Thursday, April 21, 2005

Geek pride

It came to mind yesterday as I stood on the floor waiting for a computer test to run. We were trying to determine if the network is setup to allow remote wake-up calls to turn on the patron computers.

As I waited for the unsuccessful test to run, I watched a patron. He had his red plastic box of diskettes open on the desk next to his computer. As I watched, I felt the urge to smile at his reminder of my old activities: carrying my storage containers of multiple diskettes holding my precious genealogical files.

Quickly I realized that the urge to smile might have been a prideful symptom of the superiority I felt at the patron's expense, because I have a thumb drive and pocket hard drive and he doesn't. The new technology is more convenient and replaces the need for boxes of diskettes. Still, I keep my thumb drive with me at all times, a high-tech security blanket.

I offered a silent prayer begging forgiveness for my vanity, arrogance and pride.

As I continued to watch the still unresponsive computers, another patron sat down nearby. He put his work station in order, reminding me of a virtuoso pianist preparing for a concert performance. He expertly adjusted the keyboard tray; took apart the mouse and cleaned the track-ball system; modified the resolution on the flat panel monitor, then opened and resized several windows. Finally, he began his work.

My silent enjoyment of his finesse reminded me that repentance for pride can be an on-going struggle; that pride can manifest in many different ways.

I'm thankful for the Lord's long-suffering and patience.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005


I was reading a good autobiography yesterday: Shades of Gray: Memoirs of a Prussian Saint on the Eastern Front. It was gripping. I was thoroughly engrossed in the author's struggle to survive the fall of Stalingrad as I rode the bus home from work.

As we entered town I looked up with a start: there were no mountains. Suddenly I was in upstate New York. The afternoon was bright, with heavy cloud cover. The clouds were high, but apparently low enough that no mountains were visible. At all. It looked like a typically overcast day in the suburbs of Rochester.

The lack of a mountainous back-drop changed the entire feel of the town where I live. I was comfortably at home, a feeling over ten years in manifesting itself. It was a fun change of pace.

As the clouds lifted so did the home-like impressions.

Thankfully her love for me provides a home where ever we live.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Teach Correct Principles

From my step-great great grandfather's journal, pp. 186-188:

The Following is a Dream I Had
Some Time Ago

I dreamed I was shoveling rubbish that had accumulated around a building during its erection. While thus employed I thought it strange I should thus be employed, not being used to working with the shovel.
While thus thinking and working I heard a voice behind saying, “Brother, I congratulate you on finishing your house.”
Turning around I saw a man. He repeated the same words.
I said, “This house is not mine.
He said, “You do not understand. Go over there and look and then tell me what you think of it.”
I dropped the shovel and walked across the road, and looking at the building, it was a building three stories high, just then the sun rose above the mountain, the rays of it striking the building made it appear very beautiful. The building was perfectly white with a golden spire on top, which glittered in the rays of the sun on my return.
He asked me what I thought of it.
I replied, “It is a most beautiful building, but I never aspired to more than two rooms and a kitchen.”
He smiled and said, “I congratulate you on finishing it.”
I wondered.
He said, “Come with me.”
I went with him a short distance. There was a red rock above the earth running through the valley.
“This is the rock of revelation,” said he, “and your house is built upon it.”
I saw the rock went through the foundation of the house. I noticed the foundation was beautifully laid.

I said to him, “I never put that foundation in.”

“No,” said he. “The foundation is built on revelation. The four corner stones are faith, repentance, baptism, and laying on of hands for the Holy Ghost, and upon these you raised the building.”

He said, “When you was baptized and confirmed you wanted every person to believe. You was ordained to the office of a Teacher. Here you began to build upon the foundation. Then you was ordained to the office of a Priest, and went and preached the Gospel and baptized some. Then you was ordained an Elder and preached the Gospel. Then you was associated with the Bishopric, and here you put the doors and windows in, and built the first story. Then next you went into polygamy. Here you commenced the second story. Come and let us go in and see.”

We went into the building. It was most beautiful and white. The second story was one large room the size of the whole building. I saw on the wall in letters of gold, “Banquet Chamber.”

I said to the guide, “This is a large room–too large for my use.”

“Not so,” said he, “Your family and friends will fill it.”

We went up into the third story.

“You have been in the upper room of the temple,” said he, “And you understand this,” pointing to three chairs.

“Yes,” said I.

“This is your life’s work and I congratulate you in having it finished.”

I replied, “Yes, but it is empty and as it took my life to build it, it will take another life’s work to finish it.”

