• “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple. Dr. Suess

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


In accounting class this week we are asked to explain success and post a business motto.

The assignment states,

"Topic Lesson 10 (Chapter 11):

Many companies have mission statements that outline their values and objectives. They describe desires to provide the best service or products possible, to do so in a competent and trustworthy manner, to provide a superior value to customers, and so forth. Most often, these mission statements are framed nicely and hung in the reception area of the company’s headquarters where they do little more than provide an attractive decoration on the wall.

The 13th Article of Faith states: “We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul-We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.”

Consider this as a personal mission statement for your career or business dealings. Ponder various aspects and post your thoughts about how it could make you more successful or prosperous. How do you define success?

What are the strengths of the 13th Article of Faith as a mission statement for your occupation? What are its limitations? If you were to write your own mission statement, what would it say?

I answered:

The 13th Article of Faith would look terrific done in word art or calligraphy in the popular styles of today.

For example it could be cleverly arranged in groups of vinyl word phrases as a focal wall in the reception area. I think it would be a business draw—perhaps a bit ‘in your face,’ but why not?

It would make a bold declaration to anyone and everyone regarding personal morals, and the kind of integrity expected of and in the company and of its employees, as well its expectation of its customers. Believing in the good in people encourages them to exemplify the good they know is expected of them.

What would you think if you walked into an office and this was wall sized staring back at you?

Artsy people can make my 5 minute image fantastic and arrange it to fit any size and shape of wall but I imagined it down a tall narrow wall, mostly useless for anything else except just being an element of architecture.

This mission statement would turn that spot into a business proposition and conversation piece. It might even become a draw. The limitations of any motto or statement involve the people implementing the goals of the statement. The things that motivate an individual, and the effort he or she is willing to expend in pursuing any specific accomplishment defines the parameters of success or failure.

My personal motto would be Elder Dube’s (of the Seventy) October 2013 instruction,
“Look Ahead, and Believe.” We must always be aware of and looking toward the future, while believing the best and working toward it.

Some definitions of success mean to finish something perfectly or completely. Success for me personally is making my best effort (but as President Hinckley quipped it has to be “my very best”) to complete a particular goal or assignment.

Friday, November 20, 2015


Sometimes I think.

Just that.

I think about everything, and anything - even thinking - and I know I am thinking.

Other times I have thoughts.
Sometimes I wonder about such thoughts.

I recognize they are not inherently mine.

Some thoughts comfort and give hope, courage, and power to act or accomplish many good things.

Other thoughts cause despair. They bring hopeless feelings, or even a wish to cease to exist. I feel without value, purpose, or significance. These thoughts indicate I am without importance.

Recently, I avoided serious contention and conflict with a loved one. I was pleased. A calm stillness and quiet, akin to nothingness, lifted away unresolved cares and concerns.

Later on a thought came so strongly to my mind that I can only describe it as a voice. The voice stayed with me a long time, and berated every human fallibility I experienced.

When I stumbled I thought, “I’m so clumsy.”
When I dropped a spot of juice on my shirt I thought, “You're so sloppy.”

At lunch I spilled some salsa on a worksheet. I was shocked to hear, “You are such a pig, a disgusting pig!”

Suddenly, I recognized something important.
That voice was not me.
I never call anyone a pig, much less a disgusting pig.

I began to think – and ponder.
I began to think about my thoughts, and that voice.


It is the voice I hear when I am in despair.

I also recognized that this incident is not an isolated occurrence.
This is the same voice that fosters pride and fear, discouragement and addictions, but at the same instant condemns every such leaning.

There is opposition in all things. There are forces for light and good, and forces of darkness against good. The spirits that want to damage and destroy all, in every miserable way possible, would love to be welcomed into mind and heart and invited to stay. When peace supersedes contention; anytime conflict is avoided, dropped, or stopped so are those forces. 

I thought about the thoughts; those voices I hear.

Too often I have internalized and personalized a voice.

This time the voice was so foreign that I didn’t think “I am a pig.” I don’t call anyone a pig—especially not myself. (Then I recalled a few times recently when I had randomly ‘thought’ (and rejected) that about someone. How sneaky! That voice is downright sneaky!

Jeffery R. Holland humorously suggested, “Like thieves in the night, unwelcome thoughts can and do seek entrance to our minds. But we don’t have to throw open the door, serve them tea and crumpets, and then tell them where the silverware is kept! . . . Throw the rascals out!”

Many struggle with the type of “dark night of the mind and spirit” that Elder Jeffery R. Holland described in his October 2013 General Conference talk “Like a Broken Vessel.” These things can immobilize and debilitate if allowed to linger. Thankfully lingering is not necessary and the spirit can rule the flesh.

