Sunday, July 23, 2006


This past weekend I visited the sage-brushy landscape of south-central Wyoming to pull a handcart down a dirt road for fifteen miles while wearing pioneer clothing. Several months ago, the bishop of my ward at BYU told us of a miraculous story in which his home ward was given several hundred passes by the US Bureau of Land Management to trek across the wasteland wilderness. I didn’t know this, and it’s a little surprising to think about, but the BLM has severely restricted the number of people they will allow to cross the plains in Wyoming as a reenactment of the pioneer migration of the 1850s. Anyone who has seen the land there would wonder why anyone besides the Mormons would even care about it. Without trying hard to think of its unique beauty, it appears very undesirable. Despite all this, my bishop was able to secure enough passes for anyone in my ward who wanted to go.

Due to a recent back injury (or I should say a recent re-injury of an old back injury), plus an attitude of simple not wanting, I was less than excited that I had signed up to go on this trip several months prior to our leaving. I had semi-backed out just about a week before departure, but after visiting my ward the Sunday before we were to leave, I became excited about going. We were to leave on Wednesday afternoon and meet the rest of the group in Atlantic City, WY

(named because it is one of the first cities on the Atlantic side of the Continental Divide) an abandoned ghost town in which, somehow, people still live. There, we met Bishop and some others, then were driven down several unmarked, dirt roads at high speeds until we reached our camp site. We were to then sleep, then hike, then sleep, then hike again.

Our first hike was to Martin’s Cove, where the starving, fatigued pioneers sought shelter from the wind and cold. It’s about a two mile walk into the cove, but with all the little children in our group, and the frequent water breaks, it took nearly half the day for us to make it. It’s very reverent there and a good place for reflection on what our lives are like compared to the way the pioneers’ lives were.

The next day took us on a fifteen mile walk over the rocky ridge the pioneers crossed before camping for the night at Rock Creek Hollow. This, I soon found out, was also part of the Oregon Trail. When I was little, I used the think I could walk and walk and walk and walk and not get tired. It turns out this isn’t the truth. We kept a surprising pace—near mall walking—which caused great strain to my knees and ankles. My back was ok though (whew!). Exhausted by the walk, we rested next to the sewage suction port of a nearby outhouse (“If I drove by and saw a group of people in this situation, I would honestly rather die”, I commented to the others), then set up camp again and relaxed.

Please no one get the idea that this was an authentic trek. We ate very well—largely thanks to the refrigerated trailer the ward rented. It’s about the size of a U-Haul trailer, but the whole thing is refrigerated. When you walk in, it’s like walking into a huge fridge.

I think these trek reenactments are a good idea. I know they don’t give anyone a completely authentic experience of what the pioneers suffered (and thank goodness), but they do help us to appreciate what we have and what we need to do. I remember hearing a comment from the bishop, in response to all the comments that the pioneers’ lives were so difficult and that none of us could possibly endure everything that they did. He said, paraphrasing an apostle I think, that their lives were set by just a few major decisions. Once they had decided to go west and they were on the trail, what else were they going to do? They couldn’t turn around, they couldn’t rebel without dying; their course for much of the rest of their life was set from that one decision. In contrast, our lives are filled with hundreds of decisions everyday—ones where we could easily get off track if we are not careful. For me in my current situation, this learning-to-make-choices-and-stick-to-them is the most important lesson to be learned from the pioneer experience.

Sunday, July 16, 2006


This past Saturday was our second annual Mountain to Mountain bike ride.

The original idea was to leave form the mouth of Bingham Canyon at 8:00 am, as to beat some of the July heat. Alex Winder had told us that we could borrow his truck, which was way nice of him, but then left for Provo the morning of the ride without arranging for anyone to have the keys to his truck. (This was mostly my fault.)

Thankfully, John mentioned that he had a spare set of Alex’s keys, but needed to go all the way back to his house to get them. By the time John was back with the keys and we had made it to Copperton, it was already 10:00am and blazing hot. Undaunted, each of us started to ride to the other side of the Salt Lake Valley.

Our trip took us along the Old Bingham Highway where it meets with 90th South, then turns into 94th South and heads up Little Cottonwood Canyon. Going from the starting line till the river is a fantastic, easy ride—and it only takes just about 45 minutes to do. After the river, the hills start to become obstacles, but I guess that’s the point of the whole thing.

We lost Ryan Forbes due to back injury around 27th West, then we lost Melissa Weidner just before the freeway on 90th South due to extreme stomach pains. Both put out a valiant effort effort and should sincerely be commended for their work.

After making it up the hill at 94th South to Alta View Hospital, I honestly thought I needed to be admitted to the emergency room. Everything inside me burned and I was totally hot and exhausted—I’m sure everyone else was—but we would not give up. Even Lindsey Forbes, who came so close to calling it quits, made it all the way to the finish line.

