Thursday, December 31, 2009

Another Year......

It has been another long break on the blog for me. That is mostly due to the fact that I finally found a job that has occupied me since October. It's not what I would have liked, but it is a job and at least I am finally working again. I'm afraid that an entire summer off made me rather jealous of my free time now. As with so many things, I fear I failed to truly understand just what I had when I had it. Well, that is not entirely true.

As 2009 draws to a close, I can honestly say I am not at all sad to see it go. In fact, this is one year I am quite glad to see the backside of. I'm not saying the year was entirely without it's good moments, but they seemed rather few sometimes compared to the bad ones. I started the year making a decent salary at a job I had a love-hate relationship with, went through an extended period of unemployment, and ended the year with a job I am not thrilled with, but we survive. Can I just say that at times I am so tired of just surviving? When 2009 started, we had a good shot at a house and life looked like it was definitely on the upswing for me and Merilee. It was not even a quarter of the way gone when that all came crashing down when that love-hate job became a previous employer. Because of that, I missed seeing my kids this summer and we were forced to remain mainly at home as we had just enough to make ends almost touch, though not quite meet. We have been without TV since May (something that both amazes and bothers me) and may never have another chance at a home of our own. We made it through, however, so I am thinking there is hope for 2010.

The year was not entirely without it's moments, as I mentioned. I actually won something with my photography...a first for me...and had my photos displayed at the Provo Library. Merilee and I were able to go camping in Zion and Capital Reef, though our 'engagement anniversary' trip to Arches did not happen this year. We celebrated our first year married and were able to spend a lot of time together. I am now working from home full time, eliminating the almost three hours a day I spent commuting, as well as saving us about $25 a week on bus fare and gas. There have been many small acts of kindness that have been unexpected and most gratefully received, particularly from Merilee's mom, my parents, and a few members of our ward.

Overall, it has been a year to forget. Not surprisingly, it has ended much the way it has gone...with bad news. It turns out that our car failed its safety inspection due to bad windshield wipers. Even worse, the part to fix the problem is almost $300 and has to be ordered. It just couldn't be an easy fix; not in 2009. Nothing has been easy this year. That has been part of its frustration.

With that I intend to put the year behind me and try to look forward without letting the gloom from 2009 overshadow the possibilities of 2010. If all works well, Graeme and Kayleigh will be out this summer and we'll make our regular trip up to Yellowstone, possibly heading up to Glacier as well; if not Glacier, then we'll spend time in the Tetons. My child support payments will be cut in half after May (Graeme will be 18...hard for me to believe sometimes) and the car will be paid off by year's end. Will this be the year I finally sell some of my photographic work? Time will tell. The point is, I am trying will everything I have left to have a positive outlook for 2010. That includes a goal to write here at least once a week. It's good for me to do this, even if the audience is small enough to count on one hand.

So here's to 2010! May it be as great as 2009 was frustrating, as wonderful as 2009 was bewildering, and as magical as 2009 was mundane! Happy New Year!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Happy Birthday To Me

Well, 45 years ago I was born. It seems like a long time ago sometimes, but not so long at others. I don't feel 45 years old and I hope to keep it that way. I plan on hiking and camping well into my 80's, thank you very much. I feel like I should have something profound to say today, but I really don't. Don't get me wrong; I have had a good day. I have received birthday wishes from many people and I appreciate every one. I just do not have any deep thoughts to share. Maybe later. For now, it's just time to look to the future; there are so many years left ahead of me.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Further Ramblings

Here's another one from Arches. It may not be one of my 'better' shots, but I really like it.

Once again, it has been awhile, and it is not because I have not been in the mood to write. Every time I have tried lately, my thoughts have dried up and I find myself staring at a blank screen. I think part of it has been the lack of any movement on the job front (more on that later) and the imminent exhaustion of my unemployment benefits. Other than that, I really cannot put my finger on why I have had this case of writer's block. It's not as if I am addressing an audience that spans the globe, so there is no pressure there to say something profound every time I write. Maybe it's "just one of those things."

