Friday, April 2, 2010
“Bullying in schools raises major concerns” was a headline in last Wednesday’s Herald Journal. The story was about a young 15 year old Massachusetts girl who hung herself after months and months of being bullied by her fellow students at school. Bullies for reasons only they understand have an intense desire to humiliate and dominate someone. Their bullying activities often are directed toward someone that might be a bit different and are either unwilling or unable to defend themselves against the demeaning antics bullies employ. The girl in Massachusetts had recently emigrated from Ireland, possibly spoke with an accent, and maybe dressed differently from the rest of the students. She was probably targeted and not accepted because she was different.
There are a variety of ways bullies demean their victims. Sometimes its name calling, sometimes its jeers and whispers. Often it’s not allowing someone to be part of the group, like making them eat lunch by themselves and not inviting them to hang out after school. Extreme cases of bullying can include physical contact, poking, and shoving and other forms of physical abuse. In this modern age of Internet social net working a bully may choose cell phone texting as a way to demean and show their dominance. The consequences of bullying, or what some would consider innocent teasing, can be serious. In some instances those being bullied take drastic steps to relieve themselves of the pain of being ridiculed and not being accepted by kids their own age. In extreme cases of bullying, like the young 15 year old girl in Massachusetts, victims believe suicide is the only answer to relieve their suffering.
As a young boy I remember being the victim of some minor bullying at school. I was always the skinny kid that looked a lot younger than I actually was, so I was an easy target. In grade school I often hated to go outside for recess because I knew that there were a couple of kids roaming the playground looking for someone to bully. When they discovered me, a small and skinny kid, I became their easy target. A typical bullying activity consisted of one of the bullies getting my attention by simply talking to me. His buddy would sneak behind me and kneel down on hands and knees. When everything was in place the bully would shove me backwards and of course I would end up on my backside. The two bullies got a big kick out of putting me down and encouraged others to join in having a good laugh at my expense. The result was that I was humiliated in front of all my classmates and didn’t like recess.
After coming home several times and complaining to my parents about what was happening to me at school my dad sat me down and told me that the only way the bullying was going to stop was if I did something about it. He suggested that the next time it happened I should immediately jump to my feet and attack the bully with all of the energy I could muster. I followed my dad’s advice. The next time I was shoved backward and landed on my backside I came up swinging. I was scared to death because the kid I was attacking, the bully, was much bigger than me. But this time I had the element of surprise on my side. They didn’t think I would ever do what I did because there were two of them. I eventually got one of them in a headlock and hung on for dear life. After several minutes a teacher intervened and got us separated. But guess what, dad was right, I was never bothered again by the two bullies. They left me alone after that but unfortunately went looking for someone else they could pick on.
When I was in junior high school students that were different in some way were tagged with the term “fairy,” meaning that they were accused of being homosexual. In today’s world the word is “gay.” Calling someone a fairy was about the worst name you could use. It was very demeaning and a way for a bully to assert their dominance over someone they didn’t like. Once someone was tagged as a fairy there was no end to the torment the poor student suffered. No one would ever want to befriend a fairy or include them in group activity.
So, how do we deal with the possibility that there is probably bullying going on in Cache Valley? Parents need to be extra sensitive to what’s happening to their children at school, at church, or on the playground. Does your child have friends? Does your child willingly participate in school and church activities? If your child is different in some way and is always depressed when they come home from school you might inquire about why they feel depressed. You might want to talk to other students in the school to find out if your child is being bullied. If he/she is a victim you need to do something about it.
If you are a student you can be aware of the “loner,” the classmate that doesn’t seem to have any friends, and befriend them. When you observe bullying taking place you can be the courageous one and come to the defense of the classmate who is being demeaned and bullied. You can report bullying situations to the school authorities so they can do something about it.
If you are a teacher, an administrator or an adult leader of youth in church be aware that there is probably various degrees of bullying going on. You should address bullying situations firmly and aggressively.
Could bullying in Cache Valley be extreme enough that it would cause a student to take her/his life like what happened to the girl in Massachusetts? Let’s hope not.
Monday, March 1, 2010
Chad comes to our house every Sunday for a visit. Chad is only about six months old but is full of energy. First thing in the morning we dress him up in his green training vest and take him to church with us. He has no idea what church is all about but is learning that he needs to endure the three hours and behave himself. When church is over we reward him for being good by taking him to Top Stop, he loves to eat ice out of a cup. Then we turn him loose in the back yard to work off some of his excess energy. After a half-hour or so of romping around in the back yard it’s nap time. Like me he loves to curl up in front of the fireplace and take a Sunday afternoon nap. Chad is a beautiful black Labrador puppy who is in the early training stages of learning how to be a guide dog for the blind.
Roger Prestwich, Karen’s brother, is a puppy raiser for an organization called Guide Dogs for the Blind. He volunteered to be a puppy raiser and acquired Chad last October. He decided to be a puppy raiser because of encouragement from his sister Karen who is also my wife. She had observed one of our neighbors, Diana DeWald walking a puppy home from school each afternoon. She suspected Diana’s dog was being trained to be a guide dog for the blind. One afternoon Karen and I saw Daryll, Diana’s father, walking if front of our house with the same puppy. He stopped to visit with us and told us that the dog was, as Karen suspected, being trained by his daughter to be a seeing eye dog. He told us that this was the fourth dog their family worked with. After our visit with Daryll, Karen decided that her brother would be a good puppy raiser and convinced him that he should give it a try. Roger applied, was accepted, and went to Salt Lake last October to get Chad off the guide dog puppy truck. On that day Roger was presented with an eight week old cute black ball of fur that was full of energy and totally undisciplined.
