Completion of a project

This isn’t a usual post for me, but I finished a big project and had to tell someone.

About 15 years ago Anette and I bought an unfinished wood kitchen table, eight chairs and four barstools. We finished the top of the table and and the seats of the chairs in a cherry stain and painted the legs and backs blue.

After the blue, at one point the table and chairs were partially repainted with cream-colored legs and backs.

After raising four children and starting on some grandchildren, the old set needed a new look. My daughter, Jenine, has a furniture refinishing business. She had done some stuff Anette really liked, so we decided to copy some of her style. She uses lots of French words on her stuff. So we decided to use Icelandic instead, because I served a mission there and it is unique.

We had to remove most of the old finish, which was a major undertaking–especially on the chairs because of all the spindles and round areas. We literally worked on it all of last summer with Anette doing the majority of the sanding.

We had a goal to finish the project before Creed got home from his mission in November and before the holidays. We made it, but just barely. Literally within a week after finishing, I was at DI and found another table with the exact same style. Since we are always short of table space at big family gatherings like Thanksgiving, I called Anette and asked me if she wanted me to get it. She said to go for it.

At the time, I could not bear the thought of another refinishing project so soon. So the table sat on my deck until a couple weeks ago. Yesterday I finished the last coat of polyurethane so the project is officially complete.

The original table has two leaves that extend it so it can actually seat 12 people. The second table does not have any leaves. I also added two high-backed stools in the process because we needed more seating for younger children.

I didn’t take any before pictures, but I got a shot of my son-in-law helping me sand the table top.

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Sex education far less threatening than physics

The recent furor over abstinence-only sex education in Utah is only the latest in a long history of arguments about teaching human reproduction in Utah classrooms. While it is easy to understand the passion many parents demonstrate over such a sensitive topic, their ardor is misguided.

There is something far more insidious taking place in Utah classrooms and no one is expressing the slightest concern.

Utah schools are teaching physics. While that might seem harmless, there is no telling where it could lead. In fact, there is nothing more potentially lethal and destructive.

You see, from physics, one can learn how to construct bombs.

Not just dry ice bombs or pipe bombs either. Physics leads to the big bangers—atomic bombs and hydrogen bombs. These are weapons with the power to destroy all life as we know it and they are teaching these principles to children in local schools.

You might think I’m overreacting. After all, the schools are just teaching the basics of physics. It isn’t as if they are handing out atom bomb kits.

The point is, they are teaching them something. And while it might be just basic information, no doubt it will be enough to make some kids curious. They won’t want to stop with what they are getting in school.

They could start studying physics on their own.

Perhaps they will sneak down to the library or a book store and quickly skim through books, looking for pages that refer to nuclear weapons. They’ll joke about physics in locker rooms. It might even be the subject of course humor in back alleys.

Mothers of physics students could start finding scientific journals under their children’s mattresses—you know, the kind with illustrations. Perhaps there will be a sketch of an uncloaked triggering device. Or maybe there will be a photograph of the cold, naked shell of one of these weapons of mass destruction.

Eventually, even the hard core stuff won’t be enough to satisfy the curiosity of budding physicists. Young Bobby will notice that Mary Lou isn’t like the other girls he knows. She is naturally well endowed with an understanding of quarks and other sub-atomic particles.

The two of them will start spending more time together. Soon, talking about physics won’t be enough. They’ll begin experimentation. And if they stumble on the big bang, there will be no going back for them or for anyone else.

Physics classes wouldn’t be so bad if they also taught moral values. But one cannot generally count on that to happen. And the moral values of teachers and school district officials might not be as rigid as some parents would like.

For one thing, physics teachers can’t be counted on to emphasize abstinence. They won’t say “don’t experiment.” Instead, they are likely to say, “If you decide to experiment, these are the precautions you should take.”

In the end, there is only one practical solution: ban physics classes.

Physics is something that needs to be taught in the home by parents. They are the only ones who can teach the moral values, the control and the restraint that needs to accompany such powerful information.

Sex education? Don’t sweat the small stuff. It is physics we need to worry about.

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Romeo and Juliet or Edward and Bella?

It was Stephanie Mabey’s Zombie Song that started me worrying.

There is a line in the song that says “Our love is stronger than Edward and Bella’s.” It does not say “Our love is stronger than Romeo and Juliet’s.” That caused me to fret that for this generation a trendy vampire saga is replacing Shakespeare’s classic story of overpowering romantic love that has endured for hundreds of years.

Please, let it not be so.

I first read Romeo and Juliet in seventh grade and I wasn’t impressed. Testosterone hadn’t really kicked in at that point and girls were more curiosities than magnetic forces. It was my first foray into Shakespeare and between the boring subject matter and the challenging verbiage, I could not connect with the characters or the storyline.

A movie version which I was not allowed to see came out at the same time. It was before the ratings system, but the film was recommended for “mature” audiences—a word that certainly does not apply to junior high boys. One of my classmates saw the film and while he did not understand or enjoy the movie, he jabbered for days about Juliet’s breasts exposed in one brief scene. This confirms my point about adolescent boys and “mature.”

