Thursday, November 22, 2018

A Thanksgiving Story

Last night, as I exited the restaurant where I had gone to pick up some takeout food for my wife and me, a man walked around my car from the parking lot, his eyes lowered, a grocery bag of clothing in one hand. "I've been homeless for a couple of days," he said. "Could you help me out with a hot meal?"
He looked up briefly as he asked, and there was something in those eyes that spoke of real need. "I sure could," I said. I dug in my wallet, the same wallet that moments before I had rummaged through without a thought to pay for the night's dinner for Ann and me. I handed him two fives. "That ought to do it," I said.
He thanked me quickly and darted off. I watched him, wondering where he was headed. My normal thought process when someone asks for money or stands on the corner with a sign is to not give because I don't want to be feeding a drug habit or helping an alcoholic get more booze. Part of me was worried that I had just done that with this guy.
Instead, I watched as he made is way across six lanes of traffic in a beeline for KFC. I knew then that I had truly helped someone who actually needed it, my hand began to move around my body to pat myself on the back.
And then one of the wolves in me began to whimper. This man needed more than food. Where was he going to go? How was he going to stay warm that night when the temperature got down in the 20s? I thought about going over there and giving him my coat, but I didn't do it. I thought about maybe offering him a ride to the homeless shelter, but I didn't do that either. Needing to make it home to relieve my wife who had had a tough day, burning a couple of pies and such, I did nothing else
Later last night, the wolf within began to howl.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Trending healthy

Finding Time to Work Out

Getting out hiking is just one way to improve health and life.
I consider myself a gym rat. That is, if I had the time and fewer responsibilities, I would be spending maybe a couple of hours a day working out. That would include a good 35-45 minutes of aerobic work and then some strength training exercises. As it is, I manage to get to the gym 3-5 times a week for roughly an hour.
Things get complicated though when work decides to change starting times. Prior to last week, I was working out after work. This was affected by things such as having to work overtime. I could work up to a half hour of overtime and still do much of my workout. However, they changed our work schedule and now I go in an hour later. No working out after work. Now I have to get up at 5:00 and basically head straight to the gym. I'm not used to getting my body awake and moving at that time of day.
Ultimately it's a better fit if I can do it, because it tends to regiment me. They have been talking though about changing time again to coming in a half hour earlier. This would make it tough to get to the gym either before work or after.
The thing is, making time or finding time is the key to any ultimate success, and no matter what happens, I will get to the gym somehow.

Diet and Longevity

I recently had a conversation with a friend about the relative healthiness of white bread as opposed to whole grain breads. Her thought was that it that there wasn't much difference to the relative nutritional content of both breads. After researching that, I found that most "experts" agree. It appears that with the fortified flours that are used in white bread these days, there isn't much nutritional difference. The main difference appears to be in fiber content, and of course, you can get enough fiber elsewhere, and maybe we shouldn't be eating all that much bread in the first place. But what if we do? What kind of bread is best?
I like to look at real world examples for my healthy choices and one of the best examples of a healthy lifestyle was Jack Lalanne. Lalanne was prominent health guru of the 20th century. He is known for his feats of strength and vigor well into his old age. One of his favorite sayings was "if man made it, don't eat it", emphasizing eating food that were as close to nature as you could get them.
If we apply this to bread, then whole grain breads are healthier, and grains themselves, even better.
That kind of thing is emphasized over and over again in studies of the longest-lived peoples on earth. Simple foods, no preservatives or additives, lots of veggies and fruits. It's that simple.

Exercise as a Longevity Factor

Most people are aware that exercise prolongs life, or at least, prolongs how long you will live in good health. It doesn't need to be going to the gym. I recently read about a 105 year old man who spent much of his time dancing. Hiking, walking, jumping around in your yard, chasing your spouse around the room--all of these things add up to a long and healthy life, provided you don't catch some dreadful illness. However, eating right and exercise help even in the case of cancers and some other diseases. They give your body a chance to fight back. We know that not all illnesses can be helped by good nutrition and exercise, but in many cases, they can.

