Sunday, December 28, 2008


I look into the crowd. It comprises youngsters, no one older than thirty, no one younger than eighteen, mostly white faces but some diversity. I see two black men, no black women. A couple of men, maybe more, could have African roots. There are a few I would identify as Latinos and Latinas. A few Asians. I see no clue as to the geography or demographic. The lettering I see on T-shirts is mostly hidden and incomplete. It is warm weather, shirtsleeve weather. Many individuals wear sunglasses. There are at least three who wear regular spectacles, no four. Maybe more.

Their eyes are not focused on the same thing. Many of them are looking my direction, but many are not. I would say the majority of them are looking my way. One man is looking down, as if concentrating on his cell phone or PDA. One guy is looking definitely way off to the side. So is one woman. She is standing in front of him, and it's as if something has distracted them, for the majority is looking my direction, if not directly looking at me. One guy had his hand up to his ear, as if adjusting an earbud.

Their dress is casual. I don't see anybody with a dress-shirt and tie. One guy I see has on a button-down collar. Most are simple T-shirts. Men seem to predominate, but of course the women are shorter on the whole, and it is more difficult to see them then it is the men. There's another guy, who's looking down toward the ground. And way back there, there is another guy looking off to the side like the two nearer the front I mentioned earlier.

The predominant character is almost directly in the middle of the shot, a taller white guy, light-complected, maybe a redhead. He has glasses and a pleasant smile. It looks as though he might have something over his ear, like a Bluetooth device of some sort. He is wearing an orange sweatshirt with a strap over his shoulder indicating he is carrying something, a bag or a camcorder case. There is lettering on his sweatshirt, an identifiable "x" and maybe a letter "a" after that. I guess it could be Texas, but it is only guess. The two black guys are on either side of him and slightly behind him. There is another white guy in front of him, slightly to his right. He isn't centrally located, however, and doesn't stand out as much.

It's probably a crowd at a college or university. My guess.

Mankind is diverse. And it also runs the gamut from perversion to saintliness. Where am I within it? What does what I see in the crowd say about me?

Saturday, December 27, 2008


These are my four 2008 favorite reads, in descending order:

First, The Road by Cormac McCarthy.

McCarthy posits a loving and capable father and a dependent and obedient son, survivors and parasites on a seemingly decapitated earth, "among the last of the surviving good guys." This is a bleak book with a glint of eternal light at the end. My words and thoughts can do it no justice. It may not be for everybody, but it is for me!

Second, The Book Thief by Marcus Zuzak.

Bravo Zusak! A standing ovation, a mighty opus. You stood Death on her head, removing her dark cloak and scythe, clothing her with feeling and letting us see she has eyes to see and a heart to feel, and the intellect to narrate a compelling story. I was so glad to find out she has a womb. Out of Death comes Life. (More at GoodReads:

Third, What Is the What: The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng, a novel, by Dave Eggers.

I read this book and Randy Pausch's The Last Lecture one month this summer. It was interesting to contrast their two lives and situations. The two "storytellers" had the help of "professional" writers to relate what had happened and was happening to them. The professionals did marvelous work, but the way these two men, Valentino and Randy, lived their lives made it all reverberate within the soul. I preferred this book and story to Pausch's. It made me realize the continued inhumanity of humanity to the poor and downtrodden, despite the lessons of history. Oh, how much more we should do as a blessed people and a nation! How much do we waste on the hell of war when we could deliver so many innocent boys and girls unfairly consigned to hell? (More at GoodReads:

Fourth, A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini.

My religious heritage includes polygamy. I suppose most people's does, whether they realize it or not. Any female progenitor of mine who shared a husband with other women has my utmost sympathy. It has never interested me the least to find out about it if it happened, even though in my culture that would be the natural thing to do. And then to brag about it, also, and to allude to it as some sort of badge of honor. I suppose I would just as soon surmise that the women in my ancestral line had better sense than submit to that. But sometimes they have no choice.

In his book, Hosseini imagines Nana, a woman and a mother who cherished each blue-and-white porcelain piece of her deceased mother's Chinese tea set, but not much else. Such was the sole relic of Nana's mother, who had died when Nana was two. At the beginning of the book, five-year-old Mariam, Nana's sole daughter, ends up dropping the blue-and-white porcelain sugar bowl, painted with a hand-painted dragon meant to ward off evil, from the set. It shatters. Mariam drops it while awaiting arrival of her father. (More at GoodReads:


Monday, December 22, 2008

A sociological perspective

Great writers utilize psychology. Since psychology involves the analysis of individual behavior, to create fully realized characters a writer must also fully realize their characters' psyches. At the same time, every character must find a suitable place in the midst of society, which of necessity means interaction, interplay, and a realization of all that a broader environment means. Individualism and individual rights are so important to us that often we seek psychological explanations for all behavior. We must remember though that personal psyches exist in the entire context of being, not just within the individual mind.

We can't afford to give psychological explanations for personality differences and other types of motivations without considering the entire setting and context of our characters. To do so would leave our work incomplete.

Our characters always find themselves in a culture, somewhere in place and time. But culture is not pure. It is always tainted. And we must recognize it. We must see a complex configuration. A configuration that includes economics and politics and social institutions in their entire array.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


Since writers are in the business of selling their work, they are not unlike the media in that they typically seek out celebrity or the bizarre and extreme. Not unlike television, they want to hold their writers the way television seeks to hold its viewers. Don't change that dial. Don't quit flipping pages or stop reading. That being the case, writers risk misrepresenting society, behavior, and what is acceptable in the mainstream. There might be little objectivity to their work. What they write about might not be at all representative of what really happens, or rather, what usually happens. It is probably the exception rather than the rule.

It is important to always keep in mind the scene for every human action. Human interaction is contextual in nature. In a sense, though, it all comes down to the question of how much of what we do is due to cause and effect as opposed to genuine libertarian free will. I think it is important to accept that both bear sway in our lives. I think though, in academia, the notion of cause and effect holds the predominant position. Perhaps I have misapprehended it, and I will study it further and consider the question in all I do when writing.

Friday, December 19, 2008


It is possible to underestimate the importance of setting in fiction, but it is not possible to have no setting whatsoever in fiction . Behavior only occurs in a setting.

In his book, Into the Wild, John Krakauer follows his subject, Christopher McCandless, into the wilds of Alaska. The setting relative to human interaction is as spare, I guess, as it gets in that work, unless of course the subject of a work is other than human.

Our characters are shaped by their context. It is important to remember that, to remember that setting influences our behaviors. We have a fascination for what other people do within a particular context. How we act. How we think. How we interact. How our setting influences our behavior.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Limits of Life

They say that our place in society sets limits on our possibilities in life. The same is true of those who people our fiction. If we posit a character, a Mexican male, for example, who immigrates to the United States, we need to be aware that it is less likely for such a character to commit crime or take drugs than it is for a citizen of the United States to do so. That might not seem intuitive, but it is the case according to at least one study. And if we set a scene in a low-income area rather than in a White or affluent neighborhood, we must recognize that differences exist. For example, chemical accidents occur more likely in low-income areas than in White or affluent areas. Perhaps that is not a surprise, but social context is important. Things happen because of our place within our culture and society. Good stories recognize this, exploit it, and explore it, trying to understand.

