Tuesday, March 25, 2008

LDS Church and Caucus Meetings

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) has apparently issued a letter that was to be read in sacrament meetings last Sunday. I found out about this letter from the Deseret Morning News. The article says, 'church leaders said any ward or stake meetings should not conflict with the "important meetings."'

Apparently the statement says, "Precinct caucuses are the most fundamental grassroots level of political involvement in Utah. Those who attend caucuses not only play a critical role in nominating candidates, but also in setting the stage for party and public policy."

My ward has a Ward Temple Night planned for tonight. Now I have a dilemma, do I attend the Ward Temple Night, or my neighborhood caucus meetings? I guess it's not too much of a dilemma since I haven't been real good at attending Ward Temple Night in the past.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Curbside Recycling - Week 1

We received our recycling can 1 week ago. I've been very disappointed with what we can actually put in the can. I decided to make a list of things that we have put in our regular garbage that have the recycle symbol on them. In case some of you may not know, I'm going to first show the recycle symbols and then give some examples of what the symbol would be found on. There are more recycle symbols than I will show here. I'm only going to show the ones that I have found common in my house.

Polyethylene Terephalate Ethylene - Used for soft drink, juice, water, detergent, and cleaner bottles. Also used for cooking and peanut butter jars. Found in my house on water and juice bottles.

High Density Polyethylene - Used in milk and water jugs, bleach, detergent, and shampoo bottles. Found in my house on store brand whipped topping containers and milk jugs.

Polypropylene - Commonly used in caps, syrup bottles, straws, and film packaging. Found in my house on cottage cheese, sour cream, and yogurt containers.

The paper that was delivered with our recycle can said, in part, "Items you can recycle," and then had the following things listed:
Newspaper, Magazines, Phone Books, Office Paper
Tin Cans, Aluminum Cans
All Number 1 & 2 Plastics in Bottle Form
Corrugated Cardboard, Cereal Boxes, Egg Cartons
Brown Grocery Bags, Plastic Film
Small Appliances - i.e. irons, toasters
Pots and Pans
Metal Clothes Hangers, Copper, Brass, & Scrap Aluminum

Here are the things that we have put into our recycling can.
Milk Jugs
Egg Cartons
Soup and Fruit Cans
Newspapers and Magazines (which we were already taking to the recycle bin at Woods Cross Elementary School)

Now, more importantly, here are the things that have the above recycle symbols on them that have had to go into our regular garbage can.
Cottage Cheese, Sour Cream, and Yogurt Containers (all PP5)
Store Brand Whipped Topping Containers (HDPE 2, but, not in bottle form)
Plastic Grocery Bags

For the first week of our recycling endeavor, we have only been able to remove about 5% of our garbage and put it in the recycle can. Notice also that Bountiful's Recycle Bins allow you to put glass in them, however, our curbside program doesn't allow glass in any form. Another big problem that I've seen with the recycle cans is citizens filling them with non-recyclable garbage. Just last Saturday I was driving on one of our streets in Woods Cross and noticed somebody pruning bushes and putting the clippings in the blue can. There is no way that the driver who dumps the cans will be able to check the contents of every can before it is dumped into the truck, thus, the garbage will have to be dealt with at some point. I'm still not sold on curbside recycling. What things have you put in your recycle can? What things do you think you should have been able to put in it?

Friday, March 21, 2008

Don't Harbor Ill Feelings

Reading a post by Mike Ridgway (see March 18th, 2008, here) made me think of a great talk by President Thomas S. Monson. (see here) President Monson talks about harboring ill feelings toward others. He says, "There are hidden wedges in the lives of many whom we know—yes, perhaps in our own families."

In typical President Monson fashion, he tells a couple of stories to make his point. He then says, "Sometimes we can take offense so easily. On other occasions we are too stubborn to accept a sincere apology. Who will subordinate ego, pride, and hurt—then step forward with “I am truly sorry! Let’s be as we once were: friends. Let’s not pass to future generations the grievances, the anger of our time”? Let’s remove any hidden wedges that can do nothing but destroy."