One Final Thought

Good relationships such as friendships and marriage are also key to longevity. Try to find good associations and get together frequently. Not only will you increase your likelihood of living longer, it will be a blessing in your life.

Sunday, October 07, 2018

Fall photos in Utah

Looking down at Silver Lake from the trail to Twin Lakes
For the past several weeks, Ann and I have been making forays into our local mountains to try and see the fall colors. It has been dry this year, and there was a marked effect on those trees and shrubs that usually turn red--they were quickly turning brown and dropping their leaves. Still, here and there, were pockets of extreme beauty. The quakies, as usual, were awesome. Thursday (October 4) was likely our last day to get up there before the snow falls and leaves cascade to the ground to make a smell that only wet leaves can make. Branches will then be bare until spring's newness once again refreshes them with spectacular greens. Our first drive was up Provo Canyon, but as early in the season as we went, there was little color to speak of. We didn't even take a picture.
Looking down Big Cottonwood Canyon from the Guardmans Pass Road
Our next drive took us up Big Cottonwood Canyon to Guardsmans Pass. We followed the spectacular scenery down the other side into Midway.

Looking out toward Heber and the smoke that was coming from
several fires, including the one near Spanish Fork Canyon

Our third trip was up the Alpine Loop Road in American Fork Canyon, where again the quakies were amazing. On this trip we saw a small herd of deer and a flock of turkeys--and again, some incredible scenery.

The scenic beauty of Utah's peaks changes almost daily. In fact, daily there are more reasons to go up and see the changes, more reasons to have adventures. As we continued driving around, we realized that without all the duties and responsibilities we had in our lives, we would likely stay up there much longer.
Near the back side of Mt. Timpanogos and looking in the general
direction of Sundance ski resort.

A gorgeous landscape looking toward Deer Creek.

We caught these turkeys on the road in front of us. I got out to
take the pic and followed them.
After a while they got skittish and headed off the road.

And headed for the hills.

I hadn't gotten out for much hiking at all this past spring and summer, so on Sunday I got out for a few hours and hiked up to Twin Lakes, up Big Cottonwood Canyon near Brighton.
Silver Lake near Brighton, Utah.

Twin Lakes area

Looking down on Silver Lake and Brighton lodges

It was a short, but steep hike, and breathtaking in its beauty. I looked around for good spots to picnic, but without company and since there was a lot of people around, I just headed back down the trail after pausing a few moments to take in the scenery.
Someone pointed out this big boy along the trail on the way down.
Last Thursday, October 4, we made it up Little Cottonwood, and again, we were amazed by how picturesque it was.
The following pictures were all taken in Little Cottonwood Canyon.

Absolutely stunning. Now there is snow up there and the leaves will be dropping off. But it was an adventure while it lasted, and with winter coming, there will be more and different things to see. It's always Beautiful.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Don't it Make My Brown Eyes Blue - Crystal Gayle

I don't know many singers with hair this long. And the song itself is great. Need I say more about the great Crystal Gayle? Enjoy!

Saturday, August 25, 2018

LDS Gospel Topics Essays

I keep hearing that people are having a hard time finding the Gospel Topics Essays area of the website of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. These essays came about because of the large numbers of people who were finding stuff on the internet and beginning to question LDS doctrine. I would highly recommend them to anyone who is LDS or thinking of becoming a member of the LDS church--or really, anyone who's interested in finding out more about LDS beliefs. Anyway, here's the link and once you click it, you will just need to scroll down to your topic of choice.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Adventure: one way to measure a life

Near the beginning of this year, one of my best adventure buddies, Boyd, found out that he had ALS, also known as "Lou Gehrig's Disease". I had emailed him to find out if he wanted to go skiing with me and our mutual friend Lynn. When he emailed me back he gave me the sad news. We had spent a lot of time together in the outdoors--skiing, climbing Kings Peak (Utah's highest point), hiking at Boulder Mountain, fishing, and many other great outings.
I wanted to know what I could do to help. I figured that about the only thing would be to maybe take him on some short adventures up into the mountains we both love.

