07 December 2007

Conservative or Liberal?

What does it mean to be conservative? Or to be liberal? What do these words imply? In our current vernacular these words are used as labels to describe the general dogma of an individual or group. They help us categorize ways of thinking. Seemingly any issue of political, social, and/or civic interest has a conservative as well as a liberal side. Whether it is correct or not, often these words are synonymously used to identify political affiliation – Republican and Democrat respectively. But at the very core, what is the fundamental difference between a conservative and a liberal?

In one context, liberal is defined as “given or provided in a generous and openhanded way,” or simply, “broadminded” (www.webster.com). Certainly there are many other definitions. But these definitions provide a decent idea of what a liberal believes and practices. Regarding morals, a liberal is marked by the attitude that all should define and choose their own values and standards. The liberal mindset would permit and accept a broad spectrum of moral ideologies. In this sense, they are “broadminded” and “openhanded.” One who is liberal allows others complete discretion in their respective lives. Moral right and wrong is determined by the individual’s own perception. Each person establishes his or her own truth.

In contrast to this unrestrained discretion, a conservative subscribes to an established, well-defined, even tangible moral code. Often, this code is established by a Supreme Being. One greater than all men and women instituted the truth. As such, the principles are universal. Right and wrong is not subjective; truth does not vary from one person to the next. The moral code encompasses all under the same social and even personal responsibilities.

To assert the virtue of his views, a liberal would point to the definition used above – claiming he is “broadminded” and “open” to all ways of thinking. He would even claim conservatives are intolerant for thinking there is only one correct way. And in fact, any conservative who truly understands his beliefs would agree. Conservatives are intolerant. They are intolerant of anything which conflicts with the truth. It is not intolerance of the individual. It is intolerance of error.

In Mitt Romney’s speech “Faith in America,” there was a phrase which was largely over-looked and not fully appreciated. He said, "Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom. Freedom opens the windows of the soul so that man can discover his most profound beliefs and commune with God. Freedom and religion endure together, or perish alone.”

The first sentence contains two assertions. First, “freedom requires religion,” and second, “religion requires freedom.” Governor Romney then briefly elucidated upon this second claim. He described why religion requires freedom - freedom allows full expression of one’s religious beliefs thereby enabling the individual to come closer to God. But what about the first declaration? What does Gov. Romney mean, “freedom requires religion?”

These three words address the fundamental difference between conservatives and liberals. The freedom we all enjoy is conditional. It requires an acknowledgment of the existence of God and adherence to His precepts. George Washington himself boldly declared, “It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor” (1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation).

The perpetuation of freedom is contingent upon correct observance of God’s principles. This is not a threat from God. He will not, in his anger, wrath, etc. revoke freedom and enslave people of any kind. But, as society exercises liberal discretion in weighty moral matters rather than firm devotion to God’s directives our freedom is threatened.

God’s doctrine shows us how to succeed and how to be happy – and freedom is part of that happiness. There is no other way than God’s way. So when we drift from what He has taught us we lose touch with that which ensures our freedom.

Thus, “freedom requires religion.” Freedom requires that we subscribe to and uphold God’s moral code. It is not bigotry or hatred which leads many to denounce a practice, behavior, or even a way of thinking. Rather it is their effort to preserve freedom the best they know how.

05 December 2007


WARNING: If you are a BYU fan, affiliate, student, or alum you will likely be offended from what follows.

This is exactly why I hate BYU. It is bad enough to lose to one's rival. It is even worse when, for the second year in a row, they win on a final minute scoring drive after the game was seemingly over. But when the victorious team then claims divine intervention on a critical play... "can I add some salt to the lemon juice?"

Austin Collie's 49 yard reception will be remembered by both Ute and Cougar fans for years to come. Facing 4th and 18 with only a minute remaining in the game and BYU down by one point, Max Hall scrambled out of the pocket and found a wide open Collie down the sideline - keeping a drive alive which culminated in a touchdown and sealed a second consecutive win over Utah. However, Collie's own words describing the play will long out-live his heroics of the day. In a post-game interview when asked if the play was lucky, Collie responded, "I wouldn't say it was lucky. We executed the play well. We should have had another one. Obviously, if you do what's right on and off the field, I think the Lord steps in and plays a part in it. Magic happens." (read article here)

Are you kidding me? Did he really say that? Collie just claimed that God stepped in on that play and helped BYU convert on a 4th and long situation. Does that sound a little bogus to anyone else? I have heard of the Lord providing food for a struggling single-parent family. I have heard of the Lord granting health - even miraculously - when someone was suffering. I have heard of the Lord giving guidance when one faces difficult life decisions. In fact I have heard of the Lord blessing people in so many different ways; it is impossible to enumerate them all here. But stepping in to make "magic happen" in an eternally trivial competition? That is something I have never heard of.

