Saturday, December 31, 2011

I miss one day and see what happens?

Back around Thanksgiving, I decided I was too tired to write. That one day soon became two, and then three....and now the year is about to give it's final gasp and I am finally writing again. The good news (OK, for me it is good news) is that I have written much more this year than I have ever written before, though not as much as I hope to write in the future. This year I have actually managed to accomplish two things I have set goals to do in past years, but failed to achieve; I submitted three photos to the Utah State Fair, and I completed my book on Arches National Park. I also completed photo books on Nine Mile Canyon and Yellowstone, though they were almost strictly photos with little to no text. Next I might tackle one on Capitol Reef, sharing my impressions and experiences like I did in my Arches book.

And now, in the spirit of the season, I guess it's time to review that list I composed 364 days ago.

What I Plan, Or Hope, To Accomplish, The 2011 Edition

1. Exercise regularly. Merilee and I have a plan in place that begins on Monday morning. We figure if we work on this one together, it is more likely to happen.

This one was in jeopardy almost before it begin. On the first morning, Merilee was not able to even get into the pool it was so crowded and I slipped on some ice while walking outside and hurt my shoulder. We did manage to pick things up later by hiking after work, but then Merilee turned her ankle during a hike on a truly disastrous weekend (no water and we had to find out why from our neighbor, not from our landlords). Then she got sick and we have been fairly sedentary since, though I did spend a couple of days in Arches in October hiking like a madman.

2. Write in my journal at least once a week. I have never been good at keeping a journal, so this is a big deal for me.

Still not good at this one. I started off well, but soon let it go.

3. Finish my Arches book. The photos are almost collected, so I just need to take the time to complete the text and layout. Then I have to have the money to have a copy printed.

Done. Published through Blurb. Check out the links on this blog.

4. Write creatively. And I mean it this time. Compared to last year, this one will be a success as long as I do it even once, but I am shooting for more than that. I already have a first line; "It all began on a Thursday."

Other than the blog, this one went nowhere again. I'll try it again in '12.

5. Save enough money for a new computer. It doesn't have to be fresh out of the box, just new to me. I got the complete National Geographic (I love National Geographic!) on DVD-ROM for Christmas, but I have to have a Mac with an Intel Duo Core Processor running at at least 1.83 GHz in order to use it. I have an iBook G4.

No go on the new 'puter. Still using the same G4 laptop. I ended up upgrading my camera instead. Maybe next year will be a good one for a computer.

6. Pay my tithing. I did better this year, but better is not good enough. This has always been difficult for me.

Still working on this one.

7. If we make it to Zion this year, hike Angel's Landing.

Abject failure here. We made it to Zion, but I realized I was in no shape for Angel's Landing. Next time, perhaps.

8. Become involved in the community. I'm not quite sure what form this will take, but it is something I have thought about doing.

I helped out Friends of the Provo Library and wrote numerous e-mails to my elected officials.

9. Spend less time playing games on Facebook. I have already taken the first step on this one by quitting all of them. Aside from the fact that they were getting to be more frustrating than fun because they are so slow on my computer, I was wasting waaaaay too much time on them.

I had a relapse on this one, but I am back to no Farmville and virtually no Facebook.

10. Enter at least one photo in the state fair. I have threatened to do this for at least the last 10 years. Now that I have officially made it part of my goals, maybe I'll really do it this year.

I entered three photos. Not even an honourable mention. Maybe next year.

11. Continue to improve my photography. I figure I have to add one that will be easy for me to accomplish.

I would like to think that I have succeeded here as well. I'm always trying to improve. My fondest dream is to one day be able to support myself with my photography.

OK, so that about wraps up 2011. Next year I start a new schedule that should allow for a much more active lifestyle (I'm done at 3:25PM) and I hope other things will improve as well. Now I have to get to work on next year's goals. Happy New Year!

PS I finished War And Peace! It was actually pretty good, but the last 45 pages were a bit much. I don't read philosophy for a reason.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Last Night

I know that yesterday's post was rather lame. 1000 words once may have been funny, twice it is just old. Let me explain what happened. What it comes down to is I forgot to write before shutting down the computer. When I remembered, I did not want to start everything up again, so I decided to try to do it on my phone. For some reason I could not get the keyboard up so that I could type, so I ended up recycling not only the idea, but the photo as well. That was all I could manage. I won't try that again.

Only two more days of work this week. This weekend I hope to get the Arches book just about complete. I am almost half way through War And Peace. I'm tired and ready to call it a night.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Small Blessings

Today has been a pretty good day. It started out kind of rough because I woke up at 4:30AM and could not get back to sleep, but we had the library book sale (this sale's shiniest gem....Norton Anthology of English Literature, Vol. 1 for $1) and that was as fun as ever. Then we ran some errands. I got this idea to check at Savers for a sofa or love seat, but told myself that we had never found ANYTHING worth considering at Savers, so I probably shouldn't even suggest it. I decided to suggest it anyway, Merilee agreed, and we found a serviceable love seat for (drum roll please) $12.99! I had to drive a few screws into the frame to firm it up, but with a little luck it will hold for awhile until we can save enough for something better. In the meantime, it was an amazing find and a blessing that we now have a love seat we can actually sit in comfortably. We were even able to get the old one to the dump AND spend some time with Merilee's mom, aunt, and cousins. All in all, I would say it has been a pretty successful day. Now I am headed to bed....OH! I almost forgot. Merilee's mom gave us a foam mattress that looks to make our bed a whole lot more comfortable until we can get a real mattress. Yes, a pretty good day indeed! Now I am headed for bed (after a little Tolstoy if I can keep my eyes open....almost half way through).

Friday, November 18, 2011

New Things We Could Use

1. A job - mine is wearing me out.

2. An apartment - while grateful we have a roof over our head, we also have a very loud family over our head and we are tired of dealing with disasters.

3. A computer - this one is getting woefully out of date. It's still serviceable, but it is slow and none of the newer web browsers support it.

4. A love seat/small sofa - ours is all but dead

5. A car - OK, not very badly, but it would be nice to get better gas mileage.

6. Attitude - mine has taken a seriously negative turn of late. On this list, this is the one thing I think will actually happen, maybe.

7. Bed/mattress - we could both use better sleep at night.

Things I can always use more of
Fellowship with friends

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Long And Short Of It

This afternoon, between calls, I was thinking about the fickleness of time. I have a 30 minute lunch break that seems to be over even before it starts, but the last 30 minutes of the work day seem to take an eternity to pass (especially Friday afternoon). I know all about time flying when you are having gun, but it is still interesting to me that my level of interest has a direct effect on how fast I perceive time passing. I know this is not exactly profound, but it was something I was thinking about and thought I would share.

That's all for now (heavy on the 'short' tonight).

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Rambling Thoughts

I hope someone enjoyed yesterday's posting, even if I really didn't write anything. I was really tired and totally brain dead, though not brain dead enough to try to be clever. At least I didn't post just some random photo, but one I genuinely like.

I'm glad the work week is now half over. Only five more work days until Thanksgiving and a nice break from work. This Saturday is also the Friends of the Library book sale at the Provo Library and I am definitely looking forward to that. I'm like a little kid in a candy store at the book sales. Just when I think I can't possibly find anything there, I find more than I expected. The sale is one mine I can always count on to deliver, no matter how often I dig there.

On Black Friday, we are considering going to Nine Mile Canyon for the day. The current long range forecast is not promising, but we'll see what happens. It would be quite nice to go see the amazing rock art again. If the weather is bad, we'll probably just stay put. It would be fun to go because I always seem to find something new there. Besides, it would be nice to escape the crowds.

We're looking for a new love seat or small sofa. Ours is currently on it's very last legs and in dire need or replacement. These things always seem to give out at the same time as the bank account is running on empty. Maybe we'll have to just sit on the floor for awhile. That might be interesting.

Well, that about does it for tonight. I wish I had something more interesting to say, but the job seems to take it right out of me. Until tomorrow, then.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Monday, November 14, 2011

Joys Of Internet Shopping

Saturday night, I placed an order through Barnes & Noble's web site. I had a couple of $5 gift cards, so I decided I would use them. I found a few books I wanted (mostly clearance) and placed the order. When checking my e-mail on Sunday, I first received e-mails stating that there would be a delay, then got an e-mail stating that the order was ready to ship. Today I got e-mails stating that there had been a delay and I had to go on their web site to say I still wanted the books or the order would be canceled. I received a copy of the e-mail for each of the five items I ordered. I decided at that point that I would just cancel everything (the other option I had along with saying I still wanted everything). I hit the cancel buttons for all five items and then, later in the day, I receive e-mails stating that I cannot cancel because the items are being prepared for shipping. What???!!! OK, so I go onto the web site and look at my order again and it still shows the options to say yes, I still want the item or cancel the item FOR ALL FIVE ITEMS. At the top of the order it states that if I do not select the 'still want' option, it will be canceled in 24 hours. I'll check tomorrow to see if anything has changed, but I am so confused right now that I may never order from them again. With the demise of Borders, this is not the time for Barnes & Noble to go all squirrelly on us. And this is not the first time that has happened to me. I had ordered The Complete Avengers on DVD-rom (that's the comic book, it anyone is wondering), and it was not until I got through checkout and waited for it to ship that they said it was out of stock. What a lousy way to run a web site. No wonder everyone orders from Amazon.

