Friday, December 24, 2010

On Christmas Eve

Life has gotten the better of me lately. Hence, I haven't posted here. It's not that I've been lazy or anything — well, not more than usual — but circumstances have changed, and it has left me dry and tired.

Several months ago, maybe as much as a half a year a year ago, Shelley was walking the dog every day and most days if not every day exercising on the elliptical, also. Her routine, however, slowed over time, as some inner process apparently started to take malicious effect. She began losing her breath. After a time, it was too difficult to exercise and walk the dog both on the same day, so getting on the elliptical took a backseat to walking Asia, the greyhound. Then, even walking the dog became taxing. The hills would take Shelley's breath away and she would come home exhausted. About that time, I became ill, some sort of influenza manifested by shortness of breath, nausea without vomiting, diarrhea, a bad cough, a headache, and general achiness. Soon thereafter, Shelley manifested some of the very same symptoms. After a week or ten days, I began feeling better. After two weeks, Shelley didn't feel any better. She did with respect, perhaps, to the achiness, diarrhea and such, but not with respect to the shortness of breath. It was worse than ever; so was her cough.

We took her to the doctor. He checked her over, didn't find anything specific that he found of major concern, and made some general recommendations, particularly, because neither one of us — Shelley or I — have been much on doctors or getting regular checkups and shots and the like. So the general checks were overdue. You would think we would be better, especially Shelley, given her track record, but there you go, we are fallible human beings. One thing the doctor wanted to do, among other medical tests, was a chest x-ray. He planned on just having as yet the next word getting these particular tests done and then giving us a call about the results. However, after the x-ray was completed, Shelley knew something was wrong because of the technician's reaction: he called the doctor right away. The technician let Shelley know that the doctor wanted to see us before we left. So we rode the elevator back up to the doctor's office and learned from him that the x-ray showed Shelley had a pleural effusion. That is, she had a collection of fluid in the pleura, a sack like structure that envelops each lung. Her particular effusion was on the right side. It seemed to have collapsed up to three force of her lung on that side.

Shelley was sent to see a pulmonologist. We went to McKay-Dee to do that, and after visiting with the pulmonologist, we were told told to go to the radiology department to have the fluid drained from the pleura. After they completed the drain — they drained about a liter and a half of fluid —, they discovered pulmonary embolisms (blood clots) in Shelley's left lung and had her admitted to the hospital. She spent some five or six days there while they were trying to figure out what was going on. Meanwhile, the pulmonologist had the drained fluid analyzed. The analysis was inconclusive; however, it did show some abnormal cells and help rule out various things that could've caused both the effusion and the embolisms. The pulmonologist's best guess was that cancer was causing the problem. There were a host of other things that could have done it, however. The most hopeful was that there were some bacteria causing problem. That would've been easily treatable and eradicated.

In the hospital, they started Shelley on a regimen of medicine — Coumadin — to thin her blood to try to eradicate the blood clots in her lungs. Just before they discharged Shelley from the hospital, the pulmonologist conducted another fluid drain, again taking out just over one point five liters of fluid. He ordered more tests, this time more complete testing. Also, upon discharge, she was told to stay on oxygen 24/7 at two liters.

Shelley was sent to see a gastroenterologist. He told her he needed to conduct a colonoscopy and an endoscopy. Shelley was to prep and they gave her the kit to do so, but she had an impossible time with it: it made her throw up more than voiding out the other end. Hence, by the time the doctor wanted to conduct a colonoscopy, she was not ready. Since they do the two procedures in tandem, neither was completed, and she was told to go home and prep again. They gave her a different kind of prep kit, and we went home to try it. By this time, she was exhausted. She, however, successfully completed the prep. The doctor was able to proceed. However, the large: was twisted and kinked and because of her Coumadin level it was too dangerous to proceed. Therefore, the doctor was only able to check out about a third of the large colon. Everything he saw looked okay, but he wasn't satisfied that he had seen. Furthermore, relative to the endoscopy, the opening was too constricted, and for similar reasons — the level of her Coumadin — it was too dangerous to force his way through.

The doctor recommended that she have another procedure — since she had already prepped — and sent her to another facility to have a virtual colonoscopy. She was too weak and unable to complete that procedure, however.

Well, it's getting late, the story is a long one, convoluted and, perhaps, I will get it all down and perhaps not. But for tonight, that's enough said.

All I can say is that I am prayerful. Our family and friends have been very helpful and kind, very loving.

This is not the kind of Christmas Eve anybody wants to spend, worried about the person they love most in all the world.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Heart, In Abundance

The Clockwork ThreeThe Clockwork Three by Matthew J. Kirby

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Every boy or girl, no matter how old, should read this book. I'll try to tell you why.

I believe at some time every child, no matter who or where they are, feels at least once and maybe several times like a slave of sorts, even in the best of times and in the most favorable of conditions. I know I did, and most of the people I've talked to enough about it to know, did also. Even though I was raised in pleasant circumstances with everything I needed, I did. Nonetheless, I had red hair and freckles, and my skin burned like the dickens. Ginger hair and abundant freckles that multiplied like crazy when I stayed out too long in the sun didn't appeal to me, not at all. Neither did the painful blisters from my sunburns. And that is putting it mildly. I felt like my light complexion made me a slave to it. I knew that my red hair made me an object of ridicule and bullying, and there were times when I utterly hated it and thought almost no one else, except perhaps another redhead, could ever understand.

THE CLOCKWORK THREE is the title of Matthew J. Kirby's novel about three young people that every person can identify with who is in or has experienced similar circumstances of crises, big or small: Giuseppe, Hannah, and Frederick. It is set on the eastern seaboard in a bustling city of the United States around 1900. Those three young characters provide ample opportunity for every young reader to find a friend to identify with relative to feelings of enslavement to something, whether it's freckles and red hair or something else much more or less serious.

Take as a mentor either the orphaned Giuseppe, who must play his violin in the streets for money and turn over all the earnings from doing so to an evil master, or the lovely and tender Hannah, who must work her fingers to the bone with little opportunity or future as a maid in a high-class hotel in order to provide for her impoverished family, or the handsome and strong Frederick, the young apprentice to a clockmaker who can't remember what happened to him earlier in his life so that he lost his mother and ended up in an orphanage. Because, if you do, you'll find more than the magic in Giuseppe's green violin found as flotsam in the bay, or in the automaton Frederick has long dreamed of bringing to life, or in the treasure in the park Hannah hopes to find to deliver her family from poverty and worse. You will find the magic of friendship, of sacrificing yourself for someone else, and of loyalty to both people you love and to principles.

This is Matthew's debut novel and what a grand one it is. You will love his tight storylines that will carry you away into the world of the three children; you'll marvel in the way he weaves his prose together so flawlessly, and you'll find satisfaction in the ease with which he employs metaphors and other literary devices. And characters! Oh my, the characters. Awesomeness.

Steampunk, fantasy, history, it has it all, subtly. But most of all, it has heart, in abundance.

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Wednesday, September 29, 2010



I suppose I should set forth a few of my basic beliefs relative to politics and social commerce. I don't know that I've ever done that in any substantive way, at least I have not since college, when the demands of a class might have required it. Of course, since that time my political views have changed dramatically.

Let's start today with crime and punishment.

I do believe people should be held responsible for the wrongs they do. I also believe that society needs to protect itself from those who break its laws. I also believe it is probably in the interests of our society for habitual criminals, particularly criminals who are involved in violent crime, to be put away for increasingly long periods of time.

Hate crimes seem especially egregious to me and merit enhanced penalties above and beyond that of the normal, run-of-the-mill crime. I believe children should be taught early and often — including in school — to have respect and honor for other people, even if they are different in looks or their personal religious beliefs or lack of belief.

I am opposed to the death penalty. I believe killing is evil. I personally believe killing is against what God wants any human being to do in any situation. I believe God has the power to deliver man from death and does so. I believe man rationalizes when he thinks that he is entitled to kill, even in situations where that has occurred in scripture, as in the case of Nephi and Laban, with an understanding that the Lord sanctioned it. We possess enough resources to protect ourselves from sociopaths, serial killers, and other truly evil individuals without resorting to killing them.

I lean toward legalizing recreational drugs, not because I have any intention of ever using them and not because I think they are anything less than evil in that context — recreational use, but because it would be a better avenue to getting a handle on the problem they have, in our era and place.

Where there is a tension between the "haves" and the "have-nots" as there most certainly is in the United States as is witnessed in the news today with reports of the growing gap between the rich and the poor, I am not for capping jury awards. There is no question but that rich and powerful people and corporations exploit the masses. In doing so, it isn't above those individuals who wield power and exercise it to cut corners inside or outside of corporations, to jeopardize, to exploit people. I believe they should be held accountable when they do so, and I believe that legitimate lawsuits should not have an upper limit.

While I recognize that the Supreme Court has indicated that there is an absolute right of individuals to own and use weapons, I'm opposed to it. I aspire to be a pacifist in all I do and say. I see no need for those who love their neighbors as themselves to own or use a weapon. I see a place for them in society in law enforcement, but above and beyond that I don't.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Some Final Plotting

So now I've got Alejandro on the run with Migra after him. He went up over the ridge and anticipates that Migra will utilize all of their resources to come after him. He's seen the turkey vulture flying through the sky, and given adequate warning to his father and to José. They have heeded his warning and turned back. Alejandro has lots of experience laying low but little experience fleeing through a harsh desert. Now he must do his best to get away.

I anticipate him getting caught. There's no way he can get away. So after he gets caught — and that has to only be after I have fully exploited the chase — there has to be a mechanism that allows him to go home to the Playhouse. What I've anticipated all along is him being able to exploit the "born on the border" question. Although, all along he has been told by his parents and family that he was born on the Mexican side of the border, what's to say he really was? How did they know? Did they cross the fence like the one I have posited in my exposition so far? It could be that he was really born on the American side.