I have had Cougar fans ask me why I hate BYU so passionately. I am a Latter-day Saint. I served an honorable full-time mission. I go to church. I attend the temple. I serve in a calling. I live the gospel. So why the hatred?

Collie's words epitomize an attitude which permeates the BYU faithful - an attitude of self-righteousness. BYU fans, athletes, many students and affiliates carry an air of arrogance. They seem to believe that because their school is supported by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that every activity and endeavor pursued under the name of BYU is consecrated and hallowed by the Lord.

A perfect story illustrates this feeling. Several years ago my parents attended a football game at Lavell Edwards Stadium (then Cougar Stadium). At halftime the bands and dance clubs did their regular routine on the field. When the PA announcer introduced the Cougarettes, he proudly declared that they were "glorifying the gospel through dance!"

I emphatically disagree! The Cougarettes are made up of female college students who find enjoyment in dancing. Every university in the country maintains a similar dance club on their respective campuses. So what is different about the Cougarettes which enables them to "glorify the gospel through dance?" The name BYU of course. Because they dance for BYU they are most certainly representing the Lord and therefore glorifying His gospel. NO! The Lord is simply allowing these fine young women to enjoy their passion of dance.

Inherent in this self-righteousness is the feeling that they think they are on a platform above everyone around them. I went on a date once in Provo (notice the use of the word once). The girl was a student at BYU. I went into the date with an open mind. I looked forward to an enjoyable evening, hoping that possibly something long-term would result. However, I left Happy Valley with my opinions and stereotypes of BYU firmly solidified! We spent the evening with a group my date's classmates. I cannot adequately describe the change in attitude of her friends after they found out I attended the University of Utah. When first introduced we were seemingly equals and feelings were mutually considerate. However, after they learned I was a U student the dynamics amongst us were awkward and uncomfortable. Suddenly I was not one of them anymore. I did not bear the name of BYU in any way - not as a student nor an employee. It was as if a switch was flipped; they no longer knew how to act around me or how to talk with me - when in reality their behavior and actions did not necessitate changing at all.

Another example: I had a friend who did his undergraduate work at BYU, then enrolled at the University of Utah to pursue graduate studies. After a short time at the U, he sent me an e-mail. Attached to the e-mail was a picture of a beer can in a urinal in Orson Spencer Hall. He sent it out to several people trying to demonstrate how filthy and repugnant the U is. Honestly, if you are offended by a beer can in a urinal, you have spent way too much time in Provo!

The Lord is involved in our lives. He does bless us when we live right. But the Lord does not play favorites. BYU won the football game because they made the plays. They were the better team. It was not because of righteous living. If Mendenhall wants to use scriptural analogies and stories to motivate a football team - that is fine. But football is just a game. Similarly, the other teams, clubs, and groups at BYU (and any other university) are in place for enjoyment, entertainment, and expression of talent. They are not some noble effort to spread the gospel. They are not divine callings and appointments to represent God (or even the church, as Roger Reid would claim). God is certainly invested in our lives. He cares for us. He will help us overcome our hardships and weaknesses. But in the activities we engage in for amusement, He lets us have our fun without interference.

25 November 2007

Answers to Prayer

I am back in New York this evening. Wednesday morning I flew to Salt Lake City to spend Thanksgiving weekend with the fam. I sure had a great time. It was a strange feeling to be in Utah with family again. It is a feeling I suppose most people have felt if they have lived away from home for an extended period of time. After the initial reunion with family, it soon felt as if I never left. Thursday evening, after Thanksgiving dinner at Dodee's, I went up to spend the day with Trent and Amy at their home. It was just like old times. We played with their kids, watched football, and watched a movie. Trent commented once, "It is weird, it is like you never left."

The weekend was a great break from the grind of school. In fact, this morning I was sad that I had to leave and come back to New York. However, now that I am here, I am ready to get back to work and finish the semester strong. In only a few short weeks I will be back with family in Utah for Christmas and New Years. I am looking forward to it.

On the flight I passed the time by watching the movie Evan Almighty. I really enjoyed the show. In most cases I would advocate against portraying God as a character in a movie. In fact, maybe such a thing should never be done. However, I thought the writing in this movie was right on. Several lines spoken by Morgan Freeman's character (God) teach great lessons.

