Quick Like a Fox

I know that my children, and all my family for that matter, think I’m not a gamer. But they don’t know what I do at work. While one son is at home playing Star Wars Battlefront, and another is buried in StarCraft or Call of Duty Black Ops, I’m immersed in the game I call “Quick like a Fox”. I named it after the last instructor I had before I got my Engineers license.

At the end of my training, I thought I was pretty good at driving the train and managing the Cab Signal System which has a short temper and can stop the train anytime it’s not happy. But Sam Fox inspired me into thinking that “pretty good” wasn’t really good enough. His question, “Do you like to ride the beeps, or are you afraid of the Cab Signals?”, shamed me into not wanting to be afraid of them.

The Cab Signal System is a safety device designed to keep the engineer from exceeding the speed limit. These speed limits which vary up and down our alignment must be followed to exactness. It’s not like driving your car out on the roads and hi-ways, where “five-over” is ok. This Cab Signal System starts to beep a “happy chirp” when the train is approaching the speed limit for that stretch. There is a fine line between this “happy chirp” and the “angry beep” that suddenly shuts off all power to the locomotive while applying full brakes to stop the train.

The problem is, with our single track for trains running in both directions and our very tight schedule from station to station, we can’t afford to go anything slower than maximum authorized speed. Those few seconds here and there add up to minutes, and then five, and ten. Cumulatively down the whole length of our alignment this really adds up. Because we run on a single track, the other trains have to wait at the meeting point for the late train, which eventually makes all the trains late.

So every time I drive the train, the game “Quick like a Fox” is on. I don’t want to be that one engineer that single handedly destroyed our reliability rating for the day.

Riding the beeps

So this is how it works. The Cab Signal beeps the “Happy Chirp” when I get up to it’s approved speed for that particular stretch of track. If I go any faster, the system beeps the faster “Angry Beep”. When it sees that I am not complying with it’s warning, it quickly takes over and the shut down sequence is activated. At this point, there is nothing to do but sit there and wait for the train to stop. Then penance is paid as systems are reset, the radio call of shame is made, and we are on our way, now an additional 2 minutes later than before the penalty.

“UTA Train 6, northbound at south 7.5, to UTA Warm Springs Control. – Over”

“UTA Warm Springs Control. – Over”

“UTA Train 6 was penalized on a 45 Cab Signal. I have recovered and we are proceeding into the station – Over.”

At first, these cab signal beeps and chirps all sounded the same to me. When Sam Fox would try to explain the difference in the sound of the beeps, it all sounded like gibberish to me. Kind of like listening to the popular novelty song “What does the Fox say?” by the Norwegian comedy duo Ylvis.

“What does the fox say?

“Ring-ding-ding-ding-dingeringeding!
Gering-ding-ding-ding-dingeringeding!
Gering-ding-ding-ding-dingeringeding!”
What the fox say?

“Wa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pow!
Wa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pow!
Wa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pow!”
What the fox say?

“Hatee-hatee-hatee-ho!
Hatee-hatee-hatee-ho!
Hatee-hatee-hatee-ho!”
What the fox say?

“Joff-tchoff-tchoffo-tchoffo-tchoff!
Tchoff-tchoff-tchoffo-tchoffo-tchoff!
Joff-tchoff-tchoffo-tchoffo-tchoff!”
What the fox say?

However in time, I could understand what the Fox says… Sam Fox. I learned to distinguish the “happy chirp” of that’s fast enough, from the “angry beep” of “I’m going to shut you down.” He told me that he learned to ride the beeps, because he was too lazy to keep looking at the speedometer. With the constantly changing grade of the track going up and down, going too slow on the “up grade’ is a problem. So when the Cab Signal System isn’t beeping at me, I have to keep a close eye on my speed to ensure I don’t drift slower and slower.

Once I learned to speak “Fox”, it wasn’t hard to also learn the cab signal system algorithms with it’s automated reasoning systems. Once I could think like a the cab signals, it was relatively easy to keep them happy so they could beep at me but not get angry and shut me down.

Some Engineers get nervous when the Cab Signals start beeping at them for fear of being “Shut down”. But now I get nervous when they stop beeping at me.  I do have to keep my head in the game though. The margin of error is too close for sloppiness. Another factor that complicates this is that everything you do when driving a train is time delayed. Trains don’t respond like your car does.

Playing this game is also how I beat the boredom that can cause mistakes when driving up and down the same 88 mile stretch day after day.

The rules of the g25981260ame

Beat at the meet: I give myself the most points for beating the other train to our meeting points. I win at the meet if the other train gets his signal upgrade allowing him to proceed past me before I get my signal to proceed. There is also more method to my madness here. If the other train gets his signal to proceed quickly enough, he doesn’t have to slow down, thus he clears the track ahead of me more quickly and I get out of the meeting point more quickly too. It’s a win, win.

Keep the Beep: I also get lots of points if I can keep the Cab Signals happily beeping all the way from when I get up to full speed until I have to set brakes to slow the train for a slower speed stretch of track or for a station stop. This can be tricky with the elevation of the track constantly going up and down. But on good days, when my  head is in the game, I can do it the whole distance of our alignment in both directions. That’s a lot of “Beeping”.

I also give myself bonus points if I can shave a little distance off of how long it takes to get up to full beeping speed. I have self imposed check-points all down the track where I need to be at full speed for that stretch.

Quick Stop and Go: Additional bonus points are earned by gliding into the station quickly and exiting exactly on the departure time. Braking is challenging when coming in quickly, yet smoothly. Feathering the brakes back to a smooth stop is much harder on a train then in your car. When I do it right… bonus points. When I screw it up, I lose points.

Losing Points: One enjoyable challenge is to avoid taking a “reliability ding”. Even when the system is bogging down, and other trains are making me late, my challenge is to keep my train less than 5 minutes late in leaving each station. With anything more than 5 minutes late, our commuter rail takes a reliability ding. So I’m watching my watch very closely to make sure I can depart in time. If I don’t make it out in time, and incur the “reliability ding”,  I lose all my points and have to start over.

Losing the Game: Sometimes I’m trying to make up for lost time and pushing my luck just a bit with the Cab Signal System. Of course this increases the threat of a penalty. No matter how well I’ve done that day up to this point, if I get shut down I loose the game for the day.

Is it cheating that my opponents don’t know the rules, or even that I am playing against them? Just like my when my children loose all track of time when they are wrapped up in one of their games, my work day playing “Quick Like a Fox” goes by so fast that it’s not really work to me. But don’t tell my Beautiful Wife or she might want me to go out and get a real job.

I Know your Pain

These past few years have been bumpy for me in spots.  The Experience has inspired these thoughts, dedicated to everyone I watch, both far and near.

I Know Your Pain

 

It doesn’t
matter that you are rich & famous or if you are poor & lonely… If your
talents are world class, or if your abilities seem dull and plain.  In one sense, we are the same.

 

Whether
astrophysics is light reading, or simple instructions confuse… There is one
understanding that we share.

 

Even if
you’ve traveled the world, seeing wonders and cultures abroad, or have only
experienced the home of your birth, we share one common experience.