Getting back to the job comment; I did have a first and second interview last week with a former employer. No, I am not going back to the place that just let me go. I am, however, possibly returning to the place I worked five years ago. There are people there who like me and know that I do good work. I do not have an offer yet, but I am hopeful. It is not my ideal job, but it is employment and Merilee and I need me to have a job. I should know for sure next week. I really hope I get it.

In the meantime, I continue looking and applying for anything that seems even remotely possible. That includes a park guide position at Capitol Reef National Park. That is one job that would be amazing, as far as I am concerned. If I had realized how important the national parks would become to me, I think I would have majored in something that would have improved my chances of working in one of them. Still, I am a pretty good fit for this one; I'm just not a perfect fit, and that has kept me from consideration at a couple of similar positions I have applied for. I can think of few things as pleasant as working in Capitol Reef every day. Photographing it for a living would be one of those things, but that is not likely in the near future.

If I do get this job, one nice thing about it is that I will get some time to get used to the idea of working again as it does not start until Oct. 5. I have been out of work almost six months. I have not had many outside demands on my time. I have gotten a bit used to doing what I want with my days. I keep reminding myself that this will allow me to do more of what I want; I just have to schedule it again. Unemployment has made things like camping impossible due to the costs. We will now be able to go occasionally (Arches in October, hopefully). For that I will be very thankful.

For now, I keep my fingers crossed and I keep a word in the ear of the Big Guy. If this is what I need to be doing at this point in my life, I hope I get the job. If not, I hope whatever it is I am supposed to be doing comes along real soon, and I hope I can have an understanding heart. This has been a tough time and I would welcome it's end.

It's getting late and I should probably wrap this one up while I am still making sense. One final note: BYU 14, Oklahoma 13 in the new Cowboys stadium in Dallas. Who'd a thunk it!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Return Of The Muse

I know it has been more than two weeks since I sat down and wrote anything here, and it is not for lack of things to write about. I have been somewhat reticent to write lately, though I am unsure why that has been the case. Today, however, I sat down and wrote a piece to use include with my resume in an application to write for the Web site It is a long-shot at best, and it would only be a freelance kind of gig, but it would be writing about something I love and that would make it an idea job for me. Because I have no experience doing outdoors writing, I put together the piece and I suddenly found the words were flowing again. I decided to take advantage of the situation and post something here in a similar vein.

A little more than a week ago, Merilee (that's my wife, for those who may not know me) and I spent a couple of days hiking. Back on August 12th, we decided to take the Big Spring Trail (the one pictured above this paragraph) and go as far as we felt like going. It was a perfect day for a hike, and together we went almost to the spring itself. Merilee had to call it quits before the spring, but I continued on. I chose not to plow through the undergrowth to get to the actual spring, but I did see the streams coming in from it, one of which is pictured here.

I hesitate to share where this trail is located because when we have been, it has remained relatively lightly traveled and I tend to be a bit greedy with the quieter places I have found, but I would not even know about this place if not for some dear friends, so I'll share just a little. It is located at the top of Big Springs Park, which is up the south fork of Provo Canyon. If you reach the Girl Scout camp, you have gone too far. The trail offers a beautiful hike through trees and meadows. There is running water along mush of the trail, and even a beaver dam if you know where to look. It is one of our favorite spots for a late afternoon walk, or an early morning hike.

This time around, I was amazed to see how lush and green the area near the spring was. The last time we hiked up to the spring, it was easy to see many little seeps that lie a little way below the spring itself. Not so this time. There were large ferns and many other plants in abundance all along the trail. I decided not to venture off the trail in order to avoid the possibility of getting soggy feet. It was really quite beautiful. If I had been by myself, I may well have continued onward, but I did not want to leave Merilee wondering when I was going to come back. Besides, I have not been incredibly active this summer and the 3.6 mile round trip was the longest hike I had taken in some time.

Barely having recovered from our Big Spring jaunt, the following Thursday we headed off to the Timponeeke trailhead. I wanted to show Merilee the view from the hanging valley that lies just above Scout Falls. This is one of my favorite hikes in the area, if not in the state, for several reasons. The first is that it is a dirt trail that winds through trees and undergrowth, making the view highly varied. another is the waterfalls that cross the trail. I love the sound of running and falling water, and these small falls are a great way to cool your head off on a hot day.

