Thursday, November 20, 2008

Ride on!

Okay, if you want a laugh [and heaven knows most of us need one these days] click on the following link and view the little YouTube video some cat owner thoughtfully shared with the world:

I'm grateful for people who will share these things on-line for our enjoyment. One little video can really make your day a little brighter.

I've been asked to speak in the church at the end of November. My topic? The peace that comes from Self Reliance. I may not be the poster child for that concept, but it occurs to me that being a little prepared for disasters of all kinds certainly can't hurt. If you want to truly be frightened these days, it doesn't take much! If you live in Southern California, for example, just visit or turn on the TV news.

I decided that I was obsessessing on the bad stuff and my solution was to try to get a little more prepared. First, I bought a whistle to carry with me at all times - the Acme Thunderer (see photo) that I have previously mentioned in this blog:

It's still the Official Whistle of the Italian Police Department, by the way.

It's amazing to me how that one little purchase calmed me down. My second "preparedness" purchase was a solar-power/hand crank flashlight/radio/cell phone charger. This device will go in my car. My next plan is to get the apartment handyman to help me "earthquake proof" the apartment. I want to have all the large furniture anchored to the wall and the knick-knacks secured with non-slip tape or museum putty. This is a one step at a time adventure, but I've noticed how these simple things go a long way towards helping me feel more secure.

Food storage is another one of those things where a little preparedness can help us through calamity. I think about the times in my life I've been very glad to have an extra can of soup, or an extra bottle of shampoo on hand! We have an obligation to ourselves and our families to prepare emergency supplies and have a game plan for how to contact each other or where to meet if we are separated in the event of an emergency. Here in the Los Angeles area it's possibly the threat of earthquake, or fire. In other places it could be something else. For any of us it could also be terrorist attack, pandemic, or sudden loss of job or other income due to forces beyond our control.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that the ShakeOut's message of "Drop, cover and hold on!" is applicable to us all no matter where we live or what our circumstances in life.

Drop to your knees and ask for the Lord's help in taking caring of yourself and your family.

Cover your necessities by storing food, toiletries, money, medicines and other items that might help you fend for yourself in the event of an emergency.

Hold On to your faith, your loved ones and your peace by preparing for the future. You will be glad you did.

Mother Earth is, when all is said and done, just a giant Roomba after all.

Ride On, little kitty!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Global Warming- Man Made Hoax

Go to the following link for an eye-opening view of the man-made global warming hoax that is being perpetrated on the people of the world. It's a 9-minute film.

You can also follow my Climate Skeptic link and watch the video there.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

My Squirrel

This looks very much like the little squirrel who recently took up residence in UpTown near my house. I was so impressed by his orange floooooooofy tail! I think he's hidden stores in my flower pots, because he comes to check them on a regular basis.

Monday, November 17, 2008


I borrowed these images from the Times, just to show how scary it looked on TV! I'm so lucky to have been far away from these fires, but even so, we've been ringed with them and subjected to smoke and ash - and continual TV coverage - since they began last week. I woke up on Saturday, November 15th, with the whole house smelling like smoke. I had to close windows and run the fans inside throughout the weekend, because I was having trouble breathing.

When I ran around doing errands on Saturday, I could see this giant cloud to the south-east of Whittier. It just hung there in the sky looking ominous and scary. We've had a lot of wind recently and you could smell the burned wood in the air.

When I awoke on Sunday the smell and air quality was even worse. When I got to church I felt like I couldn't breathe. One of the little girls I teach volunteered that she had a friend in Brea whose school had been burned down (I couldn't confirm if that was true). By the time I left church, it looked like snow had been falling in the parking lot - the cars were covered in a fine grey ash and speckles of black soot. This was only after a few hours being parked outside!

