Monday, December 1, 2014

Costumes and Uniforms

Grump Post.  You've been warned.

The other day, I was leaving a parking lot, and noticed (again) a store that specializes in LDS-specific garb. In particular, they sell upscale white dresses (defeating the whole 'everyone is the same in the temple' idea, but that's a different rant about commercial priestcraft).  They also sell "Trek Costumes," I'm guessing at a large profit margin.

Now, I never did a Trek when I was a kid, I don't even think it was a thing back then. I did spend plenty of time backpacking in the Wind River and Bear River Mountains, and biking through Zion NP.  Today, however, they'll spend three years planning this one event, and everyone is supposed to play along with the script and choreography and the playing dress-up and playing pretend, in order that everyone have an approved and correlated Great Experience.  (If the idea is to call to mind the misery of the trail, its unforgiving nature and the consequences of bad decisions, everyone should be barefoot, or at least have bloody rags for footwear, and we should definitely talk about the Donner-Reed Party, and the Trail of Tears, but that's another 'nother rant.)  Here's the actual rant: If the Youth are expected to wear Trek Costumes in order to participate, then by the same token, why aren't they (the YM, in particular) expected to wear their Scout/Venturing uniforms to participate in weeknight activities?

FYI if they ever ask me to be a 'Pa,' I'll be reading to them from my grandfather's 1847 trail journal, and let the kids know what really happened, versus the sanitized, romanticized and sentimental official version.  Yes, they did "roll" on Sundays.  No, they did not get along nicely with each other for the duration.  That's because they were actual people, not parade floats.  OK, I'm done.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Owl Post: The Secret of Success

A young man asked Socrates the secret to success. Socrates told the young man to meet him near the river the next morning. They met. Socrates asked the young man to walk with him towards the river. When the water got up to their neck, Socrates took the young man by surprise and dunked him into the water. The boy struggled to get out but Socrates was strong and kept him there until the boy started turning blue. Socrates then lifted his head out of the water and the first thing the young man did was to gasp and take a deep breath of air.

Socrates asked, ‘What did you want the most when you were under there?”

The boy replied, “Air.”

Socrates said, “That is the secret to success. When you want success as badly as you wanted the air, then you will get it. There is no other secret.”


A burning desire is the starting point of all accomplishment. Just like a small fire cannot give much heat, a weak desire cannot produce great results.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Friday, October 3, 2014

Catch and Keep

Good news for Scouts who are working toward the fishing and fly fishing merit badges (and everyone else who likes to wet a hook): The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is changing its home possession limit policy for next year: Starting January 1, 2015, anglers will be able to catch a limit a day, regardless of what's already in the freezer, and regardless of species. In other words, you can have an actual kettle of fish.  The idea is that harvesting more fish will lead to bigger fish to catch in the future.

Image courtesy of Juan Gnecco,
Here's the DWR press release and a related article from the SL Tribune.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Owl Post: Don’t judge people before you truly know them.

A 24 year old boy seeing out from the train’s window shouted…

“Dad, look the trees are going behind!”

Dad smiled, and a young couple sitting nearby looked at the 24 year old’s childish behavior with pity Suddenly he again exclaimed. “Dad, look the clouds are running with us!”

The couple could not resist and said to the old man, “Why don’t you take your son to a good doctor?”

The old man smiled and said… “I did and we are just coming from the hospital. My son was blind from birth. He just got his eyes today.”

Moral of the short story:

Every single person on the planet has a story. Don’t judge people before you truly know them.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Knotty side of YouTube

Here are a couple of knotty videos for teaching knotty skills to your knot-so-knotty Scouts -

There's a bit of overlap between these two, but taken together they're both good for teaching the basic, most useful knots.
Prepared. | For Life.™

Monday, August 25, 2014


Saintspeak is a tongue-in-cheek book written by Orson Scott Card that pokes fun (from within) at Mormon cultural norms and attitudes.  Published in 1981 and styled as a dicitonary, he skewers programs, practices and traditions alike, though it lacks a few contemporary entries.  Here, I'm posting a few that pertain to Youth ministry (this is a coed list):

Agency: Within your stewardship, complete independence to do what you’re told.

Beehives: Twelve- and thirteen-year-old girls in Mutual. Ask your local Beehive teacher whether the beehive was chosen as their symbol because of their cooperation, their buzz, or their sting.

Calling: Mormons are content with what ever job they are called to do, for they know they will get exactly the same love and friendship and respect from their fellow Saints whether they are stake president or ward librarian.

Cultural hall: A basketball court, sometimes used as an overflow room for the chapel.

Deacon: A twelve- or thirteen-year-old boy who passes the sacrament, collects fast offerings, runs errands for the bishop, and plays poker on the front bench during sacrament meeting.

Duty to God: A prize given to LDS boys for outward signs of righteousness on the theory that boys too wicked to be virtuous for love of the Lord will nevertheless pass up all the interesting sins of adolescence in order to win some praise and a little pin.

Instructor: In a priesthood quorum, the referee.

Keys: Something that only prophets, apostles, and meetinghouse custodians are permitted to have.

Laurels: What no one in the Church is permitted to rest on.

Missionary: A Saint who has put on the whole armor of God, even though it’s heavy, out of style, and three sizes too big.

Osmondize: To give something such a slick, polished surface appearance that no one will notice there isn’t any substance underneath.

Passing the Sacrament: An elaborate ritual in which nervous twelve-year-old boys try to remember whether they’re supposed to go to the back of the right side section or the front left corner of the center section, all the while making sure that the presiding authority gets first pick from the tray.

Personal Priesthood Interview: The prize you get for having done your home teaching.

Priest: A junior or senior in high school who says the sacrament prayers, performs baptisms, plays basketball, and is constantly trying not to think about girls.

Priesthood, the: 1. The authority to perform ordinances and govern the Church in God’s name. Only males are ordained to the priesthood, and even then all their actions are subject to ratification from beyond the veil. Apparently women were worthier in the preexistence: They usually have some of the power of God as their birthright and, without being ordained, can take part in the work of creation. 2. All male members of the Church over twelve: ‘The priesthood did better than usual on the welfare assignment - five of us showed up.” 3. More specifically, all unmarried but marriageable male members of the Church: “I came to BYU because that’s where the priesthood is.” 4. Priesthood meeting: “Today in priesthood we talked about how to be a real leader in the home without actually having to be there.”

Priesthood meeting: A contest in which priesthood holders pretend not to hear the quorum leaders ask for volunteers for various jobs, after which all the members compete to see who can ask the question that has the least relation to the lesson.

Quorum: A group of men or boys who compete to see who can go the longest without volunteering to do anything.

Rebellious spirit: What tempts some Mormons to think before doing what they’re told.

Road show: A ten-minute musical play in which as many teenagers as possible are crammed onto a tiny stage where they sing silly songs while swaying back and forth with their arms raised above their heads. This is done in order to acquaint Mormon youth with Shakespeare’s art.

Seminaries and Institutes: The Mormon equivalent of medieval monasteries, manned by scholars who sacrifice all hope of wealth, and dedicate their lives to discovering all the secrets of the universe, so they can impart them to boys and girls who don’t understand them anyway.

Seminary: Where you got all the doctrines that you can’t find anywhere in the scriptures.

Service Project: The festive springtime ritual in which teenage Mormon boys and girls descend upon the home of a defenseless widow, trample her garden, break down her fence, and gouge chunks out of her lawn, all in order to paint large sections of the walls and windows of her house a color that she doesn’t like.

Spaulding theory: The theory that every boy who touches a basketball one thousand times in the cultural hall will eventually go on a mission.

Sticks: What Mormon young men call their scriptures to show they’re familiar enough with them to use their nickname, yet don’t understand them well enough to refer to them with respect.