“Not so,” said he, “You have wives and children, also friends who have passed away. They are laboring continually to get it finished by the time you will need it. You have many friends in the Spirit World whom you caused to be released, by your labors, from prison. They wish to show their love and gratitude to you and are helping to prepare for your arrival.”

“That’s nice,” I replied, “But I would like to know how this rubbish came here. It is not the same material as the building.”

He smiled and said, “You was very zealous when you were teaching, preaching and exhorting, and you said things that were not true. Therefore those things you taught would not mix with the building but crumbled down and became what you see around and your work now is to clear it away that the truth may shine.”

So I went back to the shovel and commenced shoveling away, when I awoke it was 5 o’clock.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Not the only one

Sunday I finished reading Orson Scott Card's latest work: Shadow of the Giant. It took me quite some time to get my emotions under control. Talking out my random thoughts with her helped a lot, too.

I'm not the only one to feel a powerful emotional response to Card's book. John C. Snider's review at states:

"And it's not all dry politics punctuated with high-tech bloodshed. First and foremost, Shadow of the Giant is introspective and emotional - the last quarter of the novel is as tear-jerking a denouement as you're likely to read in a science fiction novel."

It has been a long time since I've had an experience like that.

Thanks, cousin.

Six Boys

From the pass-around file [I don't know who the anonymous author is]:

Each year I am hired to go to Washington, DC, with the eighth grade class from Clinton, WI. where I grew up, to video tape their trip. I greatly enjoy visiting our nation's capitol, and each year I take some special memories back with me. This fall's trip was especially memorable.

On the last night of our trip, we stopped at the Iwo Jima memorial. This memorial is the largest bronze statue in the world and depicts one of the most famous photographs in history -- that of the six brave soldiers raising the American Flag at the top of a rocky hill on the island of Iwo Jima, Japan, during WW II.

Over one hundred students and chaperones piled off the buses and headed towards the memorial. I noticed a solitary figure at the base of the statue, and as I got closer he asked, "Where are you guys from?"

I told him that we were from Wisconsin. "Hey, I'm a cheese head, too! Come gather around, Cheese heads, and I will tell you a story."

(James Bradley just happened to be in Washington, DC, to speak at the memorial the following day. He was there that night to say good night to his dad, who has since passed away. He was just about to leave when he saw the buses pull up. I videotaped him as he spoke to us, and received his permission to share what he said from my videotape. It is one thing to tour the incredible monuments filled with history in Washington, D.C., but it is quite another to get the kind of insight we received that night).

When all had gathered around, he reverently began to speak. (Here are his words that night).

"My name is James Bradley and I'm from Antigo, Wisconsin. My dad is on that statue, and I just wrote a book called "Flags of Our Fathers" which is #5 on the New York Times Best Seller list right now. It is the story of the six boys you see behind me.

"Six boys raised the flag. The first guy putting the pole in the ground is Harlon Block. Harlon was an all-state football player. He enlisted in the Marine Corps with all the senior members of his football team. They were off to play another type of game. A game called "War." But it didn't turn out to be a game. Harlon, at the age of 21, died with his intestines in his hands. I don't say that to gross you out, I say that because there are generals who stand in front of this statue and talk about the glory of war. You guys need to know that most of the boys in Iwo Jima were 17, 18, and 19 years old. (He pointed to the statue)

"You see this next guy? That's Rene Gagnon from New Hampshire. If you took Rene's helmet off at the moment this photo was taken and looked in the webbing of that helmet, you would find a photograph...a photograph of his girlfriend. Rene put that in there for protection because he was scared. He was 18 years old. Boys won the battle of Iwo Jima. Boys. Not old men.

"The next guy here, the third guy in this tableau, was Sergeant Mike Strank. Mike is my hero. He was the hero of all these guys. They called him the "old man" because he was so old. He was already 24. When Mike would motivate his boys in training camp, he didn't say, 'let's go kill some Japanese' or 'let's die for our country.' He knew he was talking to little boys. Instead he would say, 'You do what I say, and I'll get you home to your mothers.'

"The last guy on this side of the statue is Ira Hayes, a Pima Indian from Arizona. Ira Hayes walked off Iwo Jima. He went into the White House with my dad. President Truman told him, 'You're a hero.' He told reporters, 'How can I feel like a hero when 250 of my buddies hit the island with me and only 27 of us walked off alive?' So you take your class at school, 250 of you spending a year together having fun, doing everything together. Then all 250 of you hit the beach, but only 27 of your classmates walk off alive. That was Ira Hayes. He had images of horror in his mind. Ira Hayes died dead drunk, face down at the age of 32...ten years after this picture was taken.

