Saturday, September 27, 2014

Facebook and Party Lines

Logan Utah
Dad was working on a masters degree at Utah State and our family of five kids and two adults lived in the married student housing.  It was quite Spartan, with a bathroom in each unit but a common shower in a different building, near where everybody kept their washing machines:  the Dexter ringer machines, not the modern laundry center.  The Quonset we lived in also had a fridge, a two-burner hotplate, and a kitchen sink.  Mom would bake bread and cook Sunday dinner in a big roaster pan.  I actually thought every day was an adventure.  Often I would walk to my first grade classroom at the old Adams School, crossing the USU campus on my way.  Every day was an adventure.

We had no telephone.  In fact, I don’t think there were more than three families in the complex who did have a phone.  (We also had no TV.  For entertainment we would occasionally go to a drive-in movie, taking our own popcorn, of course.) Later on, after Dad finished his masters and we had moved to Lewisville, Idaho, where Dad was the principal and taught the sixth grade, we did get a telephone.  It was a party line, so whenever anybody on the line was being called, everybody on the line knew it.  Our number signal was one long and two short rings.  Somebody else might have two longs or two shorts.  Socially connected people on the line would know who was being called by the ring pattern in their own phone.  (There was only one phone in each house.  Usually the phone was near the kitchen.)

Some of the more socially connected neighbors would quietly pick up the phone and listen in on the conversation.  We became adept at discerning a slight difference in the static on the line when somebody was eavesdropping.  Then we would say, “Myrtle, please hang up and stop listening.”  A private line was a luxury for the wealthy, few of whom I was personally acquainted with.   As the systems developed and take-home pay increased, however, we were finally able to have a “private line”.  You would think we had reached the highest social stratum.  Nobody could listen in any more.

Fast forward to the 21st Century and social networks.  Now everybody wants to be on Facebook, “friends” with present and former acquaintances and family members and businesses, spending too many hours “listening in” on the lives of each other.  Isn’t it ironic!  Where the desired status was once to get a private line so nobody could listen, now we post everything about our lives on public bulletin boards where the whole world can listen in, often without our own awareness of what is taking place.

This is called progress. Every cell phone conversation is open to the whole world, and is probably being listened to by some government computer. I, and thousands of others, write a blog that is posted in front of the whole world.  I actually had several thousand hits on one of my blog entries  Are you kidding me?  What did I say that was that interesting?  What a mixed up world we live in!  Since it is not going away, maybe we should be more discreet in what we post on those bulletin boards.  But that would be boring.  Ahhhhhh!

1LT Patterson, Saipan

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Danette to BYUI

TF Temple at Sunset
Several months ago while we were serving in the Caparra Ward, one of the young ladies in the ward told us that she was accepted to attend BYUI.  I told her then that if she can get to SLC we will get her to Rexburg and help her get settled.  Her name is Danette.

Danette and her mom, Nana, arrived in SLC on Sept 7 and stayed for a couple of days with some friends there.  Those friends then brought Danette and Nana to our house, where they would stay for a couple of days before we would take them to Rexburg.  We had fun showing them around Twin Falls, including Shoshone Falls, which is almost bone dry this time of year.  
Shoshone Falls during irrigation season
I asked Danette if she would like to mow the lawn.  She did, and she had a ball!
Mowing our front lawn
On Thursday I filled in at the temple for a neighbor, and we left right after I got home.  We decided to take them the back road, through Craters of the Moon.  
Craters of the Moon
It is a little longer that way, not distance but time, but it is also a little more interesting than going on the freeway.  They enjoyed seeing the geologic formations at Craters. 
Freezing at Craters of the Moon
They were both pretty excited to be there.  Temperatures around here are in the upper 60F range, so they are both feeling like we live in the deep freeze.  Danette will get used to it, though.  Nana is headed back to balmy Puerto Rico.

On Friday morning the plan was to sleep in a little bit and them drive leisurely to Rexburg to get moved into the dorm.  Danette was up at the crack of dawn, however, and they were both excited and ready to go.  We ate breakfast and drove the back way into Rexburg.  She is living in Ricks Hall on campus.  She met her roommates, moved her stuff into her bedroom, and quickly became immersed in orientation activities for new freshman students.  I think Danette will get along fabulously.  I suspect this will be harder on her parents than it will be on her.  We told Danette that she and her roommate(s) are welcome to come to visit us any time.  We will plan on having them over for Thanksgiving for sure, and maybe other times, too.  