The hanging valley is a fascinating place. For anyone wondering what I mean by a hanging valley, it is a valley that ends in a steep drop-off at its mouth. They are cut by glaciers and they look like a bowl in cross section. Put another way, it is as if there was a bowl-shaped valley on the side of Timp that was cut in half, leaving one half intact and one nothing but a sheer cliff. The floor of the valley is a layer of limestone that is filled with fossils. At you walk, you can look down at the bare rock at your feet and see crinoid (sea lilly) stems and brachiopods, which are small shellfish similar to clams. If you look very closely, you may even discover a crinoid head, or calyx. They are much rarer than the stems, which look like small white circles.

I also love the view from the hanging valley itself. The view from the edge of the valley is spectacular, not only out over the area below, but back up into the mountain as well. It is a great place to have a lunch, or take a break if you are continuing up to the summit. Even if I go no further, I always find myself continuing on to this spot. It is peaceful and I very rarely come across many people up there. I can't wait to get back up there when the leaves change.

I am so grateful for the beauty we have all around us here in this amazing place. I am not certain what I would do if I did not have these places to escape into; places that help me find peace in a world that seems to have gone mad so often. They are precious to me, as I am certain they are to many, many others.

One last view for the road....until next time.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

I'm Still Here

I know it has been a couple of weeks since I took the time to write. I have to admit that I found it hard to motivate myself in many ways lately, not just where my blog is concerned, but I am back, thanks in part to something that happened to my Tuesday night. Just as a warning, I'll be tooting my own horn, so to speak, so keep that in mind as you read the rest of this post.

As part of their summer reading program, Provo City Library sponsored a small photography contest called "Picture The Real Provo." They asked anyone interested to post photos on their Flickr group that showed what the photographer thought was unique or special about Provo. Each week the librarians selected the photo they liked the most and that photo won a 16x20 enlargement from Allen's Camera here in Provo. Over 290 photos were submitted. I submitted 11 photos (you can see them here: and I had two selected ("Provo River Trail' and 'Flags') as weekly favorites. The first win came at a time I was seriously considering giving up photography and giving my camera to my daughter. People who know me will understand the gravity of that last sentence. I am an avid photographer, but events starting with being paid off back in March were kind of piling up and I was really going through a period of serious self-doubt. Having that first photo selected was a blessing in more ways than I can adequately explain. Normally, I do not need any outside validation for my photography, but this was exactly what I needed at the time.

The second win came a couple of weeks ago. Ironically, I received the e-mail while I was at the library doing some job searching. It was quite a surprise and also a very big lift to my spirits while doing something that has become rather difficult for me. I have since discovered that I was the only repeat winner in the nine-week contest, something I never would have dreamed going into it. Needless to say, it was a great feeling.

Then came Tuesday night. My wife and I arrived at the library for the grand prize drawing for the reading program. I had decided to come not because I thought I had a snowball's chance of winning the Nintendo Wii, but because the original program announcement said that the weekly winners would be honored at the drawing. As we reached the second floor, my wife noticed the art gallery was displaying photos from the photo contest. We went in and they had placed photos selected from those submitted along the three walls of the gallery. Each weekly winner was noted, and I was rather pleasantly surprised to find that they had included not only the two winning photos I had submitted, but a third photo as well. I had a photo hanging on each wall! This is the closest I have ever gotten to having a gallery showing; in fact, it is the first time any of my work has been shown in public. It was an extremely happy moment for me. I even went back today and took photos of my photos hanging on the wall to record this momentous occasion. It was a definite bright spot in what has often been a rather gloomy summer. Hopefully it is a hint of things to come.

Oh, and I didn't win the Wii, but who cares. It would have paled in comparison.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Looking Forward

Through all the frustration I have felt recently over trying to find a new job, I find myself looking forward to the end of October. My wife and I will take our annual trip to Arches and celebrate our engagement again. While we will celebrate our first anniversary here in a few days, we like to also celebrate he day we made that first commitment to each other.

It will also be a time to recharge the batteries, in a manner of speaking. I love the peace I feel at Arches. After a weekend there, breathing the crisp Autumn air and hiking in, through, over, and around the red rocks, I am refreshed and able to face my 'normal' life with renewed energy.

