Last day of September

Time really DOES fly on wings of lightning, doesn’t it. I re-discovered this thought from the “Music and the Spoken Word” message a few years ago. Enjoy it again – and have a wonderful “last day of the month.”


Delivered On: July 11th 2010 – Delivered By: Lloyd D. Newell – OPTIMISM   It’s interesting how two people can approach similar circumstances with entirely different outlooks. The optimist tries to look on the bright side, believes that good days are ahead, and holds on to the hope that things will get better. The pessimist sees dark rain clouds even on sunny days and believes that the best has passed him by.  There’s no question whom we’d rather be around. As one commentator writes: “Optimists . . . make life better just by being part of it. They enjoy people, places and things. Their enthusiasm is contagious. . . . The greatest gift anyone can give another is a positive attitude, a smile and genuine interest. Some claim the only person you can change is yourself. Not true! You can and do change everyone with whom you come in contact. The question is whether you add to or subtract from the day’s experience.” 1

Some people seem to have more hopeful dispositions, more natural cheerfulness, and more affirmative expectations. But most of us are not always the optimist or always the pessimist. There’s probably a little bit of both in all of us. We’d like to be the optimist more often, but depending on the day, the weather, the aches and pains, the disappointments and challenges we face, that can be harder than it sounds.

Even during our difficult moments, however, we can decide to be happier, more positive today than we may have been yesterday. Optimism is learned; we can practice and work at it until it becomes a habit. We can talk to ourselves and others in more upbeat ways, look for the bright side, and resolve to be more optimistic. When we do, our optimism is a gift not only to ourselves but to everyone around us.

1 Don Gale, “Optimists Give Others More Than They Receive,” Deseret Morning News, Dec. 1, 2007, A13.

Mummy’s getting cranky!

Thanks to my friend Sylvia for sharing. This is a gift to SLEEP-DEPRIVED PARENTS from the Sydney Symphony and the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs. Classical music lovers (I’m one of those) will recognize the music, but have a good time listening to the new words by Matthew Hodge. Mummy’s getting cranky! ENJOY!!  (I hope this link works)





We need each other

I learned many wonderful things in Africa. One which came to mind this morning because of a post on my “Africa companion” Ann’s blog was this:  Instead of “How are you?” you are asked “Are you well?” The response is “I am well if you are well.” I love that! It feels like the way we should be if we are “one heart and one mind.”AfricanWomen2It feels like a description of the way our lives progress. We are born pretty much completely dependent. We progress to independence in many ways. But eventually we are as Paul describes in the New Testament – we are interdependent. We need each other. We can’t survive alone.  From Marion G. Romney: “There is an interdependence between those who have and those who have not.  The process of giving exalts the poor and humbles the rich.  In the process, both are sanctified.” (Ensign, Nov 1982).


Tolstoy put it this way: I knew before that God gives life to men, and desires them to live; but now I know far more. I know that God does not desire men to live apart from each other, and therefore has not revealed to them what is needful for each of them to live by himself.  He wishes them to live together, united, and therefore has revealed to them that they are needful to each other’s happiness. I love that quote! Didn’t realize the importance of keeping track of where I found quotes when I wrote that one down.


Here is another quote I love: “The world is one living, breathing body, dependent for its health on the billions of cells which comprise it … and each tiny cell is the heart of a man.” I think that was in a book I read called Shepherd of the Hills by Harold Bell Wright (but I’m not sure – I read the book as a teenager).  Steve Covey shared this: “Be patient. Patience (long-suffering)… communicates worth to another, for it says, ‘I’ll go at your speed. I’m happy to wait for you. You’re worth it.” (How to Succeed with People).


From Glen L. Pace: “There is a state of human misery below which no Latter-day Saint should descend as long as others are living in abundance.” (Ensign, May 1986). Helen Keller stated it this way: I believe we should so act that we may draw nearer and more near the age when no man shall live at his ease while another suffers…. It all comes to this: the simplest way to be happy is to do good. (I haven’t found the reference for that yet).  From J. Richard Clarke: “It has always been the disposition of the true disciples of Christ, as they reached higher degrees of spirituality, to look after the needy.” (Ensign, May 1977).  And Russell M. Nelson: “Few, if any, of the Lord’s instructions are stated more often, or given greater emphasis, than the commandment to care for the poor and the needy.  Our dispensation is no exception.”


(Ensign, May 1986). From Neal L. Maxwell: Has not the Lord with…truth and relevance told us, concerning the resources of this planet, “For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare”?  Should not this reality sober us in terms of what might be achieved as regards to poverty?  Clearly, it is the attribute of love, not other resources, that is in short supply–a scarcity that inevitably means misery.  (Even As I Am, 1982, p. 25).


