Archives for February 2011

Paul Tackles Old Age

Jumbo remotePaul seems to think my eyes aren’t able to see quite as well as when I was his age. So for his latest project he programmed a jumbo universal remote that Megan bought from Deseret Industries. It cost $1.50 because the battery cover was missing. But there is nothing that Paul can’t fix with a little duct tape.

At the moment the remote will control the television and the VCR. It also controls the family room and stair lights because Paul thinks my legs aren’t getting any younger either.

Paul figured if he gave me the remote directly I would be offended and wouldn’t use it so he left it laying on the couch. Right on cue I picked it up and started trying the buttons. Tonight I looked on the remote hoping to find a jumbo “PP” button — the one that will turn off Paul’s Projects, at least for a little while.
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Sledding Near Miss

Sarah, Bryson, and Aurora ready to sled

Sarah, Bryson, and Aurora ready to sled

There was snow on the ground so Adelaide, Sarah, the grandchildren, Jill, and I went sledding. We picked a very small hill for the grandchildren and took our cameras. Click on the images to enlarge. The videos are usually not visible in a feed reader. In the screencap below I have circled a girl in pink at the bottom of the hill. Keep your eye on her when you play the accompanying video of Bryson and I sledding.

Sledding near miss

Sledding near miss

Adelaide took the photograph below as we narrowly missed the little girl in pink. You can see how close we came. I still had the camera rolling.

Near miss, different angle

The near miss, taken from a different angle

Aurora in the snow

Aurora in the snow

Bryson with a snowball

Bryson with a snowball



Adelaide, Aurora, and Cassandra sledding

Adelaide, Aurora, and Cassandra sledding

Sarah and Bryson sledding

Sarah and Bryson sledding

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Presidents on Arms

The right of the People to keep and bear arms

Oberndorf Mauser rifle
The Second Amendment, adopted on December 15, 1791, is the part of the Bill of Rights that protects the right of the people to keep and bear arms. Recently the Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to possess a firearm, unconnected to service in a militia. The Court also ruled that limits placed on the federal government also apply to State and local governments.

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

The version above was passed by Congress. The version ratified by the States does not capitalize militia or arms but does capitalize People.

Collected herein is a quote from each president about arms. Do you have a favorite?


The Presidents Series

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Chrome’s Dead, Jim!

Chrome is dead, Jim!
The page I was viewing in Chrome died today, as you can see from the message. This doesn’t happen very often and when it does, just the one page dies and not the whole browser. I like amusing error messages, it soothes the pain of a crash.

For the one or two people on the Internet who don’t know who Jim is or who said, “He’s Dead, Jim!” watch the video or click on the error message.

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6 Money Tips for Married Couples

Edward Stern is a writer on earning your bachelors degree online.

MoneyMarriage is a union between two people who are in love and want to share the rest of their lives together, but boy does money enter into the equation in a big way. Money issues are the #1 reason for divorce in the United States, mostly because people don’t have enough of it. Money is a big deal for a married couple, especially ones with children and other family members to support.

Especially in today’s tough economy, it’s more important than ever to be thrifty and do what you can to save money. Saving money doesn’t mean drastic life changes or eating 10-cent ramen noodles with every meal; instead, just making a few easy cuts here and there can help you save big over the course of a year. Here are six money tips for married couples to help make some easy choices when it comes to money that will help you save, both on bills and on headaches.

  1. Buy store brand as much as possible: Whether it’s at Costco, Target, or Safeway, buy store brand over name brand as much as possible. It’ll save you a good chunk of change and you’ll be getting the same thing as the name brand, really. Big name brands bid on getting the rights to store brands so they can capture different parts of the market. They sell store brands for less and name brands for more to help off-set costs. For basic things like toilet paper, pasta, and bottled water, go with the discount name brand to spend less without sacrificing quality.
  2. Be creative when it comes to childcare: One of the largest expenditures for working parents annually is childcare costs. Putting a child through daycare and after-school care is expensive enough, but when you throw multiple children into the mix, it becomes a financial drain. Figure out creative ways to save on childcare. Ask relatives if they’d be willing to watch children, and compensate by taking them out to dinner every once in a while or treating them to a night out. Swap playdates with other parents, or if you work part time, find another mom with a different schedule from yours to swap shifts. Enroll older children in after-school sports at school.
  3. Cut the crap: In all likelihood, you are paying for things you don’t need or rarely lose. Get rid of them. Magazine subscriptions are a drain on finances, as are newspaper subscriptions; plus, you can view the same content online for free or for a cheaper rate. If you’re not using a gym membership, cancel it, or just go running and create a home gym. Do you really need premium cable? How many of those thousand channels do you watch?
  4. Explore the great outdoors: Family days at an amusement park or at the movies are certainly fun and a good way to spend time together, but they are costly. Instead, have fun at a public park tossing a football or go swimming at a public beach. Go on a day hike, or if it’s snowing have a big snowball fight and build snowmen all day, maybe splurging on a hot chocolate break at the nearest bakery. See what community events are being put on in your neighborhood and city. Family fun days don’t have to be expensive — there’s plenty to do for free.
  5. Get a programmable thermostat: Heating bills are a big cost, and rather than making your family bundle up while keeping the house freezing, install a programmable thermostat. Most people save up to 20 percent on their heating bills by doing so because you can program it to turn off when you’re out and about and to change temperatures in the morning and when you go to bed.
  6. Only buy what you can: After creating a budget stick to it, and only buy what you can afford now — that means no credit cards. You’ll just get yourself into debt and rack up costly interest, having to pay more than you would have before. Spend responsibly and within your means, avoiding credit cards to encourage those habits.

