Monday, August 21, 2006

WOW - That Could Have Been Me!

We received sad news last evening, that a local broadcaster, Doug Miller, had passed away. He was 59 years old.

Doug Miller is best known in the Utah media market for his Outdoors programs. First on KSL-TV, then on KUTV. He has been on radio and TV in the Salt Lake City area for nearly 30 years. He coined the phrase "Wild places and wild things", and was known as Utah's "Mr. Outdoors." He would profile interesting places to visit, and fun things to do and see. His presentations were interesting to the avid outdoorsman, as well as to the tenderfoot. Whether it was fishing, hunting, ATV riding, or Dutch Oven cooking -- he had a way of inviting you to come into his world and just come hang-out with him for a while and enjoy the great outdoors.

On July 31, 2006, Doug Miller was admitted to LDS hospital with diverticulitis and septic shock. He was placed in a drug induced coma for a week, hoping that his body would be able to gain the upper-hand on the infection that had riddled through his body. One medical worker said, "Doug has been at the gates of heaven for a week now. Either he doesn't want to go there, or heaven wont' have him!"

After that first week, he was able to make some progress and return to consciousness. Doug was able to visit with his family and grandchildren -- for what would turn out to be the last time.

The infection, however had taken its toll. He began to have major organ failures: kidneys, liver, and spleen. His body was shutting down. On Sunday he had two strokes.

Later, on Sunday evening, August 20, 2006, at about 8:00 pm, his family was gathered around him. He was removed from life support, and he slipped away from the bounds of this world.

I offer my condolences and prayers for the Miller family.


I first heard of his passing last night, as I turned on the ten 'o clock news. However I did not hear of the cause of death.

This morning my mother called me at work, and asked if I had heard the news. I told her that I had heard of his passing, but not the cause. She told me: "Diverticulitis and septic shock".

Wow! I had my own moment of shock right there. A few months ago, I was hospitalized with a similar condition. I had diverticulitis, and severe infections -- but I had not yet reached the point of septic shock. Fortunately for me, it was caught in time before I reached a point of no-return.

This news once again reinforced to me the seriousness of the condition I was in. How close I really might have been to "leaving this frail existence." I thought of Dawn Ann, and the days that she was filled with worry and concern about whether or not I would make it through. Being a nurse, she knows of more things to worry about. I know it must have been a difficult time for her. I am so grateful for how she stood by me, and cared for me during the long months of recovery I went through.

I also have once more been reminded of how blessed I have been. The priesthood blessings I received. The prayers and fasting on my behalf from my family, fellow church members and co-workers. And even the prayers of those who read this blog. Again, I offer my thanks for your thoughts and prayers.

I'm also thankful for a kind and loving Heavenly Father, who chose to preserve my life, and let me continue on in my mortal journey. Thank you. Thank you for my life. Thank you for your love. I already knew that I owe all that I have and am to my Heavenly Father. Now I appreciate that all the more.


Here are some Links for more information on Doug Miller:

KUTV Channel 2
KSL-TV Channel 5

Salt Lake Tribune
Deseret News

Monday, August 14, 2006

Pluto Is Under Attack!!!

Pluto and Charon (one of its moons)

Pluto is in trouble. Big trouble. The planet -- not the dog!

In fact Pluto is under attack! At this very moment, by a band of hostile earthlings 3,000 strong, based in Prague, The Czech Republic.

Is the planet about to be overrun by a platoon of guerilla fighters? Have long-range nuclear missiles been targeted on the Ninth Planet to bring about its utter destruction?

No, but Pluto is fighting for its planetary life nonetheless! By the time these nefarious schemers have their way, Pluto may be reduced to nothing more than a ball of ice and rock. Forever relegated to the anonymity of the Kuiper Belt. And that's the honest truth!

For the next two weeks a group of mad scientists will be meeting in Prague. Their goal: to define just exactly what constitutes the legal definition of a planet. Like a denizen of congressional staffers, cloistered away deep within the bowels of the capitol building, these mad scientists may well legislate poor Pluto out of existence!

Here are some excerpts of news dispatches from this loathsome lot:

"The International Astronomical Union (IAU) has gathered in Prague to finally settle a matter of galactic import: whether Pluto is in fact a planet or should be relegated to the second division of Kuiper Belt Objects and similar detritus (space junk). . . "

"Astronomers have to date failed dismally to agree what exactly constitutes a planet . . "
And then there's this:

"In defining for the first time what exactly a planet is, the International Astronomers Union (IAU) may be forced to downgrade Pluto's status, or add as many as 14 others. . .

