Presidents Day

In honour of Presidents Day this year I thought I would post a couple of pictures I have regarding Presidents of the United States.

Brad Hales, me, Anna Badger, and Jeana Stuart

Brad Hales, me, Anna Badger, and Jeana Stuart

Bush and Cheney Inauguration in 2008

Bush and Cheney Inauguration in 2008 in front of the US Capitol

George Washington statute by the Turnbull Commission of Five.  Adams, Jefferson, Washington, all became Presidents.

George Washington statue by the Trumbull Declaration of Independence.  Adams, Jefferson, Washington, all became Presidents, in US Capitol, Washington, DC

Martha and George Washington tombs

Martha and George Washington tombs in Mt Vernon, Virginia
Washington Equestrian Statute with Jefferson standing in front

Washington Equestrian Statue with Jefferson standing in front in Richmond, Virginia

Washington as a Mason in Alexandria, Virginia

Washington as a Mason in Alexandria, Virginia

James Monroe tomb, Richmond, Virginia

James Monroe tomb, Richmond, Virginia

Plaque on James Monroe's tomb

Plaque on James Monroe’s tomb

John Tyler Grave

John Tyler Grave in Richmond, Virginia

John Quincy and Louisa Adams' tombs

John Quincy and Louisa Adams’ tombs in Quincy, Massachusetts

John and Abigail Adams' tombs

John and Abigail Adams’ tombs in Quincy, Massachusetts

Thomas Jefferson's tombstone near Charlottesville, Virginia

Thomas Jefferson’s tombstone near Charlottesville, Virginia

That is pretty much the closest I got to any of these Presidents, that I can prove.  I have also been the resting spots of William Howard Taft, Harry S Truman, John F Kennedy.

Visiting Charlottesville

This morning we took a lovely drive for an hour to our west.  Our destination was lovely Charlottesville, Virginia.  Of course, as everyone knows, named after Queen Charlotte, the wife of the least favorite King in America, George III.  It is tied with Monticello, Ashlawn-Highland, and the University of Virginia.  It is also linked with Montpelier.

Our first photos are in relation to Monticello.  This was Amanda’s first trip, my second trip.  This time had much more green for me to see which was a pleasant surprise.  I will tell you now, the gardens are much more beautiful when they have something growing in them!  We parked, purchased our tickets, and headed up the hill.  We chose to walk rather than ride the shuttle.  We arrived first at the Jefferson Cemetery which continues to bury Jefferson descendents.  The next stop was the massive gardens.  The tour manual boasts over 1000 feet of them.  The Garden Pavilion you see in the photos is about half way.  There are some great views from the garden area over the local area.  Really quite beautiful.
We roamed up the hill and around the house.  You can see various pictures from around the property.  The striped fluffy tulips are something to mention.  We even took a picture.  We got some pictures from the well known Nickel view.  We went on the tour at 12:40.  I have always been impressed with Thomas Jefferson.  Nearly everything in my knowledge of Jefferson has been of great influence on me.  His focus of design in homes has been something that has impressed me since I started drafting in about 1992.  I remember almost instantly learning about Jefferson’s views probably in my first month of drafting.  I have been enamored every since.  Anyhow, I won’t do an opinion piece on Jefferson here…  The house is magnificent.
We came out, roamed some more and made our way back down the hill.  We drive just another mile or two away to James and Elizabeth Monroe’s home, Highland.  You will notice in the pictures that there is a yellow house attached to the white house.  The white house is the original Highland.  In later years the Victorian yellow house was added and the plantation came to be known as Ashlawn.  Thomas Jefferson convinced James Monroe to buy a plantation near him which he did.  It is important to mention Monroe owned several.  In his over 50 years of office, he spent only about 4 years all together at Highland.  His wife was frail in later years and they never made it back very often.  Plus towards the end to settle all his debts he sold Highland.  He died in New York City debt free.  There is a massive tree there in the yard I wanted Amanda to go take a picture with.  So we got to see one of her better sides in that photo.
We left our visit at Ashlawn-Highland to head back to Charlottesville.  We stopped at the Thomas Jefferson Museum and then went to the University of Virginia.  After a day at Monticello and hearing so much about it I had to see the original campus.  You can see pictures of the Rotunda which is the focal point of the campus.  You can see pictures from both sides of the Rotunda.  We also took pictures both east and west from The Lawn.  The Old Cabell building is seen to the west from The Lawn.
Lastly, I added a couple of pictures from our trip to Washington in March.  There are some pictures from late one night of the Washington Temple, Washington Monument, and Jefferson Memorial.
It was a busy day.  We even took a cooler of goodies to make ourselves lunch.  Next time we need to pack more water though.