I spoke to my friend Roxie, who lives in Walnut/Diamond Bar area, close to the fire. She said it was the closest they'd ever been to flames in all the years they'd lived there. They had packed the car ready to evacuate, if need be, but thankfully that never happened. However, she added that the air quality was worse in Whittier on Friday night, as that's where the wind was blowing all the ash and particulates in the air. Of course! I just love living in 'shake 'n bake' country. (said with sarcasm) If I could figure out somewhere to live without winter snow/ice, tornadoes, hurricanes, typhoons, tsunamis, extreme summer heat, or floods, I'd move in a flash.
So, I'll have you know I made a big emergency preparedness purchase this past week: a whistle! It's a nickel plated Acme thunderer, the whistle preferred by Italian traffic police (I'm not making this up!). Now there'll be no problem in locating my broken body when the BIG ONE hits and whatever building I'm in collapses on me. They say we're overdue for a BIG quake, that 7.8 on the San Andreas fault. I've seen the simulations on and it ain't pretty, folks. I'd rather not be here to see/feel/experience it! Yikes.
On a happier note, we have a new squirrel with a huge, fluffy tail in the neighborhood. I used to see them on my way to work down on Broadway all the time, running on the telephone lines across the road from tree to tree. They were so beautiful. Now, it appears they've moved into UpTown where I live!
My cat is on the lookout for this little guy. She isn't happy with him. I've always liked squirrels, since my initial introduction to them as a child. I met a fabulous one in the King's Park in Oslo when I was about four. That one would play 'hide and seek' with me around the tree where it lived and was very tame. I've tried to explain the concept of peaceful squirrel co-existence to Emily, but so far she's not buying into that argument. She prefers to pursue a more agressive house protection policy which includes lots of howling and growling if said squirrel or neighborhood cats come snooping around.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Historic Vote!

Okay, I'm from Arizona and it was hard not to pull for McCain. He's our guy. His wait at the Arizona Biltmore for election night results was just a few miles from where I was (mostly) raised. It's funny, though, despite differing ideology, I still think it's very wonderful to have lived to see the day when an American of African descent can run for the highest political office in the land - and win. Having seen first hand the civil rights struggles of the 60s, this is an incredible time to be living. Rah Rah America. And heaven help Obama as the new guy in town. I don't envy him the mess he's inherited with the office!

The Truth of God Shall Go Forth

As I write this, thousands of people are preparing to descend upon Salt Lake City to protest the passing of Prop 8 in California, and other propositions which support traditional marriage in various states of our nation. I wish these people no harm, but their voices will not persuade me to think differently on this subject. It reminds me of a line from a play called The Order is Love. It went something like this, Brigham Young had asked a man to take his family and move to another area of the west, leaving behind the homestead he had just made for himself and his wife. The man initially said, "no" to Brother Brigham. Then Brother Brigham asked him to go home and pray about it. The man continued: "So I prayed about it. Dammit."

We are a people who have been on the receiving end of a lot of prejudice and hatred since the Spring of 1820. My great-grandfather Nils Evensen was arrested for preaching Mormonism back in the early 1900s. It was a common practice at that time. As I recall the story, he succeeded in converting his jailer prior to his release.

Regarding Prop 8, and the future of traditional marriage in America, I have given this matter a lot of thought. But all my arguments pale in the face of the one: that I believe there is a prophet of God on the earth today. That colors all other considerations. Elder M. Russell Ballard Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles expressed some thoughts so much better than I can, so I am posting his recent address to the world-wide membership of the church.

"This is God’s work, and God’s work will not be frustrated. But there is still much to be done.

My brothers and sisters, on July 19th of this year the Sons of Utah Pioneers placed at This Is the Place Heritage Park in Salt Lake City a statue of the Prophet Joseph Smith and his successor, President Brigham Young. This statue, entitled Eyes Westward, shows these two great prophets with a map of the western territories.

Many people, including Latter-day Saints, forget that Joseph Smith was very much aware that the Church would eventually be relocated to the great American West. In August of 1842 he prophesied “that the Saints would continue to suffer much affliction and would be driven to the Rocky Mountains, many would apostatize, others would be put to death by our persecutors or lose their lives in consequence of exposure or disease, and some [would] live to . . . build cities and see the Saints become a mighty people in the midst of the Rocky Mountains” (History of the Church, 5:85).

Even Joseph’s closest associates in those early years did not fully understand the trials that the Latter-day Saints would endure as the Church rolled forth from its small beginnings in the early 1800s. But Joseph Smith knew that no enemy then present or in the future would have sufficient power to frustrate or stop the purposes of God. We are all familiar with his prophetic words: “The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done” (History of the Church, 4:540).