Trip 1

The first one, in June, ended up being a drive along the Mirror Lake Highway in the Uintas. I wanted Boyd to do what he wanted to do, so we got out at the Provo River Falls and wandered down the trail.
Boyd's career was as a photographer. He still has the love for a good shot.
Though his disease is progressing rather rapidly, and his muscles are beginning to weaken to the point that he has a challenging time walking, he still wants to be as fully engaged with life as he can be. He told me that as far as his personal case goes, he'd rather not be like the late Stephen Hawking and be confined to wheelchairs or other means of life support. He told me that when he can no longer do anything he loves to do, he'd just as soon go.
I certainly could relate to that. I have told several people that if I ever get Alzheimers, I'm going to go while I still have my thinking ability, and do the riskiest activities I can think of in the hopes of ending my life by a slip or a fall, instead of making someone have to take care of me. He had also mentioned to me that he regretted the summer of 2017, because he had worked so hard to put in his backyard, and his family members and friends had asked him several times to go camping with them, but he had put it off so he could finish the back yard. He wished he would have known was was going to happen. The thing is, we rarely do.
As we walked down to the falls, the only time he asked for help was going down the stone steps. We hung around the falls, taking a few pics, Boyd talking to one guy who had made it out to the middle of the river and sat on a rock just above the falls. After a while, we headed back to the 4Runner, and continued driving up the highway. Eventually Boyd said, "Let's turn off here and go for a hike."
A short hike into the woods--nothing like it!
I pulled off and we got out, following some old dirt road back in, until it ended, which wasn't very far, and we continued on through the forest. We spotted a couple of deer, and maybe a beaver ducking beneath the water in a lily-pad covered pond. At one point, Boyd lost his balance and fell. I had wandered away a few feet and came back to help him up. He was okay. "At least I picked a good place to fall--pretty soft here," he said. We probably walked through the woods for about a half mile, then headed back to the vehicle. "Let's see if your trail finding skills are still good," I said. Within moments he had found our way back.
We stopped at Dick's Drive-in in Kamas and got a late lunch, continuing our conversation between bites. "I would really love a cheeseburger," he said, "but I deal better with chicken strips in these hands."
We talked about going out the next time, how we would drive from Mill Hollow over to Currant Creek. "As long as I'm still able to go, let's plan on it," he said.

Trip 2

We made it out again on July 3rd, and accomplished the goal.
We mostly traveled dirt roads over the top of some spectacular country.

We talked about places we had been and he told me of places I should go--even showing me his favorite fishing spot at Currant Creek. I wanted to try it right then, but we hadn't brought any gear. It was time to go home though. Ann wanted to see me for dinner. When we were nearly home, Boyd pointed up at Mt. Timpanogos and said, "I have never been up on that 'plateau'. I'd like to go up there."
"I went up there last year," I said, "my first time ever. It's called Sagebrush Flat. It's a pretty cool place." We decided that maybe that would be our next trip.
The conversation, like the first time, had been matter-of-fact about his disease and the ultimate outcome. There was no beating around the bush for either of us. "Some people have a hard time knowing what to say to me now," he'd said on our first drive. I just tried to treat him the same way I always had, like my friend. That's the way I want to be treated if I'm ever in that kind of situation.

Trip 3

On July 31st, I picked Boyd up and we headed up to Sagebrush Flat. The road is a continuation of the road that leads up to the Timpooneke Trailhead---one of the ways to the top of Mt. Timpanogos. It's a dirt road that leads around to the west side of Timp. It was actually rockier and bumpier than I had remembered it being, and I thought about how Boyd had mentioned on our earlier trip this summer into the Uintas how he didn't want to go on a certain road because of how bumpy it was. I mentioned to Boyd that I hadn't remembered it being so rough and he said, "It's not that bad. You're just worrying about me." And he was right. It likely seemed bumpier to me because I was remembering what he'd said about that other road, and worried that I had taken him on a road that was too bumpy because of that.
Selfie near Sagebrush Flat

I had climbed up on the rocks to pick some currants.
Boyd asked me to stay up there and he took this pic.