Mother Teresa said so many things which I find meaningful. Here is one of them: Joy is strength–Joy is love–Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls.  He gives most who gives with joy.  The best way to show your gratitude to God and the people is to accept everything with joy.  A joyful heart is the inevitable result of a heart burning with love.  We all long for heaven where God is, but we have it in our power to be in heaven with him right now–to be happy with Him at this very moment.  But being happy with Him now means loving as He loves, helping as He helps, giving as He gives, serving as He serves, rescuing as He rescues, being with Him for all the twenty-four hours…touching Him in His distressing disguise…. (I copied this 30 years or so ago from one of my favorite books about Mother Teresa but – alas – I didn’t write down the source, and the internet doesn’t do a good job of that either).   

Mother Teresa

This from Helen Keller: I believe that love will finally establish the kingdom of God on earth, and that cornerstones of that kingdom will be liberty, truth, brotherhood, and service.  The great, enduring qualities are love and service.  Only religion which evenly blends the personal gospel and the social gospel can endure or keep the church alive.  I believe that we can live on earth according to the fulfillment of God’s will, and that when the will of God is done on earth as it is in heaven, every man will love his fellowmen and act toward them as he desires they should act toward him.  I believe that the welfare of each is bound up in the welfare of all.  (I have “zillions” of quotes from her – she is one of my genuine heroines – but I didn’t write down the source of this quote when I first found it around 50 years ago; sorry).


And now the thing which my companion Ann posted on her blog which brought forth all these other thoughts (Thanks, Ann!).  There was a farmer who grew excellent quality corn. Every year he won the award for the best grown corn. One year a newspaper reporter interviewed him and learned something interesting about how he grew it. The reporter discovered that the farmer shared his seed corn with his neighbors. “How can you afford to share your best seed corn with your neighbors when they are entering corn in competition with yours each year?” the reporter asked. “Why sir,” said the farmer, “Didn’t you know? The wind picks up pollen from the ripening corn and swirls it from field to field. If my neighbors grow inferior corn, cross-pollination will steadily degrade the quality of my corn. If I am to grow good corn, I must help my neighbors grow good corn.” So is with our lives… Those who want to live meaningfully and well must help enrich the lives of others, for the value of a life is measured by the lives it touches. And those who choose to be happy must help others find happiness, for the welfare of each is bound up with the welfare of all.



General Women’s Session

aaWasn’t the General Women’s Session of General Conference inspiring! Oh, I really enjoyed it. We are HIS! Prayer and scriptures “vs” the internet. The blessing of wearing the Temple Garment properly. Trials qualify us for rewards beyond our imagination. We are Pioneers of the present, linked to those of the past. Minister to each other – saviors of ourselves and the whole human family. Shining with the beautiful of holiness, reflection our Savior’s love. Forever is composed of NOWs. God designed us to have JOY. The best things in life take patience and work. Pure love is the heart of the gospel. It will be wonderful to read these and all the other talks when we get a copy of the November Ensign and/or Liahona. It’s harder than waiting for Christmas or a birthday or a long nap!aaaaaaaa


The Conference Center

This evening there will a broadcast of the first session of General Conference. A prelude to another historic Conference – The word is out that there will be 3 new Apostles sustained in a week.  So there is the anticipation of a “full house” in the Conference Center and heightened interest from members (and others) around the world. I thought it might be fun and interesting to review a few facts about the CONFERENCE CENTER. It is such an impressive and beautiful building. President Hinckley announced the project during the April 1996 General Conference. Ground was broken on 24 July, 1997 – the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the first Mormon Pioneers in the Salt Lake Valley.  I remember the HUGE HOLE which was dug on the corner of Main Street and North Temple – I think the earth removed from that incredibly deep and wide hole helped build extra lanes on I-15 or something! (Some of us called it “holy dirt”). Roughly 750,000 cubic yards of dirt were removed prior to construction!


I remember where I was when the Conference Center was dedicated (Sunday 08 October 2000). I was returning from a speaking assignment and was listening to the radio. As President Hinckley got ready for the dedicatory prayer, I pulled over (right across from the Stouffers food production place on 1000 North Springville). The only thing I had to “wave” during the “Hosanna Shout” was Kleenex, but wave it I did!  (And yes, I saved it).  There was a cornerstone ceremony conducted by President Hinckley on the SE corner about an hour before the morning session of Conference. Those waiting outside the new building’s southeast doors at 8:45 a.m. were surprised when members of the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the Senior President of the Quorums of the Seventy, the Presiding Bishop, and the Relief Society, Young Women, and Primary general presidents walked out of the doors to participate in the ceremony.  President Hinckley explained that the cornerstone is symbolic of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the cornerstone of the Church.  A stainless steel time capsule previously placed within the cornerstone box contains numerous items, including a triple combination signed by the First Presidency, a small beehive replica made from the same walnut tree (President Hinckley’s) as the Conference Center podium, information about and pictures of the building’s king truss, a hard hat used in the building’s construction, April and October 2000 issues of the Church magazines, and photos of the first ticket holder to enter the Conference Center for general conference.


