Tag Archives: 2011

182nd Conference Day 2

After a leisurely morning Elizabethe and I watched conference from the comfort of our sitting room with a warm fire in the fireplace.  We were joined by the full-time elders for the second session.  I put a large ham in the oven for dinner after conference.  In all, it was very peaceful day.

Back to Work and E-mail

What is it about goodness that scares people?

I think it is because they are afraid of exposing the bad within themselves.  It’s a sad dichotomy that some people have to make excuses for the bad so they don’t feel bad.  And, rather than correcting the bad behaviour, they would rather rationalize it, and when that doesn’t work, they would rather try to discredit the good.

We see this in TV shows, movies, and sadly, in real life.

“Accept it.   This is how I am,” I heard someone say once.

Obviously they did not fully grasp the concept of repentance and the principle of atonement.  People don’t have to “accept” their bad behavior.  They have to acknowledge it, and then desire to change.  That is where true growth comes from.

Some Christians would have you believe we are born bad and that’s why we need Christ.  However, it is my understanding that we are born perfect, but it is our nature to choose things that aren’t good for us.  Thus, we make mistakes.  We sin.

So, what is so wrong with trying to be good?

People say, “Nobody’s perfect.”

But Christ said, “I would that ye should be perfect…”

We know God gives us no commandment without a way to achieve it.

When I read this list…  http://mormonvoices.org/734/top-ten-2011 , I couldn’t help but think, “why the attacks?”  What is it in their lives that they want to discredit Mormons and make us look bad?

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Back at the office this morning, there were tons of e-mails waiting for me.  I didn’t even make it all the way through as I was listening in on a troubleshooting call ALL day.  It was crazy.

After work Sisters Lee and Hess brought a new convert to the house for Family Home Evening.  We watched a short movie about John Tanner and his life.  (Now, there’s a fine example of a man.)

Taxes

I get a kick out of how many people do not know how much tax they pay.

So, here’s a question for you:  What percent of your gross earnings goes to taxes?

Now, before you so quickly answer, pull out some paper, and a pencil, and start writing the answers down…

  1. What is your gross pay?
  2. How much Fed tax is withheld?
  3. How much State?
  4. How much SSI?
  5. How much Unemployment?
  6. How much SDI?
  7. How much “other” state or Federal mandated withheld?
  8. How much do you pay each pay period for property tax?  (If you rent, in NY, take about 1/2 your monthly rent for this amount.)
  9. How much do you spend on gasoline?    Now, look at the sticker on the pump and figure out how much of that goes to tax.
  10. How much do you spend on taxable purchase each month?  Multiply that times the sales tax amount.
  11. How much do you spend on natural gas, electricity, heating oil, etc.?  (You can get this off your bill.)
  12. How much do you send in road or bridge tolls a month?
  13. How much do you send on taxes on your phones?  (It’s on your bill.)
  14. If you travel, how much do you spend each month on travel related taxes?  (It’s on your airline ticket and your hotel bill.)
  15. Did I forget anything?
  16. Oh, yeah, throw in another 10-20% on anything you’ve purchased to cover the vendor’s taxes they have to pay in order to produce the service or product you are purchasing.
  17. Now, total 2-16 and divide that by 1 and you have the amount of tax you pay.

Is your figure over 1/2 of what you make?

Well, as you drive down the street, just think there is someone out there who does not pay any taxes at all, and they don’t work, and thanks to you, they have a roof over their head, beer in the fridge, cigarettes in their pocket, cable TV, and they don’t have to go to work everyday.  All courtesy of your taxes.

Yes, right now, for every working-stiff there is someone on welfare in this country.

If you’re okay with this… just keep doing what you’re doing.

Hello 2012

Happy New Year.

Well, we have a little more than 10 months before we can change the world.  Yes, as goes the U.S. so goes the world.

I find it interesting how we fought so hard for democracy and to over turn communism, and now, socialism (communism’s first step) now threatens our very government.  Oh, it didn’t all happen quickly.  It’s like  water rot in the bathroom.  A little drip starts that you don’t notice because it is behind the toilet.  It keeps up, and before long, you have a rotted floor.  So it is with social decay.  A few programs here and there, and we think, “How can it do any harm.”  But, before you know it, the damage has spread.