Anyway, I anticipate the next section will be the chase and the capture. So that's what I need to work on and formulate.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


So my friend Matt Kirby's first novel comes out on October 1 of this year, in a few days. Everyone ought to read it. The title of the book is The Clockwork Three. Of course, I along with my other fellow critiquers are particularly invested in its success, because to some degree or another we all had input in Matt's book, even if it was only to suggest the rearrangement of a sentence or the incompatibility of some particular construction. Not only us in the critiquing group, but also other confidants helped Matt along the way, but mostly the credit goes to Matt and his fine ability to tell a compelling story and to string words together in a most magical way.

The book is targeted at youth. There are essentially three protagonists: Giuseppe, an enslaved street musician, Hannah, a maid at a hotel, and Frederick, the apprentice of a clockmaker. I won't bother here to tell about them any further or about the book, because the reviews that are out there already are more than adequate to compel you to read it. Check out Goodreads and Amazon, and you'll see. Then go buy the book.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The House in Star Valley Ranch

Earlier this summer we purchased a house in Star Valley Ranch, Wyoming, a little town not far from Thayne, Wyoming, another little town on Highway 89, about twenty miles north of Afton, Wyoming. Star Valley Ranch is about fifty miles south of Jackson, Wyoming. More people will be acquainted with Jackson. It is the big jumping off place for the Tetons, Teton National Park, etc. It has substantial celebrity.

The house is on an acre of ground, most of which is simply grassland. It is substantively flat with little or no elevation. The soil is quite rocky. Perhaps, there is a gentle slope toward the west, since the lot is on the east side of the valley and everything slopes downward toward the center of the valley. There are no houses or developments to the west of us.

It isn't that large of a house, although it is more than adequate for the three of us. It has two bedrooms and two bathrooms on the ground floor and two more bedrooms and a bathroom in the basement. There is a nice kitchen, a dining nook, and the living area. The living area has a fireplace, and to the south, another nook with bookshelves and a place for a desk. It is fully finished. The floors are hardwood, tile, and carpet. The hardwood runs throughout the living space: the hallway, the open living area, the dining nook, the kitchen and down the hall to the bedrooms and the bathroom.

The aspect of the house I like best is its opened, airy, and light living area. This is the area you come into from the east side of the house through the front door. It has a vaulted ceiling, and there are big windows to the east, looking out to the West. To the right, is the kitchen, and the dining area. To the east of the dining area there is a door that goes out onto a wraparound Trex deck and porch.

The house is above elevation enough so that the windows in the basement are at least partially exposed, except for one that is underneath the wraparound deck and porch. A yard has been put in around the house, approximately the size of a quarter acre lot. It is in grass and lightly landscaped. We had a contractor come in and put in a log fence with green wire mesh.

There is an attached two-car garage that is a nice size. It is bigger than the one I have in Layton.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

In Nogales

"Alejandro," I think I halfway hear. "Alejandro," I hear again, more clearly through my dream, the night vision that I've had so often lately, the one of me finding Papa in the Sonoran desert and helping him get home to the Great Basin.

"Alejandro. Alejandro, wake up."

It takes me a minute to realize that the voice isn't part of my dream. It's José. Now he's shaking my shoulder, and I'm kind of remembering where I am, in Nogales. "You've got to get up; it's time to go. Before it's too hot."

"What time is it?" I ask; my voice feels all hoarse. "It gets hotter than this?" I say, only half joking. It's already too hot.

"It's 5 AM," he says, "come on; stand up." He tugs on my shirt.

I get up from the dirt of the cellar and dust myself off. At least it was more comfortable sleeping there in the cellar, in its dirt underneath the house than it would have been trying to sleep upstairs, even if the swamp cooler is going, which I'm sure not sure is.

"Go to the bathroom," José tells me. He talks to me like he's my mother. "Hurry up."

Well, this is his turf, and I'll respect it. After all, I've never been here before; in fact, I've never left Clayton and its surrounding area before. So this is all foreign to me.

I trudge up the staircase, trying to go quietly even though it squeaks with every step, and go into the house and down the hallway to the bathroom. I go in, close the door, and take a leak. Next, I splash my face with water in the basin and look at myself in the mirror. I rake my fingers through my hair and think how much I look like Papa: the slant of my eyes, the jut of my chin, the heavy eyebrows. I miss him so much.

"Come on," I hear José. "It's time to go."

I gulp some water, wipe my mouth with my hand, and go out. José is there.

"Roberto is out at his truck," José says. "Let's go."

I follow him out. The city is already busy in the dark morning. People are moving about; the cars are coming and going. Roberto is in his truck, and we climb in beside him, me first and then José. The truck's engine could compete with Grandpa's Corolla for the roughness of its operation.

"You sure you can find him," I say.

"Yeah, pretty sure," José says, "Diego can find out just about anything because of his connections."

"But there's never any guarantees," Roberto says.

Isn't that the truth.

Friday, September 3, 2010

It's September And the Crickets Are Chirping

The crickets are loud night. They get that way in the fall. It probably takes them all summer to grow big enough to be able to make the noise chirping they do. It's amazing how loud they are, even with the window closed. The sound comes right through it. Their chirps are so consistently uniform. It's hard to fathom the mechanics of it all, and to rightly understand what they are all about in making that sound; to understand it I would have to Wikipedia it.

So it's September third already. We're into the short month of September, and it'll pass by so very quickly. Too quickly. The days are cooler and shorter and the leaves on the trees are all tired out after being in the sun all summer long. Tomorrow I need to reseal our asphalt driveway. Today I got it ready to do tomorrow morning. It's supposed to be warmer tomorrow, then midday start turning cooler until on Sunday it is quite cool.


We arrive in Nogales between 10:30 and 11 PM.

"We're here," José says.

"Where?" I ask. I've been asleep; I finished the book long ago and there wasn't much else to do.

"At the bus station in Nogales," José says.

It is dark, and the streets are quiet. Quiet, that is, until we step off the bus and hear the chirp of the crickets. I guess they have waited all summer to sing their one-note song.

"What now?" I asked.

"I'll call," he says. José looks around as we get into the station, and then he goes and uses the pay telephone to call his friend, Roberto, who lives there. Roberto then comes in his beat-up pickup truck and gets us and takes us to his house and lets us sleep in the basement. It's not really a basement; it's more like a cave. It is a crawlspace that has been dug out to make room to stand up in, or, in our case, to lie down in.

Tomorrow José and Roberto will take me to the desert along with a five gallon plastic jug of water, a straw hat, and a compass. They will then show me where to go, and I will go into the desert and wait for José there to come with Papa. I will have the water for me while I wait and for them when they come.

After they take me and show me where to go, Roberto will take José to the border in Nogales, and José will simply walk across. It doesn't take any magic to walk across the border going from the United States into Mexico, at least that's what José and Roberto tell me. Nobody cares in the United States if you go back to Mexico — well, lots of people might celebrate — and for sure nobody cares in Mexico. At least that's what they say.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Alta, Wyoming

I'm supposed to list out some places that have significance to me. And then I'm supposed to write about one of them for a while.

Alta, Wyoming

Star Valley Ranch, Wyoming

Carlsbad Caverns Cave

Rockford, Illinois

The San Diego Zoo



Twin Falls, Idaho

Boise, Idaho

Munich, Germany

Coburg, Germany

I'll write about the first one.

Alta, Wyoming isn't a place I ever would've gone to without the influence of friend. The friend's name is James Lee Christiansen. I first met Jim in Boise not long after we moved there from Twin Falls, Idaho.

At church, they asked me to teach a lesson in priesthood meeting, so I did. I don't remember the subject matter of the lesson exactly, however, I do remember relating the story relative to the three German youth who belonged to the Mormon church during the Third Reich and the reign of Adolf Hitler who took up a private campaign against the Nazis and Hitler in particular. The leader of the three youth ended up beheaded. The other two were imprisoned and tortured until delivered by the Americans.

After I completed the lesson, Jim Christiansen came up to me to discuss the story further. I learned that he had enjoyed my use of it as an example for the lesson and that he was a professor of sociology at Boise State University. Thereafter, we became friends. Jim was a unique character. He was devoted to self-reliance and primitive ways. For example, he made his own clothes, often from homemade leather. It wasn't unusual for him to ask a farmer for the hide of a steer that he would then treat and utilize to make clothing and shoes. He was also a jogger, and in those early years he often ran marathons. I remember one trip we took to the Idaho Falls Temple on a bus with the rest of the people who wanted to go from our stake in Boise. As the bus approached Boise after the trip, Jim stripped off his clothing and stuffed it into his suitcase, left the suitcase with a friend, and talk the bus driver into letting him so he could run home.

Anyway, Jim was born in Alta, Wyoming. Where is Alta, Wyoming? Most people are acquainted with Teton National Park and know where it's located. Many who have visited the park have also visited Jenny Lake, one of the most frequented locations in the park. At Jenny Lake, visitors can hike down to lakeside, catch a boat to the other side, and visit a waterfall or hike further up the trail of the canyon beside the stream that provides much of the water that flows into the lake. If you hike up the canyon and climb over the mountains on the trails there into the canyon that comes out the other side of the Teton Mountains, you'll come to Grand Targee, the famous ski resort, and further on down the road you come to Alta, Wyoming. If you go much further than Alta, Wyoming you'll be in Idaho. If you keep going down the road you'll come to Driggs, Idaho.

Alta is a small town. I think it is incorporated as a town, but there is not much of an infrastructure there. Jim grew up there. He has a "house" there that is as rustic and unique as the clothing he made and wore back then. His mother's house is still there on the side of the road that runs from Driggs on up to Grand Targee. Jim and his wife invited us to that rustic house and we went there many times.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My Stroke of InsightMy Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Insightful first person narrative of a brain scientist who gained spiritual and personal insights when she had a severe stroke. About the time I read the book, a good friend, who is a college professor and a great writer, also had a stroke. This book and my friend's experience make me anew recognize the variety, delicacy, and intricacy of life and experience.