Roger and Karen soon discovered that raising a puppy was an enormous task. It was like having a newborn baby. Chad was not house trained, he wanted to chew on anything he could find, he would cry at night, and he was into everything. His only redeeming value was that he was a cute all black Labrador puppy. After a few weeks it became obvious that Roger was becoming frustrated and needed some help. Because Karen had encouraged Roger to become a puppy raiser she felt obligated to give Roger a break once in a while by taking him on Sundays. She did what she had to do to become an official puppy sitter for Guide Dogs for the Blind. Now she regularly helps Roger out by giving him a break from the intense attention Chad demands. She takes him every Sunday, and other days as needed.
Roger has done a good job training Chad and teaching him to behave himself. It’s been a lot of work. Chad has grown to almost a full sized Labrador. He is house broken and is learning that he should only relieve himself outside on command. He will sit on command, and will come when called. He doesn’t whine very much anymore, but he still likes to chew on things. He is slowly learning that when he is wearing his green vest he is expected to behave differently because he is working. He can’t allow himself to be distracted by people, cats, other dogs, or any other animals. He knows that he can’t jump on people and is not allowed on furniture. When Chad does something he shouldn’t do he gets a leash correction, sometimes the correction has to be real firm to get his attention. When he is behaving himself and does what you want him to do he is rewarded verbally by telling him what a good dog he is. Chad is never told “no.” There is always a temptation to tell him “no” but “no” is simply not a word that is used to discipline Chad or any of the dogs who are training to be guide dogs for the blind.
At six months old Chad can still be a handful and want to do puppy things. Last Sunday he was on his leash in the house, but somehow got away. The first thing he did was take after the cat, he wanted to play. The cat was smart enough to get someplace high where Chad couldn’t reach her. He then grabbed a pine cone out of a bowl on the coffee table and took off upstairs. He knew he had done something wrong, but he is still a puppy and wanted to see if he could get away with it. Karen took after him but Chad was smart enough to know that with evasive tactics he could avoid being caught. It was a game for him. He was having a great time as Karen chased him around the kitchen table then around the coffee table in the living room. She finally called for help. It took both of us to corner him in the living room and get him under control.
Roger will probably have Chad until next October. By then the plan is that he will be totally under control, learned basic obedience and good manners, lost all of his mischievous puppy tendencies and be ready for the next step in becoming a guide dog. He’ll get back on the puppy truck and head west where his training will continue at one of the two Guide Dogs for the Blind campuses either in Oregon or California. When Chad is finished with that training and graduates he will be given to a blind person as a permanent companion.
It will be a sad day when Chad is given back to Guide Dogs for the Blind. I’m sure there will be lots of tears. We’ll probably go to his graduation. The only thing that will soften the pain of giving him back is knowing that he has been trained well and will be a lifelong companion and guide dog to a blind person.
Monday, February 8, 2010
Last week my wife and I went to San Diego to be spectators a golf tournament. We go most years because we want to get away from the bitter cold in Cache Valley. Torrey Pines is a beautiful place to visit, and we enjoy strolling around the golf course watching people and watching a little golf. Tiger Woods usually plays. He didn’t show up this year because he is dealing with some personal issues. So this year we didn’t see Tiger, but we did meet by accident another person of note, Daniel Audick. Before last Sunday Karen and I had absolutely no idea who Daniel Audick was. We were going to find out real soon.
Karen and I have some rather unique chairs that we take with us to lean on when we get tired of standing. We had settled in at the 17th hole with a bunch of other people and were making good use of our chairs when this man approached Karen about her chair. He asked if he could take a look at it, try it out to see if it would be something he could use. When we finished with the chair, he concluded that he was much too large of a man to use one but thanked Karen for letting him take a look at it. Then he said, “Oh, by the way, my name is Daniel Audick.” In return both Karen and I introduced ourselves and began chit chatting with Dan. We told him that we come to San Diego often to the golf tournament and that we were from Utah. Dan told us he was from San Diego and just lived a short distance from the golf course. Karen and Dan began speculate with one another about how long of a put various golfers would have to get the ball into the hole. I joined in. It became kind of friendly competitive between the three of us. The correct distance for each put was posted on the scoreboard so it was easy to see whose guess was the closest.
At one point there was a break in the golfing action, no golf balls on the green to speculate about, the conversation kind of lagged. Then Dan said, “I want to show you something.” He took an enormous ring off the ring finger on his right hand and said, “Have you ever seen one of these?” Karen and I are pretty naïve about most stuff and as far as we could tell it was just a very big expensive ring with lots of diamonds. We both silently thought Dan must have been pretty wealthy guy.
Then Dan said, “Would you like to hold it,” and handed it to Karen. We both looked at all of the diamonds and noted that the ring had his name “Daniel Audick” engraved on one side, and the Roman Numerals XVI on the other. We still didn’t get it. Then Dan said, “That’s my Super Bowl ring.” With our mouths wide open in amazement we took a closer look. We discovered that in addition to the Roman Numerals XVI there was a small engraving of the Golden Gate Bridge and the numbers 26 – 21 on the other side. After Dan told us that it was his Super Bowl Ring we took another look at all of the diamonds and figured out that they were in the shape of a football. This was indeed a Super Bowl ring and we were talking to its owner, Dan Audick.
