The Passing of a Giant

I have been traveling a little bit in the last couple weeks. I went to Salt Lake City for the funeral of Elder Neal A Maxwell . It has been broadcast since, but I thought I would share a few of my favorite moments.

The funeral for Elder Maxwell was very interesting. Candace and I arrived to Temple Square in Salt Lake City about three hours before the funeral, which was to start at noon. After waiting in line for a bit we were finally ushered into the Old Tabernacle building. Security was very very tight. There was nothing allowed in besides small purses (which were searched) and scriptures. No other books were allowed. Even the scriptures were fanned thru. The security guard mentioned to me that they found a cut out Bible a little bit ago and inside was a hand grenade. They were to take no more chances.

We were brought up to the second level of the tabernacle. The whole bottom section was reserved for family, close friends, General Authorities and invited guests. Candace and I found a seat and waited for the services to begin.

A whole row of cars pulled up alongside the building. The Prophet and his counselors were among the first to enter the building. The whole congregation stood and remained silent. That is an experience that I will never grow tired of having. When the Prophet enters a room and instantly people stand in respect, the room is always filled with a very special feeling. Even in the large conference center the feeling is present and I believe it to be a reminding witness from the Holy Ghost that you stand near he who is very much “noble and great.”

Returning the the funeral service. President Hinckley and the other members of the Twelve and Presidency of the Seventy stood at the doorway as the family and friends followed the casket of Elder Maxwell. When all were finally seated, the service began.

The Mormon Tabernacle choir sang a few numbers throughout the program. Presidents Packer, Monson, Faust and Hinckley all spoke. Also, a son of Elder Maxwell spoke. I especially enjoyed a story from President Packer. He recounted the happenings before the last meeting of the Twelve before the passing of Elder Maxwell. he said that Elder Maxwell slowly made his way into the room. When Chancing upon 98 year old David B Haight, Elder Maxwell raised his cane into the air and challenged, “On Guard”. Elder Haight VERY slowly raised his cane as well and “a shot sword duel ensued. Luckily both sides withdrew before bloodshed occurred.”

There were many parts that touched my heart and awakened me to a sense of my better self. However, I especially enjoyed the comments of President Hinckley. Specifically speaking to Sister Maxwell in the audience, he told her , “as one having experience”, just exactly how she will miss her husband. And he relayed to her the times that it would be most hard. To me it was a window into our Prophet to see his hurting heart. It also showed me how President Hinckley uses even his hardest struggles in a positive way to teach and uplift others. We would all do a little better in life if we complained less, and encouraged more.

In general, the theme of the funeral focused on just how surely the work continues on the other side. They spoke of Elder Maxwell going right to work on the other side of the veil. It reminded me that you can not escape work in this life. People tend to find the easy way here on Earth because they figure that it will someday all be over and they just have to make it until then. The truth however is that we should set patterns of growth now because when we die we will pick up right where we left off and we will continue to have chance to grow and chances to help others. I smiled while listening because I picture those who welcomed Elder Maxwell into the next stage of growth. No doubt they were excited to use a man of such great knowledge, skills and love. If they wanted an personally delivered update on the illnesses and hardships of earth then there was no man on this earth better to bring it to them then Elder Neal A Maxwell. He had such a heart for compassion and a mind for understanding.


A Little Something on Mileage

Abstract: So I bought a new truck last week. There were 7 miles when I bought it. Part of the instruction from the dealer was to keep it under 55mph for the first 500 miles. That’s right, 500 miles! So, for the last week I have been driving no more then 55 mph on the highways and byways. That was fun. I struggled keeping it under 55 because with the flow of traffic it is natural to keep up so I would turn on the cruise control and keep it at 53 mph. I tell you this because I logged the reactions. You see, people here in Las Vegas don’t like to travel that slow ESPECIALLY when there is a long and empty road in front of them. They’ll speed up to right behind me then after a few minutes they will realize that I am going incredibly slow then they’ll switch lanes and fly by, usually showing their displeasure for my choice of speed. Just for informations sake, I received 8 middle fingers. (mostly from men) I kind of liked the middle fingers though, it reminded me of my good friend up in Provo. I also received 24 dirty looks (mostly from women, they were really good too.) Of all the friendly gestures I got though, there was only one that I thought about for more then a few seconds. In fact I thought of this for dozens of seconds. (which is to say that I got to 24 seconds and stopped)

There was a minivan that pulled up behind me. I couldn’t really see who was inside but I could tell that they were anxious to pass me as soon as the next lane over cleared. Well, the lane finally cleared and as the van came zooming by, the man driving was still focused on the road, the wife in the passenger seat was giving me a dirty dirty look (from the this i concluded that she was in fact the wife…there is only one way to perfect a look like that) and then the two kids in the back were staring at me. To me that says a couple things. 1) they were so disturbed by my driving that it became a topic of conversation in the van. boring much? 2) This man certainly belongs in a mini-van because he had his wife do the dirty work.


