Archive for February 2008

The Cadet Chapel

This weekend I was in Colorado Springs on a business trip. We had some free time on Sunday and decided to go up to the Air Force Academy (about 5 minutes away from the hotel). I was worried that they might not let us in but there was a big sign on the freeway that said “Air Force Academy Visitor’s Center” and that it was open. When we drove up to the gates the sign said it was FPCON Alpha (Force Protection Condition Alpha). I’m not sure what FPCON Alpha meant but I guess it meant they were supposed to check my driver’s license and look in the trunk of the car because that is what they did. After a brief moment of me figuring out how to open the trunk on the rental car we were on our way to the Academy. We passed a big B-52 bomber and saw several other planes displayed on the campus. I thought they were pretty cool but the guy I was with informed me that the Hill Air Force Base Museum had cooler planes.

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Cadet Chapel

The Air Force Academy has a visitors center where you watch a 10 minute movie on what it’s like to be a cadet (too tough for me) and then you can check out the cockpit of a jet, buy Air Force Falcon’s gear, check out the various kinds of uniforms, and read all about the founding of the Academy and its glorious history. You can then take a little walk through the woods to the Cadet Chapel.

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Protestant Chapel Organ

The Cadet Chapel is a very impressive building and probably the signature building of the Academy (every other building looks like a 1970s college dorm). The chapel has two main chapels – one upstairs for the Protestants (the biggest one) and one downstairs for the Catholics. There is also a Jewish room and several rooms for those that fall in the “other” category.

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Front of the Protestant Chapel

I thought the coolest thing about the Protestant chapel was the organ at the back. Supposedly they can hold services in both the Catholic and Protestant chapels simultaneously without disturbing each other but I wondered if they Catholics could hear the Protestants organ coming from upstairs. The second coolest thing was the height of the chapel and the stained glass and lights. We tried to go into the Jewish section but it was locked.

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Catholic Chapel

The Air Force Academy is a beautiful place. I’m not sure I would want my kids to go there but I have only respect for the cadets do go and eventually become officers. When I called Nancy that evening she mentioned that the kids were worried about the fact that I didn’t go to church that day. I was pleased to inform her that I did indeed go to church – it just wasn’t an LDS church.

Another winter storm

I have lived in Utah for about 14 years now and this has been the snowiest winter yet. It seems like every week there are about two storms and one of them dumps about a foot of snow. Last night we had another doosie(sp?). It wouldn’t have been so bad, but the wind was so strong it made the snow pile in large drifts. One part of the driveway had tons of snow on it and the other had little. About 6pm I decided to clear the driveway so it would be easier for BYUFan to pull into the garage. He was supposed to be home early so we could go to new beginnings with Emily. I got done about 6:50pm and still no BYUFan, I couln’t call him because he left his cell phone at home so Emily and I had to go to new beginnings without him. When we got home about 8:15pm still no sign of BYUFan. Finally about 8:30pm he shows up, it turns out he left work about 6pm and it took him over two hours to get home. Poor BYUFan, he didn’t have time to have dinner because he had to head straight to Bishopric meeting. BYUFan will have to tell you about his adventures himself to give it full credit.

This morning we got around to shoveling the rest of the driveway and I took a few pictures.
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Executive Secretary

Today I was sustained as the Executive Secretary. Although I don’t think this calling will be terribly difficult, it will definitely be time consuming. I started off my first week with a bang – I didn’t get home until 3:45 from 9:00 a.m. church. Of course, it could be worse. The Bishop was at Stake Priesthood Meeting this morning at 7:00 a.m., had Bishopric meeting at 8:00 a.m., was with me at the church until 3:30 and was leaving for a stake meeting when I went home.

I definitely think I’ll need to prioritize the things I spend my time on. That means less computer games and less TV. Thus, I actually think it will be good for me.

Science Fair

We finally finished up both Emily and Anne’s science fair projects tonight. Anne did all her researcch and experimentation a few weeks ago and made her display a couple of days ago so she wasn’t rushed at the end. I forced Emily to change projects relatively late in the game so she needed every last day to finish her report and display. That being said, she has been working on the research for the last couple of weeks now so putting the final report and display together tonight wasn’t too big of a project.

Anne’s project was the same old paper towel project that we’ve done for the past two years. After the third year in a row of that project I put my foot down and said that nobody can do paper towels again. No surprising results in this project. While it probably won’t win an award it is certainly worth a good grade.

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Anne’s Display

Emily’s project was “Effects of Soft Water on a Seed”. I was actually interested in doing this project with Emily to determine if watering seeds with soft water would hurt them. Emily’s project produced surprising results in that the seeds watered with soft water sprouted faster and grew faster than the hard water seeds. We were expecting soft water seeds to do worse because soft water is reputedly bad for plants due to the high salt content.

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Emily’s Display

One thing that might have produced unexpected results was that the water temperature of soft water is warmer than that of hard water. This is due to the fact that soft water goes through the indoor water softener first while hard water comes in directly from outside. I think I’ll try the experiment again when I start my garden seedlings in a month or two and see if better controlling the water temperature produces a different outcome.

