Monthly Archives: December 2017

New Years Eve 2017

New Years Eve 2017

It’s New Years Eve 2017 and I’m going to bed early.  I’m doing this because tomorrow I leave for Israel first thing in the morning.  I want to be well rested.

Being the 5th Sunday, the Priesthood and Relief Society meetings were about the new curriculum for adults.  I see this as a step closer to a Zion Society.  It’s an inspired and good move.

Matt, Becca, John and Linda are all excited about the trip.  While I’d like to say nobody is excited as I am, it wouldn’t be true.  We are all excited.

Missionaries

Elizabethe has been bugging me to make her curried chicken recipe.  So, I made it… with my own twist.  She told me this is what she’ll be living off while I’m in Israel.  I told her I will be eating shawarma.

Travel Anxieties

I get travel anxieties.  I anguish over things like… what if they make me check my camera bag (I don’t like being without it when I travel).  Or, what if the tell me I can’t take my beef jerky on the plane, etc.  They are all based off previous experience.  The problem is TSA is not consistent.  (Personally, I think some of them confiscate stuff to keep it for themselves.)

That said, I have found travel from this area to be less stressful.  Most of my bad experiences were at Oakland.  Rochester is great… oh, but I’m not leaving from Rochester.  I’m leaving from Toronto and I’ve never flown out of Toronto.

To Cold for the Heater

To Cold for the Heater

It is too cold for the heater.  My little 1500W heater normally keeps my office quite warm.  However, today, it just can’t put out enough heat to combat the 7 to 12 degree cold outside.

I have a portrait session at 2pm so I started the big heater in the studio early.  It too was struggling to get things warmed up.  This is a bad cold snap and I’ll be happy when temperatures get back to normal.

I don’t mind working in the cold as long as my toes and fingers are warm.  However, I don’t want my clients to feel uncomfortable.  It makes for a bad experience if you’re shivering or have goosebumps.  It doesn’t make for a good portrait.

The Session

The session was fun.  Matt and Becca put a lot in to their wardrobe and planning.  Becca’s hair style was PERFECT, and Matt looked like a General Authority from the 1950s.  I hope they had as much fun as I did.

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Matt and Becca Baker

Matt also bought a fedora to wear.  Boy, when he put that on I thought I was looking at Harold B. Lee (without the glasses).

I looked at a lot of 1940-1950 pictures of movie stars (like Bogart and Bacall) to get ideas for the poses and lighting.  This next one is one of my favorites…

copyright 2017 db walton

Matt and Becca Baker

Public Educations Fails

Public Education Fails

When public education fails, it hurts society.  This opens the argument whether it is the government’s role to educate our children.  It’s not, and this Nation’s Founding Fathers knew it.

There isn’t an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that says people have a right to a free education (at the government’s expense.)    While knowledge is free, a teacher, tutor, instructor, trainer, should get paid.  Some might say if everyone had to pay for instruction, then only the rich get educated.

Hogwash.

From 3rd to 12th grades, public schools failed me miserably.  They were going to hold me back in 4th grade, however, my parents fought it.  They were wise.

Both of my parents taught school.  They gave me so much latitude at home I pursued what interested me.  I knew what our household income was, and it wasn’t much back then.  They didn’t have a lot of money, but what they did have was a love for learning.

Where School Failed Me

Here’s what I didn’t learn in public school…

  • I didn’t learn math in school.  Learning it at home from books we had in the house, and later from books bought at K-Mart’s clearance table, I was pretty much self-taught until I reached college.  (Which also explains why I aced every math class from junior high school all the way through college.)
  • I didn’t learn grammar in school.  My mom was a grammar Nazi — a junior high school English teacher.  While she taught me a few basics, such as how to choose the proper pronoun, I didn’t pick up a lot from her.  Everything I know about grammar, beyond reading and hearing others speak, was learned on-the-job when I started writing for a newspaper.

Those are the big ones.  History, chemistry, electronics, photography, were all learned through self-discovery based on the opportunities my parents provided.

Now, before you say, “Oh, but your parents could afford to buy you expensive electronics kits,” here’s how that worked…

Discovery

It started with an old watch.  My dad handed it to me and said, “Here!  Take it apart and figure out what makes it tick.”

Cost – nothing.