I know very little about Mike Ridgway or Mark Towner, save what I have read in the press. I do, however, know that in my own life I've had to take a step back many times and realize that I was harboring ill feelings toward another. I know my life has gone a lot better when I have gotten rid of those ill feelings.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Mayor Parry Wants My (and Your) Help!

I received an e-mail yesterday from Mayor Kent Parry. He is soliciting help for his campaign for the Utah State Senate. The e-mail says, in part:
"Senator Eastman has decided to not run for re-election and I feel that now is a great opportunity for me. I feel that I will be able to represent and meet the needs of the residents of the south Davis County due to my experience as a mayor.

I am asking for help from any of you that would be willing to help me with this endeavor. The primary need I have right now is to try to secure delegates to the Republican Party's County Convention, to be held on April 12th. Delegates will be selected at party caucus meetings to be held Tuesday the 25th of March at 7:00 p.m. (all Woods Cross districts meet at the elementary school). If you are willing to run as a delegate in support of me that would be great. I also need help in securing delegates throughout the rest of Senate District 23 (all of West Bountiful, North Salt Lake, Bountiful, and all but the far north of Centerville). If you know of people who would run to be delegates in other areas who would support me, that would be great."

I have known Kent Parry on a personal level since I moved into my current house almost 10 years ago. I believe he would do a great job as a state senator. If any of you are willing to help him in his campaign for the Utah State Senate, call his cell phone at 277-3630.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Mayor Parry Files for State Senate Seat

Woods Cross Mayor, Kent Parry, has filed to run for the Utah State Senate representing my district, District 23. You can see a list of all those who have filed at http://www.elections.utah.gov/2008Candidates.htm.

Interestingly enough, I personally know one of the other Republican candidates for State Senate District 23. Lamont Peterson and I used to work together at Guru Labs. Lamont, as far as I know, has never run for public office before.

As of the time of this posting, there are six Republican candidates for this seat and Dan Eastman has not filed to run for re-election.

Update: Eight Republican candidates filed to run for the State Senate District 23 seat. Dan Eastman did not file for re-election.

It only took three months...

I wrote in a previous post (see here) about my fears of Jill Hadley Evans being able to make unbiased decisions when it comes to issues about the Woods Cross City parks. It looks like it only took three months for my fears to apparently come true.

Councilmember Jill Evans has had two items placed on tomorrow's City Council Agenda (see here) that deal with Woods Cross City parks. Normally I wouldn't have a problem with her placing items that deal with the Parks Department on the agenda, however, on at least one of these agenda items, my sources say that her husband Marc has decided not to tell his direct supervisor about his proposal. Common courtesy and common sense say that you should at least let your direct supervisor know what your intentions are. In many companies, doing the equivalent is labeled as insubordination. At the very least, in my four years on the City Council, I learned that you typically wouldn't get things passed if you didn't gauge the interest of the other council members prior to having something put on the agenda. I guess Jill and her husband Marc, have some things to learn still.

I'd like to offer my feelings on the two agenda items.

First item - Discussion on Closing Athletic Field for Organized Youth Team Usage
The parks are paid for by property taxes and sales taxes collected for Woods Cross City. By far the biggest influx to the City's budget comes from sales tax monies. The organized youth teams that use our parks are typically from the South Davis area. That means the parents of these youth quite likely live in Woods Cross and pay property taxes to Woods Cross or at least have purchased things in Woods Cross and have paid sales taxes on those items. The largest percentage of sales tax income to Woods Cross comes from the car dealerships located here. It's not uncommon for a Bountiful, West Bountiful, or North Salt Lake resident to purchase a Chevrolet or Toyota at one of our Woods Cross dealerships. I think it's about time that the parks employees realize who pays for the parks and for their salaries. The parks are paid for by the public and are to be used by the public. Let's not do things to diminish the use of our parks by the public.