You’ve probably heard it said, “The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money”.  Margaret Thatcher

I’ve found in conversation that a lot of people don’t recognize ‘socialism’ when it slaps them in the face.

That’s scary!!!

What scares me more is the same people who don’t recognize socialism might vote for someone who will shove us deeper into this situation.  Like Wiley Coyote out on an overhang and digging a hole, eventually, he is going to fall through and there is nothing below him to stop his fall.

Okay… so you’re asking, “Brent, what are you talking about?”

Here’s an example…

A few weeks ago, Congress was faced with extending a tax cut that puts money back in yours and my pockets.  At the last-minute, it came down to two choices.  Choice 1 was to extend it for 2 months, and choice 2 was to extend it for 12 months (through all of 2012).

Congress took choice 1.

Now, if that isn’t bad enough, the media made it sound like “YIPPIE!  We get bigger paychecks for 2 more months!”

So, my drive for 2012 is to spread the word that we should NOT re-elect ANY of those morons who voted against a 12 month tax cut in favor of a 2 month tax cut.

The bill was  H. R. 3765.  It was voted to extend it to February 29th, 2012.  Congress voted for it.  The Senate voted for it, and the president signed it.  Now, although that sounds all fine and dandy, this was pushed through instead of the extension to December 31st, 2012.

I’ll leave it up to you to find out who wanted it to end by 2/29/2012 instead of 12/31/2012.  (Hint:  you can learn about that stuff on house.gov and thomas.gov.)

I know this sounds like a petty issue.  It’s just a simple example of how our failure to pay attention has caused the spread of the rot.  So, my wish for 2012 is that more of us will monitor what our representatives are doing and comes November 2012, we remove all those who do not have our best interest in mind and vote for people who do.

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We have a new elder serving in our ward.  The elders came for dinner tonight and after dinner, Elizabethe gave them a tour of the house.

While we were eating, someone called about rooms for pageant.  Sorry!  We’re booked already for 2012 pageant.

I’ll keep reminding people in my blog – if you want to go to Hill Cumorah Pageant, start your preparations 12 months in advance.  We’re now taking reservations for 2013.

So Long 2011

This has been quite the year.  I’ve never experienced losing so many friends as I have this year.   I’d attempt to list them all, but I’m afraid I might forget someone.  The last time I counted, it was 8.  Since then, I’ve lost 2-3 more.  Yeah, it’s been about one a month this year.

My faith in God has been what has kept me thinking positive regarding their deaths.  I know this life is just a small point of time within our existence.  Each of those who have moved on still live.  And, no, I do not mean they live in our memories; that’s obvious.  They also live in another realm hidden to us.  They will some day rise from the dead as resurrected beings – never to die again.

All of this has made me more conscious of my own mortality.  I try each day to live as though I may not have tomorrow.  I also try to live in such a way not to speed the process.  God will bring us home when he’s ready for us to return.

It has been a milestone year for me too.  Of all the birthdays I’ve had in the past, 2011 marks probably the most monumental mile stone.  It is the year I turned 55.

Why is 55 important?

A tax accountant can tell you, but I will too.  If you’ve put in at least 20 years in a job, and you are over 55, you can retire without tax penalties.

YES!

2011 has also been a dramatic year when it comes to world events and politics.  These are scary times.  Recent news reports say that in the U.S.A., 48% of the people are on welfare.  Several cities experienced protest where people were demanding entitlements from the government.  Yes, in so few short years since the collapse of the Soviet Union, people in THIS country are demanding the government take care of them.

Apocalyptic Preparedness - Model: Rebecca Holtz

I do not think I’ve ever seen a period of time when so many politicians cannot be trusted.  I recall the shock of walking the halls of my high school when someone yelled, “Hey, Agnew resigned!”   That was shortly followed by the resignation of Richard Nixon.  The irony is I now look back and say to myself that Agnew and Nixon at least had the decency to quit.  Now, nearly 40 years later, I find myself saying, “Those were the good ol’ days.”

