It Is Done

It Is Done

It is done.  Hill Cumorah Pageant 2014 is over, finished, done.  A lot of the people have already left, and many more will be leaving tomorrow.

We still had about 1,000 people at church today.  Speaking of church, we had a few changes.  We had a new member of the bishopric called, a new elder’s quorum president, and a new stake YW president.  And, after all that stake and ward business, we got to hear from our speakers — Elder and Sister Stewart, site directors.

Something got goofed up and we didn’t have any missionaries for dinner.  Although it was a bit of a disappointment, it worked out well because a distance 1/2 cousin came by to visit.  Art and Joyce Knowles came to visit.  Art is also a great-grandson of Joseph Croft Knowles.  However, he is a descendant of Joseph’s 2nd wife, Clara Tacey Conrad, whereas I’m a descendant of his 1st wife, Laura Matilda Baugh.

Our family of 6 who were participating in Pageant have left.  We still have a missionary couple who will be here until Tuesday.  We also have a couple arriving tomorrow.

Tomorrow is the start of PPSNYS Workshop.  It will be a very busy week.

 

John Bytheway

John Bytheway

I stopped at a local lemonade stand to whet my whistle, and while I’m there, there’s a guy buying lemonade.  I think to myself, I know this guy.  So, I walked up and introduced myself.  I got a line I used to chuckle at when I’d hear it, “Hi, I’m John Bytheway.”  (by the way)

He was buying several lemonades and didn’t know how to get them back to his family.  So, I volunteered to help.  We went to Nima’s and there I met the rest of the Bytheways.

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Me and the Bytheway Family

I spent most of the time talking to John’s wife.  We had a fun discussion about photographs, church callings, and more.  When John announced they needed to get going, I requested their friend (Jill Gifford) take a picture with my camera of me with the Bytheways.  (My daughter Laura is going to appreciate this.  Hey, Laura, John said to tell you he’s checking up on how you are doing.)

CAMLine

Just prior to meeting John and his family, I met the Crouse Family.

Introducing the Mission Stick

They have invented a unique way to remember one’s full-time mission.  It’s called the Mission Stick.  The idea is there are slots on the stick for a missionary to write summaries of each month.  At the end of their mission, they can hang it on a wall as a reminder — an index, so to speak — of their mission experiences.

I asked them to hold one of their sticks and pose in their company t-shirts.

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The Crouse Family and CAMLine Mission Stick

If my mission were more fresh in my mind, and had I kept a better journal, I probably would buy one.  What a great conversation starter.

“Hey, Brent, what’s that yardstick doing on your wall?” a friend might ask.

“Let me tell you about my mission to Colorado…”

The Crouse Family is hoping the sales of the sticks will help finance their son’s mission in a couple of years.  Make sure you visit their web site:  http://www.missionstick.com/

 Chill-n-Grill

I may have to come back and update my blog.  I’m meeting some old friends at Chill-n-Grill in a little while.  They are friends we knew when we lived in Pittsburg, California.

Sister Graham

We had a surprise visit from one of our former full-time missionary sisters.  Sister Graham and her family came by for a tour of the house and to introduce her parents and sisters.

copyright 2014 db walton
Klepinger Family

 

It turns out Brother Graham works at AT&T.  Small world.  We had a nice discussion about AT&T and retirement.

Security and Signing

Security and Signing

Today I worked security at the hill and then did a book signing at the Latter-day Harvest House Bookstore.  I had the lower automobile entrance to the Hill Cumorah.  I’ve done this in year past, but today, there were a lot of lead-foot people trying to drive to the top.

 

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My Station

The nice thing about this station is it has a tree for shade and a place to sit.

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Bart at His Station

Not far from my station was my friend Bart.  His job was to check to see if people are authorized to enter the camping area.  It looks like he came prepared for the quiet of his post, whereas, I liked the business of my post.

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The Road to the Top

Even with the 20 MPH sign, people would speed up to where I was stationed.  I really think next year they need a sign that says, “Prepare to stop.”

The book signing was kind of slow.  I didn’t get a lot of people stopping at my table, but I did make a few sales.