Such a decision would send shockwaves through the scientific community, instantly outdate textbooks, and cause educators to re-teach the basics of our solar system. . .

Debate has raged within the scientific community over the status of Pluto for decades after the planet was found to be only one four-hundredths of the mass of the earth. . . Astronomers thought it was the same size as Earth, but later found it was smaller than Earth's moon."

Pluto has a moon, Charon, that is more than half the size of Pluto itself. Scientists tsk-tsk this fact: " Oh, the heresy! No self-respecting planet would have a moon that big in relative size to itself!" Unless, of course, you consider that the next largest moon relative to its planet -- earth and our moon!

The spectre of international politics has raised its ugly head at the IAU convention too. Pluto was originally discovered in 1930 by Clyde Tombaugh, an American. (Pluto is the only planet to be discovered by an American.) Current anti-American feelings among these snooty Euro scientists (because of the Iraq war, among other things), may play a role in Pluto's chances to remain a planet. I suppose if Pluto is demoted from planet to a mere Kuiper Belt Object (KBO) or "ice dwarf" -- it will George W. Bush's fault (of course!)

If Pluto is demoted, there will be heck to pay from American schoolchildren:
"Indeed, the US has a soft spot for Pluto, and any attempt to downgrade its status will certainly upset large numbers of fanatical schoolkids such as those who in 2000 bombarded the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History in New York with "hate mail" after it omitted the planet from a solar system exhibit."
Yes, Pluto is on trial for its life. It faces excommunication from our solar system. It is not politically correct, and its out of date! We should know the decision of the IAU on August 25, 2006.

It may take the schoolchildren of America to save the solar system as we know it!

Robert Williams, a vice president of the International Astronomical Union who's "deeply involved in the deliberations on Pluto", admitted:
"My niece said to me, 'Are you going to demote Pluto?'. "Williams did, nonetheless, show his icy scientific cool with: "If that's the way it is, that's what we do. It's not written in stone anywhere there's got to be a numerable number of planets. If it upsets schoolchildren, I regret that."

See, I told you they were snooty!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

What Would You Do?

We are preparing for stake conference next week. We are getting a new Stake President. Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles will be there to preside and to reorganize the stake presidency.

We are making musical preparations for stake conference. For the Saturday night adult session, we will have 8-10 men sing "O My Father" a cappella. On Sunday, a stake choir will be performing a couple of numbers as well. I will be participating with both groups.

As usual with most church choirs, anyone who wishes to participate is welcome. In fact we have practically begged for people to come participate -- especially men.

In our rehearsals, a rather delicate situation has emerged. We have a young man who just recently graduated from high school who is singing with both groups. Only trouble is -- he's tone deaf.

He has been to several of the practices, singing his heart out. I had hoped that as we got closer to the performances, that things would improve, but they have not. With the choir pieces, there is a sufficient number of voices, along with the piano accompaniment that his voice isn't too prominent. In the a cappella number however, it becomes more readily apparent.

So what do you do in a situation like this? We are all wanting to have everything as nice and close to perfect as possible for Elder Perry's visit. What is the right thing to do? The stake music chairman is singing with the a cappella group, and is doubtless aware of the situation.

What would the Savior want in this situation?

Well, here's what we did at this evening's rehearsal. Everyone there treated this young man as an equal member of the group. No one shunted him off to the side, or in any way made him feel any less a part of the group. We all just sang and smiled - grateful to participate together. I was so proud of the brethren there. It would have been so easy to let our pride get in the way and say or do something that would be hurtful to this young man. The eternal welfare of this young man's soul is far more important than a few missed notes in a song that will be over with in 5 minutes. We'll have plenty of chances to sing together, but this may be a pivotal time in this young man's life. I'm sure Elder Perry will understand too.

Things have not always been easy for this young man. His parents divorced when he was young. He grew up with out much positive influence from his father. His mother did a great job of holding her family together. But this young man seems to have been the odd-man out socially, in a lot of things. Recently, his mother married a wonderful man, who has been a positive influence. Like most young men, he has had his share of ups and downs growing up, but one senses that he may be more emotionally fragile than most.