Time is also an important element of place in society. Set a story in the future and voilĂ , you have science fiction. Set it in the past, and you have historical fiction. Put it in the present and who knows what you might have? Contemporary fiction? The bottom line is that change influences our lives. All of us. And what is true of us, must be true of the characters we create.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


The exercise of writing fiction allows me to develop social perspective that I might not otherwise have. I imagine characters set in circumstances that differ from mine. For example, in my first novel, Time for All Eternity, my protagonist lives in the Midwest, and his wife of over twenty years leaves him for a polygamist who is from the Wild West. In another novel I have in process set in the Great Basin where I reside, my protagonist moves into Mormon country and into a neighborhood less diverse than she is used to but more diverse than is typical in the Great Basin. She is nearly 60 years old and investigates toxic spills and pollution violations for a living. She is unmarried --- an old maid, if you will --- but she loves children and makes alliances around the neighborhood with the school-age kids. In still another ongoing novel, my protagonist is in the United States with his parents, and they have lived there for his entire life, except for one day, the day he was born. He is, along with his family, undocumented and they face the constant threat of deportation.

These characters and their situations cause me to contemplate their lives and how they would differ and do differ from my own. I have to consider their relative wealth or lack thereof as it comes into play in their lives. I have to consider how their circumstances --- how much they make and where they live --- determines where they live and the type of schools they attend or attended and the type of education they got that led to what they do now to make a living. All of these things impact their careers, and how they live their life every day in the here and now.

When you start contemplating significant changes in the lives of others over against your own it makes a big difference. Wealth, schooling, health care, religion, and sex make big differences in people's lives. In order to imagine characters for fiction you have to consider all these things: family life, social class, religion, sex, education, and race. If you don't consider them all carefully, you fail to correctly draw your characters. Their script in life is dependent upon all of these factors.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


The other day I was stirring about as I do most days, not making too much happen because that doesn't seem to be my nature. I had, of course, started a blog on income taxes and the like, trying to target writers and artisans, and trying to figure out how to build traffic to my tax book. I decided to look at some newer tax cases. So I did a search of 2008 cases using the term "hobby" to see how many people confronted that term in the United States Tax Court. Two cases came up. One was a surprise. It is the case of Ronald B. Talmage. Right off, that case made me think of James R. Talmage, the author of Jesus the Christ

Ronald B. and his wife Annette C. faced considerable alleged deficiencies In the United States Tax Court. In fact, they faced additional taxes of a whopping $2,675,926 related to four years: 1998 through 2001. Well, to say the least that picked my interest. Not only did they allegedly owe that massive amount of additional tax, but they also, according to the IRS, owed additional fines for delinquency and fraud. There was no way, it seemed, Ronald B. could be related to James R. so I read on.

First some background: I learned that Ronald B. was born and raised in Utah. Further, after graduating from high school a few years after me, in 1971 (the year I married), he enrolled at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. A year later he left to go on the typical mission a young man of his religious persuasion serves for a couple of years. They sent him to Japan. While there, he met Kumiko Wako, and subsequently took her to the United States where they married in 1975. Ronald reenrolled at BYU and eventually graduated with a degree in business administration and Asian studies.

In early 1978, the married couple moved to Japan. Ronald worked at a language school there. They had also begun having children as early as 1976, when they have a little girl. The same year they moved to Japan they had a son, and then in 1984 they had another girl.

In 1979, Ronald began working in various real estate developments and investments. He also offered investment advisory services.

More on this later.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


I started a new blog for writers, artisans, and freelancers today. The emphasis will be on taxes and death. It's at Below is the text of the first posting:

At least monthly, sometimes more, sometimes less, I escape. Perhaps "escape" is too strong a word. Let's put it this way: I leave the comfortable confines of my home and the company of my endearing family, leaving behind my marital and parental responsibilities, and I make my way down to the Barnes & Noble store in my community. There the Wasatch Writers Chapter of the League of Utah Writers meets to discuss writing or to listen to workshops or lectures by writers and freelancers who usually have more experience than we who attend have. Our guests are interested in sharing their writers' know-how and expertise.

I enjoy these meetings. Maybe you do something similar. Maybe instead of going to your nearby bookstore you go to the library or community center or someone's home to meet with your peers in writing leagues, associations, and organizations to enjoy their company and discuss your passion as writers, artisans, or freelancers of various stripes.

If you are such an individual, this blog might help you. If not, perhaps it's not for you. Check it out, and see what you think. It is intended primarily for those at the threshold of a business as a writer, artisan, or a freelancer. Its focus will be upon taxes and death as they pertain to writers, artisans, and freelancers. At least that's the plan.

Benjamin Franklin's statement about death and taxes has become ubiquitous. He said, "In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes." One thing I have learned in all my years is that it is often difficult for regular folks to get a handle on either one of these subjects. In the days and months ahead, I hope to explore the subject as they pertain to artisans and writers who do freelancing. I hope to gain some sort of audience, but we shall see how that works out.

Monday, December 8, 2008


I can buy into conspiracy theory. When I contemplate the current economic meltdown, it is easy enough to put the blame on the rich and powerful, to believe or to think that they have manipulated things in order to humble the middle and lower classes, as if those folks in those echelons weren't already humble enough. Of late, a considerable segment of society has observed the growing disparity between the wealth of the rich and the middle and lower classes, how it is a gap that is widening exponentially. It's as if the wealthy and rich elite need to knock down the masses a notch or two

In such circumstances, with our government printing out money left and right and giving it to financial institutions without seeming limits, and now even giving it to manufacturers with it apparent that the auto makers will get their billions, too, it is easy enough to believe the rich and powerful are out to get us. I say us, because I fall into those categories that exclude the rich and powerful.

Fortunately, it appears that we have elected a leader --- Barack Obama --- equal to the task of taking on the rich and powerful. I pray that it isn't just an appearance alone, but a reality. So many people are praying and hoping the same thing. It is as if we stand at that proverbial crossroads relative to our nation's dominant position in the world. Not only is our position at risk, but the lives and security of so many of our people are threatened.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


Somebody in Sunday School today suggested, as has been common in my experience in classrooms at the church, that the descendents of Moroni included the Native Americans in North and South America. Of course that was the historical perspective of the past, but of late --- what with DNA analysis and whatnot --- that notion has given up ground and has become less palpable. As a people, the general population of the United States doesn't adopt for itself the history of its Native Americans or inculcate their mythology or legends into its history. As has been stated, we haven't adopted the mythology of origins that others have; rather, we make it up as we go along. For us, it is process rather than a cohesive story, partly because we as a nation hail from all corners of the world. While the Mormons tried to do that for quite a bit of history here in the United States, that notion has waned.

As a general principle, I am quite ignorant of history. The subject never attracted me with any great allure. I need to acquaint myself with the principles of the founders of this great nation and to see where those principles have taken us and where we now stand. As I understand it, it was some time back in the halcyon days of the eighteenth century that the notions upon which we as a nation supposedly stand, took root. Who were those forefathers that influenced us so much? It includes names like Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, Franklin, Washington, and Adams.

So tomorrow a group of former employees of Blackwater, the private security force that peddles its wares throughout the world but in particular in the Middle East, will surrender here in Utah to the authorities pursuant to an allegation that in Iraq they fired upon innocents, killing many of them. One of the alleged perpetrators is from Utah. That may be why they are all surrendering here; I'm not certain of that. In any event, somewhere at the beginnings of the country a foundation must've been laid to hold people accountable for their crimes. Even if they committed them abroad, in the midst of a war.

We shall see.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


One day soon when I get a minute I need to create another blog on taxation for writers and artisans. Kelly Lindberg suggested it might be a way to attract some attention for my book, Making Expression Less Taxing, a Freelancer's Tax Resource. There is still a plethora of things I don't know about promoting books. I'm sure there are things I don't know that I don't want to know either.

Most of today I have been reading through and editing and making remarks about Britney's book about the fall. The Fall as in The Fall in religion, that is. Her book, I believe, has some potential. I'm thinking, however, it might have an audience that is quite limited because the view of the fall presented in it is from the LDS perspective.