After the book signing I was so beat I did not want to fix dinner.  Elizabethe said she wanted Mexican food and recommended the Mexican place in Newark.  I’m sorry… the last time I went there it wasn’t that great.  So, I told her I would take her to Taco Bell.

Off to Taco Bell we went.  Now, even though Taco Bell isn’t authentic Mexican food, you know what to expect when you stick to the old standards.  Crunchy Taco and a burrito, and I’m good.

Free Speech Revisited

Free Speech

I recall in my high school civics class when discussing free speech, the teacher used the example of yelling, “Fire”, in a crowded theater as something that is not protected by free speech.  That’s an extreme example.  A more realistic example would be this question:

Does someone have the right to harass someone verbally?

This becomes very relevant during Hill Cumorah Pageant.  Hecklers arrive from out of town for the purpose of harassing those attending Pageant or activities during pageant.

I believe the answer to my question is yes, they have a 1st Amendment Right to harass, but within certain parameters.  As a member of the board of the chamber of commerce, I got a phone call regarding such harassment which should not be protected by the 1st Amendment.   It is this…

If your verbal harassment of Person A results in a loss of business to Person B, Person B’s rights have been violated.  This is the reason why many communities have a “free speech zone”.    Free speech zones have been established to keep protesters and demonstrators from trespassing and interfering with commerce.

Here’s an example.  You can’t stand in the center of the freeway holding a protest sign.  It’s illegal.  It has nothing to do with free speech; it has to do with public safety.

Another example would be you can’t start yelling on a bull-horn at 2am in the morning, waking the entire neighborhood.

I’ve got several complaints from business owners about the hecklers impacting their business.  One employee says one of the hecklers told him he was going to hell.   The heckler, a protestant minister claiming to be from Newark, New York, accosted him on the sidewalk.  His point in telling me this was he felt that if this guy did this to him, what if he does that to someone heading to his store, and because he’s in front of his store people might not shop at his store.

He’s got a good point.  So, should free speech be protected when it has unintended consequences for people not involved in the protest?

Pageant Tonight

Elizabethe and I went with our friend David to Pageant.  This was David’s first time, and we had a great time visiting with David.

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Me and David

We ran in to Sister Lewis (who served in Palmyra), and Sister Sharp.  They spent time talking to David.  It was golden hour, so as a photographer I couldn’t pass the chance to get this picture.

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Sisters Lewis and Sharp

Pageant, as always, was spectacular.  I love this scene where Jesus calls the little children to come unto him…

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Hill Cumorah Pageant

Prior to pageant, there was an obnoxious guy yelling on a bull horn about how bad we are.  I believe in free speech and it should be protected.  I wonder if this guy realizes how obnoxious he is and rather than alienating people against Latter-day Saints, he’s alienating people against himself.

I guess sometimes you’ve got to let people show their true colors.

Big Family

Big Family

I did a big family portrait session today.  32 people total.  It wasn’t quite the challenge of a 172 missionaries, but it took some creativity.

You never know what to expect on a large session like this.  Most of the time, I am booking these sessions without having met the family.  As a result I have to think on my feet.

Probably one of the biggest challenges would be if everyone was the same height.  I’ve never had that happen, but that would pose a posing challenge.  You never want people’s heads in a straight line.  You want compositions of small triangles.  So, if everyone is the same height you’d need to create two new levels of height to form the triangles.

Networking

Wednesdays are my Rochester networking meetings.  Our speaker today is a lawyer and talked about wills.  I didn’t realize how screwy New York laws are regarding wills.  I thought California had some weird rules; New York’s are worse.

If I understood her correctly, in New York, if you leave behind a spouse and children, and you don’t have a will, $50,000 goes to the spouse, and the remaining money is split 50/50 between the spouse and surviving children.  That could really mess things up if a spouse was expecting to live off the estate they built.  It gets weirder if you don’t have children, but your parents survive you.

Networking meetings are more than just sharing referrals, you learn a lot about the member’s businesses.  We have lawyers, insurance agents, accountants, and more.  Our meetings are always educational.