I was a senior in high school the next time I read Romeo and Juliet. By then I had read other works of Shakespeare and learned to understand and appreciate his irony and clever use of words. I had also experienced personal rejection by young women several times and endured the disapproving glares of fathers. I felt like I could empathize with Romeo’s rejection and frustration.

I can’t relate at all to Edward and Bella.

Twilight replaces romance and tortured love with stalking. Terse comments supplant clever conversation. Where intense passion is the driving force behind Romeo and Juliet, Edward and Bella’s main character traits seem to be broodiness and sullenness.

Romeo and Juliet had a love that is everlasting, as evidenced by the fact that hundreds of years after the creation of their characters, their very names symbolize unbreakable yet tragic love.

Vampires refer to themselves as everlasting, yet one can kill them by driving a stake through their hearts, by cutting off their heads, by tearing them apart or by burning. They justifiably worry constantly about death because some vampire or another always seems to be getting killed in spite of their alleged immortality.

Romeo and Juliet’s fathers were strongly opposed to their union and tried to prevent it.

Although he is a local constable, Bella’s father doesn’t have a clue that monsters populate his town, even though the unexplained death toll is staggering for a small community. He grudgingly accepts the idea that his daughter is involved with a pasty-skinned young man who seems much too old to be in high school, whose family contains several siblings of similar description who all appear to be romantically connected.

When Juliet needed help and consolation, she enlisted the help of a clergyman. He came up with a plan to help the two lovers find happiness together. Unfortunately the carefully crafted scheme goes awry and several people end up dead.

When Bella needs support and comfort she is consoled by werewolf Jacob, who probably makes a living as a bodybuilder or male underwear model. Jacob’s plan to help Bella is to have her dump the other guy. Lots of people also get killed.

Both stories have tragedy in common. The last line of the Shakespeare tale reads: “For never was a story of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo.”

Edward and Bella’s story is tragic because it could mislead a generation into thinking that Shakespeare’s classic is no longer the ultimate tale of star-crossed love.

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My time with Herman Cain

Tuesday night I attended the Republican Presidential Debate in Las Vegas. Afterward I got to do an exclusive interview with the candidate. I’ve included links to the stories that I wrote. Many people have since asked me what he was like. In all honesty, it is difficult to judge a person’s character in 15 minutes.

What I can say it that is it extremely unusual for a presidential candidate to grant the type of access I was given. I talked to many people who know Mr. Cain quite well while I was there. They all spoke glowingly about his knowledge, his humility, his honesty and his faith.



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Wild horses and feral children

My wife and I recently spent some time in Wyoming visiting my oldest son’s family. He lives in Cody, just east of Yellowstone. It is a beautiful area and we enjoy every trip and wish we could make it more frequently.

Among our activities this trip we watched two separate bands of wild horses. Both groups had a couple of this year’s colts and it was obvious that the focus of each band was to help and protect those young animals.

We were there for the blessing of my newest granddaughter. My oldest daughter was also there with her family. At the same time, my youngest daughter was at our home in Highland with her daughter generously watching our home and playing zookeeper for my menagerie.

My youngest son could not attend because he is still serving as a missionary in the Dominican Republic. We look forward eagerly to his return in November.

I mention all this not to bore everyone, but just to make the point that Anette and I have been blessed to have four wonderful children and six beautiful grandchildren. Our three married children each found fantastic spouses and we love and appreciate them.

For all of us, family is an important focal point of our lives.

I recently finished writing a book called Mormon Parenting Secrets: Time-Tested Methods for Raising Exceptional Children. It is currently being typeset and I hope to have it in print in a month or so.

For the time being, I’m going to be focusing a lot of effort on the production and sale of my book, so if I am not updating this blog regularly, that is the reason. The web site is not ready yet, but you’ll soon be able to learn more about the book at




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Peeves prove to be a troubling topic

I intended to update this blog a couple weeks ago with a discussion of some of my pet peeves. Then the actual notion of peeves distracted me. What actually constitutes a peeve?

Peeves are things that annoy, vex or irritate. But I’m not certain about the difference between a regular peeve and a pet peeve. And if pet peeves exist, are there also feral peeves?

If regular peeves are irritating and annoying, do feral peeves step it up a couple notches to terrifying and potentially dangerous?

Is there a list somewhere that categorizes peeves into levels of irritation or vexation? If not, there should be. I hope you can see how this topic can be incredibly distracting. After a many days of research and pondering, I don’t have any concrete answers.

Perhaps peeves could be numbered according to their severity—kind of like tornadoes. An innocuous, mild “pet” peeve could be a P1. A horrific peeve that could potentially cause one to have a brain aneurism could be a P5.

Back to my list of personal peeves, drivers who pull to the end of a merge lane and stop annoy me immensely. The very term “merge” implies motion. One cannot merge into traffic if one is stopped. Because this peeve has the potential to be dangerous to other drivers, I would label it as a feral peeve and categorize it as an F4.

I won’t mention any of my other peeves right now. I’m still trying to figure out where they all fit on the Stephens’ Scale of Peeves.