I have been reading, among other books, Slavery by Another Name: the Re-enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II. It was written by Douglas A. Blackmon. I heard Blackmon on the Diane Rehm show on PBS. I was so impressed with his presentation there that I immediately checked to see if the Kindle book was available and purchased it after finding out it was

It is essentially a history book and its title is pretty descriptive of the subject matter. It chronicles how Southern whites essentially re-enslaved the supposedly liberated and emancipated slaves of the South after the Civil War. Not only did the whites --- not all whites of course --- re-enslave many blacks, but for the most part they did so in a more grotesque and in your main way that was done before the Civil War and the emancipation. Where before the war slaves worked primarily in agriculture, after the war, they were generally forced to work in mining and manufacturing

Southern whites enacted ridiculous laws that discriminated against the blacks whereby the blacks could be arrested on almost any pretense. For example, they could be arrested for loitering, also known as vagrancy, and jailed and fined for everything under the sun: to pay the man who arrested them, the man who jailed them, the justice of the peace who sentenced them, and any number of other individuals involved in their "handling" and "processing," so much so that it was impossible for them to ever pay or for anyone they knew or were related to, to help them pay. Once the whites had them in that situation, the local governments sold them to whoever was willing to pay their fees and fines. This included mining and other manufacturing concerns and individuals involved in agriculture. But now, the blacks were treated more harshly than ever. It was a disgusting scenario.

Sunday, November 30, 2008


It is late November, the last day of the month. The clock ticks on, and in a little less than an hour and 15 minutes it will be December. Outside, the Gambel Oak trees are naked, devoid of all of their leaves and acorns, and they rest in the calm winter night. I sit here at my computer in my own room, surrounded by the accoutrements of my life: my computer, my high-speed scanner, my high-speed printer --- a duplex Dell color laser printer. There's my TV, VCR, and DVD player. A telephone. No, two telephones: the landline services the house and my cell phone. Why do I need two telephones? Too much to catalog, just in this one room.

At one time this was Brent's room, but after he had left it and ended up downstairs, I claimed it for my own. Over time, I made bookshelves wherever I could to hold more and more books than I should ever have bought. In the more recent history of the room, I have begun scanning those books so that I can search them and utilize them electronically to read and manipulate. I have a perfect binding machine, purchased, but never used. I have a guillotine paper cutter that I use all the time to cut the spines off of my books.

It is amazing, the blessing of things that I enjoy. It is odd to contemplate them and to think about cataloging them. I don't have the energy for that, at least I don't think I do. More probably, I don't want to. Not now anyway.

It is warm and comfortable even as I sit here too late for the furnace to still keep things at the normal daytime temperature. That is because the computer gives off heat, as do the lights

I think about visiting Grandma Eddy. She lived on Lincoln Avenue, I think between 20th and 21st Street, in Ogden. She had a wood oven in her kitchen. I remember that, when we visited, we passed through a porch at the back of the house on into the kitchen where the wood stove was located and then into the dining room.

The dining room was the functional living area of the home. It is there that we always sat when we visited Grandma and the other relatives that assembled there, around a massive table. The dining room area was heated by that wood stove in the kitchen, and now that I think about it, we were always invited to sit closest to the door to the kitchen, I assume, because it was warmer there on cold days.

It is not cold here. We have forced the central heating and cooling (central cooling for the first time this year; before that, we had cooling from a swamp cooler centrally located).

Here in my room I have a comfortable chair I bought. It has wheels and is adjustable in various modes, made to make you comfortable and for convenience in moving around. Yet, often times I find myself complaining to myself about it. What do I have to complain about? I do plenty of it --- at least, to myself. I have nothing to complain about. Well, not in the total perspective of my life and what is happening in the world today.

a child who excels at being a parent

My older daughter, Amy, did better in school than I did. She got higher grades. Early on, she planned to be a pharmacist. I thought that was a great plan. However, when she got to university she found school harder than it had been in high school I guess. I don't know what her grades were at the university, but apparently they weren't good enough to get her into pharmacy school or she otherwise gave up that plan. She ended up getting her Bachelor of Science degree, but I forget right off in what discipline it is. She is much brighter than I am. However, it hasn't translated into a high-paying job or career. What she seems to excel at is being a great mother to her two daughters, Hannah and Piper. I don't know what more you could ask for than to have a child who excels at being a parent.

Friday, November 28, 2008


"Time is out." The guy said time was out. During the football game, they said that, as if it had no significance whatsoever. And for everybody listening, perhaps but me, it had no significance. It occurred to me at the time, however, how we layer time. And it stuck with me until now.

We have the time that passes throughout the period of the game that includes all time and then the time during which the game actually stops because somebody calls timeout. You see, it is kind of layered, one thing on top of another, or one thing below another. Time marches on whether we layer it or not though. If we call time out, time isn't out; it goes on as it always does. It doesn't stop. It marches on as though it has no limitations. It isn't limited by lack of energy or lack of spirit. It just goes on and on and on. It is the proverbial perpetual motion machine of perpetual motion machines. I don't know why it hadn't occurred to me like that before. Time is never out. Call timeout, and technically it has no effect whatsoever.

Well, what a silly little thing to contemplate or to fuss about. There's nothing to be done about it. You just can't stop it. Yet, we try to utilize our time to the best effect. As I said, we try to layer it. We have several things measured in time going on simultaneously. That is, things that we particularly focus on as opposed to those that we don't. For in truth, everything that goes on is encapsulated in the selfsame time. What I do; what you do; what somebody else does.

What if we were on different time. Our universe was on one time and there was a parallel one on a different time. Is that possible? Perhaps these things are fundamental and I am just unaware of them.

Another thing, time seems to go at the same rate. What if time varied in its rate of passage? Slow it down, speed it up.

Weird thoughts that indicate how ignorant I am of time. I usually don't have time to think about it. Ha ha!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Everybody has a BIRTHDAY

Everybody has a birthday. Eventually, everybody does. Today Aljehandro's father turned 34. He is 22 years older than Aljehandro is. So Aljehandro's Mama decided to bake to celebrate the anniversary. She baked a cake, from scratch, the old-fashioned way, the way that doesn't cost as much as Pillsbury or Duncan Heinz or Betty Crocker. Money is tight and they don't have enough for a present for Papa --- any present, even though Aljehandro urged his mother to at least buy Papa a new handsaw and some blades. She declined, saying that he needs all the extra money they have for his school and his activities. Aljehandro hates taking precedence in the family over everything and everybody else. It drives him crazy.

Anyway, Mama sent him to the store, and he rode his bike to pick up some items she needed to cook with: some imitation vanilla and some powdered sugar. He peddled off down the road on past the convenience store at the gas station to the nearest market about three miles off.

"Don't go to the store at the gas station," his Mama said, "go on down the road." She gave him some coins to pay for the items --- no bills, just coins. Everything is cheaper at the market than it is at the convenience store. And a few pennies can make a big difference.

It is always about money and cost. At least, it seems like it.

Each time Aljehandro pedaled, the coins within his pocket jingled and jangled. It was a steady rhythm, upbeat, and Aljehandro composed a tune and sang it to himself as he went along.

The trip home would be harder. It was all uphill. And his pockets would be empty.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


It doesn't usually occur to people that somebody draws a detailed picture of a fly, but they do.

In fact, somebody might draw a whole series of flies to illustrate subtle differences in them, mutations that might occur naturally.

We usually, as human beings, don't take the time to get to know our flies. Normally, they simply irritate us, and we swat at them and shoo them sufficiently away, or we look for something to swat them dead with. In other words, we don't find them useful or at all worthy of depicting in detailed drawings. The truth of the matter, though, is that somebody thought to look closely enough at flies and to see that some were distinguishable from others and studied them enough to know that there were mutations among them.

All of life is like that. We hardly take notice and we take things for granted that we know that we don't. I am as guilty as the next.