Dis-inviting him to participate in these musical numbers would be exactly the wrong thing to do. The sense of rejection would be disastrous to this young man. Music is a great conduit for the Spirit of the Lord. Music is not only intended to bless those who hear it, but to bless those who perform it as well. Helping him to feel the Spirit, and to feel wanted, accepted and needed is especially important for him right now as he is preparing for missionary service. Being part of something worthy and good, and to be part of a brotherhood with good men, will help to strengthen, enrich, and bolster his life. I hope each of us takes the opportunity to put our arm around his shoulder, and make sure that he knows we care about him and appreciate his willingness to serve.

I think that is what the Savior would want us to do.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Blue Man Group

We were watching our local PBS Station tonight (KBYU) and found ourselves watching a pledge-week special on a musical group called Blue Man Group. It's more than a musical group though. A lot of thought has gone into their production. They are very engaging, and provide sights, sounds, and images that you have never seen before. There was a lot of comedy in their act as well. It looked like a really fun show. Many of the instruments they play they have invented themselves out of PVC pipes.

Here is a description of the PBS Show that we watched tonight:
PBS television stations in Los Angeles and New York are playing host to co-founders Matt Goldman and Chris Wink on Sunday, August 6th and Monday, August 7th. They will appear during a 1 1/2 hour segment that features a documentary-style piece called Inside the Tube, which consists of dazzling performance segments from their live shows and an intimate look inside their fascinating creative process and history. Goldman and Wink will be discussing Inside the Tube as well as the whole Blue Man Group project live on the air from 8:00- 9:30 pm PST on Sunday August 6th. Inside the Tube has been airing on various PBS stations nationwide as part of their pledge drive programming and will be airing on more stations throughout the year.
At the pledge break, we learned that for a mere $600 donation, you can get tickets to their performance here at the Delta Center, along with back-stage passes to meet the group after the show.

Well, that's a little stiff for our budget, but we were still intrigued by the group, and how much fun it would be to go to the concert. I couldn't help but think what a fun date that would have been (I was thinking of my 20-something self when I was on the dating scene.) But then I thought --
No! Wait! I'm NOT too old to have fun! I It would be a blast to take my honey and go to this show. It's still a little pricey for us ($50 a ticket.) The concert is on October 30th, and its around the time of our wedding anniversary, maybe I can swing it as an anniversary present to ourselves -- yeah, that's the ticket!

If you are like me, and had never heard of these guys before, check out their web site. You can also play some of their videos here. Yeah, they're kind of quirky and oddball -- but then, who isn't?

Wilderness Survival Camp

A week ago tonight (last Thursday), my son, Bryan went on his Wilderness Survival Camp. Bryan was all excited about this, because it would be his chance to be like the boy in the book " My Side of the Mountain", which he had recently re-read (all three volumes, 2-3 times each!) I had helped him assemble all the gear he would need. I had even left an extra sleeping bag for him. With all the rain they had been getting at the camp, I was afraid that his sleeping bag would get too wet and muddy on his survival camp night to use for the last night of the camp on Friday.

Here are the requirements for the Wilderness Survival Merit Badge. Bryan had attended classes all week for this merit badge and had passed off all the requirements except:
  • Show that you can find and improvise a natural shelter minimizing the damage to the environment.
  • Spend a night in your shelter.
  • Even with all of his preparation, I was still worried. Bryan has ADHD, along with some learning disabilities. He is an intelligent boy, but he has some impediments in getting information into, and out of his brain. Once the information gets in there, though, it stays. He takes medication for ADHD that lasts until about 7:30 at night. Then he is on his own. One of the outcrops of his ADHD is impulsiveness. The medication helps him keep this impulsiveness under control, but when it wears off in the evening -- sometimes he just does things without thinking. It is during these hours that we have to pay more attention to what he is doing and make sure he doesn't get into trouble. He doesn't intend to do bad things -- he just gets sidetracked easily and finds it hard to stay focused. (Yeah, like me most of the time!) One of our greatest fears was that on his wilderness survival night, that he would wander off out into the forest, and get lost or hurt.

    Our fears were not baseless. Two years ago (2004), a young man named Garrett Bardsley wandered off and got lost only a few miles from where Bryan was Staying. He was never seen, nor heard from again. Despite weeks of searching (Until the snows came that year) no sign of Garrett was ever found. Last year (2005) another young man, Brennan Hawkins wandered off from the exact same area that Bryan was in - The East Fork of the Bear BSA camp. After a massive search, (In which the Bardsley family participated) this young man was found after spending 4 days alone in the wilderness. He managed to stray some 5 miles away from the camp where he was last seen. Fortunately Brennan was all right when they found him - other than being a little cold, and very hungry. Last year a scout left camp in a tiff, and hitchhiked his way home to Salt Lake City. Everyone was searching for him when the call came back to the camp director that he was home, and was all right.