After initially publishing this post, I was doing a quick e-mail check before heading off to spend some quality time with Tolstoy and guess what I found? An e-mail from Barnes & Noble saying that my order had shipped; ALL FIVE ITEMS. I don't know who let their pet monkey play with the e-mail portion of their web site, but they need to put him back in his cage before he brings down any more confusion on unsuspecting customers. What a weird trip this has been.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Nope....I Got Nuthin' (Almost)

 I have been sitting here for more than 30 minutes doing other things (checking Amazon for the new Bloom County book, fiddling around on Facebook, etc) while I tried and tried to come up with something worth saying tonight. at this point, it is time to throw up my hands and walk away. Before I head of to my nightly date with Tolstoy (436 pages down, 1008 to go), I want to leave with something I read in the most recent issue of Outside magazine.

"In a 1991 study by Texas A&M psychologists, subjects who viewed scenes of water or trees reported a much quicker return to a positive mood after a stressful event than those who viewed urban scenes."


"In a pilot study this March, psychologists found that students in an Outward Bound course showed a 40 percent boost in frontal-lobe actvity--which is linked to creativity--after four days in the backcountry."

And finally:

"A 2008 study by University of Michigan psychologists found that walking outside or even just looking at pictures of natural settings improves directed attention, the ability to concentrate on a task. Put another way, nature restores our ability to focus."

There are people out there I really wish would pay more attention to information like this before advocating that wilderness is not important for anything but its economic value. Perhaps a session of congress in the middle of the forest is in order? I know I could use a good walk in the woods about now.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Moments Lost In Time

Yesterday was one of those rare days when I was actually able to do a little thinking between calls at work. I ruminated over things ranging from a fresh update to my political blog (not done yet, but coming soon, not that anyone has ever read it), to what I was considering doing this weekend. I was considering whether or not to make the trek up to Salt Lake to attend my great aunt's funeral (it was this morning and I opted out due to being too emotionally worn out for a funeral), when I started thinking back on trips we had made to her house on Christmas when I was a kid. We used to go, in part, because my grandmother did not drive and she wanted to see her sister at Christmas. Then I started thinking about the past and about time and how fleeting it all is. For some reason it really struck me the fact that the only way I have to prove that any of those things ever happened is that I remember them. Once the moment is gone, it is irretrievably gone except for what we remember, and that is different for everyone who experienced the moment.

I think back on some of my earliest memories, and sometimes they do not feel real. I know that these things happened to me because I remember them happening, and still they feel somehow not a part of me. It was somewhat disconcerting thinking about this in between calls. I started recalling times where I have felt like I was in some strange dream and that I would wake up at any moment to find that everything that had happened in the last week, month, year, decade was, in fact, just a dream.

And then there are the photos I recently found of a camping trip with my ex and our kids. The photos are real. They captured some of these moments lost to the past, and yet I have no memory of that trip. I cannot explain it. I look at the photos and I try so hard to recall where we were, what the occasion was, any detail at all, and it is as if the whole thing has been erased from my memory. I know I was there; I took the photos, but I could not tell you where 'there' was if my life depended on it.

So the past simply disappears, but it is as if my brain is trying to think beyond this linear concept called time. It is sometimes as if my brain is saying, 'Look, I know that there is more to this, but something is in there keeping me from unlocking the part that will help me comprehend in something other than a linear way.' I am sure that this is probably starting to sound rather whacked out (who knows, maybe a screw or two is finally coming loose), but the whole experience yesterday was really rather odd. I found myself wondering if, somehow, our past moments still exist and we could revisit them if only we could find a way to them. Right now, memory is the only way, and memories can be strange, elusive things. It was a weird afternoon.

Clear as mud? I thought so. At least I will have this as proof that tonight existed at some point. Unless this is all some weird dream. (OK, I'll stop now.)

Friday, November 11, 2011

At A Loss For Words

It's Friday night, it has been a very long week, and rather than being all excited and energetic because it is finally the weekend, I am mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted. So the plan is to get some sleep and approach this blog thing again tomorrow. I had some things I was thinking about earlier today that I really want to share, but tonight it is just not happening. If you could see how many times I have had to backspace and correct text, you would understand what I am saying. Tune in tomorrow; it should be much more interesting (than this entry, anyway).

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Just A Quick One

Tomorrow is Friday! Only one more day of work before the weekend. This has been one of those weeks I will be glad to see that back of. More and more I am looking forward to Thanksgiving; not only for the wonderful food and good company, but for the time off.

We bought some Cinnabon cinnamon rolls at Costco tonight as a treat. I had forgotten how good they can be....and just how sweet. We may have to freeze some because one tonight has just about done me in. It sure was tasty though.

That about wraps it up for me tonight.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Wishful Thinking

If I could choose to do anything I wished for a living, I would spend time visiting the national parks and write photo books about my experiences. One problem with this dream is that there are already many people who do this very thing. Just look at the visitor's centers and you will find any number of books filled with photos of the parks. That said, against very long odds, I hope to complete a book on Arches later this month. I have no illusions it will ever be much more than just a little something I put together for my own satisfaction. The site I will be publishing it through will have it available for sale, but I do not anticipate that more than three copies will ever be sold, and I will likely be the one to buy them all. Still, it will be an accomplishment. After all, I did manage to enter three photos into the state fair this year after saying I was going to enter for at least a decade. I am sure I will experience some level of satisfaction of seeing the book in print. I did a Yellowstone photo book for my dad recently and I liked it well enough to buy a copy for myself as well. That one was only photos and I do not think it is available for purchase unless I purchase additional copies. What I am slowly and very indirectly getting at is it would be a dream made real if my Arches book actually sold well and I was able to do other books. I could easily put one together for Capitol Reef as well at this point.

That would be my dream job; not only because I would be writing and taking photos for a living, but because I could actually spend more time in nature. While I missed having Merilee with me this last trip to Arches, being able to spend time immersed in the wonders of that place, listening to the wind and feeling the peace of being away from so many people and the demands of everyday life was something I needed more than I could ever describe. I think back to my hike out to Tower Arch and I remember being almost drawn by the trail. When I started, I had no plan to do the whole trail. I just wanted to see what the first part of the trail looked like, but the further I went, the further I wanted to go. Yes, when I got to the hill of sand, I wondered what I was thinking and if I should go on or just turn back, but I kept going (and I really do not like walking uphill in sand). Even though I was getting tired and was really not in the best of shape, something drew me on. When I finally reached the arch, it was all worth it. I had come 1.7 miles, seeing areas of the park I had never experienced before, and here I stood before something remarkably grand, inspiring, and breath taking. I sat there for awhile, a solitary human amidst natural wonders. That kind of experience is what helps renew me. There are times I literally live for moments like that. Moments like that are what I hope to share.

I'll let you know when it is done.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Tired Tuesday

Today was a rather long day at work and I am rather worn out. At heart, I am really a very empathic person, and dealing with others' problems every day can make me feel physically tired. That is where I am at tonight. I am emotionally drained as well, and that does not lend itself to creativity.

I did get some good news today. My son, who lives in Sweden, has twice applied for extension of child support. I received the most recent official letter in the mail on October 29th. According to Utah, where the Swedish authorities had my child support calculated so they could use ORS instead of working directly with me, my son has been emancipated since he turned 18. Well, when I got the most recent letter, I sent an e-mail explaining that. Today, I had a notice left in the mail that I had a registered letter from Sweden. I spent the rest of the day wondering what it would say, imagining the worst and wondering how I was going to afford paying child support for him again. Right after work, I went to the post office and got the letter. Rather than the missive of gloom I expected, it was a simple letter acknowledging the my son is indeed emancipated and I do not have to start paying extended child support. Now if he would only get a job like normal people who are almost 20 and need money.

That's about all I have in me tonight. Time to read a bit more or the great Russian novel and head to bed.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Another Monday

Yet another Monday has come and gone. Only four more work days to get through. There is something about feeling that way that is quite sad to me. I feel like I am just trying to get through five days of the week, and that seems like such a waste to me. It makes me wish I was doing something that felt meaningful to me, not just something that produced a paycheck. Still, there is no doubt how thankful I am for that paycheck, but I keep looking for something more meaningful.

