Friday, September 30, 2005

California Trip - Day 2

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Click here to see more photos from this day

September 18, 2005

After getting little sleep the night before, and our hectic travel exploits on Saturday, we decided to Sleep in on Sunday Morning. Aren't those hotel-room black-out curtains wonderful? Our room was equipped with a small fridge and microwave. The night before I had stocked up on milk, cereal, yogurt and fruit so that we could have breakfast in our room. (Yes, the hotel had free "continental breakfast", but we could tell just by looking at the dining area that it was not going to be a notable breakfast at all at this place. - So we decided to do breakfast on our own.)

The first night in a new environment is always a challenge to a fitful night's sleep, at least it is for me. I seem to never really sleep well on the first night. I have to get used to the bed, the pillows, the air conditioning unit, and the noises and sounds. Bryan and Amy are getting old enough that they do not want to share the same bed. Even with queen sized beds in the room, there was just not room enough for the both of them. (Boy are they in for a shock when they get married!) They are both used to sleeping in their own double-sized beds - and they both use every square inch of their beds throughout the night. I like to call it migratory sleeping.

At home, we will occasionally hear the crash of Bryan falling out of bed onto the floor. When he was a three-year-old, the crash would be followed by certain wailing. We would have to go in and comfort him, and put him back to bed. Now, at age twelve, he will either pull a blanket off his bed and just keep sleeping on the floor, or just climb back into bed - no bawling or wailing anymore! He is usually such a deep sleeper, that he won't remember anything about it in the morning.

Amy, on the other hand, does gymnastics in her sleep. She twists and flips herself around in her sleep so that once or twice a week, we hear a loud thwack! on the common wall between our bedroom and Amy's room, as Amy Karate kicks the wall in her sleep!

We have thought of downsizing their beds to twin size to help reduce the total area of their nocturnal wanderings. That way they will be used to taking up only a twin sized space in which to sleep, rather than that of a double bed. It would also better prepare them, somewhat, for a time to come when they get married, and will need to share a bed with someone else.

When we travel on car trips, our solution is to bring a sleeping bad and a camping cot with us, which we set up in the room. One of the kids then "gets" to sleep in the sleeping bag. On an airplane trip though, bringing a cot and sleeping bag isn't as practical. To solve the problem on this trip, we ended up taking one of the large, heavy comforters from one of the queen beds, and folding it in such a way as to stuff a kid inside it - Kind of like a Kid Burrito (hmmm -- I think I need to trademark that term!) We placed the kid burrito between the two queen beds, where one kid would sleep. The other kid the was forced to sleep in the queen sized bed. The kids actually fought over who got to be the "Burrito Kid"! Us parents didn't mind either, because it made for much more peaceful nights without all of the tugging of blankets back and forth between the kids, and the "She's/He's Touching Me!" exasperations emanating from the next bed all night long.

Being the first night in a new place, I didn't really sleep all that well, but I got got up at about 8:30. I let the others sleep while I got myself cleaned up and dressed. Then we broke out our box of cereal and ate breakfast while watching Animal Planet on TV - the kid's favorite channel .

We attended church at the Oceanside 1st Ward. Being the 3rd Sunday of the month, it was High Council Sunday. The high councilor was teamed with a lady from the Stake Young Women's organization. They both gave excellent talks, and were based on preparedness -- both spiritual preparedness, as well as temporal preparedness. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, and the ominous-looking Hurricane Rita on the prowl closing in on the Texas coast, the talks were well timed. I had looked forward to attending Sunday School and the other meetings at the chapel, but Bryan had come down with a splitting headache. We were still kind of tired and groggy from travel and lack of good sleep, so we decided to leave after Sacrament meeting.

We went back to our hotel room, gave Bryan medicine for his headache, and took a nap for an hour our so. After the quiet time, Bryan was feeling better, so we went out to get a bite of lunch.

I had noticed a Church's Chicken on the Pacific Coast Highway in our wanderings around town. For my family, that is a big deal! We used to have Church's Chicken here in the Salt Lake City area, but all of the franchises in the area closed in the late 80's, and have never been back since!. I particularly like eating their chicken, which is marinated in a brine solution for 24 hours making it extra tender and moist, along with a jalapeño pepper on the side. A bite of chicken, and a bite of jalapeño. Good Stuff! The last Church's Chicken we found in our travels was on our trip last Fall in Farmington, New Mexico. Dawn Ann and Amy weren't all that keen on Church's Chicken, so they opted for a nearby Asian restaurant (which turned out to be Vietnamese). Bryan came with me to Church's. I got my chicken and jalapeños, and Bryan got some chicken strips as well. Unfortunately, the chicken at this franchise was only so-so. On the bright side, our orders came with fresh baked biscuits - which turned out to be the best part of the whole meal! I wish we could have taken dozen of those biscuits with us to go.

Meanwhile, Dawn Ann and Amy had been eating at the Asian joint across the way in the same strip mall. We finished our meal first, and went over to heckle (not really) the girls as they finished their meal. I think they really got the better end of the meal deal - except, of course, for the biscuits!

After lunch, we piled into the PT Cruiser and headed South on I-5. We were looking for the Torrey Pines State Reserve and/or beach. Only problem was, we didn't know exactly which exit to to take. We found an exit sign that said Torrey Pines this way, so we took that one. We drove around a little bit, trying to find our way around, and we found ourselves driving past UCSD (University of California at San Diego). We still weren't really sure where we were going. Next we saw a sign pointing to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. As we passed the institute, we saw a little red pickup with a surfboard in the back. We decided that he was probably headed for the beach. Dawn Ann, our illustrious navigator said, "Follow that surfer dude!" We followed the truck as it weaved and turned along several roads, all the while desending down the hillside toward the coast. Sure enough, the little red truck pulled right into the beach parking lot -- so we followed him in. We had to "vulture park" (that is circle around the parking lot until a space opened up) for a little while, but soon found a place to park.

The kids were already wearing swimsuits. Dawn Ann and I were both wearing knee shorts. We walked over to the beach, and found it busy, but not overcrowded. Next thing you knew the kids were already knee-deep in water, and having a great time. We were right near a yellow, checkered flag, which divided the beach between surfers and swimmers. With each wave, the kids were pushed a little further North - and onto the surfer's side of the beach. We had to occasionally motion for them to head back to the swimmers side of the flag.

Bryan, Mr. Adventure, was going further and further out. The waves were about 8-10 feet in height. We had to keep him from going too far out. Bryan quickly learned how to punch through a wave. Amy was having fun running through the waves, and learned how to body surf.

After a while, Bryan got cold. The water was about 67 degrees, and since Bryan doesn't have much padding, we have to watch him close for hypothermia. We noticed his little chin chattering away, so it was time to coax drag him out of the water. We wrapped him up in towels for a few minutes to warm up.

After getting warmed up, Bryan discovered these little mollusks living on the beach. He had to get his nose almost right into the sand (as is his wont) for closer inspection.

After we had been there for a couple of hours, the day was ending, so we decided to stay and watch the sunset. It was glorious! There were a few clouds along the western horizon, which added to the effect.

