Tuesday, June 27, 2006


This past weekend was our annual ward Father and Sons Outing. This year the camp site was the Ghost Town of Iosepa, Utah. Iosepa is in Skull Valley, located in Tooele County. It is about an hour’s drive from our home.

Iosepa was a settlement of Hawaiian members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They came from Hawaii in 1889, in order to receive their Temple Ordinances. Iosepa is Hawaiian for Joseph, in honor of Joseph F. Smith, who was a friend to the Hawaiian Saints, and would eventually become president and prophet of the church.

The settlers worked for a church-owned corporation called the Iosepa Agriculture and Stock Company.

The land is very barren and desolate in Skull Valley. Not much water. Just a lot of sage brush and jack rabbits. – Oh, and let’s not forget the gnats and mosquitoes too! And a future home of a new high-level nuclear waste facility, if the Skull Valley Band of Goshute Indians has their way.

The Polynesian Saints scraped out a living as best they could from this barren land. They frequently received food subsidies from Salt Lake City. They continued until about 1917, when the Hawaiian Temple was nearing completion, when they returned back to their home in the islands.

There is nothing left of the town of Iosepa. There is still one working farm in the valley. The cemetery is the only reminder that Iosepa was there. A monument now looks over the cemetery, and the valley below.

It was here, next to the cemetery that our fathers and sons camp was located.

You can see more photos of Iosepa here.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Mentos In action

I saw this video on S'mee's blog yesterday. It shows a couple of guys dropping mentos into 2 litre bottles of Diet Coke, and then watching the chemical/physical reactions take place. We have really had a blast looking at it, and I thought I would share it here as well. My son wants to watch it 3-4 times a day now. It really has a way of cheering you up, and leaving you a little awestruck as well. Who knew that Diet Coke and Mentos could be so entertaining. So if you need to have a littlle fun, play this video.

Here is a link to the website of the guys responsible for the video: EepyBird.com.

Here is a report from NPR, where they interview Fritz Grobe and Stephen Voltz, -- the guys who did the videol

In a couple of weeks, we are having our annual ward father and sons camp out. I believe we'll practice shooting off a few Diet Cokes in the back yard between now and then. We can call it a science experiement for home school too. If we can do it successfully, I think we'll take a few to the camp out, and see if we can douse a few Mormon Crickets in the process. (We're going to camp in Skull Valley, near the ghost town of Iosepa.)

Saturday, June 10, 2006

No More Barium Blues!

Note: This post was written on my Palm Pilot while in the waiting room at the hospital (again).

It's a beautiful day today. Sunny and clear. Not too hot, not too cold – just right! A Goldilocks day! So how am I spending this beautiful Saturday afternoon? Why at the x-ray dept of Cottonwood Hospital, of course.

Two weeks ago I came here and had to swig barium for an hour-and-a-half. Then I had at CT scan.

The results of the scan showed a 1.3 cm pocket of fluid on my bowel, that was near where the drain tube had been placed. I am here today for yet another CT scan to determine what is happening with this fluid pocket. Hopefully it is getting smaller or has disappeared.

I came here expecting to have to drink barium again. I have been steeling myself all day for this eventuality. When I got here though, I found that I will (am now) be drinking an iodine solution, mixed with a few other fine "contrast" chemicals, all mixed in with raspberry flavored Crystal Lite. I got mine made up fresh from the pharmacy with just the right blend of ingredients, shaken -- not stirred.

It's actually not too bad. It just tastes like Crystal Lite. Its much easier to get down than that thick and chalky barium solution. I mean, I'd really rather be doing something else on a day like today (even taking a nap would be wonderful!) However if I have to drink a contrast solution for a CT scan, I’ll take this one.

Hmmm. it’s taking longer than usual to get into the CT scanner. It is now 3:30 pm and I have been here for 2 hours now. I have drunk the entire liter of the Crystal Lite iodine solution. At 4:00 my children will be performing at a piano recital. The recital is only about 10 minutes away from the hospital. But I am getting concerned that I won't be able to make it to the recital on time.

Finally, they took into the radiology area and I had the CT scan.

I hurried as fast as I could to change out of my lovely hospital gown. Then I high-tailed it out to the car, and went as quickly as I could to the location of the piano recital.

I got there at just about 4:30 pm. I got to see the last performer play his numbers, but my kids had already played both of their numbers. I was disappointed that I had missed their performances.

After the recital was over, I took some photos of the kids next to the grand piano on which they had performed their music. After a few minutes, everyone else had left the room, except for our family. So I had the kids play their recital pieces in a special encore performance – just for me! After they each played, they told me it was my turn. My daughter requested that I play “What Child is This”, which I did. It sounded really nice on the grand piano.

After our little encore performance, I was reminded of a story my stake president has told. His boys were on their high school wrestling team. With his church responsibilities (he has been in either a Bishopric, or a stake presidency for the last 18 years!) There were times when he wasn’t able to attend his sons’ wrestling matches. His solution: Have the boy’s re-enact their matches on the living room floor, later that night, with dad being the victim (er, standing in for the opponent). Dad would wrestle with the boys, and their relationship was built and preserved -- even though dad couldn't be at the actual wrestling matches. What a wise and good idea President! I’ll have to remember the concept of re-enacting performances for future use, should it become necessary.

Marvelous Marvin!

It has been a busy week. At work, I spent most of the week with a consultant from IBM, named Marvin B. He and I go way back. He helped me set-up the computers for the 911 center where I used to work. That was back in 1989. He helped me through many tight situations ("hand-holding" is the technical term -- which is a figurative term only!) My nickname for Marv is "Marvelous Marvin"

Anyhow, Marv and I are good buddies, and its been a real pleasure to work with him again. I have worked with him on various projects throughout the years. When I changed jobs from the 911 center, to my current job, I stayed with the same type of computer system--and continued to have association with Marv from time to time.

