Monday, May 26, 2008


We had an interesting Memorial Day Holiday. We spent it in Branson, MO where we were looking at some investment properties. I’ll give you some highlights.

Our luck with air travel continues as we got up at 4:15 am and rushed to the airport for a 6:30 am flight. We made it OK only to circle the Kansas City airport for over 2 hours as a 1 hour flight became 3.5 hours in the air. And the anticipated magic shows in Branson started early as mom’s suitcase disappeared during the flight and didn’t show up with mine in Kansas City. Then we had an hour wait in line for the rental car. Thank goodness the missionaries gave us a lesson on the Godly attribute of Patience; otherwise I was going to tell the Avis person where she could shove those……

On the way to Branson we stopped off at the church site in Independence. It was really interesting as three denominations are squared off on or near the old temple site. Mom flirted with one of the Apostles from the Church of Christ while I took some of the tracts describing why we don’t need temple ordinances. They also had some stones found buried marking the original temple boundaries.

We then headed across the street to visit with the Congregation of Christ, the other denomination, and their great and spacious building – The Spiral Tower of Babel.

Deeply symbolic they chose to model the spire after a sea shell the architect’s granddaughter found at the beach. They preach Peace unto all the world and we got to witness a Peace Prayer session near the Japanese Garden. On that day’s menu was Madagascar. I don’t know if it was the country or the movie, but it was nice. We got a tour of the building all except the sanctuary. They were cleaning the carpet. In the presentation they did everything they could to not say Joseph Smith First Vision. They said divine experience, spiritual awakening, encounter with the spirit, etc. They had original copies of the first printing of the Book of Mormon but no word on how we got it.

They impressed upon us how Emma was an elect lady and so her son Joseph Smith III was to be the Prophet after Joseph Smith Jr. death. It passed on to the male heir until there were no more male heirs and then a committee made the decision. According to her the committee could pick anyone they wanted, except the committee called the 12 apostles when Brigham Young was the president. He was a sex maniac that introduced the church to polygamy. Their current prophet is not a Joseph nor a Smith but Bill.

Enough fun and games we drove on to Branson and toured around the new development and it was so fun. There is tons of things to do and had so much fun exploring the town. There is an old section of small shops and ice cream parlors. A fairly current area along the narrow highway of cheap tourists traps like the Titanic, multi level go carts, and Ozark trinkets. There were also dozens of theaters with shows ranging from redneck BaldKnobbers to Chinese Jugglers. Something for everyone!!!
Traffic was a killer. Then the newest section was upscale shops along the river. The area also had amusement theme parks, outdoor shows and lots of lake. There are tons of things to do.

We took in two shows – Yakov the Russian comedian, who was great, and Bart Rocket who did magic and comedy and piano and a ventriloquist act. He was OK but after 90 minutes of one guy doing everything I felt Bart fatigue. During church on Sunday mom thought she recognized a young couple and had seen them before. I bet that she was mistaken and so after Sunday School she went and asked them if we had ever met before. Mom was right and they had attended the ward in Frisco that snowy week in January when we couldn’t go to Costa Rica – and he recognized me from Frisco as well. They are part of the Dutton’s a major variety show in Branson – a good area for Mormon entertainers because they keep the lyrics very clean here.

We did find two houses to buy, but there is only enough in the kitty to pick one and we are negotiating the best price. Get ready for Branson may be the headquarters of all our family vacations in the future. Much closer than Costa Rica and you too can meet the Dutton’s.

Remember Memorial Day this year and all that Don is doing to protect our family and nation. We love your service Don, keep up the good work.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Patriotism the American Way