Lately I have found myself questioning a lot of things. No answers yet, just questions. It must be the fact that I am getting close to 50 or something. I try to look in my heart, try to listen to what it surely must be trying to tell me, but either I am not sensitive enough to hear or there is nothing to hear. I am pretty certain it is not the latter, so I am faced with the task of learning how to hear better. It is not an easy task, but I continue to try. I sometimes wonder why something that seems to come so easily to others is such a difficult task for me. I'm almost 50 and still wondering what my purpose in life is. I thought I knew, once, but that was long time ago and so much has changed since then.

I think it's time to call it a night.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Reading War And Peace

As you may have noticed, I am currently reading War And Peace by Leo Tolstoy. I found a copy of the Penguin Classics edition at Barnes & Noble for $3.99 (normally $16), so I bought it thinking, "Some day, I am going to read War And Peace." Why now, you may ask? The simple answer is that I want to be able to say I have read it, nothing more. I read Anna Karinina years ago and did not enjoy it very much, so I figured my literary flirtation with Tolstoy was finished without having to read one of the longest (and, according to some, one of the most boring) novels in literature, but I was having a hard time deciding what to read after finishing Focault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco (weird book) and I figured there is no time like the present and grabbed the huge tome off of the shelf.

I am over 250 pages into it (1444 pages total) and I find it reads much like any Victorian English novel. This is partly due to the translator being English, I am sure, but the situations and characters remind me of similar characters encountered in books by Dickens, Hardy, and Eliot, among others. It seems the struggles of the human condition are more universal than some would have us believe. I have not found it enthralling, but I have not found it tedious either. It has been interesting and I anticipate it being no harder to get through that other lengthy novels I have read, such as The Count Of Monte Cristo (the unabridged version) and Les Miserables (again, the unabridged version). I ended up enjoying both of those very much, though they did take awhile.

By the end of the year, if someone ever asks if I have read War And Peace, I hope to be able to reply, "Why yes, I have, and Moby Dick as well." That's another book I approached with some trepidation, but figured it couldn't be as bad as I had heard, and I found it was quite enjoyable. I may not have any impressive talents, but I can read long books with the best.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Daylight Savings Time

I'll run the risk tonight of becoming another of likely millions who are making comment, whether pro or con, on the changing of the clocks. It seems to me that with Standard Time being in the minority (what, a little over four months), why do we still refer to it as 'standard'. It seems to me that it is the exception now. I now began my two-week readjustment period, getting used to it being lighter earlier again, and getting darker earlier as well. I wish we would just abandon the whole thing. What I won't do is beat a dead horse by going on and on and on about it.

Tonight we had fun watching Empire Strikes Back and Return Of The Jedi back-to-back. I had forgotten how whiny Luke is in Empire. Still, it was a lot of fun revisiting a couple of my favourite films. I just wish I had not eaten so much popcorn.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Let It Snow!

While I won't believe it until I actually see it (that's how much I trust weather forecasts), tonight we are actually supposed to get snow in the valley. Personally, I am rather excited. I like snow. We moved away from Utah when I was a kind, so I guess I never really lost that childhood love of the cold, white stuff. I like the way it makes everything look so pristine, until it gets all dirty from cars and such. I like to walk barefoot in the snow. It feels good on my feet as long as I do not spend too much time in it. I like walking it late night snow storms. They seem to amplify the light and there is a kind of muffled silence as the snow gently falls to the ground. I like getting on a warm jacket and breathing the crisp, cold, clean air. I like the feeling of the natural world slumbering under a blanket of white. I like driving up the canyon and seeing the green pines frosted white with snow. I like icicles that grow from the roof as the snow melts. I also like that the winter gives me a renewed appreciation for the warmth of spring when it finally comes.

Most of all, I just like snow.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Just A Thought

Recently I had what I think is a pretty good idea. Here in Utah, we have quite a few very sunny days per year, especially during the summer. In Utah and Salt Lake counties, we also have more than a few malls and shopping centers. These places of commerce have huge asphalt parking lots that reflect an awful lot of heat during the summer. Wouldn't it be nice if they would fill those parking lots with raised solar panel arrays? The solar panels would generate electricity and having them placed over the parking lots would provide shade for the cars. It seems like a win-win to me. Like I said, it was just a thought.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Rant Ahead, Proceed With Caution

There are days when I really have to work hard to remind myself how grateful I should be to have a job. About a month ago, I started what I thought was a mostly new job. Many of the aspects of my job that I found less than appealing were going away and certain problems that I faced on an almost daily basis would be a thing of the past. I would be doing one thing, and only that.

The reality is that nothing has really changed. I still do the same things, only differently, and I do more work than before while being held to many of the same stats. I have never had a 'lateral move' (translated as 'no raise') that presented so much additional work. This new process was supposed to simplify things, but they have simply gotten more complicated and cumbersome. It feels as if they have passed on much of the job that those above us did, only we do not get paid anywhere near as much as they do. We are doing work they did for a lot less money than they get. In many ways, I feel rather used. If I had known that this was going to turn out this way, I would never have taken the job. Oh, that's right, I was not given a choice. None of us were. We were simply told we would be doing this, told it would be one way, and we have now learned that it is something completely different.

I wish I could be more detailed, but if I shared any more, I'm not certain what might happen, so I am trying to keep my complaints as generic as possible. I wouldn't want to get fired for expressing concerns here, but I simply have to express them somewhere so that I can get the frustration out. Besides, I am certain my wife is tired of hearing me complain =) I guess this is what happens when one is a front line employee for a big company. It does not feel much different from working for a small company where not being part of the main clique was career suicide.

I'll just end by saying that those of you out there who truly love what you do for a living are among the luckiest people on the face of the planet as far as I am concerned. One day I hope to join you, but for now I'll huddle with the unlucky and hope I can find a way to dislike my job less and be thankful for it more.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Starting Anew Again

After taking almost the entire month of October off, I decided it was time to start writing again. Besides, I have a few photos to share from my most recent journey down to Arches National Park. This time I actually managed to see new things as well as some old friends. You would think that after being there so many times, I would not take quite so many photos, but that was definitely not the case. I am always seeing things to photograph, like sunrise lighting up the red rock below.

Then there was Tunnel Arch. I have seen this one before, but never gotten a good photo. This time the light was good, so I was able to get a decent shot.

On this trip, basically as the result of a spur-of-the-moment decision, I hiked out to Tower Arch in the Klondike Bluffs area. It is a 3.4 mile round trip hike that the sign at the trail head says is moderately strenuous, with gently ups and downs. I beg to differ, especially when it comes to the climb up the sand hill. I almost turned back a couple of times, but it ended up being well worth it. With sights like the Marching Men (below) and Tower Arch itself, I would definitely do this hike again.

These are just four of over 500 shots. Of course, not all are worth showing, but I liked these four enough to share here. I hope everyone who sees them enjoys them as well. I think I will let them be enough for tonight.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Why I Love Autumn....and other thoughts

Here are a few visual reasons I love Autumn, especially this year.

Though they have largely faded by now, the colours this year were spectatcular, especially in the Provo Canyon area (not that I made a statewide tour or anything).  Sometimes I look at these photos and the colors seems too rich, but this is how they looked. I really love early morning and late afternoon sunlight. There is more here if you are interested

So my long absence was not because I had grown tired of blogging, but simply because I have been tired. Back on October 3rd, I started doing something new at work that has made for some very long days the past three weeks. There has not been a day when I did not finish feeling like my head was about ready to explode. It has been quite tough, and even the thought of trying to sound coherent for my blog was more than I could deal with, so I put it off and put it off. No more. I'm back for a few days, but then I am off for some much needed camping in Arches National Park. I'm really going to need this time off as the entire month of November promises to be worse than the last three weeks.

And as if work has not been bad enough, just when we are looking forward to a relaxing weekend, disaster decided to rear its ugly head. I woke up at about 4:25 Saturday morning and could not get back to sleep. Believe me, I tried, but it just was not happening, so I decided to get up and write. The day had other plans, however. A little after 5AM, I heard the water go on upstairs. No big deal, somebody just answering an early morning nature call, or so I thought. Next thing I know, I hear water dripping. I get up and run to the hall and water is coming down out of the ceiling, the vents, everywhere. I grabbed the phone and called our landlords upstairs. It turns out that a hose on their toilet popped off, sending water down into our apartment. It was a huge mess that we had to clean up (they helped a bit), and this is not the first time this year something like this has happened (the last one was a water heater, but I won't go into that now). We went more than 24 hours with a loud, droning floor fan blowing under the carpet, but at least it is dry now. It would have been so much worse if I had not been awake (or if it had happened while we were in Arches), so I am very thankful for that, but it was another in a long list of catastrophes and inconveniences that we have had to deal with living down here. It was also the end of our relaxing weekend, dead before it could even get started. At least this evening is quiet.

