Friday, April 17, 2015

I like those rocks

A few days ago, Ann and I were driving past a cemetery. "I like how they did those rocks," Ann said.
"What rocks?" I said. "Do you mean the head stones?"
She didn't mean the headstones. "No," she said. "They had a small part of the parking strip that they didn't know what to do with so they landscaped it with rocks."
As I thought about it, I actually thought about the headstones and what if she'd actually been commenting on them. Most cemeteries are well-designed, and the stones--rocks if you will--are laid fairly uniformly throughout the manicured lawn and trees. They are peaceful places for the living to remember the dead for the most part. But I also thought, would anyone want to be remembered as part of a collection of nicely designed rocks? The good news is that most people aren't.
Most people are remembered for cherished memories. For the love we had for them. For the good they did and the kindness they showed in their lives. They are remembered for their senses of humor or their love of life.
Sad it would be if they were only remembered as part of a collection of neatly arranged rocks, but there are people out there like that. Perhaps their sense of isolation keeps them from making friends. Maybe they have a mental illness that makes it hard for others to befriend them. Maybe they just never had children and lived to an old age with no one to remember them.
These are the kinds of people that most need our love and attention. It's those that are hardest to love that most need that love. Remember the words of our Lord:
31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Let's not focus on the rocks, but on the people for whom those rocks are just a representation. Let's be kind to the lonely and down-trodden in the world. Not only will it make their lives better, but it will enrich ours as well.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Return to the Titanic day

I pretty much thought that Tuesday was the day of all days as far as weird things happening. Then Wednesday happened. I had spent all night off and on in great pain, which I'm fairly certain was kidney stones. I woke up, unable to go to work, so I called in sick. Most of the stones had passed by that time, thankfully, and it was mostly a matter of resting up. I'm also very grateful that I didn't end up needing to go to the doctor or ER.

In the afternoon, I was feeling good enough to replace the motor on our dishwasher that had gone out a couple of weeks ago. So I did that. It went well.

It was Miriam's birthday and since Ann was feeling poor, it was up to me to get her present over to her. I wasn't feeling tops either, but in the snow storm, it was me or nothing. I got in the 4runner and headed over. As I rounded a corner onto 41st south, I noticed something not quite right with the 4runner. The radio was flickering on and off. In just a couple more minutes, the tachometer had ceased working. I turned on the wipers because the snow had picked up and the extremely slow sweep of the wiper blades told me something serious was wrong. I decided that I needed to turn around and head home.

I got headed back and then the vehicle stopped running completely. I had forgotten my phone, so I walked back to the nearest grocery store--Smith's which was about five blocks away, and called my family to come and rescue me. Then I called AAA to come and tow the 4runner to my mechanic.

What a last couple of days! But we at least got hit by a lot of snow. Last I heard, Snowbird got 43 inches, so that's really good.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Snow at last

April snow showers bring May flowers? The biggest storm since the winter of 2013-2014 hit the Salt Lake Valley and deposited 9" in our city of West Valley. Too bad I was sick today, and stayed home from work and won't be able to do the same tomorrow for a last gasp ski day. I would dearly love to go.
The good thing is, by the end of the day, I was nearly back to normal. The kidney stones or whatever it was that was causing great pain, had largely subsided, praise the Lord. I went out and took a few pictures of the snow.

Yesterday, as part of the "Titanic Day" the heavy winds blew over our fence.



The lilac bush was collapsed by the weight of the snow.
I think it's going to be a few days before I can work on the raised beds again. And clean up the yard.
Anna is our little snow lover and has been waiting all season for enough snow to actually play in.

It has been snowing off and on all day and we couldn't be more grateful for it. The Lord has answered our prayers. Last I heard, Snowbird had received 22 inches and it was still snowing.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A Titanic day

I found out that today was the anniversary of Lincoln's assassination, and also the sinking of the Titanic. It figures. My day started out just like that. Well, not quite as bad. Getting assassinated makes for an extremely bad day, as does going down with the ship.