Knowing that we were talking to a Super Bowl Champion led us into all kinds of interesting conversation with Dan. It’s not every day that you get to hold a Super Bowl championship ring and talk to the player who earned it. We asked lots of questions and found our that he played offensive tackle for San Francisco in 1981, the year the 49ers won the Super Bowl, score 26 - 21. I made a stupid comment when I asked how it was to play football with Steve Young as the quarterback. Dan quickly corrected me and said Joe Montana was the quarterback of the 49ers in 1981. I felt kind of dumb.
We learned that Dan’s parents were in the military and he lived in lots of places both foreign and domestic. He graduated from High school in Colorado and was recruited to play football for Hawaii. He was drafted by the Pittsburg Steelers and subsequently played for the St. Louis Cardinals and the San Diego Chargers before joining the 49ers for the 1981-1982 season. Dan is not a big guy probably about 6’3, about 225 pounds and by today’s standards would be considered undersized for the position he was playing. He told us that his job was to protect Joe Montana’s blindside from the pass rushes of the defensive players. Dan asked if we had seen the movie “Blindside.” He told us that the movie was based on a book “The Blind Side: Evolution of the game.” A small part of the book was written about him and how he played an important part in the evolution of the left tackle position in protecting the quarterbacks blindside from the pass rushing defensive ends.
Our encounter with Daniel Audick at Torrey Pines made our day. Tiger may have been missing but Dan was a delight to visit with. And it all happened because of a Super Bowl championship ring. We agreed to meet him next year at the same spot on the 17th green at Torrey Pines.
Monday, January 18, 2010
As the time came for the teams to take the floor for their pre-game warm-up, the Jazz took the floor first and received the usual enthusiastic cheers from the crowd. However, all of the cameras and most of the attention was focused on the other end of the arena in anticipation of LeBron running through the tunnel and onto the floor. The area around the visitors tunnel was packed with media and fans just waiting for LeBron to arrive. There wasn’t much of a cheer as he ran onto the floor, it was mostly boos, but it was obvious that those who surrounded the tunnel wanted to be as close as they could to LeBron and hopefully get a photo of him.
As the team warmed up all eyes continued to be on LeBron. Both media and fans crowded around the Cavalier’s end of the floor just to get as close as they could to simply watch him. I don’t know a time when I have seen as many people with camera phones trying to get a photo of someone. LeBron was aware that he was the center of attention and put on quite a show during pre-game warm ups. He wowed the crowd with spectacular dunks. After the lay-ups LeBron began shooting threes. He doesn’t often miss, and just before the game began he entertained the crowd by attempting a dozen or so half-court court shots. He didn’t make any but several times came very close. Each time he came close there was a collective moan from the crowd. The pre-game fascination with LeBron didn’t end with the warm-ups, during the National Anthem I counted seven television cameras, all focused on Lebron.
The introduction of the starting line-ups is always the same. The visiting team’s players get a polite unemotional introduction. This time it was no different, there were the usual boos when LeBron was introduced. On the other hand the introduction of the Jazz starting five is filled with loud cheering, videos of the players and flashing lights. While all of the craziness of introducing the Jazz starting five was going on LeBron was doing pull-ups on the basketball rim at the other end of the floor.
Before a game begins, LeBron obviously has a pre-game ritual he goes through. I watched as he stood on the floor near the Cavaliers bench and pulled down his basketball shorts. He then made sure his jersey was properly tucked into his undergarments, made other adjustments to his uniform and then pulled his shorts back up where they belong. He then walked over to the scorers table and rubbed his hands in white powder and threw a bunch of it into the air. Now he was ready to play basketball. He went through the same ritual before the second half started except he did it in the middle of the court. He dropped his basketball shorts below his knees tucked in his jersey and adjusted his basketball uniform.
For LeBron the first half of the game was rather uneventful. He did steal the ball a couple of times and gracefully ran to the other end with enormous strides for a spectacular dunk. At half time he only had eight points. But everyone in the arena knew that when crunch time came, probably in the fourth quarter, he would come alive, take charge and be the player that would win the game for his team. He didn’t disappoint. Almost all by himself he secured a 13 point lead for the Cavaliers late in the fourth quarter. Everyone in the arena knew it was over. The Jazz could never come back, especially with LeBron in the game taking charge for the Cavaliers. Jazz fans began heading for the exits, they were sure the Jazz were going to lose. LeBron and his exceptional basketball skills had been the deciding factor. By the end of the game he had 32 points, a bunch of assists and rebounds. It was inspirational to watch him play and dominate. He is truly a spectacular gifted athlete and a tremendous basketball player.
But wait, the game wasn’t quite over. Despite LeBron James the Jazz came back and won the game by one point with a last second three pointer from a rookie player no one had ever heard of. It was an exciting finish, one of the most exciting basketball games I have witnessed.