With all that happening, this morning I decided we needed a bit of nature therapy. We drove out to the airport dike by Utah Lake and I tested out my new lens on some water fowl. We saw some grebes and these birds that looked like black ducks with white bills and red eyes. I'm not sure what they were because I cannot find them in my bird book, but they were fun to watch. We sat on some rocks by the lake and just watched these birds as they did their thing among the reeds and grasses. We enjoyed the warmth of the sun, the smell of the air, and the sounds of the birds around us. I think it was just what we needed, though we could not stay too long. Now I look forward to sitting on a rock by our campsite, watching the sun set and enjoying the solitude and quiet of being in Arches. Three days of the best of Utah's desert country is just what the doctor ordered, in a manner of speaking....and I'll share photos when I return.

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Weekend Has Arrived

After what has been a very long week, I am ready for this weekend. It started well tonight with Timp High beating Mountview 23-9. It was a fun game and I took photos of Coach Kauo who is our neighbor. I may print a couple of the best ones up for him.

Tomorrow is General Conference, so most of my day is planned for me already. I may try to get up early and go hiking before the first session, but I haven't decided yet. That decision will come when the alarm goes off in the morning. Our home teacher, who is also the Elders Quorum President, all but promised he would have tickets for Merilee and I to go to a session, but we missed church last week and there has been no word from him, so we will just listen at home. I have never attended a session of Conference in person. It would have been nice to go, but those are the breaks. I tend to never count on things like that happening to me because even when it looks like it is a done deal, it never seems to happen.

OK, it's late and if I want to have any hope of hiking in the morning, I better get to bed now. Until tomorrow, then.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Coming Or Going

I couldn't think of anything to write tonight, so I thought I would use the NoBloPoMo prompt, only because I really don't fly anywhere anymore, I have modified it a bit. Personally, I tend to like the going more than the coming back these days. When we go places, it is usually camping and I use those trips to help rejuvenate as I have mentioned in other posts. While there are definitely things I like about being home, I don't like my job much, so having that lurking on any return is not too pleasant. This summer, I have gotten through work by focusing on the next trip. I'm still doing it in that I am looking forward to the end of October and our trip to Arches. Maybe the change that will soon be happening with my job will be a good thing and I will dislike it a bit less and returning will not have that black mark against it.

Only one more day in the week and the month. Too bad it feel more like August then almost October, though I hear tell that will be changing soon enough. Can't wait for the weekend!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

September 28

Happy Birthday to me! 47 years old and still don't feel a day over 45. Just kidding. I actually don't worry too much about my chronological age. In my head I'm still no more than 30. So here's to the 17th anniversary of my 30th birthday.

(Still not in the mood for much reflection. Maybe later.)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Waning Hours

Not long now and I will have completed the 47th year of my existence. I would say that now is a good time for reflection, but I would really rather not tonight. Maybe tomorrow after a good meal I will feel more like looking back over my life. Tonight I think I would rather just read a good book and drift off to sleep, hoping that tomorrow is a decent enough day. I will say that I am hoping for great things in year 48, but really expecting much more of the same. I think I feel a mid-life crisis coming on. Better go try to sleep it off.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Not Much Tonight

Nothing like the first day back at work after a vacation to make me wish I was still on vacation. This was one of those Mondays that give all Mondays a bad reputation. If it wasn't the 40 minute, stats-wrecking call, it was the degeneration of my phone into a fragmented mess when I tried to talk. I was so glad to see the day come to an end. Hopefully this is not an early indication of where the rest of the week is going. I have training the rest of the week, so I'm afraid to even wonder how bad it might get.

I'm going to head to bed early tonight.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

More About The Reef

On this trip to Capitol Reef, we did something new every day. When we arrived, we selected a camp site in the walk-in area, mainly because it was the best option available. Tuesday we drove the Notom-Bullfrog Road down to the Burr Trail, and then took the Burr Trail over to Highway 12 at Boulder. That was truly amazing. Friday I hiked the Cohab Canyon Trail from the campground to Highway 24, and then followed the highway back to the campground (not very smart on my part and my legs are still sore as a result of that hike). Saturday we drove down to Pleasant Creek and walked along the creek a bit. Here are a couple of photos from the trip.

On Saturday, we decided to drive through Capitol Gorge on our way back from Pleasant Creek. Now, there is a sign at the entrance to the dirt road into the gorge stating that no vehicles over 27 feet long should try the drive. Well, a little way in we began seeing what appeared to be Japanese tourists taking photos along the side of the road. Merilee remarked that they must have walked a bit to get where we saw them. The we saw why they were there. The driver of their tour bus (yes, bus....much more than 27 feet long) had taken the bus down into the gorge on the dirt road. We hurried to the parking lot and turned around as quick as we could because we did not want to get stuck in the gorge should the bus become stuck trying to turn around. The road is very narrow and rather rough, so I have no idea how they got as far as they got. I also have no idea how long it took them to get it out.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Back From The Adventure

Well, I am back from Capitol Reef a day earlier than I originally planned. It's my own fault because I took on a hike that I was clearly not prepared for (more on that later). Because of that, I am sitting here with very sore legs and calves that feel like rocks. I would not have been able to hike today (though we did go for a bit of a walk this morning before we left this morning so my legs would not be even less functional), so we decided to just head back. It was an amazing trip, but I am just too sore and tired to say too much about it other than we did something new every day and I took tons of photos, some of which I will share soon (hopefully tomorrow). I'll also share some additional details of our adventure. For tonight, I'm just glad we are home safe and I hope my legs feel better tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Capitol Reff Bound

Today is the big day. We're off here in just a little bit, but I thought I would post a little something to keep the streak alive for now. Wish us luck and safety, and I'll be back on Sunday if I cannot find a way to post before then. I'll even have photos.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Night Before

Tomorrow is the big day; we are off to Capitol Reef. I am trying to keep my expectations low for this trip because Merilee's foot is still bothering her so she will not be hiking. It obviously follows that any hiking I do will be the solo variety. I have been looking forward to this trip for awhile now, but now that it is tomorrow, I seem to have lost my enthusiasm for it. I'm sure it's just because I am tired and it has been a very long day. It's weird because I usually love to drive and I am not looking forward to this drive at all. I'm not looking forward to setting up the tent either. I know that once I get on my way, this will all likely change, but right now I could just sleep for five days and call it good. The most important thing here is that I am not at work.

I'll try to say something quick before leaving in the morning, but I don't think I'll be posting while I am gone as there is no cell reception and not internet access. Nothing wrong with that, though. I would rather be in Capitol Reef National Park and break my string of blog entries than keep the streak alive and not go camping. Still, who knows?

Monday, September 19, 2011

At A Loss

I have to admit that another Monday evening finds me with not much to say. Mondays can be quite a shock after not having work for two days. Nothing like getting yelled at ("I know it's not your fault, but.....") to bring one back to reality. At least I only have one more day to get through before a nice break from everything, but tonight I'm afraid that's all I have to share.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Weekend Wrap Up

So another weekend comes to a close, Fortunately, I only have two days of work this week, so I will soon move into a very much needed break. Capitol Reef is still on right now and I don't think I will be able to blog while I am gone. That means that I will miss, at the very least, Thursday through Saturday. I may get something posted before I leave on Wednesday, but chances are I'll forget in the rush of final packing and getting onto the road. If I can find a way to do it, I'll post updates during our trip, but the most likely scenario is that I'll share some photos when I get back.

I actually almost missed tonight as well. We had been up at my parents where I grilled burgers and hot dogs while inhaling mass quantities of hickory smoke. I also made dutch oven potatoes and they turned out great. I don't make them very often because they have enough bacon in them that they are not extremely healthy, but they sure are tasty and my family seems to love them. My day actually came out and visited with Merilee and I as I grilled and that was quite nice. We talked a bit about BYU's meltdown last night against Utah among other things. It was really nice to have him come out and talk with us.