It will also be a way to recover from what has been, in many ways, a very difficult summer. I was supposed to spend a couple weeks with my kids this summer, but being unemployed made that trip an impossibility. Looking for work has almost taken on the feeling of fighting a pitched battle against overwhelming odds. I have submitted so many applications and have yet to have a single interview. It has been frustrating and incredibly discouraging. There have been some definite high points, but they have been few and somewhat far between. I am hoping that, whatever my employment status at the time, our time at Arches will help me get past much of the negative feelings I have been dealing with since the end of March.

Until then, I look at photos, like the one posted here, and try to bring back to mind the peace I have felt in trips past. I can almost be there in my thoughts. Time to break out the photo albums!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Things I Am Grateful For

As my time among the unemployed has stretched on, I have found myself lapsing into negative views that I find all too familiar. It may be that I actually find some comfort in them because of their familiarity. After reading a friend's recent blog entry, I realized I needed to spend some time focusing on the more positive things in my life. I decided that I needed to take some time to share some of the things I am grateful for.

When I stop and actively think about it, I realize there are so many things I am blessed with. I have a wonderful wife who loves me in spite of my many foibles and imperfections. I have two amazing kids who never cease to amaze me and who I am so proud of and love so much that I find it difficult to put into words. I can talk to them often, and do. I have parents who are supportive and who often go out of their way to help. We have a place to live and food to eat. I am fortunate to live in a place with an amazing amount of natural beauty, not to mention five national parks. I am minutes away from peaceful hikes in the mountains. I can freely indulge in my passion for photography thanks to my digital camera. My five senses remain remarkably unimpaired and, perhaps most importantly, my sense of wonder remains intact and active as ever. I have a car that works, or at least works well enough. There is so much more, but these are just a few I wanted to share.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009


Today I was able to do something that just a few short weeks ago I never would have imagined I would do. Recently, after something like thirteen years, I was able to get in touch with my best friend from college. We met while working on the grounds crew at BYU as students and we were great friends until the vagaries of life decided to intervene. It was largely my fault we lost touch. Granted, he had gone away to school somewhere in the mid-west, though I forget where, and then later settled in Denver, but we had stayed in touch until just after my divorce. During that time, I reached a point where I essentially quit talking to everyone around me, including my family. I had convinced myself that they were all sick of hearing me talk about my divorce and feeling like they had to support me emotionally, so I basically pulled away from everyone. For the most part, I know that was not the case, but that was how I dealt with it at the time. I withdrew from all but the most superficial social contact and kept basically to myself.

The main result of my actions was that I managed to lose touch with every friend I had. As I began to emerge from my self-imposed exile, I accepted the fact that I would likely never hear from any of my old friends again. The problem was that I did not find it easy to make new friends. Aside from a few online flirtations and a long distance relationship that lasted well beyond what should have been it's natural course, I found that I was largely without friends. I had no guys that I hung out with; nobody I watched the game with or did any of the things that so many other people seemed to do all the time.

At first I was not bothered much. I was fine keeping to myself. I did not make friends among co-workers, mainly because I like to keep my real life separate from my work life. Besides that, I never really met anyone that I really clicked with. I thought I had found a friend in my most recent job, but since I was laid off I discovered that I was wrong, but that is another story. After she had spent a couple of hours on the phone with one of her friends, I had actually remarked to my wife that I had no friends. It was a sobering thing to realize.

Then I decided to set up a page on Facebook. The idea was that maybe I could gain more exposure for my photography, but the real benefit was that I was able to contact my college friend again. He had tried to get in touch with me earlier while I was dating my wife, but I was otherwise occupied and ended up losing his phone number. Once I set up my Facebook page, on a whim I decided to search for him and there he was, still living in the Denver area. We managed to talk on the phone and it was like old times.

The remarkable thing for me was that today, after all these years, we met each other again and it was as if thirteen years melted away into nothing. I'm not saying that neither of us had changed; too much had happened to both of us to ever say that. what I am saying is that none of that mattered. We were still friends and it was as easy to sit down and talk as it had ever been. Seeing him and his wife took me back to those days in college and it felt like those old bonds renewed themselves instantly, in total disregard to the experiences we had each had. It was an amazing experience for me to know that our friendship had been strong enough all along to survive intact after all these years.

