Sunday, December 26, 2010

Striped Chipmunk Provides a Great Family Lesson

Striped Chipmunk, illustrated by Harrison CadyRecently I wrote about my favorite children’s book author, Thornton W. Burgess. As I was reading a chapter in his book, Mother West Wind “Why” Stories, entitled Why Striped Chipmunk is Proud of His Stripes. I was reminded of a couple New Testament scriptures (I Peter 2:21-24 especially “… by whose stripes ye were healed” and Matt 6: 1-4… that thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.”) and thought what a great short lesson for a family with young kids.

You can read Striped Chipmunk’s story below and see if you feel the same way.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Peter Rabbit, Johnny Chuck, Grandfather Frog and other Animals Teach Important Values

TWB and his wife in their garden with the Purple Hills and Green Meadows behind him
Thornton W. Burgess’s books (see Books by Thornton W. Burgess), whose cast of characters are the forest and meadow creatures, delighted children in the early to mid nineteen hundreds. The author paints wonderful word pictures that both entertain and educate. His first book Old Mother West Wind begins as follows:
“Old Mother West Wind came down from the Purple Hills in the golden light of the early morning. Over her shoulders was slung a bag—a great big bag—and in the bag were all of Old Mother West Wind's children, the Merry Little Breezes.
“Old Mother West Wind came down from the Purple Hills to the Green Meadows and as she walked she crooned a song:
‘Ships upon the ocean wait;
I must hurry, hurry on!
Mills are idle if I'm late;
I must hurry, hurry on.
“When she reached the Green Meadows Old Mother West Wind opened her bag, turned it upside down and shook it. Out tumbled all the Merry Little Breezes and began to spin round and round for very joy, for you see they were to lay in the Green Meadows all day long until Old Mother West Wind should come back at night and take them all to their home behind the Purple Hills.
“First they raced over to see Johnny Chuck. They found Johnny Chuck sitting just outside his door eating his breakfast. One, for very mischief, snatched right out of Johnny Chuck's mouth the green leaf of corn he was eating, and ran away with it. Another playfully pulled his whiskers, while a third rumpled up his hair.”
Through the Merry Little Breezes we meet some of the animals that inhabit the Green Meadows and Green Forest and learn about their friends and neighbors. We learn with them as they discover the value of adhering to the timeless principles of honesty, hard-work, and kindness and the cost of laziness, lying and stealing.
As They Were All Hungry
In Mr. Burgess’s Mother West Wind series we find out “How Old King Eagle Won His White Head”, “Why Striped Chipmunk is Proud of His Stripes”, and “How Mr. Weasel was made an Outcast” among other interesting stories. Each tale endears us more to the inhabitants of the forest and meadow as we learn important life lessons.
 
In our family Thornton W. Burgess wins the best author of books for young children. We call his books “dollar books”' because we paid our children $1.00 for each of his books that they read by themselves (see post on my daughters blog – she’s a much better writer than I am). His books are ideally structured to be used as bed-time stories. Each chapter can be read in under 10 minutes. If our children went to bed on time we would read them an extra chapter.
 
Mr. Burgess published his first book in 1910 and his last in 1960. In total he published 172 books. At the same time between 1912 and 1960 he wrote a syndicated daily newspaper column entitled “Bedtime Stories”. In total he wrote over 15,000 of these “stories”.
 
His father died the year he was born and he grew up in humble circumstances. Often he and his mother lived with relatives. As a youth he worked year round to earn money, often out of doors on farms. Through his stories he was able to share with millions the lessons he learned as a youth and his love of nature.
 
If we were privileged to have parents or grandparents who shared his stories with us then we are indeed blessed. If not, it is not too late to share them with our kids or grandkids and thus experience for ourselves these delightful tales.
 
A complete list of all of his books can be found at a website run by the Thornton W. Burgess Society. See my post  Books by Thornton W. Burgess for a partial list of his books and links to view online versions where available. Some of them have also been republished recently and can be purchased. Two of my favorite editions are The National Review of Classic Bedtime Stories Volume 1 and Volume 2. Together they contain all 20 of the Bedtime Stories Series and include the original artwork, which I love (see above).
 
My Christmas gift to you, dear reader, is a Word version of Mother West Wind “Why” Stories that you can download by clicking here. This file is set up to be printed on both sides of 8.5 x 11 paper (easy if you have a duplexing printer). It will take 27 sheets of paper, which you can cut in half and then have spiral bound at a local copy center (Kinko’s, OfficeMax, …). We like to use a clear cover sheet on the front and back. Feel free to share this with anyone. Please check back occasionally as I will be adding more booklet versions of the other Burgess books available online.
 
