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 http://www.mormonparentingsecrets.com.




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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, http://waveatthebus.blogspot.com/, 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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Reaction to HB477 has Utah lawmakers backpedaling

Now that the legislative session is over, Utah lawmakers have been converted to the religion of government openness. Less than a month after passing HB 477, a government secrecy bill that might have originally been crafted by Moammar Gadhafi, several legislators who voted for the bill are now professing that they have always been in favor of open government.

The truth is, most local and state officials like open meetings about as much as Congress cares about balanced budgets.

After working as a journalist in the Midwest and in Utah, my personal opinion is that if there is any possible way for elected officials to conduct public business in secret, they will eagerly do so. For a time, one ingenious city council used to include all its action items on an agenda only available to council members. During meetings there were no discussions. Instead, the mayor would ask council member to vote on agenda item number three, or agenda item number five, etc. It took the threat of legal action to get them to comply with open meetings laws.

In Utah public bodies are allowed to go into closed sessions to discuss the sale or purchase of property or the hiring and firing of public employees. Any actual votes on these matters must then be made in open session. One school board I used to cover adjourned to lengthy executive sessions at almost every meeting for one of the reasons specified, but no land was ever bought or sold and no employees were ever hired or fired.

HB477 allows officials to keep secret electronic communications like emails and text messages. It also makes it much more expensive for anyone who requests copies of certain official documents. In an age when so much business is conducted electronically this bill takes the spirit of open meetings back to the Stone Age.

Open meetings subject the actions of elected official to public scrutiny and the criticism that can result. It’s like throwing Holy Water on vampires. They would prefer to avoid it at all costs.

Just as disturbing as the content of HB477 is the way that it was passed. It was brought before the legislature in the waning hours of the session and passed with little discussion.

State lawmakers might bristle at the comparison, but their action is reminiscent of a long history of fascists, communists, kings, emperors, dictators, and other evil leaders who sought to govern in darkness and secrecy. It is completely at odds with the principles of a democratic society.

It isn’t surprising that the response by the media and the public has been loud and angry. Hearing the outcry, elected officials are backpedaling and taking about the possibility of repealing this law. It is the very least they can do.

As a member of the voting public, the biggest question on my mind is how any democratic leader in the United States could ever create or vote for a bill like this to begin with.

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