Sunday, October 09, 2011

From the Atlantic to the Pacific and thoughts on the new Provo Temple

I arrived home from a trip to Florida on Saturday, September 30 and the following Friday I got a call from one of my daughters who wanted me to travel to California with her. The catch was, we would leave by train that night. I quickly made arrangements and completed a couple of obligations and joined her at her home that evening. The train was delayed but we reached California the next day. In Florida I had stayed in St. Augustine and Orlando, the former including several trips that took me to the shores of the Atlantic. In California I stayed in Santa Cruz, and lovely little resort and college community at the north end of Monterey Bay. We visited the rugged shoreline and on Tuesday we spent most of the day at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I have traveled from coast to coast s number of times, specifically when we lived in Oxnard and Port Hueneme California and were moving to and from the Washington D.C. area, but as far as I recall, I never traveled from one coast to the other so quickly.
I have six lovely daughters and I am fortunate that three of them live close enough for me to visit with a simple car ride. Three of my daughters live on either coast. I have visited with all of them in the past three weeks.

Last Saturday, October 1, the Prophet announced that the burnt out shell of the Provo Tabernacle would be converted into a temple. This is a wonderful idea. Although the tabernacle had served the community as a center for many various meetings ranging from musical performances to a Catholic Christmas Mass, but particularly for Stake Conferences for local stakes, the current Provo Temple is under pressure, particularly the baptismal font. The tabernacle building is larger than that of the Nauvoo Temple and it originally had a baptismal font in the basement, as did the Salt Lake Tabernacle.
When President Hinckley was interviewed after the renovation of the Vernal Tabernacle into a temple he said the Church would never undertake such a project again. Yet several subsequent temples have been built in previously existing buildings. The Provo Tabernacle provides a special case. Although gutted by the fire, the brick walls and most of the four stairwell towers seem to have remained intact. Some of the original stained glass windows survived the fire. The situation provides for the construction of an entire structure inside the walls which could not only provide for significant changes in the interior space from what was originally in place, but also allow for upgrades to the structural stability of the structure in case of earthquake.
The entire quarter block north of the temple was preserved as a park, which could easily be restored after adding space similar to what was added to the Salt Lake Temple as an arrangement of recommend area, waiting rooms, dressing rooms, administrative spaces, etc. It was the addition of these areas under a park like area that restored the Salt Lake Temple to its status as the largest LDS temple in the world. The Church has acquired most of the block to the south of the tabernacle. This could be used to build an underground parking garage. Although the transit situation is favorable, with several bus lines running past the property, there is a dearth of convenient parking space. I doubt that there will be a cafeteria area in the temple since there are many good restaurants and cafes in the neighborhood. The architectural sketch of the proposed temple shows a restoration of the central tower. This hints at a central placement of the celestial room. The building is long, promoting the idea that it would be arranged with four ordinance rooms, two at either end of the temple. In any case it will be interesting to see what the architects do with the space. In any event, the addition of an additional baptismal font in the Provo area is greatly to be desired.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Strange Things

I wear soft contact lenses. Every night I take them out and put them in again the next morning. Every twenty days I throw the old contact lenses away and get out a fresh pair. I keep the boxes of unopened contact lens in my safe which is hard to access. A few days ago I woke up and prepared to put in my contact lenses. I had no trouble with the right eye, but when I tried to put the lens in my left eye instead of having a sudden improvement in my eyesight, things remained dim. I tried again and again with the same results. Then I noticed that I felt that there was something in my eye after I removed the contact lens yet again. I found another contact lens. When I removed it, my eyesight cleared dramatically, indicating that yet another contact lens remained. Somehow I had two contact lenses in my eye! I have a hard time explaining how this could have happened. Do I walk in my sleep with such acuity that I could get into my safe and remove a box of contact lenses and put them in my eye? If so, how dumb is it that I didn't put them in separate eyes?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