 

For the
rich, famous, and infamous, the drama is displayed, out for all to see and
feel.  For common folk it’s much more
private, but just as real.

 

Suffering
comes when there is much wealth and in extreme poverty.  It comes in spite of good health as well as
in malady.

 

Some pain
is universally felt, experienced and common to all.  Some is unique, known only to you.  Yet, ironically, in this sense, you are
unique… just like everyone else.

 

A lifetime
pattern of intense people watching, coupled with a pattern of deep thought and
contemplation has taught me one thing about you.  Though I don’t know the details, I know your
pain.

 

You feel
pain of body and anguish in soul, both for self and others.  You’ve suffered loss, endured trials and
tribulations, experienced disappointment and defeat.  Fear, doubt and despair have haunted your
soul.  What you are made of is tested and
tried.

 

Whether
glared in the media, or seen in a quite glimpse, when I see your pain, it
reflects on my own.  My pain is personal,
yet I’m not alone.  Seeing your pain
melts my heart of stone.

Time Traveler

Consistent with my
compulsive disorder to gather and preserve anything of yesteryear, I am
embarked on a project to digitize and thus preserve any old cassette tapes of
my past.  I’m afraid that my last
functioning cassette tape player as well as the tapes themselves are getting
old like me. So I can’t pass up the chance to open the shutters of the years
and wipe off the clouded window to the past.

 

Not counting my many Spanish
speaking audio tutors, my collection of old audio cassette tapes amounts to a
box with a little bit of everything. 
Starting with over 50 in all, I didn’t see value in the few “store
bought” tapes of music that I still had lying around and I was soon looking at
maybe 2 dozen tapes.  If I really valued
the music of the 70’s I could get much better copies from modern sources.  So now I was reading the titles of talk tapes
that I had held onto over the years. Assuming that I wouldn’t be able to
replace these little snippets of history, I set them aside to be transferred to
an MP3 format so I could re-listen to them while out biking or jogging.

 

Now what remained were about
a 6 more unmarked, unknown cassette tapes. I spot checked what might be on the
first few tapes.  “Well, this side had
nothing… And the other side is blank also.” 
So deciding that it was just a left over blank tape from an earlier era
recording project, I tossed in into the trash with the old bad recordings of
70’s music. 

 

The next tape had a date
“Oct 26, 1970” penned on the side along with the title “Family Night”.  I had tried to listen to this tape once
before.  The quality was so poor that I
couldn’t understand what was said.  I
wondered if I could some how filter out the noise, and eaves drop on my
childhood past.  I put the tape in and
plugged in my best earphones.  I turned
the volume loud as I tried to adjust out the noise with the treble/bass
controls.  The words never came clearly
enough to understand, yet I did understand. 
We were singing my Dad’s favorite hymn, “Love at Home”.  Then the tone and spirit of a prayer was
unmistakable.  Yes, these were the family
night gatherings of my childhood. 

  

The next unmarked tape
seemed to be another blank.  I flipped it
over to double check the B side before tossing it into the trash can.  Loud and clear, my oldest son, Joshua’s 11
year old voice came booming through. 
This one was a study tape he had made when we lived in Draper, Utah and he had an egg
gathering job after school.  I played the
tape for all grown up Joshua and he smiled with a look of recognition in his
eyes.  He explained that early in the
morning, he would get up and make these study tapes of all his school work so
when he was out and about, especially at work gathering eggs, he could re-play
and thus multitask his studies into his other activates. 

 

There were other tapes
(treasures for me to preserve) of my past. And I documented what was on each
one as now I carefully listened all the way through both sides of each
tape.  I was frequently pleased with a
little snippet of my life’s past hidden between the many minutes of blank audio
tape.

 

Just before I called the
review and inventory phase of the project complete and prior to moving on to
the task of transferring what I valued into the my computer’s audio files, I
wondered once again about the first “blank” tape I had tossed into the trash
can hours earlier.  Digging it out from
the pile of trashed tapes, I put the unmarked tape back into the player and hit
play.  I then busied myself with other
things while the blank tape rolled through the player.  When the tape came to the end, I flipped it
over and started it again. 

 

Through the 60 cycle hum
typical of a poor recording of that era, I heard the newly married voices of My
Beautiful Wife and myself.  Soon I had my
best headphones on as the volume turned up so I could hear the words
spoken.  Immediately, I spun back in
time.  No Hollywood
style time machine was ever as dramatic. 

 

Instantly, I was a fly on
the wall (one of many flies on our old egg farm that I grew up on).  I still lived on this farm in my early
married life.  This was in our 12X55
brown and white mobile home, late in the summer of 1983. My Beautiful Wife and
I had just made our second big purchase together (a new car had been the first).  It was a used spinet piano that we paid $900
for.  Vallerie was seated on the piano
bench in front of the black and white keys. On the piano’s music holder, her
purple and green song book was spread open to a song she had learned before.
She was now testing her musical talents on the new piano.  

 

As a fly on the wall, I
watched as the young married “me” was still setting up the little microphone at
the back of the piano.  Before the final
set-up, I … I mean “he” put the microphone up to his lips and started chanting,
“Vallerie is Beautiful, Vallerie is Beautiful.” 
I then got a little… I mean “he” then got a little R-rated with his
expressions of admiration for this love of my life. 

 

My old self, “The fly on the
Wall”, cringed a little at the words coming out of this young man’s enamored
mouth.  That had been the only time in
our 27 years of life together that little ears wouldn’t be listening and thus
guarding my bedroom talk casually around the house. 

 

Now My Beautiful Wife played
the song all the way through, stopping and restarting several times through the
problem areas.  At the end she sighed,
and said, “Boy I play so lousy… It’s embarrassing!” 

 

Now I… I mean he, the young
married me, kissed that Beautiful Woman as he prepared to go back out on the
farm to finish up the day’s work.  My
Beautiful Wife said, “Bye Sweet Heart.” 
I was … I mean “He” was again a little bit R-rated in how he completed
his good-bye before walking out the door for the last hour of work.  Before he actually left, there was one more
conversation.

 

Beautiful Wife – “What time
is it?  Will you be in at 6 for dinner?”

The Young Married me – “YES”

 

Beautiful Wife – “I’m going
to start in 15 minutes”

 

The Young Married me – “What
did you do with that egg carton” (it had small parts from a repair project in
progress.)

 

Beautiful Wife – “It’s up on
the counter.”

 

The Young Married me –
“Hoped you didn’t throw it away.”

 

Beautiful Wife – “Nope!”

 

He then picked up the grease
stained egg carton and walked back out to work. 
Within a moment, the Beautiful Wife went back to her piano playing.  She played song after song. Stopping
frequently at the trouble spots.  Several
times she sighed in frustration at her struggles. 

 

As a fly on the wall, I just
sat there and watched her play.  I had
forgotten how much I loved listening to her play the piano.  At the end of her 15 minutes, she was true to
her word and stood up clicked the recorder off and went into the kitchen to
start dinner as I was sucked back through the time tunnel to the present.