Bryson Visits Brigham City Temple Construction Site

Brigham City Temple Construction
Jill was in Brigham City today at the temple site. Construction continues on the north-east corner of the temple. Since Jill viewed the construction two weeks ago, the corner has risen to the same height as the other corners of the temple.

Bryson, taking some refreshment, posed in front of the construction at the viewing area.

Bryson at the Brigham City Temple construction site
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Reduce, Reform, and Restrict National Government

Shays' Rebellion

Shays' Rebellion, a clash between farmers and merchants, threatened to plunge the states into civil war

The Revolutionary War left many of the colonies deep in debt because of borrowing for troops and weapons. States tried to pay back these debts in Continentals, printed by the Confederation Congress, but people wanted gold and silver that had real value. Each state was printing its own money, causing disputes over what each currency was really worth.

The Confederation Congress could not raise taxes nor use a court system to force states to trade with each other. Some farmers refused to pay taxes and took up arms causing the federal militia to be called out to stop the rebellion. Obviously a stronger national government was needed. From this need evolved our current Federal Government.

A number of people recently have expressed delight that the Federal Government may have to close down. They feel that we would all be better off with no national government at all. Clearly, if history is understood, we cannot return to the days before the Constitution and all the problems a weak national government entailed.

Rather, we need to insist on the government the Constitution gave us. The set of fundamental principles and established precedents detailed in the Constitution outline how we are to be governed. If the Founders thought that no national government was necessary, they would never have met in Philadelphia and given us the Constitution.

The real problem is not that we have a national government but that Washington has overreached its power, overspent its budget, and overrun state sovereignty. A reduced, reformed national government, restricted to its enumerated powers, should be our goal.
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100 Years Ago: War, Death, and Western Pacific

The following was adapted from the Improvement Era magazine of February 1911.

No More War?

For the abolition of international war, Mr. Andrew Carnegie has transferred to a board of trustees, twenty-seven in number, Senator Root of New York as president, ten million dollars, in five per cent first mortgage bonds.

Andrew Carnegie

Andrew Carnegie in 1913

The proceeds, five hundred thousand dollars annually, is to be freely used by the board to establish a lasting, world-wide peace.

When war is abolished, the fund is still to be used for the banishment of the next most degrading evil.

[100 years later, we have wars or conflicts in Afghanistan, Balochistan, Cambodia, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Ingushetia, Iran, Iraq, Mexico, North Caucasus, North West Pakistan, Sahara, Somalia, South Thailand, South Yemen, Sudan, and Yemeni.

Founded in 1910, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace is still in operation.]

Falling Mule Death

Elder John Edward Kirkman, son of Mr. and Mrs. John Kirkman, of Salt Lake City, and who was laboring as a missionary in the Hawaiian Islands, came to his death by drowning in the sea, on January 10.

He was riding a mule along the edge of a precipitous cliff on the island of Maui, when the mule missed its footing and fell with its rider into the sea, and both were carried away with the tide.

Elder Kirkman’s body was found on January 15, and was buried in Kipehulu.

[This is not the end of the Falling Mule story]

Passenger Interchange

The Western Pacific Railway has arranged with the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad and the Santa Fe for the interchange of passengers. This now gives Salt Lake City three trans-continental lines.

The Western Pacific promises to become a strong factor in the material development of the territory traversed by it in Utah, Nevada and California.

[Western Pacific was acquired in 1983 by Union Pacific. In 1988, Rio Grande Industries purchased the Southern Pacific Railroad, the combined company taking the Southern Pacific name. In 1995, the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway merged with the Burlington Northern Railroad to form the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway. In 1996 Southern Pacific was purchased by Union Pacific.]

Adapted from: “Passing Events”, Improvement Era, Vol. XIV. February, 1911. No. 4.
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The Book of Mormon and Scalable Vector Graphics

Book of Mormon chart

A snapshot of a portion of the Book of Mormon Site

Your first question might be, “How are the Book of Mormon and Scalable Vector Graphics connected?” Or perhaps, “What is the Book of Mormon?” or, “What are Scalable Vector Graphics?” There are plenty of people who can tell you about the Book of Mormon, for example at or any of these people.

Scalable Vector Graphics

Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) represent graphic information in a compact portable form. Vector graphics contain commands to draw shapes at specified coordinates. This enables the graphics to be scaled without loss of image quality.

You can see this for yourself in a moment, provided you have the right browser. All major modern web browsers, support and render SVG markup directly with the exception of Microsoft Internet Explorer. However, Internet Explorer 9 beta supports the basic SVG feature set. Click on the link to get Internet Explorer 9 or get a real browser like Firefox or Chrome.

The Connection

About a year ago I wanted to show graphically on a web page how Book of Mormon characters were related. After trying various methods I settled last November on creating a large SVG graphic. I kept a few project notes. I obtained a domain called which could raise a few eyebrows at the Department of Homeland Security until one realizes that is just the home of the Book of Mormon Site.

To summarize, I used SVG because the web page size is small, only 151K bytes so far; the graphics can be scaled; and I could use free tools, like Inkscape to create the SVG.

The Site

Before you head on over to, remember when you get there to try scaling the graphic by holding down the Ctrl (Control) key and dialing your mouse wheel. You should notice that the quality of the graphic remains the same no matter how large you make it.

Who To Do

I still have to move the characters around so that they line up correctly with the timeline. Later I will maybe add non-family connections like who served with which commander, who fought each other, and who converted who.

Such a who to do.
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