Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Girl Scouts – Unhinged

Look at what the BSA is focusing on: Family.

Take my family, for example.

I’m a Scoutmaster, and have been for coming up on four years. Our oldest son is an Eagle Scout. Our youngest son is a Life Scout, with only an Eagle project in his way to that ultimate reward, and is also a member of the Order of the Arrow.

My wife both works for and volunteers for the local council. She gets paid as the council food coordinator, guiding the council through food- and nutrition-related aspects of feeding Scouts at the council’s three Scout camps. She also gets paid working as a commissary director at Treasure Mountain Scout Camp for eight weeks in the summer, a role she’s had at two camps for the past six years.

We also have a daughter. Thanks to Venture Scouting, which has allowed girls 14 years and older to join for a very long time, she’s involved in Scouting as well. She’s worked as a Scout camp counselor and has been to Cedar Badge. Twice.

Clearly, we’re a Scouting family.

But our daughter’s missed some of the adventure. She went to many a Cub Scout meeting with my wife when she was a pack leader and then the den chief, but couldn’t earn any of the rewards. She saw her oldest brother earn the Eagle rank and participated in many an activity – including his Eagle project – but couldn’t earn the rank herself.

This is the target audience the BSA is looking at first and foremost: Girls who are members of Scouting families and could participate fully in Scouting if the organization allowed it.

As a Scoutmaster, I’ve participated in a few online surveys regarding the BSA’s potential inclusion of girls. What the Girl Scouts is callingsecretive” to me appears merely to be consulting with existing Scouters to get their feel for whether and where girls might fit in the program. In other words, they’re researching. They’ve asked questions along these lines:

1.      Would you support the formation of girls-only troops for girls between the ages of 12-14? (Fourteen, remember, is the age limit already wet where girls can already join Venture Scouting, in either co-ed or girls-only crews.)
2.      Should girls be allowed to earn the Eagle Scout award?

I don’t see anything sinister in these questions. It clearly makes a lot of sense for the BSA to ask current Scouters how they feel about including girls, and how they should be included, before any decisions are made.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Going Home

Heber J. Grant, seventh president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is a man who knew sorrow.

He saw two sons, two wives, and a daughter die of various illnesses. He knew only his mother, as his father died nine days after young Heber was born. His mother too passed, leaving him to contemplate the eternities.

“How bitter must be the suffering and grief of those who see nothing beyond the grave except the beginning of eternal night and oblivion,” he said on one occasion. “For them that thus believe, death has its sting and the grave its victory. To them, even the glory of this earth is but the last flickering of a candle in unending blackness.
“But, to the man of faith, death is but the taking up again of the life he broke off when he came to this earth.

“I can never think of my loved ones, my dear mother and those who have passed away, as being in the grave. I rejoice in the associations they are enjoying and in the pleasure they are having in meeting with their loved ones on the other side.”

When President Grant died in 1945, Mom’s grandmother took her to Temple Square in Salt Lake City so, at nine years old, she could see the prophet. She remembered her grandmother telling her that while that was President Grant’s body lying in the coffin, his spirit, very much real, had returned to our Father in Heaven and was experiencing the pleasure of seeing his dear children, his wives, his parents, and to continue the life, as he said, broken off before he came to earth.

It is right and good to feel the sorrow we feel today. As Elder Russell M. Nelson said, “[W]e can’t fully appreciate joyful reunions later without tearful separations now. They only way to take sorrow out of death is to take love out of life.”

Last week, Sherri reminded us of a dream Dad had shortly before he died seventeen years ago.

He dreamed he was in heaven, waiting for Mom to come. When he finally saw her coming, he realized there was a river between she and he. He also recognized it as the same river he’d had to swim when he died, to get to his parents and brother waiting for him on the other side.

I can imagine his anxious feelings as he saw Mom approach that river, stooped, leaning on her walker, and the fear he must have felt when she walked into the raging water and disappeared under the surface.