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1965 My First Paying Job

Our camp rested at the base of a forested ridge that rose up behind it to the north. Our beige canvas tents, which we paid rent for and were probably Army surplus, were situated on mostly level ground in the sagebrush flat, out in the open, exposed to the summer sun. There must've been ten tents or so, and the tents were big enough for six or seven people, but usually only housed four or five, max. We slept on cots in sleeping bags. Each tent had a stove in it, and we put ours to good use in the early, brisk mornings. We'd have fetched a nice log or two, sometimes split, sometimes not, that would fit comfortably into its belly the night before. Then we soaked the mess in diesel fuel, so starting a fire in the brisk morning air would be no challenge whatsoever. It was also the reason it didn't matter if the logs were split or not. It took no time at all to have the pipe coming out of the stove and going up through the roof of the tent glowing red hot in the first morning light. After the tent was heated up we rolled out of our sleeping bags and comfortably dressed in the warmth.

We were buggers, but not buggers in the sense that the English use the term to denote a sodomite, a contemptible fellow, or a fellow chap, although we would come to know that we were often held in similar derision. We killed bugs, at least that was the reason we had been hired, but that was never the reason for anyone holding us in derision.

The camp was located within Teton National Park in the Pilgrim Creek drainage. The year was 1965. I had just barely turned seventeen. I had finished my junior year of high school and would be a senior in the fall. This was my first paying job.

I have Norman Hansen, a goodly neighbor and friend, who lived behind our lot, to blame for it. Or to bless for it. He had talked me into it, or rather, told me about the opportunity, which I readily chomped at, eager to work and to earn money. Of course, Norman hadn't experienced the work and didn't know its expectations upon us; otherwise, I doubt he would've ever told me about it or thought to go work there himself. In retrospect, I suppose you'd have to be semi-crazy to have worked that job.

Norman's dad, Phil Hansen, had a garage full of tools; Phil was a salesman who traveled around selling tools for mechanics around the west. He had also worked as a mechanic, I think, so he had a garage full of every conceivable tool that a mechanic would envy having. In any event, Norman and his older brother, James, were always in the shop at their house using those mechanics' tools. Shortly after Norman got his driver's license, he began assembling a dune buggy. He got the frame off of some old jalopy, used a welder to cut it in half, and cut out a piece of the frame on both sides to shorten it. Then he welded it back together. He continued assembling the dune buggy, giving it a seat, an engine, and, what I remember most, an aluminum beer keg for a gas tank.

Not only was that aluminum beer keg unique, it shocked me to see that Phil, a highly spiritual and religious man, allowed Norman to put it on that dune buggy.

In any event, it was in that dune buggy that we traveled up Highway 89, through Jackson Wyoming, and on up to Teton National Park.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Day Three

I don't remember the blood. I don't remember my father's shock. I don't remember what happened to Brent and Tom. I don't remember the reaction of my mother when she came home.

I do remember the doctor above me with his tool in my nose, pushing on it, and the pressure I felt, along with some pain. I remember the fear, but not major fear, only minor. I remember the lights above me, shining into my eyes.

I don't remember the specifics of much of anything else. I don't remember my sister's reaction. I don't remember my brother's. I do remember that Brent brought me a gift, something to reconcile himself to me, something to give me comfort. It was a mitt, a baseball glove, a first baseman's. He got it, I think, using his parents' S&H Green stamps.

One other thing I do remember. I remember at home looking in the mirror before we went to the doctor's office. I remember seeing my nose underneath my right eye. I also remember that there was a gash in my nose. The doctor gave me a couple of stitches to take care of it.

That's about it. Beyond saying that I would have to invent. Even at that, I am aware of the frailty of my memory and the propensity of mind to create and fill in the empty spots we think we need. I will say this. The breaking of my nose was a major event in my young life, one that has stayed with me and in some measure molded me, in conjunction with the choices I freely made, to become the person I am.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Day Two

Today I am to think of childhood experiences, for good or for bad, that left a lasting impression upon me. I've talked about them other places. I'm supposed to list five or ten and pick from them one that wants to be written about. I don't know about that. It doesn't appeal to me. I guess it doesn't matter. You can't always do what appeals to you.

I remember distinctly so few childhood experiences that almost all of them I do remember must have left a lasting impression on me.

1. Sitting underneath a tree for shade in the hot summer time with friends, then dozing off, and then waking up knowing that I had missed some important conversation and possibly some activity.

2. Taking a bath.

3. Breaking the glass in the coffee table.

4. Going with my dad to salvage lumber at Hill Air Force Base.

5. Having my nose busted by Brent.

6. The announcement of the winners in the decathlon contest at my elementary school.

7. Digging out the dirt underneath the house in Clearfield.

8. Cleaning out the attic in sunset.

9. My grandma cussing out Helen Dunn.

10. Going to the movies with my sister.

Now, the idea is to select one of the above and then to freewrite about it for ten minutes.

Okay. I've written about it before, but I will write about it again here. Number five.

My best guess is that it happened in the springtime. For some reason it seems like the leaves on the fruit trees behind Tom's house were fresh and perhaps in blossom. In any event, we had gathered there behind his house early and had enough time to spare to play before leaving for school. I'm thinking we were all sixth-graders, eleven or twelve years old. I think it was that sixth year because that is the only year I think I had classes with both of them, Tom and Brent. It may have occurred in fourth grade, however, and I'm just not remembering clearly.

It surprises me to think that we had gathered there early enough to mess around with a bat and ball before heading out to school. My recollection of behavior from back then is that I generally left home and went straight to school without any deviation. However, on this particular occasion, my father was home asleep and my mother was at work. I wouldn't have remembered that except for what happened.

Tom was pitching the ball, and Brent and I were taking turns batting. For some reason, I'm pretty certain that it was Brent's bat, however, I could be totally wrong about that. The edge of the bat around the bottom that permits a batter to keep his grip when swinging all out had been partially knocked or chipped away --- maybe the bat was old and had been mistreated or whatever. Anyway, Brent was up. While Tom was retrieving the ball, Brent was swinging the bat with all of his might. I was waiting for my turn at bat. The next thing I knew, however, the bat was headed straight for me, and there was nothing I could do about it. I didn't even have time to raise my hands up to protect myself. It came around from its twirl and caught me directly in the nose, moving my nose beneath my eye.

Blood gushed out my nose. I guess I started howling and moving toward home, and home was about a half a block away, so I was leaving a gruesome trail of red blood along the sidewalk all of the way. I wasn't paying attention to who was following me or anything. I was just headed for home. I don't remember much, other than my father told me to stick my head in the sink --- although my father always said zink instead of sink --- so I wasn't dripping blood all over.

Eventually, he packed me up and took me down to the clinic to Dr. Peterson, a tall man who was slender and older than my father. Dr. Peterson put crowbar-like instrument in my nose and moved my snoze back where it should be.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Kill the Watcher

The question always arises as to whether you want to be a writer or you simply love to write. Of course, questions like that are dichotomies and I much prefer continuums. I suppose I fall someplace between the two extremes. I don't think I can say that I love to write, not yet anyway, although I could say I want to write. It brings to mind my youth, after I had moved in with my family to a location different than the one I had grown up in. The new location took me where I didn't have any friends and there were no nearby neighbors, so I had a lot of time on my hands and my father had jobs for me to do if I wanted to do them. I did. At first, I wasn't very good at what he wanted me to do, and I didn't like it that much. As time went on, and I exerted myself, I got better at the tasks and I began to like it. I suppose writing to be like that. Now, it just so happens, I've been at it a while now, however, to some degree or another, because of work or other things I was attending to, including many distractions, I never focused enough on the process and the actual exercise of writing. I've written a lot, a book on taxes for writers and artisans and a novel of over 400 pages, so I'm no beginner. But in a sense, as a writer, I feel like I am.

The fellow whose book I'm reading --- well, one of them; it was written by two men --- was more like I am. He didn't have a compulsion to write. It took some doing for him, kind of like it has for me. He indicates that at first he hated individuals who have that innate compulsion and desire and, perhaps, talent. Actually, he says he and beat them. He says as a child he composed stories in his head but he didn't like to get them down on paper. I can identify with that. Well, I can to some degree. I'm not sure I ever liked to compose stories in my head that much. I've thought a lot about that and I don't think I did. There might have been a time when I was quite young that I like to do that, playing with the cars and toys in the sand, but after that I didn't do it that much at all.

There were times off and on when I tried to journalize my thoughts --- to keep a diary --- but I was never successful. I'd start out gangbusters and then peter out. I always seem to do pretty good in the subject of English, however. I seem to remember that I did alright writing essays and short stories and the like. I always got Bs or better, even when I didn't always finish my homework and, especiallystudy my spelling words. I even did alright on vocabulary tests because I always made the effort to look words up and create my own list of words to learn and then studied the words on it.

The author tells about a conversation he had with a friend that he describes as loose and unstructured when he realized that hour after hour of conversation had yielded them significant insights about the topic they were discussing. And he realized that they had been trying to do that; it had just happened. They had done it by merely saying things off the cuff, things that they haven't analyzed and nudged here and there to get just right. They had simply talk with a degree of sincerity and openness to each other. He learned from that to concentrate on the process and not the resulting piece.

The assignment today is to address the internal critic, the Watcher, and tell him what I think.