Finally, we cleaned the sand off of ourselves, put the kids in dry cloths, and started to make our way back up the hill toward I-5. Only this time we didn't have the little red pickup to follow to find our way out. Fortunately, we left a trail of bread crumbs along the way, (well not really -- we actually took note of the street names as we descended down to the beach) and we made it back to civilization OK.

It was now pretty well dark. We were only one exit away from the San Diego LDS Temple. After winding around among the nearby hotels in the dark, we finally made it to the temple grounds. Of course the gates were locked, but we could park alongside the temple grouds and view the temple through the wrought-iron fence. As we got out of the car, we saw a young couple there taking pictures of the temple.

They approached us, and asked if we would take a picture of them with the temple in the background. They returned the favor and took a picture of us as well. After taking the photos, we learned that they were from Salt Lake City. They had just been married 3 days earlier in the Salt Lake Temple, and had come to San Diego for their honeymoon. Its always fun to meet people from your hometown when you are hundreds of miles away from home.

After taking a few photos of the temple, we got back into the car, made our way back to I-5, and headed back to Oceanside. All in all, a great day. Legoland tomorrow!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

California Trip - Day One

We left for our trip to California on Saturday September 17, 2005. I had taken the day before off to get ready for the trip. We worked hard all day, getting packed, going shopping, doing laundry, cleaning house, and mowing the forest lawn. We met with my mom to show her how to take care of our aviary (6 parakeets and 1 cockatiel). We had temporarily stopped newspaper delivery, and had arranged to have the dog boarded. By the time we got everything done, it was after midnight.

We got up a little after six on Saturday morning. Dawn Ann took the dog to the animal hospital to be boarded. The poor dog had no idea the treachery he was about to experience. Not only were we going to leave him there, but he was going to have his vaccinations updated, and get his hair and nails clipped too. Later, as we were on our trip, there were several times when we missed the dog, but taking him with us just would not have been practical.

My Brother Mark arrived at about 8:15 am to take us to the airport. We really appreciated him doing that for us. It saved us the cost of 8 days of long-term parking at the airport - plus we would have curbside drop-off as well. We loaded all of our luggage into his 4-Runner, and made it to the airport in plenty of time.

The kids were full of questions. They both had flown before, but it was a long, long time ago. Bryan was 3, and Amy was only 8 months old. Bryan claims he remembers the trip, and of course Amy cannot remember it at all. So every step of the way they had lots of questions. We got our bags checked, then went through the security checkpoint. Finally we made our way to the gate where our flight would leave from. We had nearly 2 hours to spare. Fortunately the kids were wide-eyed at watching the planes come and go.

We had purchased our plane tickets as part of a package from a local travel agency. The deal included air, 3-day Park-Hopper tickets at Disneyland, and 3 nights hotel in Anaheim. We wanted to stay for a week to do other things besides Disney, so we also booked another hotel in Oceanside, to visit some of the San Diego area beaches and attractions as well. As it turned out, there was another family who had purchased a similar package. They were going to be there for a week as well. They were even staying in Oceanside as well, however they would be staying in a condo there. Our kids played with theirs in the airport during the long wait for our plane to take off. Bryan had brought a binder with his Pokemon cards that he showed their kids. Later, the dad of their family had brought a Nerf football, and was playing catch with his boys in the concourse. Bryan joined their group for playing catch as well. (Later we would run into their family again while in Disneyland - at the magic tea cups ride).

The kids had their noses pressed to the windows of the terminal in awe as our plane pulled up to the gate. They could hardly wait to board! All of the disembarking passengers got off the plane. Then it seemed like an interminable (for the kids) amount of time for them to clean and prepare the cabin for the next group of passengers.

Southwest Airlines has no assigned seating. They have three different groups for boarding, A, B or C. Its first come, first served. If you check in early (like us) you get to be in Group A, and get to board, and choose your seats. If you check in later, you may find yourself in groups B or C.

Fortunately the flight was only about 2/3 full. We were able to sit on two consecutive rows on the right side of the plane, about 1/3 of the way down on the 737. We let the kids each have a window seat. The plane was uncrowded enough that no one sat in the third seat on either row of our seats. That made it quite comfortable.

Amy was quite nervous about the takeoff. She sat by mama, and needed a lot of comforting and hand-holding. Bryan on the other hand was eager for the takeoff to happen. He wanted to feel G forces! The plane finally backed away from the gate, and taxied into takeoff position. Amy's nerves were just about shot at this point, waiting for the pilot to throttle-up the plane. Then it happened. The engines roared to life, the flaps and slats on the wings were extended to increase lift. We began rolling down the runway. Faster and faster we went. The nose of the plane lifted off the ground. It seemed like forever, but eventually the rear wheels also lifted off, and we were airborne! Once again, Amy could start breathing again!

We took off going Northward, and flew over the Great Salt Lake, as we put some distance between us and the airport, we began a giant arching U-turn toward the Southwest. The kids were fascinated to look down at the lake, and discover that Antelope Island, is not really an Island right now (after 6 years of drought, the lake level is down.) Instead Antelope Island is surrounded half by water, and half by mud flats. Looking down at the mountain tops was another new experience for them.

Bryan and Amy hardly moved their noses from the windows of the airplane. We were blessed with very clear weather, and were able to see the ground for the whole flight. Time really "flew" by, and next thing you knew we were landing at LAX. As we approached the airport, the kids got their first view of the Ocean. They couldn't wait to get to the beach.

We had a smooth landing, and found ourselves navigating our way through LAX. It was the first time at this airport for all of us. We retrieved our luggage and went out to curb outside the terminal.

We found the "Red" curbs where you are supposed to wait for the shuttle bus to take you to your car rental lot. The car rental we got with our travel package was with an off brand agency called "Ace Car Rental". Our flight had arrived a little early. We were supposed to pick up the car at 1:00 pm, but we were at the curb by 12:45. We waited at the shuttle-bus stop for our bus. We saw the buses from the major car rental companies come and go. Over and over again! Sometimes two buses from one of the Majors would even arrive at once! Still no Ace Car Rental bus. I had decided to get out my travel papers and give ole' Ace a call. In a worst case scenario, we could have hopped on a bus with one of the major rental companies. Most of them had neon signs on the side of their buses advertising that they had cars available.

Finally Bryan said he saw a smaller van shuttle with Ace on the side, but some other name on the front of the bus. Eventually we saw a bus that said "Johnny Park" on the front of the bus in big bold letters, and had Ace car rental, pasted on with window decals in small letters on the side of the van. Good thing Bryan had his Eagle Eyes on! We hopped on the bus, and made our way to the rental agency. They were all out of cars! Fortunately, someone in the line right behind me was just returning his car. So they turned around and rented his car to us. They quickly ran the car through the car wash, and vacuumed it out. About 15 minutes later, we found ourselves loading our luggage into a crimson red Chrysler PT Cruiser. (Remind me next time to insist on a name-brand car rental company. I don't mind doing business with a discount company, like Alamo or Budget). After all the hassles, though, we were thankful to have our rental car (and air conditioning!). We paused for a moment to offer a prayer, and express our thanks for our safe travel thus far, and for direction in finding our way to our Hotel in Oceanside. That seemed to help everyone settle down.