Utah 48, BYU 24.

Weber State came up a touchdown short today. It makes me sad.

Tomorrow I will try to look little closer, hear a little finer, taste more deeply, and feel more love.

Friday, November 21, 2008


I had a bad cold, one that felt more like the flu than a cold. That's my excuse; take it or leave it.

Tomorrow I guess you could say is the biggest Saturday in football in Utah for a long time. At least, that's my humble observation. First of all, the Weber State Wildcats play Eastern Washington at noon for the outright championship of the Big Sky Conference --- to complete the season undefeated in the conference. (Weber State lost to Utah and University of Hawaii.) After that they will play in the postseason playoffs. It is perhaps the best they have ever done. Ron McBride is their coach, an old gentleman who defines the word. The game starts at noon and we plan to be there.

Then, after Weber State plays, we will return home and tune in to watch the University of Utah play Brigham Young University. University of Utah is undefeated this year and ranked seventh in the nation on the BCS rankings. If it wins, it is assured to have a bid to play in a BCS bowl. That means big bucks and greater recognition. Plus, there is the indescribable rivalry between the two schools. BYU has lost, I believe, just one game -- to TCU, a team Utah beat. Barely. And as I recall TCU rather clobbered BYU. That game starts at 4 PM. So you can see, most of my day tomorrow will be consumed in football. So that will be my excuse tomorrow.

None of this is particularly profound although it is insightful of my interests. One of my major flaws, if you look at it in a certain way, and who doesn't, is that I have interests that go off in so many different directions I never seem to find my focus and hone in on it. Or is that just an excuse? See, you can always question it and wonder, and so often I do. See what I mean? Off in every different direction.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008


I opposed the proposition. I cannot deny twinges of conscience or whisperings of the spirit to me in the matter that led me there. How to reconcile that experience over against the leadership? Truth is a matter of the imagination.

For a considerable period of time I have believed that truth is a matter of the imagination. That idea gained traction when I first read Ursula Le Guin's
novel, The Left Hand of Darkness, wherein the opening sentences of Genly Ai read as follows:

I'LL MAKE my report as if I told a story, for I was taught as a child on my homeworld that Truth is a matter of the imagination. The soundest fact may fail or prevail in the style of its telling: like that singular organic jewel of our seas, which grows brighter as one woman wears it and, worn by another, dulls and goes to dust. Facts are no more solid, coherent, round, and real than pearls are. But both are sensitive.

A favorite fictional character of mine is Pi Patel, the protagonist of The Life of Pi by Yann Martel. Pi openly urges those who listen to his story to choose an interpretation that serves the listener the best. The primary theme of the novel pits imagination over against factuality. Chapter 22 from the book reads as follows:

I can well imagine an atheist's last words: "White, White! L-L-Love! My God!" --- and the deathbed leap of faith. Whereas the agnostic, if he stays true to his reasonable self, if he stays beholden to dry, useless factuality, might try to explain the warm light bathing him by saying, "Possibly a f-f-failing oxygenation of the b-b-brain," and, to the very end, lack imagination and miss the better story.

If the Book of Mormon is, as has been posited, Joseph Smith's expansion of an ancient work which built upon the works of earlier prophets to answer nagging contemporary problems, I do not feel at all constrained to apply some expansion of my own, intended just for me, especially when it comports with my inner feelings of spirit and conscience.

So after reading the official pronouncements of the church, various court cases and opinions, newspapers and magazines, and blogs and webpages galore, and after approaching my God, I selected the version that said no. What's more, my version of the story has me sticking with the culture I know best and among the people I love most, despite the fact that I understand there are other versions out there that do not comport with mine. Some of these are held by others with greater power and position. But in my imagination they are not as good a story as mine is.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Piper turned five years old today. We went to celebrate with her and her family and other grandparents this evening. She was anxious to open up her gifts, not too anxious to have received clothes, and anxious to eat her cake and ice cream. She blew out all five candles in one breath of air.

It is hard to imagine how she got to be five years old already. Why, that means I'm five years older than I was when she was born. Kindergarten next summer. Holy cow!

I don't remember much about being five years old. I do remember vaguely an experience that happened either in kindergarten or in first grade. My teacher's name was Mrs. Draper --- I had her for kindergarten and first grade both. I suppose because Mrs. Draper wrote a nice note home to my parents lauding my behavior, she was exalted above all other teachers I ever had. The note remained a family heirloom. So I have always remembered Mrs. Draper fondly and I don't know how much the mythology of the situation fog's my memory.

Whatever the case may be, the way I recall it the boy who sat behind me, Kent was his name, liked to talk when he should have been paying attention. So Mrs. Draper --- probably joking --- told me if Kent tapped me on the shoulder to talk, I should poke him in the nose. Well, it didn't take long for the realization of that eventuality. Pretty soon Kent wanted to talk and tapped me on the shoulder. I turned around and socked him in the nose. Problem is, the other kids in the classroom didn't like my obedience and castigated me. However, I don't remember ever receiving anything but praise from Mrs. Draper.

Odd thing is I turned out to be a pacifist. But that probably had more to do with Steven, who beat me up after I picked a fight with him on the bus. That was much later though, early in high school.

I hope Piper has a Mrs. Draper-type as a teacher: one that will laud her and that Piper will want to obey no matter what. I'd also like to see her receive a nice note home praising Piper that can become a myth of excellence to her family. Go Piper!

Love, grandpa.

Monday, November 10, 2008


I ran into Tom Davenport at the neighborhood Wal-Mart store late this afternoon. I hadn't seen him since Shelley and I were invited to a surprise birthday party for him early this year --- his 60th.

I remember that meeting with him because it was such an embarrassing event for me

Tom's sister, Mary Van Dyke, had called to invite us and told us the location and time of the surprise party. It was to be held at a restaurant in Bountiful on a Friday or Saturday afternoon. It was probably Saturday. Anyway, we got there a little early and saw friends, Brent and his wife Yvonne, in line, waiting for the restaurant to open its doors. We walked up and greeted them and visited a while and eventually Brent told me I had a hole in my pants. It ended up being not just a hole, but the entire rear seat of the Levi's I was wearing was split out. One wonders how that could have happened, because the britches were certainly big enough for me. I wasn't that fat, although I have put on considerable weight.

My son had given me the pants. He had grown too large for them. I guess!

Anyway, they were better looking than my best denims, so I had decided I would wear them. I had no clue they had been split out like they were.

In any event, something had to be done. By this time, the restaurant had opened its doors and we had moved on inside to wait until they could seat everyone in line. Brent went for me to the receptionist counter and borrowed a stapler, and I took it and went into the restroom. There, I removed my britches and stapled the seam back together. However, when I bent over to put my shoes on after I had the pants back on, the seam split right back out. The staples didn't hold. Nary a one held.

I didn't know what to do.

By that time we had been seated and the guest of honor had arrived. Everyone was there. Then I had an idea -- a breakthrough. I was pretty sure I had a sweater out in the trunk of my car. So I excused myself and went out and got sweater and tied its arms around my waist and let the body of the sweater and down over my butt.

Anyway, Tom Davenport.

We grew up in the same neighborhood. Well, at least until I moved away when I was twelve. We remained buddies after that, but were never quite as close as we had been in the neighborhood. The Davenports were an interesting family. They had this blackbird or raven --- I don't remember its name now -- and it knew how to talk. If you approached their place without the utmost diligence and wariness, it could scare the living daylights out of you. One day the raven ended up leaving. Nobody knew what had happened to it. The Davenports worried that it had been killed or died. I think it was gone a couple of years, but then it showed up again.