Merry Christmas!
Booklet Cover

You can learn more about Thornton W Burgess and his incredible impact on the world from the following:

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Opportunity in Problems

Computer problemDuring the course of our lives problems will arise: within our families, at work, or in organizations to which we belong. Our first reaction is often to cringe, deny and wonder why me. Let me put forth the notion that, rather than cringe at them, we view problems as an opportunity to improve our relationship with family, customers, co-workers, or fellow members.

To illustrate my point I’d like to share a story from my first job out of college. I was working for Motorola as a software engineer where my responsibilities included developing custom software for our CAD/CAM systems. By the end of my first year I had developed a number of new features for our CAD System to help speed up the design process for our circuit board designers. One afternoon, after I had made an enhancement to one of the features and reinstalled it, the designers complained that their systems were not behaving properly. After they explained what happened, I immediately knew what was wrong. I had made a small coding error and was able to fix it within a couple of minutes.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Suggestions to the Utah County Republican Party

As a precinct chair for the Republican Party in Utah County I’ve now attended 2 Central Committee meetings and a County Convention (my notes from the most recent meeting can be found in the Highland Utah Precinct 2 Blog). After a lot of reflection on these meetings I  tried to think of what constructive topics were discussed and determine what I thought were productive outcomes. Sadly all that comes to mind are the following:

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What Do Jason Chaffetz and Jim Matheson Have in Common?

Not much you say. Well hold on. Here are a few items:
  • Chaffetz votes with his party 92% of the time, Matheson 93%.
  • Chaffetz abstains 1% of the time, Matheson 2%
  • Chaffetz has sponsored 26 bills and 1 was made into law, Matheson 19 and 2 were made into law
Now for the opposites (or at least wildly different):
  • One of the two representatives Chaffetz most often votes with is Walter Minnick, one of the two representatives Matheson least often votes with is Walter Minnick
  • One of the two representatives Chaffetz least often votes with is Parker Griffin, one of the two representatives Matheson most often votes with is Parker Griffin.
  • In his current term Chaffetz had $0 in earmarks, in his current term Matheson had $71M
  • Chaffetz received a 93% rating from the National Taxpayers Union in 2009 while Matheson received a 30% rating.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Is Matheson In Step with Utahns?

I thought it would be interesting to look at how a liberal group rated our congressmen so I went to the website for Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) and looked at their annual rating for house members from 2001 to 2009. Over the course of that time period the average democrat was given an 86% by the ADA. Jim Matheson had an average rating of 66% so he was rated as more conservative than the average democrat. Contrast this with the ratings of the 1st (4%) and 3rd (2%) district representatives (Hansen/Bishop and Cannon/Chaffetz respectively) for that time period and you can see how out of step Matheson is with the our other congressman. I wonder which of the 3 our more closely aligned with the average Utahn. You can be the judge but it seems to me that Mr. Matheson is much more aligned with liberals than conservatives.

rating_by_americans_for_democratic_action

I also found it interesting that  in 2006 and 2008 Mr. Matheson’s liberal rating took quite a tumble. Let me see, were those election years?

I believe Morgan Philpot is more closely aligned with the largely conservative members of the 2nd Congressional District. Let’s make sure he is the one that represents us going forward.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Philpot v. Matheson Debate and the FairTax

After listening to the debate (if you haven't listened click here) I kept thinking about Matheson’s oft repeated refrain that Morgan wants to tax everything you buy at 23% and in reality that rate would likely be 30%. There is some truth to this statement but Matheson leaves a lot of information out as well.
 
What Morgan has said on a couple of occasions is that he could support a national sales tax such as the proposed Fair Tax Act of 2005 (HR 25 and S 25) which call for a 23% sales tax on all new goods and services. This proposal is explained in detail by the Americans for Fair Taxation on their website www.fairtax.org for those who want to learn more.
 

Friday, October 8, 2010

When is a Blue Dog only a Mirage?

We are less than a month away from the elections and in our congressional district we have a choice between a 10 year Democrat incumbent (Jim Matheson) and a Republican (Morgan Philpot) who was twice elected to the Utah house. Our current congressman is member of the "Blue Dog Coalition", a group the claims to promote fiscally conservative policies.

A recent article in the Salt Lake Tribute has the headline "Matheson not among Blue Dogs in jeopardy". I'm not sure where they got this headline as the article itself cites no polls that indicate which way the race is headed and only really discusses the voting record of Matheson as presented by his challenger Morgan Philpot and rebutted by Matheson.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Contributing to Parties, PACs or Candidates

As I told a PAC today for the Nth time that I'm contributing to individual candidates this year as opposed to larger organizations for some reason I felt my anger rising. Why should I delegate my right to choose whom I support to a larger group like a PAC or national party when they may give money to candidates I would not otherwise support.  And why should I give to a PAC just so the sponsor will be able to use the money to further his or her political ambitions? 


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Am I Willing?

Most of us are familiar with the story from the Old Testament of the prophet Jonah who disobeyed a request from the Lord to call upon the people of the city of Nineveh to repent. Rather than go to the city he ran the other way.
 