But in his dream, she resurfaced and walked, without her walker, to the shore, and was once again restored to health and vigor, ready to join him in the new life they were to lead. And there were many others, I’m sure, there on the shore, welcoming her home.
Death, they say, is harder on the living. Harder on those left behind. But as we watch our loved ones pass on, we are not left comfortless.

President Grant said: “I can testify of my absolute knowledge that nothing short of the Spirit of the Lord ever could have brought the peace and comfort to me which I experienced at the time of [my son] Heber’s death. I am naturally affectionate by disposition. I loved my last and only living son with all my heart. I had [built] great hopes on what I expected him to accomplish. I expected to see him a missionary proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ, and I hoped that he might be a power for good upon the earth; and yet, notwithstanding all these aspirations that I had for my boy, I was able, because of the blessings of the Lord, to see him die without shedding a tear. No power on earth could have given to me this peace. It was of God. And I can never speak of it or write of it without feelings of gratitude filling my heart, far beyond any power with which I am endowed to express my feelings.”

I’m also reminded of the words of the Savior: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: Not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27).

Let not our hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. I know our Momma has gone home.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Seventeen Years, Seventeen Days

So, my momma died.

And I have to say it’s okay. Dad died seventeen years and seventeen days before she did, and I’m sure was waiting for her anxiously.

My regret: I was not there or near at the end. I kept meaning to go over to see her, but one thing or another got in the way. I did not make visiting her a priority, and paid for that a little. But I do know she did not die alone. Chris was with her, and Serena was prompted by the spirit to rush over to be there too. Maaike was out running a few errands and was actually getting lunch when Chris called – she left her food there.

They did call me after Mom died, but I didn’t have a vehicle to get there – the Pilot was in the shop and Michelle had the truck, picking Isaac up from Order of the Arrow. So I stayed at home with Lexie and we both cried a bit.

Part of me wonders if I’m a bit calloused, but the bigger part of me thinks back to spiritual gifts. I’ve been blessed repeatedly with the gift of faith – in this case, faith that the Plan of Salvation is real, and that Mom and Dad are together again, preparing for bigger things to come where they are now.

Sherri recounted a dream Dad had shortly before he died – he dreamed he was dead, and waiting for Mom to come. When he saw here, there was a river between them. She had to swim the river, and when she emerged she was young again, and healthy, just as he was – just as he emerged when he, too, had to swim that river after death.

What we do in the afterlife is a bit of a mystery to me. But that there is one, I have no doubt. So maybe that’s my gift of faith, telling me that things are all right.

“[W]e can’t fully appreciate joyful reunions later without tearful separations now. They only way to take sorrow out of death is to take love out of life,” says Elder Russell M. Nelson. I know I internalize my sorrow a lot. But I expect the waterworks to flow at the funeral Friday.

I’m also reminded of the words of the savior: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: Not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27).

And this: [T]o the man (or woman) of faith, death is but the taking up again of the life he broke off when he came to this earth. (Heber J. Grant)

I’ve been asked to speak at the funeral. I don’t know what I’m going to say.