Strong testimony: What they tell Mormon girls that Mormon boys are looking for in a woman.

Take you to the temple: If a boy can’t do it, a Mormon girl can’t date him.

Young Adults: Mormons at that awkward age when they’re too old to be told what to do anymore and too single to be given any real responsibility.

Youth, the: Mormon teenagers—the hope of the future. To prepare them for the great responsibilities that lie ahead of them, the girls are trained to be competent wives and mothers and the boys are trained to play basketball and tie knots.

If you laughed at any of these, you recognize that there is truth in humor, and you are a subversive who under no circumstances should be allowed near The Youth Of The Church.  Saintspeak is published by Signature Books, who make the entire text available to read online for free.  If you have even a mote of cynicism in your "true blue, dyed-in-the-wool, through-and-through" body, you owe it to yourself to read the entire thing.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Friday, August 22, 2014

Raising the Youth Protection Bar

Recent events in my extended family have me contemplating the importance of Youth Protection Training, and the cavalier way in which we go about it (I am probably projecting my own ideas here). I have a feeling that there are four years in which a boy talks about this topic with his parents, but only because the Wolf, Bear, Webelos and Tenderfoot badges require it, and after that, we're silent on the subject. When is the last time a Priest Quorum/Venture crew had this discussion (to say nothing of our young women!!)? What about their parents?

The last time I took the YPT course, my wife watched it over my shoulder. (Full disclosure, she's my Primary boss, as a counselor in our presidency, whose responsibilities include Activity Days girls.) When I was done with the training, she commented that all the parents of Scouting-age children should be required to complete it. She was particularly disturbed at the section on grooming, and how a predatory individual will ingratiate him/herself with a potential victim.

I wholeheartedly agree.

I wonder, is it common to gloss over this subject with our youth (well, our boys, since to my knowledge there's nothing like YPT in the AD/YW curriculum) up until they "pass off" Recognize-Resist-Report?  Because if that's the case, the last time a kid talks about this in a Church setting is before his 12th birthday. (I'll admit, I haven't had these discussions with my daughters, partly because there isn't a reminder to do so; that' something I can and will do something about.)

For that matter, how many parents are aware of the tactics commonly employed by child predators, and the warning signs that something is amiss?  Do we count on our cultural isolation, or on the Wasatch Mountains (speaking metaphorically), to protect us? Because Evil doesn't respect those barriers. Are we emphasizing statistically irrelevant Stranger Danger™ while ignoring the much higher statistical likelihood that an uncle, cousin, teacher or neighbor (and it's not limited to homo sapiens with a Y chromosome, either) is involved in something untoward?

In the larger BSA, Youth Protection is a subject revisited by Troops annually, because it is important that youth internalize these principles.  I'd add that just as we repeatedly tell our LDS youth to avoid porn due to its spiritually destructive nature, we ought to repeat YPT with them too. It's at least as important as the annual retelling of (sometimes historically dubious) Pioneer Day Stories, even though not everything can be a sunshine-and-roses, "everything is awesome" talk.

If we are really serious about preparing youth for the future, we owe it to them to equip them with the tools they need to confront the world they live in now, as well.  And that world is oftentimes an ugly place, with chameleons biding their time to take down unwary prey. We need to teach our kids what these chameleons look like, how they work, and what to do about them. In the context of this week's Primary lesson about David and Bathsheba, I wonder if it would be out of line to talk to the 9yo kids about what to do if someone propositions them, even if it's a "friend." At the very least, I can send an email to their parents with discussion points for taking on this topic.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Monday, August 4, 2014


A text message conversation with my wife:

Her: Why does it bug me so much when other parents let their kids do cop-out eagle projects? Tell me how to let it go because it's driving me crazy.

Me:  Because I've rubbed off on you a little?

Her:  Maybe. Maybe also because I used to believe Eagle Scout actually meant something.  Now the reputation of an Eagle has been marred by all the people who filled the requirement with little to no actual effort.

Starlings just getting by.
Image courtesy of Paul Brentnall,
Me:  That's why. Paper eagles, or perhaps starlings.

Her:  C. Jr. High principal sent out an email asking for scout groups to help: [Edited: We are in need of a volunteer group (church group or Boy Scouts) to (do about an hour's worth of pretty minimal, really, work).  If your group is available this coming Tuesday or Wednesday morning from 8-12 please contact me directly at principal@email].

Do service where needed, but don't accept mediocrity as a symbol of accomplishment.  That's not an eagle project. I'd rather B. (our 14yo son) not get his eagle than settle for what was convenient.

--Alternate title: Eagles or Seagulls?--

I think the reality is that many people, both parents and leaders, are more concerned with Git-r-dun than Do Your Best, and the quality of the work reflects that.  It may be a symptom of the larger cultural problem of getting rewarded for just showing up.  A simple question for a Project approver would be: "does this project proposal represent your best effort at identifying a need in the community, and marshaling the personnel and resources to fill that need?"

Seagulls may be the state bird of Utah, but they're still rats with wings, opportunists who will do the least amount of work necessary. Which do you want to be: eagle, or seagull?

Probably too late, I emailed the principal:  Mr. Principal, I sure hope you don't let someone try to call this his Eagle project, because it isn't eagle-worthy work, it's an hour of plugging in cables (and as the beneficiary, you have the authority to sign off on eagle projects, as I'm sure you've done before).

Prepared. | For Life.™

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Bolt Out of the Blue

I was asked to help with a stake merit badge clinic, which I'm taking a break from right now. I'm counseling CitWorld, and other citizenship badges (it's a white-bordered badge clinic). Rather than "teach" a "class" I went down the path of showing the boys how to find information to finish any badge they begin. We talked through the reqs, and showed them how is such a great resource, with all the right links to find all the information for any badge. We also talked a little about some of the reqs, but mostly it was about the Scout Oath and Law, and how merit badges tie into that, and how it all dovetails with Article of Faith 13.

Now for the out-of the-blue part: I ran into the S2 (Stake second counselor) there, who said he and the SP just returned from, of all places, the Priesthood Leadership Conference at Philmont. He was pretty excited about what he and the SP had learned, and said they had some big plans. I say out of the blue, because this is a 180 from a discussion I'd had with them just a few years ago. Holy wish fulfillment, Batman!

Prepared. | For Life.™

Friday, July 4, 2014

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

-- Emma Lazarus, 1883
inscribed in bronze on the monument pictured below:

Image courtesy of Bill Longshaw,

Prepared. | For Life.™

Monday, June 30, 2014

Ensign endorses Scout Leader Training. Again.

For widest dissemination - Article (pdf)
(the principles discussed are just as relevant to YW leaders, too...)

Prepared. | For Life.™

Monday, June 16, 2014

GIRLS? At our Day Camp?

I went with my youngest son to Cub Day Camp this last weekend, because they needed replacement leaders. I'd forgotten how fun Cub Scouts can be.

What was really cool was this: in our group was pack of Activity Days Girls from Salt Lake City. Kudos to the AD leaders and their "superiors" who are willing to buck tradition and let their girls have adventures, even if they were surrounded by loud, obnoxious, smelly, dirty boys (and that's not a stereotype, they were all in my van, and they were RIPE!).  I've long advocated that since we have the same objectives for our daughters as our sons (i.e., they become leaders who are able and willing to engage in a lifetime of service), they ought to have the same kinds of opportunities as the boys, instead of (another) popsicle stick craft or 4-generation family tree. Give them all challenges to overcome, and confidence to build.

Also, a big shout-out to the staff at Camp Tracy's Fort Cub Frontier Day Camp. You put on a great show!