I Need Help

So here is my problem. Over the years I have heard many theories on whether or not to use a straw when drinking at public eating places. Personally, I don’t use one. I was told once that real men don’t use straws and I suppose that stuck. The problem comes in though when the locations are changed. Sometimes I think it is better to use a straw, sometimes it is not necessary. Ok, enough stalling. I want to lay out my theories for you to read then you can make your comment and add your own theories.

Pro- you don’t have to let the soda touch your teeth. Girls always tell me that it will stain your teeth.
Pro-Some servers hand you your cup by grabbing at the top. You would want a straw to avoid putting your lips on that same place.
Pro- You can keep the cold ice away from your teeth if they are sensitive.
Pro- You can use a lid which keeps it from spilling in your car
Con- It’s too easy to drink too much. When you are paying $25 for a steak, you certainly don’t want to fill your stomach with cheap soda when you have such good food in store for it.
Con- The bottom of your straw is at the bottom of the cup, which is also where the warmest part of your drink is being stored away from the ice.
Con- if you are drinking a raspberry lemonade type drink then you have a good chance of sucking up some floaties and clogging your straw.

Pro- it helps you ration your drink because you can’t just gulp the drink thru the ice
Pro- The drink is cold as it filters thru the ice and into your mouth
Pro- That same filter keeps the larger fruit floaties from surprising you
Con- If you have sensitive teeth then the ice can hurt them
Con- If you are eating somewhere that you are served your drinks then you may have fingerprints from the waiter right on your drinking space
Con- If you wear lipstick then your cup ends up looking like it belongs on a cover of a Danielle Steele book.

I suppose that is my case to offer. Personally, I tend to shy away from straws. If any of you have other things to think about then PLEASE let me know. Even if you don’t have anything to add to it, please leave a comment and let me know what you do.


Who me?

Abstract: Something happened to me that kind of set me back for a minute. For those of you who I don’t see on a regular basis, I recently cut my hair nice and short. I have never been much for a buzz cut, nor have I ever looked real great in one, but I wanted to try it so I could feel the tickle when I rode my motorcycle. Reagardless, it’s not really my style and I am currently working on pushing hair follicles out of my head so that I can have my old hair style back. That being said, something strange happened to me today.
I went to Costco today to do some price comparing for a friend. As I was walking out of the store, I noticed an older, larger lady pushing one cart, pulling another cart and balancing a soda from the snack bar. I approached her and asked her if I could help her get to her car with her stuff and she kind of jumped back, dropped the soda to the ground and covered her two carts with her arms saying, “No, I’m fine.” I’d like to say that I snuck up on her and caught her off guard. But I really came straight to her and her watchful eye was on me the whole time. I really feel think she judged me because of my shaved head and the motorcycle clothes. That was solidified when a few moments later I was leaving the lot on my motorcycle and I overheard her accept an offer for help from a middle aged lady.
Maybe this doesn’t seem too strange to most of you, but it was strange to me. Other then a suit and name tag in San Francisco, I have never really carried an image that led people to second guess me. As a missionary it is alright, even rewarding. But today I didn’t like the feeling. The scene can mostly be blamed on her being VERY over cautious and prejudging me. But I suppose I will accept partial blame too. Maybe my look right now isn’t exactly an accurate image of my heart. I’m going to try and work on that. If anyone needs me, you’ll find me here pushing these follicles out as fast as possible.


A Memory Revisited

This week is a special one for me. I have a very special birthday coming up. It was a year ago this Friday that I bought my motorcycle. I thought that I would take a moment and record the magic moment.

