Sunday, July 30, 2006

"I Didn't Know There Was Toilet Paper in the Bag!"

I arrived home yesterday, broken and disheveled, from a three-night camping trip. I had a lot of fun and some very interesting experiences. As I relate them, keep in mind that I have replaced my acquaintances' names with pseudonyms, to protect our privacy.

Packing for the trip, I had to waterproof everything because we would be wading through water at times. I waterproofed obsessively, putting everything in "Ziplock" bags, and then double- and triple-bagging everything. My stuff could have survived low-grade ammunition at close-range. Anyway, I was prepared.

Wednesday morning, I went into a panic making sure I had everything and picking up a few last-minute items. We drove to Brother Perry's house before six: right on time. Others arrived, and we set off.

After an interesting drive, we arrived in St. George, Utah. There we witnessed a strange phenomenon: an unusually high percentage of the women around my age were extremely attractive. We concluded, during lunch, that it is a result of all that nuclear dumping. Perhaps there's something to be said for it (I'm kidding. Please don't attack me.).

We arrived at our campsite after a stretch of hick-town. Along the way, we were stopped by a construction worker for about five minutes to make way for a large truck. The worker was obviously of Native American descent and Corey, always quick to cause controversy, asked, suddenly, "Are you Indian?" I'd like to take a moment to note that Corey is about seventeen years old. The man didn't seem too offended, but he did make it clear that he "didn't run around with a feather in [his] hair." [Sigh]

Anyway, we played a few games of football at our campsite, then went to bed. Now, I say "went to bed," and most of you may assume that we slept on the ground in tents. True, some were sleeping on the ground, but there were no tents. Myself and Jim, who are Eagle Scouts and therefore always prepared, requested the pleasure of sleeping in the cab of Brother Perry's pickup. It was at about two in the morning, I believe, that we realized that the seats in the pickup did not recline sufficiently to facilitate comfortable sleep. Needless to say, then, we were tired to an extraordinary degree the next morning. (It drizzled that night, so maybe being in the truck was a good thing.)

So it was that I, sleepy and not a bit happy, began the "12 mile" trek. After the trek, we found out that we had been told wrong. The trek was 16 miles! The Department of the Interior needs to be notified that one of it's park rangers is a sadistic lunatic.

The first three miles, we were generally on dry ground, with a few river crossings. This was good, because the cold water kept our body temperature low. Then we entered the actual canyon. The walls were sheer, and the river generally took up about half the width. Because of the way water erodes rock, the trail traveled on the opposite side of the river's path. In other words, if the river turned, we had to cross it. And boy did it turn! We spent probably half of the next six miles trudging through water, praying that we wouldn't slip and fall into it. We all would eventually. In fact, I did so rather comedically. There was a log in our path, partially submerged. I put one foot over it and, as it was pretty big, rocked forward waiting for my foot to land on the rocks under the water. It never did, so I rocked, confidently, face-first into the water. It was refreshing, though.

I should mention that I was wearing skate shoes. I have done several hikes successfully in such shoes, and have never had a problem. These hikes have always been on relatively flat and steady terrain. Zion Narrows is made up of river rocks, generally jagged, and all of them oddly shaped. After about four miles, I felt that I might as well have been barefoot. I was intimately aware of every detail of the rocks I was stepping on, and all of them were painful. Luckily I (my father) had the foresight to pack hiking boots, which I wore the next day.

That night we camped in someone else's campsite, which was all right, because they never showed (perhaps they died). We would receive a reprimand from the park ranger the next day (we dubbed him "Ranger Roy," or something like that). The food all tasted like Top Ramen, including the brownies, and we all slept on the floor.

The next day was much easier, what with my boots, although the ankles were a bit stiffer so I lost my balance a few more times. There were points during the day when we were full-on swimming with our hiking packs on. At one point, we slid down a rock slide (as in: a slide made of rock), which was the most singularly adventurous thing we did on the trip. It was fun.

We stopped at a spring. The spring itself was covered in poison ivy, but most of it was out of reach. We did have some fun with Corey, though. I wonder if the story is appropriate for print. Yes! It is!

Here it is. At the beginning of the trip, we were issued a "Silver Bag." The Silver Bag was, essentially, a disposable toilet. It was part of the Pack It Out program enforced by the rangers. Anyway, the bag had some sort of substance in it that would transform your poo into a biodegradable, odorless gel, which you would throw away when you got out. It came with toilet paper and comical instructions.