Dear Watcher,

I don't want to be too harsh to you. You have caused me some grief but I recognize some value also in what you do. In fact, I suppose I have valued what you do more than perhaps I should have. Perhaps I should give this other a try, and let you sit on the sidelines for a while and watch. Then call you up after I have had my way without your interference to help me out. What do you think about that? Can he do that? That's, I think, what I want to do. To put you out of the way and let myself go. Deal? Why am I asking you? I guess, because I have great respect for you. But for now, let's do it my way, this new way.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


I read the memoir, Refuge, by Terry Tempest Williams, long ago, when my wife bought it and read it. That was not long after my wife had been treated for cancer. My wife read it and promptly added it to a small bookstand on her nightstand next to her bed. It's where I think she adds favorites she wants nearby to inspire her dreams. It's still there to this day.

Refuge excels in interweaving several different narratives: that of a dying mother, the influences of natural phenomenon on life and death, the beauty and ugliness of the world, the wantonness and the care and concern of mankind and its institutions, the nuances of religion for good and for bad. It's a book I should revisit, because its subtle shouting voice and its terrible tender stories are ones that seem kindred to me. It somehow captures not only the serene beauty of the bleak desert and the dead sea of the Great Basin where I often live, but also similar places found inside culture and people whereever you are. There is an ebb and flow, not unlike the lap of waves on silent shores.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Love, Harmony and Cooperation

The whole universal system is held together through love, harmony and cooperation. If you use your thoughts according to these principles you can transcend anything that gets in your way. --- Dr. Wayne W. Dyer.

A couple of thoughts come to mind. One of them is the expanding universe. I'm not convinced that it necessarily manifests love, harmony and cooperation. The other is evolution. As Darwin put it, there is a competition between species for survival. While I personally believe that everything is held together through love, harmony and cooperation, it isn't that hard also to see hatred, disharmony, and polar opposites fighting with one another. In my entire lifetime, I don't believe I've ever experienced the degree of outrageous behavior, self-righteousness, and intolerance by the conservative realm. So you can see why it seems to me difficult to believe that the whole universal system is held together through love, harmony, and cooperation.

On the other hand, we are talking about a "holding together". Cooperation, of course, brings us together, holds us from separation and divisiveness. Competition, on the other hand, tears us apart. It results in war and destruction.

Therefore, I subscribe to love, harmony and cooperation. Now I need to implement them better in my life.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Let Go and Let It Flow

Everything in the universe flows. You can't get ahold of water by clutching it. Let your hand relax, and you can experience it. --- Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

These notions of Dyer's are somewhat difficult to wrap my mind around in isolation the way they are. It seems like I need some context or something.

Okay, I agree that everything in the universe flows. When I was younger I had courses in high school and college in physics and so to some extent I know the dynamics of the world in which we live. Truly, a piece of iron is composed of basic elements and there is plenty of activity there. There is in everything of a substantive nature. Of course, in Mormon thought, it seems as if there is nothing but substance in one form or another, refined or unrefined. So yes, I can agree that everything in the universe flows. Certainly my thinking does.

So let me grapple with the next part. You can't get ahold of water by clutching it. That is simply a statement of fact. How does it relate to the preceding sentence? Water, as it is calmly conceptualized in the first instance, is something in the universe, and it's easy to see and understand that it flows. Likewise, generally speaking you can't get ahold of it by grasping it; however, that's not always the case. In water's frozen form you can clutch it. Or does Dyer expect me to call that simply ice as distinguished from water? water is water, it seems to me, no matter what state it's in. But I guess you could say that in its gaseous state it is steam, in its liquid state it is water, and in its frozen state it is ice. But that doesn't do anything to help with respect to the first sentence which is all inclusive. All of those states of water are included in items in the universe, which he says flows.

Then the last sentence. Let your hand relax, and you can experience it. I take that to mean that you are to let your hand relax within the water referred to, in liquid form, that you cannot clutch or get ahold of and you will somehow have a greater experience of it.

It's as if the example of the liquid water and you trying to grasp it is a kind of metaphor for the notion that in order to comprehend the universe you need to relax and let it pass you in order to fully appreciate it. You can't get all uptight and try to grab it.

Is that it?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Don't Judge, Be Negative or Immoderate

Dyer says three things clog your soul: negativity, judgment, and imbalance.

I'll have to think about that.

It seems I have to admit to some degree of negativity, although I'm not entirely negative. In fact, from my perspective I'm quite positive. I doubt that many others see me in that way that much, however. But I think it's true. For example, I'm pretty positive about trying to write and trying to become more and more proficient at it. Others, who began writing about the same time I did, don't seem to be still writing like I am.

Judgment. Dyer says judgment clogs the soul. I'm not quite sure what he means. I guess he means don't be judging others. I doubt he's suggesting that you should use poor judgment in making choices, however. Maybe so, however. The problem with his claim is that it doesn't have enough surrounding context to understand exactly what he means. If he means it categorically, I'd have to disagree. I'm mostly opposed to the categorical. On the other hand, if he means it in the Christian sense, that a person shouldn't judge others lest they be judged themselves, I'm right there with that notion. Judgments should be made with love and concern and compassion.

I don't know exactly what he means by imbalance. The definition of imbalance is simply having a lack of balance. And balance is defined several different ways. It's a weighing device. I don't think he means to use that definition, however. It's a state of equilibrium or parity which is characterized by cancellation of all forces by equal opposing forces. I think that's the definition he is interested in. A person should try to have balance. I think this is the same as saying that there should be moderation in all things. Except for the categorical, I think I agree pretty much with a necessity to be balanced.

I think I'll try to do better and be more positive, to make fewer judgments of others, and to have better balance in my life.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Tune in, Get?

So Dr. Wayne W. Dyer says that all the abundance you want is already here. You just have tune in.

Thinking about the statement, the first one, it seems to me that the abundance here exceeds anything I could ever want. Furthermore, relative to the second statement, it seems like I tune into whatever degree of abundance I really want already. However, it seems like Dyer is saying that the more you tune into wanting more the more you get. It seems to me that there is a balance necessary. If you tune in too much to what you want more than you already have, it seems like you give up something.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Spiritual and physical life

Okay. Here's what I'd like to do. Dr. Wayne W. Dyer authored a small book published as Everyday Wisdom. I got it for Christmas or something from somebody in the family. I didn't note who gave it to me or when. Vaguely, I think I remember getting in my sock, so that would suggest it was from Shelley. In any event, it gives a snippet of "wisdom" to contemplate for each day. Perhaps I'll attempt utilizing it as a guide to some free writing and thinking, trying to do maybe one per day and perhaps posting it. So here goes, the first one:

"You are not a human being having a spiritual experience. You are a spiritual being having a human experience."

I have so often heard that quotation at church, that I assumed it came from some scripture or from a General Authority or something. I am surprised to learn that it came from Wayne Dyer. I wonder if he stole it from someone else or paraphrased what someone else had said. I suppose that's true of everything that's ever said, isn't it?

It could be said that the notion expressed goes to a fundamental truth LDS people cling to: that we had an existence as a spirit being before we became human beings. I don't know if that's what Wayne Dyer had in mind or not. It would be interesting to know if he believes in an existence via spirit before the existence of body. My inclination is to believe he does.

I have believed and continue to believe that I am a spiritual being clothed in a physical body in concert with what is taught in Mormon theology. Of course, I don't have any memory from a life before this one, and I don't have any experience with anyone coming back from the dead to give me any objective evidence of the continuation of life hereafter. It is something I accept on faith after having listened to and studied out what others have said and believe on the subject. Additionally, there are self-serving reasons for believing it. The notion of complete obliteration after you die isn't something that appeals to me or, I suppose, most people. Perhaps that accounts for most people's belief in a hereafter.

Naturally, there are times when I kind of hope there isn't a hereafter; for instance, when I contemplate my failings and that there will be some sort of accountability there. On the other hand, there seem to be times when something from a past seems to be there, an insight or intuition, that I can't account for in the earthly life that I have experienced and that I remember.

So, bottom line for me is that I do believe in a duality of personality. Part of that belief includes the notion that in some stage or another I have always existed and always will. Perhaps that belief, however, stems from a longing for life incompatible with death.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Write What You Know, or Not

Donald Maas says you should write what you know. Natalie Goldberg doesn't think it's a good idea to write what you know. Donald admits that the writing what you know has a tendency to produce unexciting protagonists, settings that can put you to sleep, and plot lines nobody wants to read. Natalie suggests that we think about how little we know before concluding we should know what we write. Her point is that writing what you know severely limits the field of what you can write. Furthermore, she maintains the reason we have imaginations is in order to write what we don't know.

Donald maintains writing what you know doesn't mean you have to record everything that is plain and usual. A person should draw upon their experience in order to make the story personal, passionate, and true.

This debate of writing what you know versus not writing what you know comes up relative to me in writing about Alejandro. I really don't know about Alejandro, per se. I was never an undocumented immigrant, I don't know Spanish, I was never a thespian. On the other hand, I have an imagination, and I read of a girl going through the dust bowl during the depression in Oklahoma who I thought was in a situation that presented enough of an analog to what an undocumented immigrant boy like Alejandro might experience. Maybe that's cheating. I don't know. Anyway, that was the way I was going about it.

Donald says writing what you know means writing what you see differently, what you feel profoundly and know that it's important for the rest of us to understand. He maintains none of us need to have lived a life of merit or through a newsworthy phase, of sorts. We only need our own unique outlook and the will to write with a new purpose. Natalie says to lose control when you write. To write such things as what you're not thinking of it and what you don't remember. She contends if you get out of your box and do some exploration of a new place you will be able to find the hidden, the extravagant, and the mysterious life of a wild mind.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

After Taking up the Pen and Ink

It seems a person must proceed with a degree of optimism and confidence even in the face of great, perhaps impossible, challenges. Well, if such a person doesn't so proceed, it can mean not proceeding at all, becoming so discouraged that they can't go on.

How does a sixty-two-year-old English-speaking white man (me) capture the voice, the setting, and circumstances of a fourteen-year-old Latino boy (Alejandro) in America? It takes a considerable amount of conceit to even make the attempt , although, perhaps, I wasn't smart enough to apprehend just how much moxie it would take. Yet that is precisely what I've been doing for several months now, writing a manuscript that I am around 220 pages into about Alejandro, a boy who is here in the United States with his parents, and none of them, not him or his parents, have legal documents to be here. They are illegal immigrants.