Our Hotel in Oceanside was right long I-5. We got on I-405 Southbound from the airport, then eventually merged onto I-5. We found that we liked traveling in the HOV lanes along the freeway. They had double-double yellow lines, with limited access points. This was nice because it limited people darting in and out of your lane. Most of the drivers in the HOV lane were driving within reason of the speed limit, which we appreciated too. The nifty part was the special Interchanges developed for the HOV lane. The I-405 to I-5 merge had a special overpass that bypassed all the rest of the merging traffic and interchange all together, and landed us in our own lane on I-5 without having to merge at all! Sweet! All we had to do now was stay on I-5 until we came to the appropriate Oceanside exit. I had used Google Maps to get directions from the Airport to the Hotel. (and to other locations we would be navigating toward.) It gives you turn-by-turn information all along the way. What exits to get on and off of, and which lane to get into. These navigational aids really helped along our way. A little over an hour later, we were in Oceanside and checked in at our hotel. The trip really went quite smoothly, and was surprisingly uncomplicated.

We hauled our belongings up to our room at the hotel, and got all moved in. We didn't stay long though, because we were getting pretty hungry by now. We found a restaurant called "Spoons" and had some dinner. By the time we left the restaurant, it was dark.

From the restaurant, we drove down toward the beach, and found ourselves on the Pacific Coast Highway. We found a place to park, and walked down to the beach. The ocean holds a lot of fascination for us land lubbers. This was the first time, in memory at least, for the kids at the beach. We could see a few stars coming out. A nearly full moon was rising to the East behind us. Even though it was dark, there were enough lights along the beach to see the waves break and roll in. We could smell the salt air. The kids were already looking for seashells. I walked up to Dawn Ann, and gave her a hug from behind, so that we could both see the waves.

In between interruptions from the kids, we remembered a similar night, some 14 years ago, when we were on our Honeymoon in Kauai, on a little beach in Kapaa. There we watched the moon rise over the sea, and thought and planned and dreamed of our lives together. It would have been nice to have had a little time to ourselves to reminisce about those wonderful days in Hawaii, but alas, kids and duty called. We took our shoes off, and rolled up our pant legs. The water seemed quite chilly, but we got used to it after awhile. It was fun to feel the sand between your toes, and feel the undercurrent of the waves was the sand out from beneath your feet as the waves receded back into the ocean.

Finally we needed to return to our hotel room, much to the whines and disappointment of the children. I think they could have stayed out there all night long! I got everyone tucked into bed, and then went scouting for a grocery store. We found a "Ralph's" grocery store, and bought some sodas, a styrofoam cooler, some fruit and treats for the room, and returned to the hotel. Everyone was sound asleep by the time I got back to the room.

It had been an eventful day. There were a lot of firsts for the kids. We had made it there safely. It was nice to be away from all of our normal responsibilities, for a few days of fun and relaxation. We can't afford to do these kind of trips very often. It is our hope to create some fond memories of being together that will last a lifetime for the children. I still remember some of the major vacations that my parents and family took when I was growing up, and they are fond memories to this day.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Changes -- And Vacation Too!

I received word last night at a church council meeting, that some of my church assignments will be changing. It will take some adjusting on my part to get used to. I have expressed more of my thoughts and feelings regarding these changes on my Gospel Study Blog if you would like to read more about it there.

I am taking Friday (today) off work to get ready for our vacation. We will be flying to Los Angeles on Saturday. We will be spending three days in Oceanside, and Three days in Anaheim.

We will be attending church in Oceanside. We found a cool little meetinghouse locator on the church's website, which is a great tool for when you are traveling or moving (or just deciding its time to go back to church again - for that matter!) You just type in the address of where you are staying, and it gives you a map and turn-by-turn directions to the nearest meetinghouse, along with the times that church services are held at that location.

We also hope to stop by the San Diego Temple, and the recently dedicated Newport Beach Temple during our stay.

We look forward to spending some time on the beach -- just listening to the waves roll in, feeling the wet sand between your toes. Watching the sunset over the ocean. The kids will have fun with their first salt-water experience, making sandcastles on the beach, and collecting sea shells. Maybe we'll even find some tide pools to check out as well.

We will visit some amusement parks (Legoland, and Disney) as well as spending some time in San Diego. We plan to visit Old Town in San Diego, and visit the Mormon Battalion visitor center there. Both my wife and I have ancestors who were part of the Mormon Battalion. We also intend to take a harbor tour, and visit the aircraft carrier (now museum) USS Midway. I hear Balboa Park, in San Diego is nice too, if we have time to go there. We may not make it to everyplace we've planned, and we don't intend to take on so many events that we will be constantly going from one place to another. After all, this is VACATION! And we need to have some time to relax as well. Ideally, we'll keep the pace fast enough to prevent boredom from setting in(Amy's Preference - Bryan is NEVER bored), but slow enough to take time and enjoy ourselves along the way (Mama's Preference). My preference is just to keep everybody happy (and try to take some nice photos along the way).

Idealistic? You know it! -- but that's my plan -- and I'm sticking to it!

P.S. - We'll be out of Internet contact for most, if not all of next week. I don't want to take our laptop with us (don't want to bounce it around, and don't want to have to leave it behind in the rental car or hotel rooms. The laptop is an integral part of our homeschooling program, and I don't want to take any chances with it.

However, I'll still be blogging anyhow :) Although I most likely won't be able to post. I will have my trusty palm pilot with me, with a keyboard. I will try to write about our activities from each day on the palm pilot. When we get back, I'll post them here.

In the mean time -- we'll say "Hi" to Mickey for you!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Tenderfoot

(Click on photo for larger image)

Tonight Bryan's Scout Troop held its quarterly Court of Honor. We were pleased to be in attendance tonight, as Bryan received 7 merit badges, and his Tenderfoot rank advancement.

Six of the merit badges were earned at the scout camp at Bear Lake. The seventh merit bagde, finger printing, was earned at a scout patrol meeting last month

Bryan had actually completed the requirements for Tenderfoot about a year ago, when he was in 11-year-old scouts. Unfortunately, they went through a series of different leaders, and some of the records weren't kept up as they should have been.

It has taken a few months for the regular 12-13 year-old scout troop to get things together. But I think things are getting back on right track now. Bryan has already completed many of the requirements for his 2nd Class and 1st Class scout ranks.

It looks like Bryan will be needing some more swimming lessons in order to pass off his BSA Swimmer certification, which is required for his 1st Class rank.

If all goes well, we hope to complete the requirements for these two ranks advancements by the next court of honor, around Christmas time.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Mobsters and Mormons

Tonight we went as a family to a new movie called Mobsters and Mormons. I'm not sure how wide the distribution of this film is. It is in 5 theaters in the Salt Lake City area right now, and just opened up this weekend.

The movie is a classic "Fish out of Water" tale of a low-level mobster who testifies against his old mob boss, and enters the witness protection program. The mobster family, now called the Cheesman's, is moved from an Italian New Jersey neighborhood, to a Mormon majority neighborhood in Orem, Utah. The clash of cultures provides for several comic situations. We found ourselves laughing out loud a number of times. It was good, clean family fun.

The most similar movie that I can remember is the 1990 film, My Blue Heaven, which starred Steve Martin and Rick Moranis. There are a lot of similarities between the two films, with the obvious difference that Mobsters and Mormons features the LDS culture.

