Sunday, November 8, 2020

Post-Election Post 2020 - Not Quite a Blue Wave


"Not So Blue" The View up Mercury Passage, Tasmania, Australia by Colin Chick

And yet, it is pretty blue! And very pretty at that.

My body is pretty well oxygenated as I have been taking a lot of deep breaths since the election was called yesterday morning by the Associated Press recognized as the impartial leader of the constitutionally protected Free Press in the United States. It appears to be a solid win with some votes still to be counted in the tight races of Georgia, Arizona, Pennsylvania, etc. Votes are certified by each state and the electors convene in December to make it official. In American tradition when the outcome is clear, the losing candidate offers a graceful concession to the winner. That will not happen this election.

It remains to be seen how blue the Senate will be until after two run-off elections in Georgia later this year. They are in newly blue Georgia so don't count out the Democrats yet.

But even if there is a Republican Senate led by the Obstructionist-in-Chief McConnell, there is so much good that will happen and so much bad that will not in the next four years. The President will not be constantly tweeting outrageous lies and insults. No matter how evil and corrupt you believe the Biden Family to be (and I don't think they're too bad) it will be nothing like the horrible example of moral turpitude we have had these last four years. I have yet to understand why so many millions voted for him. I know some say it's not for him but the conservative "policies" but still....

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

School Board Update

 Dear School Board Members:

I'm just back from dropping my wife off to teach school [....]. We loaned our second car to our daughter-in-law who is finishing her student teaching [elsewhere in Utah]. On the way to dropping off my wife, we stopped off at 6 a.m. when the store was open to pick up bags of ice for the Science projects today as my wife is the Science team lead. We did the same Monday when the sidewalks were so icey themselves. My wife will call when she's ready to come home. Usually it's about dinner-time, so she is putting in 12-hour days, sometimes more, and then there's the grading and prep time at home. I'm not trying to give another hard-working-teacher sob story, just context.

I am aware that many teachers are in favor of going to 4-days of students in school because it is easier to manage in a lot of ways. There still remains an increased risk of covid transmission when you double the number of students in school no matter how hard you try to implement distancing and mask-wearing. As you should know, cases are climbing in Utah and around the country. Last Summer, Governor Herbert said he wanted to see the case rate below 400 before schools opened. We barely made it and now we are well over a thousand a day. The hospitals are nearly full.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Conspiracy Theory Is Not the Way to Go

There are a couple of books out by Matthew L. Harris of Colorado State University - Pueblo. One was noted in a link I shared in a Facebook posting that I will copy here because it led me to state my political interpretation rather succinctly.

Hopefully, we're finally getting out of this philosophy of one man....

Ya know it's interesting that no one of that stature has ever taken the extreme positions and conspiracies theories he did. Sure, there was that guy in the dorm and more than one crazed Utah politician, but nobody of the same stature in the church. What's that thing about paying attention to living leaders and not dead ones?
I'm going to be very blunt here. As blunt as Steve Schmidt has been with trump.
The Conservative Mormon fallacy has been:

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Battling the Davis County School Board

It might be helpful and encouraging to some in these frightful times to share my ongoing battle with the Davis County School Board that in response to complaints from a group of parents, has changed our modified schedule limiting attendance to manageable, social-distancing limits, to full overload of our classrooms beginning Monday:,,,,,,,,

August 5, 2020

Dear School Board Members,

Friday, October 2, 2020

Corona Virus and trump

I don't know how this will end. trump made his covid-19 bed and now he lies in it. I just want this on the record:

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Alleged Debate

No, I didn't watch it. There would have been too much stress and anxiety to deal with. I thought I would just watch some highlights this morning but after reading a few of the reports of the debacle, I'm not sure I want to do even that.

The best thing to do at this point is to share a scripture:

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Abortion Again

 Once more I will try to explain and persuade. Abortion is a serious, moral wrong when done for selfish reasons, IMO. However, as my Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has made it very clear that there is no absolute prohibition of abortion:

"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes in the sanctity of human life. Therefore, the Church opposes elective abortion for personal or social convenience, and counsels its members not to submit to, perform, encourage, pay for, or arrange for such abortions.

The Church allows for possible exceptions for its members when:
Pregnancy results from rape or incest, or
A competent physician determines that the life or health of the mother is in serious jeopardy, or
A competent physician determines that the fetus has severe defects that will not allow the baby to survive beyond birth.