Tom had an aquarium. It was loaded with fish and plants and he knew just how to manipulate things so they looked perfectly. I was always so envious. He had beautiful dwarf gouramis that blew their bubble nests and spawned and had young ones. It was so exotic to me. I had nothing like that. They had a cat that roamed free and every winter they went fishing for whitefish in the Weber River and filled up a wheelbarrow with them for the cat to feed on. At least, that's what my theory is about it all.

It was in Tom's backyard that Brent Halls swung a bat before school one day that didn't have a grip at the end of it. The bat left Brent 's hands and flew into my nose and knocked it underneath my eye. I left a line of blood from Tom's house to my house, screaming bloody murder.

When Tom was a little older, eleven or twelve I guess, the younger kids in the neighborhood idolized him. They followed him around like he was Tarzan and they were his apes. He even had a conch shell to call them with. The rest of us boys --- Brent, Keene and Kelly, Jerry, Lyle, and I --- thought it was weird. But it wasn't weird for a Davenport.

It was good to see Tom. He said he had prostrate cancer, but it wasn't serious. I hope he's right.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


I just let out a big yawn, indicative of the hour.

I am tired.

It has been a long day.

And it's been a long day with little accomplished of significance. I always defer making an entry until it's too late, or at least I make the excuse that it is too late. Not tonight. I will make this entry first and perhaps tomorrow I will have a greater resolve to make an earlier entry.

Barack Obama is the President-elect.

I found the announcement last night, which occurred at 10 PM local time, that he would be the next President of the United States quite emotional, and it was very touching to watch the reactions of the people gathered in the plaza there in Chicago and elsewhere around the nation and world.

The pundits say it was a historical event. More historical than usual, I guess, because the announcement of any new President of the United States is in and of its self a historical event. This one was special, they say, because Barack Obama is black -- at least half black.

But that doesn't matter to me. His election was special because Barak Obama is special.

Every person is special in some way or another.

Those who care about others besides just themselves and put other people's interests above their own are special in a special way. That is where I think Barack Obama falls. I think he is willing to sacrifice to make the world a better place for the regular citizens of the country. That is why I think today is a special day, a very special day.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


I suppose that Barack Obama will be the new President of the United States. He is leading in all of the polls. Besides that, he is the individual who should win in my estimation. He is certainly a better candidate for president than is John McCain, who showed his poor judgment by picking Sarah Palin as his running mate. I think Obama and his running mate, Joe Biden, will do the country proud. It be a relief to have reasonable minds at the head of the national government instead of the travesty we've had these last eight years.

I am a Democrat. I'm a Democrat because the Democrat's party plank most closely aligns with my values and philosophy. In my community, I am an anachronism. Most people here are very conservative and are Republicans. It makes you wonder what they are thinking, but my experience is that it is difficult to have a rational political conversation with most people in my community, especially if they are on the other side of the aisle. If you make reasoned arguments with them, it is offensive and they are put off. To them, it is like their religion: sacrosanct. You better not criticize it or raise questions about it.

I stand for workers rights. That doesn't mean that I'm not for capitalism or free markets. It takes free markets to accommodate workers in most situations. However, it is like the scripture, when men and women get a little power, they tend to overuse it. The entrepreneurs and captains of businesses turn out greedy and exploitative. They want to take unfair advantage of their workers. I believe there needs to be a balance between management and workers. Therefore, I am for unions --- the right of workers to organize and bargain with management. I think it makes sense, particularly when you consider history and the ugly treatment business owners have shown to those they could exploit to have no power. For example, the slaves during slavery and even after the Emancipation Proclamation and Civil War. Slavery continued even after they were supposedly freed.

I am also for progressive taxation. Keep in mind that I worked my entire career in taxation, and I have strong opinions relative to what is fair and what isn't fair given our current tax system in the United States. I know what I saw and I stand by the notion that a flat tax is unfair for the least able individuals of our society. It works toward defeating the notion of compassion and love.

Monday, October 27, 2008


This Halloween Hannah will be a fairy. Piper is going to be a cowgirl. They came to visit this last Saturday, all decked out in their costumes to show us. We had Papa Murphy's pizza, and the little girls played vigorously outside alone, with Mike, with Grandma, and with their mother and grandmother together. Grandma gave them new toys to play with --- spaghetti kids I think they were called. Piper played with the toys for quite a while all alone while Hannah played outside. Hannah ate her pizza but Piper wouldn't. Finally, Piper ate part of some string cheese.

On Sunday I went to show Debbie and Alan where Kay's Creek Trail is. Later, Shelly and I took Asia and we went there and walked.

The Nielsens, the neighbors behind us, had a haunted forest party last Friday night. They had worked on it for a couple of days before hand and we heard screeching and yelling and cavorting over there Friday night. All kinds of music and frivolity.

Mike raked up leaves and loaded up several large bags, including three smaller bags designed like pumpkins.

Somebody is burning wood tonight in a wood burning stove, I suppose. Or Nielsens are having an outdoor fire. I could smell it because, it was warm, and I opened my window to cool things down.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


In my conceptualization of a story about undocumented immigrants, I formulated a protagonist of 12 years of age named Alejandro. Because Alejandro and his family came to the United States undocumented shortly after his birth, Alejandro has had to remain submissive throughout his short life. Alejandro must be meek, if you will. It is a necessity for him and his family in the United States to submit to authority. Not only has it been required throughout their 12 years in the United States, but it becomes much more so the case as the political heat against undocumented immigration increases over time. At the same time that Alejandro had to remain submissive or meek, his underlying personality included a desire to perform and entertain others.

Being meek conflicts with Alejandro's desire to be an actor or performer. A person who is meek is patient and humble; the meek person is gentle and is usually imposed upon by others.

Friday, October 17, 2008


I turned 60 years old this year. That was some months ago. I spent most of my life working for the government, the Internal Revenue Service, mostly. I think I began with them about 1971, working at the Ogden Service Center in the code and edit section.

I don't know how many were employed in the same work I did there, but it was probably one hundred or more people doing the same work with their pencils with brown lead. It was assembly line work. While we weren't assembling a vehicle or some sort of tool to sell, we were perfecting tax returns that had been filed by people so that the figures and numbers and data upon them could be entered into the rudimentary computers of that era.

All of the tax returns back then were filed on paper; none were filed electronically. The returns themselves came in various formats, and the ones I saw were for the most part all filled out in someone's hand writing, a taxpayer's or preparer's or preparer's worker's. Since there was no uniformity imposed and because of the diversity of people's abilities to write and print clearly, I'm sure you can imagine that coding and editing was necessary in order to determine just what was on paperwork submitted and what should be entered into the computer. I did that coding and editing based upon strict guidelines that were given to all workers in comprehensive training provided over several weeks

Once fully trained, the work became competitive. Since it was seasonal work and people were furloughed as the workload tapered off, the length of time a person worked was determined by their productivity and quality. So for most people, the incentive was to be very productive and to do high-quality work in order to stay employed the longer period of time.

I was married at the time. Some of the time my wife and I did the same work for the IRS. In any event, while employed we were also full-time students at Weber State College. I worked for IRS at the Ogden Service Center for three seasons. The work usually lasted, as I recall, from late November or early December to early summer, when we would be furloughed. In January, 1973, our first daughter was born. After I was furloughed that season, I went to work for the federal government.

That fall, when we returned to IRS, my wife and I began interviewing for other full-time and better-paying jobs with the IRS. By then we had finished our studies and had graduated from Weber state with our baccalaureate degrees. We interviewed for jobs in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Miami, Chicago, and some other large cities I've probably forgotten about by now. Eventually, the interviewers offered us jobs in Rockford, Illinois. (They were concerned that we might not fit in so well in the larger cities.) Our training took place in Chicago, downtown. It went on for months. Finally, we were able to go to Rockford for a while where we purchased a home. Then we went back to Chicago or still more training

Eventually we worked as tax auditors in Rockford. We audited in those first years mostly individuals, simple matters like dependency exemptions, employee business expenses, itemized deductions, and filing statuses. Over time, we became more and more sophisticated as auditors, and they expected us to do more and more complex audits, including audits on small businesses and farmers.

