Saturday, April 29, 2006


Last Tuesday morning I had the chance to attend the Engineering Day displays at the U of U. My son’s project was on display and I took the day off from class to go and see it. It was about 7:30 in the morning when my wife and I headed for the nearest “on ramp”. From a distance we could see the parking lot at the end of it. We headed for the old highway and down toward Farmington. There, where the long neglected Legacy Highway bridge passes over the Freeway, we decided to give I-15 a try. We were barely past the “last chance” exit when every thing bogged down to stop and go gridlock. As we sat there, I contemplated the frustration, pollution, waste, and danger imposed on us and the thousands around us each day. This filthy dangerous disgrace is the Legacy of Rocky Anderson’s political ambition; an example of and fitting metaphor for all the evil caused by those who put their political gain above the good of their fellows and the success of their communities.

The Legacy Highway fiasco is particularly vexing when we consider that after all the wait and all the legal wrangling and all the money lost and the expense increased that the highway will still be built. For ten years it will have phony restrictions placed on it, and then the Legacy Parkway will become a Freeway at last, with much more money spent to up grade it, with much more time wasted and lives lost all to gratify Rocky’s political ambition and the arrogance of some litigious professional protesters.

Now consider the next time you buy gas at inflated prices that President Bush has been trying for years to open the vast reserves of Alaska to our use, and the same political motivations have placed us in economic distress and at the mercy of our enemies. What a waste, what a gridlock, and what a “legacy” for the Democrats in the Senate who bought their power at the expense of the Nation they pretend to serve. Someday the oil will flow from the Artic to the people who need it, but the cost will be greatly increased by the delay forced upon the enterprise by those who could manipulate the mob to support their power.

Twenty Years of spineless immigration policy have allowed a flood of illegal aliens to cross into America, now our border policy has crashed. The politicians in Congress are afraid to take the steps to fix the mess that the President has suggested because they are still seeking political gain at the expense of their nation. Pandering to one side or anther on the issues – succumbing to threats and intimidation - the price of politicizing the immigration policies of our nation may now prove too high to pay. What a legacy!

Consider how day after day Democrats, Clintonistas, professional protesters, seek to bog down the liberation of Iraq, the growth of Democracy in Afghanistan, and the war on terror so they can hurt the President to gain their own power. Their legacy is built on the suffering of our soldiers and the lives of our allies in Iraq who suffer day in and day out at the hands of fanatics, murderers whose hope for world conquest is maintained by the constant obstructions thrown up by the “party out of power” and their media masters.

The high road to world peace will some day be built, but the cost will be greatly increased and the suffering of the peoples of the world will be greatly increased by those who throw up obstructions for the votes of fools.

Sunday, April 16, 2006


I began my carrier as a School Teacher instructing eighth grade American History classes. I taught the same lecture six times a day to large classes of barely pubescent boys and girls with very little light behind the eyes. My lunch break was a chance to escape the “adolescents” and fraternize with my colleagues in the faculty lunch room. There, for 180 plus lunch breaks, I sat and listened to the teachers at our school complain about the administration, the parents, the students, and the School District. Their most pointed attacks were always against the Principal and his Vices; how they did nothing, didn’t know what they were doing, and how our principals were paid too much for doing too little.

At the end of the year I was lucky enough to escape the Jr. High and take up my present position at the High School. The physical and mental changes that occur in students between the ages of thirteen and fifteen are truly miraculous. I will always be thankful to the dedicated Elementary and Jr. High teachers that prepare my students for high school and forever be grateful that I get to work with these students once they have achieved cognition.

That first year at the high school I determined that I would not eat my lunch in the faculty room. In the twenty plus years of lunch alone I have perhaps sacrificed some friendships, but I have also spared myself thousands of bitch sessions

My small but intense administrative experience, I run Boy Scout Camps, has taught me that for all their sincerity, those who are not in charge cannot possibly understand all the challenges faced by those who are. It is so easy from the narrow point of ones own daily experience to fault those who have responsibility for and a grasp of much more. Thus it became too painful for me to listen to the same old, same old attacks on my Principal by those who had no comprehension of what he has to face.

One afternoon I was listening to a local radio talk show, the commentator was complaining about the salaries of administrators in the schools, insisting that they did nothing while getting paid more than the teachers “in the trenches” doing the real work of the school. My phone call actually got through to Mr. “Right”. I told him that it would be impossible for me to do my job as a teacher if it wasn’t for the Vice Principals that deal with all the problems of the school day in day out while I spend my time doing exactly what I want to be doing. The radio guy hung up on me.

I watch as our Vice Principals organize and coordinate all the “programs” placed on the school by National, State, and County officials; while they organize activities, attend all extracurricular activities and then have to deal with gangs, fights, drugs, angry parents, my mistakes, my disruptive students, and on and on and on. And then they get spit on by the students whom they seek to keep in school, the parents whose children the administrators seek to serve, and the teachers whose classes are made possible by these Principal’s service.