Listening to the cheers of the Jazz faithful LeBron was forced to accept defeat and quietly exited the arena. The ride back to Cache Valley wasn’t all that bad. The day was complete, we got to watch one of the best basketball players in the world, and the Jazz won in a thriller.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Last week most of the media outlets, including The Herald Journal, had their list of the top stories of 2009. The end of the year is always a time of reflection about the year that just ended. Because of this I found it an interesting exercise to make a list of the top ten events in my life during 2009. Some were tragic and some were fun. Some were significant only to me, most were rather insignificant considering all of the important things that happened during the past year.
First on my list was a family tragedy. Last June my seventeen year old grand daughter was killed in an automobile accident. She was headed to a church camp with several other girls and their adult leader when a rear tire failed causing the van to roll several times. Two of the girls in the van were killed, the others only suffered minor injuries. I made a trip to
Second on my list of significant events during 2009 was a once in a life time trip to
The third significant event for me in 2009 was a visit I made to the Huntsman Cancer hospital in October. After a bunch of blood tests, a
Fourth, I became a great grandfather, twice. I thought being a grandfather was significant, but becoming a great grandfather was very significant and something I though would never happen to me. My mom was so excited to become a great great grandmother. We now have a bunch of five generation pictures that are priceless.
Putting Oscar, our longtime pet cat, down is fifth on my list. Oscar was given to us by our daughter Kendra and had been part of our family for about twelve years. He was a great pet. Both Karen and I adored him. Unfortunately he became diabetic and eventually very sick. I’ll never forget the trusting look in his eyes as we drove him to the vet to be put down. It was a very sad day. We had him cremated and still have his ashes in a box that sits on the living room table.
Number six, the impact the depressed economy had on the newspaper. It has been a very difficult year for the newspaper. We have had to take some drastic steps to cut expenses because of advertising revenue shortfalls. I have been in the newspaper business for almost 50 years and have seen lots of ups and downs in the economy, but never anything like what we experienced in 2009. I never thought I would see the day when major newspaper across
Number seven on my list was riding my bicycle in LOTOJA (Logan to
The eighth event on my list was a vacation trip we took with our friends the Earls to the east coast. We went to a Monday night football game visited the historic sights in
Ninth on the list was the remodel of our home. Karen remodeled the kitchen and replaced some carpeted areas with hardwood floors. We have new kitchen counter tops and hardwood floors in all of the traffic areas. I tell her that we could put up a hoop on the kitchen wall and invite friends to come over and play basketball on the new hardwood floors.
Finally I became an owner of an iphone. I can now text, twitter, check the weather, follow the stock market, take pictures, listen to music, keep my golf score, check my calendar, read the newspaper, get and send e-mail, find locations on a map with a
Who knows what 2010 will bring, life is always an adventure.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Karen and I took a trip to the east coast a few weeks ago. We went to a Monday night football game in Washington DC, visited the Gettysburg civil war battlefield, and spend a day in Amish country of Pennsylvania. Here are a few pictures of some of the historical sites we saw.
Friday, September 11, 2009
It was like running a marathon to get there, but after a day and a night and another day without going to bed we finally arrived at the Heliconia Lodge on the Amazon River. After a little rest the fifteen members of our Rotary Club group were ready to go to work. The purpose of our trip was to work on some humanitarian projects that Rotary International had funded for the benefit of two small villages on the Amazon, San Pedro de Manati, and Pucallpa.
Working with the Rotary Club of Iquitos, the Logan Rotary Club was able to get grant money from Rotary International for bathroom facilities and a water purification project for each of the two villages. Before the Rotary projects bathroom facilities were almost nonexistent and water was taken directly from the Amazon without any effort to make it safe for drinking and other uses. As anticipated when we arrived we found both projects were nearly completed. All that was left to do was some final tweaks to the water projects and some painting and finishing touches on the bathroom facilities.
The village of San Pedro de Manati is located on Yanamono Island in the middle of the Amazon River about 25 miles down river from Iquitos. Heliconia Lodge where our Rotary group stayed is directly across the river from the jungle trail that leads to San Pedro. The jungle of the Amazon is extremely hot and humid and after an hour on the trail to get to San Pedro the heat and humidity had taken its toll on our group.
A huge celebration in the school building welcomed us to San Pedro. Public officials spoke and young people sang patriotic songs and demonstrated some of their native dances complete with costumes. After the dancing demonstration each member of the Rotary team was invited to participate in more dancing. We were all good sports did it whether we wanted to or not. I’m sure we provided entertainment for the people of San Pedro with our clumsy rendition of their native dance. I thought the drum beat and the dancing would never end. A trek through the jungle and attempting the steps of the native dance for what seemed like an eternity produced fifteen tired sweat-drenched Rotarians. It was obvious the citizens of San Pedro appreciated our visit.
The same thing happened later the same day on our visit to the second village, Pucallpa, It appeared that the entire village lined the bank of the Amazon to greet us. They sang songs to us, village dignitaries greeted us, they danced, then we danced, it was hot and humid and once again the heat and humidity took its toll. We were all hot, tired and sweaty by the time the celebration of our arrival was over.
Part of the preparation for the trip was gathering of clothes, shoes, books, school supplies, medical supplies and other items that we could leave behind that the locals could use. Each member of the team took an extra fifty pound bag chock full of items for the people, mostly children, of the villages. We left the items with village officials to be distributed as needed.