It was a sunny Summer day in Las Vegas. Richard Miller and I were enjoying a new but promising business that we started. We worked out of an extra room in his house and I would drive over there each morning. I was driving down Cheyenne Blvd and just enjoying the early morning. It was 6:30 and there were very few people on the road. I noticed a car full of young ladies driving down the street next to me. As I approached Rampart Blvd the light turned red and I slowed to a stop. I was in the right lane, to my left was the car full of pleasants and in the far left lane was a old and greasy Harley with an equally old and equally greasy man sitting on it.

As I glanced over to my early morning road mates, I noticed two things. First, those girls were better viewed at 50 mph. And second, all four of them were staring at the motorcycle and it’s occupant. That taught me something. Every guy wants a bike, and every girl wants a guy with a bike. Those who don’t fall into one of those two categories only miss it because of ignorance.

That was it. My mind was made up.

I got on my cell phone and made a call to my business partner Rich. With a voice to make Barry White seem feminine Rich answers, “Why are you calling me so early?”

“I need the day off.” I requested.
“You got it!”

I proceeded to give him the day off as well. I filled him in on my traffic-light enlightenment and then revealed to him my plans.

“Rich, this is how it breaks down. You get out of bed and hop into the shower. I will be there in three minutes and I will reserve two one-way tickets to LA. We are going to fly out there with no plans, only a goal. We’ll catch a cab at the LAX, make a stop at the bank, end up in Englewood and roll out on our brand new motorcycles. We’ll ride the PCH until we are about to fall off, then we will find some young ladies and ask them to ride with us to keep us on.” At first, silence was his only response. But then it came, “ I’m for it. Let’s roll.”

I got to the Miller household and got the action started. I got two flights to leave from Vegas at 10:30. There was no turning back now. Rich finished his shower and joined me. He hugged his mom Michelle and said, “ Brian and I are going to go and run some errands. We will be back in a bit.” So maybe it was a little bit of a stretch, but it was ok for Rich to start living the life of a rebel; he was a future motorcycle rider.

I remember thinking that perhaps we were not thinking straight. We have been entertaining the thought of buying motorcycles for a while, but were never quite able to make the leap. It was a big decision that was not real popular with the pocketbook or with the parents. I wondered if we would regret our purchase. Nevertheless, the plan went on as designed.

Just three hours after I woke Rich with a phone call we were waiting at Gate C27 in the Las Vegas Airport. Still wondering if it was really going to happen, Rich and I were bouncing around and not thinking straight. We sat a few rows away on the airplane trying to act as relaxed and natural as possible. Every now and again I would take a peak over my shoulder to see how Rich was holding up. As my eyes found him, they would be greeted with Rich’s signature “bug-eyed-waggling tongue- dare-you-to-call-me-crazy” look.

We landed at the LAX and grabbed a cab. We gave the address to the driver and requested that we stop by a Wells Fargo Bank. It probably wasn’t the smartest thing to tell a cab driver to stop by a bank to withdraw thousands in cash and then drive you into downtown Inglewood and drop you off. Oh well.

After searching for a bank for a while, we finally made it to the motorcycle shop on Hyde Park in downtown Inglewood. As our salivary glands went into high gear we tried to stay as responsible and laid back as possible. After talking to a salesman he told us to go around back and they would have our bikes there being prepped and about ready to leave. We walked out the side door and around the corner. Walking along the side of the building our walk quickly turned to a run, dueling each other to be the first around the building. We rounded the corner and both immediately stopped so as to not look to anxious.

As we surveyed the motorcycles parked everywhere we desperately searched for our colors that we had requested. With excitement rising and nearing unbearable, our eyes finally met the shining chrome under the California sun. Have mercy! It was even more beautiful then I had hoped for in my mind. It took about thirty more minutes to get all the papers signed and the helmets for safe riding. They pulled our bikes out to the street and pointed them towards the coast. The man who sold us our bikes gave us a quick overview and handed us the keys to freedom.

Finally, the moment I had been waiting for all day. Like a baby being handed to a mother for the first time after birth I put my arms around that bike and felt the magic. The Laborious task and numerous details were complete and I was one with my bike. I turned the key and the first words to leave my baby’s mouth were something to the effect of “Chug ,chug ,chug ,chug , let’s rock and roll!!!” I turned to Rich with a smile that would make Batman’s Joker look like an angel. I saw the same face coming back at me from Rich. Rich’s mouth slowly opened and he uttered his first words as a motorcycle owner, “So how do you drive one of these things?”

“You’re kidding right?” I replied
“Well…” ,was his only response.