Second item - Discussion on Park Fees
Again as I said in regards to the previous item, the parks are paid for by the public and are to be used by the public. To charge a park fee is equal to double taxation. Some people may say that we should charge a fee for those who are not Woods Cross residents. As I mentioned above, the biggest influx of money into the General Fund budget comes from sales tax. I don't see how charging a park use fee helps our Woods Cross residents. The members of the organized youth sports teams come from the South Davis area. Let's not resort to double taxation of our residents.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Response to ebgdae...

A comment on my previous post (see here) from someone with the alias of ebgdae (must be a guitar player) raised several questions that I felt would be better answered in a new post rather than a follow up comment to the previous one. I will give my answers to the questions that ebgdae asks and then add some thoughts from my perspective. To add perspective to the comments and questions from ebgdae, I will say that ebgdae accessed my site from a computer in the uscourts.gov domain.

ebgdae starts out, "I'm curious, why do you think your birth-mother denied placing you for adoption even after you tracked her down?"

I asked my birth aunt this very question. She believes that my birth mother hasn't told her current husband about placing a child for adoption. That would explain this type of reaction from her. Would my birth mother have been able to "hide" the fact that she placed a child for adoption for the rest of her life? I believe that is highly unlikely, due to some family circumstances that I won't get into in public.

"Do you think it was fair to place her in a position where she was forced to do that? Or do you think that's just the price she pays for her decision? "

I'm struggling to see what position I placed her in. I was very sensitive to the fact that she may not have told anyone about me. That is why I had an intermediary contact her. I think it's important to note here, that it wasn't really her decision to place me for adoption. She was faced with a decision of keeping on the good graces of her parents or placing me for adoption. She was 21 years old (not exactly a minor) when she became pregnant with me, but, she did not make the initial contact with LDS Social Services. The initial contact to LDS Social Services was made by another member of her family. I also should note that my birth mother worked for the LDS Church at the time she became pregnant. She was fired when the pregnancy was discovered, because being unmarried and pregnant, she wasn't worthy to work there. After my birth, she quit being an active member of the LDS Church, and remains that way today. I believe she feels like the Church took her child and her job and gave her nothing in return.

"Was there a part of you that wanted to force her to acknowledge you and possibly feel bad or apologize for her decision?"

Not at all. I don't think any birth mother should have to feel bad or apologize for their decision to place their child. I believe, the decision to place a child is a heart breaking one that requires a lot of thought and prayer. Michael McLean has a song that I love, titled "From Gods Arms to My Arms to Yours." If any adoptive parent listens to this song and doesn't feel great love towards the birth mother, then that adoptive parent has major problems.

As for what I hoped for, I basically wanted some health information. I have found out some very valuable health information that helps me and also my children. If you could find out life saving information for your children and grandchildren, wouldn't you do all you could to get that information? I also wanted to know the circumstances surrounding my birth. To this day, I still have not met my birth mother. If I could talk to her today, I would simply tell her thank you for placing me with a family who I believe loves me as if they had given birth to me. I personally would like to know how ebgdae feels about the birth mother of their adopted child. Was she simply a "vehicle" that had to be used to get that child to where ebgdae believes God intended it to be? Or was she a loving mother that made a heart breaking decision to attempt to give the child a better life than she could provide for it.

Do you think if you had found her sooner (as a teenager) it would have caused problems for your family?

I assume ebgdae means that if I had found her as an 18 or 19 year old, since before that time "as a teenager" I would have been a minor. I don't believe it would have caused any more problems for my family than it did when I did find her. I know there are some adoptive parents who support there children in finding their birth parents. It's obvious to me that those parents are not fearful of their children "leaving the nest." Their is an anonymous quote that says, "If you love something, set it free. If it comes back, it is yours. If it doesn't, it never was."