Tomorrow we will have to do some shopping after work to get the last few things we need for the trip so we can start getting things organized. It will be so nice to be away for awhile. I really need the time out in nature to help recharge personal batteries that are running dangerously low. We took a quick trip up into the mountains today and I realized just how much I have needed to get out into the wild. It has been hard with Merilee's foot bothering her because we have not been able to go hiking like we had been doing. It will not be as much fun to be hiking without her, but it is something that I really need right now.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Busy Saturday

Today we spent most of the day running errands. We started off with a trip to the book sale at the Springville Library. I may have mentioned before that books are a big addiction for me, so it can be dangerous to go to these sales, but I have so much fun when I go. I managed to restrain myself this morning, mainly because there really wasn't much to look at. I did have one major score, though. I found a copy of Approaching Zion by Hugh Nibley for....(drum roll)....a whole 50 cents. Brand new, the book is $50 and I got it for 99% off. It does have a few problems, as many previously loved books do, but I did not hesitate when I saw it. Today's sale only set me back $2.25, though the remaining finds really aren't worth mentioning (but I like them).

Other errands made up much of the rest of the day, but we made it home before having to deal with the insane traffic that happens on game day. Yes, it's the big BYU-Utah game here in Provo tonight. It may be heresy to say so, but this year I really don't care what happens. This is one rivalry that has gotten way too ugly (and I am talking about the fans on both sides) of late and I am tired of it. When Utah ran away to the PAC 12, I hoped that would be the end of the whole thing, but no, they figured out a way to string it along. So go BYU, and take Utah with you because so many of you have forgotten one simple thing....IT'S ONLY A GAME!

Tomorrow morning, barring unexpected morning cloudiness, Merilee and I are going to head up into the mountains for a bit of a drive. I have a photography project I plan on starting and I want to see how the colours are coming along. I have noticed reds and yellows up on Y Mountain and I suspect they are getting a good start in the higher country as well. I thoroughly enjoy Autumn and the beauty of the trees preparing for their winter nap. They can be a challenge to photograph, but I do so love the challenge. Also, there is always the chance of spotting the odd moose or a few wild turkeys, though deer are definitely much more common. I'll be sure to post some photos here if I get any really good ones, especially if I manage to see any moose.

Now I think I'll head to bed. I only got about 5 hours sleep last night due to a very minor bout with insomnia, so I am hoping to get more rest tonight. Tomorrow evening we head up to my parents' place for our monthly family gathering. It's going to be a barbeque, so I am forced (OK, strongly encourage) to make my dutch oven potatoes. On top of that, I'll be doing the grilling (I always seem to at the barbeques), so I'll come home smelling of the grill. It could be worse.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Victory At Last

Timp 41, Springville 14. We almost didn't go because of the rain before the game, but we are glad we went. It was only 7-6 at the half, so the second half things really opened up. I felt a little sorry for Springville because it was their Homecoming game, but it was a lot of fun watching Timp dominate for a change. We will likely miss next week's game because we will be camping, but we'll be back for the one after that. Go T-wolves.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Almost Here

No, this is not from this year. Yes, it is almost Autumn. I have so enjoyed the cooler nights recently and I am looking forward to heading up into the mountains to try to capture more photos like this one. With all the water we have had lately, who knows how colourful things could get.

Next week my streak of blog entries may come to an end as we are planning on going to Capitol Reef for a few days, possibly with a side trip down to Bryce Canyon. Merilee's foot is still bothering her, but she says she is happy to relax in camp while I go hiking. I'm not sure I like that idea (I would feel bad leaving her all alone in camp), but both of us are at the point that we really need an escape and I would really like some apples. We'll see what happens. If it means not going to Capitol Reef so that Merilee's foot is better for Arches in October, I may opt for that. I could really use some time camping, though. Looks like it will be an interesting weekend going back and forth, trying to decide.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Short And Sweet....Well, Short Anyway

It has been another long day and I am, once again, not feeling very talkative. Dealing with as many rude people as I had to deal with today is not very conducive to writing an interesting blog entry, I'm afraid. It definitely wears me out emotionally. I try to answer each call with a friendly-sounding greeting. The gets progressively harder to do with each rude response. I know having problems is frustrating, but it does not help to start out by unleashing your frustration on someone you are asking to help you. Anyway, only two more days until the weekend. Here's hoping they are better than the previous three, or eight, or thirteen, or.......

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


I'm brain dead today, so I decided to answer the prompt from NoBloPoMo for today's entry.

What was the last book you returned to the library?
I just recently returned Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John Le Carre. I found it quite enjoyable. I'm still not entirely sure why I decided to try this one other than I had never read any of his books and it seemed interesting. It turned out to be a rather good read and I actually checked out and read his first George Smiley novel Call For The Dead, and now I am reading A Murder Of Quality. I tend to do this; read in genre cycles. Today it is spy novels, tomorrow it could be fantasy again. I never can tell.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Passing The Century Mark, In A Manner Of Speaking

I did not even notice this until after I had posted last night, but yesterday's post marked the 100th. that may not seem like much, but considering my track record previous to this year (or even last month), it really is quite the accomplishment. At this rate, the next 100 will not take me near as long. It is even possible I could do it before the year is over, though I am not sure how long I will keep up the daily entries.

I saw something on posted on Facebook by Pioneer Book in Orem that was more than a little disheartening. Apparently, Ikea is now making its Billy bookcase deeper, and even moving towards having glass doors. The reason? Ikea suspects that people will not be using them for books as much anymore. Apparently the writer of the post Pioneer linked to thinks that "dead tree books", as he calls them, will soon be a thing of the past, starting with paperbacks. I, for one, sincerely hope he is wrong, though the demise of Borders is definitely not encouraging. I love books. One day I hope to have written one of my own. I have seen e-readers and even have a couple of free ebooks on my phone, but I enjoy holding the book in my hand, the smell of the paper, turning actual paper pages, and seeing them lining my walls. Books are one of my truly big weaknesses. Best of all, you can read them without electricity. I really like my electronic gadgets, but they will never replace my books.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Lost Weekend

Friday night: Timp loses homecoming game

Saturday: I go to the fair and confirm that I lost

Saturday night: On the way home from the fair, listen to BYU lose to Texas

Sunday: Vikings lose to the Chargers

That is one losing weekend. Now I have the work week to dread, I mean, look forward to. Before anyone says I need to look on the bright side and not be so negative, I know all that, but there really has not been much of a bright side to look on this weekend. Well, the turkey leg at the fair was good, so I guess that counts for something.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Fair Report

No ribbons. Not surprised. Still disappointed. Best in class photo sucked. Really could have used some recognition, but not to be. The whole thing won't be as big a deal tomorrow. Headed to bed. Maybe next year.

Here are the photos I entered. Now that I know that they did not win, I won't jinx anything by sharing them.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Big Day Tomorrow

Tomorrow I head up to the Utah State Fair to see my photos on display with hundreds of others. It will be cool to see my work hanging there with so many others. I really don't expect to see any ribbons, but it would be nice to be surprised. It will be interesting to see what the judges think is noteworthy this year. Last time I went, I tended to disagree....or at least not understand the reasoning behind...most of the judges' choices. I may have mentioned this before (but I DO like to whine about it, admittedly), but the big winner last time I went was an orchid on a white background. It was a no-brainer photo. Anyone could have taken it, but it was in a really nice frame and was entered in the fine art category, so maybe that was what made the difference. I just could not believe that a photo that took so little effort ended being judged the best. There were literally dozens of photos that deserved it more than that one in my opinion, but I'll stop whining now.

Another Friday night and another Timp High loss. They showed some moments of brilliance tonight, but they just couldn't avoid the mistakes. Next week they play at Springville. We'll see what happens then.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Ancient Pet Picture?

Is it just me or does this look like a Native American decided to immortalize his favourite dog in stone? Proof that they had pets? I think it just might be so myself.

I took this one in Moab (I think) and I almost entered it into the fair, but it did not make the final cut this year. It is less than a year old, so I can still use it next year if I want to. It is one of those petroglyphs that looks familiar, but does not seem to be of a hunting scene or of something abstract. That is one of the reasons I like it so much.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Another Restless Night

This one is going to be another short entry because I had yet another night with little restful sleep. This time it was because I had a couple of very bad dreams where I was feeling complete despair. This wasn't a little bit of depression, it was full on just-let-me-cease-to-be despair. I do not recall why I was feeling that way. I only retained the residue of the feeling when I woke up. It took me a long time to shake most of it off, but it has never completely left me. Try dealing with unpleasant people in a pleasant manner when you wake up from an experience like that. I'm not too surprised that I am feeling quite drained right about now. I hope tonight is much better.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011


Have we forgotten the strength
Of a simple touch
Or the warmth of a voice
Speaking for us alone?
Lost in a world of pixels and texts
Safe electronic shelters
Free from the need
For true human interaction
Speech, touch, laughter
The light in another's eyes
The smile on cherished friend's face

Sheltered by the distance
Brought by e-mail and chat
Are we forgetting what it means
To be human?
Acquaintances pass for friends
In worlds with internet harbors
And friends fade to acquaintances
Relationships become too much work
In a society where
Almost any desire
Can seem to be satisfied
In an instant
Are we handing over
The best of what we are
To the soulless machines?
Convinced we are not alone
As we share keystrokes in the dark

Monday, September 05, 2011

Lack-Of-Labor Day

It has been a nice Labor Day. We managed to take a nice drive on the Alpine Loop, though we almost got hit by people driving down the middle of the road a couple of times. I was amazed to see all the cars parked along the side of the road anywhere they could find even a hint of space. I do not believe I have ever seen so many people up there.

