Monday, December 5, 2016

Ideals word cloud

Just for fun. Feel free to use it, or make your own at (works best with IE).

Prepared. | For Life.™

Sunday, November 13, 2016

This showed up in my Facebook feed today.
St. Mother Theresa of Calcutta

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Wednesday, November 9, 2016

District Newsletters

I was recently asked to help out in my local District. For the past few months, I have been editing the District newsletter, which had been on hiatus since the previous editor moved. So, just to spread the word, here is a link to the Great Salt Lake Council, District Three newsletters.

And, here's a sneak peek at the upcoming issue:
Cub Scouting is special. You can reinforce this by making your Cubs’ achievements, advancements and accomplishments a
Big Deal™.

Ceremonies drive this home. Many adults may think them corny and silly, but most of the boys love this kind of attention, and a good ceremony reinforces the Ideals — the Scout Oath and Law. Rattling off a list of badges, belt loops and pins, then handing over a plastic bag full of stuff, doesn’t show the Cub Scouts, their parents or friends and families, that the badges are really the Ideals in action.

So toss your pride, and have some childish fun!

Prepared. | For Life.™

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Back-to-school lament

My wife went to a back-to-school moms breakfast in the ward last week, and one of the women lamented that there is no Church program to teach her sons things like budgeting, and other, uh, "personal management."  Aside from the fact that that's a mom's and dad's job description, I infer that the comment was made, in part, because she, like so many others, never saw Scouting as anything more than a patch-collecting chore.

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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Keeping public lands public

I've never done this on the blog before, and probably won't again, but I'm going to go a little political today.  I don't know how many people are still reading here, but this is a very important issue.  The following is only my opinion, and is not to be construed as the position of either the BSA or LDS Church.

There is a movement in the western US for the States to take control of and to manage federal public lands.  I live in Utah, where more than 50% of the land area is federally owned.  It should stay that way.  We have a special birthright in the West, in that We the People are owners of so many natural resources, from mountain streams to vast deserts, and everything in between.  My fear is that under the States' management, public access to these lands (not to mention conservation efforts) will cease to exist in favor of maximizing profitability.

Scouts depend on access to public lands for thousands, if not millions of meaningful experiences each year.

We owe it to our children, and our great-great-great grandchildren to leave these lands better than we found them, to "leave only footprints, take only photographs."  I feel that this is best achieved under federal management.  Please watch the short video below, visit Sportsmen's Access, and read up on this pressing issue. Several states, mine included, are on what I feel is a Quixotic quest to take over these lands, not for our benefit, but for their donors'.  Please visit the link above, and sign the petition to let your elected officials know that you value the multiple use model of federal land management, and that you want public lands to remain public.

After the video, I've added some images I made in #publiclands, as examples of what we stand to lose if short-sighted politicians have their way.

To be clear, this is more about mountains, range-lands, deserts, forests and other wide open spaces, than it is about national parks, monuments, historical sites or other specially designated, protected areas.  (And full disclosure, I make my living in the Evil Energy Industry™.)

Notch Peak and boulders
Notch Peak, Millard County, UT - BLM

Notch Peak from the northwest
Notch Peak, Millard County, UT - BLM

Blind Valley, Ibex climbing area
Ibex climbing area, Millard County, UT - BLM

Mirror Lake in Utah's Uinta Mountains
Mirror Lake and Bald Mtountain, Uinta Mtns, Wasatch Nat'l Forest, UT - USFS

Cactus ball
Cactus Ball, Pike Nat'l Forest, CO - USFS

Wild Rose
Wild Rose, Wasatch Nat'l Forest, UT - USFS

Prepared. | For Life.™

Monday, June 27, 2016


Teamwork makes hard things look easy. And awesome.
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
Practice makes permanent.

Breitling Jet Team at Hill AFB, UT, 6.25.2016
click to biggify.
(Really, I just needed an excuse to post this photo here.)

Prepared. | For Life.™

Thursday, June 23, 2016

A modern application of lashings

Not just something your ancestors did, that "pointless skill" is still used today to create a gleaming future.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Monday, June 20, 2016


“The stubborn critic would say: ‘What is the benefit of these sciences?’ He does not know the virtue that distinguishes mankind from all the animals: it is knowledge, in general, which is pursued solely by man, and which is pursued for the sake of knowledge itself, because its acquisition is truly delightful, and is unlike the pleasures desirable from other pursuits. For the good cannot be brought forth, and evil cannot be avoided, except by knowledge. What benefit then is more vivid? What use is more abundant?”

--Abu Rayhan al-Biruni (AD 973-1048)

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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).

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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

You've Been Splitting Firewood with an Axe Wrong

I always hated the wibbly-wobbly stumpy-wumpy stuff.

Prepared. | For Life.™


One day, a traveler came along. “What are people like in this city?” he asked the old man at the gate. “What are they like in the city you’re from?” responded the old man. “Oh, they’re terrible people,” replied the traveler. “Unpleasant, unreliable, stupid, and boring. I’m glad to be rid of them.” “Well,” the old man said, “I’m afraid that you’ll find the people here to be exactly the same.”