First, early in the show God tells Evan Baxter (Steve Carell) to do something which sounds entirely ridiculous - build an ark. In the course of the conversation, God assures Evan, "Whatever I do, I do because I love you." Such a perspective in life provides the understanding and strength to cope with any circumstance.

Later in the movie, Morgan Freeman has another line that lends understanding to God's workings with His children. "If you pray for patience, do you think God just… gives you patience? Or does he give you opportunities to be patient? If you pray for courage, do you think he just gives you courage, or opportunities to be courageous?" Certainly this is how God answers prayers. He allows us to work for what we need and want. That is the only way the plan can work.

17 November 2007

A Midievil Castle in New York

I do know if you have ever heard of The Cloisters. I hadn't until I moved to New York. It is a museum located uptown on Manhattan. However, it is not just an ordinary museum. A museum usually houses artwork, sculptures, etc. for display. This is true about Cloisters. But there is more. In addition to the midievil tapestries, statues, and books, the building itself is a display of architecture of the same time.
Doorways, hallways, pillars, arches, stairways, and even entire rooms throughout the building are actual pieces of European edifices built in the first millenia A.D. They are not replicas, not patterns or likenesses of the real thing. They were recovered in ruins, transported to New York and integrated into this museum. It is incredible!

The museum was impressive, but the park it is located in is, in my estimation, more enjoyable. I suppose my own biases and interests are manifest here. I have always preferred the outdoors to any other attraction. The park is called Fort Tyron. At this time of year yellow, red, and orange foliage covers the solid rock hillside overlooking the Hudson river. It is nice to feel like I am out of the city and in the mountains.


Ahh, the joys of research...

My experiment failed today. It is really not a big deal. It just means I lost hours of time I invested in prep and planning - not to mention the cost of supplies I used up in the whole process. It is amazing how quickly things can go wrong when working with cells and biological material. One bad step, one bit of bacteria, or even a bit of bad timing and everything is done. Because of the nature of the research, every step is like a point of no return. Meaning, there is no fixing mistakes. It is like the idom, "You can't unscramble a scrambled egg."

Two weeks ago I submitted an outline of my proposed research to my faculty advisor. A week later he returned it to me with the objective to complete the necessary experiments and have the paper ready to publish by Christmas. By Christmas!? Additionally, he expects the first round of experimental data before Thanksgiving. With this expedited timeline, I scheduled and prepared for today's tests. I spent all afternoon and evening yesterday and the whole morning today laying the groundwork for the experiment. Finally at 6 p.m. today everything was set and the experiment underway.

Interestingly, once the experiment actually begins, there is very little to be done. I just leave it under a time lapse microscope for data acquisition. The test was planned to run for nine hours. After I was sure all was well (or so I thought), I went home to get some dinner. Before long, I returned to the lab (now actually getting back into a building on campus after dark on a Saturday night was quite an undertaking - Columbia's campus can be like a fortress). When I got back to the microscope and looked at the cells I could tell something was wrong. Upon further inspection, I realized the entire system had dried up. The cells were dead; the experiment was over. I cleaned up and headed home. We'll see if I still have enough time to meet my before Thanksgiving deadline...

09 November 2007


Yesterday evening I saw the movie Dan in Real Life. I enjoyed it. I will refrain from analyzing the film here to avoid ruining the show for those who have not seen it yet. Not that there is any big twist to be expected - it is just more enjoyable to see a show for the first time without preconceived notions.

There is one aspect I do want to share. The movie's final scene includes a voice-over of the main character Dan Burns (played by Steve Carrell). He reads from a column he writes for a local newspaper. I wish I could quote verbatim what he says. He addresses the notion of having a life plan. We all have a plan in one form or another. We have hopes and dreams. We look forward to certain events and experiences. Children and teenagers are especially encouraged to have a plan, with regard to a career, etc. However, as the saying goes, 'things don't always work out according to plan.' Instead of fretting about creating and fulfilling our individual plans, the final line of the movie suggests that maybe we should all just "plan to be surprised."

How many people truly live their life plan? How many 3rd graders have you known who said they wanted to be an astronaut, and when they grew up, they actually orbited the earth? Or those who said they wanted to be a professional baseball player later donned the cap and stirrups for their favorite ball club? On the flip side, how many terminally ill cancer patients planned and prepared for such a disease to rob them of years of healthy living. Or what individual who suddenly looses a loved one in a tragic accident knowingly said their final goodbye before the tragedy?