I think you can generally say that most people don't like to be audited. It's an inconvenience, but it usually results in additional tax too. One reason for that is that the tax returns that IRS generally audits have statistically a higher probability of error. It is likely that if you get audited, you will end up owing additional tax and possibly some penalty. People cheat. People make mistakes. Representatives of people make mistakes. People take risks. People like to take advantage of ambiguities. People jump to erroneous conclusions. They're all sorts of reasons why people overstate or understate or make some mistake that results in additional tax.

I worked as a tax auditor there in Illinois for a couple years and then we moved out to California. At the time, we were offered jobs in two locations: in Laguna Niguel, California and in Walnut Creek, California. We had no connections in California in the area of Los Angeles or Laguna Niguel. However, chilies and an uncle had at one time lived in Walnut Creek, and their daughter and son-in-law lived there at the time. We figured we would move there because of that connection. (In a real sense, we weren't afraid to move anywhere because we felt that as members of the church we would be welcomed wherever we went.) Anyway, we ended up moving and the IRS got the notion that we shouldn't be working in the same office, which we had been doing for over two years already. Anyway, they were insistent and so Shelley worked in Walnut Creek and I worked in the Oakland.

All of this time we had not had any more children, and we had begun to explore reasons for that, without any positive success, and it didn't look like we would be able to have any other children. We began contemplating the possibility of adoption. That wasn't a realistic possibility though, at least not in going through the church to do it, with Shelley still working. So we kept our eyes out for job opportunities for me closer to our Utah roots with the intention of me working and Shelley staying at home. Eventually, I obtained a job as tax auditor for IRS in Twin Falls, Idaho. We moved there after a short stint in California.

Once in Idaho we began the process of adopting. On my birthday in 1979, we were informed that we would be getting a son, born in Napa, Idaho. At about the same time I was informed that I had been selected to become an appeals officer with the Internal Revenue Service in Boise. So we moved to Boise with our new son for my new job.

Thereafter we adopted two other children, not through the church, of Asian descent, both coming to us out of Korea.

I served as an appeals officer in Boise from 1979 to 1985, by which time Shelley had began working again for IRS. Shortly after she started working again, she discovered that she had cancer. Testing revealed that her cancer was very advanced, and would require rigorous treatment, both chemotherapy and radiation therapy. At the time, we felt it more prudent to see if we couldn't get a transfer to Utah to be closer to our families for support and because of potentially better medical care. The IRS granted us hardship transfers at our own expense to Utah.

So from 1979 on, I worked as an appeals officer with the Internal Revenue Service. In about 2000, I worked for a period as an associate chief, a managerial position, for appeals division of the Internal Revenue Service. I didn't particularly like management though, and I chose to revert back to appeals officer.

As an appeals officer, my work involved resolving tax disputes between taxpayers and the compliance workers' determinations. Some have compared it to the work of an administrative judge. Probably though, it is less formal than that type of work and has more discretion to it. As an appeals officer, one has the ability to recommend compromises. These compromises are worked out because of doubt as to conclusions of fact and law.

Let me give an example. I'll try to keep it simple. Let's say an individual has operated an activity of breeding and raising horses for sale on a piece of ground they inherited. They have claimed on their tax returns losses relative to the activity for the past five years. They maintain they are in a trade or business, while the person who audited them for the IRS claims that they were raising horses only as a hobby and their losses should not be allowed as a tax benefit. So there is a controversy: the taxpayers saying that it was a business and the auditor saying it was a hobby. The appeals officer's job is to evaluate the respective sides and to attempt to get a resolution with the taxpayer. An appeals officer's work is not tantamount to mediation, although appeals also does do mediations. (I did some of that work for them also.) The appeals officer is charged with evaluating the taxpayers' chances in litigation. If he thinks the chances are about even with the IRS, he recommends a 50-50 split if the taxpayer makes that offer. And so on. The job involves evaluating the hazards surrounding law and fact.

This all leads to the purpose for this lumbering post. I have carefully studied the respective positions relative to same-sex marriage in a like manner and have made an evaluation of it. Not only did I do so with as much information on all sides as I could get my hands on, but I also took the matter before the Lord in prayer. I have made a decision relative to it. At this particular point in time, I have no ability to do much of anything about my decision. That is, the issue isn't up for political consideration here in Utah. It is in California. Nonetheless, I feel strongly about my position and about my right to pronounce it when I feel the need to do so. Others, however, appear to believe that I don't have that right or, even if I do have it, it is imprudent to do so and unfaithful to pronounce it over against the church's position.

Last night, a dear friend and a wonderful soul became distraught during a conversation we had over the subject, and she got up and left a conference room we were gathered in without bidding me or the others involved in the conversation adieu. Her distress makes my heart sick. The situation is amplified by the fact that after meeting, after meeting together weekly for going on a couple of years now I think, she was saying goodbye to move to California with her husband, where he is embarking on a legal career.

I don't know what to say but to say I don't know what to say. I suppose my friend is sorrowing because she believes I am in apostasy, and that my position, and the position of others aligned with me, will have detrimental effects upon society and, in particular, the family. I attribute nothing but the best of motives to her.

My best to you, my friend.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the complexity of being. I'm sure others feel that way too. Often the sense of feeling overwhelmed is only overcome by taking the first step, whatever that step might be.

We had a significant, early snowfall last night, probably six inches or so, and now, as I look out the window, I notice that it is snowing again. I went out earlier and shoveled the driveway and the walkways. This snow should continue off and on most of the rest of the day but then wane. The rest of the week should be better. The temperature should increase enough to melt it. On Thursday, workers are supposed to come and put up the awning over the deck and put on new rain gutters.

I started reading and editing Julie's 100 pages last night. She is writing about a high school girl of privilege in Manhattan who is more or less ignored by her mother, and academician who is often away from home. The girl has become pregnant and seeks to keep it a secret from her parents and others. The situation jeopardizes her admittance into Columbia University because it will be difficult to keep up her stellar academic performance and outside interests, such as student government and tennis.

Confucius said 2500 years ago: "The superior man is distressed by his lack of ability."

Thursday, October 9, 2008

To know, but be told YOU DON'T KNOW

As I think about it, it seems such an improbable thing that I grew up active in the LDS church.

It had nothing to do with the influence of any family member whatsoever. Quite the contrary. None of my family ever exercised any influence upon me to go to church --- other than to send me off with my siblings to have some peaceful time around the house without us kids --- or to be active in anything religious. Their example ran in quite the opposite direction, for the most part. Not that they weren't good people who worked hard and hoped and prayed for good things to happen. But they didn't advocate for religion in any particular way. We didn't pray in the home. We didn't read scriptures. Discussions of religion were very rare and very superficial. My folks were tentative about accepting or welcoming visitors from the church into the home. Many is the time that one of us children were sent to the door to tell a visitor from the church our parents were not home when they were.

I suppose the reason thoughts of this come to the fore at this particular time is because of my difference with the church's position relative to proposition eight in California and its position relative to same-sex marriage. Its position just doesn't make sense. I think I have read pretty much all the positive and negative positions on the proposition, and I have prayed and considered carefully in a spiritual and an intellectual way the entire matter. I just don't agree with the church's position. Not only that, but it is very irritating to be told that I have to keep my opinion private, and, if my opinion differs from the authorities of the Church, I am an apostate and a sinner.

