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.

Few firsts

I tried my first sushi this past week. I enjoyed it too. But the cost will probably keep me from it for a good while longer.We toured a home built in the 1400’s. Yep, even before the settling of Jamestown. The home is tudor and beautiful. Wish I had one. It was imported, literally. The house was dismanted in Lancashire and brought over to America, piece by piece. They then built the current house. I quite enjoyed it.

We went and visited the Hollywood Cemetery. There we saw the graves of James Monroe and John Tyler. That was interesting. We also saw the grave of Jefferson Davis.

Amanda is now back at school meaning we are back on our tight budget. I don’t mind. I got a pay raise so it won’t be quite as cramped a budget as
it was before.

Tomorrow we make a trip to Kernersville, North Carolina. It will be Amanda’s first trip to North Carolina. I sure hope it is better than the last time I was there. It was so hot you walked outside and received an instant headache. We will be visiting and staying with my cousin and his wife, Terry and Marylynne Jonas. He is my Grandfather’s brother’s son. I don’t remember ever meeting him, although he remembers me when I was a
little boy. I don’t remember ever meeting his father, my great uncle Spencer, either. Anyhow, after an evening and Saturday morning together, we are headed to Raleigh/Apex to attend the temple there. Another one of the small temples. It is a bit strange to have to call and make an appointment to attend the temple. We are scheduled for the 1:30 PM session. It was the last space available, and it is Spanish speaking. So it will be a good thing for Amanda and me. We can brush up on, or learn, some Spanish.

We will return Saturday evening. Monday is a holiday so neither Amanda or I have anything to do. We may head off to do some more sightseeing somewhere.

Things are well. There has been quite a flu epidemic at work. However my good fortune of rarely getting sick has saved me once again. It passed on all sides of me. Suppose it was that lambs blood on my cubicle entrance….

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?