This movie is produced by Halestorm Entertainment, which brought us several other movies in the LDS genre including: "The Singles Ward", "The Home Teachers", "The Best Two Years", and "The RM". My favorite Halestorm movie is still "The Best Two Years", which chronicles the lighter side of being an LDS Missionary.

If you are LDS, and looking for a nice family film with a few good laughs, I would recommend this film. Non-LDS people would probably enjoy the film as well, but might not get all the inside LDS jokes. I don't know how wide a distribution this film will have. Typically with LDS genra films, they will be released in Utah first. If it does well here, then it will go to other LDS markets (Idaho, Arizona, and some parts of California). If it doesn't come to your area, I would look for it when it comes out on DVD.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Good Samaritans

We had just spent a nice afternoon on Labor Day (Sept. 5th) at the sheepdog championships at Soldier Hollow. (Click Here to Read About the Sheepdog Championships.) It was a little past 3:30 pm. We were getting a little tired, and a little sunburned, and mama was starting to get a bit of a headache. Besides, we wanted to go over the mountain via Guardsman's Pass to get home

After a short climb (about 1/4 mile) we huffed and puffed our way over to the car. I got the keys out of my pocket, unlocked the door, then turned the key a second time in the door lock, which is supposed to unlock ALL to doors on the car.

Next I went around to the rear of the car, popped open the trunk and started stowing the camera, binoculars, the souvenirs, and other paraphernalia. I got out the little Coleman ice chest with the cold sodas that would taste really good right about now. As I closed the trunk, I noticed everyone still standing by their respective car door - waiting to get in. I said: "It should be unlocked", and they said no it wasn't.

I opened the drivers side door, and hit the power lock switch to unlock the doors again -- nothing happened. Hmmm . . . the lock mechanism must not be working. I tried it a couple of more times, and still nothing. I climbed in the car and I had to actually use the manual (horrors!) door lock on the passenger side door. As mama climbed in, we reached behind us and unlocked the two back doors as well. This was not looking good. I noticed that the dome light was not coming on either. Normally the "door ajar" indicator comes on whenever a door was open, nothing appeared on the dashboard. There was no dashboard clock either. As Han Solo might have said: "I've got a bad feeling about this!"

I put my key into the ignition, but admittedly, I knew there wasn't much chance of getting the car started. Sure enough! Dead as a doornail! I quickly checked the headlights, and interior lights. I couldn't see where we might have left something turned on that would have drained all the juice from the battery. It was kind of odd too, that when I turned the key into the "Start" position, that absolutely NOTHING happened. Complete silence. Normally if a battery has been drained, it will at least give you a couple of Rrrr, Rrrr's as the battery tries to turn the engine over in vain! But nothing. Nada.

Well, it was clear that we weren't going anywhere without some help. We opened up all 4 doors of the car for some ventilation (can't roll down the windows with power windows and no battery!) The kids had their trinkets from the sheepdog championships to keep them occupied (Bryan had gotten one of the dog whistles, like the dog handlers use, and was rapidly gaining proficiency with it -- for better or worse.) Dawn Ann had brought her Nephite temple woodcarving project, so she sat there carving away. That's a good thing, something to keep her occupied, and to keep her nerves under control. (Think about it, 90 plus degrees, car broken down, Bryan blowing his whistle constantly, and Amy asking "How soon before we are going home?" every 2.5 minutes. -- Some nerve calming was definitely in order!)

So, I got out of the car, and walked up the hill toward the ticket booth - which was a portable trailer. I wrapped on the window, and the 17 year old ticket girl listened to my story. She had a two-way radio on which she contacted her boss. The boss said go over to the "lodge" and ask one of the full-time staffers there for help. At this time, I thought I simply had a run-down battery, and needed someone to give me a jump. So, I continued walking on up the hill toward the lodge.

As I approached the lodge, I noticed that there was a large tour bus parked there. Apparently the bus was carrying the members of a bag pipe band. They were assembling in the basement of the lodge for warm-ups (they were about to perform at the medals ceremony for the competition.) I looked around for the full-time staff member at the lodge. The only person that looked like an employee on-duty was the bus driver. I walked into the basement of the lodge, where the bag pipers were assembling still no staff member. I climbed the stairs up to the second level of the lodge, it was dark and locked up.

I went back downstairs, and into the basement one more time to check if the staffer was just way from the reception desk and had now returned. Still no one there. I went on to explore the entire downstairs of the lodge, thinking maybe there was an office in there somewhere. Didn't see a soul, except for those wearing kilts. Suddenly one of the bagpies went off! And then all the rest of them joined in. They started tuning their bagpipes, much like an orchestra would before a concert. The noise in the small room was incredible. I even had to plug my one good ear! (I really try to protect my one good ear when I am noisy situations, I only have about 25% hearing in the other ear. I bet if you had a decibel meter in that room it would have been well over 125!).

As I walked out of the lodge, I was still vibrating like a tuning fork from the bagpipes (kind of like Wile E. Coyote after running into a brick wall). I shook my head and regained my senses, and pondered what my next move should be. There was obviously not going to be any staffer there to offer assistance to us.

I saw a couple of people who looked like employees, with ID lanyards around their necks, approach the lodge. I watched them enter the lodge, look around and come back out. They asked me if the upstairs was open. Obviously they weren't the lodge staff members that I was looking for! As it turns out, they were temporary employees of the Sheepdog trials.

There was only one more place to try -- the golf course clubhouse. I walked up the hill a little further, and entered the clubhouse. There was a snack bar inside with a couple of girls waiting the counter.

I approached the counter, and explained to them that I had a dead battery in the parking lot, and that I needed a jump. One of the counter girls, named Colby, said: "Oh, Sure!" I thought she was going to get someone form security to come help me. But what she actually did surprised me. She went into the kitchen, and asked one of the cooks to come out. She then went to her purse, and handed him the keys to her own SUV! She told Steve (the cook) where to find the jumper cables.

I got into the SUV with Steve, and we drove over to our car in the parking lot. Fortunately, there was no other car parked directly in front of ours. That made it easier to conned the jumper cables. We found our car quite easily because it was the one all four doors open!

We got the jumper cables connected to the two vehicles. Steve got into the SUV and started it up. I got into our car. I put the keys in the ignition, and turned the switch to the "On" position. Normally at this point, the dashboard lights would come on, and the seatbelt alarm would be going off. But all was dark and quiet -- not a good sign!

Then the moment of truth came. I turned the key to the "Start" position, and nothing happened. Just like before. I tried it two or three times, and still nothing. Not a sound from the engine. Steve and I wondered if we might have a starter problem.

We got out and inspected the battery a little more closely. The battery is only a year and a half old. The posts were clean, with no corrosion on them at all. It looked like it should be making good contact with the battery cable. Hmmmm. . .

Steve started checking the battery cables, and Voila! The battery terminal connector from the positive battery post had broken. The battery cable was now completely severed from the battery. No wonder nothing happened when you turned the key. The battery was no longer connected to the car!

It looked like the replacement battery that was installed 18 months ago was a little too tall. This caused the battery post terminal connector to be very tight, with a lot of tension on the battery cable. Because the connector was continuously rubbing against the edge of the battery, vibrations from the car must have eventually weakened and finally broken the connector.