Prepared. | For Life.™

Monday, June 9, 2014

Make your own char cloth

You've perhaps seen fire building demonstrations using char cloth, a charred, but unburned piece of cotton. I always wondered where to get it. Well, here's how to make it yourself. I'd like to compare it with my Petroleum jelly cotton ball fire starters.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Urban birding

The other morning on the bus ride into downtown SLC, I looked out the window toward the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, and saw a bird perched on the northeast corner of the building, 10 storeys up. I had known that there was a breeding pair of peregrine falcons somewhere in the area, but I'd never really known where to look. Turns out their nest is on that corner of the JSMB, with a couple of nest cams for ground-based mammals to watch the goings-on. This year, there are three surviving chicks flopping around the nest. 

Today for lunch, I decided to go see what was going on at the nest, now that I've ID'd the site, and I spent a pleasant 15 minutes on the Church Office Building grounds watching one of the adults.  (When I'm reincarnated, I want to be a raven, btw.)  Here's the Scouting connection:  most cities have lots of wildlife if you know where to look. While watching the falcon, I also saw quail, starling, and sparrows.  Whether Cub Scouts, New (11YO) Scouts, Environmental Science MB pursuers, or whathaveyou, your city or town probably has plenty of opportunity to observe wildlife in its [urban-adapted] habitat. Even if you're miles from open country, you can find birds, and sometimes more, even raccoons, skunks, insects, maybe even deer.  A little creativity and there you go!

Prepared. | For Life.™

Owl Post: Watch the Lamb

Shared by my Wood Badge Chaplain:

I recently returned from a Wood Badge Course where one of the highlights for me was to see my good friend Aaron Bullock who is deaf, sign the following song. . .WOW!!!

RAY BOLTZ June 2014 Watch The Lamb Lyrics

Walking on the road to Jerusalem,
The time had come to sacrifice, Again.
My two small sons, they walked beside me down the road,
The reason that they came, was to watch the lamb.

"Daddy daddy, What will we see there?
There's so much that we don't understand,"
So I told them of Moses, And Father Abraham,
And then I said dear children, "Watch the lamb.

There will be so many, in Jerusalem today,
We must be sure the lamb doesn't run away,"
And I told them of Moses, and Father Abraham,
And I said "Dear children, Watch the lamb."

When we reached the city, I knew something must be wrong,
There were no joyful worshipers, no joyful worship songs.
I stood there, with my children, in the midst of angry men,
Then I heard the crowd cry out, "Crucify Him!"

We tried to leave the city, but we could not get away.
Forced to play in this drama, a part I did not wish to play,
Why upon this day were men condemned to die?
Why were we all standing here, When soon they would pass by?

I looked and said, "Even now they come,"
The first one pleaded for mercy, The people gave him none.
The second one was violent, He was arrogant and loud,
I can still hear his angry voice, Screaming at the crowd.

Then someone said, "There's Jesus," I scarce believed my eyes,
A man so badly beaten, He barely looked alive.
Blood poured from His body, from the thorns on His brow,
Running down the cross, and falling to the ground.

I watched as He struggled, I watched Him as He fell,
The cross came down upon His back, and the crowd began to yell.
In that moment I felt such agony, in that moment I felt such loss,
Till the roman soldier grabbed my arm and screamed, "YOU! Carry his cross!"

At first I tried to resist him, but his hand reached for his sword,
So I knelt and I took the cross from the Lord.
I put it on my shoulders and started down the street
The blood that He'd been shedding, was running down my cheek.

They led us to Golgotha; They drove nails, deep in His feet and hands.
And on the cross, I heard him pray, "Father, forgive them..."
Never have I seen such love in any other eyes,
"Into thy hands I commit my spirit, "He prayed, and then He died.

I stood for what seemed like years; I lost all sense of time,
Until I felt two tiny hands holding tight to mine.
My children stood there weeping, and I heard the oldest say,
"Father please forgive us, The lamb ran away.

Daddy daddy, what have we seen here?
There's so much that we don't understand,"
So I took them in my arms, we turned and faced the cross.
And I said, "Dear children Watch the lamb."

Prepared. | For Life.™

Friday, May 30, 2014

Anxiety in children

This might help in understanding some Scouts and their parents, and how to help them both: Anxious parents often have anxious children, study shows
"Anxiety can manifest in children for a variety of reasons, including post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and specific fear stimulants. However, 'children of parents with anxiety disorders are two to seven times more likely to have an anxiety disorder compared with children from families in which neither parent has an anxiety disorder,' [Golda] Ginsberg [a researcher for John Hopkins University School of Medicine] states in the report.

"'It's important that you have the same expectations of your anxious child that you would of another child,' psychologist Lynne Siqueland told the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

"Parents who also suffer from an anxiety disorder may struggle to know how to help their child. Their own anxiety is compounded by worry for their child, and they may wish to protect and overly reassure their child rather than help them be strong.

"According to Anxiety BC, the most important thing a parent can do is help their child understand that they are not alone with their anxiety, and that they can overcome it."
(Deseret News, emphasis added.)

Prepared. | For Life.™

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Throwback Thursday

Sometime in probably 1987 or '88. My Scoutmaster, Maj Jim Jones, US Army (ret.), presenting me with my Star badge. Thirteen years later, he administered my oath of office and made me a Second Lieutenant, US Air Force.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Monday, May 26, 2014

Owl Post: Taps

Here is something every American should know.

We in the United States have all heard the haunting song, "Taps." If any of you have ever been to a military funeral in which taps were played, you probably would have felt it touch your heart.  Perhaps the following will bring new meaning and understanding of it.*

Do you know the story behind the song?  I think you will be interested to find out about its humble beginnings. Reportedly, it all began in 1862 during the Civil War, when Union Army Captain Robert Elli was with his men near Harrison's Landing in Virginia.  The Confederate Army was on the other side of the narrow strip of land. During the night, Captain Elli heard the moans of a soldier who lay severely wounded on the field.  Not knowing if it was a Union or Confederate soldier, the Captain decided to risk his life and bring the stricken man back for medical attention. Crawling on his stomach through the gunfire, the Captain reached the stricken soldier and began pulling him toward his encampment.  When the Captain finally reached his own lines, he discovered it was actually a Confederate soldier, but the soldier was now dead.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Recognize, Resist, Report

Two Cub Scouts from Ogden, UT used their Scouting training to stay safe. While waiting for a ride home, they were approached by someone who claimed to be sent to pick them up. They Recognized several warning signs, Resisted the invitation, and Reported what had happened to the proper authorities. They utilized their Scouting training (buddy system, 3Rs), and the lessons they'd learned at home (password, etc.) to keep themselves safe. Rather than needing an adult to protect them from everything, they demonstrated that they can protect themselves. Since we can't child-proof the world, we world-proof our kids. These two show that it can be done. Way to go, boys!

(As far as "WHERE WAS THEIR LEADER?" goes, probably inside cleaning up after the event. Someone has to put up the chairs.)

Prepared. | For Life.™

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Scout Troop Helps Like They're Supposed To

Ann Curry, out on a family hike last month, broke her leg. Scouts from Troop 368 from Berkeley Heights, N.J. found her, and administered first aid, carrying her off the trail on a stretcher they cobbled together out of materials on hand. They didn't know Who they were helping (I'm sure not many teenage boys watched Today), they only knew that they were helping someone in need in the best way they could.

Strong work, guys, good job.

(btw, in the second link, I think those Young Men are wearing their [complete] uniforms a little more proudly than they had before.)

Prepared. | For Life.™

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Better Eagle Projects

For all parents of Scouts (and YW, too!)

Make it meaningful, personal, and maybe just a bit more difficult than a Saturday afternoon's work.