Last week, I was in the final session of the class I have been taking at WSU on Colonial America. The lecturer had been assigned to discuss modern manifestations of Colonial thought. While pointing out that the American military was now using military techniques developed to fight Indians in the French and Indian war, he mentioned Robert D. Kaplan’s *Imperial Grunts* claiming that the only way to really know how the military worked was to do as Kaplan has done - as my Professor put it - to talk only to privates, corporals, sergeants, and first lieutenants. I have not read *Imperial Grunts* nor, do I believe, has the Professor. His one reference to “using French and Indian War tactics” was no doubt fished off the internet. Be that as it may, I strongly disagreed with him that only the underlings have a true picture of “The War”. When I voiced my objection, a crusty old fellow who is quite open about his military service, jumped in to scold me. “If I have never been there, I don’t know what I am talking about.” To which I gave the above explanation of the faculty room grumblers. Of “teachers” who know nothing about the general operation of the “plant”, griping continually about things they do not fully understand. Later reference by the Professor to the implementation of the Injun fighting techniques in the War on Terror clearly indicated top down as well as “bottom up” adaptability in our military. But the point was made; those who gripe the loudest are often those who understand the least about “the big picture”. While the concerns of the “privates” must be addressed, as they are indeed the ones in the trenches, doing away with the folks on top just because the grunts don’t see the need for them is extremely short sighted, whether dealing with the operation of a school, an Army, or a Nation.

Of course, when enemies of those “in charge” are seeking allies in supplanting them, they can often find disgruntled, and usually ignorant, underlings ready to complain bitterly about the “management”. Yeas ago, when I was called on to fix a broken Boy Scout Camp in California, those who wanted to seem me fail actually held secret meetings “up canyon” with my employees looking for those who would complain against me in order to get ammunition to call for my removal. Fortunately for me, and I dare say for the camp, there were loyal “grunts” in the crew who were willing to put their faith in my efforts, even though they did not understand them completely. Thus the griping of the dissatisfied was countered by the support of the faithful.

Years ago, at my camp in Wyoming, a boy died of a heart attack. A few weeks later I had a disagreement with one of the young staffers who worked for me. In the week following his reprimand, he told a flood of lies and half truths to the scout master of the troop he had been assigned to as camp friend. That scout master returned home to write a letter to the National Office accusing me of a flood of failures that seemed to indicate that my crew and I had failed the boy who died and had somehow caused his death. The letter was forwarded to my Scout Executive and he brought it to me. Though each of the lies was easily dispelled by the presentation of the truth, the hurt and damage done by such disloyalty and bitterness was great. By the time the letter came to light, I had already sent the staff member home for other reasons; so I was spared any direct confrontation with him on the subject. Years later I received a letter from him. He was on an LDS mission and wrote of how guilty he felt for what he had said and done in a fit of anger and a desire to hurt me. “Would I please forgive him?” The letter is still in my files – it has not been answered.

It is with such experiences, of no real significance in the world, that I watch the attack by those out of power and out of the know on President Bush, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, and others in positions of responsibility. The truth of their successes is manifest in the safety and success of our nation, but the bitter bitching around the lunch room table continues by those who are out of the loop and long for self aggrandizement, a bigger “paycheck”, or to do malicious mischief to those who bear the real burdens of responsibilities. It would be wise for the people of this nation to consider the motivations and the knowledge of those who find fault.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

If the Wine Is Sour, Through It Out

Last Tuesday night I rushed home from my Book Binding class at the U. After weeks of waiting my wheat paste had arrived and I would finally be able to attach the carefully selected cloth cover to the book I had built. I had cut and folded each pair of pages from the heavy watercolor stalk, built the two leaf signatures and allowed them to sit under weight over night. I had carefully measured and punched the holes for the thread and double stitched the text block together. I had used up the last of the ‘class issued’ wheat powder gluing the spine and had waited two weeks for the arrival of the bright colored silk threads I needed to create the hand sewn head bands. The wheat paste was supposed to arrive with the silk but the company from New York had sent starch instead of paste and I had had to wait anther two weeks for the right stuff. My wife, knowing how eager I was, had called me at school to tell me it had arrived. I had rushed home to hold it in my hand before heading off to the University. The instruction on Japanese book boxes seemed interminable. I have little interest in Japanese bindings or boxes, I wanted to get home and finish the “round spine” binding which filled my dreams with art books to paint and build.