We removed the broken connector, and the attached the good connector from the other battery post to the positive terminal. We then connected the remnants of the broken connector to the negative battery post, and were able to jury rig the cable onto the negative side, at leas to make a temporary connection. It wasn't secure, but as soon as we hooked it up, the lights came on inside the car (all the doors were still open for ventilation, and the dome light came on). I hopped in the car, and it started right up. We could see that the negative connection was not going to stay in place, but at least we could get back to town, and try to find an auto shop to look at it, an hopefully get it fixed properly.

We got in the car, said a prayer of thanks, and then headed down the hill toward Heber, Utah.

The air conditioning felt good, we had been out in the heat for about 6 hours by now. We got some cold drinks out of the cooler, and they were very refreshing.

After driving about 5 miles or so, I could hear occasional disruptions in the a/c blower. I decided it would be best to turn off the a/c, and roll down the windows, just in case we were running on battery power. We would travel like we did when Dawn Ann and I were kids. Long, hot, windy, grimy, sticky car trips in the summer. (Can you imagine running around Las Vegas in the summer, with no air conditioning!! My stars! -- Actually they did most of their long distance traveling at night to beat the heat. Only in Las Vegas, its still over 100 degrees well past sunset in the summer!)

When we got to Heber, we started looking for auto repair shops. Ha! Good luck finding one open at 6:00 pm on the Labor Day Holiday! Well, there was nothing open in town. None of the car dealerships open, no auto parts stores, no independent mechanic’s shops – nothing. We decided to keep going. May be there would be something open in Park City.

We drove through Heber, and on up the hill, past Jordanelle Reservoir. We climbed a steep hill, and started going down the other side. Just before we came to the Park City exit, the anti-lock brake light came on. Then the check engine light started coming on, and going back off. A few seconds later, the car started misfiring, and I knew we were in trouble. We took the exit that takes you to Park City or Kamas. On our way down the exit ramp, the car died. I coasted over to the left-hand emergency lane, just before the intersection, and pulled to a stop. As it turned out, we had been running off battery power ever since leaving the sheepdog championships. Now the battery was really dead, this time!

It was actually a really safe place to be if you had to be stopped. We weren’t on the main highway, and it was an easy place to have someone come and meet us. I had Dawn Ann and the kids get out of the car, and walk on the sidewalk to the shade of the nearby overpass. That would be better than baking in the car, or blistering in the sun. Bryan took his new dog whistle, and Dawn Ann took her woodcarving.

I called my mom on the cell phone, and asked if my brother Mark could come an rescue us. He was there, but was in the shower. (He had spent the day helping my sister with landscaping projects at her new house.) She would have mark give me a call when he got out of the shower.

I lifted the hood of the car, and looked at what I needed to get the situation fixed.
A new battery terminal connector would be best. But if I had the right nut and bolt, I might be able to improvise a connection with the negative battery cable, using the parts of the broken terminal connector.

A few people stopped and asked if I needed some help as they went past us. I told them that my brother was on the way, and that we should be alright.

After about 15 minutes on the roadside, a lady from Georgia, named Pat stopped. I explained our situation and told her that I was waiting to hear back from my brother. However, she wanted to do more to help. I asked her if she knew of any auto parts stores that might be open. She said she knew of one in Park City, but wasn’t sure if it was open. I gave her my cell phone number, and she said she would give me call and let me know what she found out.

About 10 minutes later, Pat called back. The auto parts store was closed. She offered to take us to the local Home Depot, or Wal-Mart. Home Depot would have the nut and bolt that I needed. And Wal-Mart might possibly have some auto parts.

I still hadn’t heard back from Mark yet, and I wasn’t sure how soon he would be able to come up to rescue us. I thought, well, it would save some time if I went into town, and got the parts we needed. When mark arrived, then we could just go directly to the dead car, affix the battery cable, and hopefully be on our way.

Just after I hung up the cell phone with Pat, Mark called back. I explained our situation to him, and asked him to meet us out front of the Wal-Mart in Park City.

So we loaded the family into Pat’s SUV. On our way to Home Depot, we got talking and found out that she had been to the Sheepdog Championships as well that day. She and her husband live in Park City during the summer, and in Georgia during the winter. Sounds like a great arrangement to me!

We got the hardware we needed from Home Depot, and then Pat took us over to the Wal-Mart and dropped us off. We thanked her for her kindness. She just said, well, maybe you can repay the kindness to someone else down the road. Bryan and I went into the store to look for auto parts, and had Dawn Ann and Amy sat on a bench, in the shade, just outside the Wal-Mart to flag down Mark when he arrived.

Inside Wal-Mart, we found the auto parts section. Fortunately, they sold car batteries AND terminal connectors. I was able to find the exact part I needed, which later I learned was unique to Toyota. The cost of the part was $1.83 plus tax. Amazing that so cheap of a part can cause so much trouble.

We paid for the terminal connector, and 4 bottles of cold drinking water, and stepped outside the store. I had just handed everyone the bottle of water, when Mark drove up. Talk about perfect timing!

We all hopped into Marks 4 Runner, and took the 10 minute ride to where the dead car lay. A Highway Patrolman had also just rolled up behind our disabled car. I quickly waved at the trooper, and explained our situation to him. A Summit County Sheriff’s Deputy also stopped by for a moment (as a backup, I’m sure). They were cool with us. We told them we had the part we needed, and should be on our way soon (**fingers crossed**).

Mark got out his cool new road hazard vest (neon green, with reflective strips –He could have doubled as a fine highway construction flag-man.) Mark helped attach the new battery terminal connector. Then we hooked up the jumper cables again. Then for the moment of truth! If this didn’t work, we would have to call a tow truck (not cheap either, a 50 mile tow, and on a holiday at that!)

Mark fired up his 4 Runner. I took a quick photo before getting into the car. If you look closely, you can see Mark in his nifty green safety vest! I hopped into the car and it started right up. I revved the engine a few times, and it seemed to be running fine.

(Click on Photo for Larger Version)

We disconnected the jumper cables, closed the hoods of the vehicles, and loaded the family into the car. Mark was going to do a little shopping while he was in Park City. We were ready to head for home! If we ran into trouble, we could give him a call on the cell phone, and he would be along to rescue us. (Yet again!)

I remember offering a prayer in my heart as I discovered the situation we were in. I asked that we would find the help we need, and be able to return home safely. I never really panicked, as I went from the ticket booth, to the lodge, and then to the clubhouse. I was so grateful for Colby, the girl at the snack bar, and Steve the cook, who went out of their way to be of service to us.

And Pat, who can forget her determination to be of true help and service. She almost wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. She helped us to be more comfortable in our time of need, and also saved us a lot of time as well by ferrying us around. She was so concerned for our well-being, that she asked me to call Mark on his cell phone “just to calm my heart” before she dropped us off at the Wal-Mart to make sure he would be there shortly.

And Mark. He came to our rescue, answering the call. He had spent the day landscaping for Jeannette. I’m sure he was tired, and maybe had other plans for the evening. But he came anyway, with no complaining. He is a great brother, and a great friend. Thanks Mark.