I certainly do not imply that we should not have hopes and dreams, nor should we plan for inevitable sickness and misfortune. Contrarily, we should dream big. We should set big goals. We should work and fight to achieve what we desire. But despite our best efforts, despite the strength of our will to follow the plan we have charted for ourselves - sometimes, in fact oftentimes, we end up somewhere entirely different than where we originally intended to go. We enjoy or endure experiences which we never anticipated. Such is life. And that is a good life.

Have you ever watched a movie when half way through the show you figured out how it was going to end? Have you ever guessed who the 'bad guy' was early in the show, then to your disappointment learned at the end of the movie that you were right? Such a movie is unexciting, mundane, and boring. There is no thrill. There is no surprise, no spontaneity, no captivation. Is that what we want in our life? What adjectives would you rather choose to describe your life: unexciting, mundane, and boring, or thrilling, surprising, spontaneous, and captivating? I choose the latter.

"Plan for surprises." When we consider where we want life to take us, we should plan for the best, hope for the best, look forward to the best. But we cannot be too shocked when the best does not always come our way. And when we are down, when we feel the weight of disappointment, sorrow, failure, mistake - in those moments when nothings seems to be going right and there is no indication of change anytime soon... remember, "plan to be surprised."

The Ultra-Marathon Man

If anyone ever needs motivation to go running... read this book! This guy is insane, in a good way. On Dean Karnazes' 30th birthday he found himself on the border of a mid-life crisis. He lived a good life. He had a successful job in the Bay Area. He had a family whom he loved. But he felt unfulfilled. Something was missing. Was this all life had to offer?

Feeling somewhat depressed, he went to a bar with some friends. A woman made advances on him despite the ring on his finger - and on hers. Feeling sorry for himself he played along for a few minutes. Before things progressed too far he excused himself, walked out the back door, stripped down to his boxer shorts, and began running. He ran all night! 17 miles later and the next morning he stopped at a pay phone, called his wife and asked her to come pick him up. His feet were blistered and bleeding. His shin splits lasted for weeks. But he had found his passion.

And he hasn't stopped running since. Running provided an out for him. It fulfilled him, completed him. In the years since turning 30, Dean has completed seemingly un-human feats. He ran a 135-mile race in Death Valley in the middle of summer. After the pavement melted one pair of shoes, he had to be sure and run on the white traffic lines for the remainder of the run. He has also run a marathon to the South Pole. Most recently, he completed the Enduro50 - running 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days. And these are just a few of his accomplishments - in addition to regular races of over 100 miles (who does that?).

Here are some quotes from the book which I particularly liked:

“Most dreams die a slow death. They’re conceived in a moment of passion, with the prospect of endless possibility, but often languish and are not pursued with the same heartfelt intensity as when first born. Slowly, subtly, a dream becomes elusive and ephemeral. People who’ve let their own dreams die become pessimists and cynics. They feel that the time and devotion spent on chasing their dreams were wasted. The emotional scars last forever. ‘It can’t be done,’ they’ll say, when you describe your dream, ‘You’ll never make it.’” (Pg. 139)

“If you’re not pushing yourself beyond the comfort zone, if you’re not constantly demanding more from yourself – expanding and learning as you go – you’re choosing a numb existence. You’re denying yourself an extraordinary trip.” (Pg. 263)

“The greatest rewards of high achievement are intrinsic” (Pg. 161)

“In running, the muscles work a little harder, the blood flows a little faster, the heart beats a little stronger. Life becomes a little more vibrant, a little more intense.” (Pg. 276)

And my favorite:

“Immerse yourself in something deeply and with heartfelt intensity – continually improve, never give up – this is fulfillment, this is success.” (Pg. 262)

This last passage is what makes Dean Karnazes such a compelling person. He found "something" which he not only loved, but had been blessed with a talent and an ability to succeed at - and he ran with it. He cultivated it, dedicated himself to it. He found fulfillment. He inspired others. And, most importantly, he does this without loosing sight of his ultimate priority - his family.

18 October 2007

Sunshine on my Shoulder

This photograph may be unimpressive to most people. However, it marks a first during my time here in New York.