 

This time travel experience
happened to me over a week ago, but I can’t get it out of my head.  I can still hear, see, feel, and experience
her emotions as she played for me 26 years ago. 
I love great music and talented pianists. But no one will ever hold a
candle to what it does for me when My Beautiful Wife plays the piano.  Even with the threat of being embarrassed by
hearing my R-rated expressions these many years later, this one 17 ½ minute
audio recording is a treasured possession. 
It takes me back to a time before My Beautiful Wife could see all my
faults and weaknesses.  To a time and
place when I really believed I could make all her dreams come true. 

 

 

A Wonderful Life

Norman Victor Haroldsen

March 18, 1928 –  May 12, 2008

 

A Wonderful Life

 

Norman Victor Haroldsen, born Sunday morning March 18, 1928.  His mother told him that if he’d be born 10 ½ hours earlier, she would have named him Patrick in honor of St. Patrick’s day.

 

His parents, George and Kate’s family, appeared complete before Norman came along.  A family picture seems to confirm that idea.  But then Norman and his 18 month younger sister appeared as two trailing cabooses to George and Kate’s family. 

 

Relatives were perplexed at where all his black hair came from.  It disappeared as mysteriously as it came, and by the time he was two, Norman was as blonde as blonde could be.

 

With His little, almost twin sister, Norman’s enthusiasm for experiencing life got him into his share of childhood trouble.  One of many examples, that could be cited, was when their mother was canning grape jelly.  Norman and Helen were trying to be so helpful that Kate put their names each on a quart bottle of jelly, saying “This one is yours Norman, and this one is yours Leone.”  Three months later, neither Norman nor Helen saw a problem with going down into the basement to open their bottles of jelly.  The first few spoonfuls were pretty tasty.  But before it was all over they didn’t know what ached more, their bellies or their rear ends.

 

Norman was experimental as a small boy.  One day, he stretched a rope across their cement walkway about 6 inches above the ground, not sure of what he’d catch.  He “caught” his big brother Ed, who was running to the house to get something he’d forgotten.  Ed’s fast moving foot caught the rope, his nose caught and plowed the cement walk, and Norman caught heck from Ed.

 

In telling of growing up on the farm, Norman said, “Our parents never took us anywhere.  And I literally mean that – never anywhere.  We never went to Idaho Falls or even to church.  We grew up during the great depression.  But we were never aware of being poor or deprived.  We never went hungry, but were never given any money by our parents.”

 

Norman tells of the tedious hours thinning beets or doing many of the other monotonous farm jobs as a child, but he also spoke of the fun times on the farm.  At night, after the farm work ceased for the day, Norman’s favorite activity was to go to the old swim hole.  He said “I was eight or ten – probably ten (years old) when my brother Ed taught me how to swim out there.”  Brothers and cousins all joined in – strictly “boys only” though.  (Dad told me that he never owned a swimsuit until he was 18 years old.)  They built a big bon fire near the swim hole, and when Norman got cold, he’d stand next to the fire.  He’d turn a little and stand some more, and then turn and stand some more, roasting like a hot dog on a stick.

 

Another favorite family activity was more complicated to prepare for.  Everything had to be timed perfectly.  I don’t know the exact order of things, but Norman’s dad, George did.  The first crop of hay cut, the rest of the planting completed.  Cows doctored, pigs castrated, all the crops irrigated, fences repaired, potatoes cultivated, hay hauled in from the field, and stacked with the hay derrick.  And the hay field watered for the second crop.  Corrals cleaned and calf stalls freshly bedded.  The list seemed that it would take all summer of day and night work to finish. 

 

Then finally Pa would declare everything was ready and Norman’s family would feverishly pack up and head for one of their favorite fishing streams for the next two or three days.  Norman’s dad, George, worked as hard at fishing as he did on the farm.  After a few days of R&R along a river bank up in Island Park or somewhere else, the family would beat it back to the farm where everyone was expected to work double-time to catch up on the farm work again. 

 

George’s strong work ethic rubbed off on to his son, Norman, even at a young age.  One of the daily chores that was identified as “Norman’s job to do” was to milk the cow in the morning.  Norman was always so anxious to get going in the morning that he would get up earlier and earlier to go out and get started.  When he was going out to start milking at 3:00 am, Norman’s mother, “Kate” finally put her foot down with the scold, “Norman, if you don’t quit getting up so early to milk the cow, I won’t let you do it any more.”

 

I, along with all of my siblings, can vouch for the fact that George’s son, Norman, retained this work ethic to pass along to the next generation.

 

Even though Norman’s childhood home was less than five miles from the Idaho Falls City limits, this rural area, St. Leon, operated its own school.  Back in the 1930’s, St. Leon was a modern school with 2 rooms – grades 1-4 in one room, and grades 5-8 in the other.  With 4 rows in each class room, Dad said they just moved over 1 row each year.  Going from grade 4 to 5 was a big deal because you got to change rooms.    

 

Like Norman, most of the kids attending St. Leon were farmers who had chores to do after school.  No time for sports like the city kids played.  So when Norman graduated the 8th grade, in 1942, and began attending Idaho Falls High School, the last thing he and his buddy/ cousin Ray wanted was to be humiliated in the required PE classes.  But good the news was, they discovered they’d be exempt from PE if they were enrolled in High School Band.  So Norman’s high school band career was shining, with playing two different instruments as he participated in concert, pep, and marching band.  In his final high school year, Norman beat out popular Donna West as the bands business manager when she caught backlash for saying, “We can’t have the band run by a bunch of country boys from out in the sticks!”

 

While attending high school, Norman learned that many of the kids attended LDS Seminary, and he too was enrolled by the second year.  Ten years before Norman had been born, his dad had become embittered by an unchristian Christian, who was in a position of power.  So with the exception of being baptized at the age of ten, at the insistence of Norman’s mother, their Christianity was practiced at home instead of at church.

 

Norman loved attending the high school LDS Seminary.  It was the beginning of a life of associating with… and learning with… others, who likewise loved God and were inspired by the scriptures which teach of his love for them. 

 

After high school, Norman’s education continued as he pursued a bachelors’ degree in Agriculture.  In his Senior year of attending the University of Idaho, up in Moscow, Idaho, Norman and several of his buddies decided to spend the Thanksgiving Holiday exploring further up north instead of coming back down south to the family farm. 

 

An old high school buddy from Idaho Falls was serving as an LDS missionary in Vancouver, British Colombia.  When Norman and his college buddies met up with Elder Layton, he told Norman that he’d like to show him around town, but that there was a missionary farewell, which he was obligated to attend.  Norman and his buddies were game to go along and attend the chapel meeting, and even more game to attend the dance, which followed in the basement of the church building. 

 

Norman’s buddies watched in amazement as this otherwise reserved (if not down right shy) Idaho Farm Boy competed and ultimately won the attention of the most beautiful girl at the church dance.  Norman forgot all about his other friends as this beauty, Fay Tillack, introduced him to her family and then showed him around the city the next day.