The following day, a second traveler came along. “What are people like in this city?” he asked the old man. “What are they like in the city you’re from?” responded the old man. “Oh, they’re wonderful people,” replied the traveler. “Always pleasant, trustworthy, highly intelligent, and unfailingly interesting. I was deeply sorry to have to leave them.” “Excellent!” the old man exclaimed. “You’ll find the people here to be exactly the same!”
More to the point, "Life is like a sewer...what you get out of it depends on what you put into it." -- Tom Lehrer.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

If I were to do it all over again

One thing I would do differently as an 11YO Scout Leader in the Church would be to provide far less instruction. In other words, I think Patrol meetings would look more like "today's goal is to be able to do X skill. You all have handbooks, and I brought the necessary materials, so have at it." I'd still provide guidance as necessary, and a safety valve, but I'd leave it to the boys to read and do, instead of mimic me. That they perfectly perform a given skill or pass off any requirement would be secondary to their actually digging in and learning about and doing something.

The least-read book among boys today.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Monday, March 14, 2016

10 Plants That Could Kill You

Tenderfoot No. 4b (2016): Describe common poisonous or hazardous plants, identify any that grow in your local area or campsite location. Tell how to treat for exposure to them.

Nausea! Diarrhea! Vomiting! Paralysis! Death! Right in your home!

Prepared. | For Life.™

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Dakota Fire Hole Fire-building technique

Illustration by Robert L. Prince
Saw this on Facebook.

Native Americans used a Dakota fire hole to hide cooking fires from their enemies. Turns out that these small pits also consume less wood while burning hotter than open fires. Plus, they excel in windy conditions and provide a great platform for cooking. The fire hole works by drawing fresh air into the combustion chamber. Hot air rises from the hole creating a draft that draws air through the vent and into the base of the fire. The cycle is self-­sustaining, and digging the vent on the upwind side of the fire hole helps suck up the breeze like the air scoop on the Bandit's Trans Am. Here's how to dig one.
  1. Dig the fire chamber away from tree roots. Excavate a pit 1 foot in diameter and 1 foot deep. Now widen the base of the chamber a few inches so it has a juglike shape. This lets you burn larger pieces of wood.
  2. Dig the air tunnel. Start a foot away from the edge of the chamber, on the upwind side, and carve out a mole-like tunnel 5 or 6 inches in diameter, angling down toward the base of the fire chamber.
  3. Build your fire in the chamber and top the hole with a grate or green saplings stout enough to hold a pot over the flames.
  4. Put out your fire. I'd be a bit more through than what is demonstrated below, though.
  5. Leave No Trace - Refill holes before you leave.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Using Scouting as a Missionary Prep Tool

A note I shared with my son's new Young Men President:

Today is Scout Sunday, and I wanted to share with you my feelings on how Scouting can help the Young Men in our ward.

I shared the following link with your predecessor, and I think you would benefit from reading through it, too.  I was the 11YO scout leader in the ward a few years back, and I learned so much about how Scouting, when properly carried out as a youth-led* and -driven program, provides practical preparation for not just missionary service, but the life skills our boys (and girls) will need upon leaving the house as 18YO 'adults'.  Boys of priest age, especially, need these lessons reinforced, in addition the spiritual side.  It's often said that Scouting (not basketball) is the activity arm of the Aaronic Priesthood (at least in the USA and Canada), but I have seen that that arm is often atrophied to the point of uselessness, and one-arm push-ups are really hard to sustain. (Picture a fencer here, with an oversized sword arm and tiny non-sword arm, if it helps.)

I have learned that a good Scoutmaster (to include Varsity Coach and Venturing Adviser) can turn every Scouting experience into a Duty to God moment, effectively converting 12 dedicated DTG nights into dozens of meaningful experiences. What I mean by that is that if the boys are taught to recognize the spiritual implications in every activity they undertake, whether Church, School, Scouting, etc. they will be more effective at helping others recognize those same things later on; instead of holding dedicated, compartmentalized "Duty to God Nights" to check off a line on a list, they will be more likely to continually do their duty to God.  This means that camping must be more than sleeping in a tent and playing around all day.

I would urge you to evaluate how well Scouting is working in the YM organization, and if there are deficiencies, to remedy them.  I would be happy to share with you my lessons learned and what I think are some best practices, if you would like.

*This past year, since B has been in the marching band, and I watched how they operate and have been impressed with what I have seen.  Unlike the top-down, adult-centric leadership methods we use in Church, I noticed that the marching band was youth-led.  The football, basketball and drill teams are the same way.  Teachers and advisers teach and advise the youth leaders, but they don't take the field, even if something goes wrong.  Instead they coach those leaders, who then are trusted to carry the instructions and lessons back to their team.  This is the same model Scouting employs, but is the hardest thing for our volunteer leaders to figure out.  It is also why I am fond of saying that "Presidents preside, Advisers advise."

Prepared. | For Life.™