Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Wood Badge: Was it worth it?

The first time I ever considered going to a week-long scout camp for adults, was when my friend Merland went to Wood Badge. There he met my stake young men's president (before I met him actually) and together I blame the two of them for recruiting me to attend. I've had about five years to think about going. My excuse for not going was I didn't have enough time off work. This was true of course, considering that I have used anywhere from a week to two weeks of my vacation time for various scout camps every year for the past decade.

My excuse wore off when I found myself unemployed this spring and I realized others would pay my way.  With no cost to me and plenty of time on my hands, I committed to go.

So, what was it like?

Imagine travelling back in time to when you were 12 and attending your first scout camp, except keeping your adult knowledge and body. That's what it was like. Boy scout neckerchiefs, childish pranks, playing games, eating candy, and making a ton of new friends.

I had a few things I wanted to get out of Wood Badge. Namely, I wanted to better understand scout programs so I could run better scout activities for my youth. However, I was fearful Wood Badge might be more of just a motivational thing. I told my wife the night before Wood Badge, "I have a sneaking fear in the back of my mind that we're going to be sitting around singing Kumbaya."

The Bobwhite Patrol
So what did I get out of Wood Badge?

I have to admit that sometimes it felt a little like Kumbaya. There were some touchy-feely parts I could have done without. (Though I didn't have to sing it, one of the patrols did in fact sing Kumbaya as part of a patrol yell one time.) But the overall experience was positive. There were a lot of planning and leadership workshops that were a good refresher for me and would be useful to any scout leader. Another thing I liked was networking with so many amazing leaders. Scout masters, young men's presidents, bishops, stake presidencies, you name it. But by far the biggest reason I liked Wood Badge was the way they modeled the patrol method in everything they did. It's one thing to read about the right way to run a patrol. It's entirely another thing to see it in effect.

I have a lot to think about and it may take some time to incorporate everything I've learned into my own scout programs, but I feel energized to do more.

So go to Wood Badge all you scout leaders. Don't put it off until you've been in scouting for 10 years like me. Go as soon as you can.

Go now.

Now go.


Yes you.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

A Message from Above?

My oldest son needed his cello bow for class today. It was being repaired at a shop in Bountiful. With racquetball this morning, I offered to pick it up rather than make a special trip on Easter break Monday. Racquetball is over around 8 a.m. and the shop opened at 10, which gave me a couple hours of wait time. So naturally, being me, I fled to the mountains for a quick hike.

I was disappointed to see a single car in the parking lot when I pulled up, but glad to see that person return to their car and leave as I got out and thus I headed up the trail alone. I'm not sure why I felt the desire to be alone, but soon questioned the wisdom of that as I realized nobody knew where to find me. What if a mountain lion jumped me? Okay, so maybe I was being silly. I've never even seen one. What were the chances of running into one now?

Undaunted, I made my way up a steep slope, out of the canyon, and finally perched on a big rock overlooking the valley. I still had plenty of time to kill and so I sat and pondered. I sent a picture text to my wife as evidence of where I was (in case of lion attack). I read some of the names written on the top of the rock. Out of curiosity, I looked up a couple names on Facebook and found pictures of those people who had been at this location before me. Finally I put my phone away and settled in to enjoy the view.

The morning was grey and cold. The warmth generated by my short hike soon left me as the chill wind chased my jacket zipper up to my neck. This was a lonely place. Made all the more lonely by the weather and the view of the city; throngs of people miles below, going about their lives.
Maybe it was the recent months of unemployment. Maybe it was the medical scare of last week that had my second son in the hospital. Something beside the wind stirred me.

All people go through trials and my trials are pretty mild compared to some. Still, I felt lonely. I felt lonely, not from the lack of humans near me, but lonely on another, deeper, spiritual level.

I prayed. "O God, where art thou? And where is the pavilion that covereth thy hiding place?"

Okay, maybe that's not exactly what I said, but it is how I felt inside. So, where was my faith? Where was that calm assurance I've had all year that I would get through this trial? I have never doubted I would find a job. The only question was how long I would need to look. I knew I still had a solid foundation of faith. This was no crisis. It was more of a knock on the door, just to make sure He was still there.

That's when I saw it. Down below me on the hillside, maybe a quarter of a mile away. A flash of red on the edge of a thicket of scrub oak. "It's probably nothing." I tried to convince myself. "Merely some garbage or ribbon marking a study area or another boundary of some sort. There are no trails going down that way. I should ignore it and hike out the way I hiked in." Yet, I couldn't get it out of my head.

What if it was a person in distress? Or a bag full of money? What if it was something amazing? Whatever it was sure was a bright and shiny red to be able to see it at that distance. It must be something interesting I decided. So I made my way down the slope, fighting through scrub oak, sliding down loose rock and dirt. Slowly, I wound my way down to the...whatever it was.

