Sunday, May 29, 2016

Download USGS topo maps - for free! (and it's completely legal!)

So, you're going camping and need a topographical map of the area. Don't want to pay, then wait, for a hardcopy? Here's the simple, legal solution.  All you need to do is go to the USGS National Map (you can start at, and select Download Maps. This will take you to a map of the USA, where you simply navigate to the area you want. Do this in one of two ways - either zoom in on the area in question, of if you just happen to know the quadrangle name, you can type that into the search box and go right to it.

Once there, if you used the first method, you'll need to drop a location marker on the quadrangle.  Click the location icon (looks like an upside-down raindrop) at the bottom left of the map, and drop a point on the desired spot.  Once that's in place, download options show up on the left panel of the screen.  You can download either the newer USTopo maps, which contain all kinds of information in selectable overlays - including imagery, or the traditional topographical maps we all used way back when.  (Warning: I've found that you're more likely to find trails marked on the older topo maps than in the newer USTopo products.  Not sure why.  USTopo files are much, much larger, too.)

So, the process is, (1) go to the National Map, (2) zoom in to your desired location, (3) drop a location marker, and (4) download the product(s) you want.  You're welcome!

In this example, I selected the Fruita Quadrangle in Capitol Reef National Park,
dropped the point, and found four product options, including one map from 1952!

Prepared. | For Life.™

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Elder Holland Tells Boy Scout Leaders Duty to God Is a Way of Life

“In a day when some people are using religious faith to divide the human family, this little gathering is a bold declaration that commitment to deity can and should be a powerful, uniting force in this world,” said Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during a national meeting of Scout leaders. The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) is holding its annual gathering in San Diego, California, where Elder Holland was the keynote speaker during a breakfast meeting Thursday, May 26, 2016 (full article on LDS Newsroom).

Prepared. | For Life.™

Friday, April 29, 2016

8 Skills by Age 18

I really liked this article, "Former Stanford dean shares the 8 skills everyone should have by age 18":
  1. An 18-year-old must be able to talk to strangers
  2. An 18-year-old must be able to find his way around
  3. An 18-year-old must be able to manage his assignments, workload, and deadlines
  4. An 18-year-old must be able to contribute to the running of a household
  5. An 18-year-old must be able to handle interpersonal problems
  6. An 18-year-old must be able to cope with ups and downs
  7. An 18-year-old must be able to earn and manage money
  8. An 18-year-old must be able to take risks
I'm pretty sure that Scouting, when properly carried out, helps accomplish the entire list.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Monday, April 25, 2016

Stewardship for the Earth

With Earth Day just past, I wanted to share this video from two years ago on the Mormon Channel, along with this link of statements from prophets and apostles, both ancient and modern, that discuss what our relationship and attitudes toward the Earth ought to be. I'm hardly a 'greenie-weenie,' nor am I a 'raw-steak-eatin', crude-oil-drinkin' dude (though I do work in the energy industry), but I think mankind's historically cavalier attitude toward the environment reflects a certain degree of pride, and of devaluing the Creator, and it's something I'm trying to repent of.

I recently gave a talk in my ward's Sacrament meeting about the Creation. I may have drifted too far into the concept of environmental stewardship for some congregants' comfort, but judging from the statements in the above link, I feel I was in good company. When we take our Scouts outside, even if it's "just an AP activity, not Scouts" (actually, all the Youth, Young Women included), teach them that reverence and appreciation for the creation reflects reverence for the Creator.

For more information, here are a few more resources from Mormon Newsroom.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Monday, April 4, 2016