Sordid thoughts on the lowly things

Here we are beginning another week.  I admit, I am torn in so many ways.  What to do?  Where to go?  These are questions that I suppose creep up in our lives when we are just not quite as sure of things as we would like.
My job has become just that.  I am not motivated by money and they keep trying to entice me with it.  Well, in the end, I find myself doing the same routine, with not much improvement.  Well, I lie.  Every week so far has been an improvement in my earnings.  This past week I made more than six hundred in a week, before taxes and all.  So I guess that is a good thing.  But that is not how I measure my effectiveness.  Never has been, never will be.  Why would I use Babylon’s measuring rod?  How many lives am I influencing?  Is my family the better for it?  Am I happy?  And then the answer comes in at a stark no.
I get to go around and meet a wide variety of people.  That is most definitely true.  However, while I do feel we have a valuable tool, and a good product for those who need supplemental insurance, I am finding many people who have this as their only insurance.  They are content to believe that this is going to cover their needs and that is not the truth.  I think most understand this is not major medical, but for the fact that these people are poor and paying for this bothers me.  Now for the craftsmen and heavy laborers who carry this, I most certainly think it is the best thing for them.  So I am touching these people’s lives, and getting to meet them.  But I am not convinced I am leaving them better off in the end.
It most certainly is a worthwhile time to visit and see all these places.  I have always been fascinated by geography and love to travel.  This job has catered to that desire.  I have been to the birthplace of Meriwether Lewis, William Clark, Thomas Jefferson, and James Monroe.  I have been to the place where John Wilkes Booth was hiding, found, shot, and killed.  The historic Northern Neck of Virginia, while slightly penetrated, has been interesting.  But all this traveling takes time and money.  By which I travel and find the homes of these people, which are literally everywhere, so the byproduct is I learn the territory.  However, I am finding that running a household, a wife in school, and other costs take one’s funds.  In the end, I can afford the $100-$130 I am spending on fuel.  But I am worried that by breaking even, I am not saving to replace or add to the vehicle that is being required to drive the minimum of 1,000 miles a week.  With 183,000 miles plus on the car, I should be saving or paying for another vehicle rather than running into the ground the only means of income and transportation, for two, I currently have.  That just seems dumb to me.  In the end, it is not making enough money to pay for a car payment a month, nor to save up for a new car at a later point.
What about the next point?  What about my family?  Well, the last week, I certainly made the most of what I have made yet with the company.  But having said that, I am leaving at 9 in the morning, and returning at 9 or 10 at night.  If I was single, that would not be so much the issue.  I have a wife that is at home.  She can surely spend the time studying or whatever else without my interference.  When I finally get home though, I am exhausted.  I need to eat and go to bed.  She is kind enough to provide the food.  By the time we read our scriptures, pray, get ready for bed, and make it in, I am beyond my bedtime.  We have spent little or no social time, and other events are just a pain.  That is fine for a little while, but it really starts to add up in the long run, and I am not willing to make that type of a sacrifice.  The job is on the altar before the wife.
Lastly, am I happy.  Well, I surely enjoy the traveling and people.  It does grow wearisome at times though.  I love meeting people, I love seeing these new places.  However, the chances of my meeting these people again are slim.  It was not like spraying lawns at all!  Many of them gripe and moan they have to pay this again, and the rest are just a pain to track down.  It wears on me.  What wears the most is that I don’t have time to do things I wish to do.  I take the LSAT this weekend and I have no time to really practice for it.  That bothers me.  What is worse that when I do get time to myself, I use it for other things than studying.  I have other things I place more importance on and since I never get to do them, then the lesser things don’t come up.  So now what?  I am not going to postpone it again.  I should have just taken it in June.
So, after seeing this whole thing now play out, I am not impressed with the fruits.  I planted the seeds, I have lingered, waited, and prayed long enough.  The fruits appear to be bitter and if I allow the tree to continue to grow, it will only grow more wearisome and bitter.
I don’t even think it is so much Combined that I am having the issues with.  I wonder how much more effective I could be if I were to be trained in how to sell.  Would that little extra bit every day make it more worth it?  Would I be able to stop earlier from working knowing I had met the monetary needs?  Who knows.  Probably.  If I could spend less time working to make the same amount, that would be good.  If I could lay some aside for other purposes, that would be helpful.  All I know, something has to change, now.
Having said all that, I wonder about the other side.  Could there be something more I am missing?
What about those who say stick with it?  Grin and bear it?  It will all work out in the end.  I have thought quite a bit about Joseph of old.  He was in prison and a very unlikeable position.  But he bore through it with faith and came out on top.  My leaders at work keep wanting to put me into executive training.  In fact, if I would have agreed, I would be in Virginia Beach all week for it.  (But what of the LSAT then?  Being gone all week seems to only compound the problems.  Best part, they don’t even pay for your being gone so I would sacrifice a week for no pay!)  So, do I endure, make my way to management, and then what?  Well, I will be expected to train.  How in the world can I train on something I have yet to learn to do?  Nobody seems to be willing to train me and I obviously have not worked it out yet.  As Marc says, I am making what money I am by pure hard diligence and work.  That is noble and all, but he makes the same I do with only half the hours.  Yet getting him to train me is like pulling teeth.  Endure….where is the line where you simply throw your hands in the air and say I am moving on?
Much on the mind lately is the thought that perhaps I am meant to be here for some reason or another.  Marc has accepted an invitation to attend General Priesthood with me on Saturday Night.  That is great news.  I would like to endure enough to see him read the Book of Mormon and join the church.  However, should I gain one soul for the kingdom and give up everything for that one?  Honestly, I don’t see anything breaking down in my relationship with Amanda, but do I want to take that chance?  It is hard to be a nice person when I am not completely satisfied with my job.  Amanda takes some of the brunt of that.  There are two reasons why I have stuck with the job so far.  Simply because I need some income to provide for those things that are essentials (granted this house is more than we need, but it is still inexpensive compared to renting an apartment).  Secondly, in the hope that Marc will feel of the Spirit and be converted.  With my being away from the company the chances of his keeping his commitments and being converted are greatly reduced.  He has no one else to challenge and teach.  I told the missionaries about him coming on Saturday.  I sure hope we can get his address and a commitment to take the missionary discussions.  That will sure take a load off of me!
Yes, I believe it is time for a change.  But where to?  What shall I do?  Where shall I go?