 

Service

Service

Cast participants in the Hill Cumorah Pageant are asked to do service.  I remembered this when I arrived at the hill this afternoon and found the place very quiet.  It seems the cast members were all gone.

Where were they?

They were off doing community service.

I caught up with a group from the technical crew working at Historic Palmyra.  They were helping clean the attic in preparation for the building’s re-roofing.  Attic space can be a dusty, dirty place and their clothes showed it.

 

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Tech Crew Taking A Break

After I took the group picture, they all disappeared and got back to work.  You will be hard pressed to find a group of young men who work so hard, and behave so well.

A friend was supposed to go to pageant with us, but had to cancel due to a health problem with a pet he was watching for a family member.  Elizabethe and I decided to go and eat dinner there, and remove the bags saving our seats.

As I walked towards the seats, I saw a couple looking around as though they were lost.

“Do you have some seats saved?” I asked.

They responded they did not, and so I offered them two of the 4 I had saved.

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Saved Seats

While walking towards the seats, we ran in to Brother and Sister Black.  I asked them if they had some seats saved, and they did not either.  I offered the other two seats to them.  It worked out perfectly.  Four seats, and two couples to sit there.

We ate our dinner with the first couple.  It turns out they live in a ward where I served as a missionary.  The Colorado Southglenn Ward.  Unfortunately, it has been so long since I served there, I couldn’t come up with any names of people that are still around.

They feed a lot of people during pageant and the money all goes to good causes.

Mormon Day Off

Mormon Day Off

I respect those who honor the Sabbath day.  After all, it is one of the commandment.   It’s one of the reasons Hill Cumorah Pageant is not presented on Sunday nights.   For members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints there is a special Mormon day-off.  It’s Monday.  It is especially noticeable during Hill Cumorah Pageant.

Mondays, for member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, are dedicated to the family.  No church activities are to be scheduled on Mondays, and chapels are not to be used.  The evening hours are dedicated to a traditional activity called Family Home Evening.

So, today being a Monday, those in the Hill Cumorah Pageant take the day off (in a sense).  There is no performance tonight.  Instead, cast members will be spending time with their family, and if they are traveling away from family, there will be activities for those people too.

Wegman’s vs Walmart

Recently I heard said that the Walmart in Macedon has never met their sales goals.  I guess I contribute to their woes.  I only shop there if I’m in a bind time wise, or if I don’t know where else to go for certain products.  But, I would hope this message makes it back to Walmart.

When I first moved here, I was doing all of my shopping at Walmart, and I noticed certain prices to be high.  I just thought it was the economy and creeping inflation.  A soon tried some other stores, and noticed most items I bought were less expensive than Walmart.

After several bad experiences with poor shelf stocking, unknowledgeable staff, poor quality meats and produce, and a ridiculous price-match policy, I stopped doing any regular shopping at Walmart.  They advertise the “low price leader”, and that they will match competitor’s advertised prices, but it is not a proactive measure.

I would expect Walmart to do what Wegman’s apparently does.  This theory was tested twice in the last two weeks.  It is this… Wegman’s watches the prices of its competitors, like Tops, and then drops their prices accordingly.  I tested this last week on ground beef.  Tops had a great price on ground beef, but I went to Wegman’s first, expecting to make a special trip to Tops to purchase some ground beef.  What did I find?  I found Wegman’s price was the same as Tops advertised price.

I didn’t have to bring an ad in to Wegman’s and request they match Tops price.  I didn’t have to put up with some clerk placing unwritten conditions on the price matching.  (i.e. like saying, “Yeah, but you have to buy 10 pounds”, or “You can only get one package at that price”, etc.)  It was just the price Wegman’s was charging.

If you’re going to claim to be the “low price leader”, then you better do your leg-work and make sure your price is lower than anyone else.  That might mean sending secret shoppers to local stores, monitoring their print and on-line ads, and adjusting your prices accordingly.  I would also go so far as to say you should be at least 1 cent lower on any given item.

It is no surprise to me that the Macedon Walmart hasn’t met their sales goals.

