

Oh, and I have to mow the lawn before we go to Logan (because nobody else will) so I have to go finish.

Here are some links to watch live, get updates, videos, and text, etc.




OK, Maybe I do get a bit live now:

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Seren Aur - A Gold Star

My face went bright red, and our Welsh teacher seemed sincere when she told me I deserved a star for how I was doing my homework. When my wife is grading homework, I write out the questions and answers in our grammar workbook. Just trying gets a good grade in Welsh 101 as part of their recruitment efforts. (Even for an audit.) I still live in fear of my German 101 teacher from my freshman days. It was German, after all.

The praise came after I read my "Halloween" story. I started out by saying how brilliant it seemed to me at 11 o'clock the night before as I was making last minute corrections in class. It was well received. We all encouraged each other as we went along. As I said, it's not like we're learning "Saesneg" ["Saxon," actually "English." The Welsh hold grudges for a long time - up to 1600 years, at least].

So, here it is. My first story in Cymraeg. We were assigned to write a Halloween story and given a bunch of new vocabulary words. I still don't like Halloween much and I have a hard time writing fiction. So, I wrote a "true" story. It's almost all correct grammatically. I've even got mutating consonants! Plug it into Google-Translate and see what you get:

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Brigham Young and a Letter on Apostasy

Some may be wondering with John Lewis lying dead on the floor of a gold-rush saloon. And we are not fully convinced yet, but are pursuing some pretty good leads that Jane (1827) remarried Abednego Johns in Jacks Valley, Nevada and joined the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And there is some indication that Elinor Jenkins Vaughan Hulet may have been with her, died between 1860-62, and was buried there. But the RLDS baptisms did not occur until at least 1865, after the Civil War.

1862 US Survey of Jacks Valley, Nevada. Courtesy of the Bureau of Land Managment, US Dept. of the Interior.
Abednego John's patent was for the S 1/2 of the NE 1/4 of Sec. 22, and the S 1/2 of the NW 1/4 of Sec. 23.
The surveyor, while getting all the land features pretty well (doncha just love these old surveys?) marked A. Johns's house as "A. Johnson."

There were a lot worse things than the RLDS Church (now "The Community of Christ). They had the Book of Mormon, a good part of the Doctrine & Covenants, the Holy Bible and a commitment to the Prophet Joseph Smith (w/o plural marriage). If you had landed in Utah in the midst of the Mormon Reformation, a very bad winter, and the upcoming Utah War, Springville was about the second worse place to be. I don't blame anyone for leaving. It's not my responsibility to judge. And it's not like we've not ever had anyone else in the family choose less activity in the church.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A Not So Jolly Ending . . . But

The good news is that California, along with Utah, has a great digital newspaper archive. You can find Utah's at http://digitalnewspapers.org/ and California's at the less obvious url: http://cdnc.ucr.edu/cgi-bin/cdnc. They are a wonderful resource even when they bring bad news.

So, here it is:
BY STATE TELEGRAPH. Murder In Sierra County: Forrest City, Sierra County, October 15th.— A saloon-keeper, named John Lewis, at Alleghany, was stabbed in the right side, on the 13th inst. by a man named Frank Taylor, and died immediately. The assassin was arrested this morning, and after an examination was committed for trial.
That's from the Daily Alta California, 16 October 1867.


Time to play that game again!

One of these things is not like the others.
Three of these things are kinda the same.
Can you tell me which one's not like the others?
Now it's time to play our game!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Faith without Welsh Is nearly Dead

Dan Jones, Amazing Missionary to the Welsh
On my quest to learn Cymraeg (Welsh), one of the first things I did was to go to the LDS Distribution store just a few blocks from our house and purchase a copy of the Book of Mormon in Welsh. Reading it in Portuguese helped me learn that language. And I still have scriptures memorized in Portuguese from my mission that bounce around in my head that will apparently be there forever.

The main challenge was, the Welsh edition of 1853 has not been updated except for the cover. So, the word Arall is pretty easy as "Another" because "Testament" and Iesu Crist are obvious along with Llyfr Mormon which etymologically isn't that far off from O Livro de Mórmon in Portuguese. I see a Latin root in there -- or Indo-European?

But then I looked inside, In 1853, the book hadn't even been divided into chapters and verses as we are now familiar. That was a process that culminated in English in 1920 with Elder James E. Talmage -- even if the "most correct book" still gets occasional corrections back to the original transcript from Joseph Smith's prophetic translation.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Nevada and the Jolly Welshmen

Maybe Brigham knew the folk song. The Five Welshmen knew it even if it might have been self-deprecating to reference the humorous exploits of the bumbling Sons of Gomer. And the original number is three for the "Jolly Welshmen." So it's interesting that two of our five appear to have stayed in Utah and three seem to have gone to bumble their exploits in the Sierras.

The tune of "The Five Jolly Welshmen" is unknown to me and I don't seem to find it on "YouTube." There is another tune I can't get out of my head that I will now curse you with. I was always fascinated by the opening theme of the TV show "Bonanza" with the map of the Ponderosa Ranch straddling the California/Nevada line bursting into flames for some reason.

It was the Old West at its finest or at least for a boy who had been on family vacation to Virginia City, Reno, and Lake Tahoe. And I have always loved maps. Here's a version of the fictional Ponderosa map that is at least somewhat properly oriented: