Category Archives: Pageant 2015

We Still Call It

We Still Call It

We still call it Pageant Sunday even though Hill Cumorah Pageant ended last night.  With the large number of visitors the choir sings hymns of the restoration and it is well attended.

Talise met Sister Ferreira who served here.  She actually spoke Portuguese to her!  I think I was more excited about the two of them meeting than they were, but that’s okay.  At least they got to meet each other.

After church I headed off for a quick nap, and after my nap it was off to Geneva for me to register for my workshop.  All this week I’m taking a workshop out at William and Hobart Smith Colleges with Michael Barton.


I’m back from registration.  We had a cafeteria-style dinner and an instructor orientation.  Michael is a character, but I’ve known that ever since I met him about 7 years ago (or however long ago that was).  I think we’re in for an entertaining week.  And, since Michael is darn smart, some of it better rub off.

He’s got all of these 110v electrical cords with brass light sockets on the end and E27 bulbs screwed in to them.  I’ve seen him demonstrate this at an affiliate meeting, but it will be fun to see what we are going to do all week with them.

As he handed me one, he exclaims, “Don’t touch the metal!”

Too late.



Niece Arrives

Niece Arrives

Our niece arrives today.  She’s flying standby so we’re not sure exactly when she will get here.  So, we are kind of on standby while we wait to hear.

After my networking meeting, I took my car to the shop because of a noise.  It turns out it is not mechanical, but a slipped radial belt on a tire.  I kind of suspected this after the breaks were replaced, but now it is confirmed.  I need new tires.

Waiting for the car gave me cause to catch up on some work.  I managed to knockout a few photography blog entries (

Got a text around 2pm saying our niece made it on the plane and would be in Rochester around 4:30pm.  Since Elizabethe works in Rochester, she said she’d pick her up and leave work a little early.

When they arrived at the house, our niece said she was up to going to Hill Cumorah Pageant tonight.  So, we took off and got dinner at TGI Friday before heading to pageant.

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Talise at Pageant

I ordered ribs, and I was a bit disappointed this time.  They were a bit on the dry side, but we were in a hurry so I didn’t bother asking for ones that weren’t over-cooked.

Pageant was wonderful again.

Doctor Doctor

Doctor Doctor

When I was teaching at Golden Gate University, it was common for our dean to call everyone doctor even if they weren’t a PhD or EdD.  As you’d walk down the hall you would hear, “Doctor”, with the response of, “Doctor.”  It kind of reminded me of the scene from Spies Like Us.

“We’re not doctors!”

As you might guess, I had doctor appointments today.  Hence, Doctor Doctor.

In between I had a networking meeting which went well.  I received complements on several head shots I had taken for some of the members.  That a nice upbeat piece of news between doctor appointments.

Doctor Doctor!

Yes, from there I went to another doctor appointment regarding a baffling rash.  While the doctor is unsure of what the cause of it is, she did comment that my skin is quite dry and that could be the cause of the irritation.

So, on my way out of the pharmacy after buying some moisturizing cream, I politely stopped by the protester outside the candy store and asked, “Why can’t you take your protest down the street as to not interfere with local businesses?”

The guy went berserk.  At that point I decided it was time to walk away.  As I walked away he continued to yell at me until I was out of sight.   He wanted to “video” me and when I just walked away, he was yelling stuff like, “Come back here.  Don’t do a drive by.  Come back here so I can get you on video.”

Now, here’s the irony of it all…

The police (whom I spoke with after) don’t want to do anything unless he “crosses the line” as they fear it would trample his freedom of speech.  (Yes, in spite of the fact that tourist have said they avoid that part of the street because they want to avoid him, which in turn means fewer people visit those businesses.)  Yet, if I were to walk down the street yelling at some random person, I would probably get picked up and hauled off to jail.

How are his actions not harassment?  How are his actions not intimidation — bullying?

As a word of caution, the guy doesn’t appear to be mentally stable in my opinion.  So, think twice before speaking to him.  (When I described the guys reaction, the police chief said the guy did the same thing to him a couple of years ago.  At least I’m not alone.  Only I didn’t have a squad car and authority to throw him in the back of the car.)