Next, it was a wood burning kit someone gave me for Christmas.  I discovered it could melt solder.  I soon got my hands on a broken radio.  I knew nothing about electronics except for if you connect the hot and neutral you get a big spark.  To me, they were just the black and white wires.  I didn’t even know they had a name.  Soon I was receiving broken TVs, radios, oscilloscopes, and all sorts of electronics with the instruction, “If you can fix it, it is yours.”

I dissected frogs, took apart lawn mowers, tried to repair a broken toaster, and many other things.  The stuff didn’t cost anything because it was junk people were discarding.

Today

Public educations fails today in so many ways.  I look at the examples I see on social media.  When a man who appears (looking at his photo) to be in his mid to late 40s writes like this, “God’s dont exist cuz man made them up,” you have to ask yourself what went wrong in his education.

I will admit I still have a long ways to go in spelling and grammar, however I’ve known for a very long time that an apostrophe “s” is possessive, and “don’t” requires an apostrophe because it is a contraction of “do” and “not”.

It’s not just grammar, it’s math, science, history, civics, and everything else they should have learned in school.

And, before someone jumps all over me regarding how great the schools are wherever they live, teach or send their children, you have to admit.   Parents are not taking the role they should be taking in educating their children.

Public education fails when it tries to assume the role of a parent.  I’m old enough to remember adults saying, “You’re going to school to learn reading, writing and arithmetic.”  (And, I used to crack up with they called them the Three Rs.)  Today, schools attempt to teach social morals, political indoctrination, and many other topics that are best left to parents to handle.

Oh, I know why.  It’s because too many parents see school as a place where you send your child all day and hope they come home smarter.  They then get upset when public education fails their child.

One Last Comment

God does exist.  He created man.  You won’t learn that in school.

Evidence

Evidence

A troll on a conservative Christian Facebook page vented is anger calling our God “mythical” and then saying, “There is no evidence that God exist.”

I will preface this by stating I was raised to be a scientist and mathemetician.  My first chemistry set was at age 7.   At age 9 or 10, my dad pointed to a table of textbooks in Spokane, Washington, and said, “You can pick any 5 and I will buy them so long as you read them.”

I took my scientist dad up on the offer.  (My dad was a biologist specializing in entomology.  He ended up spending his career teaching biology and chemistry.)  One of the books was a high school mathematics book.  Not only did I read it, but I also learned how to solve the problems.

Later, around age 11, he taught me how to figure out a genetic determinant.  My entire childhood was surrounded by scientific discovery and mathematics.  In college, I surpassed my dad in my knowledge of chemistry and mathematics and was soon tutoring him on things he would in turn teach his students.

Science was a way of life at home.

My Response

My response to the atheist who says there is no God is this…

If you say there is no evidence that God exists, then you aren’t looking, or you are unwilling to look at what is before you.

God has told us the following…

Ask and ye shall receive (Mark 11:24)
Ask and it shall be given (Matthew 7:7)
Knock and it shall be open unto you (Matthew 7:7)
Seek and ye shall find (Matthew 7:7)
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask… and it shall be given him (James 1:5)
Hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. (I John 2:3)
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. (Matthew 5:8)

Wait… what did that last one say?  For they shall see God?

Just referencing those scriptures, the unbelieving needs to ask… Have I asked?  Have I knocked (put forth effort)?  Am I seeking?  Do I keep God’s commandments?  Am I pure in heart?

I can hear the response, “Why would I do that when I know that God isn’t real?”

My Next Response

I know that God is real, and he does listen when we ask, and he does answer.  All of this requires effort.  Christ has said, “If any man will do his will (i.e. keep the commandments),  he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.”

You cannot “know” that God isn’t real, when God himself reveals himself to those who seek him.  You can only choose not to believe he is real.

I can testify that God is real, but until you find out for yourself, you will never know.

All Nations

All Nations

The scriptures talk about all nations rising up against Israel.  (Zechariah 12:3)  Like many of the prophecies for the last days, I’ve often wondered how that would play out.  This last week I’ve watched as many nations voted against Israel.

I did a search and it returned a full page of results reading, “PROPHECY ALERT: “70 Nations Rise Against Israel””, “All NATIONS ARE NOW AGAINST ISRAEL ITS TIME TO WAKE UP”, “Nations Gathered Against JERUSALEM: Anti-Israel Vote At UN Fulfills Biblical Prophecy”.  These are just a few of the headlines from this last week.