We would likely have tried to go hiking today if Merilee's foot felt better. I'm hoping it gets better before we are supposed to go down to Capitol Reef again. That's only a couple of weeks away and it will be a much longer, more restful break. Even now I am dreading returning to work tomorrow morning. The last three weeks have been incredible stressful and draining, and I am concerned about another week like that, even if it is a short week. At least I have the State Fair to look forward to on Saturday.

Instead of doing anything outdoors other than our drive, we finished watching the extended edition of Return Of The King and just kind of hung out. I did get a few things out into storage and I helped our neighbor clear out a few overly ambitious grape vines, but other than that is has been a fairly lazy day. I hope I sleep well tonight and have an uneventful day tomorrow. Maybe I'll have something more exciting to write about tomorrow as well.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Meet The Marmot

I really don't have much to say tonight, so I thought I would share a photo. This guy (OK, not sure it was a guy exactly) was not at all camera shy. Merilee and I were parked in one of the areas by the north rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone when we saw him. It was rather early and he was foraging around. He seemed rather unconcerned that I was sitting there taking pictures of him. I didn't get close enough to be a threat, so he just went about his business and let me take photos. Occasionally (as seen here) he would look up at me as if to say, "You're still here?" and then he would go back to eating. It was really quite cool.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Mission Accomplished

This morning I got up early (I'm running on less than six hours of sleep here, so if this lacks a bit in the coherence department, you'll know why) and started to sort through photos again. I had previously settled on three I wanted to use, but I started to look again and came across one that I had forgotten about that I really liked, so I ended up using it and two I had previously decided on. I printed several more that did not make the cut, though I still really like them. I printed the photos, trimmed them, and mounted them on the mat board. I filled out the entry form and headed up to Salt Lake. We stopped by my parents' house and showed them to my mom before heading off to the fair grounds. Once at the fair grounds, I took them in, paid my fee, and they will be shown in the fair. The girl who helped me with my entry info was very impressed by at least one of the photos, so that was nice. We'll see what happens soon. We plan on going back up to the fair next Saturday.

It was kind of funny this morning. As we were leaving, I realized that I felt the same way I feel when I have a job interview. I was very nervous about entering the photos. Both Merilee and my mom reminded me that part of it was the fact that I am offering up something that I have put a lot of work and effort into for others to judge. I agree with that. Part of it was also that I really want to win a ribbon. I feel silly, but I really want some recognition for my art. I love photography and I think I take some amazing photos, but it would be nice to have some outside recognition. Even better would be having one of my photos selected to be part of the traveling exhibit they put together from the fair entrants. That would be truly amazing; even better than a ribbon. But I really want a ribbon. I keep telling myself that is not likely because I do not want to work myself up to the point that I am disappointed. I try to look at it as a type of gallery showing and let it go at that.

Tonight I also posted some photos to enter a contest the Audubon Society is holding. I entered seven photos (I could have entered eight if I had had that many bird photos I felt were pretty good), one or two of which I personally really like. One is of a red-winged blackbird in flight through the grasses around Utah Lake. I also have a couple of wild turkey photos and a yellow-headed blackbird that are quite good. Here is the red-winged blackbird:
The print is much more impressive. I really do not expect to win anything, but I felt like I should enter, so I did. We'll see if anything comes of it.

And finally, I though I would respond to the NoBloPoMo prompt for today - "How did you feel about the start of the school year growing up?" I was one of those weird kids who looked forward to school every year. I really liked getting all the new supplies and I looked forward to being in school again. By the time school started, I was ready for summer vacation to be over. I always really liked school. It took me eight years to graduate from BYU partly because I just love learning. It's a part of having that sense of wonder I have talked about before. I always have enjoyed learning new things, and I still do. I sometimes wish I could afford to go back to school and get a bachelors in geology. I have even toyed with the idea of online photography courses, but the present financial situation does not allow such luxuries. Anyway, to get back on topic, I was always glad to start a new school year. I actually miss it more often than I will admit.

That's about all for tonight. I am very tired and should be heading to bed. I hope I can sleep tonight.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Pushing The Deadline

Well, another Friday and another tough night for Timp High Football. I still enjoyed the game and having a night out with Merilee. It was especially nice to unwind after what has been a truly awful week at work. It ended with me being yelled at by an entitled New Jersey resident. Unbelievably bad day. I am very much looking forward to the long weekend.

Tomorrow morning I am taking a couple of photos up to enter the into the Utah State Fair. I am trying to look at this as a way to get my work seen, not to try to win any ribbons, but deep inside it would be really great to win a ribbon. I will confirm here that they have been delivered. Now I will have a very good reason to go to the fair next Saturday. Wish me luck.

Seeing that I need to get up early to get these photos mounted, I better cut this short. Also, I need to get it posted while it is still September 2nd. That makes two deadlines I'm pushing. More tomorrow.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

New Month, Round Two

Here we are, September first. This could end up being a rather good month. Labor Day weekend is this weekend. The Utah State Fair starts next weekend and I am taking up a couple of photos to enter on Saturday. We have a camping trip planned for the 21st (though this may change is Merilee's ankle doesn't get better by then). I have training during work at the end of the month that will take me off of the phone for a couple of days. Then there's my birthday. All in all, it could be a fun one. Now if I can just get through one more day of work.....

I openly admit that yesterday's entry was kind of phoned in, as it were. I just wanted something short and to the point. It was nice to actually accomplish the goal. What I wanted was really big letters, but I had to settle for the largest the blog would allow. It is a bit hard to believe how quickly the month passed now that it is over.

I know this is another slow start, but this week at work has been completely draining and I should really get some sleep.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Day 31

I DID IT!!!!!

That is all.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Another One Of Those Days

I think maybe I should start a blog just for writing about work. I could keep in totally private so no one saw it but me and that way I could keep work separate from this blog. I say that because I come to this post having survived another of those difficult days at work. It seems when I could use a nice, calm day the most, I get just the opposite. Today was very stressful and I am very glad it is over. Just three more days until a long weekend, then maybe I can relax.

Tomorrow is the big day for my blog. For the first time ever I will have posted something every day for an entire month (can you tell I am stretching for things to write about tonight?). It shows I can really meet goals I set for myself; I just need to be realistic in setting them. I like to write, so this one was not as difficult to obtain as others (exercise, for example).

The weatherman says we will have a cooler day on Thursday and I am looking forward to it. I am glad that we have not had a repeat of blistering summers of the past, but I am also eagerly anticipating the cool Autumn nights. It will make sleeping easier, for one thing, and I enjoy the warm days followed by the crisp, cool nights. I know I have said it before, but Autumn is my favourite time of year.

Seeing as I really don't have much else to say, I think I will sign off. I hope everyone has a wonderful evening.

Monday, August 29, 2011

A Little Food For Thought

"There's no permanency in economy that takes a hundred from nature and gives back one. There's no survival value in such an operation, which is certainly the business of systematic and organized looting--the very opposite of making a fair exchange with the earth. Above all, it ignores the ancient doctrine of man's obligation to "quicken" the earth that bears for him. The old Jewish teaching is that Adam had a right only to that portion of the earth that he "quickened", on which he labored with the sweat of his brow. Let us not confuse the ethic of work with the ethic of plunder." - Hugh Nibley

I have just started to read 'Approaching Zion' by Hugh Nibley and I have started to find that there is a very sound doctrinal basis for many of the things I have believed for quite some time now regarding the reckless way so many people treat the earth. Here's another quote, and then I'm calling it a night.

"It is significant that in the oldest traditions and records of the human race all those men who turned against God and man are represented at the same time as making war against the animals, the birds, and the fishes, and destroying the forests and defiling the pure waters. This is told of Satan in the beginning, of Cain, of Ham, of Nimrod, of the Egyptian Seth, of the mad huntsmen of the steppes, of Nebuchadnezzar, of Esau, of Caesar, of Assurbanipal, and so on, all of whom sought dominion over others, over all others, and to achieve it in only one way--by force. The code name for such an order of things and such a program is Babylon." - Hugh Nibley

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Family Sunday

Tonight we spent the evening up with my family up at my parents' house. We do this once a month and it can be quite the event. My mom usually comes up with a theme and everyone brings something. Tonight is was more casual with no real theme. I spent about 90 minutes making a steady stream of quesadillas (my nephew alone ate four with shredded beef). It meant that I spent more time cooking than visiting, but it took a load off my mom. It was a fun night, though not everyone was there this month.