No, my day didn't begin quite that bad. The first thing that happened though was when I went to put on my jacket. I was late already, and as I finished putting on the left sleeve and was reaching back to grab the jacket with my right, I knocked over the pencil holder from its customary spot on top of the speaker. When I finished picking those up, I was a little bit later. I got to the 4runner and threw my gym bag into the passenger seat as is my habit. I heard a hissing noise and saw a cloud rising from the side pocket of the bag. It was my old can of Old Spice body spray. I actually had meant to get rid of it, since Ann was no longer making comments about how good I smelled, but had inadvertantly left it in the bag and somehow it had gotten punctured when I tossed the bag. By the time I got to the other side of the vehicle and opened the bag, the can was nearly empty. I grabbed it and threw it in the trash, in the process, coating my hands in the stuff. Even later now, I got in, wiped my hands on some tissue, and headed to work.


When I got there, the stench from my hands was overpowering. I tried to stay away from people until I had time to wash my hands. I finally got a chance to wash my hands with soap, only it was too late. The scent stayed on my hands as if it had been cemented with Gorilla glue. It was going to have to wear off.


I looked at my watch and found that it had stopped functioning properly. The digital display did not match the hand display (the hand display was correct), and the date had changed to January 1st. Later on, when I tried setting the digital display to be correct, the hands moved so that they were displaying a time approximately six hours different from the correct time.


As I drove around delivering mail, I watched people's shingles being ripped off by the high winds we experienced today.


And then when I got home, I found that my fish oil supplement in liquid form that I keep in the fridge, had been knocked over and the lid had broken, spilling several ounces on the kitchen floor. And last, but not least, part of our back fence had blown down in the wind.


So, all in all, not a bad day as far as ocean sailing goes, or play watching, but definitely an unusual day with weird happenings. It probably all started because I had to make out checks to the IRS and the Utah State Tax Commission. In fact, parting with that cash was probably the worst thing that happened all day.

On past mistakes

"Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: 'It might have been'. Thus spoke John Greenleaf Whittier some of the wisest words ever uttered. And yet, it never pays to dwell on things we might have done differently long ago. The choices we make, affect the rest of our lives, but that doesn't mean we should spend a great deal of time trying the old "I wish I would have" game. One of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite films (and books) The Fellowship of the Ring is this:

Frodo: I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.
Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces at work in this world Frodo, besides the will of evil. Bilbo was meant to find the Ring. In which case, you were also meant to have it. And that is an encouraging thought.

Perhaps those choices that we thought were mistakes were actually necessary for our own development of character. Perhaps those choices needed to happen for some reason. Wishing for a past that never happened can only lead to depression.

At any rate, there isn't anything we can do about our past mistakes other than looking forward with hope, striving to do better, and losing ourselves in the service of others. We can't change the past, but we can certainly anticipate a bright future.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Frary Peak - hiking Antelope Island

Yesterday's hike was amazing. First of all, know that it's about an hour and a half drive from my house to the trailhead for Frary Peak, which is on Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake. I wanted to get there early so I could capture the sunrise from the island with my camera, so I left the house at 4:30 (I was up at 3:45 getting ready). I arrived at the gate just about 5:30. I had checked online the night before to see when the gate opened, and the info had said 6:00, but having been there before when the gate was opened earlier, I decided to try it just in case.

Actually, I believe this was a new gate put in since two years ago (the last time I got there that early) and it was on a timer, I think. It wasn't open as I had hoped, so I had a half hour to kill in the dark waiting for it to open. I was tired because I got up so early, but I didn't want to tilt the seat back and try to sleep for 30 minutes, because I might keep sleeping and miss the gate opening. I looked out the window and saw the moon and thought I'd like to try taking a picture of it with my new zoom lens. I dug that out of my pack and stepped outside. Since I didn't want to set up a tripod, I free-handed it. Here's what I got:

So, when I actually was looking at the moon, it had a halo around it. For some reason, my camera moved this halo to the left of the moon, and as you can see, the moon is quite blurry. Of course, that's due to my not using a tripod. I think it kind of looks like how the sun might look from a spacecraft.

At about 6:04 the gate finally opened and I drove to the east side of the island, to the trailhead. The hike started out amazingly well. I was feeling alive and vibrant--great actually. I kept the long lens on the camera thinking that now would be a great time to experiment with it and find out what it could do. The moon was still up as it began to get light and I tried to get a good picture of it with mountains, birds, etc., in it. Here are some of them:

Again, this was free hand and I think for being free hand, I got a great image.