When I got home I called mom to let her know we made it home OK. I called Mark’s cell phone and left a message for him too that we had made it OK. And, since I had Pat’s cell phone number on my incoming calls log on my cell phone, I gave her a call too, to let her know we had made it safely home. While I had her on the phone, I gave her the URL to this blog, and invited her to stop by. So if you see this Pat – Thanks again for your kindness!

When we arrived home, we offered another prayer. A prayer of thanks. The Lord had watched over us. He had moved people to go out of their way to extend help to us, in our hour of need. He truly looks out for us, and hears and answers our prayers. Now its up to us, to do as Pat said, and make sure that we, in turn, are of service to those who may be in need around us, as well.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Sheep Dog Championships

Photo montage of Sheepdog Championship events at Soldier Hollow

If you click on the link below, you will be able to view full sized versions of these photos. After following the link , click on the top right-hand photo of the photo set, then you can view each photo in sequence. I have added captions to most of the pictures, which if viewed in sequence, will give you a good idea of what goes on at sheepdog championship trials. (Just click on the thumbnail photo labeled "next" on the right-hand side of the page for the next picture in sequence. Click here to view the photos..

We first became interested in sheepdog competitons when we saw the movie Babe. The move takes place in New Zealand, whre I'm told that sheep far outnumber people many times over. In the movie, babe, a young pig, ends up being raised by a family of Border Collies, and grows up thinking he is a sheep dog too! Eventually Farmer Hogett, sees real sheepdog talent in his little pig, and finds a way to let the pig survivie Christmas Dinner (instead of being Christmas dinner.) . Eventually Farmer Hogett enters Babe in a sheep dog competiton, which he wins, of course.! Our kids loved the movie, (and so did we for that matter) and the idea of sheepdog competitons seemed facinating.

We didn't think much more about sheepdog championships untill about a year ago, when we heard a news report describing Sheep Dog Championships being held at Soldier Hollow, about 50 miles or so from our home. Ever since then, I thought it would be a nice family activity to go to the sheep dog championships the following year. A few weeks ago, we began hearing radio commericals advertising this year's sheepdog championships at Soldier Hollow over the Labor Day Weekend. So yesterday, we decided to go see it for ourselves!

We arrived at about noon, and watched the two or three contestants. Each dog and handler have 25 minutes to complete the requirements of the course. Fortunately, another viewer who was next to us explained what was going on to us. See the photo set for more details. This week, there is another sheepdog competition in Meeker, Colorado. Check out their web site. It gives great information on the rules and various manouvres and events required of the sheepdogs.

The sheepdog championships were also accompanied by food booths, which was convenient for lunch time. Most of the booths offered some kind of entree with lamb meat. (I tried the lamb burrtito from a local mexican restaurant.) It was quite good. Actually I had eaten lamb (we used to call it mutton) when I was young.

Also they had a Scottish festival there as well, with Scottish strong-man type games, and a Scottish pentathalon, and Scottish foods too -- including Hagis -- which I DID NOT try. We have some Scottish ancestry, so this was something else that we looked forward to as well. In the background, we got to hear a bagpipe band playing from time to time as well. I learned that you really don't have to be too close to a bagpipe band to hear them well. (More about that in my next post!)

The sheepdog championships also featured a "Fiber Festival". Now don't get me wrong, this fiber festival had nothing to do with "regularity" nor metamucil. Niether did it have anything to do with eating more roughage. Rathe, it had to do with wool and wool products from sheep (and even some other wool bearing animals, such as llamas and el packas.) There was a collection of vendor booths with all different kinds of yarn, looms and spiining wheels. They had spinning demonstrations, and a lot of fun articles made from wool. Dawn Ann and Amy especially liked looking at the vendor booths.

The championships also featured several sheep camps. When Shepherds stay out on the range with their flocks, they live in a "sheep camp". Sheep camps have been in existence for well over 100 years. In fact, they might possibly have been the first motor homes. (Except the motor, in this case was a team of horses.) Nowadays they are towed to the camp location by truck.

My grandfather was a sheep rancher in the 1930's and 1940's. His sheep camp looked very much like a covered wagon.

In the late 1940's my grandfather switched from sheep to cattle for his ranching operations. However the sheep camp remained. For many years, hired hands working at the ranch would sleep in the now stationary sheep camp. Later on, Grandpa purchased a "Bunk House" for workers, and the sheep camp fell into dis-use.

After we had lunch, and toured vendor booths, we went back to the grandstand and watched a few more dogs compete. By this time, the wind had picked up quite a bit, and the dogs were having a hard time hearing the whistles from the handlers. One dog took off to get the first batch of sheep from the hill. He was supposed to go on an outlying path so the sheep would not be disturbed, until he got into position behind them. Unfortunately, he took off, and went way, way, out. He missed the sheep althogether , and kept going up the mountainside. After numerous attempts, the handler lost contact with the dog (probably because of the wind) and the dog was disqualified with a "no score". Other dogs seemed to struggle more in the later runs than earlier in the day as well. We watched two or three more dogs (about 1 1/2 hours time) and decided it was time to start heading for home.

We had originally intended going through Midway, up over the mountains via Guardsman Pass. That route would have landed us at the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon (were the Brighton and Solitude ski resorts are located). We would have then gone down the canyon, and on home from there.

However, fate had another plan for us on that day -- which will be the subject of my next post, which will be called "Good Samaritans".

If you would like to learn more about sheepdog competitions, here are some media accounts Soldier Hollow Sheep Championship Event:

This is an introductory article with some good background information Prior to the Event.

Here is a short article on Border Collies.

Here are some photos of the dog, Pippa this year's champion at soldier holllow (Pippa was also the champion last year too!)

Monday, September 05, 2005

Help Is On The Way

Biloxi Homes Destroyed
Originally uploaded by David B..
I was born in Biloxi, Mississippi. My dad was in the Air Force at the time, stationed at Kesler Air Force Base. We only lived there a short time, when dad was transferred to Florida (Panama City).

In 1993, I visited Biloxi with my wife. We couldn't get on the Base where I was born, but we did see the church house that I was blessed in. The actual house that we lived in was no longer there (it is now a part of a Hospital Parking Lot). However, the houses in that neighborhood looked a lot like the one in the picture above.

There is a gentle upward slope from the beach to the where our old house once stood. I'm not too sure if it would have been high enough to avoid the 30 foot storm surge or not. If not -- my old neighborhood probably looks something like this.

As a native of Biloxi, Mississippi, I feel a strong attachment toward those who are suffering along the Gulf Coast. As of today (Sept. 4th) several hundred Katrina victims who have already arrived in Salt Lake City for temporary relocation. I understand that the State of Utah has agreed to welcome some 2,000 refugees (thus far) from Louisiana and Mississippi to the Salt Lake City area. Our family is looking forward to volunteerng or providing some other direct service to these displaced people, in addition to contributions to the church humanitarian fund, and participating in blood drives.

As part of our homeschool, we like to include service projects as part of our curriculum. By taking to the opportunity to provide direct service to these displaced individuals, we hope to provide some valuable lessons in service and compassion that will have a lasting impact upon our children.