Mt. Vernon

Probably time for another little update. We have just returned from another weekend up in the bustling city of Washington. We went up last night, stayed with Dennis and Gwen Thompson, and had ourselves a great time. We attended the Washington Temple this morning. Amanda, Dennis, and Gwen all did a session while I did initiatory. It was a great, much needed, release from the week. I actually quite enjoyed myself.We had lunch with the whole Thompson Clan to celebrate Grandparent’s Day, and then they went off to a soccer game for Faith and Destiny. Amanda and I met up with Greg McNeill and headed to Mount Vernon. This was Amanda’s first visit, my third. We drove over separately and spent the time walking through the grounds. Amanda was already exhausted from the day, and seemed to be dragging the whole time. She says she enjoyed Mt. Vernon. I really liked sitting with Martha Washington and listening to her talk about Thomas Jefferson. She did not have much to say that she liked about him.

Greg and I had a great chat about a whole host of things. We discussed politics, Mormons, campaigns, Supreme Court rulings, and who knows what else. Poor Amanda was even more exhausted after hanging out with us. It was great to catch up with him though. He is a good man. He announced and gave us his wedding date for May 26th next year. I have put it on my calendar, we are planning to go, it is at Fort Belvoir at the officer’s club. That should be exciting.

The week went well. I worked my tail off some more and became pretty frustrated with things. I am supposed to have two full weeks of training, all day long. That is 10 days. So far, I have had a whopping 3 days I think, and then they tell me that they want me to do more sales or something. I honestly don’t have a clue about what I am doing with some stuff. For example, I collected premium from a lady this week for a policy that has been paid for up for 20 years. She was old and senile enough not to notice, and I had no clue. What the company will do with that is beyond me. The best part, it was life insurance premium I collected, and is technically illegal for me to do so. That is how green I am in many ways.

I did write three policies this week, but I need to learn how to do more. I want to, but I seem to be so very alone. Oh well, I will endure.

They made me go on a conference call this week. That will be the last time I do that. I spent a good 30 minutes listening to the sub-regional manager talk about all these little goals and that they have for us. They are not paying for my lost 30 minutes of cell phone time. Next, Mr Stone himself said that a goal that is not ours, does not have the power to motivate. Well, I will be making my own goals. I don’t care if I go to Nashville. I don’t care if I get some luxury spa set. Honestly, I don’t care if I have a big bonus at the end of the year. I want to feel my job is worthwhile, and that I am succeeding at it. That is hard to do sometimes when you have not a clue what is going on, and then some people start riding you for their goals. Well, I know where they can go. Back to that little throne that they think they are on, and live their little dream. I will do the work in my realm, and do what is necessary, with what capacity I have. I don’t know how they expect me to write 15 policies in a week when the three I had this week were in my estimation pure luck.