So what are some of the other things which make this building so magnificent? 1.5 million square feet of floor space is an impressive place to start.  There are seats for 21,200 in the main auditorium, plus seating for 158 General Authorities and Officers and the 360-voice Tabernacle Choir. This main auditorium is large enough to hold TWO B-747s side-by-side!! (I remember when they did a demonstration of that on a news broadcast before the Conference Center was finished. And NO, they didn’t actually put two 747s in there, but they did demonstrate how one 747 would fit, wing tip to wing tip and nose to tail).  There are no interior pillars in the main auditorium, so all who attend have an unobstructed view of the speakers and choir. (I remember having “obstructed” seats a few times in the Tabernacle). Underground parking can hold 1,400 cars (450,000 square feet).  There’s a 67-foot stepped waterfall descending from the 92-foot spire. The water comes from a natural spring which was found underneath the building during construction.  About 3 acres of grass and hundreds of trees are planted on the roof. There is a complete irrigation system on the roof.  Attached to the main building on the NW corner is an 905-seat theatre.  Over 300,000 square feet of granite was used for the façade of the building, which is 2 inches thick. Granite was brought in from the mid-west and used for flooring.


The tornado of August 11 1999 in Salt Lake (exceptionally rare!) hindered construction briefly (construction cranes toppled at the work site, and a few workers were injured), but otherwise construction proceeded smoothly and rapidly.


The building was close enough to completion that General Conference sessions in April of 2000 were held there.  President Hinckley remarked that over 370,000 people had inquired about tickets. He also told about the pulpit being made from wood provided from a black walnut tree which he had planted in his backyard decades earlier. It was reported that he first saw the pulpit and asked “Where are the beehives?” The beehives were added soon after. The dedication was held during General Conference on 08 October, 2000.


On the third floor there are busts of current and past Church presidents and photographs of Church leaders. Photographs of female Church leaders were added in 2014. The Schoenstein Organ was highlighted in the book Magnum Opus: The Building of the Schoenstein Organ at the Conference Center by John Longhurst, retired Senior Tabernacle Organist.  The organ was completed in 2003. There are 160 speaking stops spread over five manuals and pedals. Brother Longhurst described it as “a project of immense proportion.” When he heard President Hinckley announce the Conference Center, he immediately began considering what the instrument might be.


If you want more information on the Conference Center, keep reading:  The building has 15,000 tons of concrete reinforcing steel and 10,000 tons of structural steel. #18 rebar (the largest size of readily manufactured steel) was used throughout.  This rebar weighs 14 pounds per linear foot. The main (king) truss is 152 feet long and weighs 621 tons (about 4 tons per linear foot). The side (radial) trusses are 280 feet long and weigh 550 tons each (2 tons per linear foot).  The building has extensive broad cast studio capabilities and language translation facilities.  The building has one of the most complete theatrical (lighting and sound) systems in the world.  The building has 50,000 miles of electrical wire (the circumference of the earth is about 25,000 miles).  It also has 780 miles of electrical conduit.  There are 330 panels for power circuits and 300 panels for lighting. The building has an emergency diesel generator (output 2000 kilowatts) and an uninterruptable power supply for critical systems.  There are 28 drinking fountains, 1 fountain for every 750 seats.  There are 340 toilets and 84 urinals which use 1.6 gallons of water per flush.  The total peak domestic water usage for the building is 678 gallons of water per minute. Every minute 5,930 gallons of water will be pumped through the water features and fountains. And every minute 1,035,000 cubic feet of air will be moved through 14 miles of duct work. The building has 2,966 tons of air conditioning equipment, equal to about 600 residential homes. There are 11 passenger elevators, 12 escalators, and 3 service/stage elevators.


And that’s it. A magnificent, beautiful building where we worship and where the messages of those whom God has called as prophets, seers, and revelators, go to all the world, testifying of Jesus Christ as our Savior and Redeemer.


(I got information from my personal notes, from the internet, from, and from a bulletin from my Mapleton 9th Ward years ago – They put this at the bottom of what they shared: “This information was supplied by Legacy Constructors, a joint venture between Okland Construction, Jacobsen Construction, and Layton Construction Companies.” These three companies joined together in what they called “Legacy Constructors” so that they could compete in the bidding with national firms and they won the contract in late 1996).