 

Differences in background and distance didn’t separate the Canadian city girl from the Idaho farm boy for long.  The following summer, July 28, 1950, they were married in the Idaho Falls LDS Temple.

 

The first eight years of their married life became a defining time for Norman—Both vocationally and spiritually.  As three sons eventually joined their family, Norman and Fay remained active in church and involved in the family farm.   The stated plan was for Norman to begin to assume management of the farm while his dad, now in his late 60’s eased into retirement.  But working year after year with no pay and no say in any management decisions convinced Norman that he had no future on his childhood farm.  Also tragedy struck even more personally when Norman and Fay’s third son, 18 month old Gary Kent, suddenly became ill and died.

 

Those hard days brought two resolves that Norman kept.   He would never take his faith for granted (the faith that gave him hope that he would someday be where he knew his son’s spirit was).  So He resolved to remain faithful to his faith and to serve God wherever and whenever he could.

 

Norman also resolved to make a new career start—Here he did almost the impossible when, with no money to his name, he moved his family which now included a baby daughter to Rexburg where he developed his own small time egg farm into the thriving predecessor of today’s Agri-business.

 

Norman made those changes in his life, with his father George (still suffering from his own personal bitterness) accusing him, “All you care about is chickens and church.”    

         

Seven of us children grew up on our family egg farm.  This is where we learned from Dad to work and play “Haroldsen Style”.  We didn’t work at a feverish pitch, night and day, for 3 weeks before going fishing.  But none the less, our work load compressed and intensified on both ends anytime we took off for such things as celebrating Memorial Day or the 4th of July “Haroldsen Style”.

 

Growing up on this egg farm, working and playing beside Dad, is where we listened to his classical music and he endured our music.  It’s where we learned from his sense of humor and developed our own.  It’s where we learned that we can love life even when we are working hard. 

 

Norman’s normal workdays were always long.  Always starting before 5:00am, after 12-14 hour long work days, he would enjoy supper together with all of us as a family.   Then frequently Dad’s workday would continue with paper work in his office.  Often his personal time was spent curled up with a geography book- and finally dreaming about places he’d like to visit in the world, until a new day began.

 

He did travel widely – throughout the world – always out on his own – never as a part of a tour group.  He was always too impatient to wait around for the slow pace a tour guide would take.  

 

Dad’s people skills and sense of humor are legendary to everyone who really knows him.  He made the world his friend-one person at a time.  Examples of Dad’s sense of humor continued, even in his devastating illness, even when he was most miserable.  I’ll give examples that each of my three sisters have told.

 

Story #1

Last October Dad’s clothes didn’t fit very well because he had lost so much weight from his sickness.  Catherine told the rest of us siblings about it.

 

          “Just thought you all might want to know about Dad’s first trip back to church after nearly a year.  We get to park in the handicap parking.  We all get out and I stand on the sidewalk waiting for them to come around the other side.  I’m standing there looking at the people walking into the church when I hear Dad behind me saying, “I think I have a problem here”.  He said it pretty calmly so I just turn around to see what the problem was.  There was Dad, standing on the sidewalk with his pants down on the ground around his ankles.  It was quite a shocker to see that.  He had his suit coat on and looked fine from the waist up but his bare legs were just out there for all to see.  If the people walking into the church didn’t notice that on their own, they certainly did when Mom let out a shriek.  All heads turned and got the shock of their life.  I walked over and did my best to block my dear old Dad from the church gawkers while Mom bent over and tried to pull his pants back up.  She tucked his shirt in, scolded him for not cinching his belt tight enough and pleaded for us to all go home.  “We can’t go in there now!!” she cried.   They did go on into church…but afterward Mom and Catherine took Dad home where they made Moon Pie to celebrate his first trip back to church after being away so long.

 

Story #2

When she was caring for him, Laurie told of how utterly uncomfortable and in fact down right miserable Dad was.  He told Laurie to “just shoot me”.  Laurie pantomimed shooting him and he immediately dropped his head to the side with his tongue hanging out like she’d killed him.

 

 

Story #3

Linda said, “One day Mom and I were trying to re-shift Dad in the bed.  She stood on one side and I stood on the other.  Dad’s knees were bent up so I took a hold of one leg and mom took the other and we started to lift him up to shift him.  Dad opened his eyes and said, “make a wish”.

 

 All of these stories are classic Dad’s great sense of humor and positive attitude no matter what.

 

As I pondered a good analogy of my father, Norman’s life, the majestic Teton Mountains which have graced his landscape most of his life came to mind.  Regardless of temperature or tempest they stand firm.  My Dad’s testimony and faith in God is like that.  Even when hidden from the view of all by storm clouds, those Teton Mountains don’t waver or waffle.  My Dad’s character and nature were likewise unaffected by his storms of life.

 

The harsh conditions on the Teton’s leaves a beauty that cannot be created any other way.  It’s the same way in Dad’s life.   The trials in his life have molded his character with beauty that only the master’s hand could create.

 

Norman’s life long love of people, and his faith in the goodness of mankind, has endeared him to very many throughout his life… to almost all who know him now.  This expectation of the goodness of mankind… has become self fulfilling… as his goodness has rubbed off onto those he came into contact with.

 

Norman’s good friend expresses this so well in a card he wrote two weeks ago.  Darwin Wolford’s words (and scripture) sum up Dad’s life better than my words can express.  “Norman, you have always been a man I looked up to as a true Christian gentleman, unselfish, meek, without guile, and thoroughly righteous.  When I reach this point in my own life, I only hope that I will be as prepared to meet my Savior as you are.  I guess the suffering you experience is given to you as a means to refine the steel in your sweet soul even more.  I think Isaiah’s words are much better than mine:  “Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver:  I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction” (Isaiah 48:10)

 

Last summer, because of his long absence… because he was unable to attend church,  Norman’s friend and leader in his High Priest group, Jim Wilson, invited dad to share his life and testimony via audio recording.  These are Dad’s words from that recording of almost a year ago.

 

“I know that our prayers are always heard and answered.  I feel the Lord has a purpose yet for me in this life. When that is completed then I will be willing to return to him.”

 

Dad, I want to be like you.  As your faithful wife of over 57 years, as your children (all 8 of us – 7 of us mourning your loss… while I know our brother Gary rejoices in your company… as your many friends and neighbors… just as the Savior taught, everyone you came in contact seemed to be your neighbor… as everyone who’s life you have touched (have changed) we love you, we miss you, your life inspires us.  Good-bye … for a time.

Like Pulling Teeth

Like Pulling Teeth

 

Any time my dad wants to express that something is really, really hard to accomplish, he always uses the expression, “It’s like pulling teeth to…” 

The only teeth I’ve ever had pulled are my baby teeth and some teeth pulled as part of my orthodontics work when I was a teenager.  I even still have all my wisdom teeth, in place and in use.  (Probably the only wisdom that I have.)  I do know that it’s like pulling teeth to pay all the “Mouth Bills” a large family has though. 

I’ve always done the bare minimum on my own dental care so I could pay for the rest of my family’s needs.  So when I go to the dentist, I always expect (and get) a long lecture about how this tooth and that tooth need crowns.  I have always politely told them to just repair it with a filling and I’ll get the crown latter.  Well it’s now much, much later and I have one molar that has been taunting me for all those dentists with, “I told you so, I told you so.” 