Israel is also representative of the church.  We see that happening too as those who seek to do right are persecuted for righteousness sake.  Both of these things are happening simultaneously.

Elizabethe and I were watching a movie where a couple meet and within minutes after meeting, they are having sex.  I commented, “Will things get so bad that the entertainment world has someone walk up to another and just start having sex without even saying, ‘Hi’?”

Yet, things are so bad if you publically decry such behaviour you are labeled as a “hater”, “bigot” and so forth.

Watching It Unfold

We are watching it unfold right before our eyes.  I cringe when I hear people say the Second Coming is still a ways off.  They say there is too much prophecy to be fulfilled.  But, as this last week has pointed out… as the last 50 years have pointed out, things turn on a dime.

I have read many speculations about what has to happen before the Second Coming.  I say speculation because they are personal interpretations by well meaning members of the church.  For example, one member wrote that the Savior must come quickly to his temple, and perports this needs to take place in his temple in Jerusalem.  While others believe this happened in the Kirtland Temple in 1836 (of which I subscribe to the belief this fulfilled that scripture Malachi 3:1).  Regardless of which it is, if it hasn’t happened, it can happen quickly.

Mostly, I like what one of the people I used to home teach once said, “The second coming might be different for each of us.  You can die tomorrow and that will be your second coming.”

So, the best we can do is be prepared.

Merry Christmas 2017

Merry Christmas 2017

Merry Christmas 2017!!!  We got up and prepared breakfast, and then opened our gifts.  About the time we were done, the missionaries arrived.  Thus, everything came together perfectly.

I made monte cristo sandwiches for breakfast.  Nobody else had them before, so it was a new treat for everyone (except me).

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Sisters Murdock and Abreu with Elizabethe

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Monte Cristo Sandwich

After breakfast we went in to the sitting room where we let the sisters empty their stockings.  It is always a treat to watch them go through the little things we stuff in them.

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Sisters Murdock and Abreu

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Sisters Murdock and Abreu and Elizabethe and Me

Dinner

For dinner we headed to the Morse’s.  The invited the elders plus a couple of single men who live in our ward.  (Both of which are newly baptized members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.)

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Gary and Geri Morse and Elders Stokes and Smith

After dinner we gave the elders their stockings.  They emptied the contents and I grabbed a few photos.

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Elders Stokes and Smith Peek into Their Stockings

Presents

I gave to Elizabethe this year a list of things I will do for her.  For example, 4 30 minute training sessions on Corel Painter, and stuff like that.  I also gave her a vibrating saw with a couple of blades, some USB thumb drives for her books, and an assortment of cheeses and snacks.  She gave me a Kindle Fire 10″, with a case, an assortment of beef sticks and beef jerky.

Christmas Eve 2017

Christmas Eve 2017

It’s Christmas Eve 2017.  We did not get more snow overnight, but we did get a little during the day.

copyright 2017 db walton

Palmyra Temple on Christmas Eve

Church today was full of music, and the bishopric gave talks.  We have talented people in this ward.  A young girl played a beautiful cello solo, several sang songs, and it was a Christ-centered meeting.

I noticed we have three adult Aaronic Priesthood holders passing the sacrament.  That’s cool!

Missionary Dinner

I made clam chowder for our dinner with the missionaries.  It turned out great.  It was hearty, creamy and tasty.

Sisters Abreu and Murdock are the sisters serving now.  This is Sister Abreu first time at our house.  They will be back tomorrow morning for breakfast (and opening their stockings).

After the sisters left Elizabethe and I talked about when we will open our gifts.  As a kid, I would have said, “NOW!”.    Decades later I’m like, “Let’s see when we have time in the morning.”

Israel

I have been thinking about what to pack for my trip to Israel.  Thinking about past trips, and other long trips, I need to remember what I never used.  When it comes to camera stuff, if I didn’t use it before, I probably won’t use it this time.

Christmas Weekend

Christmas Weekend

Christmas doesn’t always fall on a weekend, but when it does, it’s Christmas Weekend.  This year, Christmas falls on a Monday, so tomorrow, Sunday is Christmas Eve.  Tonight will be the eve of Christmas Eve. (That’s supposed to be funny.)