Corey apparently didn't realize that there was toilet paper. We saw him at the spring, scrubbing his behind with moss. He said "I didn't know there was toilet paper in the bag!" which we all found riotously hilarious. However, we were also able to convince him, for a short time, that he was scrubbing his bum with the roots of poison ivy. Ah! What a tasteful reaction. I'll let you envision that one.

Matthew had prearranged to meet with his parents at Carl's Jr. in St. George. Myself and John accompanied him and Brother Perry ahead of the rest, who remained behind with the bishop, who had twisted his ankle and was walking pretty slowly. We eventually finished our hike. It had taken a total of about sixteen hours of hiking time. It was very exhausting, and I felt a great sense of accomplishment.

We finished the hike about an hour-and-a-half before the rest and took Matt to Carl's. There we were secretly treated to some very nice hamburgers by Matt's parents. On our way back, however, a short-lived, but very powerful, monsoon swept through the area. It was amazing, accompanied by lightning and powerful winds, but it only lasted about an hour. When we arrived back at the campsite it had subsided. But where was the rest of the troop? The site looked deserted except for Brother Ross's van. You guessed it! Boy Scout Venture Team 53, half of which were Eagle Scouts, complete with their leaders, some of whom had been in Scouting for years and years, were huddling in the van. The bishop finally declared it: They had no intention of camping that night. We went to a Travelodge in Hurricane (pronounced HUR-i-cin; don't ask why).

I thought we were camping! I was prepared to sleep outside in the pouring rain if I had to! Imagine my surprise when we left the campsite for a motel with beds and a continental breakfast. Not that I'm complaining.

As a postscript, I will mention that I endured bitter hardships in the motel. One of the people sleeping in my room, I won't say who (whom?), had a snoring problem. Nay: "disorder." In fact, I think that his particular form of snoring could be given a name that would have a sense of fear attached to it, like "smallpox." Nose strips were no good for him. He needed a full team of doctors from Harvard Medical in full medical regalia with multi-billion-dollar equipment monitoring him while he slept. They would need earmuffs, lest they suffer permanent hearing damage. They would stand, listening in awe behind a glass shield and layers of sound-proofing, as this man emitted sounds so loud they could bring down military aircraft. One of the doctors would cry "Get the President on the phone!" It was that bad. In fact, he had the habit of changing snoring "styles." At other times, he would seem to wake up, thrashing around and moaning, but, it was too good to be true. He kept on sleeping.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

"Say Moosey Fate!"

Okay, kids, today's blog has nothing to do with moose (mooses?). That is a quote from Invader Zim, quite possibly one of the funniest cartoons I have ever seen. I understand that it's off the air, but available on Toon Nick, or something along those lines. You should watch it. If it disturbs you, then you're normal. That's all I can say about that.

In other news, I'm going on a four-day camping trip tomorrow [cheering heard from my parents]. We're going to Zion Narrows, in Zion National Park. For those of you who are not Mormons, I'd like to clarify that it is named after Zion, not Zion itself. Of course, chances are you don't care, anyway. The scenery's beautiful, and I hope to get lots of pictures. If I don't, you can see a picture to your left. <--- (For those of you who have trouble knowing your right from your left.) We're going to have a lot of fun, and, frankly, I ought to be packing right now, but as you can clearly see, I am typing. Thanks to all those who read my first blog. If you like the material enough, you can go to Blogarithm, type in my blog's URL and your email address, and you'll receive an email every time I update my blog. Yayyy! Doesn't that sound like fun? Actually, it would annoy me after a while, but if you like it, then go ahead.

Anyway, let's get spiritual before I sign off until Sunday. I'm picking a random verse from the Bible. . . aha! Interesting. Okay: Acts 19:40. Some background: the silversmiths in Ephesus are angry with the success of Paul's missionary work, because they have lost business. They make idols to Diana, a Hellenist goddess, and the newly converted Christians no longer have a need for them. So, under the guise of religious vigilance, they begin persecuting Alexander, a Christian and possibly a missionary, until the townclerk calms them down. He is speaking in this verse, saying that the rowdiness of the people is unacceptable, et cetera, and that they have no real accusation against the Christ-followers.