I know that we will not lose touch again. His friendship is important to me and I will not let that happen. I know that my wife and I will make it out to Denver to visit, and I would like to think that they will come out here again some time. I have learned the value of friendship and I will be a better friend. We talked today for almost two hours, and would have talked much longer if family had not called him away. Though a death in the family had necessitated his coming here, I cannot help but be grateful that we were able to connect again after all these years. I cannot help but think this surely must be a harbinger of better things to come. Our friendship has been renewed, and that is the best thing to happen to me in awhile.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Library Conversations

I know I mentioned this before, but I am here at the library and, once again, there are some pretty interesting conversations taking place on cell phones where all can hear least the one side of the conversation. Right now, there is a guy who appears to be telling someone some of the reasons they can use to explain away fees they are charging someone. He's telling this person they can say it's for their overheard, extra costs they may face, and things similar to that. I am guessing he is involved in some multi-level marketing scheme and someone in the other person's downline in complaining about mysterious fees that are taken out of what they should be earning. Definitely the kind of information best shared in a non-public location. I am pretty sure this is the same guy who was talking about payroll the last time I wrote about this happening. Now he is talking to someone (I am guess his immediate superior) and sharing the conversation with that person.

Earlier, there was an older woman who is apparently getting ready to sell for Usana. She was setting up a meeting with whoever she will be selling under and she was explaining that her husband was still "not on board" but that she was sure he would be once she was able to get going and she could show him how successful she could become. She kept talking about how she had always admired Usana and how they have the only program she thinks will work, and she has looked at a lot of programs.

Some people may say that I should not be sharing these things here, but these are conversations taking place in a very public setting. Any assumption of privacy on their part is null and void because of the location. The point I am making is that they carry on these conversations as if they were at home. It may be they come to the library because they cannot speak freely at home. If that is the case, it seems to me that they have some serious honest issues. Admittedly, these are all assumptions on my part because I can hear only one side of the conversation and I do not know these people. I am not trying to eavesdrop, either. Both of these individuals were at least 50 feet away, giving you some idea of how loudly they were speaking.

Personally, I think cell phone use in the library should be prohibited. It is distracting to other patrons and it really has no place. If you have to be on the phone, reserve a study room and conduct your business there. Please do not share with the rest of us just how little you understand the meaning of such words as privacy, confidentiality, and personal information. The rest of us do not want to hear it, but I will stop ranting now.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Fun With Facebook

This is a petroglyph from Arches National Park. It is one of my favourites in the area. I may post more petroglyph photos on my Flickr page. There are many in the Moab area if you know where to look.

This last week I did something I did not think I would ever do; I got on Facebook. I have never been much for the social networking site thing and I did it mainly to try to get more exposure for my photography. I never anticipated the number of people who would list me as a friend. Most of these people are classmates from high school who I have not spoken to in more than 26 years. Some of them I had completely forgotten, sadly. Others were more acquaintances than friends, really, but it has been quite interesting to see what they look like now and what they are doing.

The best thing to come of this recent experience is I have managed to get in touch with one of the best friends I have ever had. We lost touch after he graduated and while I was going through my divorce. It was amazing to actually talk with him on the phone the other day. The years seemed to disappear and it was like were talking back in college. I sincerely hope we are able to stay in touch this time. I know I will do my best to make certain we do.

Another interesting thing about Facebook is the fact that this site could become a life stealer of epic proportions. Just from those who I have added as friends and who post regularly, I find that if I do not check back once a day, I have so much new information to go through that it takes up quite a bit of my time. Since I have nothing but time on my hands at the moment, it is not a problem. Once I get another job, it will definitely take a back seat. The sad thing is it has not done anything to help my photographic asperations yet as far as I can tell.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Insomnia Strikes Again

Well, here I am up at 2AM again, so I thought, 'What a perfect time to contribute to my blog!' Never mind that what I write when I cannot sleep tends to make little sense when I look at it with more rested eyes. I figure my blog probably has a very limited audience ('Collecting Stray Thoughts, table for one.') so it really does not matter what my sleep deprived mind comes up with at times like these.