Fortunately, my Beautiful Wife’s new dental insurance is much better than mine was, I so this week I finally got that long awaited crown on my tender tooth.  And now that my bite feels as good as my bark again, I wonder how they must have gotten along in yesteryear.

My family history tells me a little bit about it.  My 2 greats grandpa, Samuel Webster, had dental forceps.  Folks came from the area to have him pull their teeth.  Now Samuel was a coal miner turned farmer, not a dentist.  Back in the late 1800’s when he was pulling teeth, dental forceps were a relatively new innovation.  I’ve seen pictures of the dental pelican which preceded the dental key.  The sight of either of these tooth extraction tools would have inspired me to live with the tender tooth a lot longer.  These must have been the tools that famed American, Paul Revere, used when he advertised as a dentist back in 1768. 

And then there are the poor folks who had no one to pull the bad tooth at all.  I read one such story of a pioneer family crossing the plains in 1857.  A twelve year old boy had a tooth ache and there was nothing he could do about it but suffer.  At least that’s what everyone told him.  Necessity is a great motivator. And this boy was motivated to get that bad tooth out. 

He decided to pack the large hole in the tooth with gunpowder.  As he was doing it, his father told him, “You had better not do it.  No good can come from it.”  But the painful tooth ache was making him crazy.  Crazy enough to actually light the powder in his mouth.  His family stood and watched in shock as his mouth lit up like a muzzle loader.  The decayed tooth popped out and all was well on the trail once again.

What my ancestors wouldn’t have given to have the fine dental care that I take for granted.  My mouth is happy again I didn’t even have to lose the tooth.  But then again, if my ancestors heard how much my repaired tooth costs, they would probably happily resort to gun powder and tools that look like pelican beaks.             

An Anxious Ride

An Anxious Ride

 

The blazing afternoon sun sucked what little moisture was left out of the air.  The blast of highway wind did the same to my skin. I knew if my puckered lips straightened, they would crack and bleed.  My dry throat ached for a drink, but I didn’t care.  I had four hundred miles to go before I wanted to stop for anything.  Only common sense held me back as I straddled my motorcycle which was capable of so much more speed than I had ever dared to try.

I thought of Frederick, who a few generations earlier, was also traveling in the hot summer weather.  He was on a train.  It was the fastest mode of transportation available in 1914.  I imagine back in 1914, he got a telegram that started his journey.

For me, it was a phone call.  A few hours earlier, I had been sitting in church with my family.  When my cell phone buzzed in silent mode, I thought it would be another problem at my work.  I looked down at the display expecting to see “DEF”, the work abbreviation.  Instead “LAURIE” flashed at me.  This can’t be good.  My dad was back in the hospital.  I bolted from the meeting so I could answer the phone. 

 “Mom wanted me to call and let you know what was going on.”  With that, my sister started right into the report.  The news was not encouraging.  In Dad’s condition, any infection or virus could be life threatening.  After the call, pieces of the report still rang in my head.

“Throat swelling up… A new lump… hard to breath… he can’t talk… they will do an x-ray looking for pneumonia.” 

Now my Beautiful Wife was standing next to me and I tried to relay the information.  As she asked, “Don’t you think you should go?”  I was already trying to figure out the logistics.  I had brought my company pickup truck home that weekend.  But I couldn’t take it to Idaho.  My work was a hundred miles in the wrong direction.  I decided to take the truck back to work trade for my motorcycle.  By comparison, I was lucky.  I was only a half a day away. 

I thought again of Frederick.  Living in Chicago, for him it was a three days journey to Southeastern Idaho.  He must have left almost immediately when he heard that his father, John Everett, had suddenly taken ill.  The frequent stops the steam locomotive must have made to take on water, fuel, and passengers would have been frustrating for Frederick.  Since his siblings knew when he would arrive, it is likely he had left several telegrams informing them of his progress along the way.     

            As I rolled from side to side, taking the hilly curves a little faster than usual, I added it up in my head.  “It would be about 6:00pm when I arrived at Rexburg.”  I wondered if there were any more updates.  There was no cell service through these hills.  When I stopped for gas, I checked my phone for missed calls.  Nothing.  That was good I think.  I didn’t take the time to make any of my own calls. 

Back on the road, my mind raced from one thought to another.  I thought of my dad.  He’d had set backs like this before.  He had always pleasantly surprised family and the medical people alike at his resilience.  However, in the two days since he’d been admitted to the hospital, new developments and complications seems to combine against him.  It was now starting to sound like the worst case scenario.     

Then another image came back into my mind.  I thought of my Great-Great Grandpa, John Everett.  In 1914, he was 93 years old.  The summer heat of the day gave way to night time.  John saw the reflection of the setting sun on his bedroom wall for the last time.  He was on his death bed, and he knew it.  He had been sick for three days.  Seven of his eight living children were at his bedside with him.  The only one missing was Frederick, a doctor who lived and worked in Chicago.  He was traveling back home as fast as the steam locomotive would carry him.  John Everett had lived a full life.  In 1835, at the age of 14, he left his Prussian home as he became a cabin boy on a sailing ship.  At age 28, sailor John Everett claimed to have visited every major sea port in the world except the American West Coast.  This was the year he gave up the sea for another love.  The love of his life was Hellen Tanser.  They pioneered west by ox team and covered wagon.  Now the sailor was a farmer.  John and Hellen had ten children and raised eight of them.  Hellen had died in 1900, fourteen years earlier.  So with seven of his children at his bedside, John had only one thing left in this life to wait for.  He knew that he had asked before, but time had lost it’s relevance to him. So he asked again.  “Where is Frederick?”  “Papa, Frederick is still coming.  He just hasn’t arrived yet.  He’s coming as fast as he can.”   

The thought sent me spurring my motorcycle like Pony Express rider, as I leaned a little more forward and twisted the throttle a little bit more.  Rexburg was close now.  I slowed as I took the exit and started up Main Street.  Madison Memorial Hospital is up on a hill on the other end of Main. 

As I impatiently waited for a red light to change, I thought again of John Everett’s final words.  It was now between midnight and 2:00 am.  John asked one last time, “Is Frederick here yet?”  “No Papa, he’s not.  But he will be here tonight.”  John let the unwelcomed answer settle for a moment and then he said, “Well it is too bad.”  After that, John Everett lost consciousness and soon past from this life.

I now had tears in my eyes when the light finally changed to green and sent me the final few blocks to the hospital.  I was kicking myself now, “Why didn’t I leave earlier, when I first heard Dad was in the hospital?”

When I arrived, I found Dad gravely ill, but alive and surrounded by family.  I spent the night with him, as well as the next day.  His condition continued to worsen for a time and I was very thankful that I had made it when I did.

Numerous doctors, nurses and other medical people have admitted since that they thought we were going to lose Dad that time.  But he pulled through and is doing very well these six months later.  Maybe it’s a throw back to his egg farm days but Dad is now known as “A Tough Old Bird”. 