It is very hard to cope with that when I know otherwise.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


My proof copy for Making Expression Less Taxing, a Freelancers Tax Resource arrived in the mail today. It looks pretty good. There are a few mistakes I made. Apparently I didn't stretch the orange color far enough up to cover the top of the book. Also, on the cover I put the price at $17.95 instead of $15.95. I left the word out on the back. I said, "Let Walt help you get all you were entitled to and how to rest assured you won't get in trouble with the IRS." It should read "... entitled to and learn how to rest assured..." Inside there are a few minor errors, but they seem minor. Overall, I'm pretty impressed and am tempted just to go ahead and let it stand for now on, etc.

I showed it to my wife and Mike, my son. They seemed somewhat impressed; my son, Mike, even said he was, "duly impressed." I guess I'll take it to critiquing tomorrow night to see what folks think and to Wasatch Writers next Monday. Mike asked me what else I had in the mill. I told them I had another book finished but still: undergoing revision. I told him I had entered it in a contest but the results of the contest wouldn't come out until next spring sometime.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Barack Obama, the President of the United States

I think it's pretty evident that Barack Obama is going to be the next President of the United States. I must say that it pleases me to think that he will be. My basic philosophy aligns with that of the Democratic Party, and I have long thought that Barak Obama would make a fine president, certainly better than what we have had the past eight years and better than what any Republican, including self proclaimed "maverick" John McCain, would be. I watched the debate tonight and for substance and coherency McCain was no rival to Obama. Nonetheless, Obama faces a complete breakdown of society in general due to the antics of the Bush administration. I wish him well and will pray for him. And the country.

Monday, October 6, 2008


This lady called me the other night while we were watching the movie, Iron Man.

The lady asked if I was related to the man named Walter who grew up down by 18th Street on Lincoln Avenue in Ogden. I said that I was his son. She wondered if my father was still alive, and I told her he had passed away.

The lady said that she was trying to find my sister, Marsha. She identified herself as Clara Denver, and said that she was 91 years old. She said she knew all of the Eddys who grew up down on Lincoln. She said she knew my dad and his sisters, Eva, Tilly, and Jean. She mentioned George Eddy. Anyway, the reason she said she was trying to find my sister, Marsha, was because her brother, Eldon Denver, was Marsha's biological father.

My mother married Eldon Denver and had Marsha. Then she divorced Eldon and married my dad. My father adopted Marsha. In any event, Clara said that she had been doing genealogy, but most of her family wasn't interested in it. She was trying to contact Marsha, and so I told her I hadn't seen Marsha for a couple of years. (I guess it hasn't been quite that long ago.) I don't know where she is now or what she's up to. Perhaps she still around, and the only way I guess I could find out would be to try and find out from Jackie. I gave Clara Jackie's last name and her husband's name.

There were some peculiarities about the call. The woman didn't seem like she was 91. Her voice didn't sound that old. Also, the voice sounded similar to my sister's voice. My mother's brother's name was Eldon. My mother's mother's name was Clara.

It was a peculiar phone call.

Saturday, October 4, 2008


Today the Weber State Wildcat football team surmounted a hurdle that it hasn't crossed for many, many years. On a rain drenched field it defeated the University of Montana Grizzlies 45 to 28. It was a magnificent win even though it rained throughout the entire game.

IThe went to the game alone. Shelley wasn't feeling particularly well --- she's been having trouble with pain and tingling in her legs, behind her knees and down her calves. Anyway, I took my raincoat and wore my blue sweats. I wore my blue jacket underneath my raincoat. I got drenched and about froze to death.

Coach McBride is a hero. He helps his players tremendously. He sticks up for them and encourages them to complete their studies and get their degree. Plus, he knows how to win.

Tonight we watched Iron Man. Brent chose it as one of the movies he wanted to watch that Shelley got for him. He liked it a lot and it was pretty good for its genre. I liked the ending.

Monday is the chapter meeting of the Wasatch Writers of the League of Utah Writers. Those who attend are supposed to bring the first page of something they're working on, and the meeting will be about whether or not the piece has a good hook and proper mechanical makeup for a beginning. I need to decide whether I will take something from Parker Miller or from Alejandro.

Friday, October 3, 2008


It was a Friday that should've been a Monday. At least, that's the way I felt. It seemed like everything went wrong. I had anticipated getting up and getting the pages I had to scan scanned. I tried that, but something wasn't working right. Eventually, I discovered that the Internet wasn't connected and it was causing problems because the program couldn't check in with its website or whatever. Anyway, I waited, anticipating that the problem was on Microsoft's end and not mine. By midday I had decided differently, and Shelley was fed up with not having Internet service so she actually called Qwest. When she couldn't answer the technician's questions, I had to take over the call. I'm still not certain what actually caused the problem but they started going through their list, written as it is and read in their mechanical way, to troubleshoot. After disconnecting the other phone connections, except for the one I was speaking on, the connection began working again. Thereafter I ended up hooking up the phone connections again, and so far I haven't had any further glitches. Anyway, during the course of our discussion on the telephone, the technician suggested she would call on my cell phone, and when she attempted to do so, she indicated that wasn't working. So what ensued after the Internet connection was corrected was another two-hour stint on the telephone with a technician relative to my cell phone. All with the result that they couldn't fix it and had to do a "ticket" with the promise of getting it fixed within the next 48 hours, which, because it was the weekend, actually means by Monday. That, even though it was only midday or a little after on Friday. So much for "within the next 48 hours" promises.

CreateSpace promised to have my Kindle version of Making Expression Less Taxing available within a maximum of 72 hours. I don't think they met their commitment either.

I finally got to watch the movie The Kite Runner. I read the book when it first came out and was anxious to see the movie sometime. Shelley picked it up when she went to get rent some movies to watch earlier this week. I was not at all disappointed in the movie. In fact, it was probably more touching than the book because of the immediacy of the story and the greater visual impact of a film.

Thursday, October 2, 2008


I should have made an entry earlier today when I had more time. Tonight I had critiquing and it went from six to nine. When I got home I had to watch the Utes come from behind to be Oregon in football. I had the vice presidential debate recorded and have been watching it for about an hour now. It is almost midnight, so I will make this quick entry and call it good. Good night.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


It looks like the mood of the country, with its growing hostility toward undocumented workers, and the increasing difficulties relative to the economy are causing the immigrants from Mexico and other places who are here in the United States without documentation to return to where they came from in greater numbers. I suppose it all depends on the conditions back where they came from. It makes me wonder how many people are left here and what their situations are. With respect to Alejandro, the protagonist of my conceived young adult novel, it makes me wonder what his family would be doing. If you have lived here in the states undocumented for 11 or 12 years what would you do when the heat was turned up like it has been of late? I will have to return to the story and figure out what happens. I should also figure out what is happening with Parker Miller. All of that has been left on the back burner too long.

Today I checked on for Making Expression Less Taxing. It is listed there are and there is an icon for it, but is not yet available. Interested parties can sign up to be notified when it is ready. Therefore, I anticipate that there will be ready soon. Hopefully by tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


A few days ago, maybe a week or so by now, a friend called who I don't often hear from but who knows that I had a long career in taxation. He had some questions about a situation

His wife had gotten into a predicament with her brother or brother-in-law. The man had been in prison for some kind of scam or fraud and had come up for parole, so my friend and his wife, the parolee's sister or sister-in-law, decided to help and provided money and resources so the parolee could get out and get going. So anyway, the man got out and seemed to be doing okay, and my friend and his wife continued to extend help and give support to him. Eventually, the man needed funds for his "business," and he apparently asked my friend's wife for an investment that would eventually, he said, earn beaucoup bucks for her. She extended the funds, and as it turns out, he ripped her off

Now my friend and his wife are out the money, are anxious to see the parolee receive justice for ripping them off, and will never see a return on their investment. It is lost. So, my friend wanted to know if he could do anything for tax purposes with the situation that would give them some immediate

So the question is, what are the tax consequences? Well, like so many things, it depends, and there are not enough facts at hand to be precise. It is likely that the "investment" is now worthless and that would make this year, 2008, the year to report the loss. But what is the nature of the loss? My friend mentioned that the parolee had made my friend's wife an officer in a corporation. So in all likelihood my friend's wife, as collateral for her funds provided to or advanced to him, received stock or ownership in the corporation. In all likelihood, what my friend and his wife have is worthless stock, at best a short-term capital loss. It is possible however that the nature could be something else, but I don't have enough factual information to conclude that.