(poached from Latter-day

Like this example:

Prepared. | For Life.™

Thursday, April 24, 2014

It happened

We have better things to do than dribble.
Image courtesy of Naypong,
It didn't take long, but it happened. My oldest, who turned 14 only two months ago, last night said to me, "I'm not going to Mutual tonight, because they're just playing basketball again." I told him that that's fine because he has better things to do, but also recommended that he come up with three things he'd rather do on a Wednesday night, and give them to his Teachers' quorum president and advisers.

I'm going to suggest to the TQAs that they give each boy that same charge to determine their own program. (I know, I know, what a novel concept.)

Prepared. | For Life.™

Monday, April 21, 2014

Measuring and Metrics

With te$ting time looming large for our kids and Scouts, here's some perspective shared by photographer Chase Jarvis:



Prepared. | For Life.™

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Owl Post: A Dream Cannot Be Sold

Jehdi and Hassan were two merchants who were very close friends. Jehdi was a cheerful person, almost frivolous, whereas Hassan was very serious, perhaps too cautious and careful. But an unbreakable bond of friendship tied them together and this made their journey for business happy, for they never had any dispute.

One time they started together toward the city of Touria.

They arrived at the outskirts of a forest where the big trees, moist rocks and cool shade invited them to take a well-deserved rest. Within a minute Jehdi fell asleep.

Hassan looked at his friend with a sigh and told himself, "He sleeps peacefully in nature, as if he were in his own house. I am afraid of someone robbing me. Even though the thief might get very little, I am too apprehensive and I prefer to be cautious. After all, one never knows what might happen".

Hassan was ruminating over his anxiety when suddenly he saw a wasp coming out of Jehdi's left nostril. Its enigmatic dance surprised him. It flew toward a single pine tree standing on a rock, circled the tree 3 times, and then returned to the sleeping Jehdi and disappeared into his right nostril.

Just at that moment Jehdi woke up, sat up laughing and said, "Hassan, you will never believe me. I just had a marvelous dream. Just imagine that there is big pine tree standing on a high rock, exactly like the one you see there. A wasp droned around the trunk and its wings buzzed as if to say, "You must dig in this place, you must dig in this place!" I started digging and I found a big pot full of gold coins. I have never in my life seen so much money...!"

"Yes, truly it is a strange dream," replied Hassan. "If I were in your place, I would have dug around the pine tree there."

"My poor friend, how naive you are. I would never take a dream seriously. It is so hot here, to dig would be torture! Please, let us continue our journey.."

But Hassan insisted, "Jehdi, a dream like this surely has a meaning. If you do not want to dig, I will try instead. Do you know what I propose to you? Sell your dream to me."

Jehdi began laughing loudly. "This is a good piece of business for me! How much will you pay?"

"You have said that there is a big pile of gold coins. I am your friend and I do not want to wrong you. You tell me how much you estimate to be the price of your dream."

After a brief discussion, they agreed to the sum of 300 coins.

"Never have I made such a business deal. So much money for a simple dream of no value. How gullible you are, Hassan!"

The 2 friends then went under the pine tree which the wasp had shown in the dream. Jehdi was amused to see Hassan perspiring profusely and breaking his back with the shovel. He continued on until the shovel made a dull sound as if it had struck something hard.

What a surprise for the 2 merchants when they uncovered an earthen pot full of gold coins! Before breaking it, Hassan noted an inscription near the handle: "the first of seven."

"The first of 7. That means there should be 6 more pots buried," Jehdi understood, starting to regret the deal he had concluded too quickly.

This time both of them dug with energy and, sure enough, they found the 6 pots, one after another, each one filled to the brim with gold coins.

Hassan built a huge inn in the city and named it The Bulging Pot. He lived as a rich and satisfied man until his death.

Jehdi often came to visit him and greeted his friend with the words, "Well, Hassan, how are you? I have come to see what has happened to my dream." And the 2 comrades patted each other on the back laughing. But every time Jehdi returned home sadder, for he knew that he could never buy back his dream.

What are you doing with your DREAMS?

Prepared. | For Life.™

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Owl Post: The Wooden Bowl

A frail old man went to live with his son, daughter-in-law, and four year old grandson. The old man's hands trembled, his eyesight was blurred, and his step faltered.

The family ate together at the table. But the elderly grandfather's shaky hands and failing sight made eating difficult. Peas rolled off his spoon onto the floor. When he grasped the glass, milk spilled on the tablecloth.

The son and daughter-in-law became irritated with the mess. "We must do something about Grandfather," said the son. I've had enough of his spilled milk, noisy eating, and food on the floor.

So the husband and wife set a small table in the corner. There, Grandfather ate alone while the rest of the family enjoyed dinner. Since Grandfather had broken a dish or two, his food was served in a wooden bowl.

When the family glanced in Grandfather's direction, sometimes he had a tear in his eye as he sat alone. Still, the only words the couple had for him were sharp admonitions when he dropped a fork or spilled food.

The four year old watched it all in silence. One evening before supper, the father noticed his son playing with wood scraps on the floor. He asked the child sweetly, "What are you making?" Just as sweetly, the boy responded, "Oh, I am making a little bowl for you and Mama to eat your food in when I grow up." The four year old smiled and went back to work.

The words so struck the parents that they were speechless. Then tears started to stream down their cheeks. Though no word was spoken, both knew what must be done.

That evening the husband took Grandfather's hand and gently led him back to the family table. For the remainder of his days he ate every meal with the family. And for some reason, neither husband nor wife seemed to care any longer when a fork was dropped, milk spilled, or the tablecloth soiled.

I've Learned that, regardless of your relationship with your parents, you'll miss them when they're gone from your Life.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Owl Post: Are You Alone?

Do you know the legend of the Cherokee Indian youth's rite of passage?

His father takes him into the forest, blindfolds him and leaves him alone.
He is required to sit on a stump the whole night and not remove the blindfold until the rays of the morning sun shine through it.
He cannot cry out for help to anyone.
Once he survives the night, he is a M A N.
He cannot tell the other boys of this experience, because each lad must come into manhood on his own.
The boy is naturally terrified.
He can hear all kinds of noises.
Wild beasts must surely be all around him.
Maybe even some human might do him harm.
The wind blew the grass and earth, and shook his cold body, but he sat stoically, never removing the blindfold.

It would be the only way he could become a man!

Finally, after a horrific night the sun appeared and he removed his blindfold.
It was then that he discovered his father sitting on the stump next to him.
He had been at watch the entire night, protecting his son from harm.

We, too, are never alone.

Even when we don't know it, God is watching over us, sitting on the stump beside us.
When trouble comes, all we have to do is reach out to Him.

Just because you can't see God, doesn't mean He is not there.
"For we walk by faith, not by sight."

Prepared. | For Life.™

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Safety Briefing

As you know, I was released from my Scouting calling a few months ago. Even so, I have kept a handful of Scouting RSS feeds active. This Nat'l Parks Council Safety Briefing turned up in one of them. There's a Church-produced video embedded in the link that discusses one troop's experience with adverse weather (to put it mildly). I passed it along to the SP in the thought he might like to share it and the new Church Safety web page (linked through the above link) with the stake's YM (and YW) leaders.

I took a couple of things from this clip: (1) careful, thorough planning and preparation are essential, (the Troop in the video prepared for 8 months for their "hike") and (2) a willingness to listen to the Spirit, especially when circumstances change, is equally essential. This places a great deal on a Leader's shoulders, and it necessitates abandoning some "incorrect traditions" that seem to be prevalent (like the "just show up" or the "it's just my church calling" mentality). It underscores the idea that the most successful activities are not the carefully choreographed lessons that go off without a hitch, where boys and girls learn the lessons that we adults want Youth to Learn, but are those where real experience is gained; a testimony is one's experience.