I’ve been back to visit my parents once since that time, and I look forward to all my visits back home.  In fact, I’ll be headed back this weekend for another short visit.  I thank modern communication, modern transportation, modern medicine, and the God who gave them all to us that I can still visit with my parents as I do.  I am truly blessed that my outcome that day was vastly different than Frederick Everett’s was almost a hundred years ago.    

             

The Reason I Love You

It’s my space and I can do what I want with it, right?  Well today, I want to use it to send a message to my Beautiful Wife.  So please pardon me, everyone else, while I get a little bit personal. 

 

 

The Reason I Love You

 

It’s not because you’re beautiful.  Although you are the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. 

 

It’s not because you’re smart.  Although your intellect challenges me to keep up.

 

It’s not because you’re perfect.  Although you can do not wrong in my eyes. 

 

It’s not because you’re ambitious.  Although there isn’t a lazy bone in your over-worked body.

 

It’s not because you’re the mother of my children.  Although they, each one, all nine, are beautiful inside and out, just like you.

 

It’s not because you’ve stuck with me all these years, and through untold tears.

 

I love you because you are you.  I love the whole package that makes you, YOU. 

 

Albert Einstein once stated his theory of relativity in terms that even I can understand.  I read that he once said, “If you sit on a hot stove for a minute, it will seem longer than any hour.  But if you sit next to a pretty girl for an hour, it will seem shorter than any minute.  That’s relativity.” 

 

So I’ve known you for only a moment.  But I hope to be with you for a long, long time.

 

Thank-you for being YOU

It Tastes Like Puke to Me

It Tastes Like Puke to Me

 

Some of my more sour childhood memories seem to have sweetened with time.  Among those were the very earliest I have of being sick.  Like all large families, we learned to share and share alike. 

I think we took this “large family culture” to the extreme when we got the stomach flu.  We seemed to pass it around like the mashed potatoes and gravy at Sunday dinner. 

Mom would set up sick bay in the girl’s bedroom, downstairs where it was convenient to her “makeshift nurse’s station” and the one bathroom in the house.   My clear memories of those bouts with stomach flu included the associated stomach cramps and diarrhea, which were treated with Paragoric.  This stuff was among the nastiest stuff my 6 year old taste buds had ever experienced. 

Our family doctor had also prescribed that Mom give us Pepsi to sip.  This was intended to help settle our stomachs.  I am sure I had had a few soda pops at other times as well.  But never a cola like Coke or Pepsi.  My early youth soda pop memory had Shasta pop like orange or grape flavor as the choices.  Our very conservative family values didn’t have room for the caffeinated pops that we were told could be addictive.  So literally the only time I tasted one of those colas was when my Mom was following the doctor’s orders to give us some for our sick stomachs. 

Of course, in the height of stomach flu, after sipping on the Pepsi for awhile, I’d get that burning deep down in my stomach, followed by the watery mouth.  As soon as I realized what was happening, the heave spasms would start and it would all come up.  I think that the Pepsi tasted about the same coming back up as it did going down.  That is really the only time in my life that I intentionally drank colas.  So even now I associate the taste of them with having stomach flu and puking my guts out.  

In my ‘formative years’ of around 8, I discovered my life long love of a soda pop flavor.  In 1967 I attended the Haroldsen Family reunion.  This was a Saturday afternoon gathering for all of Christian and Anna Haroldsen’s posterity.  Although they had both been gone for decades, I believe that all nine of their children were present.  My Grandpa, George Haroldsen, was the oldest of the nine children.  Of course I saw more aunts, uncles, and cousins than I could shake a stick at.  Even with games for the children, visits for the adults and a very nice program including my dad’s cousin, LJ Cook playing a mean accordion (I couldn’t understand why a Cook was at a Haroldsen reunion), the long buffet tables of food were the highlight of our get-together. 

The absolute best part of that reunion for me was the discovery of the brew happening on the end of the long buffet table.  I watched as the sugar was splattered with some sort of dark potion.  The next thing that got my attention was all of the steam or smoke or whatever it was that was pouring out of that barrel.  I stepped in close and put my hand out to try to touch the mysterious cloud as it slipped over the edge and drifted toward the ground as it disappeared.  I could hear the full rumble of the brew boiling inside the barrel.  When I could finally get a cup of the brew, I fell in love with the best tasting pop ever.  That day the brew master kept it coming.  And I kept coming back for more.  From that time on, I kept my eye open for anything that said Root Beer on the label. 

This was also the time that I had joined the Cub Scouts.  We were out at the local lake for one of our summer time pack meetings when they passed around the bottles of soda pop to go along with the hotdogs.  My den leader asked me, “What kind do you want?”  “Do you have Root Beer?”  I was handed the chilled bottle with the name “Frostie Root Beer” in bright red and white letters.  This was years before Wendy’s Restaurants came along and named their chocolate ice cream treat “a Frosty”.   I think this was the first time I got to drink a whole bottle of pop by myself.  (Of course I’m not counting that family reunion when I drank 10 gallons of the dry-ice root beer, one paper cup at a time.)

My next favorite Root Beer experience was the occasional stops our family made at the A&W stand.  The contrast of sitting in the over squished rambler station wagon on a hot summer day, watching the car hop fasten the tray to our half open window, and then Mom or Dad handing back the frosted mug, filled to the brim of my favorite treat was dramatic to my senses.  It was so cold that the edges of the inch thick mug would stick to my lips as I took my first swig.

Those happy memories hooked me on my favorite drink more than the cola’s caffeine would have.  It is no wonder to me that all through my teenaged soda pop guzzling days, I chose whatever kind of root beer was offered over any other kind of soda pop.  My Grandpa Tillack made a mean bottled Root Beer using yeast.  And I learned how to do that dry-ice brew I first discovered at the 1967 Haroldsen reunion.  I’ve never even tasted some of the other varieties of soda pop offered.  I don’t know what Dr. Pepper or Mountain Dew or any of that new stuff they call soda pop today even tastes like. 

Occasionally, when ordering a Root Beer with my meal, they mistakenly serve me a Coke or Pepsi.  I’ll take a sip and immediately think of my childhood days with stomach flu.  Yup, it tastes like puke to me.  So if they don’t have a Root Beer to offer, I’ll just settle for a cold glass of water like my Beautiful Wife does.   

Zeitgeist – The Movie, 2007 – My Spin On It

Zeitgeist – The Movie, 2007 – My Spin On It

I was asked my opinion of this movie which is displayed on You-Tube.  So here it goes.

 

The Merriam – Webster online Dictionary defines the word Zeitgeist as: The general intellectual, moral, and cultural climate of an era.

Zeitgeist – The Movie 2007, is clearly more of an attempt to influence rather than report the general intellectual, moral and cultural climate of our era. 

 

I would like to make the point that I see a lot of factual details in this movie.  But I am very wary of all the speculation or down right lies that are carried along with the facts.  The whole packaged deal is portrayed as “obvious truth.”  I learned along time ago about sorting out irrelevant facts.  So first let me tell a story from my childhood.

