Friday, March 27, 2009

Utah Trip - March 2009

Dorine, Kiley, and I went to Provo, Utah last Friday, March 20, staying until yesterday, March 26. The primary reason for the trip was to see our daughter Devery and her husband Easton (D&E), but we ended up seeing lots of family and old friends. We left Albuquerque at about 6:00 pm on Friday and made pretty good time, arriving in Provo at 3:15 am on Saturday morning. We crashed that first night (i.e., morning) at D&E's apartment in south Provo, but then we spent the next five nights at the Provo Super 8 Hotel on Canyon Road at University Parkway. (That particular Super 8 is a decent hotel for the price, having all the amenities that I require, anyway -- free wireless internet, a continental breakfast with waffle machines, an exercise room with a treadmill, and an indoor pool and spa.) We have acquired the habit of listening to the Harry Potter audiobooks on long trips in the car -- for which Kiley's 30-gig iPod comes in handy -- and on this trip we finished off the seventh book (Deathly Hallows) and started over on the sixth book (Half-Blood Prince).

On Saturday, after sleeping in to recover from the long drive up, we went to eat at a Village Inn, and then we did some shopping at the mall in Orem. That evening, D&E took us out to eat at a Training Table restaurant on University Parkway, and then we went back to their apartment to watch Cold Comfort Farm, a British comedy that we fell in love with (and which I have since bought on eBay and can't wait to watch again). The next morning, we went to sacrament meeting with D&E in their BYU ward, and then we had lunch with them at their apartment. That evening, we took Devery and drove out to Pleasant Grove and had dinner with my brother Roger and his wife Lynnea at their home.

On Monday, we went shopping at the Provo Towne Center in the morning. Later we went to visit my brothers Jeff and Robin (and their wives, Marlyn and Karolyn) at their place of work in Pleasant Grove before driving on to Salt Lake City, where we picked up Devery from work and then went out to Grantsville to visit Dorine's brother Brian, his wife Dona, and their kids. On Tuesday, we spent most of the day with D&E, as Devery took the day off work and Easton had only one scheduled class. We shopped around town all day, then went and had dinner with Robin and Karolyn at their home in Pleasant Grove.

Wednesday was a "guys' day out," as I spent the day with Bob Maes, my old BYU roommate, who lives in Cedar Hills with his wife Marti and works in Salt Lake City as a postal inspector. (Dorine took Kiley up to Salt Lake City to visit with Dorine's relatives.) Bob and I had lunch at Iggy's Sports Grill in Orem with Jeff Aldous and Chuck Canfield, who also lived on the seventh floor of "T" Hall in BYU's Deseret Towers dorm complex during the 1977-78 school year. (I hadn't seen Chuck -- a physician who lives just down the street in Highland from Lenard Brunsdale, one of our old bishops when he lived here in Albuquerque -- since the end of winter semester in April 1978. I also hadn't seen Jeff, a lawyer who lives in my brother Kelly's stake in north Provo, in a number of years.) We sat at Iggy's and talked for a solid three hours, catching up on the events of the last 31 years; the attached photo, taken with my cell phone's camera, shows (L-R) Chuck, Bob, and Jeff. Bob and I talked about going backpacking this summer in New Mexico's Gila Wilderness -- I need to look into possible routes. That night, Dorine, Kiley, and I went out to eat one last time with D&E, also inviting Devery's cousin Hillery John and her husband Kevin, at a decent Chinese buffet out on State Street in, I think, Pleasant Grove. And later, D&E came back to our hotel for a swim before Devery had to go home to bed.

We came home the following day, Thursday the 26th, running into some bad weather and snow-packed roads, especially in Price Canyon as we left Utah Valley. However, we took it slow and made it through the canyon okay, and the roads were clear the rest of the way to Albuquerque. (Then it snowed last night in Albuquerque.)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Latest on Darren's Mission

Here's a recent picture of Darren (L) with his companion, Elder Rose, along with their zone leaders, Elder Avalos and Elder Merrill. Darren has been in Cerro Grande with Elder Rose now since November, which has been his longest companionship to date. Apparently, all four elders have a standing dinner appointment on Sundays with the church area authority, Elder Duarte, and his family, who live in Darren's area; this photo was taken a couple of Sundays ago by a lady named Healy who was visiting Honduras in connection with Operation Smiles and happened also to be visiting with Elder Duarte and his family that day. (She was kind enough to e-mail us this and other photos from her trip.) As I mentioned in an earlier post, Darren has been out for eighteen months now. It's practically certain that he'll be assigned to at least one more area (and to at least a couple more companions) before he comes home, but he's enjoyed being in Cerro Grande -- that is, apart from losing his camera (and his memory cards, which of course is the real loss), a tape recorder, a guitar, and other items in a burglary of their apartment.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Passing of Matt Porter

I feel greatly saddened by the death of Matt Porter on Monday, March 9, 2009, as the result of a small-airplane crash. Matt had commuted by air for years to his job at Los Alamos National Laboratory from his home in Edgewood, New Mexico (which is located about twenty minutes east of Albuquerque along I-40), hitching a ride on a single-engine aircraft belonging to, and piloted by, his friend Randy Rupert, who was also killed in the accident. The crash appears to have been weather-related, as it was raining and snowing early Monday morning. Matt was serving as bishop of the Eubank Ward, the singles ward in our (Albuquerque East) stake, and it's obvious he will be missed there. This is the second time in roughly ten years that tragedy has struck the Porter family, as Matt and his wife Paula (see photo) lost a daughter, Sara, in an accident on I-40 in 1999 that claimed the lives of several LDS kids who were en route from early-morning seminary in Edgewood to their high school in Moriarty. I don't know how Paula and her other kids can bear such bereavement a second time, except perhaps to take comfort in the thought that Matt and Sara are together now.