    Of course, the Boy Scouts (BSA) are fully aware of these incidents. As it turned out, for liability reasons, they had their full staff of camp counselors (about 20 of them) staying at the boat house on the lake -- not too far away from where the Wilderness Survival scouts were sleeping. The scouts could call upon the camp counselors, should they run into any trouble. Bryan said that one of the counselors was playing his guitar during the night, and they could hear him from where they were camping. So they weren't too far away. And I'm sure the camp counselors made the rounds every once-in-while throughout the night to make sure everyone was present and accounted for.

    Naturally as parents, we worry about the worst possible things that could happen. I thought of Bryan many times during that day. Several times throughout the day, I offered prayers in Bryan's behalf. I remember looking at the clock at just before 7:00 pm, when the boys were to meet together to begin their Wilderness Survival camp. I called my wife on the cell phone, and asked her to remember Bryan in her prayers, as Bryan was just now about to leave on this activity. As I talked to her, she told me that she had been praying for Bryan all day too! We had hoped and prayed that he would get all the things that he needed for the night, and that he would be safe, and warm, and dry. (I had written out a checklist of things to take with him before I left.) We hoped and prayed that he would not wander off and get lost, or get hurt. We hoped and prayed that the rains my be held back, at least for this one night when he would not have the benefit of his tent to keep him dry.

    I worried about what I would do if something were to happen to him. What would life be like if he were lost. Actually, we have lost him in the past. One time we were at the E-Center for a hockey game. Bryan must have been about 4 or 5 at the time. After the game ended, he jumped out of his seat and ran for the exits - leaving us behind in the dust. The crowds quickly filled the concourses. Bryan was nowhere to be seen. We checked everywhere, up and down two concourse levels calling out his name. We checked the restrooms too - nothing. Finally, we reported our son missing to security. About 5 minutes later, they found him -- down on the main floor, just about to leave the building. I'll never forget how I felt while he was missing. The sheer panic and consuming worry that I felt. What if someone had snatched him away and run off with him? Many prayers were said, and many thanks were given when he was found.

    I wasn't panicked this time, but I was worried. I woke up several times throughout the night, wondering how things were with Bryan. Each time, I'd offer a little prayer in his behalf. Bryan is a sound sleeper. I knew that if once he got to sleep, he would be fine. He would be out for the night.

    Finally, morning came. As it turned out, the camp staff woke up the boys at 6:00 am and got them back to their campsites with their troops. I knew by the then that whatever happened had happened. I learned a long time ago that you can't change history. Either Bryan was safe and well -- or not. I still prayed for Bryan's welfare, but I knew even prayers can't change something that has already happened.

    I got up and got ready for work. Since the phone hadn't rung by the time I left, I assumed all was well. In this case, no news really was good news! At work, kept checking for phone messages all morning long -- in case a call came while I was away from my desk. No calls. Good news. Finally, by noon, I knew that if the camp hadn't called by now, that all was well. I finally relaxed, and offered prayers of thanks.

    Later, after Bryan came home, we would learn that he had a great time on the Wilderness Survival Camp. We learned that it was the only night of the week-long camp that there was no rain (only a few sprinkles). Another scout (not from our troop) offered Bryan a hoodie sweatshirt to wear for the night to keep warm. The other boy said he had more than enough warm clothing, and asked if Bryan would like to use it. He did, and it helped him stay warm during the chilly Uinta Mountain night. Heaven smiled upon Bryan, and had even sent an angel (in a scout uniform!) This night became the highlight of the entire week-long camp for Bryan.

    It is hard for a parent to let go. Especially if your child has some special needs. However, he needs to have some experiences away from home -- without mom or dad micro-managing his activities. Also, he needs to have some fun and adventure in his life too. Sometimes you just have to trust that all will be well. And the truth is, you can't control everything.. Heavenly Father heard and answered our prayers, and all was well.

    Thank you, thank you, my dear Lord.