I choose what to think, what to say, and how to act.

Attitude is everything.

Thoughts that come to mind need to be filtered. Thoughts need a security screen the same way a computer requires an anti-virus program. Kindness—to self and others—is a security screen for thoughts.

Kindness immediately rejects and casts aside every intimation of every thought that is not kind.

Simple, sincere kindness to all around us always includes ourselves—much like being in an emergency in a plane and needing our own O2 mask before attempting to help anyone else. Without vital oxygen—as vital as kindness for self—breathing and living becomes increasingly difficult; an abundance of either increasingly simplifies breathing and living. 

There are things that help “move along” thoughts and prevent us from hurting self or others. The first and most significant is service. Spencer W. Kimball, twelfth President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, taught that when we feel like there isn’t much of self to find, that we can immediately find more of the essence of our self in service.

Serving others also fosters connections to others. Being appropriately connected to others is one of the most influential ways to protect anyone from trials or abuse of all kinds, whether within or without the family and home. When we are connected lovingly to others we know they are concerned for us and we are more concerned for them.

Connections help foster kindness, patience, and a host of other virtues that help us think and focus on respecting needs of others as well as ourselves.

Elder Holland instructs, “Cultivate and be where the Spirit of the Lord is. Make sure that includes your own home or apartment, dictating the kind of art, music, and literature you keep there. If you are endowed, go to the temple as often as your circumstances allow."

 [And if you are not endowed you can go sit quietly near the temple and feel its influence and power.]

Elder Holland continues, "Remember that the temple arms you ‘with [God’s] power, … [puts His] glory … round about [you], and [gives His] angels … charge over [you]’ (D&C 109:22).  And when you leave the temple, remember the symbols you take with you, never to be set aside or forgotten” (Oct 2013, Like a Broken Vessel).

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


The Vietnam war is so highly controversial that even yet many veterans of that war are seldom honored. In 1982 a memorial to those that served their country in that war was erected in Washington D.C. It has become a cultural icon.

1982 dedication of Vietnam War Memorial

 History and its ongoing documentation diverges, sometimes does not perfectly agree as it evolves, and is readily found.

We choose to remember and honor the men and women patriots that made difficult choices in a difficult time, though historical controversy continues.

Ken Shelton circa 1967

One of those men, is Papa's first cousin Ken, the son of a brother (Herman) of Papa's mother, Katherine Shelton Ames. The Shelton family sent several cousins to Vietnam.

Ken's brother Dan Shelton served in the Air-force. Although he did not see active fighting he was transferred many places including Texas and Japan.
Robert (Bobby) Shelton,Third Class Ordnanceman front row: 2nd from left.
Taken at aircraft maintenance area (Sangley Point, PI) circa: early 1960s.
VNVP-40 Crew 3 flying P5M Marlin Seaplanes out of Sangley Point, PI,
Conson Island, VN, Kamron Bay, VN and the waters off Danang, VN

Their cousin Bobby Shelton served in the US Navy. He is the son of another brother to Katherine Shelton Ames, Gibb. Gibb was a World War II hero.
Robert Lee Shelton

We honor them all, but today we focus our gratitude toward Ken Shelton.

At Papa's request Ken agreed to be the subject for this 'guest post,' and came for lunch yesterday. Papa's transcription follows. Although Ken did share some of the atrocities and horrors of war we decided to not honor those. This is not to minimize in any way the magnitude of those events. Our choice is instead to focus on and honor Ken's resilience and enduring fortitude. Thank you Cousin Ken for your military service.

Many thanks to Ken's daughter Rachel, and his sister Patricia (Mike) Erdmann, for providing some pictures.
Papa: "I used to enjoy visiting my cousin Ken [Shelton] and listen to him tell stories about being a cook in the army. I called him up the other day and he agreed to come over and tell me some more stories. Some of the stories emphasize that war is a dangerous place to be and that soldiers have hard job to do. I appreciate hearing those stories. I thanked him for living through them. He also told me some stories which were a bit more humorous – stories which should be shared: 
The Fastest Bread-Cutter in the World
"Cousin Ken tells that in Vietnam the army had bakeries which would send bread out to the soldiers. The bread wasn’t sliced when they got it, 'so you had to slice all bread by hand.' It came in two foot long loaves. Ken claims that at home he cut bread so poorly that he would get in trouble for the way he did it. He could cut it no better in the army. The loaves had to be cut into army regulation half inch slices.