In addition to accomplishing some work on the Rotary projects we planned some other activities for the families and the children. We brought with us a portable battery operated digital photo printer. While some members of the team worked on the projects, others spent time taking digital photos of family groups. Taking family pictures, printing them, and presenting the photos to the families was a huge hit. Sometimes it was hard to get the families to smile for the photo, but after they received the photo smiles were everywhere as they admired themselves and their family.
Because of the intense sunshine and ultraviolet exposure on the Amazon most of the people have developed an eye condition called pterygia which is wedge shaped fibrous growth on the surface of the eye. In extreme cases the growth may progress to the cornea and cause vision problems. Logan residents Dick Criddle and his wife JoAn have conducted screening in many countries in South America to find out how common the condition is and to try and figure out what can be done about it. The Criddles supplied us with the necessary information and procedures to check the villager’s eyes for pterygium. They also provided, with the help of Hope Alliance, a suitcase full of reading glasses of various strengths to be distributed to the people in the villages as needed. Unfortunately out of the approximately 150 people we examined for pterygium only a few didn’t have it. Those who didn’t have it were young enough that their eyes hadn’t been exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet rays for decades like some of the older citizens. Many of the older people were fitted with reading glasses.
At one of the eye testing sessions I was designated as the one to determine who had developed pterygium in their eyes. In my very crude and limited Spanish I would greet the person, ask them their name and invite them to sit in front of me so I could look into each of their eyes. When I finished the eye exam in very crude and limited Spanish I would attempt to tell them on a scale of one to five if they had developed pterygia and how far it had progressed. It was important that I knew their age so when I asked them their age I had to listen very carefully so I could get it right. Most of the time they spoke so rapidly that I had a hard time understanding, so I would ask them again, but this time please slow down, so I could understand them. After testing one gentleman I asked him his age and would he please, “hable mas despacio, por favor,” (speak slower please). He then replied in very plain English with a huge smile on his face, “sixty eight.” I looked at him and asked “Habla Engles?” He said with a big wide grin “yes.” We both had a good laugh because we both knew that he was having a little fun with this pale faced gringo who was attempting to communicate with him in very bad Spanish.
While most of our group was working on the various projects the two dentists in the group Larry Hogge and Doug Gray set up shop in a small room where they could invite patients with dental problems to pay them a visit. They brought with them the necessary tools and drugs to do the work. The majority of their patients were children with a simple tooth ache. Unfortunately the only thing the two dentists could do was pull teeth. They had lots of patients and pulled lots of teeth and distributed lots of pain pills.
Jamie Dickerson, Kathryn Kemp, Michele Hall, Melissa Richins, and Abby Colston were the young women in our group and were a real hit with the girls. It was not uncommon to see the young women surrounded by the young girls of all ages. Everywhere they went they had a large following of young people. They painted fingernails, took pictures played games and did other fun activities with the children.
Mary Jarvis came prepared to teach the women of the villages how to sew and create craft items that they sold to earn a little extra money. Mary made available various fabrics and patterns for them to use. In the sewing room there were three Singer treadle sewing machines and other sewing tools they used to create bottle holders, purses and other items they could sell. Mary also helped the children with crafts projects.
Everyone on our Rotary team was impressed with how happy people in the villages seemed to be. Compared to what we have they don’t have much and live a very simple life. Their dwellings consist of a small hut covered with Palm leaves to protect them from the weather, mostly rain. All of the buildings in the villages are mounted on stilts so they won’t be washed away from the annual floods of the Amazon River during the rainy season.
Logan Rotary Peru 2009 was considered a success even though we didn’t accomplish a lot of work on the Rotary projects. We learned a lot about the people of the Amazon, how they lived. In our small way maybe we made life a little more comfortable for them with the items we left behind and the help they received with the dental and eye clinics.
When the time came we left the villages on the Amazon to visit some of the other sites of Peru, including Cusco and Machu Picchu. Our final day in Peru was spent in Lima. Before heading home we had dinner at la Rosa Nautica on the Pacific Ocean. It had to be one of the nicest restaurants in all of Peru.
Our trip back home was exactly what it was when we left ten days earlier, like running a marathon. It was a day and a night and another day without going to bed before we arrived back in Salt Lake. It was nice to hear the immigration official in Los Angeles after examining our passports say, “Welcome home.” Our trip gave us a new appreciation for what we had and for our homes in Cache Valley.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Sunday, June 14, 2009
While we were at Lysha's funeral we took the opportunity to take another five generation Photo. This photo is of Great great grandma Smith holding Kamery, the baby of Mike and Cassie Atkinson, Great grandpa smith, Cassie, and Lynette Rushton, Cassie's mom. It took us a while to get together with this one but we finally got it done.
Sunday, May 31, 2009
Here are two photos, one of Oscar in a bottle. He was cremated when we put him down and we have the ashes in a bottle in a box in the living room. I never thought we would get another cat after we were so attached to Oscar and had to put him down. But time heals and Karen's kids thought she needed another cat. So....on Friday Karen drove to the Salt Lake airport to pick up Konie from Konecticut. David found the stray at his work shop and thought it would make a good pet for Karen. He put it on the airplane in Connecticut and twelve hours later Karen picked up up at the airport. The cat did quite well having been on the airplane for 12 hours. The cat is now getting acquainted with it's new home. It is mostly brown and black with a little bit of white. It's also quite frisky compared to Oscar. It's also about one-third the size of Oscar only about eight pounds. Anyway we have made the 10 to 15 year commitment to have another pet in the house. Wish us well.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Obviously Rebecca wasn't impressed by the whole thing. She fell asleep when Steven was set apart as a missionary.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
I traveled to Logandale to listen to Steven speak in sacrament meeting and be with him and his family as the sent him off. I was able to get some good photos (I think) and thought I would share them with all of you.