    Wednesday, August 09, 2006

    Camp Frontier - Part 2

    I awoke at 6:00 am on day two at Camp Frontier. In a heroic effort, the sun was actually trying to come out. I got up and walked around camp for a few minutes, in the quiet dawn, before anyone else got up. Everything was still soaking wet damp from the previous day/night rains.

    At 6:30 I woke up Bryan, and the other adult leader, Jay. Some of the other boys were beginning to arise as well. We were fortunate that no water got into our tent. Jay's tent was dry too. However most of the other boys' tents had taken on some water from the
    (Bryan In his "Uniform")

    rains. Everything was so soaked and waterlogged, that there was no dry firewood for to even have a morning campfire.

    We had a breakfast of cold cereal and granola bars (lower-caste scout food, you-know). At least we had hot chocolate to warm ourselves in the 38 degree temperatures that morning in the High Uintas. Fortunately, I had brought some of our own food for Bryan and I, so we supplemented our Corn Pops with yogurt, and some fresh cantaloupe that I had prepared and kept in our ice chest.

    We figured out the rest of Bryan's schedule. Mornings he would take Wilderness Survival, Orienteering, and Emergency Preparedness classes. In the afternoon he would have classes in Archery and Rifle Shooting. A possiblity of 5 merit badges to be earned at camp this year. Last year Bryan was able to get 6 merit badges at the Bear Lake scout camp.

    (Ominously, the rain clouds started moving in)

    The early part of the morning remained partly cloudy. I accompanied Bryan to his first two classes of the day, and then the storm clouds rolled in. It began raining, and the temperature dropped from the 50's to the lower 40's. Soon the rain turned to hail. We huddled together under a tarp during Bryan's Emergency Preparedness class. We stayed dry, but were shivering due to the cold. The hail let up by the time the class was over, but the rain did not. In fact it continued raining all day, until about 4:00 in the afternoon.

    We were fortunate though, at the same time we were getting the hail storm, Salt Lake and Provo were being hit by virulent "Super Cells" – very powerful thunderstorms. There was a great deal rain, flooding, and property damage from high winds. Thousands of people lost electrical service because of trees that had blown over and knocked out power lines. Fortunately for us up in the mountains, these super cells traveled to the South of us, and missed us entirely. It could have been really nasty if one of those Super Cells would have hit us, when our only shelter was our rain ponchos and a tarp over our heads.

    "Cold Cuts" was the planed lunch for the day. However we were already "cold" from the storm, and needed something to help warm us up. So Jay decided to change the menu to hot beef stew. Ordinarily I am not a big beef stew fan – however on this occasion, it tasted pretty darned good. That hot stew really hit the spot, and helped to warm us up.

    After lunch we hiked back up the hill to the trading post. I wanted to make sure Bryan had all the supplies he needed to complete his merit badges. He needed a few things to take with him for his Wilderness Survival camp – a space blanket, a whistle, and a first aid kit. Bryan also wanted to work on a couple of beadwork projects, so we bought a couple of beadwork kits for him to work on. He loves to keep his hands busy (and it helps to keep him occupied, and out of mischief too!) A good investment, I thought.

    After our visit to the trading post we went to the archery and rifle shooting classes. At the end of the rifle shooting class (about 4:00 pm) the rain finally stopped. Bryan stayed after for a little while at the rifle range to get in some extra shooting to help qualify for the merit badge.

    We made our way back to camp, and just as Bryan was about to sit down and rest for a little while, he was assigned to cooking duty. He and another boy were responsible for making our spaghetti dinner. They cooked the pasta, browned some hamburger, and poured in some Ragu sauce. It actually turned out pretty well.

    In the photo, the boys are trying to light the camp stove. At this age (12-13 years old) nearly all of the boys are pyromaniacs. In fact, Jay nicknamed Bryan "Pyro" at the camp. Matches, of course were the most popular item. After being at camp for less than 30 hours, the scouts had already gone through two boxes of matches! (Of course, trying to start a campfire with waterlogged firewood didn't help matters any.)

    One of the boys was intent on starting the camp fire according to the directions found in the scout handbook. After the young man used up about a half a box of matches trying to get the fire started, Jay got out the secret weapon known to scout leaders the world over -- charcoal lighter fluid -- and demonstrated the "official method" to start campfire -- with only one match! The young scout was horrified to learn that the leader would actually cheat by using lighter fluid.