Nearly 18 decades have passed since the organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1830. We have had 178 years to observe the fulfillment of prophecy and to watch “the truth of God” as it goes “forth boldly, nobly, and independent.”

The Church began its first decade with only a few members. Despite intense opposition, 597 missionaries were called during the 1830s, and over 15,000 converts were baptized into the Church. The United States, Canada, and Great Britain were opened to the preaching of the gospel.

There were many converts during the 1840s while persecutions continued to rage against the Church and especially against the Prophet Joseph. In the midst of these difficulties and despite the great challenges of travel, the restored gospel of Jesus Christ continued to cover more of the earth through the faithful service of 1,454 missionaries called during the 1840s, and Church membership grew to more than 48,000. On June 27, 1844, the persecution of Joseph Smith culminated when he and his brother Hyrum were killed by a mob in the Carthage Jail.

Soon after the Martyrdom and in fulfillment of Joseph’s vision, Brigham Young and the Church began preparations to move to the Rocky Mountains. Hardship, affliction, death, and apostasy were ever present. Still, the work moved forward. In the 1850s some 705 missionaries were called to serve in areas including Scandinavia, France, Italy, Switzerland, and Hawaii. Missionary work also began in such diverse parts of the world as India, Hong Kong, Thailand, Burma, South Africa, and the West Indies.

Among faithful converts from Scandinavia and Britain baptized during the decade of the 1850s were those who suffered and died, on land and on the seas, as they journeyed to join with the Saints here in the Rocky Mountains.

In 1875 the first seven missionaries were called to Mexico, and the work there flourished even amidst revolution and other challenges. And it was just four years ago, in 2004, that the Church reached the milestone of one million members in Mexico.

The faith of the Saints was tested in every footstep as Brigham Young led them to build temples and establish more than 350 colonies in the West. By the time Brigham Young died in 1877, worldwide Church membership had grown to more than 115,000. Despite all of the persecution, the truth of God was indeed going forth boldly and nobly.

Time does not allow a detailed review of the growth of the Church during the next few decades. But it should be noted that during the 40-year period from 1890 to 1930, while the Church and its doctrine were still under public attack, Elder Reed Smoot was elected to the United States Congress and had to fight to be seated. A great deal was said of the Church and its teachings during that time—much of it hurtful and directed towards President Joseph F. Smith and other Church leaders. However, some newspaper articles began to speak of members of the Church as contributing citizens and good people.

On September 3, 1925, President Heber J. Grant announced that the Church would begin missionary work in South America. Following the Lord’s pattern for taking the restored gospel to all nations, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles—my paternal grandfather, Elder Melvin J. Ballard—was sent, with others, to South America to dedicate the land for the preaching of the gospel.

On Christmas morning of 1925 in Argentina, Elder Ballard dedicated the South American countries and started missionary work. Before leaving the following July, he prophesied: “The work of the Lord will grow slowly for a time here just as an oak grows slowly from an acorn. It will not shoot up in a day as does the sunflower that grows quickly and then dies. But thousands will join the Church here. It will be divided into more than one mission and will be one of the strongest in the Church. The work here is the smallest that it will ever be” (in Melvin R. Ballard, Melvin J. Ballard: Crusader for Righteousness [1966], 84).

Anyone familiar with the growth of the Church in South America knows the fulfillment of that prophecy. Today, Brazil alone has over one million members.

During the four decades from 1930 to 1970, more than 106,000 missionaries were called to serve worldwide. Church membership increased fourfold, to over 2,800,000. More than one million new members were added just during the 1960s. By 1970 missionaries were serving in 43 nations and 9 territories. During this 40-year period, the South American nations of Chile, Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, and Venezuela were opened to missionary work. In Central America, servants of the Lord unlocked the nations of Panama, Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua. In Asia, major new efforts began to bear fruit in Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, and the Philippines.