When I returned from my morning run in Central Park (and may I add it was a beautiful run!) I walked in my room to notice something a bit different. Bright light poured through the window casting stark shadows of the blinds on the ground. "That is odd," I thought. I looked out my window to see the morning sun glaring off the window of an adjacent building. "That's great" (what movie?). For the first time while I have lived here, my room has seen the sun. Albeit indirect sunlight through the reflection, I think it still counts. Certainly my room is not dark and gloomy. It is adequately lit by ambient light of the sun during the day. In fact, I rather enjoy my bedroom. I get a lot of work done here at my desk (see below how hard at work I am!).

The sunlight lasted all of five minutes. I suppose I will just have to wait until the weather and earth rotation cooperate again to see the sun again.

02 September 2007

The greatest

Despite the status of Major League Baseball relative to other professional leagues and associations, despite television ratings, despite the ebb and flow of player popularity, baseball will always be America's traditional pastime. Nothing can replace the unique character of each ball park. Nothing can replace the thrill of catching a foul ball. Nothing can replace the familiar chorus of Take Me Out to the Ballgame sung during the seventh inning stretch of every game. Nothing can replace the the sight of a meticulously manicured field - the green grass, orange dirt, and striking white lines. Above all else, in the eyes of every boy, nothing can replace the time spent with dad at a baseball game.

It was my opportunity on Thursday 30 August to attend a Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees baseball game - two of the most historical and storied ball clubs in professional sports. This is the biggest rivalry in all of baseball. One could also argue it is the biggest in all of sports. One thing is certain to all sports fans, this event shares significance among the great sporting competitions in the world. Additionally, the Yankees play in what Sports Illustrated named the best stadium in the world - Yankee Stadium (The house that Ruth built). The two greatest franchises meet in the greatest rivalry in the greatest stadium - What an experience!

Fans of both ball clubs flocked to Yankee Stadium. The loyalty of each person was easily identifiable by a baseball cap, shirt, or paraphernalia. The rivalry is healthy - each fan passionately dislikes anyone wearing to opposing color. However, this borderline hatred is accompanied by a mutual respect for the other team. A good measure of banter was exchanged amongst fans. Admirably, all of it was contained within the realms of good sportsmanship. There was no fighting, profanity, nor vulgarity - just good-natured jesting.

The game itself was very fun. The Yankees shut-out the Red Sox. In fact, the starting pitcher for the Yankees had a no-hitter going into the seventh inning. The crowd was really getting behind him. Everyone wanted him to get the no-hitter. As the game wore on, each pitch seemed to carry more significance. Unfortunately, he gave up a hit in the seventh inning. It was a great game!

I am smarter!

Before I moved to New York a friend who once lived here told me that the library on Columbia's campus would make me feel smarter just by being inside. Well, I took a self-guided tour of the Butler Library last week, and sure enough, I think I am smarter now ;).

The building is classic. It is evident that the school spared no expense on this edifice. It is a symbol to me of the value the university places on learning and knowledge.

Here are a few pictures:

This first one is the main reference room with high ceilings, tall windows, and plenty of tables for studying and reading.

This next picture is the catalog room. You can see this room has two levels. The first level has cases and cases of cards listing the library's collection. The second level has multiple small alcoves perfect for quiet study space.

This is a picture of a room representative of many rooms throughout the building. Rooms like these are everywhere allowing students to find an ideal spot for their respective purposes. Some of the rooms have long open tables, like this one. Others offer smaller desks and cubby spaces for added privacy.

I think this last room is my favorite. I almost missed this room altogether. It is hidden in one of the back corners of the library. When I walked into this room I suddenly felt like William Parrish. Fortunately Joe was not waiting to see me :).

26 August 2007

My world...

Come... take a tour of my world.

First, an external view of my place.

The entrance to my apartment building is the door on the left. The closed aluminum doors to just left of my door is a bar. Fortunately, they do not make too much noise at night.

This is looking down my street (to the north). Again, you can see the door to my building toward the left of the image.

This is looking down from the 125th subway station onto my street (Broadway). This image is looking south. My building is the fifth on the right (right by the first delivery truck).

Now let's go inside...

This is what I see when I walk in the front door - a hallway leading directly to the main room. The kitchen is the opening seen to the left.

Immediately to my left (not seen in the picture above) is the bathroom.

Here is a before and after picture of the bathroom. There is a sink behind the half wall.

I am installing a shower head so we can keep clean!

Now let's look at before and after pictures of our kitchen...

This is what our kitchen looked like the day we moved in.

This is what it looks like now.

We still want to get some furniture for the main room, but here is how it looks now -

We have a futon available for anyone who would like to come visit!