I honestly don’t have a problem with him protesting.  I just think it is in poor taste and form for him to do so in our business district in front of businesses.  I question his motive for that spot and not in front of the Grandin Building.

My theory as to why he doesn’t want to stand in front of the Grandin Building is this…

He wants locals to be upset, and in his twisted logic, I think he thinks they will be upset with the Mormons, and not him.

Well, me and probably a couple thousand Palmyra residents have news for him.  We’re upset with you.  Not because of your message, but because of where you choose to deliver your message.  For Pete’s sake… take it down to the Village Park and have some class like the people with the yellow “cheese” truck.

Section 139-9 Village of Palmyra Code:   Except as provided in Article II, Stationary Sidewalk Vendors, of this chapter, no peddler, including those otherwise exempt from this article, may remain in a stationary location in the public streets, nor shall any peddler be permitted to operate in any congested area where his operation might impede or inconvenience the public. For the purpose of this article, the judgement (sic) of any police officer, exercised in good faith, shall be deemed conclusive as to whether the area is congested or the public impeded or inconvenienced.

Note:  It’s interesting that the only time I could find the word exempt is in the above paragraph.    It’s also questionable if he is considered a “peddler”.

Okay, enough of my venting.  His work is in vain, and here’s why…

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 (Joseph Smith – History of the Church, 4:540).


Rain Stopped

Rain Stopped

The rain stopped just in time for tonight’s Hill Cumorah Pageant Performance.  We sat with Sisters Jones and Stoddard, Elder and Sister Miller and our friend David.

Just part way in to pageant I noticed King Noah’s voice was different.  Sure enough, the entire soundtrack seemed different as did some of the scenes.  It’s all for the better.  Every year it just gets better.


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Sisters Jones and Stoddard and David

While we were waiting for pageant to start, another one of our CSM Photographers, Sister Anderson, tracked me down to say, “Hi”.  I heard via Facebook that she was in town and suggested we look for each other.  I had heard a lot of good things about Sister Anderson, and how she was the grand-niece of George Anderson (the photographer who photographed the church sites around the turn of the century 115 years ago).

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Me and Sister Anderson (another CSM Photographer)

The pageant was great.  I like the subtle changes and the rain stopped long enough for the show to go on.

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Hill Cumorah Pageant Performance

As pageant ended I couldn’t help think about the rebel-rousers outside the fence.  It must be a cold, chaliced heart that can sit there and wait for such a performance to end and then shout insults.  Obviously, the must not have listened as Moroni says, “And I exhort you to remember these things; for the time speedily cometh that ye shall know that I lie not, for ye shall see me at the bar of God; and the Lord God will say unto you: Did I not declare my words unto you, which were written by this man…?”

Traffic Safety

Traffic Safety

I believe my job at Hill Cumorah is traffic safety.  I always get assigned to the position to keep traffic operating smoothly up and down the hill.  I don’t mind the job.  It’s a nice location to work.

I am very surprised at how few people visit the Hill Cumorah on the Monday during pageant.  Please take note at what I am about to say…



The cast is off doing other activities that day and you are more free to wander the hill.  You can spend time without feeling crowded or hurried.  Also, the other sites are less busy too.  You can visit the Sacred Grove and the E.B. Grandin building with fewer crowds.

Please, take your time when you visit Palmyra.  Schedule a few days to enjoy the sites.


I’m greatly concerned about the number of people who think Bernie Sanders is such a great candidate for president because he is espousing free college.  While this sounds like a great idea (like “free” medical insurance), he wants to finance this so-called free college on the backs of retirees and future retirees.

Let’s face the facts.  If you are poor, and you want to go to college, you can get grants and financial aide now.  We don’t need any additional laws to pay for education for low-income people.  If you are poor or have a disability, chances are with a little effort you can get your education paid for now.

If you’re middle-class, it is a bit harder, but why give away your future retirement to pay for your college.  You’ll only regret it when you get to be around 60 years old.

Sanders’ plan is to tax increases that come from stock gains and dividends.  While this sounds like a great plan to sock it to those who make fortunes on stock winfalls, those winfalls are few.  Where the money will come from to finance Sanders’ plan is from retirement plans, 401Ks, IRAs, and even 529s.  The majority of these plans are financed by, yes, that’s right, stock gains and dividends.