 

During my years of elementary school, my lunch hour was usually spent standing in a school cafeteria lunch line.  The school cafeteria provided lunch for four different elementary schools, the Jr. High, and the High School.  So the lunch line usually came out of the basement cafeteria, up the stairway, down the school halls, and then outside and down the sidewalk in front of the school. 

It usually took most of the lunch hour, standing in line waiting for lunch.  There was always a lot of talking, horseplay, and even fighting in the lunch line.  I preferred to just blend in the crowd and eaves drop on all the conversations going on. 

One day I listened to a boy I knew to be what I later termed a “Know it all”.  He was standing right in front of me, poking fun of the boy who was right in front of him. 

The boy being made fun of was mentally retarded. “Know it all” told him that he was a retard.  He said he could tell that he was a retard because he had a zit behind his ear. 

“Know it all” then started looking at some of us by standers.  He then said to me, “You’re a retard too”.  He then pointed to my ear.  I touched my ear and sure enough, I could feel a small zit right behind my ear down by the ear lobe. 

I was surprised.  I hadn’t noticed it before.  This started me thinking, “Had it been there my whole life?  Was it just starting?  Would that mean I was just now becoming retarded?”  It was a small zit.  “Did this mean that I was only a little retarded?”  I did notice that the zit behind the retarded boy’s ear was quite large.  And he was obviously retarded.  I kept thinking to myself, “That zit behind my ear would explain all those dumb things I had done”.  I no longer paid any attention to my heckler.  I was deep in thought about my newly discovered miss fortune. 

It was a few days latter as my zit behind the ear was going away that I started to wonder, “How did he know all that stuff about zits and mental retardation anyway?” 

It finally sank in to my brain that he was using an ear relevant fact.  That is, that zit behind my ear was only relevant to my ear. 

However, he had succeeded in convincing me of a lie by pointing out a fact that I hadn’t realized before.  Even though it was not related to the point he was trying to make.

In the years since the zit behind the ear incident, I’ve learned to recognize irrelevant facts as such.  I’ve found that irrelevant facts are used everywhere.  They are used to explain why we should have small families, how we descended from apes, why it is beneficial to drink & smoke, and etc.   Nevertheless, the fact remains, when a truth is told with a lie, that lie is still a lie. 

Now as I, as everyone is, am bombarded in all forms of the media with information which is presented as fact, I watch for “The zit behind the ear” facts (facts that I hadn’t realized before).  And when I see them, I can more easily see the lies those facts are trying to hide.

 

 

The message of the movie is clearly intended to open the eyes of the American Christian public, to see a great conspiracy which has duped us all.

 

Their position –

They make the case that there is no god, or higher power that created the universe. They declare that a select few who really know the truth use religious myths to gain power and control over the general population of the world. 

 

My response –

          First of all, I would like to say that for a movie which is presented by “Intellectuals” who are trying to make an “Intellectual” out of me by winning me over to their way of thinking through their reasoning, I found it extremely tacky to play the voice of a stand up comic routine making fun of the way religion is always asking for money.  

I am paraphrasing because I only watched the movie once (several weeks ago) but the comic says something like, “God is all powerful… but he’s always asking for money… can never get enough money… can do everything else but he can’t seem to manage his money… always broke.” 

This attack on my Christian values ignores the Christian belief that God did create Heaven and Earth, and all things that are on Earth including me.  If God did create all, then when I tithe, I am only giving back a small portion of what already belongs to God.  I am indebted to him even for the air that I breathe. 

That stand up comic wouldn’t have gotten any laughs if he was trying to make fun of a landlord in the same way. “He comes back every month for more rent… he never seems to get enough… that landlord must not be able to manage his money…”

All the while, they make no mention and give no credit for all the good church related donations do in the world.  The amount of dollars spent on church related charities everywhere from a small local church helping the neighbor in need, to the many rescue missions to famine struck third world countries is immeasurable. 

 

Their position –

          They made the case that all religions are based on astrology and the zodiac.  I listened to the narrator make the case that ancient man studied the sun and stars thousands of years before the dawn of Christianity.  And that these myths and legends were the basis for the story of Jesus Christ and his Earthly ministry thousands of years later. 

 

My response –

I wondered, If God Created the stars of the sky, and the rotation of the sun, and everything else astronomical, as I believe he did as the creator of Heaven and Earth, then it was he that placed those symbols in the heavens millions of years before he came as the Savior of the World.  Symbolism is a great teaching tool.  I believe that even the stars in the night sky testified to ancient man of Jesus Christ’s promised coming.  And to modern man, it is a testimony that the creator of heaven and earth did come to save all who wanted saving. 

           

Their position –

They make the claim that Jesus Christ couldn’t have been a real religious figure two thousand years ago because of the similarities this story has to the much older stories such as the Egyptian Sun God, Horus, and Greece’s Dionysus.  

 

My response –

Again, I am wondering if my belief that God created all things, and that his prophets, such as Isaiah, told of what was going to happen… that they told of a Promised Messiah… then who is copying whom?

I have seen this same pattern of trying to discredit a story many times before.     Anti-Mormon writers use this same tactic. Only the Zeitgeist writers used as their source, writings published by the secular humanists organizations such as American Atheist Press, and Prometheus books.  They scavenged thorough volumes of literature, searching for any simile, any story or legend from anywhere that has any similarities.  And then they claim that the Christian era is simply a literary copy of what they found.  They say “he’s got this little detail from here and that little detail from there…” until they have buried the religion under attack with their carefully puzzled together fables.  This they call proof that the story is false. 

I’d like to give an example which I think illustrates what they try to do and how flawed the reasoning can be.  Using this same reasoning, I can prove that John F. Kennedy didn’t really exist.  That he is just a fabrication of modern literature.  You see, so many key details of John F. Kennedy’s life were just copies of an earlier President of the United States that he was obviously just made up as part of American Folklore.  Here is the proof.

    

Abraham Lincoln was elected to Congress in 1846.
John F. Kennedy was elected to Congress in 1946

 

Lincoln failed to win the Vice Presidential nomination in 1856.
Kennedy failed to win the Vice Presidential nomination in 1956.

 

Abraham Lincoln was elected President in 1860.
John F. Kennedy was elected President in 1960.

 

Lincoln defeated Stephen Douglas who was born in 1813.
Kennedy defeated Richard Nixon who was born in 1913.

 

Both were particularly concerned with civil rights.
Both wives lost children while in the White House.

 

Both Presidents were shot on a Friday.
Both Presidents were shot in the head.

 

Lincoln‘s secretary was named Kennedy.
Kennedy’s secretary was named Lincoln.

 

Both were assassinated by Southerners.

 

Both were succeeded by Southerners.

 

Both Presidents had Vice Presidents named Johnson.

 

Lincoln‘s Vice President was called Andrew Johnson who served in the House of Representatives in 1847.
Kennedy’s Vice President was called Lyndon Johnson who served in the House of Representatives in1947.

 

Both successors (their Vice Presidents) were named Johnson.
Andrew Johnson, who succeeded Lincoln, was born in 1808.
Lyndon Johnson, who succeeded Kennedy, was born in 1908.

