Friday, February 25, 2005

A Rose

It was theatre night, last night.

Daughter'd had a tough day. Late for work, she backed into her brother-in-law's car. $800 damage to her back bumper, paint on his. Roll-over accident and backed-up traffic, later for work.

Anyway, she called just as I got picked-up after work.

"Can you come pick me up?"

We drove down to her house, took her up to the U so she could have dinner with her hubby. Met her again in the theatre lobby: she needed a benadryl, was reacting to something she ate.

We had tickets for the evening's performance of "The Slipper and the Rose". She works on the tech crew there. One of the "people in black". I never saw her during the performance. She's good: single-minded; efficient.

When the performance was done we waited while she helped put the pumpkin carriage away. Traffic had thinned, so waiting was good. She told her hubby that she wouldn't be out too late, so we went to Denny's to wind-down after the performance. Hot chocolate, a milk shake, mozzarella cheese sticks, water. The waiter wasn't impressed, happier he got a tip, though.

They talked of haircuts, family, affairs, cast and crew. I mostly listened, contentedly weary. The play was well-done: theatre in the round, wonderfully staged. It brought back memories of that mid-70's musical.

We got her home by 10:30 pm.

Our day didn't end until we got home 45 minutes later.

Besides the wonderful evening, the day had been bright. I found that the U had scanned all available issues of "The Progress" through 1939! Their scans were better and easier to use than the ones I'd made of the 1894, 1895 issues. I happily began copying the documents for my use at home, later: obituaries, marriages, deaths, sickness, accidents, anniversaries, celebrations. All that stuff adds deeper color to the picture of people I love.

I went to bed full of thanks for the joys of the day.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Gold dust on the floor

Yesterday was the final step: take out the temporary and put in the permanent crown. I'd had it done several times before. Yeah. Bad teeth. Today's visit went pretty smoothly.

The doc had just popped-out the temporary metallic crown that had been generating an electric current in the back of my mouth for the past two weeks. My belt began to vibrate. There was a break in the action, so I decided to answer the silly phone.

"Hello. Can I call you back in a few minutes?"

"No, it's just a quick question: where are the web-page documents stored?"

"On the web-server: in the /sys/apache2/htdocs sub-directory"

I had to repeat myself a couple times before he understood my answer. I spoke clearly, my mouth didn't even have stuff in it.

He thanked me and I put the phone away. I was happy that I'd been able to answer quickly and succinctly. I hadn't delayed the dentist for more than 1 1/2 minutes. Still, I'm sure it was rude of me to answer at that moment. It won't happen in the future.

The process slowed down when the doc was fitting the permanent crown. It seemed to take extra long before the crown fit just right. He would pull it out and grind off a bit here and a bit there on the little gold piece, then put it back in and try again.

Eventually I told him that I could see the gold dust piling up on the floor below his stool. I had visions of the gold rush of '05. I told him that my ggg grandpa had been at Sutter's Mill and I'm looking for a similar experience in my life.

I don't think the dental assistant appreciated my attempted humor, much.


The other day I went to the Center.

As I approached I saw that they had changed the signs in the halls outside. Previously the sign had included a picture of me, taken as a publicity still before the Center opened during the summer of 1993. Since they have remodeled the Center in the intervening 12 years and I was standing behind a counter that no longer exists, it didn't surprise me that they replaced that specific picture.

I haven't worked in the Center for a decade. That picture was a final bit of visual evidence that I helped to get the Center set up.

Now it's gone. A connection with my past has been cut.

Today we hear of the passing of a research giant, Dr. Hugh Nibley. He single-handedly created the golden-age of comparative studies in the Church. He was a bold pioneer in the academic world, outspoken and hard on folks who don't think much about their religion.

Even though I never attended one of his lectures physically, I've listened to tapes and watched videos. I've read his work for decades, fascinated by the trail of his thinking. My appreciation of his dry wit and careful thought have deep roots. I first read "An Approach to the Book of Mormon" almost 30 years after it had been a priesthood manual. I grieved then that we don't have instructional manuals like that any more. I still do.

Though the possibility of physical contact with Dr. Nibley is no longer possible, I feel that my link to his thought and influence continues. I look forward with relish to review his lectures from 1954 on the office of Bishops and Apostles. I purchased the newly published book a few weeks ago and put it in my reading rotation. I also anticipate reading his master-work on "One Eternal Round."

Nibley helped me become a better person, more aware of my surroundings. He has broadened my perspective. I'm thankful for the work he did and the thoughts he shared.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005


She always says it.

"We're all related."

This time it wasn't my fault.

Sunday morning I was sitting on the stand. The Stake Presidency decided that this year all the Stake Officers would accompany the High Council members when they speak. So it was my turn. Great topic, too: Family History! I thought about the topic, but didn't even prepare an outline.

Anyway, as I sat on the stand reviewing what I might talk about, full of anticipation as to what I might be prompted to say, the High Councilman leaned over and asked, "Are you related to the folks in Millard County?"