Now to my room... I like to call it my lair. It is not too big - only 9' by 8'. But I feel I was able to utilize all of my space well.

Amy helped me name my sleeping apparatus as my "Big boy bed." I had to sleep the first few nights on the ground before I was confident enough in my ability to not fall off the loft bed :).

The top image is looking into my room from the main room. You are looking northeast. On the bottom, I took the picture from inside my room looking southeast.

This picture is looking into the corner where I was standing when I took the bottom picture seen above. My wardrobe is open; the door is covering a window behind it.

This is what I see if my blinds are open in my bedroom. I am really getting a great deal on this room. I am lucky they did not charge me extra for the scenic view!

My blinds are closed most of the time. My room is great. It is quiet and dark.

This is the view out the front windows of the apartment. You are looking down on Broadway at approximately 124th street.

What did you do this weekend?

My first weekend in New York – it was a good start to city life.

Thursday evening (23 Aug) I went to a Mets game at Shea Stadium. I had a great time. I thought it would be a bit lonely going to a game alone, but it was not too bad. Certainly it is more enjoyable to have the time to spend with someone, but it was a good activity for an evening when I did not have anything to do…

The San Diego Padres were in town – they gave the Mets a good game. Wagner blew a save in the top of the ninth inning when he allowed two runs to score to put the Padres up by one run. The Mets were able to tie the game in the bottom in the ninth to send the game to extra innings. The second batter for the Padres in the tenth inning hit a solo home run to break the tie. Unfortunately, the Mets could not match them in the bottom of the tenth…

The New Yorkers are great fans. They can be brutal to their team and the players if they do not perform as expected, but all good fans are like that. A fair amount of boos sounded from the stands at Shea Stadium on Thursday when the Mets failed to capitalize on scoring opportunities. These fans are passionate about the game. It is fun to watch games with them. I especially enjoy riding the subway to and from games. It is fun to listen to the fans analyze the game and even talk trash with others. I am not strongly invested in any of the New York area teams (yet) so I can just listen and laugh at all the different comments. It is great!

Friday afternoon I met Rustin and his class from NYU Dental School in central park. They were meeting there for pizza and Rustin invited me to join them. We enjoyed some great New York style pizza – probably my favorite food in the city thus far, I love it! After we ate, Rustin and I rode the 1 train down to the South Ferry station where we boarded the Staten Island Ferry. The sun was out, but the sky was incredibly hazy. Nonetheless, we had a good time. The Ferry travels very near to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. When the Ferry docked in Staten Island they made everybody exit the boat. Rustin and I walked off the boat, around the ferry terminal to the boarding room and got right back on to return to Manhattan. Neither of us know much about Staten Island yet so we did not have much reason to explore on this occasion. When we got back to the subway I met a man who lives on Staten Island. He overheard Rustin and I talking about running. Fellow runners always can share a cordial and enjoyable conversation. He was telling me about some neat runs on Staten Island. I got his phone number. I am going to run with him sometime out on the island.

Riding the Staten Island Ferry past the Statue of Liberty

Rustin and I nearing the Manhattan port

After our ferry trip, Rustin and I rode the subway to Canal St. I had experienced this street once before with Dad and Trent. Know what I was getting into this time, I had fun walking up the street. Everyone is out to make a buck – selling knock-off watches, sunglasses, ties, jewelry, etc. Rustin and I bought some boot-legged DVD’s (shame on us). They are movies that are still in theatres. They guys selling the DVD’s had a suitcase full of them. About five minutes after we bought the movies, we saw another group of guys down the street getting busted for selling the same DVD’s. I discreetly put our DVD’s into my shoulder bag and continued on. I am glad I could contribute to such a heinous crime ring.

What could be in that plastic bag? Certainly nothing illegal!

Making mom proud on Canal St.

We followed Canal St. into Chinatown. All the store signs slowly transitioned from English to Chinese characters with English subtext to solely Chinese. We found a small Chinese restaurant where we ate dinner. After eating dinner, we returned to America… I mean… we walked back to a subway and headed to our apartment.


We put in some of the DVD’s we bought. We averaged about 50%. The video quality on half of them was good. The others are not even worth watching.

On Saturday the ward had a tubing trip planned. They chartered a bus to drive us two hours north of the city. We stopped in a town called Phonecia, NY. It was a nice, even quaint, town. There is a business there which rents out tubes to float down a local river. It is not a huge river – bigger than Millcreek and the Lava Hot Springs river, but nothing like the Snake or the Green River. There were some quick parts with so rapids – if they could be called that – but nothing too big. I did get dumped out of my tube a couple of times. It was fun.