I gave Rich about 30 seconds of coaching and we were ready to go. If it were anyone else I might have been worried. But I have been around Rich long enough that what he doesn’t know, he learns very quickly. So with nothing but a motorcycle full of gas, and hearts that were equally filled, we took off for the coast.

We drove until our legs were numbed, then we shrugged it off and drove some more. We nodded to every person who looked our way and punched the gas near every girl who came near us. We did our best James Dean look as we passed each car and flexed our arms to seal our manhood to our audience. We continually complimented each other’s bikes and followed it with a laugh that plainly said, “ Don’t worry, I know that I am on one just like yours.” We took freeways and surface roads from Inglewood to Oceanside and didn’t care if we got lost on the way there. Things could not have been any better. We stopped near the Oceanside pier and took pictures with our motorcycles. The sun was sinking behind us and seemed to be saying that this is the end of a boy, and the beginning of a new phase of life. Those would be the pictures that would be shown to our kids and be so perfectly titled as, “ The day your father became a man.”

We spent the next couple days visiting friends and driving mile after mile on our bikes. We brought them back to Las Vegas the following day and have never looked back. We have owned our motorcycles for a year now. We still enjoy them quite a bit. Richard commented to me the other day, “You know, I love this motorcycle more and more each day. If my marriage is anywhere near this rewarding then I will be a happy man.” A comment with which I could not agree more.

Take a look at the video here


From The East Coast

I write this from the Steamship Authority. ( I bet no one has ever blogged on this before.) This is the Ferry that takes people and cars between Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard. (Pronounced “Math-a’s Vin-yid if you are from around here.) I traveled out to the island to find James Taylor’s house. What a beautiful place. Unfortunately my stay here was cut short because a storm was rolling in off of the Atlantic and they were going to start shutting down the ferries. I had to get out of here. However, before I left I did find the barn that he filmed in for his concert video called “Squibnocket”. He also writes a lot of his songs in that barn. I hopped the fance, sat in the barn and penned a few lyrics of my own.

I have been traveling around the New England Area for the last four days. It has been awesome. Starting in Boston I watched a Celtics game and met quite a few friendly people. After the game I walked around downtown with this group of guys about my age and absolutely loved it. People here really voice their opinions and I don’t think that one young lady walked by without all of these guys doing their best to impress her. Their best was never quite good enough, but it was a good time none-the-less.

The following day I drove North to Enfield, New Hampshire to visit with my Uncle Chad and Aunt Natalie. They were not home when I got there at first so I went and played some cards with the local volunteer fire department. (pronounced “Cads”) I also knocked on a little shack on top of a frozen lake and tried my hand at ice fishing with the family I found inside. It was fun, but too cold for me. I finally met up with my family and stayed with them for the night.

The following day I went to Woodstock. Did you know that the first pulley system to pull skiers up a hill was there? They used a Model-T engine to crank a wheel to get skiers to the top of the hill and just like that a new winter sport was born. Other then that there was not much to see. I did step into the Wilson Family Restaurant for breakfast though and ended up right in the middle of the local Lyon’s club weekly meeting. It was less of a meeting and more like a question and answer period on “The Real Las Vegas” though. Whatever I can do to help. The French toast was good.

About thirty minutes away was Sharon, Vermont. There is a giant granite marker that was placed high in the mountain where Joseph Smith was born. I got there early in the morning when the snow was falling. The marker read “To the Memory of Joseph Smith, The Prophet” I enjoyed being there more then I thought I would. The plan was to get there, hop out, snap the photo and be on my way…but I ended up staying there for quite a while in reflection. It was nice.

At that point I drove across New Hampshire. (which to me is strange that you can drive across a state in two hours.) I stopped for a few hours in Kenninbunkport, Maine. It turns out that George Bush was born there…and the residents are very proud of that fact. I had a nice late lunch with a BIG lobster. Well, I started the lunch with him but he was nowhere to be seen when I finished. (Place evil laugh here).

As soon as the lunch was done I headed toward Cape Cod. I found a little place here and dined on some clam chowder for dinner. It was good, but not real filling for me. Topped that off with two cheeseburgers and some juice then called it a night.

I got up early the next morning and ferried out to the Vineyard and that brings me to where I am right now. It has been a fun few days. Hopefully there is more ahead. Don’t worry, blog posts won’t usually be this long.

Thanks for Reading