Marv's job at IBM has changed several times over the years. Now he works as a consultant for IBM, and helps people get their systems set up and working properly. Time was, that when you bought a system from IBM, that "hand holding" was included in the purchase price of the machine. Now you have to pay extra, for a consultant (like Marv) to come in and help you get things set up. In the case of Marvin -- it's money well spent!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

A Rough Week

Last week was a pretty rough week for me.

Earlier in the week, I attended the funeral of a friend and former colleague. I appreciated him, and the many contributions that he has made, yet I couldn’t help but be saddened as I attended his funeral. The only spiritual message at the funeral was from the Bishop conducting the service at the funeral home. The lifestyle choices he had made, and the distance that he obviously was from the church and the gospel made me feel uneasy about his future. I know it is not up to me to judge, but I also know that he could have been better prepared to meet his maker. My hope is that he’ll still have some opportunity to repent and receive the blessings of the gospel in the Spirit World.

In the middle of the week I was shocked to learn that one of my current colleagues, and a good friend, at work has decided to retire. I have worked closely with her for the last 13 years. She was the supervisor over the utility customer service department. I have been working as the computer programmer that supports utility billing. We went through a major software conversion together in 1999 (preparation for Y2K). Since then we have worked together as we have made modifications to the software package, or dreamed up new features altogether to help her department to do their jobs better. That’s what I like best about my job – helping others to be able to do their job more easily, and more efficiently.

I have enjoyed collaborating with her over the years. It has been fun to bounce ideas off of one another. Many times she would have some really good ideas too! I will really miss working with her.

She has chosen to leave the world of work, and stay home with her three boys. Up until now, she has always worked during her adult life. I’m sure it will take a while for her to adjust to her new career. However there is no higher calling that taking care of your family. I hope she will find happiness and fulfillment in her new endeavors. I will still miss working with her, and just chatting with her from time to time. However, this choice can be a great blessing for her and her family. I wish her well.

Toward the end of the week, the neuralgia in my feet was really getting to me. There were nights last week when I didn’t get any sleep at all. My feet hurt and were so sensitive to touch, that I couldn’t get comfortable enough to sleep. I was really getting run down physically, emotionally, and mentally. The medication I was on (Neurontin) wasn’t having much of an effect at slowing down the numbness, tingling, and burning in my feet.

I called my Dr. and told him of my continuing problem. He gave me a prescription for a new medication (Lyrica) to try. I also asked him for a referral to a Neurologist.

I went to the neurologist, and frankly, I wasn’t impressed. It was 4:00 on a Friday afternoon, so he may have had other things on his mind, but he really didn’t seem to have much sympathy for my condition. I went in there feeling drained and exhausted. I needed some help and encouragement. Instead, he insisted on lecturing my on things that don’t apply to my situation.

Then he proffered that my neuropathic condition may well be permanent – meaning that it may never go away! That just wasn’t what I wanted to hear. This has been a vexing problem to me. There are times when its all I can do but sit there and grind my teeth because of the pain in my feet. It interferes with many aspects of my life. Especially in being as active as I would like to be, and the fact that I still am having a hard time sleeping.

So there I was in the neurologist’s office, being told that I would likely be on medication for the rest of my life for neuropathy. On the way out the door, the Dr. had the gall to tell me, “Sorry, no miracles today!.” That statement really frosted my cookies!

All I wanted was a little hope, a little encouragement. I needed reassurance that there would be a way that I could return to a more normal existence. I was fatigued and run down both physically and psychologically. I found none of the support that I needed at that Dr.’s office. I doubt I will be returning there.

I went out to my car following the Dr. appointment, and just sat there for a few minutes. I felt lower than I’ve felt for many years. I offered a prayer there in my car, expressing to the Lord my feelings and frustrations. I begged for his help to get through this situation. I was at my wit's end!

Sunday (June 4th) would be fast Sunday. My family and I fasted that my feet might heal, and that if possible I might not have to have further surgery on my bowel.

Sunday, I had a full day of Church service. I started at 6:30 am, went to two sacrament meetings, and had appointments to meet with three different people. I bore my testimony in my own ward’s sacrament meeting. It was about 5:30 pm before I got all of my church service duties completed. I spent some extra time with the scriptures, and also spent some time at the piano, playing church hymns.

I am beginning to feel better inside. I have done all that I knew how to invite the Spirit into my heart and mind. We had a nice Family Home Evening (FHE) last night. Our son, Bryan, taught us a lesson on the Holy Ghost from the “Preach My Gospel” manual. Once I gain, I spent some time at the piano, playing hymns as prelude music to FHE, while the dishes were being done.

While my problems haven’t gone away, I am at least feeling more strength to cope better with my situation. Once again, I will be called upon to exercise patience as I endure. Instead of just going through the motions, and trying to get by from moment-to-moment, I will be looking more for what the Lord would have me learn in my afflictions. We know that Christ “learned . . . obedience by the things which He suffered.” (Hebrews 5:8) I will continue to do all I can to stay close to the Lord, and to invite His Spirit into my life. I know that through Christ, I can find the strength to endure, and to hopefully overcome one-day as well.

I am reminded of the 4th verse of the Hymn: “I Am A Child of God”.
I am a child of God.
His promises are sure;
Celestial glory shall be mine
If I can but endure.
Lead me, guide me, walk beside me,
Help me find the way.
Teach me all that I must do
To live with me someday.