Now, it seems being in the place I'm at, as I try to tie things up into a climax and a tight conclusion for the novel, this project becomes more dicey than ever. My fellow critiquers, especially one in particular, raises new and bigger red flags of its difficulty to speak for this culture, this situation. Caution! Proceed at your own risk. Danger ahead.

This friend has been to a recent writer's convention and attended a panel that discussed this very issue, writing about Latinos. So, through him, I become more and more aware of the sensitivities in taking this on. The irony is that the very people who live in such circumstances --- undocumented immigrants --- usually don't have an opportunity to write for or speak for themselves because of their situation: trying to lie low and survive in a culture and society that views them as filthy lawbreakers, worthy of deportation and not much more. Some even characterize them as terrorists and invaders of this country. It is partly from such a perspective, recognizing these people's lack of sympathetic voices, that I decided it was important to write about Alejandro to begin with.

The challenge facing me raises various issues.

Do I want to even continue the attempt? To the degree I have a natural competitiveness, and I do although mine isn't as great as some people's I've experienced, do I want to proceed with the project and finish it in order to show everybody I can do it?

Do I want to cut my losses and turn to something else? I already worked for an entire career, enjoyed the work I pursued for well over thirty years, but retired , intending in retirement to do less. However, doing less certainly didn't mean doing nothing. I fully intended to do something in my retirement, and at the time I retired, I fully intended to continue writing and honing that particular craft.

Do I want to step up my efforts? If I want to receive recognition and some of the success others have received, like, for example, the friend I received the cautionary warning from mentioned above, I'll have to do more. That friend, who has publishing deals for three books with Scholastic, has a better background to be a writer: he has been dreaming of it, has been consistently reading and studying writign, and even began writing, it seems, at the outset of his life. Not me. Additionally, my friend seems more intelligent, better trained for writing, and more well connected in contemporary life and society than I am.

Is it fun enough?

Even as set forth these ideas, I know I want to do it. I know I want to complete it and to make it as good as I can. Nonetheless, there is some ambivalence and some wavering.

Plus, it just occurred to me that perhaps I should write this story from a first person perspective as an observer of the boy's life. Then, perhaps,  I couldn't be accused of being anything but the dumbass I am.

No, thinking about it somemore, I previously considered that possibility. While I don't rule it out --- it always hangs there in the back of my mind as  a possibility lurking in the shadows --- I'll try to finish in the way I've begun.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Ramblings on The Lonely Polygamist

So, here I am two days in a row thinking about writing something about The Lonely Polygamist. Not so much writing about it as writing a review of it, but perhaps that's a difference without substance. It would be easier just to stare out the window and watch the clouds float by in the deep blue sky. Of course, that would be easier than just about anything else anyway.

Brady Udall wrote The Lonely Polygamist. Udall is a big name in Mormon country. There are some famous names in government with that surname. It's a big name in Arizona, where I guess most of the Udalls of Mormon heritage hangout. Well, that's my generalization. None of that, however, has much to do with the novel, except to some degree relative to, perhaps, its setting in the desert somewhere not far from Las Vegas. Maybe Brady Udall had some history, some ancestry, of sorts, or perhaps even some contemporary members of the extended family who engaged in the practice of polygamy. (Why do people have to practice polygamy? We don't go around saying we practiced monogamy, do we? We just simply say we're monogamists, if the subject comes up at all. Yet, there is something mighty strange about polygamy, you have to admit it.) So, perhaps Brady had a hankering to explore the subject and flesh out a character he could imagine being a polygamist in these modern times, even though probably his ancestors gave up the practice when the main body of Mormons did back at the turn of the twentieth century.

Who knows why a person stumbles onto a topic. I stumbled onto polygamy from a totally different perspective. I'm not aware of ancestors in my lineage who ever practiced polygamy, although it's entirely possible some of my early ancestors on my mother's side did --- it appears those ancestors were immigrants from Denmark, who came here and settled in Central Utah.

If I could talk with Brady on a casual level and sense somehow that I could ask him a question without giving any offense and having some self-assurance that I might get an honest answer, I'd ask to know how he came to the subject of polygamy.

I know how I came to it. A friend told me and my wife one Christmastime his wife was leaving him for a polygamist. All of the modern polygamists I knew anything about at the time were totally weirdos, meriting only disdain and mocking. I had read about them in the newspaper, because whatever antics they had been up to had merited a story, usually one on the front page of the newspaper or as a headline in the television news for some stupidity, including murder and intrigue. This couple, had a few kids, and there was no doubt that if momma left the daddy for a polygamist, the kiddies would suffer and be exposed to such idiocy.

How could I resist writing about such blather?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Plans for Future Postings

When I get to this stage, the stage where I have time and energy to do this, usually late at night when I should be thinking about getting to bed instead, and actually sit down and write, it is always difficult to decide just what it is I want to say. Life is a demanding thing. It is no less so for me than it is for anybody else, I suppose. No less demanding, nor more demanding. There is always so much to be done that you have to be more selective in what you choose to do or you will never get to what you want to do. Or rather, you should be, perhaps, more selective than you are in what you put down. Obviously, I'm not selective enough nor consistent enough, or I wouldn't be going through this pathetic exercise of saying all of this. I would just dive into what it is I want to say.

Someday soon I want to do and post a comprehensive book review of The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall. I read it some time ago now, and I have wanted to do a book review of it ever since I started reading it, maybe even before then. It, however, is a comprehensive book, a novel of great length and nuanced narrative and composition. Now, I don't want to review it frivolously or short shrift it.

I picked up The Lonely Polygamist originally for self-serving reasons --- perhaps, truthfully, a person never picks up a book otherwise. However, I wrote a novel about polygamy long before Brady Udall did. Well, at least I think I did. I don't know all the particulars of when he began writing his book or the chronology of his finishing it and getting it, with the help of his publisher and whatnot, out there. Obviously, he had the success I didn't have in getting an agent and a publisher to work with him on it. He had had previous publishing successes. But I picked the book up because I wanted to compare my writing to his. Isn't that pathetic? That I would want to compare my writing to his?

Well, from my perspective, it isn't pathetic. I figure that, since he got published by a big publishing house and received wide critical acclaim and attention, he must be a pretty darn good writer who can stand as a decent measurement for me. So sometime I intend to start writing drafts of critical reviews of his novel. Maybe just for the fun of it I will post them here. It'll give me something to do, something to work on until I get it done, something I don't have to think about every time I start thinking about making a post.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

On the List

Here in Utah the news when I returned from Wyoming this week was about a list somebody or some group had compiled and spread anonymously throughout the news media and government. The list, it is said, contains the names of some 1300 people, their addresses and telephone numbers, their Social Security numbers, whether or not they were pregnant, if they were women, and the like. Apparently, the list was also sent to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, too. It argues that all of the named individuals should be deported from the United States because they are, the document argues, illegally here.

So "the list" has been in all the news stories broadcast on television and radio, in the newspaper, both locally and nationally. It coincides with the extremists who want to apply Arizona-like tactics to everyone they think shouldn't be here.

My observation is this. People with this type of vitriol should go after the perpetrators of the problem: the holders of office in the federal government. It is our congressmen and our president, present and past, who have caused this crisis.

And this is a crisis that affects real human beings, ones without much of a voice at all, ones living a bare existence here, always having to "lay low" and watch their backs. The extremists, it seems to me, seem to have little heart or soul in analyzing the nuances of the problem as it pertains to real individuals affected by their sad and callous tactics. Instead of raising their ire against politicians who hold offices and could have done something about the problem over the years, they want to cause heartache and catastrophe for families. I find it particularly ironic, in a state where people laud the supremacy of family, that these individuals are so allied and agitated in this ugly manner against individuals in families.

But I don't blame just the politicians. I blame the citizens, including myself, who haven't held and didn't hold the politicians accountable; I blame the citizens who didn't care enough to do anything substantive relative to the situation to hold politicians accountable for their lack of doing anything, because it didn't matter to we, the citizens, in years past, when life was good and rosy , when jobs were plentiful and paid well. Now, when because of past policies that favor big business and the rich and powerful our  economy has crashed and is still trying to recover slowly, such individuals blame the people who came here hoping for something better than their sad lives someplace else, who we, collectively, tolerated and even, to some degree, esteemed and appreciated, or, at the very least, cared nothing about. They weren't on our radar. They were seen as a threat to us. Now, these extremists seek to put a target on their chests and shoot them, in a figurative sense.

The Republican Party and the so-called Tea Party Movement, the Libertarians, and others unaffiliated but who perpetuate this vitriol are hypocrites. They have contributed to the enduring situation as much as anybody else, and now they are contributing to something even worse: the disruption of family life and security for all these people.

For believing this way, I would probably be and have been labeled by these types of individuals who spew hatred a bleeding heart liberal, a socialist, and/or a Communist.

Go ahead, label me. Say what you will about what I am. Maybe I am a bleeding heart, a liberal, inclined to socialism. At the same time, I am inclined to argue that such detritus as people who would disrupt family lives like these groups belatedly seek to do to people who have been here for years and years trying to seek a better way of life for them and their families are not unlike those who showed disdain and hatred for Jews in Hitler Germany or whowanted to perpetuate slavery in early America and segregation more recently.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

An Ugly Wart

I want to write about a wart --- well, I think it's a wart, but my wife thinks it's cancer --- that I have. I also want to write about a senator of mine, Orrin Hatch. I've had them both too long. I want to get rid of each of them. They have gone about irritating me for far too long, and it's time to do something about them. I didn't do anything to deserve either one of them, not that I know of at least. I want them gone.
First, let me describe, even though you might not want to know about it, my wart. It is on my right forearm out of my sight, about to the end of the arm of a short-sleeved shirt. I can see it in the mirror or if I twist my arm with my hand. It is an unusual growth.