Walmart-bashing is not my goal here.  My goal is to bring it to Walmarts attention that they have a problem.  Perhaps it is just this local Walmart.  I don’t know how they do their price setting and how much is under the control of local management.

Here are my suggestions…

  • Better inventory control so you don’t run out of normally stocked items.  (This is a common problem I experience at the Macedon Walmart.)
  • Train your staff to know the products, know where they are in the store, and take customers there (instead of pointing them in that direction)
  • Hire real butchers and buy better meat.
  • Get your produce locally as much as possible and keep it fresher
  • Have a no-hassle price match policy.  If the competitor says “4 for $1”, sell a customer one for 25 cents if they only want one.  And, as soon as someone brings a price-match ad in, lower your price to match it or beat it.
  • Realize that you are not a Wegman’s, but they are your biggest competitor in this area.  If you want to compete, you have to match their quality, service and prices.

 

 

1000 Plus

1000 Plus

We had 1000 plus people at church today.  This is expected for Pageant.  President Francis talked and he pointed out to people this isn’t normal attendance.  The bishop asked Palmyra Ward members to raise their hands so visitors could see how few we are in comparison to them.

One of the most miraculous things that has happened every “Pageant Sunday” cannot be expressed in words, but I will try.  Traditionally the congregation sings The Spirit of God, and the choir joins in on the 4th verse.  I’ve heard the choir rehearse.  I know their capabilities, but when it comes time for them to join in on the 4th verse, words cannot describe the additional support they receive.  It is not earthly; it is heavenly. Being the organist, I’m right there in front of the choir.  Today when we reached the 4th verse, the voices I heard were not coming from the seats in the choir.  The choir was to my right, and there was a full sounding choir on my right that sang to perfection. Voices come out of the air and fill the chapel with a sound that can only be experienced.  This happens every year, but this year was exceptionally stronger.

It’s difficult to play when your eyes fill with tears of joy.

Rude Response

My daughter shared this link with me.  It goes along with my entry of yesterday (see Rude).

A father’s response to the song Rude:  http://on.digg.com/1m1mXuk

I love it.

Pageant

Pageant does not perform on Sunday or Monday.  It will resume on Tuesday night.  I’ll be there with a friend.

Today we are getting rain.  This is good because we can use the moisture, and this way, it gets it out of the system for Tuesday.

Rude

Rude

One of the most rude songs I’ve ever heard is titled Rude.  One of the local stations repeatedly plays it.  I’m undecided if the title describes the character in the song, the song itself, or the dad in the song.  I think the author has aimed the title at the dad in the song, in which case, it makes the song all the more rude.

After a failed marriage, someone close to me said she decided if she were to remarry should would give her dad complete veto power.  Literature has its share of stories about two lovers who decide to marry, and their parents are completely against it, but they do it any way.  It makes for a nice story, but in reality, it is typically a formula for disaster.  By allowing her parents veto power, this woman acknowledged they can see things she may not.  Hence the saying, “Love is blind.”

My fear is that young women hearing this song will swoon and hope they have boyfriend like that.

News Flash!

If the character in the song Rude is your ideal of a boyfriend, you shouldn’t be dating.  And, if you marry someone like that, it is sad to say, you will get what you deserve (and it won’t be a happy moment.)

I’ve heard it said many times that divorce is to easy in our modern society.  Perhaps marriage is too easy.  Upon hearing the song Rude, I immediately thought about the story of Jacob and Rachel.  (If you’re unfamiliar with the story, I’m not going to re-tell it, but I encourage you to read it in the Old Testament.  It starts in Genesis 29.)  Although I do not think arranged marriages are equitable, I do think parents-approved marriages are more likely to last.

Pageant 2014

I took a trip out to Hill Cumorah this afternoon.  Last night was the first performance.  This afternoon, I got there as they were concluding their devotional.  Not only do cast members practice like crazy to put on this pageant, between practices, many of them participate in musical performances at devotionals.

After a while, I could smell the BBQ smoke from the food tent.  I thought this picture would tell the story about how important the food concessions are at pageant…

copyright 2014 db walton
List of Charities

Those are the many projects and charitable organizations that receive financial help from the sell of food at pageant.  So, when you go to pageant, please patronize the food concessions.