During the drive home, we were treated to quite the fireworks show my mother nature. The lighting in the south end of Utah Valley was quite spectacular. I haven't heard any thunder yet, so I don't know if it is heading this direction or not. It has been awhile since I have seen such strong lightning. It brought to mind the storms that we would sometimes get in North Carolina when I lived there. I would go out at night and watch the lightning dance from cloud to cloud, purple and blue and green and yellow. It always fascinated me to watch it.

Tomorrow morning it's back to work. At least this week I have a long weekend to look forward to. I am hoping it is not quite as draining as the last couple of weeks have been. I am hoping for a good night's sleep tonight. Last night the power went out and I was so concerned about possibly losing thing in the fridge that I could not fall asleep. The power finally returned at about 1:30AM, only to go off again for about 30 minutes. I finally fell asleep some time after 2AM, so I am rather tires tonight and hoping for some sleep. Work seems so much longer when I have not had enough sleep.

Only three more days and I will have succeeded in an entire month of entries. I'll be going for two in a row in September. I think this will soon be a habit. Good night.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Movies And Books

Tonight we watched the extended edition of The Two Towers. This is the film that Peter Jackson took the most liberties with and I still cannot quite understand why. I am sure I have mentioned before that I do not like what he does with the character of Faramir. In the book, he has no desire for the ring and he stands in stark contrast to his brother, Boromir, who trys to take the ring. The movie turns him into Boromir II in many ways. He is redemmed somewhat at the end of the film, but for me the damage is done by then. Elves at Helm's Deep? The ents initially deciding not to attack Isengard? Rohan hesitant to go to battle? I think not. I know that Jackson made changes to make the films flow "better", or to add excitement, but I still have a hard time with this film, especially this time after having just completed reading the book again. Still, these things have been debated ad infinitum for a long time now, so I should probably just learn to let them go. "It's only a movie, it's only a movie."

Good 'Scott as screw up' dreams last night, or at least none that I remembered this morning. Could it be because I didn't have work today? Who knows, just glad it did not happen.

Merilee and I went to Borders today. I feel kind of bad picking over the remains of a dying business, especially one I have enjoyed so much. I have always liked books and book stores, and now I am relegated to  Barnes & Noble. That is not a bad thing, but I wish I knew of a local bookstore that carried a good number of new books. I try to get to the local used book stores when I can because I like to support local businesses, but I will definitely miss Borders. I managed to get a copy of Familyhood by Paul Reiser for just over $10, Kate Bush's Director's Cut CD for $7.99, Anathem by Neal Stephenson for $2.99 (hard bound replacing my paperback copy), and one real find, a book about Spy Magazine (one of my favourites in its time) for a whole 40 cents. I was especially pleased to find the Kate Bush CD.

Tonight as I write this I am enjoying the sound of thunder outside. I am hoping it cools off tonight because it is almost too hot to sleep comfortably; for me, anyway. I like thunder. It is especially amazing while camping in Zion National Park. It just rumbles through the canyon and it can be so loud you can feel it. It is an amazing experience. Tonight's thunder sounds a bit distant, but I am enjoying it none the less.

Four more days.

Friday, August 26, 2011

My Subconscious Hates Me

OK, so maybe hate is too strong a word, but the other night's flood dream was followed by another weird dream last night. This time I am at home and people start showing up for a meeting that I supposedly agreed to have at my house. The problem is I do not remember setting up the meeting and I am on vacation. The meeting is with clients and I have to hurry and make myself presentable. All the time more and more people keep showing up and I am certain that I am going to lose my job over this.

I seem to go through periods like this where I have one dream after another where I am completing screwing up, or I am in situations where I am in a struggle I have no chance of winning and losing is not a good think at all. It's quite frustrating because I wake up feeling beaten and the day has not even started. Try dealing with angry people all day when you already feel like you can't win. It's not fun. I don't know how long this will continue, or why it even happens, but it is terribly disheartening. At least it is the weekend.

We went to another football game tonight. Timp lost again 31-13 to American Fork, but we had a good time anyway. Next week they play Herriman and we'll be there supporting our neighbor.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Another Short One

Didn't sleep well last night, so I am extremely tired tonight. I am so glad that only a single work day remains in this week. Only six more until Labor Day weekend. That will be such a nice break. After that, less than three weeks until Capitol Reef and heirloom apples. I can hardly wait. That camping trip still seems a lifetime away tonight.

I hope I can get some restful sleep tonight. I'm not sure how I made it through work after last night. It can be hard enough to deal with people when I am rested, let alone when I can barely keep my eyes open. Last night I kept having dreams that I was in house where water kept coming in from under the baseboards. I was trying to save stuff while I watched things I liked (book, photo albums, comics, etc) get soaked to the point I knew they were ruined, and there was nothing I could do to stop it. It was horribly frustrating and I woke up feeling like I had actually lived my dreams all night. I can really do without something like that tonight.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Into The Final Stretch

One more week to go in my grand experiment in blogging. With the end now in sight, I'm sure (barring any unforeseen catastrophe) I will make it through and finish out the month. Looking back a bit, I'm not entirely sure how productive it has been beyond forcing me to actually sit down and write. That, in itself, is a good thing.

I'm struggling with a few things this evening. One is deciding what to say in this post, but the others will remain unnamed for now. I'm not certain how I will resolve these struggles. Destinations have never been a problem for me. I can see where I want to be clear as day, but I have always had a hard time seeing the path. I don't know if it is because I let worries and fear cloud my way, or if I just lack faith, but it has always been hard for me to just strike out and let what happens happen. I think a lot of that comes from the results of the first great chance I took in my life; getting married the first time. That ended very painfully and now I have a habit of wanting to make sure everything is just right before taking any kind of chance. I do not take disappointment well, so I tend to shy away from any chance that it will occur. That's probably more than I should share, but that's what is on my mind at the moment.

It has been another long, trying day and I am quite tired, so I think I will end here. Here's hoping for a nicer day Thursday.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tired Tuesday

Nothing like ending a day at work by spending an extra 15 minutes or so filing a complaint. Two minutes before my shift ends, and I get a complaint call. My job is nothing if not unpredictable in its predictability.

So I have been wracking my brain for almost an hour now trying to decide what to write and I have come to the conclusion that I just don't have much to say today. I'm tired, brain dead, and ready for a read and some sleep. I know that makes for a dull, boring entry and that it hardly counts, but I did write, so I am counting it =) It's hard to believe, but in eight days I will have written something here for an entire month. Who knows, I may just keep going!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Another Monday

Yet another Monday has come and (mercifully) gone. I keep trying to change my attitude toward my job, but then I have a day like today and I have to start trying all over again. After today, I wanted to start adding, 'It's not my fault' to my call intro. 'My name is Scott. Remember, it is not my fault. How may I help you?' Not much longer and everything may change. I'm keeping my fingers crossed and holding out for Labor Day and camping in September and October. I can certainly use the rejuvenation.

In the 'If it sounds to good to be true....' department, Merilee saw an add in the Thrifty Nickel for a house in Santaquin for $49,000. She called the number and today found out that it is a manufactured home in the worst trailer park in Santaquin. Payments on the house would be about $600 per month, but there is also $200 per month for the lot. Needless to say, we decided to pass on this one. Looks like we are doomed to be apartment dwellers for life.

Well, that's about it for tonight. Nothing exciting, I'm afraid. Maybe tomorrow will be better.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Metaphors And Allegory In Church

"But I cordially dislike allegory in all its manifestations, and always have done so since I grew old and wary enough to detect its presence. I much prefer history, true or feigned, with its varied applicability to the thought and experience of readers. I think many confuse 'applicability' with 'allegory'; but the one resides in the freedom of the reader, and the other in the purposed domination of the author." - J.R.R. Tolkien

It seems to me that if you are going to use a story as a metaphor, or create one to be allegorical (by the way, I agree with Tolkien about allegory), you must make your story comply with the given facts you are trying to mirror and have it based in reality. You cannot create a new set of only vaguely related facts and force a comparison. The reason I even bring this up is because we had a talk in church where the speaker shared a story that I, personally, feel was rather inappropriate.