A similar occurence happened in this dispensation. Certain preachers in the areas in which Joseph Smith lived felt threatened by this "new" religion, as it drained their pews (and by consequence, their livelihood). One in particular, a Campbellite preacher, organized several mobs, including, I believe, the mob that tarred and feathered the prophet, an event which resulted in the death of one of his children. This same preacher tried for years to have Joseph killed under the law, while at the same time trying to stir up the people to lynch the prophet. So we see that often the offenders of the work are in it more for the money, rather than out of "moral indignation."

Sunday, July 23, 2006


Yes, this is my blog. I think I started this blog (which blog I will use for the purpose of blogging in the manner of bloggers) simply because I like to say the word "blog." I could be wrong, but I believe "blog" to be one of the funnest ("most fun?") words in the English language, like "onomatopoeia."

Anyhoo, my blog will be a repository of my thoughts, kind of like how a stomach is a repository of food. However, whereas some people's thoughts could be compared to caviar and other expensive and relatively gross food products, mine are comparable to Cheez Puffs: cheap and unhealthy. But, they sure taste good! (Can I get an "Amen?")

You've probably realized that I try to be funny. If you haven't realized this, you don't speak English or you've got one too many doctorates and no longer recognize humor, no matter how flimsy that humor may be. You should probably leave my page now before you start laughing like the common folk who only have master's degrees. Anyway, I try to be funny; it puts a healthy spin on reality. At the same time, I like to think long and deeply about matters ranging from world events to religion (not that big a range if you think about it). So, at times my blog will be riotously funny, depending on your taste in humor, or it could be an in depth discussion on topics such as Zoroastrianism, which will bore most of you stupid.

In reality, I started this blog for my benefit: as a place to gather my thoughts, examine my week, express my creativity, evaluate ideas, or share my feelings on topics that are important to me. You are free to comment and ask questions, but I ask you not to attack. Why would you attack? Because there are people in this world who hate simply for the sake of hating, and there are many aspects about me that you could find abhorrent ("hateable"). So please, keep it nice, because I'm expressing my very self, and that is something that no one has a right to attack.

I suppose I should explain my title. Certain of you have probably heard or read the question "Can ye look up?" here and there. This probably means that we share a demographic: namely "Mormon." Yes, I am a "Mormon," although I prefer to be called "a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," but I understand why I cannot insist on that. You could go with "LDS" or simply "Christian" (try it, it won't hurt), but I still prefer the other title. Perhaps I'll explain why in a later post.

Anyway, my title: It comes from the Book of Mormon, which is a book of scripture that I hold dear. The verse is in the Book of Alma: "...can ye imagine yourselves brought before the tribunal of God with your souls filled with guilt and remorse, having a remembrance of all your guilt, yea, a perfect remembrance of all your wickedness, yea, a rememberance that ye have set at defiance the commandments of God? I say unto you, can ye look up to God at that day with a pure heart and clean hands? I say unto you, can you look up, having the image of God engraven upon you countenances? (Alma 5:18-19 italics added)" I highly recommend that you read the entire chapter; it isn't that long. You can find it

The reason that the title is important to me, is that it shows the reality of the judgment. While we can assume that we can simply coast through life, we are going to have to stand accountable before Christ's judgment bar. Don't you think you'd kneel? Imagine yourself, right now, kneeling before Christ, a perfect Being Who has purchased you with His suffering, and He says, simply "Look at Me." And then what? Can you look up? With your perfect knowledge of all the occasions in your life when you took Christ's gifts for granted, can you actually look Him in the eye? I don't know if that's exactly how it's going to go down, but it's a good gauge to me of how well I'm living my life. I ask myself the question "Would I feel comfortable being in Christ's presence right now?" Quite often, the answer is "NO! I "would fain be glad if [I] could command the rocks and the mountains to fall upon [me] to hide [me] from his presence. (
Alma 12:14)" And it is at that point when I dedicate myself to be more diligent, because I know that I must live in accordance with Christ's teachings if I want to have His gracious forgiveness.

So, you can clearly see why the title is important to me. It shows my quest in life. My mission in life it to be able to "look up" at that great and terrible day. When I am called before Christ, my Maker and Savior, I want to be able to look up and hear what C. S. Lewis calls "the divine accolade:" "Come unto me ye blessed, for behold, your works have been the works of righteousness upon the face of the earth," or, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant." This goal is what makes up who I am, and although I will stumble and fall on my way, I know that my garments can be purified until they are cleansed from all stain, through the blood of my Redeemer. I write these things, testifying that they are true, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.