I don't have very much on my mind tonight, aside from wondering why I cannot sleep. I have been exploring different options in my search for gainful employment that would be a bit more fun and rewarding if I can manage to get anything going, but no real progress yet. I have learned in the last couple of days just how much banks can suck. I'm about ready to change mine. I have recently tried Facebook and have found a few people from high school that I have not spoken to since before I graduated almost 26 years ago. I still vacillate between feeling like I do have talent as a photographer and actually thinking of myself as an artist, and thinking that I am just another person taking snapshots (got to work on that self confidence a bit more). I have been frustrated by many of the inequities I perceive in the world around me and I wonder if there is anything I can do about any of them. I have found that after almost a month without television, I am finally not missing it as much as I thought I would. I was thinking I would really miss not seeing the Stanley Cup finals, but with a repeat of last year's finals, I'm not that worried about it. I'll just hope Pittsburgh beats the Red Wings this year, but I will not miss watching the whole thing if Detroit wins again (ho hum). I am getting more than a bit anxious about finding work. I have submitted many applications but have had no interviews to date.

I have been blessed to be of service the last couple of weeks to one of my wife's friends. I won't go into details here, but it has been a very trying time for her and we have been able to help out because I was home due to my current state of unemployment. I am glad that we have been able to help.

That's probably all for tonight (or is it for this morning?), but I'll be back talking to myself again soon. I realized that for someone who claims to love to write, I have been doing very little of it of late, especially here. If there is anyone out there who actually reads this, drop a quick comment to say hello. It might help me be a bit more regular if I feel like there may be someone out there reading this. A little incentive never hurt.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Zion National Park

I know it has been awhile, but it has been rather hectic since my wife and I got back from Zion, so I am just now getting around to talking about it. It was an amazing trip, as always, and it was difficult to return to the demands of our regular lives after spending three days in this natural wonder. It is a place of peace and grandeur that defies my efforts at describing it. It really must be experienced in person. Go if you can. Spend a couple of days camping, hike some trails, and get to know as much of this park as you can. You will come back.

This is The Great White Throne on Zion National Park. For those who have never been, this is just one of many massive stone mountains that make up this breathtaking park. As you travel up Zion Canyon from the visitor's center, the scenery changes dramatically and there is always something new to catch the eye. Because the canyon runs roughly north-south, early morning and early evening provide the most dramatic views of each side of the canyon.

This park is the home to the famous Angel's Landing trail that leads to a view point almost 2,000 feet above the canyon floor; a trail that is less than three feet wide at one point, with sheer drops of hundreds of feet to either side. It is also home to the Narrows; a slot canyon trail that often involves wading and swimming in the Virgin River. It is a park of contrasts, with hanging gardens and high desert existing within just a few hundred feet of one another. It even has a desert swamp.

I cannot adequately express what these places mean to me. If I could, I would spend my time exploring places like Zion, Canyonlands, Arches, Capitol Reef, and Bryce here in my home state, partaking of the beauty that is found there and the peace they bring to my soul. Arches still holds a special place for me, but these natural wonders have the power to awe and inspire if you take the time to truly see what is there and experience it on a personal level. Yellowstone, Glacier, the Grand Canyon...our national parks are precious gems that too many see in haste; catching glimpses as the speed through to the next site. If you take time to get out of your car and, if possible, get away from the crowds, there is really nothing else like it.

Here is food for a starved soul; partake and be renewed.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Job Hunt, Week 6, Day 4

This is Tower Falls at Yellowstone. I decided that I would include some photos in my posts just to liven things up a bit. It really doesn't have much to do with the post itself. It's just something nice to look at.

Today I applied for two jobs; one I am probably over qualified for that does not pay very much and another that I am barely qualified for that would be comparable to what I was making before. I am almost at the point of trying for just about anything. Unemployement keeps us off the street, but it barely gets us by, so there is an ever-growing sense of urgency to get a job. Pickings are pretty slim these days and I find myself taking chances on jobs that I have little chance of getting just in case I can beat the odds.