After I took the picture of the moon over a small peak (not Frary Peak) I took a few more pics and then finally did my last moon pic of this raven with the moon beside it:


Of course, as I do on every trip, I took some flowers home to Ann. Here are some of them:

I didn't see any close-up bison like I have before, but I saw these mule deer across the way. They were skittish and I had to use the full 300 zoom power of the lens to capture an image of them:





It was only a little over two and a half hours before I made it to the top. Just before the top there is a place where you have to go down quite a ways and back up again. It is the steepest part of the trail. Here's a pic of the top of Frary Peak from an adjacent peak, that makes it look much easier than it is:

That image in no way shows how far you need to go down, or how challenging the climb is back up, but I finally made it to the top, as shown by this U.S.G.S. marker:





From the top you can see a long ways. You can see how low the water is in the lake. Here's a picture of that with a vast stretch of beach that isn't there when the lake is full:
Of course, there was me up there taking the pictures. I was hungry for second breakfast by then so I dug out my peanut butter sandwich (Krema Peanut butter, which is peanuts only, and blackberry preserves), and some dried apricots.





Of course, I needed more documentation that I had actually been there. I was setting up my tripod to take my own photo when a couple of young guys showed up. I went out of my comfort zone and asked if one of them would be willing to take my picture. I guess I asked the right guy because he told me after he took a few shots that he actually had tried to take people's portraits for a living, but it wasn't steady work because too many people had digital cameras these days. Anyway, here's one of the pics he took of me:




So, I actually did make it to the top. All in all it was a great early morning hike. I'm not sure if I burned off an entire pound. I was tempted to stop at the gym where I normally weigh myself and see, but I would've needed to dress in my gym clothes instead of my heavy blue jeans and long johns to find out. I'll have to wait until Monday. As for the lens, it did pretty well until the little switch on it that switches it from "Normal" to "Macro" got stuck on "Macro". I couldn't fix it and don't know if that's permanent or not. I will have to work on it later.

If you go to Frary Peak, or anywhere on Antelope Island, take bug spray. I got up there early enough that I missed most of the biting no-see-ums on the lower part of the trail, but everyone I met coming up was complaining about them, and they were there in force the last time I hiked that trail. Consider this a fair warning!

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Frary Peak on Friday

I'm hiking Frary Peak on Antelope Island on Friday. I'm hoping to get some nice pics of the sunrise. I've done this hike before. Lots of bison and bugs. I will give a full report when done.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Acronyms

Harvey and Shelia. This is for my friend who likes acronyms. Enjoy.

Do I look stupid?

A few months ago, I decided that I needed to become more familiar with a .45 auto that was in my possession. Being a little nervous about firing it for the first time, and not wanting to look like an idiot if I couldn't figure it out (I had never actually fired a semi-auto handgun), I went out into the desert, found a nice hillside, and put up my target.

Walking back about 25 feet, I turned and pulled the action back on the gun which should've loaded a cartridge into the chamber, and I thought it did. I aimed and pulled the trigger. Nothing. I tried over and over to figure out what was happening, pulling the action back repeatedly and repeatedly trying to fire the gun. Still nothing. In frustration, I walked back to my vehicle and got in, then went and did some other things while I was out there.

The thing with  the gun is that I had taken it many times on campouts just in case there was a bear rampaging through the camp. Luckily for me, there was no bear, or I would've had the nicest gun-shaped club in existence with which to fight it off.

In talking to a friend, I decided that I might take the gun to a gunsmith to find out if something was wrong with it, but instead I just put it away to wait for spring or to wait for someone who knew guns to take a look at it for me. Finally, I approached another friend of mine who I found out happened to work at the Lee Kay Center, a local gun range. He offered to take the gun with him to work and to try and fire it.

Here's what he found out. He too was unable to fire the weapon. After talking to several people there who know guns, they deduced that it was because the magazine wasn't long enough and the mechanism wasn't grabbing a cartridge out of it because of that. When I had acquired the gun from a family member, the magazine had been missing. I had taken the gun into a local gun store and asked them to match up a magazine that would work with this gun. I had bought the one they suggested. I didn't know that the particular guy wouldn't know what he was talking about.

But at least it wasn't anything I did, so if I looked stupid out in the desert, it was because someone sold me the wrong part. Now I just need to get the right one.