It is quite ugly. Other people usually can't see it because of my shirt sleeve, at least I don't think they can, and they don't mention it. It would stick straight up, probably four fifths of an inch or so, if it weren't kind of bent over. It is flesh-colored at the base, but crusty looking and pointed at the top. The tip is the part which is bent over, probably from my lying on my arm at night and, hence, it, when I'm trying to sleep. It has become very awkward and uncomfortable to cope with it. It hurts when it catches on my clothing or when I accidentally bump it.

I am not by nature, a warty person, or haven't been for most of my life, at least not in a literal sense. Those who know me may describe my thinking, personality, or humor as warty, though, I suppose. Many years ago, before this wart appeared, I had another strange wart on my left hand. It was at the base of my thumb. While it never grew as big or as ugly as the one which now resides on my arm, it was still itchy and uncomfortable. Eventually, I showed it to my physician, a family doctor, and he removed it, had it checked for cancer, and found it was benign. It has never come back, unless you think perhaps the wart on my right arm is its reincarnation. I don't think so, and I have my reasons, but they don't pertain to this particular essay.

I have an appointment with a doctor, a dermatologist, who just happens to be the son-in-law of the doctor who removed my other wart, in a few days. Hopefully, he will be able to remove the growth and restore me to normality, and at the same time, benefit his son-in-law through having referred me to him.

I am looking for a similar solution to get Orrin Hatch out of my life as a senator. To me, he is just as irritating as that wart, although I have to admit, he isn't nearly as scary looking as it. Besides that, Orrin does have other redeeming characteristics my wart doesn't seem to have. I have enjoyed that he has been willing in some very limited instances to cross party lines and join with his colleagues in the Democratic Party to get helpful legislation enacted and enforced. Nonetheless, I think I have put up with him and his deceptive antics long enough. Here though, what I want to mention is my latest aggravation with him. It involves immigration reform or, rather, his obstruction of immigration reform.
Let me tell you what I mean.

This past week eight senators sent the President of the United States a letter which demanded that he stop going around the will of Congress on immigration. There is no evidence whatsoever that the President ever did or intended to go around the will of Congress on immigration. Orrin was one of the eight who signed that letter. It alleges a secret illegal agreement exists to grant "deferred action" --- the exercise of prosecutorial discretion in refraining from removing someone from the United States --- to undocumented immigrants. It suggests that the President subscribes to the same. Nothing could be further from the truth. There is no way the President or his administration is interested in granting more than 10 million undocumented people in the United States some kind of immunity from prosecution. What the President is and has been interested in is comprehensive immigration reform. And he is probably also interested in utilizing whatever presidential power he has to afford relief where it is warranted in the most sensitive specific cases. For example, he would use the relief where immigrant children have grown up in the United States, have done extraordinary in their studies, and want to continue their education in our colleges and universities without being deported for a lack of documentation.

The letter of the senators is an ugly wart on the public, like the ugly wart on my forearm. It --- the letter --- is intended to perpetuate ugly rumors grounded in nothing more than bigoted people's imaginations. Those people in this particular case are interested in a political agenda that opposes comprehensive immigration reform. It is quite obvious, although their specific intent is left unclear. Of course, these individuals know something about "deferred action" because the Bush administration used it during Hurricane Katrina, granting rights to individuals victimized by the storm. And that is when it is usually appropriate, when there is some serious crisis that pulls at the heartstrings, when things are fundamentally unfair and inequitable and against our basic ideals for our fellow beings.

Sen. Orrin Hatch and the other senators who wrote the President are being disingenuous. In their letter they suggest that they agree that immigration laws need to be fixed, but then they go on to gripe about the potential of the administration using "deferred action" or some type of parole for large populations of undocumented immigrants, although that is impossible. Sen. Hatch and the others seven senators have never done anything whatsoever to reform immigration laws. Hatch has served in the Senate for years and years. He defeated Frank Moss in 1976 and has been Utah's ranking senator almost ever since. Pray tell, what has he ever done to correct immigration laws? Nothing. Even during the period when his party held the presidency and controlled both houses of Congress, he did nothing. Nothing! He intends to do nothing about immigration reform. That's why he voted against the Senate bill that would have been a first step in giving us comprehensive immigration reform. That bill passed the Senate in 2007. In fact, the senators who wrote the subject letter, moved to close the debate on the bill and to prepare the bill for a vote in order to kill it.

Orrin Hatch is bound to big business, which benefits with the situation relative to immigration as it stands in this country. Senator Hatch is interested only in doing whatever furthers the funding he needs to retain his position and power.

Sen. Orrin Hatch is a useless wart on the forearm of the public, worthy of removal. Hopefully, he is not a cancerous growth, who will lead to more serious problems or our demise. One thing for sure, Senator Hatch's intent is to scare people and frighten them, rather than simply doing what is helpful and compassionate.

Saturday, June 26, 2010


When I got home from Wyoming, there was a package from Amazon on the porch. I hadn't ordered anything from Amazon that I remembered, and I didn't know that Shelley had, but that is always a possibility. The box was addressed to me, not her. I opened up the box to see what was in it and it was the complete National Geographic, I mean every National Geographic issue since 1888. I knew I didn't order it, although I would've liked to have had it, and I didn't think Shelley had, either.

Inside the box as always there was a document giving the details of the transaction. The first thing I looked for was the label they include to make returning items sent easy. That label was gone. I looked at the shipping address, and it was mine, and I looked at the billing address and it wasn't mine. I don't know how I looked at just the address without seeing the name with the address but I did. It was an address that seemed foreign, and I jumped to a conclusion that somebody had used my credit card to make the purchase and I immediately thought I'd better call Shelley to tell her I needed to cancel the credit card. Then I got to looking closer. The name with the address was the name of my son-in-law, and it immediately became clear that this was a gift, probably a Father's Day gift from my daughter and him.

Shelley called a little while after that and I told her what had happened and she laughed and said that my daughter had mentioned that there would be something in the mail for me for Father's Day --- my daughter had been ill and had been unable to visit on Father's Day.

It is such a nice gift and I'm grateful. Thank you very much. And it's nice to not have to cancel that credit card.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Rivalry of Saul for David

Rivalry. What does it mean? The dictionary says it is the act of competing or emulating. A second definition indicates it is the state or condition of being a rival. A rival is one who attempts to equal or surpass another, or who pursues the same object as another. We would say, a competitor. Can rivalry get us into trouble?

Do you remember David, from the Bible, the guy who killed Goliath with his sling shot? Would it be difficult for you or for any of us today to have envied David, to have jealousy for what he did?

Well, let me talk about somebody who did for a moment. After David has this great victory and receives all these great accolades for taking care of the fearsome, loathsome Goliath, Saul, who is the king, brings David to court, figuring he could honor David, probably thinking he could utilize David some way to make life better there for himself and the inhabitants who lived there with him. In fact, the invitation from Saul to David is somewhat of an honor for David, but at the same time David was just a boy and his place of honor was inferior, or should have been, to the place of a king's.

However, the news of David's victory over Goliath apparently spreads, possibly gets amplified and exaggerated, maybe, and David receives the attention, fully deserved or not, of the masses --- well, possibly not the masses, but whatever. He soon becomes, it appears, more popular than even the king, Saul. This can all be read in 1 Samuel 18:5-16. So Saul has to contend with this circumstance, with David receiving greater attention and a greater following of the people than he himself. That had to be galling and incite jealousy and envy within Saul. And the Old Testament narrative indicates the same. Saul wavers between a type of submission to David because of David's popularity and a desire to kill the boy. Saul blames his son, Jonathan, saying the boy is unfaithful to his father, and that he is supporting his arrival, David. Saul massacres the priests at Nob just for honoring David. They become victims for merely honoring David for helping the people defeat an enemy.

So instead of killing David, who was still so popular, Saul has had these priests all killed, substituting them for David. I guess he thought nobody would care about the priests but they would about him killing David. Nonetheless, the killing doesn't solve this problem of Saul's of David getting more attention than him, and David continues to receive accolades and praise of the people, all to Saul's chagrin.

Next Saul sends his soldiers into battle with the Philistines, hoping to regain the attention of his people and receive their praise. But before the battle, he consults with a medium in Endor and lapses into a kind of insanity, receiving a chastisement from the dead prophet, Samuel. Saul loses the battle and kills himself.

What is interesting in this situation for me is that Saul, who held a more powerful position and place, becomes the rival the rival of David, a mere youth. Powerful people can become rivals of people generally seen as weaker than them.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sunday Musings

The title of the Sunday school lesson today was "God will honor those who honor him." Now, that is a conditional premise. If I honor God, he will honor me. The implication is that, if I don't honor God, he won't honor me. God, therefore, does not love unconditionally, but conditionally. That seems to fly in the face of everything I believe and know about God. I believe he does love unconditionally. The ramifications of our bad behavior toward him or toward anyone else or even toward ourselves operate independent of His love and devotion to us. That's what I believe.

Now, thinking about that notion --- you respect me and I'll respect you --- I try to reconcile it with the Golden rule, which says, as I recall, that I should do to others what I would want them to do to me.

The two notions seem to be in conflict with each other. If God will only honor me if I honor him then he is not following the admonition to do to others what you want them to do to you. I believe God will honor me because he wants me to honor him. And I should want to honor him because I want to be honored by him. The lesson seems to have it backward.

I wish though when we talk about these Old Testament cases we could utilize a different Bible than the King James version that the church insists on us using. It's very irritating to have to wade through prose that is difficult to understand when prose that is more modern and easy to grasp is available.