The Church teaches its members that even these rare exceptions do not justify abortion automatically. Abortion is a most serious matter and should be considered only after the persons involved have consulted with their local church leaders and feel through personal prayer that their decision is correct.

The Church has not favored or opposed legislative proposals or public demonstrations concerning abortion."

Is there anything in this official statement that looks like an absolute ban or ban on voting for those who support a woman's right to choose? I don't see it.

And how are the rare exceptions to be determined? Not by a judge in a legal proceeding, not by debates in Congress or the State Legislature. It is a personal, medical, and religious determination to be made, not a political one. The statement ends with this:

The Church has not favored or opposed legislative proposals or public demonstrations concerning abortion. 

I don't have to mingle this with scripture or provide much philosophy to trip anybody up. There is absolutely no prohibition to vote for Democrats who support a woman's right to choose whether or not to have an abortion!

Sunday, August 23, 2020

City of Rocks to Remember

 Stones memorialize.  

It is a rare privilege to take a Grandson on an adventure. My second Grandson went with me to explore a portion of the California Trail that our ancestor, Elinor Jenkins Vaughan Hulet, likely took on her way to Jacks Valley at the foot of the Sierra just above the Carson River. City of Rocks is now a popular climbing destination. The stones were there when Elinor passed.

In 1848, Addison Pratt and other members of the Mormon Battalion came from California on the trail to meet the Saints including some of their families already in the Great Salt Lake Valley. They cut off from the main California Trail that came up the Raft River from the Snake (in present day Idaho) just below where it came through City of Rocks. Pratt named the The Twin Sisters landmark and it stuck.

Whether informed by Mountain-Man information or however, I'll have to check. But it's amazing that they could establish a new trail and come out where the I-84 freeway passes at Snowville long before Snowville (or the freeway) were ever established. The freeway still follows their route from Snowville at the Utah/Idaho border into the Valley. From Snowville to City of Rocks, the trail is a bit more rugged.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

4 - 1 - 7 - 2 - 8 - 3 - 10

Not a mathematical sequence or formula, not a password, not my Jr. High locker combination, and I'm not really that into numerology. 

It could be a secret code. It makes perfect sense and the clues are all here in the blog. Yes, a mystery. It could be presented like this: 








or better:








Starting to see any patterns?

On a recent trip to the waterfall, I built this into my head as a kind of mantra. Earworms are common when I run or hike (I hike now rather than run). In my marathon training days I did some laps on tracks which became rather numerous so I developed counting methods to measure the miles. Repeating the numbers, I would place fingers in different positions on the hand.

I could draw it as a schematic:

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Water Remembering

One shot.

It lives apart from the designated reality in which I snapped it.

Now, I designate another.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Rising Up in Centerville . . . Utah

We celebrated Juneteenth this year and marched for equal justice. It went well. I've struggled though to find the words to express it because I am so out of my depth. Which is why I dove in the first place.

It is encouraging that significantly more than any time before, protests for racial equality are not just something for the targets of oppression. The protests since George Floyd died under a knee have included Americans in all their diversity and privilege. The protests have even gone international. Some of this is to protest the retrograde racism of the trump administration of course. I'm all in for that. And still, I can never feel the depth of the Black American experience. So we try.

My immediate family appears to be woke or at least in the process. A daughter and I marched for refugees and immigrants when trump first starting imposing his bans. There was to be a peaceful march for racial justice in downtown Salt Lake City for Juneteenth this year. I wanted to go except for the risks of Covid-19. We had talked about doing a local march. The daughter who marched with me before prompted me on to set up our march in front of Centerville City Hall and police headquarters. My other daughter said she was in too. We rolled.

Here's our notice:

My daughter went up-front with our Centerville Police:

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Solstice 2020: Ebenezer II

"Here I raise my Ebenezer
Here there by Thy great help I've come
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure
Safely to arrive at home."

Stone of Remembrance.

My Grandson and I found it up on the side of the mountain when we were gathering smaller stones together for my latest rock garden. I've been trying to convince someone in the family quarantine circle to help me go get it. I had rolled it over by myself, but I knew I wouldn't get it into the car alone. Oh, on the day of discovery we were too dog-tired after a hike to lift it in.