We stayed and had lunch at a park in Phonecia. The area was beautiful. The hills and surrounding area were blanketed with shrubs and trees. It would be a fun area to find some camp spots – but only with a fully loaded Jeep!

The ride home is one I will not soon forget. The air conditioner on the bus was not working. We had 60 hot, wet bodies crammed on a stuffy bus. The temperature outside was more than 95 degrees with high humidity. Sitting on the bus doing absolutely nothing, not an ounce of physical exertion I was sweating like I do when I run. It was miserable. I had to laugh at the situation, otherwise I would have been even more miserable. When we drove into Manhattan I saw a marquee which said the temperature was 98 degrees. When I stepped off the bus it felt like I had just entered an air conditioned room – that is how bad it was. Despite the long ride home, I had a good time and met some new people.

The only way to escape the heat was to sleep.


I left Salt Lake City in the Penske truck on Monday morning. Dad helped me get all of my boxes and furniture from my bedroom up to the garage on Sunday night. I wanted to have everything ready to load when Rustin showed up. He arrived from Arizona at about 1:00 a.m. I had gone to bed at about 11:00 to get some sleep in. When he arrived we loaded all of my things in the truck and then went to bed. We awoke at 6:00 and were on the road by about 6:30. I drove from Salt Lake to Rock Springs, WY where we filled up the truck. I had been feeling sleepy while driving so Rustin took over driving responsibilities for the next while. In addition to filling up, we stopped at Wal-mart to buy a pad lock for the back of the Penske truck. As we continued through Wyoming I called Judd Naylor my insurance agent. I wanted to know if we were insured as we drove the rental truck. Apparently a regular auto policy does not cover the class of truck we were driving. Rustin’s insurance did not cover us either. We decided to stop in Cheyenne, WY to buy insurance from a Penske dealer. We spent about an hour finding the place and getting the policy set up. We entered the state of Nebraska not long after leaving Cheyenne. It seemed like Nebraska was never going to end. It was a long state! By the time we got to Lincoln and Omaha it was dark. We crossed the Missouri river into Iowa and continued east. Finally at about 2:30 a.m. on Tuesday we arrived in Iowa City, IA were we stayed at the home of one of Rustin’s friends (Curtis). Rustin and Curtis had not seen each other for quite some time, so they talked for about an hour. We finally got to bed at 3:30.

Tuesday 14 August -- Nauvoo and Carthage

We awoke at approximately 10:00. We showered and dressed in shirts and ties. Curtis let us borrow one of his cars so we could drive to Nauvoo, IL. We got on the road by 10:30 and it took us about two hours to get to Nauvoo. We decided to pass through Nauvoo and visit Carthage first, then return to Nauvoo. The entire drive was beautiful. The Mississippi River is stunning.

We were stopped on a bridge crossing the Mississippi so a barge (seen in the background) could pass through

The drive from Nauvoo to Carthage is particularly breath-taking. The road meanders along the banks of the Mississippi. It was beautiful! When we arrived in Carthage we quickly found the Carthage Jail. We followed a tour led by a sister missionary. It was incredible to see the place where Joseph and Hyrum Smith were martyred. The room where they were when the mob attacked was the jail-keepers own bedroom. The door in the jail today is the same one which hung on the day of martyrdom. There are two holes in the door from bullet holes. One of the holes is from the bullet which struck Hyrum in the face and killed him. It was a somber feeling to be in that room.

On the drive back to Nauvoo from Carthage I received a phone call from Trent. I had spoken with him earlier in the day because Amy had been admitted to the hospital with the anticipation of delivering the babies. When Trent called me in the afternoon he said, “We have two new baby girls!” Tears flushed to my eyes. I experienced various emotions. I was so excited for them. I also felt sad that I could not be there with them. My best friends just welcomed two new children into their home and I could not be with them. It was difficult. Nonetheless, I am happy and grateful that the babies arrived without complication and that both Amy and the twins are healthy.

Back in Nauvoo Rustin and I attended an endowment session in the temple. It is a spectacular building. It is perhaps the nicest temple I have ever been through. It was a memorable experience to be there.

We traveled back to Iowa City. Curtis gave us a short tour of The University of Iowa (and saw the football stadium), then we went back to his place where we stayed for one more night.

Wednesday 15 August -- CUBS GAME!!!