    It was getting time for me to pack up my gear and return home. I took a few moments to spend some private time with Bryan. I gave him a last-minute pep talk. Then we had prayer together. I could tell that Bryan was kind of sad to see me go (And I was kind of sad to leave.) He gave me a big hug and a kiss goodbye. Then he was off with the scouts for their evening activities. I packed up my things, and got everything loaded into the truck.

    (The lake at Camp Frontier)

    On my way out, I stopped along the way and took some photos. The skies were finally clear, and evening light was just beautiful. The scent of the pine trees around the camp site was finally able to come through, now that the rain had stopped. It was hard to leave. It really was a beautiful place. And I will miss my son. I hoped and prayed that he would be safe, and have an enjoyable time there. Now he would have to take more responsibility for himself, without me being there to direct his every move. Camp also provides a chance for Bryan to do a little growing up too. Be careful, son. Have fun, but come home safe, too. OK?

    You can see more photos of Camp Frontier here.

    Saturday, August 05, 2006

    Camp Frontier - Part 1

    This week our son Bryan has been at the annual week-long scout camp – Camp Frontier at the East Fork of the Bear River. This was Bryan’s second year at scout camp. Camp Frontier is located in the Uinta Mountains in Utah, but is also just a stone's throw away from Wyoming. The setting is in a forested area with aspens and pine trees, at about 9000 ft elevation (actually 8,909 ft according to my GPS Unit.) We were at 40.51.748 North Latitude, and 110.46.019 West Longitude -- there I'm getting some use of my GPS Unit already! Just down the hill from our campsite winds the East Fork of the Bear River. You could hear the river roar from our camp site. It was nice to listen to the river to help you drift off to sleep at night.

    What a beautiful location this year, compared to last year at the Bear Lake Aquatics Base camp. I called it Bear Lake Snake Camp. The Bear Lake camp was on the East side of the lake. There was plenty of sage brush, but no trees. It was hot, with very little shade -- oh, and don't forget the rattlesnakes! Bryan described his encounter with rattlesnakes at the Bear Lake camp here. And here are some of the photos from Bear Lake as well.

    I was at Camp Frontier for the first two days (Monday and Tuesday) -- same as last year. I like to be there with Bryan at the beginning of scout camp to help him get things organized for the week. I help him figure out what merit badge classes to take, help him plan out his schedule for the week, and make sure that he has all the supplies he needs. This year, if all goes well, Bryan will earn 5 merit badges. It's a good thing I came too -- There were originally three Young Men's leaders scheduled to accompany the scouts on Monday Morning. Two of them dropped out at the last minute. If I had not gone with them, scout camp would have been cancelled this year. (At least two leaders are required to be with the young men at all times).

    After getting our camp set-up, we hiked up the hill to the camp office and got registered.

    (That's our tent on the left.)

    It was about 1:30 pm, and we hadn't had lunch yet. We learned that there is a caste system at scout camp -- scouts with food, and scouts without. Apparently, for an additional $15 a head, you can eat all your meals at the chow hall. If you were upper-caste, you got to wear a paper wrist-band decorated with American Flags. If you belonged to the lowly, hungry scout caste -- like us -- you only got to wear a neon green wrist band. We had to purchase, pack, haul, and prepare our own food -- which cost about $300. Lets see now -- 6 scouts, plus 2 leaders times $15 each. That comes to $120. Hmmmm. how about next year we become upper-caste scouts and eat at the chow hall!

    We were getting really hungry, and it was getting late enough in the day that we really didn't have time to cook food before our activities were to begin. We asked the folks in the camp office if it was possible to buy lunch for this first day. In an act of mercy, the lady at the office looked upon us lowly creatures, and noticed that they had some food left over, and told us to just go get some food (free of charge!). Never did chili-dogs and potato chips taste so good! And the price was right too!

    Bryan and several of the other scouts began their merit badge classes with a a couple of really fun ones -- archery, and rifle shooting. Bryan has a juvenile sized compound bow at home, and he loves to practice in the back yard. We also have a little .22 single-shot, bolt-action rifle (similar to the ones at camp) that we use for target practice.

    After classes, we returned to our campsite for dinner. You guessed it -- hot dogs again! (Oh the joys of scout camp food!)