My wife did not want to go fearing that I would drop it on her foot. She finally coordinated my eldest, her son, and our A-5 (fifth child) to go up there after the Juneteenth March in Centerville for racial equality and justice. (Probably deserves another blog post.) They seemed okay and the four of us lifted in in and out of the Rav-4 without any feet being smashed.

If only I had taken a photo of it in its natural habitat!

Already prepared my remembrances to lie underneath the stone.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Surprised by Peace

The Library of America and I have a long-term relationship. In its early days, I had a subscription and was collecting and reading great American authors. The editions are beautiful and well edited by experts in literature or history. Thin pages carry a lot in one volume.

In later years, I've purchased an book or two now and then. Recently I ordered what looked like an interesting anthology:

I haven't gotten to it yet. It was still in its plastic wrap when I picked it up to move it somewhere and noticed an interesting name on the back list of authors, Joseph Smith, Jr.!!!

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Welsh Pioneers to Zion

Sometimes the right book just drops in your lap at the right time. Well, I had to order it and going directly to the publisher rather than wait for Amazon got it too me a little quicker.

Welsh Saints on the Mormon Trail: The Story of the Welsh Emigration to Salt Lake City During the Nineteenth Century, by Wil Aaron, published in Wales by Y Lolfa is another book I don't have to write because it is better than what I could do. It has already been an aid to me in my current position as a part-time service missionary in the Church History Library (CHL) of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Church).  Whew! The author is not a member of the Church and is not compelled to the full typing requirements of the name. (I recently was making deliveries in the library and a worker unknown to me commented on a book I had with "Mormonism" in the title. She asked rhetorically and matter-of-factly, "We're never going to get rid of that name, are we?")

It is a highly entertaining read as the writer is a producer of music and television programs in Wales. He has the academic credentials as a professor of Music at Bangor University where I have delved into the archives on family history quests. And it's one of the best general histories of the Pioneer Trail and the settlement of the American West as its chapters are divided by years from 1847 to 1868, the range of the Mormon Pioneer Trail. Told by an outsider to the Church and the the American Experience, it presents a fresh vista of the story in a very accessible format.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Red-lining Systemic Racism - My Cities

One of my Welsh Professors, whom I have also hired as my estate-planning attorney, shared something on Facebook that I thought would be good to memorialize in a blog post. The links would be easier to find through my search box down on the lower right.

He linked some information and fascinating if disturbing resources on the practice of "red-lining" that came out of the New Deal in the 1930s. The Home Owners' Loan Corporation or HOLC was established to readjust home mortgages that were in default or needed refinancing. Major cities were mapped to indicate areas where loans were most at risk. The neighborhoods marked in red were the most risky based on economic conditions of the residents at the time and also expressly and explicitly by race and ethnicity. While the HOLC was abolished in 1947, these maps were used by banks and others interested in economic investment well into recent times. They helped to establish de facto racial segregation in all major cities not just the South where legal segregation flourished until the 1960s. The effects of red-lining are still with us today. You can read more here and here.

And, you can find the maps at the University of Richmond's "American Panorama: An Atlas of United States History."

My paternal line came to America in 1886. The first couple of generations lived in the lowest rated red-line districts of Ogden, Utah, classifications D-8 and D-9 for "Hazardous" with regard to investment.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Water-fall 3: Never Too Much of a Good Thing

We did it again!

It was a slightly different hike yesterday as we went up the North Trail. That's how I first got to know the canyon and trying it again I remembered why I switched to the south side.

The first half mile is a killer up the exposed hills. It has it's advantages of great views and avoids the rock scramble of the canyon mouth on the South. And if you do try it, avoid when the summer sun is shining! We were fortunately up there before the sun cleared the Wasatch.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Just for the Record on the Turning Point

There hasn't been a lot of political postings from me recently because I've already said what I can about my beliefs and the horrifying failures of this nation to put and keep a racist, TV-star con-man in charge of our country.

Last night was a turning point in that military leaders have spoken out against the brazen and ham-handed Constitutional violation of the right of peaceful assembly just so the con-man could have a photo-op holding up a bible in front of a church.

Nothing else has done it, but this has to be it. We can't wait five more months to election day with pandemic raging and the possibility of a race war followed by a harsh, government crack-down. I'm calling it that trump is done. He may or may not resign. He may flail around in his bunker. But without the backing of the U.S. Military, he is neutered as he should have been many years ago just for for his sexual offenses.

Here is some of what I posted yesterday on Facebook and Twitter. Just for the record.