We are a patriotic family. We love this great land and the ideals and principals upon which it is founded. Therefore we decided to spend our tax rebate check and feed the economy. So what to buy? I felt inspired, like Bryce, that food storage would be a good start, but I felt we needed to do even more, and again like Bryce we decided to buy a enlarged TV so we could…….be patriotic and cheer on our American athletes at the godless Chinese Olympics.
So armed with red white and blue fever and a charge card we went shopping for a simple item – one grossly oversized, but thin, TV screen. I figured an hour would be sufficient to pick out something and load it in the back of Explorer and then lean back and watch some cool Blue Ray, HD, kick butt movies. Don’t laugh because reality is so cruel.
Well that hour shopping trip has turned into a two week ordeal of comparison shopping. I picked up a whole new language like, remember 1080 “P”, not the outdated 1080 “I” and don’t even think about 720, that’s from the ancient times of the year 2007. Projection or Flat Screen – well how big is that rebate check? Do you want a screen size that you can see comfortably from the couch or do you want a HE MAN size screen so you can catch your favorite programs while playing with the kids over at the park. Consider the future technology in bulbs, HD needs replacing in 2-3 years at a cost of $300 so jump up to LED’s and stretch out the life of your living room entertainment center. But wait there is also a better technology if you use LCD’s. And of course the highest technology – Plasma - certainly unobtainable from just one simple tax rebate check. We would have to collect several checks from the neighbors to gather enough assets to purchase an enlarged Plasma screen. Maybe if we promised to turn the sound way up and keep our curtains open they might be willing to contribute. I would appeal to their deep patriotic feelings. With a huge screen I would even be willing to do instant replays of the sports teams over at the park that they could watch while in the park. The choices got complicated real fast and it seem like the rebate check was shedding important zeros.
Mom and I talked about it and decided that a reasonable compromise would make the best sense. We would go for the larger screen (61”) but with an older technology. We figured it would be easier to find the on and off switch that way. Dave, our son-in-law technical wizard, was thinking of a modest screen (52”), but with a forward looking technology. He did such a good job controlling his urge to shout NO!!! don’t buy that inferior TV.
After two weeks of study and research we were finally ready to make the purchase that would bless our home with sweet tunes and gentle images of inspiring stories. Not really, we wanted sweet action and fast played images of incredible special effects that would blow us out of our seats. We were going to replace the painting of Jesus with our big screen purchase, and put him over to the side, but thought better of that and kept the Savior in his rightful place above the mantle.
We entered the store knowing exactly which TV to buy and planned to quickly get back home for Jensen’s 2nd birthday party. Oh the best laid plans…..There happened to be an “out of the box” special on one of those coveted PLASMA screens. It was the right size and technology and so what if it cost the equivalent of 4 tax rebate checks. It was a steal…
After another hour of deliberating and crunching numbers balancing cost verses value we went with the 58” Plasma set. Then the real fun began, because then they started adding in all the extras. A box from the cable company to convert the signal to fill up that huge screen, a special unit that allows you to play the new Blue Ray movies (much higher priced that a $25 DVD player), combined with something called a PS III (this was at Dave’s urging because we could start a Rock Band or something), of course the maintenance package (which cost more that any TV set I had previously purchased), add in the hand held remote gadget that controls all the new devices, a charge for a service call to calibrate the whole system, and finally they charged me $130 for the 2’ cable to connect everything. But the cable has a lifetime warranty, for that price my great grand children ought to be able to use that cable when they’re old and foolish like me. I cried when I was presented the final bill, and the receipt alone was at least 3’ long.
When we entered the store I told the sales clerk that we wanted to buy a set and watch a movie that night, he suppressed a guffaw and said, “You think so huh.” I should have paid attention to that red flag. Since it was an “out of box” purchase, we were responsible for transporting this huge, awkward, heavy, precious as gold object home. We were told by at least 4 people that what ever you do don’t tilt it more that 45 degrees to one side or the other because it will destroy the screen in seconds or break off the base. The store promised to wrap it in protective coverings to help with the transport. That meant that it had four layers of thin Saran Wrap. As we got it outside the store to put it in the back of the Explorer it started to rain. Boy was I glad for that protective Saran Wrap. Guess what??? It didn’t fit in the Explorer, but we got it in far enough that we couldn’t push it in, pull it out, or lay it down and it continued to rain on my Mega Buck big screen. Then I got motivate like a protective parent and finally laid it down in the back. The store said it should be OK since we’re only going a couple of miles, but don’t go over any speed bumps. It must have took 5 minutes to clear the parking lot to avoid the bumps and we drove slowly home. Happy day, it stopped raining the whole way home and only started again once we were parked in front of the house. Gently cradling this 150” monster Dave and I carried it to it’s somewhat final resting place in the family room.
Now let’s make that sales clerk eat his words and watch a movie. Not so fast buddy boy. We have to set up the unit first. Dave is a genius as he flashed through screen after screen of System Set Up, System Applications, System Updates, System User Guide, System Defaults, System Billing information, System System (that last one is an exaggeration). All my personal information got fed into the magic PS III box and after 90 minutes we were ready to finally watch our movie. By that time it was 11 pm, but we were going to watch a movie it didn't matter who fell asleep. Already the TV is bring peace and relaxation into our home. Well, we did watch an incredible visual feast the very same night we bought the TV. Ohhh I feel so technical, because I know how to use a credit card (thank goodness for Dave for the technical part). Funny thing….there really isn’t an on or off switch on the whole thing. Where is my 13” black and white set, at least it has a power button?