In any event, Eli's sons are a little out of control --- and that's putting it mildly, because the scripture says they were sons of Belial --- and they were doing things they shouldn't be doing according to Eli and according to the traditions and commandments of their religion. And so Eli, like most parents, takes them to task. He tells them they are setting a bad example and make the faithful people also transgress (which seems like a non sequitur). Eli goes on to say that if a person sins against another person, a judge will sit in judgment and impose, in essence, some sanction or punishment. If they sin against the Lord, Eli asks rhetorically, who will judge them then? He goes on to say that if they didn't follow the counsel of him, their father, the Lord would slay them.

Hmmm. Curious. What exactly is meant there? The Lord kills people for doing evil against him? Well, does he? It seems to me there are plenty of influences around in real life where that hasn't and doesn't happen, where people are warned by good, wholesome people not to do evil or not to do this or that which seems simple, yet people still do it and doing it would be, at least in the view of the faithful person, a sin against God. Yet, we don't see God taking revenge and killing the individual for their behavior. Of course, the argument can always be made that in the end God gets them, just as he gets all of us because we die.

In 1 Samuel 2:30 it suggests that God will honor those who honor him and those who despise him he will esteem lightly. The verses after that go on to talk about cutting off arms and killing people and destroying progeny, if I understand it correctly.

I just don't understand how you reconcile the two notions. God wants us to love one another. Yet killing is not thought of as showing love but hate.

I think the Old Testament manifests the inclination of man to put words into God's mouth and make him something He isn't at all. It is man's inclination to mimic others and to scapegoat whenever mankind gets into trouble.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Time for All Eternity

I finally gave up hope and surrendered patience and published Time for All Eternity. I had explored the possibility of obtaining a literary agent based upon the work, but after months and months of trying and submitting time after time queries to various agents in a number of different agencies and being rejected, I decided to just go ahead and do it myself.

So far, relative to money spent on the project --- other than of course the value of my time and the other pursuits relative to more literary proficiency and contacts, generally, like the costs of driving to and from critiquing and to participate in Wasatch Writers and the League of Utah Writers and attending a few Roundup writers conferences --- I spent nothing to make the work available as a Kindle book and $49.22 to make it available as a 450 page print-on-demand book available on Amazon and through other distribution channels.

My friend, and fellow critiquer, Matt Kirby, have discussed frequently the merits of self-publishing over against the merits of finding a publisher. Matt, who is very talented and able as a writer, was able to enter into contracts for a few books and a short period of time with Scholastic through his agent. So, he was prone to argue the merits of getting an agent and being published through a conventional publisher. He was less enamored with self-publishing. Today, he e-mailed me with a link to an article in the Huffington Post written by a literary agent on the merits of self-publishing for those who can't find a literary agent or a publisher.

It will take few sales for me to recoup my total investment in setting up the book. I don't know if it's the right thing to do or not, I just know I wanted to do it. I had spent a lot of time and effort doing it, and doing it itself was its own reward, but nonetheless it was nice to see in print and available to those who want to read it. I think it's a good book. I think it's not that bad for a first novel for somebody who has my type of background.

I hope somebody will read it and like it.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Clichés Don’t Tell the Whole Story

My wife told me about an email she got at lunch today, and I asked her to forward it to me. I wanted to respond. The email had pictures posted here on Snopes with the following verbiage:

Hey everyone out there!

We, in Arizona , know you're boycotting us -- but you really should come out here and see our Beautiful Sonoran Desert .

It's just gorgeous right now! We know you'd love it and maybe you can share what you saw with the rest of the country so they can love it too!

This is on an 'illegal super - highway' from Mexico to the USA ( Tucson ) used by human smugglers.

This area is located in a wash, approximately 1.5 miles long, just south of Tucson , Arizona . If a flood came, all this would be washed to the river and then onto the sea!

It is estimated over 5,000 discarded backpacks are in this wash. Countless water containers, food wrappers, clothing, feces, including thousands of soiled baby diapers. And as you can see in this picture, fresh footprints leading right into it.

As we kept walking down the wash, we thought for sure it was going to end, but around every corner was more and more trash!

And of course the trail leading out of the wash in our city, heads directly NORTH to Tucson , then leads to your town tomorrow.

They've already come through here. Isn't Arizona just beautiful, America ?

Why would you boycott us???

Our desert has basically been turned into a landfill.

The trash left behind by people illegally crossing our border is another Environmental Disaster to hit the USA .

If these actions had been done in one of our Northwest Forests or Seashore National Parks areas, there would be an uprising of the American people.....but this is the Arizona-Mexican border.

You won't see these pictures on CNN, ABC, NBC or the Arizona Republic newspaper. Nor will they mention the disease that comes from the uncovered human waste left in our desert.

However, with respect to CNN, ABC & NBC, they do offer us "Special Reports" on cheating celebrity spouses....

This information needs to be seen by the rest of the country.


This is what I said:

It is heart-wrenching. Not so much as a result of a little littering ---  a church congregation or a similar organization or two could clean up the detritus and make what's reusable available to Goodwill or Deseret Industries in an afternoon or two --- but because of all
of the lives behind it.


  • The undocumented immigrants, whose lives were so desperate that they risked them (read The Devil's Highway, for example)
    to escape circumstances intolerable wherever they were coming from to cross a barren, harsh desert to come here to live like new-age slaves because living here as new-age slaves was better than what they had before.  
  • The elected officials of the U.S. government, who through willful and ongoing neglect of responsibility essentially facilitated the building of this highway through the desert and all the other immigration woes and concerns (read We Are Americans) by failing to enact, fund, and enforce meaningful and comprehensive immigration reform years and years ago, when it could have done some good in avoiding this minor part --- some littering of a desert --- of the whole big problem.
  • We citizens, who through toleration of a worsening situation and inaction by duly elected officials, augmented by our greed, allowed the situation to continue on and on through all the years, especially through the years of plenty when it was more advantageous to communally own these new-age slaves to do our drudgery before our economy went sour and it wasn't so easy to tolerate these folks any more, worsening the situation to its present proportions and making it more and more difficult to solve, heightening hatred and fear.
  • The multitude of U.S. businesses, small and large, and the individuals who have hired and exploited such new-age slaves --- new-age slaves who, without documentation, are in little condition to stand up for basic human rights themselves, (read, for example by analogy, Slavery by Another Name) --- which businesses and individuals thereby benefited from their hard work and sacrifices as new-age slaves, using their massive financial and societal resources to influence lawmakers and avoid responsibility.


The problem for me with the email is its facile nature. Like everything political these days, it's a cliché (see, for example, "How to Skin a Moose"), lacking deep analysis and heartrending empathy for tender lives. (Think of the story of the good Samaritan.) There seems to be little frustration out there with easy clichés like this one. Some garbage, strewn through a desert, and people in dire need of relieving themselves on their way leaving it to soil the earth. Oy vey. I wonder what the pioneers did.

We're lacking in emotional and spiritual wisdom when we make this kind of argument. It suggests we're not up to date in humanity, contemporarily or historically.  It's a treacherously naive concept of existence. Sound bites and clichés thrive in societies of simpletons. Clichés can serve as tools in expressing our world, but not to move beyond them, to say that they are the end-all or that newer tools aren't required, suggests a stagnant world without insistence on growth of understanding. No doubt ease is an asset in communicating. But it's a liability when you sacrifice precision or respect for real complexity. That's what bothers me with this email.

Are we taking part in deep discussions or just enamored with pace and simplicity so that exploration means only synthesizing sound bites? Do we send such drivel as these pictures and cursory narrative as a dull tool to make a point because it's the limit of our articulation? Is fresh, creative, complex writing rhetorically ineffective because readers, like us getting this, can't or won't spend time for that which is deep or difficult? I hope not.

I have deleted the pictures below. They don't tell the whole story. Furthermore, they are, it appears, taken from the Snopes site which says the materials (e.g. pictures) can't be used without permission. I also note the originator's CYA at the end of his message. I don't wonder why he/she needs to put it there.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Be Kind

A woman once cleaned out her attic. Once? A woman? What way is that to start writing and thinking, anyway?

While it's true that a woman once did clean out her attic, it's more likely that many women have cleaned out attics, although I don't myself recall ever having cleaned out an attic while I have been married. Oh, and incidentally, I'm not a woman, but a man. And I suppose just as many men have cleaned out attics as women, although I'm not sure anyone has gather statistics on the notion.

We --- my family and I --- cleaned out an attic once when I was a kid. When I was twelve, my parents bought this older house that was next door to my grandparents' house. The house had been owned by a couple, the Dunns, who had a couple of boys. Don't ask me the boys' names. The Dunns were both alcoholics and as a consequence of their debauchery had been threatened I guess by the bank with losing their house. Therefore they had had to sell it at a bargain. My parents had found out about it and purchased it.

Consequently, there was a lot of work to be done to make this house suitable for our family of five to live in.

At the time we moved to the house next to my grandparents' I was twelve years old.

I can remember that it had an attic in it that we never really ended up using. However, the former owners had stored a bunch of stuff in the attic --- for all I know my parents had also stored stuff up there, but if they did I was unaware of it --- and we had hauled it out and burned it.

So, I guess I have been involved in cleaning an attic.

Anyway, the person who wrote the introduction to Natalie Goldberg's book, Writing Down the Bones, talks about cleaning out her grandmother's attic and finding a motto encased in a picture frame that said to do your work as well as you could and to be kind, or something to that effect. She laughed over the motto, thinking the two messages incongruous, but then later the motto made perfect sense to her.

So much of writing is self-discovery and the exploration of what a person wants to know more intricately. However, the exercise can be daunting and can cause you not to want to write anything at all. Let's face it, it's easier to be fed thoughts by others, to be spoonfed and entertained. We grow fatter because we are lazy and we have grown accustomed to not have to think or exercise our brain as well as our body.

According to the introduction of said book, to be valuable writing needs to be sane, clear-hearted, solid, practical, vital, and honest so that it makes you want to cry. According to it, that is what writing has when it is good.