Sagebrush Flat is a Beautiful area with views into both Utah and Salt Lake Counties.
We made it up to Sagebrush Flat and began exploring a little. We talked about how many hunters might be up in that area during archery season. We saw a large buck and a moose, and took some pics. I had forgotten my DSLR and Boyd was trying to get some good pics with his phone. Getting good pics with my phone is really out of the question.
The scenery was magnificent. The friendship, even better. We ended up by picking up some food at Costa Vida and taking it back to Boyd's house and eating it there.
The Sagebrush Flat area. Sweet!

We saw a moose and nice buck up here in Sagebrush Flat. I couldn't
find the pics though.

Trip 4

August 15th was our most recent trip. We made it back to Currant Creek. I remembered that earlier in the summer we had passed through the area during the huge fire up near Strawberry Reservoir, the Dollar Ridge fire, and we had seen flames and tons of smoke along with aircraft dropping water and/or fire retardant on it. I couldn't see any smoke now--at least from that fire. The air was a bit smoky from all the fires further west, but not as bad as it has been this summer.
Boyd told me that we wouldn't be able to make it down to his favorite fishing spot, because they had tried the week before when he came up with some family members, and he had fallen down pretty good. So we made it to an area that was easier to access and set up our stuff.
We caught a couple of eating-sized fish. Boyd had told me that he and his wife Robin love to eat fish. That was fine with me. My wife Ann hates even the smell of them cooking.
It was a team effort. I tied on all the hooks and other gear, baited up the hooks, and cast out the line, and then Boyd reeled 'em in. The weather was nice all day, with long periods of cloud cover and some cooling breezes. We could have sat up there all day long and pretty much did.

Boyd got to reel in the bigger ones, although I managed to bring in
the minnow on the left. Ha ha!

During the time there we had some pretty open and frank conversation. Boyd told me that he had stopped using the BiPAP machine that doctors had wanted him to use to help out his breathing at night. "It's just so uncomfortable," he said--or something like that. He's pretty honest about his approach to life, telling me that if he goes, he goes, and he doesn't want to prolong the inevitable. On the way home we stopped to grab some food, and he accidentally dropped his fries on the floor. He picked them up and still ate them. I had shaken off the floor mat before I went and picked him up that day, so there wasn't any loose dirt on it at least. I asked him "did you get any grit?" 
"No," he said.
I told him that I had shaken off the mat.
He said, "Well, it's not like I care about that stuff anyway. I mean I'm not going to be around much longer, so what's a little dirt." He held up his root beer. "And I never used to drink much of this for health reasons, but now, what does it matter? I can do what I want." I had to admit his logic was compelling.
The haul! Boyd enjoyed reeling in the larger fish. It weighed somewhere
in the 2-3 pound range.

The Next Time

I'm not really sure when we'll be able to get out again. Ann, who is disabled, expressed some concerns about how much time I'd been spending away from her, and not just with Boyd. I had gone on a hike with my brother and taken some of my grandkids out exploring all within the last few weeks.
But that being said, I'm hoping that Boyd and I can continue to get out until he can no longer do it. And personally, I'm hoping that I'm being the right kind of friend--one who cares enough to spend time with an old buddy who's ill. I'd like to encourage all my readers to do the same, and if you're friends with Boyd, go and see him or even take him somewhere fun.

Boyd has been able to keep an upbeat attitude during this ordeal, which is exemplary. I think it would be pretty hard to not get down, but he considers himself to be pretty lucky. And me? I'm lucky to have friends like Boyd to adventure with. It's one way to measure a life.