I have been doping a lot of my searching while at the library and I have noticed something that has me shaking my head a bit. It amazes me the people who will talk on their cell phones in the library as if they were at home in their own living rooms. I have heard one side of conversations that never should have taken place in public, let alone in a setting where they can be so easily over heard. It is like people are so accustomed to talking at home that when their cell phone rings, they seem to be transported into some virtual private space where they believe they cannot be heard. When I am at the library, my phone is on vibrate and let calls go to voice messaging because I do not want everybody there knowing my business. I even heard one guy sitting right behind me discuss his company's payroll, including the banks they had accounts in and the people that had to be paid, along with the amounts of their checks. It just boggles my mind that someone would discuss that kind of confidential information right there where anyone can hear.

Next week the job hunt will take some time off. My wife and I were going to go to Zion National Park last weekend, but with high wind warnings (gusts up to 60 mph!) making setting up a tent and cooking virtually impossible, we decided to try for next week. So far it looks good. I could sure use some time hiking and enjoying nature to help rejuvenate. Hopefully, this time will work out for us. Then I will have new photos to post.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Search Continues

Since Friday marks the end of my sixth week unemployed, I thought it might be interesting (to me, anyway) to chronicle my search for employment here. Not only will it help relieve some of the stress involved, but it make help me come up with new ideas. I really did not anticipate being out of work for so long, so I might as well make it a constructive experience.

Yesterday and today I have made the usual rounds of various job posting sites and found that there is little new for me there. I have applied for a couple of jobs with the National Park Service that I was qualified for, but I have heard nothing back on any of them. I applied figuring that I might as well look at this time as a chance to possibly change careers and do something I truly love, but that has not gotten me very far yet. I press forward each day, hoping I will find that one unique opportunity that will result in a job that I enjoy, rather than just another job.

I have also taken the opportunity to set some things up regarding my photography. I have a Flickr site (search for utvikingsfan1964) and a site on (search for Scott Bishop) where I have a few photos posted so far in the off chance that someone sees them and likes them enough to purchase them. I would love to be able to use my photography as my career because I could combine it with my love of the outdoors extremely easily. At this point in time and due to the recent job loss, I tend to be rather self-critical, so I have to remind myself that just because I have not sold anything yet, it does not mean I am a talentless hack.

Today I completed a profile on BrightFuse, another business networking site, in addition to my job search. I have been working from the Provo library while my dear wife has been doing her volunteer work here. While I have not applied for anything today, I continue to contemplate a job located in Dugway. I only contemplate it at this point because I really do not want to relocate to Tooele. Anyway, minimal success today. I'll be back here again tomorrow, the picture of least for awhile.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Insomniac Ramblings

It's a bit after midnight and I find I cannot sleep tonight. Tomorrow it will be four weeks since I lost my job, and I find that I still have not been able to totally let it go. My biggest problem seems to be the sense of betrayal that still creeps up on me at times. I gave much more of myself to that job than I ever realized and I was seemingly tossed aside like so much chaff. I guess when you put so much of yourself into something, it is hard to let it go, but I have to let it go.

I also struggle with the job search. Somewhere in my mind I believed I would be working again by now, but I have not even had an interview yet. I know that jobs are not easily obtained at the moment, but it scares me that so much time has passed and I have not even had anyone want to speak with me. I keep telling myself that there must be a reason for what has happened and that surely something better is in my future. I try to stave off the doubt that insidiously creeps in, but it seems to find its way through more often of late; especially during that time before sleep takes me when my thoughts dance around like leaves caught in the wind. I keep trying, for that is all I can do.

Next weekend my wife and I plan to visit Zion National Park. It is, admittedly, what some would consider a bit of an extravagance in light of my current situation, but we see it as a chance to get step out of our lives for a few days; a chance to recharge in the beauty of nature. It is an opportunity to gather strength to continue on; a chance to rework my perspective, to see things in a new light. It is also an opportunity to shoot photos for a few days and hike until I am so tired that I fall directly into sleep, skipping the swirling thoughts entirely.

I think my whole purpose in writing tonight is to try to clear my thoughts so I can get some sleep. It has to be more productive than simply laying there, even if I am writing to an audience that appears to consist mainly of myself. Does that mean that I would be better off making this entry in a journal, or do I secretly find hope that maybe someone out there will actually read this? Maybe I am just so tired right now that I am just babbling along without making much sense. If that is the case, at least I can delete this later.