I'm not sure I agree. Sane? I'm not sure good writing has to be sane. Maybe over all it has to be sane, but can't it have snippets of insanity? It seems to me it can. And then some of the other descriptors just seem a little vague. Clear-hearted. What does that even mean. It's too cardiac for me to really understand. Isn't a clear heart something we want to avoid? You know, it's just better to have your heart pumping blood than to be clear, and blood is anything but clear. Solid. Well, sometimes solid writing is good. But I've also seen loose writing that's good. A nice haiku. I don't know, I guess I'm just too picky.

Well, be kind. I agree with that sentiment. I aspire to that sentiment. Some might say it is even a flaw for me. I'm too kind, they say, but they have only instances in mind. You see, many think I'm an enabler. Truth be known, somebody probably thinks you are an enabler also.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

More Rambling Than Needed

Seems like I'm an old man stuck in a rut, who doesn't have a cell phone or any of the typical diversions of retirement. I don't play golf, have season tickets for a sports team, or volunteer my services because I have too much time on my hands. In fact, I'm probably more intellectually engaged at this point in my life than ever before. At the same time, I'm not physically fit; I don't go to the gym, take walks, lift weights, and I don't go to the pond or walk up and down the river to fish. I don't have a boat, a four-wheeler, or a snowmobile. Not only that, I don't want them either.

What I do have that I enjoy is a nice computer and a larger-sized Amazon Kindle. I have a guillotine paper cutter that allows me to cut the backs off of books and I have a nice high-speed scanner that allows me to feed the sheets of the books through it and convert the text in them to electronic form. There's something empowering about being able to carry a library with you or to know that the books that you have acquired over your lifetime can be held on a computer or on a couple of DVDs.

I don't have other vices common to people: I don't drink alcohol, smoke, do drugs, engage in illicit sex, or feel the need to tan myself in tanning salons or to tattoo or pierce myself to improve my look, but I'm not saying I am good looking, not at all. Maybe I should get some tattoos and a few piercings and it would improve things. Just kidding.

As I've said, I'm probably more engaged --- at least within my mind --- in philosophy, in reading, and writing, and other venues such as politics and religion than ever before. I am more questioning and less settled that I was in my youth. While I feel self-assured, I do not feel certain about most things. For me, faith is more meaningful than certainty. Part of all that results from having experienced marriage all this time with my one faithful and true wife, and raising four wonderful, challenging, beautiful, exasperating children.

My Rant For Today

You've got to remember such things as Hermann Goering at the Nuremberg trials and what he said there. The people don't want war but can be easily lead there. He said that leaders determine the policy and drag the people along no matter what type of government it is. In essence, he said people are stupid and blindly follow the leaders they follow without checking things out or thinking things through. And, according to him, that's true in a democracy where people have a vote or in a dictatorship where they don't. He said all you have to do is threaten them with being attacked and then you can denounce pacifists for not being patriots and thereby exposing the country to danger.

If you do that, remember the words of Hermann Goering, evil man though he was, it shouldn't be too difficult to recognize the danger in all of the hysteria of the Tea Party Movement. Not all of it, but a lot of it, a lot of those people are, as has been often described, wingnuts. It's as if they are taking the advice of Goering and trying to lead the people down the proverbial rat hole. Their hysteria would have our nation on the brink of calamity and unutterable disaster if they don't get to conceal their forty-five and carry a weapon --- I'm sure some would say they should be able to carry a nuclear bomb as a weapon to defend themselves and the imperiled nation --- to shoot somebody with when they have to pay tax on their cigarettes or whatever else they don't agree with.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Arizona's Law Isn't Racist; the Bulk of Its Citizens Are

This is my response to an editorial by Doug Gibson, in the Ogden Standard Examiner.

The majority of Arizona citizens are racists.

I agree with Doug that Arizona's law is the wrong solution to a neglected problem. And he is right, the law is not racist. However, a savvy opponent to his point of view doesn't claim that the law is racist or Nazi-like. Laws, per se, aren't racists or Nazi-like; laws have no volition. They can't act. They aren't moral agents. People can be and are racists and Nazi-like and do have volition. People, like Doug, are racist in suggesting that such a law won't lead to racism. It will.

My dictionary gives two definitions of racism: First is the belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others. Second is that racism amounts to discrimination or prejudice based upon race.

We, as citizens of the U.S., through our less-than-wonderful elected representatives who have allowed themselves far too often to be prompted and influenced by big (and, to a lesser extent, small) businesses' lobbying efforts for many years, have caused the problem. We citizens had for decades before our recent financial meltdown tempted the residual humanity of Third World countries to flee harsh and often dangerous conditions and corruption where they lived to come the U.S. because their coming here so was beneficial to us. Truth, be known, it still is beneficial from an economic perspective.

Further, we U.S. citizens, through our elected representatives who are so easily influenced by powerful money-brokers and influential lobbyists, didn't adequately oversee, through regulation and adequate funding, the enforcement of adequate laws and regulations over our financial and business markets so that we collectively got robbed and bilked. If you don't lock the car doors and have the police patrolling, you invite trouble and break-ins. Their incidence increases.

Now, while we're still licking our wounds from the resulting downturn in the markets and the loss of jobs, we citizens, who, having gotten, through our own neglect, all of these alien folks here, the bulk of whom demographically look different from the bulk of us, now want them gone. So we start enacting such inane laws as Arizona's.

In Utah, county records show undocumented immigrants are not big criminals over against citizens and documented immigrants. So, are all undocumented immigrants criminals? Many claim they are. They say “What part of illegal don’t you understand?” inferring that they're criminals. We hear that all the time. For people who actually do some thinking, though, who see murder and rape and those types of crimes in a different league than illegal crossings and document fraud, such easy answers don't prove a thing. Citizens race up and down the roads and highways way faster than the posted speed limits all of the time. They run red lights and litter. But we don't consider ourselves criminals for doing so. Our acts don't hurt people the way criminals' actions do. The illegal-border crossers --- many who have been here most or a good share of their lives, including some 2.5 million children nationwide --- who live in a given area don't cripple a community. Rapists, murderers, and violent gang members do that.

That's not to say people who cross without documents never rape, murder, or get involved with violent gangs. Some do. But in Utah from 2004 to 2008, the number of undocumented immigrants increased 57 percent. During that time, undocumented state prisoners increased 10 percent. So the facts show that the vast majority of undocumented immigrants coming here obey our laws once they're here; they're not a main source of crime, not any more than citizens or documented immigrants are.

So, we citizens of the United States have gotten these desperate folks from other places here to do our dishes, etc., and for the most part these folks work hard, obey our laws, pay taxes, and contribute to our society. But then, when we, who have power and control, have a financial and employment crisis of our own making, a state like Arizona starts taking national immigration matters into its own hands, against the advice of experts galore. In a sense, we as a citizenry have made these folks our new-age, new-style slaves. They have no voice, no power, and, increasingly, no life.

Doug asks can a state take action when the federal government won't. Truthfully, states and federal governments don't ever take action. People do. We deflect our responsibility by talking like this. It's not Arizona who will be enforcing the subject law. It is real people. Flawed people. As such, they will be making judgments that inevitably will, in some instances, lead to discrimination or prejudice based upon race. Racism.

Doug makes a specious argument when he refers to Arizona spending billions in educating children of undocumented immigrants (he, or course, doesn't know if such children might be U.S. citizens or not), because he also fails to mention the taxes and the economic contributions such undocumented families make. Undocumented immigrants pay taxes, directly and indirectly, just like anybody else, only they don't benefit from the graces awarded to citizens in our tax system. Furthermore, they buy goods and services, just like citizens do. Doug also makes another false argument when he talks about a violent gang using Arizona as a conduit for human and drug smuggling, failing to mention our failure as citizens to elect national representatives and a president who will adequately work with other nations to resolve international issues such as the toleration of corruption in their governments. Of course, it's hard, because we citizens have tolerated such corruption in our own elected officials, and now we reap what we have sewn.

The fact that most Americans support anything, as in Doug saying that most Americans support the Arizona law, doesn't mean that what they support is right, moral, or the smart thing to do. In the years before the civil rights movement, there were many times when most Americans supported segregation, too. Same with Nazism. So was it right? Nah. The majority of people in the South supported slavery? Did that make it any less barbarous?

So Doug essentially admits the Arizona law in question is flawed; it wasn't Arizona's place to act; it only did so in frustration, and its law doesn't really do what's needed. Yet, he goes on defending it: it's only there because the U.S. didn't do what it should have [the citizens didn't]; it's more mild than what others on the national level are, in part, proposing; it doesn't require officials to harass [harassing was misspelled in the article] law-abiders (from your viewpoint, a Latino standing on the street, ostensibly doing nothing wrong, could very well be "illegal" (undocumented) and, therefore, not law-abiding).

Why not tell it like it is, Doug? We failed. Now we're desperate. Citizens in Arizona are desperate.

You and me and ever single citizen failed.

We failed in the past to elect representatives who would enact necessary laws relative to immigration to protect us and to protect immigrants, too, and we failed to fund the laws on the books and to enforce them because we were, in an ugly way, benefiting from our omissions. So now, Arizona --- actually, the citizens of Arizona --- gets to take out our failings, our collective immorality in treating these people as our new-age slaves --- who are slaves here willingly because, in contrast to the dire lives they lived, it is still better for them --- on these very people who have no voice and no standing except through us, and often, in comparison to us, live such simple lives, and can only speak out at the risk of an arrest, deportation, and losing everything they've been working on for years, and perhaps even losing their very lives?

I think we can all agree we don't want criminals here, maybe even especially undocumented ones. I agree that compromise is necessary. But I deplore the idea of a spreading plague of Arizona-like immigrant law virus because it causes us to be racists, to prefer our collective demographic over something else, largely on the basis of race and color.