The corollary here is that there's an equal share of responsibility on the youth, to prepare themselves physically and mentally for the challenges of their chosen adventures. For instance, to mitigate the risks associated with a rafting trip down the Green River and Desolation Canyon, watercraft handling and basic boating safety should be regularly studied, discussed, and practiced, say with canoes on a local pond or the (very calm) Jordan River. (In my opinion, such deliberate and appropriate preparation for a given activity should take precedence, even over Combined Activities, or DTG night - because a good Scoutmaster can make any activity night DTG night.)

There was a third takeaway I got from the above video: This Scout Troop obtained firsthand experience with adversity, and with relying on their Maker to help them out of it. You can't get that inside any Church building, no matter how great the basketball court may be - unless it's literally on fire. I believe that's the real value of Scouting: it's a real, practical application of the ideas and theories they get in Sunday classrooms; it's a laboratory in the truest sense. Rather than trying to eliminate risks, we mitigate them through preparation. We ought to prepare our soon-to-be missionaries to grab the bull by the horns, or the boots by the laces; to give them the skills and confidence to overcome risks and adversity, but at the same time, the caution to do so safely. Which sounds a lot like real life.

(Thanks to LDS Scouter for sharing this link)

Prepared. | For Life.™

Roses are white, er, red.

Whenever you paint the roses red, you have to kill some flowers.
That's called Progress.

 --Eric the Half-bee

Prepared. | For Life.™

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Owl Post: P.U.S.H.

A man was sleeping one night in his cabin when suddenly his room filled with light, and God appeared. The Lord told the man he had work for him to do, and showed him a large rock in front of his cabin.

The Lord explained that the man was to push against the rock with all his might.

So, this the man did, day after day. For many years he toiled from sun-up to sundown, his shoulders set squarely against the cold, massive surface of the unmoving rock, pushing with all his might!

Each night the man returned to his cabin sore and worn out, feeling that his whole day had been spent in vain. Since the man was showing discouragement, the Adversary (Satan) decided to enter the picture by placing thoughts into the man's weary mind. (He will do it every time!)

"You have been pushing against that rock for a long time and it hasn't moved." Thus, he gave the man the impression that the task was impossible and that he was a failure.

These thoughts discouraged and disheartened the man.

Satan said, "Why kill yourself over this? Just put in your time, giving just the minimum effort, and that will be good enough." That's what the weary man planned to do, but decided to make it a matter of prayer and to take his troubled thoughts to the Lord.

Lord," he said, "I have labored long and hard in your service, putting all my strength to do that which you have asked. Yet, after all this time, I have not even budged that rock by half a millimeter. What is wrong? Why am I failing?"

The Lord responded compassionately, "My friend, when I asked you to serve Me and you accepted, I told you that your task was to push against the rock with all of your strength, which you have done. Never once did I mention to you that I expected you to move it.

Your task was to push.

And now you come to me with your strength spent, thinking that you have failed. But, is that really so? Look at yourself. Your arms are strong and muscled, your back shiny and brown; your hands are callused from constant pressure, your legs have become massive and hard. Through opposition you have grown much, and your abilities now surpass that which you used to have. True, you haven't moved the rock.

But your calling was to be obedient and to push and to exercise your faith and trust in my wisdom. That you have done. Now I, my friend, will move the rock." At times, when we hear a word from God, we tend to use our own intellect to decipher what He wants, when actually what God wants is just simple obedience and faith in Him.

By all means, exercise the faith that moves mountains, but know that it is still God who loves the mountains.

When everything seems to go wrong..........................Just P.U.S.H.

When the job gets you down.......................................Just P.U.S.H.

When people don't do as you think they should..........Just P.U.S.H.

When your money is "gone" and the bills are due…...Just P.U.S.H.

When people just don't understand you.......................Just P.U.S.H.

P = Pray       U = Until       S = Something       H = Happens

Pass this on to all your loved ones and friends who may need it, they may get it just in time.

"Though no one can go back and make a brand new start anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending."

"Friends are quiet angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Owl Post: Don't Put off Love

After 21 years of marriage, my wife wanted me to take another woman out to dinner and a movie. She said, “I love you, but I know this other woman loves you and would love to spend some time with you.”

The other woman that my wife wanted me to visit was my MOTHER, who has been a widow for 19 years, but the demands of my work and my three children had made it possible to visit her only occasionally. That night I called to invite her to go out for dinner and a movie. “What’s wrong, are you well?” she asked.

My mother is the type of woman who suspects that a late night call or a surprise invitation is a sign of bad news. “I thought that it would be pleasant to spend some time with you,” I responded. “Just the two of us.” She thought about it for a moment, and then said, “I would like that very much.”

That Friday after work, as I drove over to pick her up I was a bit nervous. When I arrived at her house, I noticed that she, too, seemed to be nervous about our date. She waited in the door with her coat on. She had curled her hair and was wearing the dress that she had worn to celebrate her last wedding anniversary. She smiled from a face that was as radiant as an angel’s. “I told my friends that I was going to go out with my son, and they were impressed, “she said, as she got into the car. “They can’t wait to hear about our meeting.”

We went to a restaurant that, although not elegant, was very nice and cozy. My mother took my arm as if she were the First Lady. After we sat down, I had to read the menu. Her eyes could only read large print. Half way through the entries, I lifted my eyes and saw Mom sitting there staring at me. A nostalgic smile was on her lips. “It was I who used to have to read the menu when you were small,” she said. “Then it’s time that you relax and let me return the favor,” I responded. During the dinner, we had an agreeable conversation – nothing extraordinary but catching up on recent events of each other’s life. We talked so much that we missed the movie. As we arrived at her house later, she said, “I’ll go out with you again, but only if you let me invite you.” I agreed.

“How was your dinner date?” asked my wife when I got home. “Very nice, much more so than I could have imagined,” I answered.

A few days later, my mother died of a massive heart attack. It happened so suddenly that I didn’t have a chance to do anything for her. Sometime later, I received an envelope with a copy of a restaurant receipt from the same place mother and I had dined. An attached note said: “I paid this bill in advance. I wasn’t sure that I could be there; but nevertheless, I paid for two plates – one for you and the other for your wife. You will never know what that night meant for me. I love you, son.”

At that moment, I understood the importance of saying in time: “I LOVE YOU” and to give our loved ones the time that they deserve. Nothing in life is more important than your family. Give them the time they deserve, because these things cannot be put off till “some other time.”

Prepared. | For Life.™

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Owl Post: A Picture of Peace

There once was a King who offered a prize to the artist who would paint the best picture of peace. Many artists tried. The King looked at all the pictures, but there were only two he really liked and he had to choose between them.

One picture was of a calm lake. The lake was a perfect mirror, for peaceful towering mountains were all around it. Overhead was a blue sky with fluffy white clouds. All who saw this picture thought that it was a perfect picture of peace.

The other picture had mountains too. But these were rugged and bare. Above was an angry sky from which rain fell and in which lightening played. Down the side of the mountain tumbled a foaming waterfall. This did not look peaceful at all. But when the King looked, he saw behind the waterfall a tiny bush growing in a crack in the rock. In the bush a mother bird had built her nest. There, in the midst of the rush of angry water, sat the mother bird on her nest... perfect peace.

Which picture do you think won the prize?

The King chose the second picture. Do you know why? "Because," explained the King, "peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. Peace means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart. That is the real meaning of peace."

Prepared. | For Life.™

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Owl Post: You Saved My Life

Mark was walking home from school one day when he noticed the boy ahead of him had tripped and dropped all of the books he was carrying, along with two sweaters, a baseball bat, a glove and a small tape recorder.

Mark knelt down and helped the boy pick up the scattered articles. Since they were going the same way, he helped to carry part of the burden.