I do have to add one thing before I go. I have come to a realization of just how important friends can be. This is mainly because I find myself rather short of friends at the moment. I have not been the most attentive of friends myself. It is something I am not proud of, but it is something I am going to change. This has come about because of the apparent end of a friendship I had developed with someone I worked with. I had thought the friendship strong, but after four weeks of no response to phone calls or e-mail, I think I finally accept the fact that it was not quite what I thought it was. I find myself wondering if I have been like that myself. I know I have to be a better friend in the future.

Anyway, I think it is getting to the point that I should stop or risk becoming overly maudlin. After all, it is getting late even if I cannot sleep.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

So Much For Optimism

That is me under Delicate Arch during happier times. It is funny how quickly things can change. Just a little over two months ago, I was feeling pretty good about the way things were going in my life overall. I thought we were heading toward a new era in politics (surely the Republicans would see the need for bipartisanship) and my job was looking rather secure. Today, the last two months has show that it is politics as usual in Washington and my job has fallen victim to a combination of a bad economy and office politics. I find myself mid-way through my second week being unemployed and the chances of finding a job comparable to what I lost seem infinitely small. At 44, I am not thrilled with the idea of starting over near the bottom of the wage game.

One thing I will avoid, if possible, is working for a small business. My last employer was a small business and it is getting smaller all the time. Every workplace experiences office politics to some degree, but I have noticed that it seems to get much worse when working for a smaller company. I won't go into great detail, but I have learned that some people are very adept at deflecting blame to others, and others are equally talented at making themselves indispensable by becoming friends with the boss. I know that this may come across as sour grapes in light of my current situation, but these are conclusions I have reached after looking back on what happened with eyes a lot less clouded by the betrayal I felt two Fridays ago.

Now the job search is underway. My life has been turned upside down yet again, something I feel like I should be getting used to by now. I try to find the positives in what has happened. My wife tells me she was sure my old job was killing me; I think she may be right. It is hard to be productive when you are constantly watching your back. I have had some time to rest and collect myself a bit, and I have noticed that the stress of finding a job is much lighter that the stress I was dealing with at my old job. I also have more time to write, dabble in my photography, and do some things around our apartment.

Unfortunately, the facts that we lost a chance at owning a home and I will not be able to see my kids this summer are never out of my thoughts for very long, no matter how hard I try to keep them at bay. I have had a very difficult time not feeling hateful toward the person I see as ruining my life at this point in time. Some people are just not very good human beings, it seems. These feelings are not something I am proud of, nor are they something I am overly familiar with. I try hard not to let them poison me, but they are hard to avoid.

I keep telling myself that this must mean that better things are in store for me. I guess it is my way of trying to weather this particular storm without looking like I have been hit by a class 5 hurricane. We'll see what the future brings. I try to be optimistic and not listen to the voice that tells me this is what I deserve. I guess only time will tell which voice wins out. In the meantime, the job search goes on.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Ending A Long Silence

I have not done this for quite some time now. Sometimes the everyday demands of life tend to become priorities that cannot be ignored and outlets like this get lost in the process. Not today. Today is a day for new hope and cautious optimism.

I am not so naive to believe that everything is going to be blissfully wonderful going forward, but I am not ashamed to say that when Barack Obama took the oath of office today, I felt a very real sense of relief. Those who know me also tend to know about my disdain for the outgoing administration. Being one who loves the natural beauty of my home state of Utah and one who firmly believes there are places that should be saved because we would all be poorer without them, the environmental record of our now former president often left me in dismay. Add to that the war in Iraq, the seeming disregard of the middle class, and the tragic results of inadequate oversight of the financial world and I was more than ready for a dramatic change in direction. I hope and believe that Obama's presidency will be that change.

If nothing else, Obama's campaign and election has shown that normal people can have a say in what happens in this country. It seems to me that many people who had avoided the political process in the past took a chance with a man who inspired hope that things could be different. Now, while I have no illusions that this one event will forever change politics in this country, I do believe it is a start.

I could go on, and I may on another day, but I think I will end today by simply saying that I feel like I have awakened to find the storm clouds have lifted and the world has subtly changed. I look forward with excitement, and not a little trepidation, to the days to come, but deep inside I sense that, with time, things will get better.