"Yes, I am," I replied.

It turns out, his grandmother shares my last name. He and I are cousins. I told him a little about my family database, how I've identified over 29,000 family members. I have his grandma in the database, but only a place-holder for him and his siblings. I have to call him and ask him to fill in the blanks. It'll be a good conversation.

I love contacting cousins: detailing exactly how we're related.

When I told her, she said, "We're all related."

One down...

Projects come and projects go.

Monday I finished one that turned out to be a medium-sized bite: scanning my mother-in-law's negatives. She'd given me an envelope full of negatives to scan around Christmas time, I guess. She figured there were about a hundred or so. The count was 748 when I finished Monday morning.

I had fun getting to know my father-in-law's family. His dad died when he was only 14. His mom died a couple of years ago. His sisters were going to throw the negatives away.

There were too many negatives to be re-printed, so scanning was a good option. Most of the negatives weren't on standard 35mm film. They were much bigger. I had to tape most of them to the negative attachment on my scanner. There were lots of good pictures in there. There were lots that weren't quite so good: out of focus, out of plumb, double-exposed, or with no discernible reason for having been taken. Still, it is a treasure-trove of previously unseen images. It was fun to scan and enhance each picture. I put them into categories: Prom, Graduation, Dogs, Cars, Cats, Beach, Old Boyfriends, Snow Piles, Dress Up. Mostly I just numbered them, though. I even found a few with my baby-sized wife in them.

Now that the negatives have been scanned, I can go back to my regular evening activities: working through family group records, scanning my old journals, scanning letters and other documents, adding obituaries to my database, creating the preliminary family organization mailing list...

It's almost too-bad, though: she couldn't get too upset at me for playing on the computer while I was doing a project for her mom.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Moose for V-day

Hopefully, I don't need a greeting-card day to help her know how much she means to me. Still, societal pressure exudes it's influence.

At lunch time I went looking for the "right thing". I'd looked for flowers last week at a Wal-Mart. They ALL had brown edges. I asked her, would she have liked flowers that had brown edges? Nope. I had that one figured pretty well.

So, I wasn't really looking for flowers yesterday. My first thought was, "Music Boxes". She likes them and I've helped her collection grow over the years. But I couldn't find any shops with music boxes. As I proceeded from shop to shop, I passed by the line of people waiting for Gladys Knight to autograph their CD's. I even saw Gladys for a few moments.

Went to another mall. Went downstairs, then up to the second level. I found a shop that might have music boxes, but the clerk said, "Nope, don't have any..." Still I looked around. They had a wonderful collection of Indian artifacts, mostly Navajo. The kachinas beckoned. Hmmmm. I'd given her a couple of kachinas at different times in the past few years. My possibilities began to expand. Still, I continued around the shop, looking at the cool stuff.

Near the front I saw the moose. Now, we have a moose cookie jar and candy dish. And there on the shelf were a few pieces that matched the jar and dish: salt and pepper shakers and a spoon rest. Together they were the price of a good sized kachina. And I hadn't gotten her moose before. The decision made itself. Moose for v-day. I bought some wrapping paper and bows at the dollar store, wrapped them at my office.

The evening was spent running updates on the 232 computers in the library. She babysat the bubs while his parents went on a date. So it worked out good. She came and picked me up when I was finished with the computers. I got to play with the bubs and watch him skootch around, not quite crawling yet. The parents got back by 10 or so.

She liked the moose.

It was a good day.

Cowboy poetry

From the pass-around pile:

I ain't much for shopping,
Or for goin' into town
Except at cattle-shipping time,
I ain't too easily found.

But the day came when I had to go -
I left the kids with Ma.
But 'fore I left, she asked me,
"Would you pick me up a bra?"

So without thinkin' I said, "Sure,"
How tough could that job be?
An' I bent down and kissed her
An' said, "I'll be back by three."

Well, I done the things I needed,
But I started to regret
Ever offering to buy that thing -
I worked me up a sweat.

I walked into the ladies shop
My hat pulled over my eyes,
I didn't want to take a chance
On bein' recognized.

I walked up to the sales clerk -
I didn't hem or haw -
I told that lady right straight out,
"I'm here to buy a bra."

From behind I heard some snickers,
So I turned around to see
Every woman in that store
Was a'gawkin' right at me!

"What kind would you be looking for?
Well, I just scratched my head.
I'd only seen one kind before,
"Thought bras was bras," I said.

She gave me a disgusted look,
"Well sir, that's where you're wrong.
Follow me," I heard her say,
Like a dog, I tagged along.

She took me down this alley
Where bras was on display
I thought my jaw would hit the floor
When I saw that lingerie.

They had all these different styles
That I'd never seen before
I thought I'd go plumb crazy
'fore I left that women's store.

They had bras you wear for eighteen hours
And bras that cross your heart.
There was bras that lift and separate,
And that was just the start.