In an earlier post, I made a plea for donations for victims of Hurricaine Katrina. The charity that I have been sponsoring here at The Whole Note is LDS Humanitarian Services. I thought I would give a little report here on the progress of LDS Humanitarian Services:

Past experience with severe hurricanes in the Southeast prompted the Church to pre-position relief supplies in its regional storehouses in Texas, Louisiana, Georgia and Florida. This preparation plus the transport capabilities of the Church’s welfare program trucking system have enabled the Church to respond quickly to meet the needs of its members and others affected by Katrina, one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history.

Long before the hurricane even hit, the LDS Church, recognizing, the need to be prepared for hurricane related catastrophes along the Gulf coast has expanded its welfare system facilities in that area. There is a regional storehouse in Slidell, Louisiana, which is just East of the Mississippi River from New Orleans. Fortunately the storehouse weathered the storm all right, and has already been serving the needs of people in the area, whether members of the LDS church or not.

Also The church was prepared in other ways as well. By September 1st, the following had already occurred:
Fourteen truckloads of pre-positioned food, water and emergency equipment have already been delivered to Church buildings in the coastal areas devastated by Katrina’s winds, storm surge and consequent flooding. And more aid is on its way from Salt Lake City.
Since that original shipment, another 12 semitruck loads of supplies was already on its way. More actions have also been taken:

"Full-time missionaries are also lending a hand by helping with the cleanup and by distributing Church relief supplies. Because communication is a challenge in the area, satellite phones have been distributed among stake presidents and other local leaders."

"The American Red Cross and local governments in the disaster area have requested that the Church fill the order for thousands of hygiene kits, which include soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, combs, and hand towels."
Relief efforts continue. As soon as a more complete inventory of needs can be assessed, many teams of church members for surrounding congregations in the Southeast United States are prepared to go into the stricken areas and help with clean-up and rebuilding projects. Experience from welfare services activiities last year with the four hurricaines that hit Florida has helped the church to know how best to respond to these kinds of disasters.

If you haven't had a chance to donate yet, I encourage you to do so. Church members can make donations at their local congregations. However, anyone can make credit card donations through the LDS Humnaitarian Services web sit as well.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Play That Funky Music

And now for something a little on the lighter side, just to get our minds off all the troubles in the world for a few minutes:

I saw this meme the other day. It has you look back on the music that was popular back when you graduated from high school. My, how music has changed. I find my popular music tastes stuck in the late 60's thru early 80's. I like other kinds of music too: jazz, classical, religious, even a little smattering of country music once in a while.

Anyway, if you would like to do the meme, here's what you do. You go to the Music Outfitters website and type your high school graduation year into the search tool. Select the list of the "100 most popular songs" for your year, and you will get the Raw Material for the next step in the process, which is to look through the list and decide which songs you hated, which ones you liked, and which one was your favorite.

Post the list on your Online Journal, striking through the songs you hated (or still hate) and boldfacing the ones you liked (or still like). Bold and underline your favorite song. No opinion? Leave it as-is.

Here's my list from 1976:

1. Silly Love Songs, Paul McCartney and Wings (Just too Silly to take Seriously -- and #1 at that! - People must have been on drugs!)
2. Don't Go Breaking My Heart, Elton John and Kiki Dee
3. Disco Lady, Johnnie Taylor
4. December, 1963 (Oh, What A Night), Four Seasons
5. Play That Funky Music, Wild Cherry (Was this the Best 1976 Could do?)
6. Kiss And Say Goodbye, Manhattans
7. Love Machine (Part 1), The Miracles
8. 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover, Paul Simon
9. Love Is Alive, Gary Wright
10. A Fifth Of Beethoven, Walter Murphy and The Big Apple Band (Disco-ized Classica! -- Oh the heresy!!)
11. Sara Smile, Daryl Hall and John Oates
12. Afternoon Delight, Starland Vocal Band
13. I Write The Songs, Barry Manilow
14. Fly, Robin, Fly, Silver Convention
15. Love Hangover, Diana Ross
16. Get Close, Seals and Crofts
17. More, More, More, Andrea True Connection
18. Bohemian Rhapsody, Queen
19. Misty Blue, Dorothy Moore
20. Boogie Fever, Sylvers
21. I'd Really Love To See You Tonight, England Dan and John Ford Coley
22. You Sexy Thing, Hot Chocolate
23. Love Hurts, Nazareth
24. Get Up And Boogie, Silver Convention
25. Take It To The Limit, Eagles
26. (Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty, K.C. and The Sunshine Band
27. Sweet Love, Commodores
28. Right Back Where We Started From, Maxine Nightingale
29. Theme From "S.W.A.T", Rhythm Heritage
30. Love Rollercoaster, Ohio Players
31. You Should Be Dancing, Bee Gees
32. You'll Never Find Antoher Love Like Mine, Lou Rawls
33. Golden Years, David Bowie
34. Moonlight Feels Right, Starbuck
35. Only Sixteen, Dr. Hook
36. Let Your Love Flow, Bellamy Brothers
37. Dreamweaver, Gary Wright
38. Turn The Beat Around, Vicki Sue Robinson
39. Lonely Night (Angel Face), The Captain and Tennille
40. All By Myself, Eric Carmen
41. Love To Love You Baby, Donna Summer
42. Deep Purple, Donny and Marie Osmond
43. Theme From "Mahogany", Diana Ross
44. Sweet Thing, Rufus
45. That's The Way I Like It, K.C. and The Sunshine Band
46. A Little Bit More, Dr. Hook
47. Shannon, Henry Gross
48. If You Leave Me Now, Chicago
49. Lowdown, Boz Scaggs
50. Show Me The Way, Peter Frampton
51. Dream On, Aerosmith
52. I Love Music (Pt. 1), O'Jays
53. Say You Love Me, Fleetwood Mac
54. Times Of Your Life, Paul Anka
55. Devil Woman, Cliff Richard
56. Fooled Around And Fell In Love, Elvin Bishop
57. Convoy, C.W. McCall (Breaker! Breaker! 1-9! -- NOT!!)
58. Welcome Back, John Sebastian
59. Sing A Song, Earth, Wind and Fire
60. Heaven Must Be Missing An Angel, Tavares
61. I'll Be Good To You, Brothers Johnson
63. Shop Around, The Captain and Tennille(Oh, Pulleeeease, No!)
64. Saturday Night, Bay City Rollers
65. Island Girl, Elton John
66. Let's Do It Again, Staple Singers
67. Let 'Em In, Paul McCartney and Wings
68. Baby Face, Wing and A Prayer Fife and Drum Corps
69. This Masquerade, George Benson
70. Evil Woman, Electric Light Orchestra
71. Wham Bam, Silver
72. I'm Easy, Keith Carradine
73. Wake Up Everybody (Pt. 1), Harold Melvin and The Bluenotes
74. Summer, War
75. Let Her In, John Travolta (John Revolta!)
76. Fox On The Run, Sweet
77. Rhiannon, Fleetwood Mac
78. Got To Get You Into My Life, Beatles
79. Fanny (Be Tender With My Love), Bee Gees
80. Getaway, Earth, Wind and Fire
81. She's Gone, Daryl Hall and John Oates
82. Rock And Roll Music, Beach Boys
82. Still The One, Orleans
83. You're My Best Friend, Queen
84. With Your Love, Jefferson Starship
85. Slow Ride, Foghat
86. Who'd She Coo, Ohio Players
88. Walk Away From Love, David Ruffin
89. Baby, I Love Your Way, Peter Frampton
90. Young Hearts Sun Free, Candi Staton
91. Breaking Up's Hard To Do, Neil Sedaka
92. Money Honey, Bay City Rollers
93. Tear The Roof Off The Sucker, Parliament
94. Junk Food Junkie, Larry Groce
95. Tryin' To Get The Feeling Again, Barry Manilow
96. Rock And Roll All Nite, Kiss
97. Disco Duck, Rick Dees (Disco Yuck!!)
97. The Boys Are Back In Town, Thin Lizzy
98. Take The Money And Run, Steve Miller Band
99. Squeeze Box, The Who
100. Country Boy (You Got Your Feet In L.A.), Glen Campbell