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Tooele carnivore faces cruelty charges

Apparently the Tooele city attorney charged a man with a crime for eating a rat. It was a baby rat—eyes still closed, pink and hairless.

It was shocking news, because I realized that I have possibly committed numerous heinous crimes as well. Just this week I ate pigs, cows, chickens (mature and embryonic) and fishes.

It must have been the manner in which the man consumed his meal that authorities found offensive. He recorded himself as he swallowed the rat whole and then posted the scene on the Internet. That netted him an animal cruelty charge.

I never film myself eating animals and I pay a professional animal assassin to kill them for me first. Once they are dead, I sear their flesh on an open fire or a toss it in a hot pan. Instead of chomping them whole, I hack them into small chunks with a knife. Then I devour them bit by bit.

So far I’ve never been caught or prosecuted. Then again, I never realized what I was doing was a crime. Obviously eating a rat shows questionable judgment, but it is hard to imagine that it is criminally dumb.

My oldest son once ate a mouse’s tail on a dare by co-workers who offered him $50 for the feat. I told him he was stupid for doing that. I’m sure he could have easily bid them up to at least $100.

I served a mission in Iceland and the people there eat sheep heads and rotten shark infused with urine. I’m not kidding and there are many Internet videos of people eating both. That should be illegal.

The accused man faces a Class A misdemeanor and could be fined or even jailed if convicted.

Of course if he is convicted, it makes things easier for the Tooele police. Instead of chasing burglars and drug dealers, they can stake out the meat section of the local supermarkets.

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Landing zone

A few weeks ago we made a trip to Fish Springs National Wildlife Refuge. It’s way out in the West Desert. It is an amazing place to view waterfowl, like these two pelicans that just landed on the water.

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An example of fatherly dedication

Note: I’ve been lax at updating my blog, primarily because I’ve been doing lots of other writing. I’m just about finished with a book on parenting and I’ve been doing some newspaper and magazine work.

I also take lots of pictures this time of year, so I think I’ll start adding some of my favorite shots from time to time. –Flint

My new hero is Dale Price. I’ve never met Dale. I learned about him through media reports about his unusual behavior over the past year.

Dale has a son, Rain, who just completed his sophomore year at American Fork High School. Every morning of the school year, Dale waved at his son on the school bus as it drove past their house.

Rain did not want his father to do this. In fact before the school year started he begged his dad not to wave at the bus. As everyone in junior high school and high school knows, dads are embarrassing, uncool, and generally spend their time on the lower rungs of the evolutionary ladder.

Most dads will do almost anything to keep their children happy. But instead of acquiescing to his son’s request, Dale instead viewed it as a challenge. So each day of the school year he not only waved at the bus, but he did so wearing a variety of costumes. They covered the spectrum from a mermaid, to a pirate, from an athlete to a leprechaun.

I remember a time when one of my adolescent children was going to the mall with some friends. Upon learning that his mother and I would also be at the mall doing some shopping, I saw a look of horror on his face.

“If you see me there, pretend you don’t know me,” he said.

I wanted to dress in dirty overalls and irrigation boots and make certain that we encountered his party at the mall. But I didn’t and he was saved from humiliation.

It is a sad day in a dad’s life when he crosses over from being hero and a best friend to being Quasimodo.

I admire Dale Price for not choosing the path of least resistance. Rain survived the embarrassment. No permanent physical or mental harm occurred and based on information posted at the family’s web site,, he has thrived in spite of (and probably because of) his dad’s fatherly dedication.




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A stimulus plan that would be popular

Did you know that total U.S. credit card debt is about $850 billion? That amounts to about $5,000 of debt for every credit card in the country.

It’s obviously a huge number. And yet it is a much smaller number than the amount the U.S. government doled out in three quantitative easing programs to prop up the economy. What if, instead of giving stimulus money to banks and big businesses, Congress and the president had instead just paid off everyone’s credit card debt?

Obviously such a plan would have been unfair to all those thrifty people who have little or no credit card debt. But it also wasn’t fair that the government bailed out banks that made stupid loans and that the executives making the decisions about those loans sometimes got nauseatingly large bonuses. It isn’t fair that middle class Americans often pay far more in taxes than wealthy folks who can take advantage of legal loopholes.

In terms of simply jump starting the economy, imagine the impact to ordinary people who would no longer have enormous revolving debts at 29% interest. Paying off credit card debts would free up hundreds of billions of dollars that people could be spending on an ongoing basis.

Did you know that consumer spending accounts for two-thirds of U.S. GDP? Yet when it came time to try to boost the economy, the government focused on the other third–three separate times.

Earlier this week Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke held a news conference and told everyone that the economy is well on its way to full recovery. He said that inflation remains under control and that rising gas prices really won’t have a significant impact.

I’ve got corrals in my back yard and I can recognize crap in virtually any form. I’m tired of government leaders who try to feed it to us while telling us how much we enjoy it and how good it is for us.

Realistically, I know the government is not going to wipe out existing credit card debt. But wouldn’t it be great if the next stimulus program benefited ordinary people instead of those who are already cashing big bonus checks?

Imagine the clout a politician would have at election time if he could claim responsibility  for erasing the bulk of consumer debt.

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