Gaye showed Nana how to make some peach jam.  It was really good, too.  So now Nana has a few pints of jam for her storage, made by her own hands in Twin Falls Idaho.
Gaye and Nana making jam

Sunday, September 7, 2014


My son Spencer invited me to go with him and his two oldest boys, 8-year-old Grant and Henry, who is 6.  I met them in Pocatello and we drove to Yellowstone Park.  It was a wonderful experience in spite of the rain and high temperature of 49F.  We stayed Saturday night with relatives in St Anthony and drove early Sunday morning to try to get to church at Island Park.  
Sacrament Meeting is about to begin
The ward there is normally around 200-300 but in the summer there are often more than 2000 visitors attending.  We got there in time to find seats in the new chapel.  A man we sat next to said there were more than 3300 attending over the Fourth of July weekend.  They have a new building similar to our stake center that sits right next to their older A-frame building.  They hold a sacrament meeting at 0900 and another one at 1100, which is when they also have their regular block schedule.  There were 800 attending the building we were in and another 600 in the A-frame.  That was just for the first session!

In our building there were two sacrament tables set up—one in the regular position at the front of the chapel and another at the back of the activity hall.  There were two other tables set up in the A-frame building next door, where they received the broadcast of the meeting by closed circuit TV.  So administering the sacrament took about the same amount of time that you would expect in a normal ward gathering.  The prayers were read only at the sacrament table at the front of the main building.  It was actually very impressive how they handled the crowd. 

The meeting was special to me in several ways.  One was the efficiency of how they handled the huge crowd.  That was done reverently, too, so there was a sweet spirit present.  We attend sacrament meeting to partake of the emblems of the Lord’s Supper, but there was more.  In attendance at this meeting was Gary Stevenson, Presiding Bishop of the Church, so he was the presiding officer.  He was the closing speaker, and he bore a sweet and powerful testimony.  The other speakers were a man and his wife who are regular members of the Island Park Ward.  The theme was sustaining our leaders, so they spoke about different aspects of that subject.  They had been less active for a while until they were called to participate in Home Teaching and Visit Teaching, which got them involved, brought the missionaries into their home to renew the doctrine of the resurrection and of the Atonement, and then they caught the spirit of conversion and became fully active.

The brother who spoke was a retired football coach who had coached at “every major Utah program but BYU.”  He told of a young man who had transferred from a junior college, a smaller-than-usual defensive lineman, but who had a heart and determination to walk on and to play football at Weber State.  The story was sort of like Rudy, the kid who walked on at Notre Dame.  This young man was LDS however, and he worked hard to over come the ridicule of his non-LDS teammates when he would not drink or participate in the celebrations the others did that were not up to his standards.  Unlike Rudy, he actually was big enough to earn a spot on the team, and his teammates elected him as one of their captains the next year.  After the season was over, a group of those teammates who had not graduated, one of whom had poured beer in the RM’s face to teach him what it tasted like, came to the coach, who they knew was also LDS, and asked him to tell them about the Church.  Some of those young men actually joined the Church because of that, and it was a few years later when the coach saw one of them at the temple.  You just never know who is watching.

Another high point of the meeting was when Vocal Point, the famous male a capella singing group from BYU Provo, sang “I Need Thee Every Hour” as a special number half way through the meeting.  It brought tears to my cheeks as the power of the message and the presentation penetrated into my heart.  I guess they were just vacationing there and were asked to sing.  Ah, the power of beautiful music!

The highlight of the meeting, for me, however, was when one of the young men officiating at the sacrament table pronounced the blessing on the bread.  I don’t know how may thousand times I have heard or read the prayers, but I have never heard it like that time.  He spoke slowly and clearly, pronouncing every word with reverence and respect.  As he spoke I felt the influence of The Holy Ghost teaching me things that I have never thought of before, things related to the Atonement wrought by our Savior.  I noticed that there are three things that we should be willing to do: willing to take upon us the name of Jesus, willing to always remember Him, and willing to keep His commandments that He has given us. It was the "willing" that caught my attention.  I have tried to think of the Savior and the Atonement during the time of the sacrament administration every time I participate, with varying degrees of success.  This time was different, however, and it was in large part because of how the young man at the table pronounced the prayer.  I will never be the same.

Lake Hotel

Upper Geyser Basin

Old Faithful beginning to blow

Amazing Cloud at Old Faithful

Watching osprey nest

Upper Mesa Falls

Old Faithful Inn

Henry, Grant, and Fred the Bison