    The weather wasn't too bad when we first arrived. We were able to get our tents set up and stow our gear. However when evening came, so did the rain. It rained and rained, with no let up. Then there was the occasional bolt of lightening, and rolling thunder. Normally on the first night of camp, there is a flag raising ceremony, and a program put on by the camp staff at the amphitheatre. However, this week, for the first time in 7 years at Camp Frontier, the opening ceremonies were cancelled due to the weather - and especially the danger of lightening. The camp director related the story that Last Summer, a scout was killed by lightening at a nearby scout camp, and they didn't want to have us all congregated into one place during an electrical storm. Hmmmm. . . After thinking about that for a few moments, I understood the logic -- "We don't want to be congregated together so that a single lightening strike would kill the whole bunch of us! So go back to your campsites. If lightening strikes, it will only kill a few of us!" I guess that makes sense. Better advice might have been to have us all go get into our vehicles during the electrical storm. We would be dry, and being in your car is just about the safest place you can be when lightening strikes.

    Later that evening, after huddling together under a tarp for a couple of hours in the rain, dressed in our trusty rain ponchos, we decided to turn in for the night. Bryan and I retired to our tent. We put on a few layers of warm (and dry!) clothing (temperatures in the 30's) and climbed into our sleeping bags. We decided to read from the Book of Mormon. I read one chapter, and Bryan was nearly asleep. I got half-way through the next chapter, and Bryan was out. I decided to call it a night myself -- as sprinkles of raindrops continued to dance across our roof, and visions of warm tropical beaches danced in our heads.

    -- Stay tuned for part 2.

    Friday, August 04, 2006

    Camp Frontier

    Bryan went Camp Frontier at the East Fork of the Bear River scout complex this year. This was a week-long camp. As a dad, I spent the first two days with the boys, and helped Bryan get organized for the week.

    Bryan had a great time, and earned four merit badges in the process. Here are the links to the posts I have written about Bryan's scout camp experience this year:
    Camp Frontier - Part 1
    Camp Frontier - Part 2
    Wilderness Survival Camp

    Wednesday, August 02, 2006

    The Family That Plays Together . . .

    Dawn Ann's sister Tina, and her two younger sons, Nathan and Calvin came to vist us last weekend. These are the closest cousins (some 300 miles away) to our children. It was great to visit and catch up on one another's families.

    We set up our big family tent in the back yard, for our two children, Bryan and Amy to sleep out with their two cousins. They had a great time playing in the tent.

    Saturday morning, Tina braided Amy's hair. It was a long and arduous process, which takes several hours to complete. However Tina and Dawn Ann were able to visit together while the braiding took place. Besides, Tina has 4 boys -- and no girls to fuss over. And Amy was perfectly happy to be fussed over too!

    Saturday, Tina made her famous taco soup for dinner. I supplemented the meal by getting some fresh-picked Utah Corn (from Brock's produce stand). The soup was great! The corn was so sweet and fresh that it nearly tasted like candy! The kernels practically popped off the cob into your mouth. It was so juicy, that you had to be careful to not squirt the person sitting next to you when you bit into the corn. Tina liked the corn so much that she said that eating the corn alone was worth making the trip up to Salt Lake. I remember Calvin tentatively taking a bite of the corn to see if it was any good. After his first bite he was convinced. Suddenly he started eating the corn like "a lawn mower" as he described it.

    Saturday evening, we all got out our recorders, and Tina got out her flute. That's me and Amy pictured (with her new braids) on the left with our soprano recorders. Tina is on the right with her flute. And that's Calvin with the yellow shirt in the foreground. Dawn Ann (who took this photo) was also playing her alto recorder. (Bryan loves to play the recorder too -- but he was too busy having fun playing "Attack Uno" and playing in the tent with his two cousins at the time. )

    At first, we each played songs in-turn individually. After a while, we started playing songs together as a group. Our own little recorder and flute choir. Our family has played together on numerous occasions, but for Tina, playing together with a group was a new experience. She really enjoyed playing together with others.

    Tina began by playing the recorder, but has since moved on to teach herself the flute. Good for her!

    It really was fun to play music together. We must have gone on for 2-3 hours. The thought came to me that this is what folks did a hundred years ago, -- playing music together, or reading together -- before everyone started camping out in front of the TV, video games or (ahem . . .) the computer! It was a lot more enjoyable and rewarding than watching TV, and it helped build relationships and closeness with one another as we played together. It was really a great evening!

    Sunday morning, Tina and her boys came to church with us, before having to make the return trip to Santa Clara. We're sure glad they came to visit. We had a lot of fun with them. We'll visit them sometime this Fall, and you can bet we'll be bringing our recorders with us!