Several years ago I came across some information about obfuscatory scrivenery – or, so I can understand it: FOGGY WRITING. Enjoy! This may cause you to do some research and come up with your own “scores.” (This will be here later if you’re really busy today).

Amuse me


Some years ago, a New York plumber discovered that hydrochloric acid was dandy for cleaning clogged drains.  He sent his suggestion to the National Bureau of Standards. “The efficacy of hydrochloric acid is indisputable,” the Bureau wrote back, “but the ionic residues are incompatible with metallic permanence.”  “Thank you,” replied the plumber. “I thought it was a good idea, too.” FINALLY, someone at the Bureau wrote, “Don’t use hydrochloric acid!  It eats hell out of the pipes!”

“Foggy writing” – letters, memos, reports, and proposals that couch $5 ideas in $500 language – has been estimated to cost American business $ billions a year in wasted time, lost contracts, and alienated customers.  It costs a good many workers their promotions, too.  In a survey, top executives from FORTUNE’s list of 500 companies ranked communication skill as the most important quality for business leaders – ahead of technical, financial, and marketing ability.  “Even a genius will fail if he doesn’t make himself clear,” says Douglas Mueller, director of the Gunning-Meuller Clear Writing Institute in Santa Barbara, California. Meuller travels around the country showing people how to improve their writing.  His course, devised by the late Robert Gunning, has taught thousands of executives, scientists, and engineers how to write more clearly by monitoring their Fog Index. Two things can fog a piece of writing: BIG WORDS, which are usually too abstract to make pictures in the mind, and LONG SENTENCES, which tax the memory.  The Fog Index puts these two factors into a simple formula that tells how many years of schooling are needed to read the sample easily.  The first letter to the plumber, for example, has a Fog Index of 26.  It would read easily for someone with at least a Ph.D. and seven years of postdoctoral study.  The second letter, with a Fog Index of 6, would be a breeze for a sixth grader.

Anyone can calculate his or her own Fog Index.  Choose a sample of at least 100 words.  Figure the average sentence length of words; count clauses separated by colons and semicolons as full sentences.  Count the number of Big Words.  A Big Word is any word of three syllables or more, unless it’s a proper name, a verb that has reached three syllables by adding ed or es (but not ing), or a short-word compound like everything or bookkeeper.  Figure the percentage of Big Words; it’s 100 times the number of Big Words divided by the number of words in the sample.  Add the percentage of Big Words to the average sentence length, multiply by 0.4 and drop everything after the decimal point.  This paragraph has a Fog Index of 8. (You probably thought it would be a lot higher, didn’t you; I did).

At what Fog Index should a writer write?  “A low one,” says Mueller.  The Nation’s largest daily newspaper, the WALL STREET JOURNAL, got that way by lowering its Fog Index to 11.  TIME and NEWSWEEK also average 11.  The NEW YORKER usually comes in under 12.  Technical journals range a lot higher, but most are notoriously hard reading, even for specialists.  Good technical memos, according to a study at Bell Laboratories, average only 14.  “The truth is,” says Mueller, “no matter what Fog Index your readers can tolerate, they prefer to get their information without strain.”  Mueller says he’s never met anyone, in any field, who couldn’t lower his Fog Index to 15.  “Einstein could.  It’s easy.  Just keep your average sentence length under 20, cross out every useless word, and never use a Big Word unless you absolutely need to.”   Remember: The less energy your reader wastes on decoding your language, the more he’ll have left for your brilliant ideas.” (Terry Dunkle)

Following are four writing samples with their Fog Indexes.  Some were written for easy reading.  Others clearly were not.

FROM A BUSINESS LETTER: We might further mention that we would be glad to furnish any one of these whistles on a trial basis, to the extent that if the smaller size was not adequate enough, it could be returned in lieu of the purchase of a larger size, depending upon actual operation and suitability of your requirements for a signal distance and audibility. Fog Index: 28.   Translation: “If your whistle isn’t loud enough, send it back and we’ll give you a bigger one.”  Fog Index: 6

FROM THE SCIENTIFIC JOURNAL NATURE:  The current fashion for environmental impact assessment (ETA) is partly explained by the continuing force of the environmental protection movement in Western countries.  That movement is now under severe pressure from economic recession, and there are signs that impact assessments themselves will play a decreasing role in planning and development.  Certainly, this is the message that emerges from the U.S.A., where the emphasis is switching back to the costs of environmental protection. Fog Index: 17.

OPENING OF GETTYSBURG ADDRESS:  Fourscore and seven years ago our Fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.  Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure.  We are met on a great battlefield of that war.  We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live.  It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. Fog Index: 10.

MATTHEW 6:9-13 (KING JAMES VERSION):  Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on Earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. Fog Index: 4.



Answers to ALL questions!