On top of all that Marc, tells me he wants me to be a Sales Manager. I cannot even get the training to sell, why in the world would I want to be a Sales Manager and oversee other’s selling. How can I train on something I have not yet figured out. Seeing as I won’t get the training just yet. Having said all that, I cannot expect them to do so, nor will I pass the buck. I will do my part, I will do what I can, and improve at my own pace. How they expect more, on my own, I have yet to figure out. If somebody can help me, I would appreciate the advice on how I can do more than I know how. Trial error is not the best way, but if that is all they leave me with, fine. I will work that method. I do have a great set of resources from Mr. Stone himself, but the LSAT takes precedence right now. Not that I am doing great in that either, but at least I have priority.

Well, time to prepare for the Sabbath. Lessons to review, read, and ideas to be familiar with. I hope this coming week will provide greater opportunities and I will keep my sight higher. I cannot let myself get weighed down by my inadequacies. ( I think I spelled that wrong, but I just don’t want to check….)

 

Thanksgiving

I know, I know, I have not been keeping this as up todate as I could.  Oh well, things are going very well.  I am enjoying life and have had a great refreshing break.  Just a few more weeks and then I am done and headed back to Utah for graduation, marriage, and happily ever after.
For Thanksgiving Break Anna Badger, Brad Hales, and Jeana Stuart all came to visit for the holiday.  It was great to have them here and I very much enjoyed their presence.  It was quite the adventure.  They arrived on last Friday and I took all of them back to the airport today for them to fly out.  I assume they made their flights and are all safely at home now.  With most of which I write, there will be photos to go along in the Thanksgiving Gallery.
In preparation for their coming, Genny in the office got them tours at the White House, Capitol, Library of Congress, National Cathedral, and the Bureau of Printing and Engraving.  They went and saw several other museums and various other things around Washington DC.  Last Friday night we went on a midnight visit of some of the monuments.  We went to the Jefferson, Lincoln, Washington, FDR, and other things around Washington.  I showed them the main buildings and gave them a sort of feel for the overall layout of the area.
Saturday we went to the Washington DC temple.  We also paid a little visit to Georgetown and went to Arlington National Cemetery.  Sunday we went to church and the Washington Memorial Masonic Lodge.  Monday through Wednesday they went on their tours.  Monday afternoon I met them at the Library of Congress and went on that tour with them.  It was amazing.  I really appreciated the beauty and time that obviously went into the building.  Very impressive building.  I took them back through the tunnels to Russell from the Library of Congress.  That was quite a bit of a walk through the house buildings, Capitol and back.  They enjoyed it.  Tuesday I gave them their tour of the Capitol and tried to sneak in some extra perks for them, however, with another couple on the tour we did not get to show as much as I could have.  Wednesday I got off work at noon and went and met them at the Museum of American History.  I enjoyed that.  I could have spent quite a bit more time there.  I enjoyed the science aspect, nuclear, transportation, First Lady, and Presidential exhibits.  I could have spent a few more hours in the building.  I will have to pay them another visit.  There are a few museums I still have not seen.  I want to see the Native American, Modern Art, Printing and Engraving, and spy museum.  Sometime I will have to pay them a visit.  I suppose there is always a time in the future.
Thanksgiving was great.  We enjoyed a trip to Mt. Vernon and had a great time.  You can see the pictures from that adventure.  Yesterday we trekked to Monticello and Montpelier, but due to circumstances and preference, we did not get into either.  At one it was “too cold” and the other we were “too late” so what was to be done.  However, I stumbled on another little town I would love to move to some day and spend the rest of my life.  Orange, Virginia, an amazingly beautiful little town.  There are a few of them in my life.  Ashland, Kansas; Blair, Nebraska; Quray, Colorado; and now Orange, Virginia.  It was amazingly beautiful.  I hope some day I can organized a piece of property into something so magnificent so as to add to the community to which I belong.  We all loved the beautiful well kept estates that lined the roads.  Orange was particularly beautiful.
We all come to understand each other a little more, we come to see and understand our weaknesses and strengths a little more, and hopefully we will have learned from our close interactions.  I sure enjoyed their company and the opportunity to entertain guests.  More importantly, it gave a little more initiative to get out and see some of what I am surrounded by.

Where shall I work today?