 

Both assassins were known by the three names.
Both names are composed of fifteen letters.

 

Lincoln was shot at the theatre called "Ford."
Kennedy was shot in a car named "Lincoln", made by Ford.

 

Booth ran from the theater and was caught in a warehouse.
Oswald ran from a warehouse and was caught in a theater.

Booth and Oswald were assassinated before their trials.

Source:  http://www.meilach.com/samscorner/president.htm

 

        Using this same argument, in a few hundred years, our great grandchildren could “prove” that John F. Kennedy never really existed.  I’m not taking the time to really research this out like the big boys have.  I have many other things that are much more important to me to spend my time on.  But if I spent the time, I believe that I could find documents from the past and use the same line of reasoning to “Prove” that the secular humanists who have produced Zeitgeist never really existed either.

 

Their position –

            They purport that religion is only a tool, used by the few who know and control, to rage war, death and destruction.  This gives them the power to increase their control and increase their wealth. 

 

My response –

        They claim that religion feigns peace while raging war. But it ignores the billions of peaceful acts of kindness and help which has been inspired by religion throughout the centuries.  Of course, the effects of faith and any thing spiritual is not even mentioned in the movie.  No mention is made of the many studies which show that patients who have religious faith have an advantage in recovery from sickness than those without faith.  No mention is made that religious faith inspires people to live better, happier lives than they might without their faith.  No mention is made about the millions of people who are inspired to be kinder to their neighbors because their faith. 

Aside from the academics of understanding everything related to religion, to its origin, and its place in society.  I feel an undeniable spiritual connection to a higher power… to God.  I am a better person because of this connection.  I am a happier person because of this connection. 

 

 

Their position –

It is their position that those select few who control the world’s money system, have used financial crises such as the Great Depression of the 1930’s and the many wars including The Great War, WWII, Vietnam, and our present wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to amass their financial fortunes and to take away our personal freedoms and rights.

 

My response –

            As I watched this movie, much of it was not new to me.  I am very familiar with the conspiracy theory boldly declared in the 1970’s through the John Birch Society, and Gary Allen’s book, “None Dare Call It Conspiracy.” 

There is one man from my hometown that I watched with interest as he took every precept taught by the “John Birchers” to heart.  He declared the income tax illegal and refused to pay or file the tax forms.  He wouldn’t have a bank account or anything else that the IRS might track or seize.  Life was conducted by cash only for him.  I wondered how much of his life he spent looking over his shoulder, trying to hide his livelihood from the government and those conspirators he despised.  I always thought that it was ironic that this man’s day to day freedom seemed to be more restricted because of his passion to preserve his freedom. 

            Over the years, I have come to the conclusion that at least some of what they purport is true.  I am disgusted with what some of our trusted politicians have done in the past to propel us into war.  One example is what “Washington” knew about the attack on Pearl Harbor, They knew what was coming but did nothing.  It was a chance to get into the European war with the whole country’s support. 

The more I learn and know about these kinds of politics the more I’m disgusted with them.  But I also know that there is nothing new here.  The same kind of treachery has been going on throughout the ages.  That is a big reason why I am not at all excited to find “Royalty” in my genealogical research.  Back in the dark ages, it was kill or be killed.  Clans formed for protection.  The petty kings were those who were most aggressive at conquering a territory.  The bigger kingdoms were formed by those who were even more power hungry (and more cunning).  They were also the most skilled at war and treachery. 

I see some similarities today.  But I do think that we are better off today then my ancestors were.  I am watching the conspiracy theory with interest.  I don’t know what more I can do. 

It’s like global warming.  I know about it, but I don’t know what more I can do about it.  I don’t think anyone living in a developed country tries harder to consume less, use less energy resources, and impact the earth less with waste than I do.  But unlike Al Gore and all the Hollywood types who have jumped on the band wagon, I have lived my whole life this way, long before anyone said we were heating up our planet.  I can’t see that living like my “John Bircher” friend did, will help me or their cause.

 

Their position –

And finally, as part of this great conspiracy, they claim that the terrorist attacks on 9-11-2001 were devised by those who really control the US government as a means of setting up our “war on terror” which our nation is now waging.  They say this also set the stage to further erode the balance of our constitutional freedoms in the name of stopping all terrorists.     

 

My response –

            I started this blog with a personal story, so I think I’ll end with one as well.  I think this story illustrates how I feel about their claim that our government actually set up the 9-11 attacks. 

            Anyone who has read many of my past blogs already knows that I was born in the egg business and have been actively involved in the egg business for almost all of my life.  My dad was an early innovator who bought a yesteryear chicken farm and transformed it into an early version of what the egg business is today. 

I know more about the development of the egg industry than I can find in any series of books to read about it.  Very few people who are still in the egg business have made a living from it as long as I have.  Obviously included in this life long study and knowledge of the egg industry is a deep and long understanding of how eggs are marketed throughout the nation (actually even throughout the world). 

So this story takes me back to many years ago.  My beautiful wife and I had been introduced to a nutrition program.  This company selling these food supplements and vitamins had their experts going around promoting their product and teaching all about the importance of food supplements and nutrition in general. 

As part of this instruction we learned many interesting and helpful tidbits of information.  I was taking it all in, listening to every detail.  “This product will help you if you have this condition, or that product will help with that condition.”  We had a large three ring binder with even more information. 

I was on the fast track becoming a nutrition expert myself.  And then it happened.  The lady conducting a certain segment of this training started giving off statistics about how bad the food we buy in the stores really is for us.  In this stage of her presentation, she made the statement that “On average, fresh shell eggs in the store are 6 months old.” 

As she continued to carry on with her rant about how much nutrition is lost because fresh food isn’t really fresh, I zoned out.  She had made a big deal of eggs as the example, stating it several different ways, so I knew she had meant what she had said. 

I knew that on average back then eggs in the store were less than thirty days old.  (Now it’s even less.)  Even when they tried to cold store eggs by heavily oiling them and keeping them just above freezing, what you got after 90 days was so bad that it was almost never tried, especially in the retail markets. 

I didn’t hear anything else that woman said.  I didn’t care anymore.  She had lost her credibility with me.  She had stated as a fact, something that I knew to be false.  This was something that either she either knew was a gross exaggeration or she wasn’t the expert that she purported to be.  So now I didn’t trust anything else she would have to tell me. 

            That’s the way I feel about what was presented in this movie about a 9-11 conspiracy.  They have lost credibility with me so I don’t trust the other “facts” that I don’t have inside information on.  I heard enough miss information in the religion segment, like when they said, “Jesus Christ was born of the virgin Mary on December 25th.”  Any student of early Christianity clearly understands that we celebrate Christmas on an ancient pagan holiday, and it’s not considered to be the actual date of his birth.  But this little detail was very important to the point they were making.  They knew better… this is a lie they are passing off on to us.  I don’t trust them.  And so I can’t believe the message because the messenger has no credibility with me.  So I’ll have to get my 9-11 conspiracy theories from another source.