At last I got close enough to make it out. It was a deflated Mylar balloon, not unlike the one I bought for my son last week while he was in the hospital.

On the balloon was a single word. Love.

I know what you're thinking. It was a message from above. Or maybe you're thinking it was just a strange coincidence. It doesn't really matter though. Either way, it made me feel better. Just a little. Just enough.

Thank you.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Unpaid Vacations Aren't as Much Fun.

Finding a job is my primary job right now. It is a job that doesn't pay much, but given I have so little experience at it, I guess I shouldn't be surprised. In his book, Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are, Dr. Suess describes a time in your life when you are in "The Waiting Place." That's where I feel I am right now. Waiting for job applications to be seen by the right people. Waiting for that shiny, new job. It sort of feels a bit like hanging around.

Still, we have some cushion time to look for a job without totally ending up on the street, so I feel blessed in many ways. Here is what my typical day is like.

5:00 Wake up.
5:25 Get in the car and drive to Racquetball.
6:00 Play racquetball.
8:00 Drive home.
8:35 Eat a quick breakfast with the younger kids before they go to school.
8:45 Talon time while Jeralynn brings the other kids to school.
9:00 When Jeralynn gets back and takes Talon to get dressed, I finally get a shower and get dressed.
9:20 Clean and dressed, I sit down at my laptop in my office and start reading messages.
10:30 I realize that reading messages as devolved into wasting time on Facebook and I start checking job boards and sending messages to people via email, LinkedIn, or Facebook to find out more about potential jobs.
10:40 Having contacted everyone in my network within the past week, I decide to apply for that one job. The one I'm not sure I'm qualified for but it could be an "opportunity." Or perhaps that job at that place I don't really want to move to, but figure I may as well apply just to get my name out there.
11:45 After spending an hour making a targeted resume and/or cover letter, I take a break when Talon comes to get me for lunch.
12:30 Talon goes to school and I go back to my office.
1:30 After reading news and boring stuff for nearly an hour, I realize I can barely keep my eyes open and go take a nap.
3:00 I wake up when the door slams and Cale is home from Jr. High. I realize I never finished that job application and go send in my application.
4:00 The rest of the kids get home and I'm too distracted to work as I listen to what happened at school or engage in an afternoon snack with them.
5:00 I rush out the door with Cale to basketball practice.
6:15 Getting home late from practice, I eat a quick dinner and get ready for whatever meeting I have that day.
7:00 There's always something. A scout meeting, mutual, round table, etc.
8:15 Get home and call the kids for scripture study.
8:45 Finally have scripture study.
9:00 It's bed time, but we promised we'd read to the kids, so they get to stay up another half hour.
10:00 The kids are finally in bed (if we are lucky) and I go to check my computer one more time to make sure no important messages have arrived since the afternoon.
11:45 Realize I never actually checked my email and have been surfing the news or Facebooking all this time.
Midnight: Crawl into bed and fall asleep almost instantly, exhausted.

So there you have it. A day in the life of the tragically unemployed.

The hard part will be keeping up with life once I start working 40 hours a week again.

Okay, my kid sister always asks a question at the end of her blog posts, to generate feedback. So, what do you do with your free time?

Monday, March 02, 2015

2014, what happened?

Okay, so I never posted to my blog in 2014. So what? I have like 5 followers. To you 5, I'm sorry. To everyone else, you probably follow my antics on Facebook, right?


Wait, you aren't here....

Okay, now I feel a bit stupid. Talking to myself.

I'll just go now.

Umm, bye.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Blogging is going out of style?

Should I keep my blog or dissolve it? Seems blogging is going out of style these days. I do want a place on the web, but I'd rather have it be connected to my Eagle of Moab domain.

I want a place where people can find me and see pictures and be my friends. I've been sorting of using Facebook for that, but I do have some friends who don't use Facebook. But one of my concerns is internet safety and security. Facebook allows me to control who sees my stuff. I guess a blog can be private too. Security with a www domain is less simple. I don't want folks to have to enter a password to access my domain.

So here's what I'm thinking. Use my domain as a gateway. People can go there and link to this blog or Facebook or my Dropbox public folder or my YouTube account. That way I can still keep private things private. Facebook users see something different based on my settings and friendship to them. YouTube is public domain (but also has privacy settings to limit who can see a video). This blog is public, but I should probably make it private if I ever start using it to share my life and family the way I have always wanted to. Dropbox can have both public and private (password protected) files for sharing.

I have already removed any personally identifiable information from sites like Dropbox and Yahoo and closed all my former Yahoo Groups due to security concerns. The internet is a big scary place sometimes. So, until I get this all worked out, your best bet for following my life is still Facebook.
Mike gets ready to bowl another strike at his company party in September.

Saturday, February 23, 2013


Made these back in the day.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Yearly update

Wow!  It has bee nearly a year since my last post. I can't let a year go by without posting something on my blog. Mission accomplished. See you next year.