They had bras that made you feel
Like you ain't wearing one at all,
And bras that you can train in
When you start off when you're small.

Well, I finally made my mind up -
Picked a black and lacy one -
I told the lady, "Bag it up,"
And figured I was done.

But then she asked me for the size
I didn't hesitate
I knew that measurement by heart,
"A six-and-seven-eighths."

"Six and seven eighths you say?
That really isn't right."
"Oh, yes ma'am! I'm real positive -
I measured them last night!"

I thought that she'd go into shock,
Musta took her by surprise
When I told her that my wife's bust
Was the same as my hat size.

"That's what I used to measure with,
I figured it was fair,
But if I'm wrong, I'm sorry ma'am."
This drew another stare.

By now a crowd had gathered
And they all was crackin' up
When the lady asked to see my hat,
To measure for the cup.

When she finally had it figured,
I gave the gal her pay.
Then I turned to leave the store,
Tipped my hat and said, "Good day."

My wife had heard the story
'fore I ever made it home.
She'd talked to fifteen women
Who called her on the phone.

She was still a-laughin'
But by then I didn't care.
Now she don't ask and I don't shop
For women's underwear.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

A Visit

From my other journal, Friday, 25 June 2004:

My hands were full as I approached the 3rd West Bus Stop (eastbound), a coat over one arm, briefcase over a shoulder and laptop in my other hand. I saw a bus (#70 from Ogden) pull up. It obviously had problems opening it's door and a repair truck was right behind it at the stop.

Well, the young bus driver pushed the doors open and got off just as I walked up. He smiled and said something to me like, "There's my friend. You're all prepared, coat over your arm...Can I take this?" as he reached for my laptop case.

I answered, a bit flustered, "That's OK..." He hefted it, but I didn't quite let go.

When he let go, he continued, "Who'd have believed that anyone would lighten your load, even only for 2 seconds..." and smiled again. Then he went back in the bus and helped a handicapped man in a wheelchair off the bus.

He made me smile as I watched him, in his 30's with straight, shoulder-length auburn brown hair, parted in the middle, and a full beard. He had what I thought of as a regal brow. He wore a normal UTA bus driver's uniform, but the shirt was remarkably wrinkle-free with sharp creases down the arm. I couldn't see his name tag.

The thought occurred to me as I stood there considering the experience, that a bus driver would be a great occupation to use to "take the temperature" of society. They are relatively anonymous and see folks at their very most normal. They'd see regular folks interacting in a wide variety of situations, using no pretense.

When my bus pulled up, I walked back past him as he was talking with the mechanic. He patted me on the shoulder and said, "There's your ride. It'll take you right home."

I made sure to thank him for the lift he'd given me. It was good.

Still, I would like to remember: what color are his eyes?

Friday, February 04, 2005

Phone Home

I was just nodding off as I enjoyed the bus ride to work when it hit me with a start: I don't have the phone with me.

It was a little bit of a late night, last night: to bed later than normal. I'd been updating the database with census records I'd found yesterday. All of them included children that I hadn't identified before. So I was into it. And didn't watch the time.

Last night was make-up sleep, too. The night before we'd been to a meeting that didn't let out until after 11 pm. We got home and to bed by 12:30 am.

So, this morning I was a bit groggy and over-slept a bit. Had to shower and change in a hurry. 12 minutes from bed exit to out the front door. No wonder I left my phone. I've only forgotten it three or four times since I was given it last year.

They are extremely handy. Nothing better for getting in touch with someone when they aren't at their desk. Great for emergencies. Great for coordinating meeting times and places: getting people to where you are...

In the past few days, however, I've been on my office phone when my cell phone went off. Three times. I'm not too good at that kind of multi-tasking. I tend to be a little gruff with the second caller. I always have to apologize when I call back. I guess that's good for keeping me humble.

Still, I don't like to be ruled by the phone company's desire for more profit. I try to keep the phone from establishing my priorities. I have no problem turning it off. I do feel a little sheepish about leaving it home, though. It is the "Duty Phone" for the computer problems. I'm not an enabler but sometimes folks need to get in touch with me and the campus is large. I'll try to stick around my cubby most of the day, near my office phone.

This past week I resumed an activity that has been on the shelf for six months or so: cold-calling cousins. In my free time, I contact distant cousins, interview them and fill out the information for their families in my database. It starts by identifying contacts with high probability, doing white pages searches for possible contacts. I usually try to limit them to local calls or state-wide, anyway. My rate of successfully finding a relative is in the high 80 percentile, I figure.

When I call, I introduce myself and quickly establish how I am related to the person on the other end of the line. That means I have to have the computer on, with my database in front of me, showing how we are related. I don't try for much detail. Names of children, grandchildren and their spouses are good. Birth and marriage dates and places can be filled in later.

If the person I speak to is interested in the database I'm creating, I always offer to burn them a copy, if they'll send me a blank CD. Sending copies of my database around the country is a good preservation tactic.

Time to end this post. I've got phone calls to make.