The plan also hurts non-profit organizations.  Organizations that are humanitarian often purchase annuities with contributions to smooth out their cash flow and to provide a buffer.  I was on the board for a non-profit that received a large lump-sum donation from an estate.  The put the money in a certificate that was based on stock performance.

I find it difficult to believe that Sanders really cares about the impact of his plan on you and me as much as he wants to buy the votes of the illiterate with this half-baked scheme.  Yes, it sounds fine and dandy, but it will really hurt anyone under the age 75.  (If you’re over 75, you won’t be alive long enough to be financially harmed by this scheme.)

The other side of this is his plan does nothing to curtail the costs of education.  I’ve worked in two private colleges.  Those colleges do something voters don’t realize:  They court the low-income students because they know if they hold their hand through the process, the state will pay their tuition, books, and other fees.  This puts more money in their pockets and by charging more, they can get more from the tax-funded programs.

Like the Affordable Health Care Act, a lot of people will get suckered in to this program.  The government is already so heavily involved in the education system, this is just a further ploy to tax you more heavily.

Pageant Sunday 2015

Pageant Sunday 2015

It is Pageant Sunday 2015 and this is a big deal in the Palmyra Ward.  It’s like a stake conference in the number of people who come to church, but it is business as usual with larger than normal class attendance too.

Our small choir is always assisted by heavenly voices on this Sunday.  I know how they sound, but something special happens during Pageant Sunday.  Voices come out of the air that one cannot describe unless you’re sitting there and hearing more voices sing than people present.  No words can describe it.

After church, Elizabethe’s cousin’s son called.  He is in pageant and was at the hill and asked if he could come visit us.  We drove to the hill to pick him up and bring him to the house.  We had a nice visit and dinner.

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Jarom and Elizabethe

Also at church today, I ran in to a group from Sao Palo, Brazil, that I ran in to in Harmony, Pennsylvania.  We were both excited to see each other again.  I managed to get a picture of them in front of the building in Palmyra…


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Group from Brazil

The last few days have been quite busy.  Elizabethe and I spent a quiet evening watching the Woman in Gold – a movie about the Klimt painting and a woman’s fight to get it returned after the Nazis stole it in WWII.  Great movie!

About Time

About Time

It is about time I get the lawn mowed.  Having been gone I had to schedule time to do the lawn.  It feels kind of weird that I have to put this on my calendar for a Saturday, but Saturday is a work day, and because of my out-of-town travels this is the ONLY day I have to get it done.

It took my 5.5 hours to mow it.  It was thick, damp and Elizabethe wanted me to use the grass catcher.  That always adds a few hours to the cut time.

By the time I was done, I was done.  I mean I was just exhausted.  Two days working with those guys at the Harmony site, followed by a day of mowing the lawn tells me I’m getting too old for that type of demand on my body.

A newly called Church Service Missionary Photographer contacted me about taking photos at Hill Cumorah.  I figured I would meet her there and vouch for her as I couldn’t see letting her go through that process on her own.  Since they already know me, it would be easier for me to go in and say, “She’s with me,” than to let her explain what it is she is doing.

It was fun showing her around the hill and explaining the nuances of taking photos of the cast and pageant.  She was grateful that I came to do that and I enjoyed showing her the ropes.


Day 2 at the PRS

Day 2 at the PRS

Day 2 at the PRS and we’re starting early.  6:45am to be exact.  My feet are still sore from walking over all those rocks. I’m wearing my work boots today.

What is the PRS?

The Priesthood Restoration Site.  Yes, the site where first John the Baptist came to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdrey and restored the Aaronic Priesthood, and days later Peter, James and John appeared to restore the Melchizedek Priesthood. (Somewhere along the 28 mile stretch of road between Harmony and Colesville.  We don’t know exactly where.)

Jake, Curtis and I took a walk down to the river so I could photograph the baptismal site.  We talked about where that might have been.  We assumed it would have been on Joseph’s property, but flood lines on trees demonstrated the actual bank at that time could have been most anywhere within that swath of property.