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Average Week

It has been a rather quiet week around here except for the blessing of having grandkids in the home. Jensen calls me “Papi” every time I walk into the room. He also has a nickname for Tracy. He calls her “Baggy.” Tracy has quite warmed up to her nick name the same way I have to mine. It is so delightful to have the kids around. Jensen has figured out how to operate the drink dispenser on the refridge and so we will find puddles of water around the kitchen at times. After a few minutes of silence in the house was all start asking, “Where is Jensen?” or more accurately “What kind of trouble is Jensen getting into?” A few example would be – pouring his own bath in our tub, giving himself a makeover with Tracy’s makeup, playing with the sewing pins, emptying the cupboards of pots and pans, taste testing and pouring out the little jars of spices, climbing on the pool table and dancing with the billiard balls, and creative play with a truck and Lily’s face (this one drew blood). I can’t wait to find out the other imaginative things he will do this next week. Bless Danica’s heart.
It was a good week at work and I made a few good sales. The temple provided a wonderful spiritual break in the middle of the week. Mom took me shopping yesterday and I wore some of the new clothes to church today and people actually complimented me on how I looked. I told them that my wife dressed me this morning. I didn’t have to spend $600 on car repairs either this week. Danica found a neat house here in Highlands Ranch and made an offer to buy it. All in all a very nice and average week.

I read this story on the internet yesterday and thought it was such a great example of people rejecting the world’s measure of success and digging deep to do what they know is right. It reminds me of the work you are doing and I wanted to share it:

Opponents carry injured home-run hitter around bases
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - With two runners on base and a strike against her, Sara Tucholsky of Western Oregon University uncorked her best swing and did something she had never done, in high school or college. Her first home run cleared the center-field fence.
But it appeared to be the shortest of dreams come true when she missed first base, started back to tag it and collapsed with a knee injury.
She crawled back to first but could do no more. The first-base coach said she would be called out if her teammates tried to help her. Or, the umpire said, a pinch runner could be called in, and the homer would count as a single.
Then, members of the Central Washington University softball team stunned spectators by carrying Tucholsky around the bases Saturday so the three-run homer would count - an act that contributed to their own elimination from the playoffs.
Central Washington first baseman Mallory Holtman, the career home run leader in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, asked the umpire if she and her teammates could help Tucholsky.
The umpire said there was no rule against it.
So Holtman and shortstop Liz Wallace put their arms under Tucholsky's legs, and she put her arms over their shoulders. The three headed around the base paths, stopping to let Tucholsky touch each base with her good leg.
"We started laughing when we touched second base," Holtman said. "I said, 'I wonder what this must look like to other people."'
"We didn't know that she was a senior or that this was her first home run," Wallace said Wednesday. "That makes the story more touching than it was. We just wanted to help her."
Holtman said she and Wallace weren't thinking about the playoff spot, and didn't consider the gesture something others wouldn't do.
As the trio reached home plate, Tucholsky said, the entire Western Oregon team was in tears.
Central Washington coach Gary Frederick, a 14-year coaching veteran, called the act of sportsmanship "unbelievable."
Her home run sent Western Oregon to a 4-2 victory, ending Central Washington's chances of winning the conference and advancing to the playoffs.
"In the end, it is not about winning and losing so much," Holtman said. "It was about this girl. She hit it over the fence and was in pain, and she deserved a home run."