Weather

Today’s weather has been weird.  It started off raining, and the weatherman said it would rain all day with freezing tonight.

Wrong!

It rained half the day and then turned to snow.  Heavy, wet snow.

Before it got dark I went and plowed the driveway.  I really don’t want to get up early before church to clear the driveway.  For tonight, the Beckwith Mansion is a winter wonderland.

copyright 2017 db walton

After the Rain Came the Snow

Gifts

Some of the gifts arrived at the last minute.  All of Elizabethe’s gifts have arrived, so I guess I’m all set here.  I also sent off eGift cards to my dad and brother.  Everything else was taken care of well in advance.  We are all set.

Elizabethe tells me she can’t find my Christmas stocking, so she ordered me a new one from Amazon.  Hers is all stuffed with the exception of some perishables.  I’ll put those in Monday morning.

Dinner

We have a couple of pieces of flat bread and an open bottle of spaghetti sauce.  So, I made pizza for dinner.  It was quite good.

Israel Calling

Israel Calling

Do I hear Israel calling?  I do.  I hear Israel calling my name, “Come to me… Come to me…”

So, I’m going.

I have some wonderful friends.  Some how it was assumed I was going to be somewhere, or something, but anyway, I’m pleased with what happened.  Here it is in a nutshell…

John comes to pick up some portraits.  He says, “I understand you’re going to be joining us in Israel.”

Me:  I am?  (I’m really kind of confused at this point because I had written it off for early 2017.)

John then got confused and I basically told him I would if I could swing it.  Then, a couple hours later Matt calls, “Hey, buddy,” (which is how he always starts his conversations with me).  He then apologized for any confusion and invited me to join them in Israel.

I asked him to email their itineraries and if I can, I will.

Good Fortune on my Side

Good fortune is on my side.  I give God credit.  (And in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things, and obey not his commandments. — D&C 59:21)

When I checked the other day, the week was sold out at the one hostel.  Not only did they have a room, it was about 1/3rd the price.  The same thing happened with the other hostel.  Then, when I went to book a flight, while it was a tad bit more than before, the savings on my lodging more than made up for the difference.

I’m so excited!!!

One of My Plans

One of my plans while I’m there is to take some of my Book of Mormon Action Figures (Lehi, Nephi, Laman, Lemuel) and photograph them at various locations in the Holy Land.  While this may sound strange to you, I’m jazzed about it.

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Lehi, Laman and Lemuel

I don’t plan to do a lot of them, just a few.  After all, most of the Book of Mormon stories take place here.  It’s only a few that take place in the Holy Land.

Spending Too Much

Spending Too Much

One of the things Elizabethe says she loves about me is that I’m frugal.  One of the things that gives me great anxiety is spending too much.  Believe me, I agonize over spend… regardless of the amount.  Call me “cheap”, if you will, but I take great comfort in known I have a financial reserve – a liquid financial reserve.

We dropped Jennifer and kids off at the airport, and since we were down that way, I went to Harbor Freight Tools to use a couple of coupons.  Mentally trying to keep track, I went over my self-imposed limit.  Oh, that wasn’t good.  While I can afford what I spent, the agony of spending more than I wanted to eats at me.

That Did It

That did it for me.  In my mind I was planning on stopping at a couple other stores for some last-minute gifts.  Nope.  I spent my budget.  This needs to do.  No more spending money today.

See what I mean?

Wendy’s

Wendy’s has those little key tags you can purchase.  If you buy anything, you can get a free Jr. Frosty.  So, for lunch I got the 4 for $4.  That’s way too much food for someone in their 60s.  The next time I’ll see if Elizabethe wants the burger, I’ll take the chicken nuggets and we’ll split the fries.  Besides… we’re getting a Jr. Frosty for dessert too!

They make kid’s meals.  The should make senior meals.  Smaller portions in a little box.  Instead of a toy, they could package something us older folks could use.  How about a 3-pack of wet wipes?  Or a small package of antacids?   A package of flossers?  Hearing aid batteries?

After all, the Baby Boomers are coming of age… old age.

Almost Here

Christmas is almost here.  I think I’m set with gifts.  Oh, I forgot two I told Elizabethe I’d take care of… Later.