As they walked Mark discovered the boy’s name was Bill, that he loved video games, baseball and history, and that he was having lots of trouble with his other subjects and that he had just broken up with his girlfriend. They arrived at Bill’s home first and Mark was invited in for a Coke and to watch some television. The afternoon passed pleasantly with a few laughs and some shared small talk, then Mark went home. They continued to see each other around school, had lunch together once or twice, and then both graduated from junior high school. They ended up in the same high school where they had brief contacts over the years. Finally the long awaited senior year came and three weeks before graduation, Bill asked Mark if they could talk.

Bill reminded him of the day years ago when they had first met. “Did you ever wonder why I was carrying so many things home that day?” asked Bill. “You see, I cleaned out my locker because I didn’t want to leave a mess for anyone else. I had stored away some of my mother’s sleeping pills and I was going home to commit suicide. But after we spent some time together talking and laughing, I realized that if I had killed myself, I would have missed that time and so many others that might follow.

So you see, Mark, when you picked up those books that day, you did a lot more, you saved my life.”

-John W. Schlatter (true story)

Prepared. | For Life.™

Thursday, February 27, 2014

"...let's not go to Camelot. It's a silly place."

Blue and Gold Knights of the Round Table cakes.
The Primary Presidency had the toughest job,
making up names for cake awards.
My Cub Scout received his Wolf badge and two arrow points at tonight's Knights of the Round Table Blue and Gold Celebration.

The night before, his older brother received his Life badge, and the new Scoutmaster introduced him to a lifetime of paperwork, handing him a Trail to Eagle packet immediately after congratulating him on the achievement.

It's like they're bookends or something.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Owl Post: The Burnt Biscuit

Something to think about, when I was a kid, my Mom liked to make breakfast food for dinner every now and then. And I remember one night in particular when she had made breakfast after a long, hard day at work.

On that evening so long ago, my Mom placed a plate of eggs, sausage and extremely burned biscuits in front of my dad.

I remember waiting to see if anyone noticed! Yet all my dad did was reach for his biscuit, smile at my Mom and ask me how my day was at school.

I don't remember what I told him that night, but I do remember watching him smear butter and jelly on that ugly burned biscuit. He ate every bite of that thing... never made a face nor uttered a word about it!

When I got up from the table that evening, I remember hearing my Mom apologize to my dad for burning the biscuits.

And I'll never forget what he said: "Honey, I love burned biscuits every now and then."

Later that night, I went to kiss Daddy good night and I asked him if he really liked his biscuits burned. He wrapped me in his arms and said, "Your Momma put in a hard day at work today and she's real tired. And besides – a little burned biscuit never hurt anyone!"

As I've grown older, I've thought about that many times. Life is full of imperfect things and imperfect people. I'm not the best at hardly anything, and I forget birthdays and anniversaries just like everyone else.

But what I've learned over the years is that learning to accept each other's faults - and choosing to celebrate each other's differences - is one of the most important keys to creating a healthy, growing, and lasting relationship.

And that's my prayer for you today... that you will learn to take the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of your life and lay them at the feet of God.

Because in the end, He's the only One who will be able to give you a relationship where a burnt biscuit isn't a deal-breaker!

We could extend this to any relationship. In fact, understanding is the base of any relationship, be it a husband-wife or parent-child or friendship!

"Don't put the key to your happiness in someone else's pocket - keep it in your own."

So, please pass me a biscuit, and yes, the burned one will do just fine.

 "Life without God is like an unsharpened pencil - it has no point."

Prepared. | For Life.™

Friday, February 21, 2014

Leadership Opportunities

"...serve actively in your unit for a period of six months in one or more ... positions of responsibility."

One of the most underutilized leadership positions (at least, I'm assuming, in LDS Scout organizations) is that of Den Chief. Chalk it up to our Mormon tendency to compartmentalize everything (YM never, ever interact with Primary boys, etc.). This is an older Scout who interacts with and teaches Cub Scouts, assisting the Cubmaster as needed.

Imagine the effect on Primary-age boys if they're mentored by a Young Man who is fulfilling his Duty to God, actively participating in Scouting (including advancement), who proudly and properly wears his uniform, and is overall just a good example and friend; imagine the effect on a Young Man as he strives to live up to the ideals of Scouting, teach correct principles and provide a good example for the next group of Scouts/AP "trainees".

(see, US Scouting Service Project)

Prepared. | For Life.™

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Owl Post: Wormy Sermon

Four worms and a lesson to be learned!!!!

For those of you who missed church on Sunday, here is a recap!

A minister decided that a visual demonstration would add emphasis to his Sunday sermon.

Four worms were placed into four separate jars.

The first worm was put into a container of alcohol.
The second worm was put into a container of cigarette smoke.
The third worm was put into a container of chocolate syrup.
The fourth worm was put into a container of good clean soil.

At the conclusion of the sermon, the Minister reported the following results: The first worm in alcohol- Dead; The second worm in cigarette smoke - Dead; Third worm in chocolate syrup - Dead; Fourth worm in good clean soil - Alive.

So the Minister asked the congregation - What did you learn from this demonstration?

Maxine was sitting in the back, quickly raised her hand and said, 'As long as you drink, smoke and eat chocolate, you won't have worms!'

That pretty much ended the service.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Lasting effects

So, I'm sitting in Ward Council the other day, and the Stake Presidency is there because it's ward conference day. There was some good discussion, good questions asked. Several times though, someone answered a question or made a comment preceded by "back when I was a Scout" or something similar. These are late 40s-to-50s men who haven't seen their uniforms in decades. It leaves a lasting impression. No one says "I remember when I was in Young Mens...", it's always "When I was a Scout," or "I remember one time at Scout Camp..."

Walking into the office this morning, I heard a similar thing while ascending the stairs -  one of the greybeards mentioned his time at Scout camp, and working there during the summer.

Memories matter. Make 'em good ones.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Owl Post: I'm Ugly

One day, a young man and a young girl fell in love.

But the guy came from a poor family. The girl’s parents weren’t too happy.

So the young man decided not only to court the girl but to court her parents as well. In time, the parents saw that he was a good man and was worthy of their daughter’s hand.

But there was another problem: The man was a soldier. Soon, war broke out and he was being sent overseas for a year. The week before he left, the man knelt on his knee and asked his lady love, “Will you marry me?” She wiped a tear, said yes, and they were engaged. They agreed that when he got back in one year, they would get married.

But tragedy struck. A few days after he left, the girl had a major vehicular accident. It was a head-on collision.

When she woke up in the hospital, she saw her father and mother crying. Immediately, she knew there was something wrong.

She later found out that she suffered brain injury. The part of her brain that controlled her face muscles was damaged. Her once lovely face was now disfigured. She cried as she saw herself in the mirror. “Yesterday, I was beautiful. Today, I’m a monster.” Her body was also covered with so many ugly wounds.

Right there and then, she decided to release her fiancĂ© from their promise. She knew he wouldn’t want her anymore. She would forget about him and never see him again.

For one year, the soldier wrote many letters—but she wouldn’t answer. He phoned her many times but she wouldn’t return her calls.

But after one year, the mother walked into her room and announced, “He’s back from the war.”

The girl shouted, “No! Please don’t tell him about me. Don’t tell him I’m here!” The mother said, “He’s getting married,” and handed her a wedding invitation.

The girl’s heart sank. She knew she still loved him—but she had to forget him now. With great sadness, she opened the wedding invitation.

And then she saw her name on it! Confused, she asked, “What is this?”

That was when the young man entered her room with a bouquet of flowers. He knelt beside her and asked, “Will you marry me?”

The girl covered her face with her hands and said, “I’m ugly!”

The man said, “Without your permission, your mother sent me your photos. When I saw your photos, I realized that nothing has changed. You’re still the person I fell in love. You’re still as beautiful as ever.