Monday, April 13, 2009
When I went skiing in Colorado a month ago I decided to grow some facial hair. I did it once before after I did Chemotherapy because I was so happy just to have hair. I've had it for a few weeks, but it's gone now. I'm just not cut out to have facial hair. Anyway I thought you might like to see it.
These are difficult times for newspapers. Within the past month at least two large metropolitan newspapers in the western United States have gone out of business, the Rocky Mountain News in Denver and the Seattle Post Intelligencer. I was in Colorado the day the Rocky Mountain News printed their last edition and watched with sadness as a television newscast chronicled the removal of the huge Rocky Mountain News sign from their Denver office building. It appears competing newspapers in large metropolitan areas are becoming a thing of the past. There simply isn’t enough revenue to support two newspapers in the big cities.
The newspapers in most cities big and small have a long tradition of serving their communities and most of them can trace their roots back to the mid to late 1800’s. Many of the big metro dailies can trace their roots back to the 1700’s and the early history of the country. Newspapers played a significant role in the founding of our country. The history of The Herald Journal goes back to 1879 when a little weekly newspaper called The Leader was born. The Leader eventually became the Utah Journal and then The Logan Journal. The Cache Valley Herald was born in 1925 as a competitor to the Logan Journal. The competition between the two newspapers was spirited and it soon became obvious that two newspapers couldn’t survive in Cache Valley. The two newspapers ended their competition with one another in 1931 when they combined into The Herald Journal and went from weekly to daily publication.
Since that time The Herald Journal has continued to change as the needs of Cache Valley have changed. Adding a Saturday edition, switching to morning delivery, and creating an Internet site, hjnews.com, are just three of the most significant recent changes that have helped The Herald Journal remain the dominant supplier of information to the people of Cache Valley.
The relatively recent development of the Internet as a source of information has had a huge impact on the way we do our business and will probably influence how we operate for years to come. When we began our website, hjnews.com, almost fifteen years ago we had no idea where it would end up. Since that time we have gradually shifted some resources from the newspaper to our Internet effort. One of the early dilemma’s we faced was whether or not we should make the entire Herald Journal available for free on the Internet. The choice we made, right or wrong, was to have both a free site and a paid site. The paid site offers the entire Herald Journal on line and looks just like the printed edition. Subscribers to the print edition have free access to the complete on-line edition. Those who don’t subscribe to the printed version can subscribe to the on line version. The free site, hjnews.com, doesn’t include the entire news report found in The Herald Journal. It doesn’t even look like a newspaper. It includes only a few local stories along with breaking news, photo galleries, blogs, videos, national and international news and videos by the associated press, a place where readers can comment on the news of the day, and of course advertising.
Because hjnews.com has been around for almost fifteen years in has become one of the most popular places people go to get credible information about Logan, Cache Valley, the nation, and the world. Between the newspaper with a paid circulation of 16,500 each weekday and almost 18,000 on Sunday and a website that attracts more than 6,000 visitors each day we are reaching more people than we ever did with just the print product. For this reason we remain an excellent choice for advertisers to reach all of their potential customers.
I’m often asked how the newspaper is doing in light of the recent economic downturn and the emergence of the Internet as a free source of news and information. My answer is that like most businesses we have to make adjustments and change as the media business changes. So, yes the newspaper business is changing. Right now we are in what has been called “The Perfect Storm.” We are being affected by two significant forces at the same time, the economic recession and the Internet. Fortunately over the years we have been willing to take advantage of new technology and have continued to position ourselves with the newspaper and our Internet efforts as the primary source of local information in Cache Valley. When the “Perfect Storm” subsides we are confident that both the newspaper and our Internet site will thrive.
When I graduated from college in 1963 and made it know to my parents that newspapers was going to be my life long work I’ll never forget my mom’s comment about my choice. She Said, “I guess there will always be a newspaper.” Moms are always right. We’ll make it through this “Perfect Storm” and will always be there to inform and entertain. Like many other businesses some newspapers are being forced to close their doors. Right now it’s a difficult time for everyone, but I’m convinced that there will always be a newspaper.
Growing up as the son of a father who had vivid memories of the great depression of the 1930’s and being very aware of the current world wide economic recession, I reflect often on conversations I had with my dad about money, the importance of being frugal and avoiding debt. Dad died in 1999 and at that time things were pretty good. The country wasn’t involved in a foreign war and the economy was relatively stable. Credit was readily available, people were buying cars and houses, everyone who wanted to work had a job, banks were not failing, and big national corporations were not looking to the government to bail them out of their financial problems. Life was good.
Dad always told my brothers and me as we were growing up that he couldn’t understand how the price of things could keep going up. If prices kept gong up people could no longer afford to buy the necessities of live let alone a few of the luxuries. I would always argue that it’s all relative. Yes, things cost more and the prices continue to rise, but people also make more money and will continue to make more money so they can afford the higher prices.