Some think that if the Lord spoke to them, or they had a great vision, or some other dramatic event that it would be easy to believe and obey. Yet here was a prophet who ran way when told by the Lord to do something. The children of Israel, who were led out of Egypt and experienced many miracles, were quick to fall away.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Volunteering or Why Can't We Just All Get Along

Like many in my community I'm a long term member of a religion that expects a lot from its members. Occasionally conflicts arise between members (often about how to execute some well intended program or the other) and one, both, or all parties involved reduce their level or participation. Sometimes for a long time. When conflict rears its head it helps me to remember why I'm going to church in the first place, whose church it is, and whose expectations matter. - mine or the Lord's. Plus, we are all volunteers, each with his or her own set of circumstances that can constrain our ability to contribute at any one point in time.
 

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Media Conspiracies

Rev Jeremiah Wright 2Earlier today a story was released regarding a group of journalists who plotted to protect presidential candidate Senator Barak Obama from the Rev. Wright scandal (see story). Is it really so surprising? The media has done an excellent job marginalizing anyone who uses the word conspiracy. Today anyone using the "C" word is branded a nut job, conspiracy theorist, ... and immediately discredited. If I were involved in conspiracies I would think that a great first step to hiding them in plain sight would be to create an environment where anyone making claims of one would be considered a fool.

In reality, we live in a world filled with conspiracies and to disbelieve that they exist is almost equivalent to saying that there is no sun. We are all aware of them and may have participated in some. I can think of several times in my childhood where I conspired to hide things from my parents or deflect blame to someone else. At work people conspire to advance in their careers, sometimes by sabotaging co-workers, who they perceive to be a threat. In politics people seeking office often disparage their competitors in ways that most would feel are unethical. We regularly see peopleMao the Unknown Story prosecuted for Ponzi schemes that rob the innocent and trusting. Wherever the opportunity to gain money, power, or prestige exists there will invariably be found those conspiring to attain them using unethical or illegal means. Read "Mao, the Unknown Story" and you'll be appalled at the “conspiracies” he was involved in and how he was able to rewrite history to cover them up.

We would be foolish to think that today's politicians and journalists have any higher moral character than those in business, who are regularly pilloried by the press and political office holders.

In reading the story about the Rev Wright conspiracy which, as of now, has been run by only one major news outlet (is that a surprise), I am reminded of Allen Drury's great political fiction series (published between 1959  & 1975): "Advise and Consent", "A Shade of Difference", "Capable of Honor", "Preserve & Protect", "Come Nineveh, Come Tyre", and the alternate ending "The Promise of Joy". These are great books that are relevant today and contain hidden truths about how politics works and the media operates. They are on my recommended reading list. Over the years I've given several sets to friends. While they are not in print today you can readily find used copies.

Update:
You might also enjoy reading this post from on a website entitled “The Mind Unleashed”  which discusses a 2013 study “What about building 7? A social psychological study of online discussion of 9/11 conspiracy theories.”

Monday, July 19, 2010

Civility in Politics

Well it has been about a month since the primary election and I feel settled enough to have a good mental review of my experience. First of all even though the candidate I worked to support lost I would do it all again, even knowing the outcome. Of course there are things I would do differently. It would be sad if this was not the case, because then I wouldn't have learned anything. Let me share with you some of the positives.
 

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Amazing Grace: The Rest of the Story

The following story regarding the composer of "Amazing Grace," one of my favorite songs (I especially like the version performed by The Canadian Scottish Regiment Pipes and Drums), is found on page 178 of the book entitled "The Rebirth of America" published by the Arthur S. DeMoss Foundation.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Freedom to Choose Impacts Performance

In Search of Excellence CoverOne of my favorite all-time business books is “In Search of Excellence” by Tom Peters and Robert Waterman. In the introduction they discuss an experiment in psychology that highlights (by my analysis) why when government increases its control over society in an attempt to improve the performance of the free market or education or ... performance degrades. Here is the quote:

“An experiment in psychology consistent with this major field of inquiry underscores the point. Adult subjects were given some complex puzzles to solve and a proofreading chore.Adult subjects were given some complex puzzles to solve and a proofreading chore. In the background was a loud, randomly occurring distracting noise; to be specific, it was 'a combination of two people speaking Spanish, one speaking Armenian, a mimeograph machine running, a desk calculator, and a typewriter, and a street noise -- producing a composite, non-distinguishable roar.' The subject were split into two groups. Individuals in one set were just told to work at the task. Individuals in the other were provided with a button to push to turn off the noise. 'a modern analog of control -- the off switch.' The group with the off switch solved 5 times the number of puzzles as their cohorts and made but a tiny faction of the number of  proofreading errors. Now the the kicker: ‘... none of the subjects in the off switch group ever used the switch. The mere knowledge that one can exert control made the difference.’”