Eclipse Report: It’s Over

A few things to report:
1. The crowdpocalypse did not materialize. Oh, the highways and interstates were busy. But traffic in town on Monday appeared below normal, with people either hunkered down on the last day of an extended weekend, or out on the highways freaking out. We had a couple from Utah park in the shade in front of our house as they were visiting people a few doors down, and they said they were going to wait until the traffic thinned to go home.
2. Walmart did not sell out its enormous pile of firewood, but they did sell out of Moon Pies. So did every store in the city, or so we surmise after we visited a half dozen in search of them.
3. Mr. Goof joined us for the eclipse, but the dogs did not. Mr. Goof is the neighborhood cat. The dogs were too intent on barking at the squirrels or at the neighbors in their back yard, so we left them in the house. They did not need their doggy eclipse glasses. Mr. Goof, it can be reported, did not look at the sun.
4. The eclipse was neat. The totality, completely spectacular. I did not take any pictures of the eclipse; I left that to the professionals.
(H/T Farrell Steiner)
5. We were advised, as citizen-scientists, to observe animals and plants during the eclipse. The dogs, as mentioned earlier were too bothered with the squirrels to bother with the sun. The squirrels were too bothered with teasing the dogs. Mr. Goof was just jazzed to be part of the show. And the mourning doves – well, the mourning doves did that typical mourning dove thing, which was to sit there dumbfounded by everything around them. The birds did go silent during the totality, but other than that . . . And the plants? Well, the plants in our yard were indifferent to the temporary disappearance of the sun.
6. Astronomers Without Borders is collecting eclipse glasses (not yet, apparently, details TBA), to be distributed again for the eclipse in 2024. I look at the three-year shelf-life printed on the glasses we have, and wonder if that program is doomed to failure or if the shelf-life is just a gimmick.
7. One other eclipse glasses note: I told my wife it was fine to watch the entire eclipse through them. Afterward, she read the fine print on the glasses: No more than a 3-minute stretch, please. Nobody has reported any adverse effects.
8. I did not get any drywall or plastering done. I did, however, install a new storm door and repaired the toilet in the kids’ bathroom.


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Don’t Be Nice

I occasionally rant about the lack of polite drivers in my area.

But here’s one area where politeness does not pay off.

From the article:

“A driver in the oncoming lane motioned for him to turn and he did when the driver of a blue van in the far lane didn’t see him and collided with him,” Idaho Falls Police Officer Brandon Harkness said.

People do this all the time at this intersection. And some of them get a little insistent – and then miffed – if you brush them off and stay in that left-turn lane even though they’re “being nice” and stopping the traffic so you can go.

I’ve been in a similar accident – nobody ended up on their side – because someone was nice, and I went without considering what was coming in the other lane.

It was stupid of me.

So don’t be nice in this situation. And if someone’s being nice, give them the brush-off and don’t go. Because nice people are nice but they can’t control the second lane of traffic, who don’t know why traffic in one lane is stopped and rather than reflect on that, just go into the other lane and proceed through. Which is right, per the right-of-way.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Eclipse Report: One Week Out

So the eclipse is nearly upon us.
My plans for that weekend: Finishing drywall, plaster, painting, tile, and shelving work in the laundry room. Then watching the eclipse.
A few things to report:
1. A sister reports a friend who works for the county received at least one call from an out-of-towner wondering if a permit were required for animal sacrifices. So somewhere nearby during the eclipse Monday, that will be happening.
2. At least one local store sold out of one percent milk and bananas, but is not – shockingly – sold out of squash, per local news reports. (Update: My wife visited the same store today and found it completely restocked with bananas. The yellow onions, however, were gone.)
3. Our local Walmarts have shipped in an enormous amount of firewood – right in time for the county to initiate a burn ban. Also, the parking lot of the Walmart closest to us is already starting to fill with RVs.
4. Farmers are frantically cutting grain so as to mitigate any crop losses when the burn ban is inevitably violated.
5. Dire warnings are spreading via the Internet on two fronts:
Front One: Whatever you do, DO NOT LOOK at the eclipse through anything but ISO-certified glasses with these specific numbers printed on them along with the name of the company which made them.
Front Two: Be on the lookout for counterfeit glasses that have the tell-tale required numbers and company names printed on them, but that will BURN YOUR EYES DOWN TO THE NUBS if you use them to look at the eclipse.
Front Two-Supplemental: Check lists published online by reputable sources showing the correct glasses to buy. Lists are always helpfully marked as not all-inclusive.
Front FYI: Dogs and cats won’t need eclipse glasses because as notes, “animals don’t really look right at the sun, so their eyes probably will be OK.” 
6. I should probably go to the hardware store for the drywall corner bead I need sooner rather than later, just in case the eclipse causes a run on building materials. I don’t expect there to be such a run, but with the loons coming into town mixing with the loons already here, you never know.
7. Gelflings still know nothing.