On a brighter note, 2011 has been the busiest year I’ve ever had – professionally and personally.  Working hard has always felt good.  If you’ve been following my blog you know I like shoveling snow because I like that you can see the results of your hard work right away.  Well, 2011 started off with a lot of snow shoveling, but Elizabethe and I also canned a lot of food from our garden, worked a lot on the house, and we both feel a great deal of accomplishment.

I guess 20 years from now I’ll look back on 2011 and remember all those dear friends who left this life.  It won’t be with sadness, but fondness that I knew such wonderful people.

May 2012 be a good year.  May each of you turn to God for wisdom before you make important decisions.  There will be many before you in this year to come.  May we all work together to make the world around us a better place.

Here’s to a bright and prosperous 2012.

Elizabethe’s Last Day at Work

It was Elizabethe’s last day at her work.  They invited me to her farewell luncheon.  It was kind of funny to hear them talk about what a great worker she is, yet she’s the one being laid-off.  Oh well.  As Elizabethe put it, she would have rather it been her than some of her co-workers.

In the mean time, if anyone has a need for some computer work (Microsoft Office – Word, Excel, Access, etc.) I’m sure she’d appreciate the work.  You know … no job too small.

One of her co-workers calls her “Wizard”.  I jokingly said to him, “She takes Mastercard, Visa, American Express and Discover.”  (Well, she really does.  At least, she’s prepared to if she gets any contracting jobs.

The lunch was nice.  They sent out for Dinosaur BBQ.  I had a brisket melt, and Elizabethe had the pork-bello.  Hmmm… my impression with Dinosaur BBQ is this… eat at the restaurant.   BBQ and fixings need to be hot out of the kitchen.  When they cool down too much they just don’t have the same appeal.

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I had a steampunk-theme shoot after work.  This young lady is an actress and seamstress.  She had the most amazing collection of wardrobe.

Steampunk - Model: Rebecca

Just a reminder… If you want theme-style portraits, contact my studio.  We have wardrobe items that can be used along with your wardrobe.  We have props.  But, more importantly, we have a fun time.  I take my time with clients so that I can capture their best.  As my tag line says – Capturing Beauty!   That’s what I do!

Short-Timer

My wife is as short-timer at her work.  Her last day is tomorrow.  She came down the the car with boxes full of plants and stuff she’s had at her desk the last 4 years.  I commented, “You must think my car is a truck.”

Not much going on today.  The weather has been strange.   All that snow they keep talking about just isn’t coming.

Wyoming Type Snow

I’m not talking about Wyoming, New York, I’m talking about that high-plains state in the west.  I remember living in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and getting these snows where the wind just blew and the snow fell, and there was nothing left on the ground.  That is how our snow was today.

My thermometer read 32F, but with this wind chill, I’m sure it felt a lot colder.  It was hard to tell if it was new snow, or just snow from Canada just passing through as it made its way south for the winter.  It was not a day for being outside.  Brrrrrr

I had two shoots today.  It was an extended family and they were a fun and joyful bunch.  The grand-daughter was a cheerful 6-year-old who not camera-shy.

Elizabethe has two more days of work after today.  They have done away with her position at her work.  She’ll be helping me around the studio and taking some temp work, but she’s looking forward to spending a little more time at home.

Rainy with a Chance of Snow

Today was wet and nasty outside.  It was more like a San Francisco winter day than it was a Rochester winter day.

It was really difficult getting back in to the swing of things at work.  Hardly anyone is around, and it is hard to coordinate work if there is nobody to coordinate with.

I picked up Elizabethe after work and we headed to the temple.  About the time we got there, the rain started looking more like snow.  It is still to warm for it to actually snow.

We had a nice evening at the temple, and we had quite a few patrons.  Things moved along rather quickly.

Boxing Day 2011

Well, that’s what the people north of us call it.  For me, it was another quiet day.

I managed to take a couple of walks.  One down to the village to photograph the front of the Village Hall.  The other out at the Smith Farm and a short one at Hill Cumorah.

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Technical trouble fixed.  Somedays I just hate computers.  This time, a blue-screen-of-death hit after updating a printer driver.  But, after many prayers things are working now.

Palmyra Village Hall