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The Susquehanna River

We staged many of the rooms for photos.  Replicas of 1820s household tools and implements were staged to give it a lived-in look in preparation for the many tourist who will visit.  My job was to photograph it so people can get an idea of what is in store when they visit Harmony.

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Table Showing The Translation of the Plates

While these are all modern recreations, they detail of the work is amazing.  Hid beneath that cloth is the most amazing replica I have ever seen of the Golden Plates.  Joseph would have sat to the left, dictating to Oliver (who would have sat where the camera is) the Book of Mormon text.  These handwritten manuscripts were later used by John Gilbert to typeset the Book of Mormon.  This all took place in a relatively short period of time.

When not translating, the plates were stored under the bed in a wood “glass box” (a box that was used to ship glass panes for windows).

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Glass Box Under the Bed

It was another day of hard work by all.  I had to leave around 1pm to head back home.

On the way home, the sister missionaries asked if we could meet up with them for a discussion with one of our friends.  We met at Chill-n-Grill where we met some tourist from Texas.  Upon talking to them we learned he was from San Francisco, and then lived in Santa Rosa.  It turns out my cousins in Santa Rosa helped introduce him to the church.

What a small world it is.

First Photos

First Photos

The first photos of the new Priesthood Restoration Site were shot today.  On assignment from the Church History Department, I drove down to Harmony, Pennsylvania, to photograph the site.


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Priesthood Restoration Site

The first thing I did when I got there was walk through the restoration grove.  Like the Sacred Grove, we d not know exactly where the events transpired, but in this general area (see photo above), the Priesthood was restored.

It was a spiritual rush to realize I was the first person to photograph this site for the church.  The importance of the events that took place here struck deep inside my heart.  And soon, this site will be open for all to walk and ponder about those events.

After my walk, I went to the re-constructed home of Joseph and Emma Smith.  Today this home backs up to railroad tracks that separate it from the Susquehanna River.  It was behind this home on their property, in the Susquehanna River where Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdrey were baptized.


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View from Back Window of Home

We took a late lunch at a little diner in Susquehanna.  A comment was made about the chalkboard in the diner.  It quotes a scripture.  One of the men said something to the effect, “Sadly, you wouldn’t even see that in Utah.”

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Scripture on Chalk Board

I think we overwhelmed the staff by coming in with such a large group for a late lunch.  But, that only gave us time to talk and get to know each other.

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Church History Group

From there it was back to the site to work.  While these guys have PhDs in things like history and archaeology, they do some hands-on dirty work too.  The first task was to get the well sweep installed and working.

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Well Sweep at the Hale Home

You’d think it would be simply installing a poll on a pivot to lower the bucket in to the well.  Wrong.  The lever has to be counter balanced and because the angle changes as you left and lower the bucket, the bucket has to hit the hole in the well box just right.

Perhaps there is a joke in the making here about how many PhDs does it take to install a well sweep?

We took a late dinner and by the time we checked in to our hotel room it was 9:30pm.  My feet were sore and my body was aching.  These guys worked me hard and I was just taking pictures!

Eastman House Shoot

Eastman House Shoot

I went on an Eastman House shoot tonight.  Greater Rochester Professional Photographers had a short tour and then we had a couple of young ladies model for us in the gardens.

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Anna – One of Our Models

Since my leg break, I haven’t done a lot of outdoor portraiture.  The accident has very much set me back and it has been hard getting back in to the swing of things.

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Another Portrait of Anna

This all made for a very long day with my networking group, grocery shopping and all.  Then, when I came home I had to pack for my trip to Pennsylvania tomorrow.

I loaded everything I could think of in to the car.  All of my cameras, my lights, my tripods, and stuff.  I wanted to be 100% prepared for this photo shoot.  This was going to be the first time this site has EVER been photographed.  That’s right, I wanted to make sure I had all the tools to do the job.

It’s over a 3 hour drive from here to there and I want to get there in time to have lunch with the crew, so it sounds like I’ll have to leave at 8am and skip my networking meeting.

Tonight I need to charge all my batteries.  Okay, this isn’t a pun.  I have a bunch of LiIon batteries for my cameras and lights that need to be charged.  Thus, I need to charge my batteries — literally.