I can't remember when Matt's family first moved to Albuquerque, but he and I were members of the same Aaronic priesthood quorums growing up together in the old Albuquerque 6th Ward. We were all pretty rambunctious youth, but thank goodness most of the wildness wore off over time! Matt moved with his parents back to Colorado sometime around the beginning of 1975, so we didn't graduate from high school together; however, he later moved back to New Mexico after marrying Paula, who's a native of the Albuquerque area. (A couple of my brothers used to play high school basketball with her brother Roger Switzer.) I'll always remember spending a long night in 2003 with Matt in Ft. Stanton Cave, as he and I formed part of a rescue team trying to get an injured young man out of the cave. The following morning we exited the cave a couple of hours ahead of the main rescue party, and the local news media, hungry for information about the kid's condition, pounced on us. Matt, the smart one, ducked out and left me there to be interviewed live on television; I still don't know if I had anything coherent to say.

It's hard for me not to ponder the idea of living in a semi-rural area like Edgewood and having to drive on I-40 (which tends to be clogged with heavily laden trucks) to get anywhere -- not to mention having to fly in a single-engine plane every day to get to work in Los Alamos. Clearly, living in Edgewood entails certain risks that now have twice deeply bitten the Porter family. It makes me appreciate living in town and having a fifteen-minute car commute to work that entails no freeway travel.

[Update: I found out that apparently four people commuted regularly to Los Alamos on the plane that crashed -- two of them reportedly declined to fly that day, presumably because of the weather, which puts the question of risk into sharper relief. Also, I hadn't realized that Matt and Paula's son Silas is still on his church mission; Silas decided not to come home for the funeral, instead sending a very thoughtful, mature letter that one of his father's friends read from the pulpit during the service. When I was a missionary, my worst nightmare would have been to lose a parent while I was away; thus I think Silas's ability to take the long view of things is admirable in the extreme.]

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Aaron's Mission

Our nephew Aaron P______ flew up to Utah this evening in order to enter the LDS Church's Missionary Training Center (in Provo) tomorrow, March 11, 2009. He's been called to serve in the Russia Moscow West Mission, which ought to be all the adventure a young missionary could want. He'll be spending two-and-a-half months in the MTC before traveling on to Russia, which is longer than a person could reasonably be expected to bear, but he's excited about it and we're sure he'll do well. Interestingly, Aaron will enter the MTC almost exactly 18 months after his cousin, our son Darren, did so in September 2007, which means that the two will not have seen each other for a full three-and-a-half years by the time Aaron gets home in March 2011. Watching Aaron go through airport security, and then walk down the corridor toward the gate from which his flight was to depart, was scarily reminiscent of the morning we said goodbye to Darren; however, it was heartening to realize just how quickly the last 18 months have passed. The accompanying photo shows Dorine, me, and our granddaughter Kayla with Aaron just a couple of minutes before he left.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Slow Death of Old Media

Lately I've seen a number of columns and commentaries lamenting the passing of various newspapers and news agencies. They all say something to the effect of: "The new media or blogosphere is great, but we need to preserve traditional news sources if only to have trained reporters who know how to ferret out the facts and have the resources to do the primary research on which members of the new media must rely." Frankly, I find abject irony in such statements. Of what use are a journalism degree and research skills if a reporter can't report a story with at least a modicum of objectivity -- if there is little or no difference between his "news" reporting and the editorial page? All the research in the world means nothing if the reporter can't detect an obviously fraudulent document (as in the so-called "Rathergate" incident in 2004), simply because he desperately wants it to be genuine, or else ignores great mounds of evidence, often attacking the messenger (as in the ongoing "anthropogenic climate change" controversy), because it doesn't fit a certain political narrative. Old media are dying because virtually no one likes such propagandizing, and if no source can be trusted to give an even-handed accounting of the news, the average consumer will naturally listen to those commentators who share his viewpoints.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

A Weekend at The Cabin

Kiley, Dorine, and I spent two nights at the cabin this weekend with Kristy, Chris, and their kids. I had fun playing with the kids and hanging out for a few hours in Pagosa Springs. As you can see from the attached photo, there was a lot of snow up there, although all of it was old and crusty -- and, in fact, it got up above 50 degrees F. both days we were there. We've actually spent a fair bit of time at the cabin in the last year: this is probably the first time in fifteen years or longer that I've been there three times within a given twelve-month period. I still miss the old snowmobiling days, but just walking along the frozen-in-places Rio Blanco with the kids gave me a lot of pleasure on this trip. We drove our old, battered 1994 Dodge Shadow up there this time; despite its being fifteen years old, it still got 31-32 miles to the gallon out on the highway.