When you aren’t at pageant, it is important to patronize the local restaurants and businesses too.   The public facilities (streets, street lights, sidewalks, water, sewer, etc.) are maintained by our taxes.  Our property taxes are among the highest in the state.  These businesses need your support.  By doing your part in patronizing these businesses you will help keep Palmyra from falling in to disrepair.

For those who have never been to Hill Cumorah Pageant, here are a few tips to help you plan…

  • Plan your trip about 12 months in advance.  Please don’t wait until June, July, or during pageant to make plans.  You will most likely be disappointed, and we’d rather you have a pleasant experience.  Plan ahead.
  • Lodging is sparse, and more expensive than lodging in the west.  (see my comments above on property taxes)  Plan on spending more on lodging.
  • Food prices are low, and most places in Palmyra offer generous portions.  Please plan on eating most of your meals at local restaurants.  You’ll get your money’s worth.  A calzone at Nima’s (under $10) will easily feed two adults.  A $7 lunch special at Happiness Garden is more than I can finish, and I typically have leftovers for breakfast.
  • Services are inexpensive here.  If your car breaks down, you’ll find auto repair prices are quite reasonable.
  • Although we are about 6 miles from a Walmart, I encourage you to shop local if you need something.  We have a pharmacy right in the middle of the village (across from the Grandin building) that has competitive prices and can get you an emergency Rx for what you’d pay at Walmart and you probably won’t have to wait as long.  We also have a grocery store (Breen’s).
  • Try to spend at least 3 days here.  Don’t rush your visit.
  • Pageant attracts a lot of people.  There are only 3800 of us who actually live in the village of Palmyra, and there are about 10,000 tourist on any given day.  So, heaven forbid, if you have a bad experience with someone, chances are they are a tourist too — don’t blame the locals.  Protesters are not local to Palmyra, in fact, most residents dislike the protesters being here during pageant.
  • We get over 1,000 people attending sacrament meeting.  Arrive a little early.
  • If you’re part of a group that is using the local chapel, please remember we’re just one ward meeting in that building.  Please help us out by leaving the building spotless.  Accept our apologies if it wasn’t spotless when you arrived.  So many people use our building that we cannot clean it between uses.
  • Remember the Sacred Grove is just that… It’s sacred.  Enjoy it.  Spend time there.  (But, remember, we have mosquitoes.   Prepare for them and your visit will be more pleasant.)   To me, it’s an outdoor temple.  It is one place we know God the Father and Jesus Christ have visited.  I love to spend time in the grove.
  • Other sites that have buildings/visitors’ centers will be crowded during pageant.  Be prepared for crowds and/or waiting in lines.

Of course, we’d love for you to visit when it is not pageant season too.

Going Ape

Going Ape

I’m going ape today.  Yes, I went to see the newest Planet of the Apes movie.  This was an epic thing back in the 70s.  I attended a Planet of the Apes movie marathon at the local drive-in back then.  As a diehard fan, I can’t let these new ones go unseen.  (I admit, I’m one behind, but it is available for rent so I will see it soon.)

It was pretty decent.  Lots of action.

Trivia… did you know in the 2nd movie, the lead character’s name was Brent?

Hill Cumorah Pageant

The pageant’s opening night is tonight.  Elizabethe and I are going twice next week, but not tonight.

I will probably head over to the hill tomorrow before the performance to get some photographs.  I thought about doing that today, but then I thought it will probably be a little hectic tonight and might be better for me to wait until Saturday.

Politics

A recent Gallop Poll reports that just 18% of Latter-day Saints are favorable towards President Obama.  I don’t care to say anything about that specifically, but it surprises me when it comes to issues surrounding the commandments that Latter-day Saints would align themselves with anyone who goes against those commandments.  Probably the most critical issues are those dealing with abortion and the sacredness of marriage and family.

God  is very clear on the seriousness of abortion.  God is very clear about the sanctity of marriage and that it should only be between a man and a woman.  So, regardless of what political afflation someone holds, it is a matter of character to support those who allow for the faithful to keep the commandments.