In summary, the story tells of a world-wide plague that grows quickly from one isolated area until it begins to circle the globe (the fact that the last place it arrives is the US is rather contrived in my opinion, but then so is the whole story). The plague is 100 percent lethal. Doctors in the US discover a way to cure the plague, but it requires the blood of someone who is free of infection. People are all tested and a young boy ends up having the correct type. The doctors tell his parents that they must sign a release for the doctors to take the child's blood....all of it. For the good of all, the parents do so and try to explain to the boy why he must be sacrificed for the good of everyone. After the cure is made and the plague is conquered, the parents are dismayed when the world forgets the sacrifice their child made.

The speaker has shared this story...and it is much more detailed and longer that what I have talks during church twice. His stated reason is that it illustrates that we should think of Christ always. My objection lies in the way the story is not based in reality, it manipulates emotions, and it does not really apply to the sacrifice Christ made for us. For one, he knew who he was and he knew what he was here to do. He made the decision fully aware of what the Father required of him. The story uses a boy who has no idea what is going on until his parents explain it to him. They make the choice, not the son. The doctors would never have taken all the child's blood, so it is deceiving in its message. Yes, a sacrifice is made for the good of all, but the circumstances are so vastly different that the story serves no purpose in my mind. It is simply designed to elicit an emotional response, and I find that inappropriate. I could not sit through it a second time, but had to get up and leave. Make the person an adult, who is allowed to make the decision of his own free will, and the story makes sense, but it loses its emotionality because the victim (and I cannot think of another way to describe a child consigned to death by his parents) is no longer someone we see as inherently innocent. I don't mind stories with talks are often filled with them...but stories designed to manipulate me emotionally are valueless to me. Besides, isn't coercion Satan's way?

I know that there are those who may vehemently disagree with me. I know that many people may find the story moving, but to me it clearly falls into Tolkien's definition of allegory. The author's will is imposed on the listener and conclusions are drawn for the listener, not by the listener. There is a big difference to me between being emotionally assaulted and feeling the Spirit. This story was the first, not the latter. Personally, I hope to never hear it again. I am incredibly thankful for the Savior's sacrifice for me, but this story is so far from what He did for us that it does not apply, but rather detracts from the speaker's message.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

And The Damage Comes To....

You would think I would know better than to go to a book sale, but today I went to the Friends Of The Library book sale at the Provo Library and walked away about $25 poorer, but much richer in printed materials. Merilee and I both help set up for the sale, and I promise myself that I will not spend much money adding to the library we already have, but I always find something I can't seem to leave behind. Today's finds included an old copy of Henry Esmond by William Makepeace Thackery (I enjoyed Vanity Fair, but have never read anything else), Phineas Redux by Anthony Trollope, Collected Stories by Graham Greene, and a hard bound, illustrated copy of The Patchwork Girl Of Oz by L. Frank Baum (a reproduction of the old editions of these books I enjoyed as a kid). We also found seven Tony Hillerman novels that we did not have. We are now missing only three of his Navajo mysteries. They are some of Merilee's favourites. I find myself looking forward to these sales because they are like treasure hunts, and I never feel guilty because these sales help fund the children's programs at the library and we are buying books. Merilee and I are both avid readers, so I never feel guilty adding to our personal library, as long as I know that they are books we will enjoy. The next one is in November, so I have some time to save up money for the book fund. Now I just have to put these books away.

Tonight I had to call Qwe...make that, Century Link customer service because my internet connection was down. Little did I realize how time consuming that would be. First, I had to redo all the things I had already tried (obviously the tech was working from a outsourcing), and then when the connection came back up, she kept me on the phone for almost 20 minutes while she 'analyzed' the line. Then she tells me there is a wiring problem and a tech will come out on the 25th. She adds that if the problem is outside the apartment, there will be no charge, but if it is inside, then it will cost me $85. Guess what? I don't foresee allowing anyone inside if it is going to cost me $85. I'll deal with the intermittent problems until we are out of here. At least with Qwest it sounded like the customer support technicians were local. I certainly hope I do not have to call customer support again for a very, very long time. At least I have internet again tonight so I can keep the streak alive.

That's about it for tonight. I think I'll go read and drop off to sleep. Night everyone.


....or apology for last night's rant. It had been one of those days and I let something trivial get to me. Everything kind of came together and I boiled over. It never should have happened, and I should have just walked away. It all resulted in a major bit of childishness on my part. I know who my real friends are and I in no way wanted to imply that they had let me down. Upon reflection, I knew what I was getting into when I entered that MACU contest on FB, and it was asking a bit much for people to open themselves up to who knows what kind of advertising from MACU just to vote for a photo. I apologize for my pettiness.

Just wanted to share that. Thanks for listening.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Friday Night Lights

Tonight, for the first time since....well, high school...I went to a high school football game. Our neighbor coaches at Timpanogos and their first game of the season was at Lehi tonight. It was the perfect excuse to go out and watch some football. It was a lot of fun, even though Lehi won (it never hurts to have a little help from your friends in the zebra suits), and I am sure we'll go to see more games. I look forward to the ones when it starts getting cool in the evening; real football weather.

The game brought back a lot of memories for me. For one, if I had casually strolled up to the line of scrimmage like Lehi's center did, my butt would have been getting splinters from riding the bench. I remember how much fun it was to play and how focused I used to get on what was going on around me on the field and nothing else. I also remember playing a game against a local 3A school we had never beaten and promising myself that their star linebacker would not make a single tackle when he was my responsibility....and he didn't. We didn't lose to them that year. The game ended in a tie, but it was as good as a victory for us, the pesky little 2A school. Ah, the glory days of my youth.

I really enjoy football and this is the first game I have seen in almost three years. We don't have cable or satellite TV and have not had them since May of 2009. That has made it a bit difficult to watch any football. It is one of those things I used to use to kind of escape for awhile, and I do miss it. Knowing how much my wife dislikes television has been a big reason why I have not tried to get it back, but who knows; maybe this fall I'll break down and sign up again. Probably not.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Throwing In The Towel

I deleted my photo from the Facebook credit union photo contest. After five days, it had 50 points, and 20 of them were from me. If I learned anything, it is that most of my Facebook friends are friends only in the loosest possible meaning of the word. I know that may sound harsh, but I had hoped for a bit more. I had hoped to have more than 50 points by now. I'll be honest; I probably (OK, definitely) set my expectations much too high, but it has disappointed me much more than I thought it would. I feel fundamentally rejected, and that is not the way I should feel. So rather than torture myself further...and to avoid looking at the garish HDR photo of Timp that is leading right now (the colours are really unnatural in my opinion)...I removed mine from the popularity contest. I may have over 100 'friends' on Facebook, but I don't seem to have many real friends there.

This is not a very good evening for me. I feel a lot of frustration and disappointment, and other than the stupid photo thing, I don't know why. I have one more day of work before the weekend, and right now the thought of eight more hours dealing with rude people on the phone really makes me want to crawl in a hole. I keep wondering what I am supposed to be learning from the whole situation, and I can't put a finger on anything. I am normally a very compassionate guy, but being treated like something stuck to the bottom of their shoe by people on a daily basis really wears on you. At least it wears on me. Some people can just let it go, but I don't know how to harden myself against it, and I am pretty sure I don't want to become that kind of a person. I know that this is mostly just 'one of those days' and things will not always be this way, but right now I have had just about as much as I can take, but I am certain I will take more because it is my job and I have to have an income.

Now that I have had my little whine-fest, I'm going to go for tonight. It's for the best.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Lucky FInds

Tonight, while getting groceries at Macey's, we discovered a cart in the produce area where they had three full boxes of bananas for $2.99 each. We're talking at least 20 pounds of bananas. We have some drying in the dehydrator now and Merilee will be drying more with her mom and sister-in-law tomorrow. I ate one right after we got home and they are good bananas, but they are riper than you usually find in the store. I guess that is why they were selling them so cheap. It was one of those deals you just can't pass up. We'll have enough dried bananas to last many camping trips. Too bad we don't have a big freezer because we could freeze some as well.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Cool Canyon Air

Tonight we took a short drive up to the Squaw Peak Overlook and I was surprised at how quickly the air got cooler as the road climbed up. I expected it to be a bit cooler, but this was really nice, cool air. I wanted to get out of the car and wander along a trail, just breathing the air in and enjoying being outdoors, but Merilee's ankle is still not up hiking. We had to be satisfied with a drive tonight. It was a reminder that Autumn is not far away and soon the tree will begin to put on their colours.

The cool air was also a reminder of just how fast the year is passing. It is hard to believe that we are almost 2/3 of the way through 2011. I haven't looked at the goals I set back in January, so it is probably safe to say that I may not being doing so well on some of them. I'll have to take a peek at those some time this week.

I'm really struggling to come up with anything to say tonight. It has just been one of those days. Maybe I'll feel more talkative tomorrow.