I have been thinking about one thing as of late.  So many people consider pornography to be free speech, or freedom of expression.  I have thought about that and do not find it to be expression or speech.  What are they saying?  What could they possibly think they are telling us?  What, buy more, get addicted, so they can make money.  That only reminds me of Babylon.  Song, however explicit, I can understand as saying something.  Art, however clear, I do not find has any expression or speech to it.  Even print media, without words is simply open for interpretation.  This only opens a new bag though, different from some of the common political discourse of the day.For example, the right to desecrate the flag as freedom of speech.  I don’t believe they have any standing at all.  What does burning have to do with speech?  Some take it to be desecration, some take it to be offensive, yet we burn the flag in ceremony for decommissioning or destruction.  Talking is one thing, or “written talk” I can see, or even gagging someone so they cannot speak.  But to print pictures or symbolic speech I do not see.  On the other hand, while it is not speech as far as I can see, I believe we can limit the burning of anything on property.  If they purchased the flag, burn it where they want.  But if they do it on public property, then they are in violation of fire burning laws and code and should be punished accordingly (the same for burning crosses).  If it was not their flag, then prosecute them for that as well.  Why does public property grant the right to be obnoxious?  Who knows if our laws will ever make sense.

As for what we will do to make the world a better place.  Who knows.  Sometimes I think I am so different from the present state of things that not a soul would listen to me.  Most seem to be far too caught up in the emotional side of things.  What happened to both reason and emotion.  Nevertheless, zeal without knowledge seems to rule the day.  I don’t believe in “running” for office.  I think like ol’ Thomas Jefferson and that good people should be sought out and placed in elected office.  I find it terribly prideful to say I am your man and run on my laurels to be elected.  It removes the elector from the process.  Somehow we stand idly by and allow the current system to continue.  Well, we will reap our harvest of those decisions as well someday.  I write my elected officials, but I have learned the sad truth that they do not listen much unless you contribute to their campaign, and then you are only hoping.  Which only takes us back to the first bag.  Somehow it is not that they represent us, but we have to pay them to represent us.  Sounds pretty priestcraft-like to me.

Next, I have never been much of a suck-up.  While I like to make friends, and that with all people, I am who I am, and you are who you are, and I will tell it like I see it from my perspective and as I see myself and you.  Unless an elected official sees your actions and likes what they see, the chances of appointment are pretty slim.  I am not saying that all appointed people are suck-ups.  But I would have to say divine appointment would have to play a pretty big part for me to ever get appointed to any position to really be heard.

So now, we come full circle.  I will not run for office and will likely never be elected!  Only if a good person is then elected or appointed, and notices me, and likes me, will I ever get appointment.  Which seems just as unlikely to me.  So therefore, what will I do.  Well, I will continue to make sure I know what I think.  I will continue to write to those who I think might listen and to those who ask questions.  Hopefully I may be somewhat of a catalyst for others to think and maybe require something more of government.  As for what else, who knows.  My comments on social commentary might be all the State of Idaho (or any state) or the US will ever see of me.  Who knows, I may write a book someday, but that seems like a total bore.  While it may bring in some income, that would not be the reason I would write it.  Don’t think I would ever teach as I would not have the certification to do so (I will save the whole licensing topic for another time).  Who knows what the future holds for me.  I do plan on law school and going into law.  Perhaps that will put me into a position to help a community be straightened out, if they will listen.  I may be one of those extremist lawyers who barely can put a meal on the table.  Who knows.  One thing is for sure, I hope to be known as a man without guile, honest, and known for his word.  I try and believe I can succeed at being those things.  Where they will take me, I don’t know.  So that is what I will do for a brighter future.  Be the best I can be and see if providence places me anywhere.  I do admit, I have ambition, but so does everybody else.  I will take the spot I am given and serve to the best of my ability there.  If that be a father, then so be it.  If it be a street sweeper, I will be the best there ever was!  I only hope that my gifts and talents which God has seen to give me might be used as he would.  Sometimes though, I think gifts are given and not used allowed to be used, to see if we will be humble enough to do so, but then recognizing they are there with faith, not despair.

“ ‘Father, where shall I work today?’

And my love flowed warm and free.

Then he pointed out a tiny spot

And said, ‘Tend that for me.’

I answered quickly, ‘Oh no, not that!

Why, no one would ever see,

No matter how well my work was done.

Not that little place for me.’

And the word he spoke, it was not stern;

He answered me tenderly:

‘Ah, little one, search that heart of thine;

Art thou working for them or for me?

‘Nazareth was a little place,

And so was Galilee.’ ”

—Meade MacGuire