"His commander gave him the assignment to slice bread for 150 soldiers. Kens explained that he couldn’t cut bread but the commander told him that he was going to slice bread.
"Ken did slice the bread. It took him 3 hours. His commander came to him saying that the other cooks had reported that he had not helped cook at all. 'Well, I was slicing bread; I told you I couldn’t cut bread' 

“'Well, you will cut bread until you know how.'
"Ken returned to the task of cutting bread. While cutting he stopped and considered, 'Maybe it’s the knife.' He sharpened the knife so that 'it was so sharp it could slice through anything. It was so sharp I could shave with it.' He also reshaped it. With the sharpened, reshaped knife – and practice, he was finally able to slice bread for 150 men in six and a half minutes—the same amount of bread that had taken him 3 hours on the first try.

"After that, when Ken was cutting bread men would stop to watch. One day he saw the LDS chaplain (or non-denominational chaplain who happened to be LDS)* watching him. 'What are you doing here?' Ken asked. 

"'I came to watch you cut bread. They told me you were the fastest and it is true. You are the fastest bread cutter in the world.'

Ken Shelton 1967

Lighting the Stove.

"Cooking had its own challenges. Ken would get up at 3 am and prepared breakfast in the dark. He fueled up and pressurized the burners for the stove from the truck's compressors. When the burner was ready he stacked 5-gallon water cans two high around his stove and then he would lie on the ground to light the burner. The bright flash of yellow light from the flame could be seen for miles. He stayed on the ground until the flames got hotter and turned blue, then stuck the burner in the stove and started cooking biscuits. He says, 'Sometimes the men got biscuits for breakfast.' Ken explains that the blue light cannot be seen very far and he was safe until the sun started coming up and made a silhouette of him. It was usually at that time of day he would be shot at. Sometimes the enemy would shoot at him a couple times in a day, sometimes only once in a couple days.

"A fellow soldier, on the last day of his tour, was concerned that Ken had become too used to getting shot at. They were sitting on a water can talking. There were a bunch of 'four duces' (4.2 inch mortars) right behind his mess tent. 'They all fired in unison so you had no warning.... When those four duces went off his feet went about six inches off the ground.'

Vietnam era mortar

"Ken says when he settled down the soldier said, 'Oh that makes me really sad.' 

 “'Why's that?' asked Ken.  

“'Cause you’re not going to make it.  You didn’t even flinch.'  

“'That was outgoing,' explained Ken. 'When it’s incoming you've never seen anyone move as fast in your life as I’m going to move.”
“'No, you’re not going to make it,' answered the soldier.

"Later that night they were sitting on top of the captain’s bunker watching an air to ground fire fight on the next hill.  There were about seven helicopters in the air.  Ken said it was beautiful to see the tracer rounds going up and coming down.   He says, 'Immediately below this hill we were looking as a sniper shot at us…. We saw all the tracer rounds come out of his gun…. As soon as I saw the tracer rounds coming out of that guy’s barrel I started to roll to the left and down.'  He was already lying on the ground as a bullet went past the other soldier's head.   He landed on the ground next to Ken.  As soon as the adrenaline settled down enough for him to talk Ken asked, 'was that fast enough for ya’?'

“'I think you’re going to make it,' the other soldier replied.

"I guess he did.
"Thanks cousin.  You’re a hero!"

* The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) provides many resources to its members in military organizations. In May 2003 President Gordon B Hinckley provided counsel, comfort, and guidance to members about military service, in his talk "War and Peace." 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Spider Rain


I have never been a fan of spiders.

Spiders are my least favorite part of where I live.

Therefore, image how I feel when late afternoon sun reveals how many live on my lawn! Now stop.

 Go ahead. Click the picture, enlarge so you can look closely.

I don't want anyone to be traumatized.
As for me, well - I don't even want to leave my house.
If there are this many spinning spiders outside, why go out?
And you can only see them when the sun is just so!

However, I now have seen what's out there.

With my own eyes.

And it is NOT in one spot only.

It is everywhere!!

Indeed, I have known fall is when spiders fly: kiting is what I have heard it called. It is also when their webs dangle from every upright. Sometimes when you walk outside you will cross a fine web and feel it brush your face or hand. USUALLY it is just a strand of web here or there. This time my entire yard has a sheen almost like a very light blanket. I've never before seen this with my own eyes. Thanks Papa for the picture.

It is actually called ballooning, and is common enough that the poet Walt Whitman wrote a poem about it. A few web searches (no pun intended) led me to this fascinating video describing the process. It mentions it often occurs with a change in the weather. Yes, our weather changed. We are almost always dry, and we had slight rains.

I tolerate rain decently.

 'Spider rain' is, however, entirely different.