I knew about chickens; that they are, like most birds, pretty productive of manure and they don't mind where they leave it. So why did I jump in and volunteer to adopt four hens when one of my daughters had too many? I'm still figuring that out. It hasn't been difficult to manage. I quickly made plans for a 'chicken tractor' thanks to comments from another daughter on our family chat. Within three days of the chickens coming home to roost I made them a tidy little home on wheels that I can roll around the yard so that the distribution of fertilizer is equalized. We've gathered about 7 eggs, and observed with regret when one egg was destroyed by the chickens. Chickens are fun to watch, at least as much fun as fish, and when clean and dry they are rather handsome.
So I guess that in the long run I would have to say that although chickens can hardly be considered pets, because of the manure factor, they are handsome, fun to watch and now and then you get a very fresh egg.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Why I Dislike and Distrust Boarding Schools

The pharoahs of Egypt decided that marrying siblings had advantages. Although nature abhors incest, shown by animal behaviors that avoid close kin interbreeding, it has certain economic advantages. For centuries the middle class of Egypt followed the example set by their leaders and incest was the norm.
The noblemen of China believed small feet were a sign of beauty, not unlike the preference for Cinderella's tiny tootsies in the fairy tale, but they conceived the idea of folding back the toes in little girls with normal feet to achieve the ultimate in tiny feet. Thus an entire culture tortured and crippled its little girls for centuries in the pursuit of a spurious idea of beauty.
A French king wanted to witness the birth of his mistress's baby and his will was granted by having her lie down for the birth instead of squatting as is normal. Thus modern women mostly suffer through birth lying down unless they are fortunate enough to have a midwife preside at the birth instead of an OB.
There are many other examples of how stupid elite behavior is adopted by the society at large. The idea of sending children away from home to go to boarding school is one example. In medieval Europe the various counts and barons began to exchange hostages. Sons were sent to the castle of the liege lord or rival where they were trained as pages, then squires, essentially unpaid servants. When hostages were no longer the political advantage they had been earlier, the habit of sending the kids away for schooling remained the favored option among the elites.
Thus the idea of boarding school became entrenched in western society. It is not found in other cultures where it is properly perceived that children are better off to be at home until they reach the age of maturity that no longer requires parental supervision.
A good example of this is the scriptural account of Jesus who lingered at the temple. He was old enough and wise enough to counsel with the elders, but he still obeyed his mother when she discovered he was not with the family on the return trip home and returned to fetch him.
Boarding schools dilute the influence of the family and strengthen the influence of peers.
The British, in particular, continue the idea that it is a favored few who can afford to send their children away from home for schooling except for holiday periods. Such icons as Harry Potter and the children in the Narnia books promulgate the practice.
Sending children with 'special needs' away to institutions where they can receive 'better care' has been favorably received at various times. Thus children with Down's Syndrome were seldom seen in public for many years. States and municipalities created institutions where paid attendants 'trained' the children. Lately the idea of warehousing these children has been seen as cruel and wasteful. They are kept at home and provided with training and teaching through their schooling.
It may be perceived that to send a child to an institution where they are taught and cared for, instead of making provisions to care for them at home, provides a better opportunity for them to be surrounded by their peers, but there is a far greater risk that they will be abused and neglected by those employed to care for them.
What parent, except under exigencies of poverty or incarceration, would agree to have their children sent to an orphanage or work house, yet the practice of institutionalizing children with assorted handicaps or talents, except for rare visits to family, continues to be seen as a desirable behavior by many.

Sunday, January 30, 2011


As my life has changed my stewardships have changed, but some remain essentially the same. I no longer have an active stewardship of my children since all have grown to adulthood. I am in a complementary situation where I can give them compliments and sometimes advice, and they can do the same to me. My relationship to my grandchildren is a less formal stewardship, unless one of their parents makes a request for something more formal as needed. The stewardship of various callings changes as the callings change.
I have a stewardship over my health and a responsibility to maintain my possessions so they won't be wasted. I have a stewardship over my talents so that I may give something of value to the world I live in.