The mere knowledge that we have control over our circumstances increases our performance. The corollary of course would be that not having control (or perceived control) diminishes our output. The freedoms outlined in the founding documents of our country (i.e. the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution) are not merely words but the articulation and embodiment of true principles. If we would restore, maintain, and defend these principles I believe we could overcome almost any adversity, including those we face today. Daniel Webster summed up this sentiment and concluded with a prediction of what would happen if we did not maintain our Constitutional form of government  in a speech entitled “Eulogy on Washington”, given on February 22, 1832. (Download the entire speech -Google Books, PDF, Word.

Daniel Webser“Other misfortunes may be borne, or their effects overcome. If disastrous war should sweep our commerce from the ocean, another generation may renew it; if it exhaust our treasury, future industry may replenish it; if it desolate and lay waste our fields, still, under a new cultivation, they will grow green again, and ripen to future harvests. It were but a trifle even if the walls of yonder capitol were to crumble, if its lofty pillars should fall, and its gorgeous decorations be all covered by the dust of the valley. All these might be rebuilt. But who shall reconstruct the fabric of demolished government? Who shall rear again the well proportioned columns of constitutional liberty? Who shall frame together the skillful architecture which unites national sovereignty with state rights, individual security, and public prosperity? No, gentlemen, if these columns fall, they will be raised not again. Like the Coliseum and the Parthenon, they will be destined to a mournful, a melancholy immortality. Bitterer tears, however, will flow over them, than were ever shed over the monuments of Roman or Grecian art; for they will be the remnants of a more glorious edifice than Greece or Rome ever saw—the edifice of constitutional American liberty.”

Friday, June 18, 2010

Why We Support Tim Bridgewater For Senate


A Note from Your Friends and Neighbors

Monday, June 14, 2010

Why I'm Still Supporting Tim - Dialogs with Voters

Over the past couple of weeks I've had a chance to discuss the Senate race with a number of voters; in person, via e-mail, and over the phone. Many of these discussions were with ardent Lee supporters or just people who had genuine questions. As a result of this, I've come to an even more certain conclusion that Tim will be the more effective representative for Utah (see prior post on "Why I'm Supporting Bridgewater").


Friday, June 11, 2010

Bridgewater - Lee Debate at Novell

Novell hosted a debate between Tim Bridgewater and Mike Lee on Wednesday June 9th. Both candidates did a good job of presenting their cases as they answered questions some of which had not been asked before. Note, the audio is a little off for the first couple of minutes but gets better when the candidates start talking. The video runs about 90 minutes.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Are You Listening? A Short Object Lesson

Have you ever felt like you don't get answers when you pray or questioned whether the Spirit is giving you guidance? Have your kids ever asked you related questions. Here's a fun object lesson that compliments the following scripture (I Kings 19:11-12):

Elijah talks to God11) And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake:
12) And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.
What you'll need:

Monday, May 31, 2010

Why I'm Supporting Tim Bridgewater for Senate

As a state delegate I had a chance to interact with all of the candidates for the US Senate. I spent the most time with Cherilyn Eager, Mike Lee and Tim Bridgewater. Each of these candidates were ones I could have supported because of their similar views on the role of government and the US Constitution. I decided to support Tim for the following reasons:

Moments of Clarity by Miki Mann

Abraham Lincoln from an unpublished original drawing by John Nelson Marble, The Every-Time Life of Abraham Lincoln, Francis Fisher Browne, 1913My brother, a paramedic with the Seattle Fire Department, recently gave a speech at a King County (WA) GOP Lincoln Day Dinner. He uses a personal experience to illustrate that critical battle we face is not against al-Qaeda, Communism, or Socialism. Additionally, he reminds Republicans of our roots and what we stand for He makes a number of very interesting points and reminds Republicans of their roots.
 
MOMENTS OF CLARITY
Miki Mann, Paramedic, Seattle Fire Department
2010 King County GOP, Lincoln Day Dinner
It was a cold and overcast day in November of 2006 when Nathan exhibited the kind of bravery only seen in an intoxicated twenty-six year-old trying to impress his girlfriend. In preparation for the deed, Nathan had consumed a large amount of alcohol and a sampling of the club drug ecstasy. While walking along the waterfront, Nathan had decided to demonstrate his virility by removing his shoes and diving into the frigid waters of the Puget Sound with the stated goal of swimming nearly two miles to Alki beach.
 
Despite his overarching enthusiasm Nathan’s pace began to slow at 50 yards and, finally, at 75 yards he simply stopped and began treading water while shouting lines from Braveheart to his audience on the pier.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Honoring Our Parents

The 5th commandment reads: "Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you." (Exodus 20:12) We often hear how wise and smart the youth of today are and politicians regularly cater to the youth and even suggest that they often know more than their parents. Hmmm ... is this really true?