In response to this article from the Washington Post:
"Shame, shame on the U.S. Park Police! You know better! I know you had good legal advice in the past and you could get it now if you listened to the right advisers--those farthest away from trump and Secretary "Coal & Petroleum" Bernhardt!"
And here's the Post on Sec of Defense, Mike Esper, criticizing excessive force.

In response to the Post article on former Sec of Defense, Jim Mattis, I said:
"We need more of this. It's still not too late."
And then,
"The Joints Chiefs of Staff have laid down a marker that they uphold the Constitution and will not interfere with peaceful protest! Stay safe out there, People! and video the perps of violence from the left and especially from the right!"

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

The Waterfall, sorta Part 2

Vaughan's poem of yesterday had been weighing heavenly on me as I realized that I had to get back up with the Waterfall. My eldest grandson is "quaranteening" with us as he went on our trip to help his uncle move to Kansas for grad school. It might be a little because his parents have found out that he is a "teen." It was good to take him up there to share a place I love and give him some exercise.

It's been a mostly sedentary life for me recently. I was swimming laps before the corona hit. I have my gardening, but aerobic exercise hasn't been high on my list. My feet having given out to peripheral neuropathy that neither my foot doctor nor my neurologist know what to do with. We're testing different dosages of gapapentin to see what works best without making me stone-cold sleepy.

We left about 8 a.m. still early enough before the heat of the day. We drove up the first mile and parked. In my running days, I would think nothing of doing the whole thing right out my door, seven miles round trip. The first mile is solid elevation gain. This time we parked by the trail head.

The sun rises late over the Wasatch. And day-long shadows lie in the canyons. Right at the start is an inviting passage into the greenery. The first steps follow an old irrigation pipe on a level grade except where a landslide has dug into the mountainside. It then climbs we see what a lot of locals stop at for the waterfall in Centerville Canyon. It's more of a cascade to me.

Monday, June 1, 2020

The Water-Fall (Deuel Creek, Centerville Canyon, Davis County, Utah with my Grandson)

The Water-fall

BY HENRY VAUGHAN (1621-1695)
With what deep murmurs through time’s silent stealth
Doth thy transparent, cool, and wat’ry wealth
Here flowing fall,
And chide, and call,
As if his liquid, loose retinue stay’d
Ling’ring, and were of this steep place afraid;
The common pass
Where, clear as glass,
All must descend
Not to an end,
But quicken’d by this deep and rocky grave,
Rise to a longer course more bright and brave.

Monday, May 4, 2020

May the Forth Be with You!

After a restless night dreaming that I had gone to Europe including a free trip to Paris on a train with no seat, only a place to lie on a flat-bed car watching coracles on the river, I struggled to consciousness only to find that pestilence still ravages the land, a pest still resides in the White House, and perhaps impervious to pesticide, a killer wasp is murdering our honey bees!

While still avoiding the new clichés of the date, these photos of the Firth of Forth from last Summer seem to cheer me a little:

Lower Largo, Fife, Scotland looking to the West up the Firth of Forth

Boats beached at Lower Largo

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Archaeology and Me, Part 2

918 A.D.
Her wærð Ecgbriht abbud unscyldig ofslegen foran to middan sumera on .xvi. Kalendas Iulii, þy ilcan dæge wæs Sancte Ciricius tid þæs þroweres, mid his geferum, þæs ymb .iii. niht sende Æþelflæd fyrde on Wealas abræc Brecenanmere þær genam þæs cinges wif feower ðritiga sume.

In modern English:
Here before midsummer, on 16 June, Abbot Ecgberht, guiltless, was killed with his companions. The same day it was the festival of St Ciricus the martyr. And three days later, Aethelflaed [Lady of Mercia, daughter of Alfred the Great] sent an army into Wales and broke down Brecon Mere, and took the wife of the king as one of thirty four [captives]. (from Swanton via Lane & Redknap).