As I looked over this list, I realized that it was a fairly week year for good songs. I looked at the list for previous years (1970-1975) and found those lists to have more songs that I liked than my official graduation year of 1976. Choosing my favorite was actually kind of tough, because none of the songs on this list was an all-time favorite of mine.

Also, you'll notice in this list the beginning of the bane of popular music - disco! Yuck! The only thing I hate worse than disco music is Rap! It was the beginning of a dark period in popular music. Not until the early eighties was in finally, mercifully, put to death! I remember the "Death Before Disco" T-shirts, which I applauded!

I ended up designating "Play That Funky Music," by Wild Cherry as my favorite, with "That's The Way I Like It," by K.C. and The Sunshine Band as a close the runner-up. "Play That Funky Music" is a little on the extreme hard edge of my music listening range. However I remember having a church dance at the top of Bridal Veil Falls in Provo Canyon, while I attended BYU. You had to ride a tram up to the top of the mountain to get to the dance.

(Photo of Bridal Veil Falls Ballroom & Tram before 1997)

They had a cool building up there, the "ballroom in the sky" with lots of picture windows that provided great views of Utah Valley below. "Play That Funky Music" was popular then, in the Fall of 1976, and I remember dancing to it on the mountain top. Unfortunately, a few years ago, (1997) the Bridal Veil Falls tram was destroyed by an avalanche and was wiped out. Nowadays, the tram is gone, and you can't get up to the "ballroom in the sky" anymore. It's still a pleasant memory though.

I actually tended to like less funky music most of the time. I liked ballads from artists like James Taylor and Gordon Lightfoot, and songs with close harmonies in them, such as performed by Seals and Crofts; Crosby, Stills & Nash, and Simon & Garfunkel.

Unfortunately, none of these artists had a top 100 hit in 1976, so I ended up designating the funky stuff as my favorites for the year.

In the summer of 1977, I left for a two-year mission for my church to British Columbia. We weren't allowed to listen to popular music (except for my first companion that kept his copies of The Rolling Stones' "Goat's Head Soup" album, and Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" album.) Other than that, all I heard was religious music for 2 years.

When I came home from my mission, I wash shocked to discover that disco had taken over popular music. I went to a young-adult church dance shortly after returning home, and I found it hard to even dance to that stuff! Give me some Doobie Brothers (China Grove) or something with a decent beat!

Eventually, the plague of disco was extinguished, and then we had the punk rock influence in the early 80's followed by the grundge trend of the 90's. By the mid 80's, I wasn't paying much attention to popular music anymore. The last popular artist I paid any attention to was Norah Jones. She has a really sweet voice.

From the early 80's until now, I have listned to more Jazz and classical music, as well as listening to my retro 70's music -- to which I still listen to this day. Rock on!

Thursday, September 01, 2005

They Need Our Help!

As the extent of the disaster continues to unfold in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the need for help becomes more and more apparent.

I would urge you to make a contribution to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Most of us live far away from the Gulf Coast, but this is something we can do, today, to help make a difference.

I will be making my contributions to LDS Humanitarian Services, which is the charitible relief arm of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons).

One thing that I like about this charity is that 100% of the donations go directly to relief efforts. Many other charities take a cut from the proceeds to fund their own operations, with the remainder of donations going to relief efforts.

However, if you would like to contribute to another charity, here is a list of charities from NZ Bear. You can also find more charities through Instapundit as well.

Here's what to do:

1. Make your credit card donation here or to a charity of your choice.

2. You can log your contribution here.

After Logging your contribution, you can see how the blogosphere is helping with Katarina relief efforts here.


For the last 30 or so years of his life (age 65-95) my Grandpa Hatch always wore a copper bracelet of some kind. He has some "Rheumatism", as he called it, in his left wrist. He felt that the copper helped alleviate much of the pain and stiffness in his joints.

At first, he just wore a piece of heavy duty copper wire around his wrist. It was about 1/8th of an inch thick. He just used a pair of wire cutting pliers, and twisted the ends together. Then he took a file, and filed off the sharp edges. It wasn't pretty, and it wasn't meant to be jewelry. It was just meant to be functional, and stay out of the way of his vigorous work.

Needless to say, he never took off his "bracelet", as it was now permanently attached. He wore that same piece of copper wire for several years.

After he sold the ranch he got a real copper bracelet, and wore it from then on. I remember it was a large linked bracelet.

The other day, when I was in the gift shop of the Bingham Canyon Copper mine, I saw a copper bracelet that reminded me of the one that grandpa used to wear. As the kids were looking for their trinkets, I put this one on, and it immediately reminded me Grandpa. I wore it for a few minutes in the gift shop, and it started feeling more and more comfortable to me.

I suffer from arthritis myself, although probably of a different form than he had. His was most likely Osteo Arthritis. Mine is called Psoriatic Arthritis. (Actually, there are over 100 different kinds of arthritis -- but that's another post for another day.)

Grandpa wore his copper bracelet to help control his osteo-arthritis. I don't know if it really worked, or not. Most medical professionals will tell you that it probably doesn't do much good. However, it doesn't do any harm either, so they usually don't get to adamant about it. Many people, anecdotally, will swear by it though. Grandpa was convinced that it helped him.

I decided to get the bracelet at the Copper Mine Gift Shop, not so much for its healing qualities, but rather for the qualities in Grandpa that he exhibited. If it has healing qualities -- great! But I'm not counting on it. Rather, I want the copper bracelet to serve as a reminder of the things that I learned at his feet. As I worked along side him each summer on his cattle ranch, I learned how to work, how to make decisions, how to be efficient with my time and resources. I learned to be honest, and give my best effort. I learned to be kind and generous to others, and to reach out to those who may be struggling. I learned that it was OK to have an opinion, and to express it.

Grandpa is gone now. The ranch is gone too. -- Oh its still there, but its no longer in the family. I have my memories, other family members, some photos and his personal history to remember him by. For me, the bracelet represents a touchstone, to help me check myself to see if I am being the kind of man that I should be. Am I, in turn, exhibiting those qualities that he stood for. The links of the chain, link me to him, and those who have gone before me. The links in the chain help me to want to honor them by living an honorable life, and being the kind of man that they would be proud of. Then one day, in the great beyond, I can joyously greet them, look them in the eye, and know that I have honored their legacy -- and stand with them in the halls of honor.