The heat was at about 100°F, and intensified by the heat waves radiating off the road, the concrete to the side, and the exhaust from passing cars. Still the ride was enjoyable and the end was nice.

Special thanks to those who support this venture each year. We hope it continues to grow.

Swear to ME!!


I need all of you to pledge to me that you will not shop at Best Buy anymore.

I've now been without an iPod for nearly two weeks (and have in all honsety been surprised at how well I've done without it) because Best Buy refuses to give me the customer service I need in order to be a returning customer.

Let me take you back to November 2004. My generous mom had just walked out of Best Buy with a brand new 4th generation iPod with the intent to give it to me for Christmas. (It turned out to be the best gift I've ever received--used more than almost anything else I own.) In foresight, maybe expecting an unseen tragedy, my mom purchased Best Buy's product replacement warranty--the one where after you buy something kind of expensive, the employee tells you that you can just break the product before the two-year warranty is up, then bring it and "walk out of here with a brand new iPod, no questions asked." This isn't true. This isn't true. It doesn't work that way, or at least it didn't work that way for me.

My iPod broke almost without warning two weeks ago immediately after resetting it because it froze. Every bit of data was wiped clean off of it and the poor thing just became sick. I thought, "no big deal, I'll just take it home, reformat it, then load all the music back on", but my computer couldn't read it anymore to reformat it. So I had no choice but to see what Best Buy could do to get me a new one. As soon as I mentioned to the employee that I had a product replacement plan for a broken iPod, I was given a pamphlet with a phone number on it to call. The idea was that I would call this number, have a mailing label emailed to me, pack up my iPod (with all the accessories), and within 10 days of their receipt of the item, I would have a gift card with the purchase price of the amount of the original purchase. I thought this was a lot more hassle than walking out of there with a "brand new iPod, no questions asked", but I was willing to do whatever it took, like I always am.

Fewer than 10 days later, to my surprise I had received the gift card in the mail, and felt pretty good about it. Sure I had complained a ton in the previous several days, but now that I had the card in my hand, I wasn't so upset anymore. I took lunch the next day to travel to the nearest Best Buy to redeem my prize, and was a little surprised to find myself so overcome with dislike for the store immediately as I walked in, that I actually became a little emotional. I approached the counter to pay for my new iPod only to be told that my card had been sent out without any money on it and that the money would be put on it "no later than Monday." I couldn't say hardly anything for fear that the shake in my voice would be really noticeable and someone would ask me, "why are you crying", to which my only response could be, "because I didn't get my iPod", which sounds a little lame. All I could do was think to myself that I wanted to tell the really nice employee helping me, "you know, I really appreciate your help and you've been really nice...I just feel terrible that a person like you has to work for a company like this." Of course I didn't say that; I just walked out of the store muttering the word "hate" under my breath and shaking my head.

Contrast that with an experience I recently had at Costco where I returned a camera I had purchase SIX months ago, which worked perfectly, and got CASH back for it--shipping and all. I told them there was nothing wrong with it, but that I had just seen a camera online that I thought would work better for me. And it has been wonderful. There, there really were NO questions asked, and I walked out of the store with exactly what I wanted. And I didn't even have to buy any kind of plan to allow me to do that--it was included in the (below) retail price of the camera. I will sing Costco's praises from now on and I pledge to you that whenever I need to buy some kind of expensive electronic item, Costco is the first (and in some cases only) place I will even consider buying it.

And I hope you'll do the same.

Please visit these sites for more information:

From "The Science of Grammar" by Orson Hyde

I read this recently and it made me feel great about my major:

"As [the English] Language has been more highly honoured in our day, by the Supreme Ruler above, than any other, in that he hath chosen it as the most beautifully grand and impressive medium through which his mandates could be conveyed to mortal beings here on earth, can we be justified if we remain in a state of indifference with regard to its beauty, its richness, and its strangth?"

Orson Hyde, The Science of Grammar, Journal of Discourses, Vol 6, pg 371

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Good to be blogging


I hope this is going to be an acceptible forum for all of you to read my blogs. As many of you know I have been off of myspace for some months now and have done ok, but now that I have more and more friends who live far away and the fact that I'll be leaving soon for a couple of months has been enough encouargement to find a new blog site and to start blogging again. And it feels pretty good.

There are a lot of improvements in my new blog, maybe you can tell, but the best of which, in my opinion, is the elimination of double spacing between my sentences. It gives my writing a way more stream-lined, toned look.

I'm still going to be testing this new site out, so any feedback would be helpful. I hope there is some way that some of you can subscribe to the blogs I write so you don't have to continually check this site (assuming you're interested in what I'm doing), but maybe bookmarking the website is a good idea?

So I'm back on the Web.