This time we can be thankful that the victors wrote the history because this entry in the the Mercian version of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (B) records the destruction of a royal residence that appears to have been confirmed by recent archaeological investigation. The thing is, some of my DNA was very possibly, maybe likely involved, if not at least present at least in some of the eyes looking over the nearby hills to the smoke from the burning.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Easter Poetry by Henry Vaughan (1653)

Therefore to weep because thy course is run,
Or droop like flow'rs, which lately lost the sun,I cannot yield, since Faith will not permitA tenure got by conquest to the pit.For the great Victor fought for us, and HeCounts ev'ry dust that is laid up of thee.Besides, Death now grows decrepit, and hathSpent the most part both of its time and wrath.That thick, black night, which mankind fear'd, is tornBy troops of stars, and the bright day's forlorn.The next glad news—most glad unto the just!—Will be the trumpet's summons from the dust.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Archaeology and Me

The images of body casts from Pompeii haunted me in grade school. I didn't help that we were in the shadow of sleeping Mount Rainier. It hasn't blown for a few hundred years, but St. Helens did.

Everything Egypt fascinated me and a few of us in about third grade had our own "Egypt Game" that we were going to be archaeologists. Not sure how I even came up with the word that I still have to spell check. Tutankhamun fascinated me and I saw his golden face in 1978.

Seventh Grade Science did me in when I met my first archaeologist, Dr. James Daugherty of Washington State University. We were on a Scout 50-miler hike on the Olympic Coast, Washington. We provided some service hours repairing and mucking out the settling ponds from the hydro-pressure water used in the excavation of a Makah Longhouse at Cape Alava that had been anaerobically preserved in a mudslide for almost 300 years. When pushed forward by my Dad to talk with Dr. Daugherty because I was interested in being an archaeologist, my 13-year-old little mind balked at his advice to study Science.

"Study Science, young man!"

Saturday, March 28, 2020

My hero, Michelle Obama

The personal connections hit me deeply:
"I had failed.
I had never in my life failed a test. . . . But I'd blown it with the bar. I was ashamed, sure that I'd let down every person who'd ever taught, encouraged, or employed me."
Like Michelle, I failed my first bar exam. It wasn't because we weren't smart or didn't study hard. It just happens to a lot of people when the two-day test is extremely tricky to keep the passage rates low. It was only 58% on my first try of the Maryland bar exam and only 56% six months later when I did pass. Michelle passed the Illinois exam on her second try too.

The second one also hit me joyfully:
He worked late at night in a small room we'd converted to a study at the rear of our apartment--a crowded, book-strewn bunker I referred to lovingly as the Hole. I'd sometimes go in, stepping over his piles of paper to sit on the ottoman in front of his chair while he worked, trying to lasso him with a joke and a smile, to tease him back from whatever far-off fields he'd been galloping through. He was good-humored about my intrusions, but only if I didn't stay to long.
Barack, I've come to understand, is the sort of person who needs a hole, a closed off little warren where he can read and write undisturbed. It's like a hatch that opens directly into the spacious skies of his brain. . . ."
Socially-distancing in my "hole," I finally go around to reading Becoming by Michelle Obama.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Mission Update, uh, Rewind

No one ever really wanted to watch my mission slides with me. Now that I have that slide scanner, I thought I'd try it on the blog.

We'll start with the inspirational:

In my current mission, I am documenting the early missionaries in Wales who were trying to get converts for the New Zion in America. My mission in Brazil 1976-78 was to bring Zion to the People of Brazil. The Temple under construction in São Paulo was the culmination of that. It would bring sacred ordinances to seal up individuals, families, and peoples together in preparation to live with God. They gave us a tour of the nearly completed Temple on our way out of Brazil. Note the guide wires to the steeple. Lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes.

My mission started a little slowly. We were held up for a time, a long time, in the Language Training Center (LTM) in Provo waiting for visas (later, the Missionary Training Center or MTC). We had to find creative ways to keep studying.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Mission Update - Baptists at the Roundabout

Non-conformist Chapel in Aberaman, Wales briefly used by the LDS Church in 1851.

Last week, I arrived. They gave me administrator access to our Early Missionaries Database and I flew my wings.

Well, there's one more missionary added. So don't get too excited.

It is a challenge keeping up with the Joneses. I mean, sorting out all the Joneses which is the most common surname in Wales if don't you know already. It also helps explain why David Bevan Jones (1807-1863) preferred to use his bardic name - the Welsh version of a nom de plume - of Dewi Elfed. I knew his story and wondered why he was missing from our database and didn't seem to show up on any Church record in Utah.

Friday, January 3, 2020

Childhood Terror

It's no wonder my parents had to turn off the TV when I screamed.

And at 62 years of age, the space guy is still a bit disturbing. At age five, he was horrifying!