None of this was easy. Challenges, obstacles, and persecution accompanied every attempt to take “the truth of God” into every continent and country so that it could “sound . . . in every ear.” Still, we moved forward in faith; challenges were met, and obstacles were overcome.
President Spencer W. Kimball asked members of the Church to lengthen their stride in spreading the gospel and sharing gospel truth. He asked every stake in the world to increase the number of missionaries, and he led the Church into using media to help convey our message to hundreds of millions of people throughout the earth.

During his 12 years as President of the Church, nearly 200,000 missionaries served full-time missions. Worldwide Church membership almost doubled, and the number of stakes nearly tripled. Missionary work was opened or reopened in many countries, and the miracle of conversion was happening in many lands despite every adversarial attempt to thwart the Lord’s work or discourage the Lord’s workers.

A little more than two decades have passed since the end of President Kimball’s mortal ministry. During that period of time we have experienced unprecedented prominence in the worldwide community of faith. Probably not coincidentally, we have also experienced unprecedented ideological attacks on our people, our history, and our doctrine through the media.

And yet the Church continues to grow. Membership has more than doubled again—from 5.9 million in 1985 to more than 13 million today. And last year the one millionth missionary to serve during this dispensation was called.

Now, my brothers and sisters, my purpose in this brief review of Joseph’s prophetic vision of the destiny of this Church and its literal fulfillment through the decades is to remind us of this simple truth:

“The works, and the designs, and the purposes of God cannot be frustrated, neither can they come to naught.

“For God doth not walk in crooked paths, . . . neither doth he vary from that which he hath said, therefore his paths are straight, and his course is one eternal round.

“Remember . . . that it is not the work of God that is frustrated, but the work of men” (D&C 3:1–3).

God has spoken through His prophet and announced to the world that “the Standard of Truth has been erected” and that “no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing.” That is undeniably and indisputably true. We have seen it for ourselves, in decade after decade, from the time of the Prophet Joseph Smith to the time of President Thomas S. Monson. Persecutions have raged. Calumny and lies and misrepresentation have attempted to defame. But in every decade from the time of the Restoration forward, the truth of God has gone “forth boldly, nobly, and independent.” The little Church that started in 1830 with just a handful of members has now grown to more than 13 million Latter-day Saints in many different nations around the world, and we are well on our way to penetrating every continent, visiting every clime, sweeping every country, and sounding in every ear.

This is God’s work, and God’s work will not be frustrated. But there is still much to be done before the Great Jehovah can announce that the work is done. While we praise and honor those faithful Saints who have brought us to this point of public prominence, we cannot afford, my brothers and sisters, to be comfortable or content.

We are all needed to finish the work that was begun by those pioneering Saints over 175 years ago and carried out through the subsequent decades by faithful Saints of every generation. We need to believe as they believed. We need to work as they worked. We need to serve as they served. And we need to overcome as they overcame.

Of course, our challenges are different today, but they are no less demanding. Instead of angry mobs, we face those who constantly try to defame. Instead of extreme exposure and hardship, we face alcohol and drug abuse, pornography, all kinds of filth, sleaze, greed, dishonesty, and spiritual apathy. Instead of families being uprooted and torn from their homes, we see the institution of the family, including the divine institution of marriage, under attack as groups and individuals seek to define away the prominent and divine role of the family in society.

This is not to suggest that our challenges today are more severe than the challenges faced by those who have gone before us. They are just different. The Lord isn’t asking us to load up a handcart; He’s asking us to fortify our faith. He isn’t asking us to walk across a continent; He’s asking us to walk across the street to visit our neighbor. He isn’t asking us to give all of our worldly possessions to build a temple; He’s asking us to give of our means and our time despite the pressures of modern living to continue to build temples and then to attend regularly the temples already built. He isn’t asking us to die a martyr’s death; He’s asking us to live a disciple’s life.

This is a great time to live, brothers and sisters, and it is up to us to carry on the rich tradition of devoted commitment that has been the hallmark of previous generations of Latter-day Saints. This is not a time for the spiritually faint of heart. We cannot afford to be superficially righteous. Our testimonies must run deep, with spiritual roots firmly embedded in the rock of revelation. And we must continue to move the work forward as a covenanted, consecrated people, with faith in every footstep, “till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.” That it may be so for us is my humble prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, amen."