I can remember as a youngster discovering that my dad’s income working for the railroad was $10,000 per year. I thought that if I could ever get a job that paid $10,000 per year I would have it made. I also remember dad telling that his first and only house cost around $7,000. The payments were less than $20 per month it was a real struggle to make the payments and he thought he would never get it paid for.
He found it hard to believe that in 1966 I paid $16,000 for my first home in Missoula Montana. He found it harder to believe that I paid $35,000 for a home when I moved back to Idaho. He was flabbergasted when he found out that I paid $90,000 for a home in 1985 when I took a job at the newspaper in Bozeman. I didn’t dare tell him what I paid for my home in North Logan when we moved here in 1993. I know he would not have approved, it was simply too much money and I would never get it paid for.
As dad grew older he continued to be obsessed with the fact that things cost so much and continually warned us that the good times couldn’t last forever and we were headed for another depression. He strongly admonished his kids to avoid debt like the plague. Going into debt for a modest house was OK, and maybe even for a car, but that was it. He advised us to be frugal in the way we lived and spend our money. He sincerely believed that we should fix it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.
Dad was right when he said that someday there would be a huge economic correction. Prices and wages simply couldn’t continue to escalate as they had done for most of his adult life. The present economic correction is nothing like the great depression of the 30’s but it is the most drastic economic correction of my lifetime and is a cause for concern. Some families find themselves in houses that have decreased significantly in value and have discovered that they are upside down which means what they owe on the house is more than the house is worth. Many find that they have more credit card debt than they can afford and are paying huge amounts of interest to the credit card companies. Some people have gone into debt for expensive toys such as snowmobiles, motorcycles, boats, furniture and find themselves with huge payments they have a tough time making. Those who are a bit older, like me, have found that what they have been putting away for retirement has significantly decreased in value because of the huge drop in the value of stocks and mutual funds. Almost everyone has felt the effects of the economic downturn.
For what it’s worth I am confident about the future. In fact I think there are signs that we have reached the bottom of the recession and will soon begin to crawl out of the economic problems we have experienced over the past six to nine months. Some of headlines in last Friday’s paper gave me hope that the country has reached the bottom. Wells Fargo Bank nationally predicted record earnings, unemployment benefit filings nationwide have dropped, several large national retailers are predicting solid sales for April, and the stock market closed over 8,000 last Thursday after being down below 7,000 just a few months ago. All of the above in my view is good news and gives hope that things are beginning to turn around.
Also for what’s its worth it is my opinion that we in Cache Valley have been somewhat isolated from the serious economic problems that many parts of the country have felt. We simply haven’t suffered as many severe economic hardships as the rest of the country. The unemployment rate is higher than we would like but not as high as the rest of the country. Retail sales have suffered, but not as much as the rest of the country. Houses have decreased in value, but not decreased as much as the rest of the country.
Historically the economy has up and down cycles and there is no doubt that we are in a down cycle right now. But, the economy will recover over time, it always has. So when the recession is over what is the take home lesson that we should have learned to prepare for the next down cycle that is inevitable? My dad gave his sons good advice. Avoid debt like the plague, live modestly, save a little bit each payday, don’t be wasteful, and if possible fix it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.
Friday, March 13, 2009
Bruce Column March 15, 2009
Oscar our pet cat has been a part of our family for the past eleven years. On Tuesday of last week we had to have him put down.
He came to us as a Christmas present from out daughter. Kendra has always loved animals and thought Karen and I needed to have a cat. Just before Christmas about eleven years ago she brought Oscar to our house to live. Kendra had done a lot of work trying to find just the right cat for us. She said she “interviewed” several before she settled on Oscar - a kitty that was rescued by the Humane Society in Salt Lake. He was only six or seven month’s old when he was found wandering across the parking lot of a grocery store. The humane society rescued him, neutered him, gave him all of his shots and put him up for adoption. In Kendra’s quest for an appropriate pet for Karen and me she decided on Oscar because he seemed pretty calm and cuddly and she knew we would give him a good home. Karen and I were not so sure we needed a pet. It took a while for us to get used to having a pet in the house. But it didn’t take long for us to become emotionally attached and after a short time we found that we both adored Oscar.
We decided early on that he was going to be an indoor cat. When he was younger he wanted to go outside, but we wouldn’t let him. It didn’t take long for him to get used to being an indoor cat so for almost all of his eleven years he didn’t get out much. On the rare occasion that he did escape the house he would patrol the back yard and after a short time was ready to come back into the house.
Oscar was a pampered cat and pretty much had his way anywhere in the house. He must have had a big daddy or a big mommy because he was a very large cat. He ate well, it fact to well. Because we fed him so well he became obese and at one time weighed about 23 pounds. After a few years of being over weight he started showing signs of being diabetic. The vet attempted to get us started with insulin shots but that simply didn’t work. Oscar was simply to big and wanted nothing to do with having a needle stuck in him twice a day.
We decided that if Oscar lost some weight his body might make the necessary adjustments to control his diabetes, so we put him on a diet. He lost a lot of weight and eventually went from 23 pounds to 13 pounds. Despite losing a bunch of weight his diabetes eventually caused other problems. He developed a very sensitive stomach and constantly vomited. He went from throwing up once or twice a month to weekly, then to daily. His body wasn’t getting the nourishment it needed, he was always hungry so we were constantly feeding him and he was constantly throwing it up. Oscar probably had other physical problems that we didn’t know about, but constantly being sick and having to clean-up after him became a real problem. He wasn’t doing well at all. After a recent middle of the night episode the decision was made. Karen called the vet the next morning and made an appointment. With tears in our eyes we took him to the animal hospital to have him euthanized.