When the professor released us to work, I asked some final questions about attaching strings to the head and foot of the spine and about placing extra PVA along the spine to insure the cloth would stick. Then I left. At home, I mixed the paste, searched up my biggest brush, and spreading the mixture across the precisely measured and cut cloth; began to cover my painstakingly prepared text block. Then reality met my dreams. I couldn’t get the cloth centered, I had trouble with the pasted cloth sticking to itself and not laying flat on the book. In frustration I abandoned the mounting method I had been taught and laid the book on the table to try and center the cloth and get it mounted smoothly. It did not adhere properly to the spine and in the morning the cloth had not shrunk to fit the cover as I had hoped. Ugly creases and wrinkles ruined my dream. At first I had told myself it didn’t look too bad – it would pass, but I fretted about it all day, and that night I ripped the covers off and started over again. The boards warped when I took off the cloth and I had to relax them with water then press them for a day to get them straight again, I bought and cut to size a new sheet of cloth, reattached the covers to the spine and let them dry over night; then sanded the paper hinges smooth. Friday night I was ready to try again. With the help of my daughter and wife I followed my teacher’s instruction the best I could, and the cloth hung straight on the spine. I pressed it flat with my bone folder and got it trimmed and tucked. It looked promising as I put it under pressure for the night, but in the morning the same ugly wrinkles had appeared along the spine, only a few this time – but my dream had been the perfect form I had managed on the small practice book I had made weeks before. I ripped the covers off and set out to build the whole thing over again. I have abandoned the old boards, cut new ones, glued and sanded, and prepared a new piece of cloth. Tonight I will take the carefully assembled components to my “master” and get his help. I took the class to learn to do this difficult thing right. I’ll keep you posted.

We all want the easy way. We dream of doing wonderful things then get bogged down in the difficulty of process, and all too often fail. We either settle or give up. We long for the easy way. Yesterday, I took the easy way on the *Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe*. As I sorted through the hundreds of folders that make up the “paper work” for Camp, I put in the new DVD of the movie and watched the adventures of Peter, Edmund, Susan, and Lucy. Even in its movie form; C S Lewis’ masterpiece teaches the important lesson needed by a frustrated book binding student. There is no easy way to perfection!!! It would be so easy to settle for Turkish delight, but that is not the way to real happiness. True happiness and success in life, to paraphrase Norman McClain, comes through Art, and Art does not come easy.

I have been dismayed as the people of America lose their resolve in the war on Terror; as they think of abandoning Iraq and Afghanistan to the clutches of Islamic Fascism; the “cut and run” scenario that would leave “Narnia” forever in winter. Evil has always offered the easy way out but the “not one will be lost so give me all the glory” plan has been a lie from the beginning.

I am dismayed by elected officials that think that a vote on the floor of Congress declaring this or that about the illegal immigrants that have flooded our boarders will solve the problems that thirty years of feasting on Turkish delight has wrought.

I am dismayed by “educators” who think that more money and new strategies cooked up in University Education programs and Teacher Union discussion groups will replace hard work and high standards in the classroom.

I am dismayed that in the wake of hurricanes and other disaster, "spoiled children" demand more Turkish delight without being willing to rebuild and go on by their own sacrifice and the welcome service of others. They want every thing at once and perfection from the start.

In a nation accustomed to instant gratification, in a society used to having others do the hard work, where everything, as Saint Exupery explains in *The Little Prince*, can be bought in the shops; it is hard to get people to stay the course and do the difficult things necessary to build dreams into reality.

I have aspired to draw and paint for decades. At last I am beginning to produce some minor works that please me, my harshest critic. Now I have this dream of binding them in perfect “round spine” books. In my struggles I am often inspired by the words Irving Stone gave to Michelangelo in *The Agony and the Ecstasy*. The great artist had been struggling for weeks to cover Julius’ ceiling with the Apostles and appropriate designs. Discouraged, he went to the wine shop of a friend. The cup he was given had just been filled from a newly broached cask. One sip and he spit it out. The host was offended. “I can’t drink this swill,” the artist informed the innkeeper. The man took a cup himself, tasted the wine, and smashed the cask. As the sour wine gushed out onto the floor, he shouted, “If the wine is sour throw it out.” Michelangelo went back to the Sistine Chapel and scraped his carefully made frescos off the wall and went on to dream, plan, and produce the work that will be his master piece.

Some years ago the Drama Department at our high school put on the musical *Working*. It was well done, of course, but there was one scene that bothered me. In it a young man was singing as he pantomimed a steal worker lifting bars from one pile to another. The “worker’s” line went something like this, “If Michelangelo had had to paint the Sistine Ceiling a thousand times; even his mind would have been dulled.” As an aspirant to Art I knew the truth of this. In his life long struggle to become an artist Michelangelo had painted the Sistine ceiling a thousand times, many thousand times. He had spent months dissecting rotting corpses to master the details of human anatomy, and a life time copying the drawings of his masters to learn the craft necessary to place Adam and his Creator in the center of heaven.

Now there are some that will mistake, “throwing the sour wine out” for quitting. I can imagine the "Cut and Run" in Iraq crowd saying its time to throw the President out! But such “take the easy way out” types miss the entire lesson of mastery; one must stay the course to perfection through many a failed effort. What if Michelangelo had only painted the Sistine one time? What if Julius had fired Michelangelo after the artist had scraped his mess off the ceiling? What if Aslan had left Edmond to die on the stone table? What if I had placed my round spine binding on the heap of failed projects that litter my life? What if we had all accepted that Lie in the beginning?

Americans have hard choices in many things. The answer to the hard choices is never the easy way out.