We always want to trust those closest to us. I know I've done the same thing and continue to do the same thing all the time. You hope for the best and you make extensions of help based upon that hope. I hope I never have to give up on hoping, but sometimes you have to wonder.

Monday, September 29, 2008


It's hard to imagine that I've been retired going on two years now. Nonetheless, I guess it's true. When I retired, I worked on completing a tax book for freelancers. I thought it could be my ticket to getting published. I wanted to make it informative and entertaining. I had Lynne Truss's Eats Shoots and Leaves in mind.

I wanted to target the book at authors situated similar to me, who were on the cusp of making money from their writing --- at least hoped they were. So in those first few months I worked really hard getting a rough draft done and taking my work to critiquing group to get feedback. Everyone in the critiquing group seemed to like the book and when I went to my chapter of the League of Utah Writers with the idea, I got decent feedback about the idea. In fact, a friend there offered to send the proposal to his literary agent. She was enthused about trying to sell the idea to a publisher. However, shortly after all this transpired, the agent had a personal crisis and gave up her work as an agent. I continued to hone the book and began to pitch it myself to agents and at least one publisher, the group who does Writer's Digest books. I got some positive feedback but no takers. Eventually, I gave up on the notion of finding an agent or publisher. I decided it was the type of book I could publish and market best perhaps myself. Hence, I hired an editor, who went through the book and polished and cleaned it up. That took a long time because the editor gave me a good deal but put me on the back burner relative to higher paying customers.

Recently, the editor completed her work and I decided to proceed with publishing the book. In the past couple of days, I have made arrangements to have the book available on through createspace and Kindle books. It will take some time before it is available through create space, because I have to wait for them to send me an example of the printed document and review it before I finalize the deal. The book should be available as a Kindle book sooner, within the next three days.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Publishing a Book

It has been a busy Sunday, even though that didn't include going to church. (Can a person confess their sins in a blog?) I spent a lot of time on createspace creating a profile for myself and uploading my book block and book cover files for their personnel to review and to get back to me on. I received an account number and utilized their services in reviewing the other online groups talking about their business. I set the price for my book, Making Expression Less Taxing, at $15.95. I'm anxious to see how long it takes them to review it and get back to me on the files I uploaded. Once I get those files perfected to their satisfaction, I guess I can proceed to order a book to see how it looks in production. After that is completed and everything is worked out, I guess they initiate my account and I can actually start selling, including making links to my blog in my blog and on my webpage,

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A Book Cover

CreateSpace is a company owned by They do on demand publishing for authors. Basically, authors complete their books or publishers complete them for them and provide the documents needed by CreateSpace to create a book. Then Amazon sells the book and so does CreateSpace. Authors share in the profits, quite liberally. It facilitates self-publishing. Anyway, most of the day I have been working on creating a book cover for Making Expression Less Taxing. That is about all I have done today besides work on formatting the book block. Primarily, I have been trying to get it properly formatted into proper number of pages for the cover I did with a nice font other than Times new Roman.

Anyway, it's 11:31 PM and I'm getting tired and I'm very hoarse. I don't know why that is, for I haven't been talking today hardly at all. I think I'll go to bed and hopefully I can sleep well until tomorrow.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Rolling Along

I completed another story in Everything's Eventual last night and started still another story. The story I completed is entitled "All That You Love Will Be Carried Away" with a protagonist named Alfie Zimmer. Zimmer, a traveling salesman of sorts, checks into a Motel 6 in Nebraska where he plans to commit suicide. Over the years, Zimmer has collected graffiti from bathrooms throughout the nation in a spiral bound notebook. He is dreamed of writing a book from such graffiti. As it turns out, he is conflicted as to how to dispose of the spiral ring bound notebook, not wanting his collections from over the years to fall into anyone else's hands. As a consequence, he never can pull the suicide off, and the story ends in doubt as to how it turns out relative to the suicide.

Of course King is a master of horror. That goes without saying. What I must state however is that most of his offerings in horror don't taste that well to me. I would like to think I have a more "refined" taste. More likely, however, my taste is just "different."

A year or two ago I decided that I was going to down size relative to my books. I couldn't dispose of the contents so I decided I would scan each of my books. I purchased a Kodak high-speed scanner --- well, relatively high-speed, a guillotine paper cutter, and software to process the books in a format that was suitable and started in. To date, I have scanned over 250 books going on 300. I haven't thrown away the old books but have stored them away in plastic bins for easy retrieval -- perhaps not too easy -- if I need them. So in essence the scanned books are my backup. I have also acquired an e-reader, that is, an e-book, a Kindle. I love it. It is so convenient to carry my library with me. And I don't mind from time to time reading on my computer or having the computer read to me as I read along.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I read or I bleed.

For many years now, my wife and I have gone to a reading group at our local Barnes & Noble. As a consequence, a lot of my reading material has been selected by somebody else. That has both an expansive quality about it and a limiting quality. Overall though, I am very happy to go and associate with such fine people who are well read and versed in society and life.

This month, our reading selection is Everything's Eventual, a Stephen King collection of short stories. Short horror stories, that is. I am not generally much for horror. I have enjoyed some of Stephen King's horror, but other selections of his favored genre, not so much so. My favorite selections that I've read so far from Stephen King include Misery, Dolores Claiborne, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, and On Writing. So far, I have fully read two of the fourteen short stories. The first one is written from the point of view of a dead person in a morgue who doesn't believe he is dead. It is pretty interesting at first, then it wears on a bit, but eventually it turns gross in my estimation when King has the doctor, a woman, supervising the autopsy grab the guy's penis for leverage just before they slice him open and the first discover that he is still alive but has been bitten by some unknown snake, rendering him dead-like. After reading it, I felt like I'd been bitten by some unknown snake. The second story is about a boy who encounters death when he goes fishing. It, too, seems a little fishy.

Anyway, I enjoy reading. I wasn't much of a reader when I was young. There weren't any readers that I know of in my immediate family, or for that matter in the extended family that my family associated with. I suppose the kids I hung out with in the neighborhood probably did more reading than I did as a youth. As I grew up and started college, I began reading more and more. I still don't read as much as I probably should or as much as I think I would like to. However, I find myself often choosing to do something other than read. At least books. I do find myself reading news reports and blogs on the Internet probably more than I read books.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


What does one say on the precipice of a new adventure? I'm a beginner? I've never done this before? Maybe I won't want to do this again after I try it?

I suppose here I will be able to say things that are on my mind and get practice putting it down in writing, something I haven't consistently done before. I have never been much of a journal keeper or a diarist. Furthermore, I am not savvy relative to all the nuances of the Internet and all the bells and whistles that can be used to do this. So in some sense this really is me standing on the precipice where I might fall off and hurt myself. Oh well, I'm getting old and like they say, never ventured, never gained.

When I was a youngster, I suppose like most other youngsters, I played hide and seek with my friends. After the person who was it counted out loud to the required number, he or she would inevitably say, "Ready or not, you shall be caught." So here I embark on my seeking of those hidden ideas that I consider friends lurking in the dark that I must find. wreddy or not.