Overall I thought the girls both did a good job on their projects and I’m glad that we’re done for this year. Next year Emily will be in Middle School where science fair isn’t a requirement and Texas will be in 3rd grade where it is also not a requirement. Thus, we’ll only have Anne’s project next year…

…Horselers.

A Nice Little Storm

This morning we woke up to a blowing snow storm. I knew it was pretty deep just by looking out the window but I didn’t realize how deep until I got outside. I estimate that it snowed at least 10 inches. To make things even more interesting, the wind was blowing and had created some pretty decent snow drifts. In some cases the snow was drifted to nearly 24 inches – well over the top of my snowblower.

I went out about 7:30 to clear the driveway so that we could go to church. I came back in about 8:10 and started to get ready for church. Nancy asked me, “Do they ever cancel church in Utah?” I said, “Nah – not unless there was more than two feet”. About 10 minutes later the phone rang. It was the Bishop saying that they had canceled church. 2 minutes later the phone rang again – it was the EQ 1st Counselor telling us that church was canceled and to please calling my hometeaching families. A few minutes later the EQ president called and a few minutes after that the RS president (also Nancy’s visiting teacher) called.

Of course, the point didn’t get across because I decided to drive over to the church anyway just to see if the Bishop needed me to do anything. I made it to the church just fine but got my car stuck in the church parking lot. I was totally embarrassed. The bishop gave me a push and I made it home without incident.

The snow stopped around noon and I spent the next two hours snowblowing, shoveling, helping our neighbor get unstuck, snowblowing our neighbor’s walks, and clearing ice out of the driveway. It’s supposed to keep storming again until tomorrow but right now the storm looks like it’s blown itself out. We’ve had a lot of snow this winter which is great because we really need the water but I am getting a little tired of clearing the walks. As with every time it snows, I have to give a great big Thanks! to Lori and Bryan for the snowblower they gave me. It’s starting to near the end of its useful life and perhaps next year we’ll have to send it off to snowblower heaven and get a new one; but today, Lori’s snowblower proved it’s worth yet again.

Baptism Day

Today was Caroline’s baptism. While the older girls were excited for their baptism day, Caroline was particularly so. She has spent the last two weeks exhibiting her excitement as only Caroline can (annoying squeaking noises, pestering with questions, clapping hands and wiggly fingers, etc.) She was especially looking forward to getting a new set of scriptures with her name on them and for going out to dinner with Grandma Connie and Grandpa Kent after the baptism.

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There are at least 10 wards in our Stake and all the baptisms for children of record are done on the first Saturday of each month. With 15-20 kids being baptized each month, the Stake has the whole operation down to a science. Our ward was paired with two other wards. The other two wards had two kids each while Caroline was the only kid from our ward. Thus, we didn’t have to do anything for the program and we got to have baptismal font all to ourselves.

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The baptism went off without a hitch: the water in the font was warm, Caroline bent her knees and went all the way under, Grandpa Kent and the Bishop were the witnesses, and we had a nice little family testimony meeting when Caroline was confirmed.

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Of course, best of all was going out to dinner after. Caroline settled on the Mayan restaurant (also known as Jumping Man) after changing her mind several times over the past few days. The Mayan has long had a reputation for unremarkable food but decent entertainment (who doesn’t like cliff divers?). I guess they’ve been trying to raise their game over the past year though because the entrance has been completely remodeled to look like the start of an Indiana Jones excursion and the menu and food quality seem upgraded. In fact, the food this time around was actually quite good. The entertainment has also been kicked up a notch in that the cliff divers no longer just wear speedos but now wear loinclothes and body paint. There are also Mayan warriors decked out in feathered headdresses roaming around. In fact, one even guessed that Grandma Connie was looking for the restroom because he said “Oogah boogah” to her and pointed her in the right direction.

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We waited for about a half hour for the table even though there was a ton of table space in the restaurant once we finally got inside. I guess the main problem was lack of servers (the Mayan had a big Help Wanted banner up outside) because by the time we left there were still tons of empty tables while the lobby was even more crowded than when we got there. Once we were seated it wasn’t too long before the lights went down and the diving show started. The kids love to see the men jump off the cliffs into the water (thus the restaurant’s nickname of “Jumping Man”) although Diana was a bit scared each time the lights went down. They also loved to order strawberry smoothies. They’re never allowed to order those kind of things when I take them out to dinner and thus are very keen to order when Grandpa Kent takes them out.

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After a meal of strawberry smoothies, nachos, hot dogs and hamburgers for the kids, burritos and tacos for the adults, and a chocolate raspberry mousse cake for dessert, we waddled out of the restaurant and said goodbye to Grandma and Grandpa as they embarked on a drive down to Cedar City. Thanks to Grandma and Grandpa for taking us all out to dinner and thanks to Caroline for letting us participate in her special day.