Because I love you!”

Prepared. | For Life.™

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Another Question

This one is for stake presidents and bishops: if SLC came out next week and said, "you have the option concerning Scouting in your units," would you keep it?

Thursday, February 6, 2014

What would he pick?

Here's a thought exercise to assess the quality of your program: would a random boy walking in off the street want to be part of your Troop based on what he saw at a random troop meeting?

If the answer is yes, congratulations, your Aaronic Priesthood Scouts are probably excited to be there, too.

If not, the boys who are there are probably only there because it's another unavoidable church meeting, and they're there by assignment.

(Sorry there's so much there there.)

I asked this question of my son, and he answered in the negative.  Which led to a discussion of what he, as the SPL with an expiring tenure, could do to change the answer to a yes. I hope he remembers.

Prepared | For Life™

Owl Post: The Unlucky Man

Once there was a man who lived in a beautiful log cabin. He seemed to have everything but was never happy. The man believed it was because he was unlucky (but in fact it was because he was bored.)

One day he had enough and he went to a very old and wise woman to find out why he was not lucky. The old and wise woman thought about it and told him he must visit God and ask him that question. "Where do I find God?" The man asked.

"Travel to the West until you reach the end of the world and there you will find God," said the Old woman. So the man set off to find God and ask why he was not lucky. He walked for a day, he walked for a week, he walked for a month and he even walked for a year until he came to a clearing which was surrounded by wolves. On one side were these strong and vicious-looking wolves. On the other was a small scrawny wolf. The man decided to walk towards the scrawny wolf. As he passed the wolf asked, "Where are you going?"

"I am going to visit God and ask him why I have no luck," answered the Man.

"Interesting. If you find him can you please ask why I am not as strong and as vicious as my brothers," asked the Wolf.

"Of course;" The man answered and he walked off. He walked for a day, he walked for a week, he walked for a month, he walked for a year until he got to a beautiful forest. The trees were vast and stretched far up into the sky but in a small clearing was a short leafless tree with wimpy branches. As the man walked by the tree called out, "Excuse me where are you going?"

"I am going to visit God and ask him why I have no luck."

"Fascinating; if you find God can you ask him why I am not as tall and strong as my brothers," the tree asked.

"Of course," answered the man and he walked off. He walked for a day, he walked for a week, he walked for a month, and he walked for a year until he came to a small blue house. Surrounding this house was a beautiful garden filled with vibrant colors and bright flowers. From inside the house came the most beautiful woman the man had ever seen. On seeing the man, the woman invited him in for dinner and to spend the night. The man agreed and enjoyed a wonderful feast cooked to perfection by the woman. As they ate, the man told his story and at the end the woman asked, "That is a lovely story. If you find God can you ask him why I am so lonely?"

"Of course I can," answered the man. Then he went to bed. The next day he set off and walked to the West. He walked for a day, he walked for a week, he walked for a month, he walked for a year until finally he reached the end of the world. There, sitting on cloud, fishing, was God.

The man called out, "Excuse me. But God, can you tell me why I have no luck."

God looked up and said, "You have all the luck you need. It is all around you, you just don't notice it. Be more observant and you will find your luck."

This made sense to the man and he began to ask the other questions he had promised but God just raised his hand, "there is no need to ask the questions. I already know what they are for I know everything." God whispered the answers into the man's ear. The man thanked God and began to walk home. He arrived first at the beautiful woman's house and knocked on the door. The woman was overjoyed to see him and asked him for her answer. "God told me why you are so lonely. You must get married."

"Of course, it makes sense. Will you marry me?" The woman asked the man.

"I am sorry I cannot for I must find my luck. But the first nice man I see, I will send back to you," answered the man. With that he continued home until he reached the beautiful forest. The small tree saw him and asked for his answer. "The reason you are small and have no leaves is because buried beneath your roots is a chest full of gold. It is blocking you from receiving nutrients."

"Of course, that makes sense. Please, some workmen left shovels over there. If you dig up the chest, you can keep the gold inside," said the tree.

"I am sorry; I cannot, for I must find my luck. But the first strong man I see, I shall send back," replied the man and with that he continued on his way home. He reached the clearing of the wolves and the small scrawny wolf asked him for his answer. "The reason you are small and scrawny is because you do not eat enough. You must eat the first big stupid animal you see."

And the wolf did.

How is your Luck? It’s all around you! You just have to open your eyes!

Prepared. | For Life.™

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Stay warm at this year's Klondike derby

There are some great tips here. Missing though, is the one about hitting the head before bed. You'll definitely stay warmer if you don't have to get up in the middle of the night to commune with nature.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Monday, February 3, 2014

Goblin Valley Scouter Mischief Update

The two former Scout leaders who knocked over a hoodoo in Goblin Valley State Park have been formally charged with third-degree felonies, punishable by up to 5 years and $5,000. Leave No Trace matters. I still maintain that the greatest damage was to the Scouts (or was this "just a priesthood outing?"), who witnessed those who should have known better, and who occupied a position of trust and responsibility (rationale notwithstanding) deface a public park with glee.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Owl Post: In God We Trust

You always hear the unusual stories of pennies on the sidewalk being good luck, gifts from angels, etc. This is the first time I've ever heard this twist on the story. Gives you something to think about.....

Several years ago, a friend of mine and her husband were invited to spend the weekend at the husband's employer's home. My friend, Arlene, was nervous about the weekend. The boss was very wealthy, with a fine home on the waterway, and cars costing more than her house.

The first day and evening went well, and Arlene was delighted to have this rare glimpse into how the very wealthy live. The husband's employer was quite generous as a host, and took them to the finest restaurants. Arlene knew she would never have the opportunity to indulge in this kind of extravagance again, so was enjoying herself immensely.

As the three of them were about to enter an exclusive restaurant that evening, the boss was walking slightly ahead of Arlene and her husband. He stopped suddenly, looking down on the pavement for a long, silent moment.

Arlene wondered if she was supposed to pass him. There was nothing on the ground except a single darkened penny that someone had dropped, and a few cigarette butts. Still silent, the man reached down and picked up the penny.

He held it up and smiled, then put it in his pocket as if he had found a great treasure. How absurd! What need did this man have for a single penny? Why would he even take the time to stop and pick it up?

Throughout dinner, the entire scene nagged at her. Finally, she could stand it no longer. She casually mentioned that her daughter once had a coin collection, and asked if the penny he had found had been of some value. A smile crept across the man's face as he reached into his pocket for the penny and held it out for her to see.. She had seen many pennies before! What was the point of this? 'Look at it,' he said. 'Read what it says.' She read the words ' United States of America ..' 'No, not that; read further.'

'One cent?'

'No, keep reading..'

'In God we Trust?'


'And... ?'

He explained, 'And if I trust in God, the name of God is holy, even on a coin. Whenever I find a coin I see that inscription. It is written on every single United States coin, but we never seem to notice it! God drops a message right in front of me telling me to trust Him. Who am I to pass it by? When I see a coin, I pray, I stop to see if my trust IS in God at that moment. I pick the coin up as my response to God; that I do trust in Him. For a short time, at least, I cherish it as if it were gold. I think it is God's way of starting a conversation with me. Lucky for me, God is patient and pennies are plentiful!'

When I was out shopping today, I found a penny on the sidewalk. I stopped and picked it up, and realized that I had been worrying and fretting in my mind about things I cannot change. I read the words, 'In God We Trust,' and had to laugh. Yes, God, I get the message.