Oscar has never liked to ride in the car when we would take him to the vet. He always made quite a fuss. This time when we loaded him into the car was no different. He was very alert and had a terrified look in his eyes as if he knew what was going to happen. Unfortunately I can’t get that image of those big yellow scared eyes out of my mind as he watched Karen and me drive him to the vet’s office. When we finally arrived Karen took him into the examination room and came out a few minutes later, Oscar was gone. It was extremely painful for Karen and me, but fortunately painless for Oscar. Once the injection was put into his front leg it was a matter of seconds before he was gone.
Oscar was a wonderful pet and provided a lot of peaceful comfort to both of us. Putting him down was one of the hardest things we have had to do. He was so loyal, trusting and unconditional in his love for us. We also think that we provided a pretty good life for him. He had the run of the house. He slept where ever he wanted. He had the best food money could buy and always had a clean litter box. Karen often made the comment that after death if humans are reincarnated as animals she wanted to come back as Oscar the cat.
It’s been almost a week and I still miss him. He’s not there in the morning sitting on his haunches watching me get dressed. He is not with me on the bathroom counter helping me get ready for work. He’s not on the Kitchen counter as I eat breakfast and read the newspaper each morning. He’s not there to greet me when I come home from work each afternoon. He’s not sleeping at the foot of the bed anymore. He’s not on his window perch watching the birds at the outside feeder anymore. He’s not lounging around the house looking for a warm sunny place to sleep anymore. He’s not there to run to the front door when the doorbell rings to see who is coming to visit us anymore.
He’s gone and we miss him.
I started writing a column again. The first one is about my battle with cancer. It appeared in the paper on March 1, 2009
After almost ten years of writing an every other week column for the newspaper, early in 2008 I was forced to give it a rest because of some health issues. I simply didn’t have the energy to do it anymore.
In September of 2007 I completed five months of extensive chemotherapy followed by a bone marrow transplant to rid my body of cancer. It took several months for my body to recover from all of the chemotherapy and an extra long time to recover from a bone marrow transplant. During that time I was determined to continue writing my column and I did until February 2008 when I contacted an unexpected virus that really slowed me down. While battling the virus I simply didn’t have the energy or the desire to write a column so I gave it up.
It’s been a year and a half since I completed my cancer treatment and I’m just fine. In fact I’m back to normal with only a few minor residual side effects that I’ll simply have to learn to live with. I still have some minor numbness in my feet and some minor stomach issues as a result of all of the chemotherapy. I don’t have quite as much endurance as I once had. I have returned to a relatively strenuous exercise schedule every afternoon at the
My present health issues are not caused by cancer, but caused by what they did to me to get rid of the cancer. My cancer was a stage four mantel cell lymphoma. According to the oncologist there were not a lot of options for treatment. Initially the oncologist told me that, “we have a very difficult problem to deal with.” Mantel cell is a relatively rare cancer so there has not been a lot of research done to treat it. I wasn’t given much hope for long term survival because of the type of cancer I had. Also my age didn’t help my chances of survival. Three options were explained to me. I could do nothing and probably not survive beyond a few months. I could do regular outpatient chemo that would probably slow down the spread of the cancer which would give me a few more months beyond doing nothing. The third option was a relatively new cutting edge treatment and consisted of several week long hard chemo treatments followed by a bone marrow transplant (BMT). I didn’t think I was ready to die so despite my age at the time I opted for the week long chemo and a BMT. Obviously it all worked because I’m still alive and doing very well.
I feel extremely fortunate that I was able to endure the cancer treatment with only minimal side affects. During the past year and a half I have spent a lot of time at the
Another BMT patient that I became acquainted with survived the treatment very well. She is quite a bit younger than me and about a year behind me in her treatment. We had dinner with her and her husband a week ago and she has recently been given a clean bill of health. We both realize how fortunate we have been to have survived cancer and the treatment for cancer with no serious side effects and celebrate the fact that we are able to return to a normal life.
Right now other than a few minor physical limitations mentioned above, my biggest problem is all in my head. Every time I have a pain anywhere, a cough, a stomach ache, a head ache, a cold or any other routine ailment my mind automatically begins to question if the cancer is back. I wish I could forget about the fact that I once had cancer, but I can’t. It’s always in the back of my mind that I once had cancer and there is a chance that it might come back.
I go back to the oncologist every three months for a battery of tests to see if I’m still cancer free. So far so good, no cancer. When the results of the tests indicate no cancer it is very comforting. During each visit I ask the doctor what is going to happen if the cancer comes back. Her most recent response has been, with the treatment you have gone through “I’ve never had it come back.” She’ll also admit that the cancer treatment I had is relatively new so there isn’t a long history of success.
Next week it’s time for another visit to the Huntsman. Part of me looks forward to the visit so my mind can be set at ease that I’m still cancer free. The other part of me is fearful that the cancer has returned and I’ll have to decide what I’m going to do. Hopefully I’ll be cancer free.
When I first entered the Huntsman almost two years ago I noted that the address of the hospital was 2000 Circle of Hope Drive. I am hopeful that when I make my regular three month visit to the hospital next week, I’ll still be cancer free.