"The next guy, going around the statue, is Franklin Sousley from Hilltop, Kentucky. A fun-lovin' hillbilly boy. Franklin died on Iwo Jima at the age of 19. When the telegram came to tell his mother that he was dead, it went to the Hilltop General Store. A barefoot boy ran that telegram up to his mother's farm. The neighbors could hear her scream all night and into the morning. The neighbors lived a quarter of a mile away.

"The next guy, as we continue to go around the statue, is my dad, John Bradley from Antigo, Wisconsin, where I was raised. My dad lived until 1994, but he would never give interviews. When Walter Cronkite's producers or the New York Times would call, we were trained as little kids to say, 'No, I'm sorry, sir, my dad's not here. He is in Canada fishing. No, there is no phone there, sir. No, we don't know when he is coming back.' My dad never fished or even went to Canada. Usually, he was sitting there right at the table eating his Campbell's soup. But we had to tell the press that he was out fishing. He didn't want to talk to the press.

"You see, my dad didn't see himself as a hero. Everyone thinks these guys are heroes, 'cause they are in a photo and on a monument. My dad knew better. He was a medic. John Bradley from Wisconsin was a caregiver. In Iwo Jima he probably held over 200 boys as they died. And when boys died in Iwo Jima, they writhed and screamed in pain.

"When I was a little boy, my third grade teacher told me that my dad was a hero. When I went home and told my dad that, he looked at me and said, 'I want you always to remember that the heroes of Iwo Jima are the guys who did not come back. Did NOT come back.'

"So that's the story about six nice young boys. Three died on Iwo Jima, and three came back as national heroes. Overall, 7,000 boys died on Iwo Jima in the worst battle in the history of the Marine Corps. My voice is giving out, so I will end here. Thank you for your time."

Suddenly, the monument wasn't just a big old piece of metal with a flag sticking out of the top. It came to life before our eyes with the heartfelt words of a son who did indeed have a father who was a hero. Maybe not a hero for the reasons most people would believe, but a hero nonetheless.

We need to remember that God created this vast and glorious world for us to live in, freely, but also at great sacrifice. Let us never forget from the Revolutionary War to the Gulf War and all the wars in-between that sacrifice was made for our freedom. Remember to pray for this great country of ours and also pray for those still in murderous unrest around the world. STOP and THANK GOD for being alive and being free because of someone else's sacrifice.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005


Today I did a counter shift from noon to 2:30 p.m.

Things were going along pretty smoothly. I'd been able to answer several questions with little problem.

A lady came up and asked if I new of an expert on early temple records. I asked, "Can I help you?"

She stated that she wanted to verify an ordinance date from the 1920's and that she wanted to look at the Family Group Record that had the original stamp on it.

I reminded her that Family Group Records were used to submit temple work from 1942 to 1970.

She was sure that the record she wanted was on a family group record, so I pulled out a listing of the microfilm collection of FGR's and suggested she find the film that corresponds to her family name.

She asked for another reference consultant by name. I found the consultant list and saw that the consultant she'd asked for didn't have a shift today, so I told her where the consultant's office is located.

At that point I felt it necessary to establish my credentials. I told her of the positions I'd had previously, in charge of the system used to store ordinance data.

I don't do credentials very well. Never have. I have a tough time selling myself. Not that I am not qualified, I just don't do self-promotion well.

I especially don't like to bring up my capabilities when my credibility has been challenged. The main reason being that I don't hold my emotions very well in that circumstance. The lady knew that I was miffed. I tried to cover over my feelings by suggesting other resources to check, but the damage was done.

She soon left and I didn't think to apologize until some 15 minutes later, after she was long gone and I'd helped another patron.

Now I have to apologize the hard way: make sure that I am always helpful and try not to challenge another's assumptions. That last will be a long row to hoe. Especially when I want to help teach folks how to get their answers efficiently and effectively.

Pride is a difficult master to overthrow. It manifests in far too many subtle ways.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Free Time

Missed my regular bus.

Time to get this thing going again.

I've been going through a period of intense contemplation. Much too personal to include in this forum. Sorry.

But, despite the continued gray days and marvelous precipitation, I'm content and pleased with things over all.

Family is a blessing.

So is music.

It was good to see the Pope released from his labors. He'd been going since I was on my mission 26 years ago. I've had several different occupations since that time. He's entitled to a change. I'd love to sit in on his PPI with Father. It would be an interesting discussion.

Conference time is always a time for introspection and renewed efforts to implement the counsel we've heard. The prophet looks and sounds more robust than he has in some time. Light bulbs always burn brightest just before they finish their jobs. Pray for the prophet.