It seems that I have been finding an inordinate number of pennies in the last few months, but then, pennies are plentiful! And, God is patient.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Adventure defined

An adventure is misery and discomfort, relived in the safety of reminiscence."
– Marco Polo

Prepared. | For Life.™

Monday, January 27, 2014

Birds are awesome

I liked to take my Scouts to the Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area each winter to go eagle spotting. I think we went at the wrong time each year, because we never really saw the large numbers of bald eagles that are said to winter on the Great Salt Lake, though that could have been the fog. FBWMA is a freshwater reclamation area, and the eagles love the (nasty) carp that infest the water. I decided to try my luck again this past weekend, Scouts or no Scouts, and got almost entirely skunked as far as eagle are concerned. There were only a handful, and none let me get within a quarter mile before taking flight. After the last one left, it was time to call it a day. And while driving back up the road I spotted a lone, large bird in one of the few trees in the area, so I pulled over to see if I could squeeze off a few shots. With my camera, silly. It turned out to be a red-tail hawk, and he gave me my best photo op of the day.

Do you think birds know how amazingly cool they are, 
or do they just take it for granted?

Red Tail Hawk at Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area, UT
Here are a couple of shots of eagles 
from another excursion a couple of years ago:
Juvenile eagle fly-by
Looking for carp

Prepared. | For Life.™

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Owl Post: Reaching Beyond Your Goals

We walked together towards an ultimate challenge. A rock climbing wall 44 feet tall. I saw it looming ahead, slowly realizing what we would be asked to do next. I was not particularly concerned, because I knew I would be able to take on my normal stance: cheerleader, encourager, both feet firmly on the ground supporter of whomever would take the roll of victorious climber.

Feeling triumphant, I donned the rock climbing gear. Yes, I have on my cheerleading garb, I thought to myself. It dawned on me: we were all expected to at least attempt to climb the wall. I set my sights on the first platform, about 15 feet high. Surely that would show my willingness to participate in the group event. It only required I venture marginally outside my vision of my own abilities.

Rarely are people who are seeking significant life change challenged by setting their goals too low. In fact, the contrary to this is normally the case. Right?

Think for a moment, though, if this is actually the truth. Do you set your sights upon that which you are capable to achieve? OR do you instead settle for that which you have been lead to believe you are capable to achieve?

I had eyeballed the wall beforehand, to see which route to take up the wall. I noticed during my first trip it was really not that hard at first. My larger concern was my friend who was upon the wall above me, who had stopped and was wanting to come down. As is also a usual role for me, I made the decision to come off the wall, so my friend could easily and swiftly get down.

The person "on my belay" (a rock climber's constant support and safety system) said to me, "You do not even want to know how close you were to getting to your next hold." At that point, I really did not want to hear. I did know I wanted another chance to fulfill my goal of arriving at the first platform. None of my peers had reached it yet.

For my second climb, I simply started up the wall. One hold before the next simply and easily. There was no one immediately above me nor below me. Before I knew it, I reached my goal. I looked up, towards the top. In a split second, I made the decision. I was going up.

The decision, while simple, was actually monumental. I am not a particularly athletic person. Remember, I am great at being supportive of the people achieving amazing physical feats, not being an active participant. I stood there, held on to the wall and said a silent prayer before stepping off the platform to the next few holds.

Not looking down, I called out for verbal cues. I made some fancy moves with my feet. I reached the second platform. I cried, prayed and sang in my head as I thought, "Just get to the next platform. Just the next one." I looked up, and asked my helpers below for advice and encouragement.

As I climbed higher, I became critically aware that I was not alone in any of the climb. I had my partner who was "on my belay". As I would reach up with my hands and lift my leg to the next hold, he would tighten the cord, literally lifting along with me. I also had the power of prayer, time to pause, and moments of quiet singing as I got to each platform. I also had the leverage of my own fierce determination. I had a lifetime of believing I was not physical that I was battling to overcome. I had many hours of negative self talk telling me, "I can't do X, I can't do Y, I can't do Z because I am 1, or 2, or 3."

The wall had become symbolic of all I had wanted to do, yet believed I could not do because of my own self imposed limitations. In that quick decision on the first platform I decided I was no longer being a participant in my own destructive beliefs. I was going to become completely, fully an expression of my destiny.

After being the first of only two from my group who reached the zenith, I was literally giddy with the feeling of accomplishment. The man on the belay said, "What are you going to do next?" My response? "ANYTHING!"

The wall taught me many things. First, I sometimes aim too low because of false beliefs I have continued to perpetuate in my life. Second, I have an amazing support system in place if I am willing to share my control with them just as when the belay assisted me in each of the higher holds. Third, remembering to pause, pray, and express powerful emotions at each platform filled me with the necessary strength to continue the climb. Without each of those components, I would not have made it. In day to day living, doing each of these activities is crucial to living a full, complete, destiny filled life. Finally, in each decision I make, I am either saying YES or NO to possibilities. In saying NO, I am saying NO to unbelievable growth. In saying YES, I can fully embrace that I can do "ANYTHING!"

And if I had "fallen off" the wall? I would have been safe and protected. I would have tried again. YOU can do anything. Live Passionately, Today!

-Julie Jordan Scott

Prepared. | For Life.™

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Owl Post: Something to Think About

For those who have served on jury... this one is something to think about... Just when you think you have heard everything!!

Do you like to read a good murder mystery? Not even Law and Order would attempt to capture this mess. This is an unbelievable twist of fate!!

At the 1994 annual awards dinner given for Forensic Science, (AAFS) President Dr. Don Harper Mills astounded his audience with the legal complications of a bizarre death.

Here is the story:

On March 23, 1994 the medical examiner viewed the body of Ronald Opus and concluded that he died from a shotgun wound to the head. Mr. Opus had jumped from the top of a 10-story building intending to commit suicide.

He left a note to the effect indicating his despondency. As he fell past the ninth floor, his life was interrupted by a shotgun blast passing through a window, which killed him instantly.

Neither the shooter nor the deceased was aware that a safety net had been installed just below the eighth floor level to protect some building workers and that Ronald Opus would not have been able to complete his suicide the way he had planned.

The room on the ninth floor, where the shotgun blast emanated, was occupied by an elderly man and his wife. They were arguing vigorously and he was threatening her with a shotgun! The man was so upset that when he pulled the trigger, he completely missed his wife and the pellets went through the window, striking Mr. Opus.

When one intends to kill subject 'A' but kills subject 'B' in the attempt, one is guilty of the murder of subject 'B.' When confronted with the murder charge, the old man and his wife were both adamant, and both said that they thought the shotgun was not loaded..

The old man said it was a long-standing habit to threaten his wife with the unloaded shotgun. He had no intention to murder her. Therefore, the killing of Mr. Opus appeared to be an accident; that is, assuming the gun had been accidentally loaded.

The continuing investigation turned up a witness who saw the old couple's son loading the shotgun about 6 weeks prior to the fatal accident.

It transpired that the old lady had cut off her son's financial support and the son, knowing the propensity of his father to use the shotgun threateningly, loaded the gun with the expectation that his father would shoot his mother.

Since the loader of the gun was aware of this, he was guilty of the murder even though he didn't actually pull the trigger.

The case now becomes one of murder on the part of the son for the death of Ronald Opus. Now for the exquisite twist... Further investigation revealed that the son was, in fact, Ronald Opus. He had become increasingly despondent over the failure of his attempt to engineer his mother's murder.

This led him to jump off the 10 story building on March 23rd, only to be killed by a shotgun blast passing through the ninth story window.

The son, Ronald Opus, had actually murdered himself. So the medical examiner closed the case as a suicide. A true story from Associated Press (Actually, it's not. It has received the treatment).

Prepared. | For Life.™

Friday, January 10, 2014

See America from here

Just for fun, here's a link to National Park web cams across the country.

Here's the live video feed at Old Faithful; check the Yellowstone web site for eruption prediction times.

Old Faithful, ©2012 Eric Larson

Prepared. | For Life.™