We awoke at 7:30. We got on the road by 8:00 and drove to Chicago. It was only about a 4 hour drive. By the time we found our hotel and checked in it was about 1:00 p.m. We found a Motel 6 near the O’Hare Airport. We rode the train to downtown Chicago where we ate lunch at Giordannos – an Italian restaurant famous for making the famed Chicago style stuffed pizza. It was delicious. After lunch we walked down the Magnificent Mile – a famous section of Michigan Ave with nearly every big-name store imaginable. At 5:00 we rode the red train to the Addison stop in north Chicago. This stop is significant because of Wrigley Field!!! I have wanted to go to a game at Wrigley for a long time. I finally got my chance. We bought tickets for $30 from a scalper. I then bought a shirt at a small shop outside the stadium. We went inside and found our seats – not bad.

The famed Wrigley Field -- an awesome ball park!

Reds win 11-9

We were about 40 rows up right off of 3rd base. Soon after we sat down it looked like there might not be a game. The rain began to pour and lightning flashed through the sky. The game was scheduled to begin at 7:05. However, it rained until 8:00. Finally, shortly after 8 o’clock the players came out and began warming up. The game was underway at 8:35. Because of the late start, by the sixth inning, many fans began heading for home. Rustin and I decided to move a bit closer to the action. We found some seats about 15 rows up behind the Cubs dug-out. We watched the last three innings from those seats. It was awesome! Wrigley field is beautiful. It is well maintained. It has a quaint, old-time feel to it. It is nestled in the neighborhoods of Chicago. I loved the game. I would definitely go again.

The game ended at 12:00. We did not get back to our hotel until 2:30. I am not impressed with the Chicago public transportation system – very slow!

Thursday 16 August

We started our day on Thursday at 9:00. We were on the road by 9:30. It took us at least an hour to get out of the greater Chicago area. Traffic was slow. We traveled on I-80 for just a short time. Soon after crossing into Indiana, we took I-65 heading toward Indianapolis. On our way we stopped briefly in Lafayette, IN. We drove around Purdue University (and saw the football stadium). We ate lunch then got back on the road. We traveled to Columbus, OH where we arrived at about 5:30 p.m. Rustin has a former class-mate who is attending Ohio State (Kyle). He showed us around the Ohio State campus (we saw the football stadium – the famed Horseshoe). The campus is huge! Kyle told us there are 63,000 students matriculated at Ohio State. That is more than double the University of Utah! After looking around campus we went to downtown Columbus where we ate dinner at a cool spaghetti joint. We then went back to Kyle’s place where we spent the night.

Friday 17 August

We got an early start on Friday morning. We got on the road by 4:30 a.m. We wanted to get into New York early enough in the afternoon so that we would have time to move all of our stuff into our apartment. We got into Manhattan at about 2:30. We had to stop at Manhattan Apartments, Inc. (our apartment broker) to get our keys. They are located on 57th street. We then drove to our place on Broadway and 125th street. We got to our place at about 4:00.

Detour to visit Michael Scott?

New York City in the disance - almost there!

When Rustin and I were in New York in July looking for a place to stay, the apartment we ended up with was being renovated. I was anxious to see the place to see how it turned out. When we finally arrived, we found that they did a good job renovating the place, but they did not finish the job. The bathroom was incomplete. There was not bath and shower head. The sink in the bathroom is not plumbed. The toilet does not work. The gas is not connected to the stove. The plates for the light switches and electrical sockets are not installed. And the construction crew left the place a total mess. There was dirt and dust everywhere. There were buckets and buckets left in the kitchen, along with left-over tile, grout, garbage cans, and tools. There was also extra hardwood flooring they had just left here. It was overwhelming to see the condition of the apartment. Now, not only did we have moving to do, but we had major work to get the apartment in livable condition.

Before we got a chance to move any of our stuff into the apartment, it began to rain. As we waited for the rain to stop we ate dinner at a pizza joint next door to us – great New York style pizza!

After about 40 minutes the rain let up enough so we could start moving stuff inside. We were concerned about just leaving our truck unattended on the curb outside, so we took trips inside one at a time. Rustin would take a handful of stuff in while I waited at the truck. When Rusting came back, I headed up with a load. We did this for about an hour and a half before it started to rain again. Fortunately we had moved everything that could be carried by just one person. We decided to wait for the rain to break before moving anything else. As we were waiting Doug and Amber Doxey arrived to help us. They came just in time to help us with the big stuff. We visited for about 45 minutes until it stopped raining. We moved everything else inside in about 30 minutes.