My parents really struggled (and probably still do) that I chose to find my birth mother. The fact that I found her is one of those things that just isn't talked about around my family. My decision to look had nothing to do with the way I was treated at home or with whether I felt loved. I love my parents and I always will. Do parents feel threatened that a child will love their in-laws? Some do, but, I believe most do not. I love my mother-in-law just like I love my mother. I firmly believe that as adults we have room in our hearts to love many people as "parents."

ebgdae goes on to say, "It is a betrayal of their trust to open those records or reveal that information after they relied on promises of confidentiality. If they change their mind they can register with the mutual consent registry."

I believe that the actual number of women who "rely on promises of confidentiality" is very small. Are you really being "honest in your dealings with your fellow man" if you keep a secret such as placing a child for adoption from your spouse? Is a marriage truly solid with a secret like that between the two parties?

As I said in my previous post, I have a good relationship with my birth aunt. My birth mother was the only one of her siblings that wasn't married at the time of my birth. My birth aunt and her husband said they have always been interested in what happened to me. The "mutual consent registry" (which I did register with) wouldn't allow them to register and find out anything about me. What if my birth mother had died shortly after placing me for adoption? This birth aunt wouldn't be able to register on the registry and give me any pertinent health information or information surrounding my birth. Remember, placing a child for adoption affects more than just the birth mother, the adoptee, and the adoptive parents.

Finally, ebgdae says, "As much as I sympathize with adoptees who want answers, we all face questions in life that are unanswerable and we just have to accept the way things are and move on." Most people will do their best to find the answers to those "unanswerable" questions. My own church believes that one may know the "truth of all things." Shouldn't we be actively engaged in trying to find out the answers to those "unanswerable" questions? I believe when we do that, we can find great joy. After all, weren't we created that we might have joy? I also believe that God gives each of us the desire to know about our ancestry. This, to me, would include adoptees knowing about the ancestry of their birth. Remember, genealogy isn't only popular amongst members of the LDS Church.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Alleged Theft of Adoption Records

An article at the Deseret Morning News website (see here) talks about Jill Ekstrom being charged with allegedly stealing microfilm that contained adoption records. Jill runs a research company called UtahFinders with a website that used to be located at www.utahfinders.com. Though the website is no longer available, below is an image of what it used to look like. You can click on the image for a larger version.

If you've read my blog, you know from a previous post (see here) about my feelings on adoption and open records concerning adoption. I won't go into those feelings again in this post. What I want to focus on in this post, is my own personal dealings with Jill Ekstrom.

When I was beginning to think about searching for my birth parents, I joined a group on the internet that was run by Jill. I joined this group for ideas on where to look and to see what others had experienced as they had searched for and found their birth parents. As my feelings to find my birth mother became more intense, I decided to contact a paid searcher. I ended up contacting a searcher named Sharlene Lightfoot who runs "Adoption Connection of Utah." I paid her an agreed upon sum and she quickly gave me the information about my birth mother, her parents, and siblings. I contacted Jill with this information and had Jill attempt the contact with my birth mother. When Jill made the contact, my birth mother denied ever having given up a child for adoption.

When my birth mother made the denial, Jill believed her entirely. Jill told me in her subsequent phone call to me that my information from Sharlene was false. She said something to the effect of, "There are many searchers out there who use illegal ways of getting information. I never do that, and I verify all my information from as many sources as possible." At the time, I got the feeling that Jill was a little upset that I hadn't used "her" services to find my birth mother.

I was quite distraught and wondered if I had been scammed. I immediately called Sharlene and told her what had transpired. She said that her information was correct and that she would be willing to contact one of my birth mother's siblings. She made the contact with my birth mother's sister and confirmed that my birth mother had indeed placed a child for adoption and got approval for me to call this sister directly. After Sharlene gave me this information I quickly hung up the phone with her and called my birth mother's sister. I still have a good relationship to this day with my birth mother's sister.

So what would make someone go from "I don't use illegal methods." to allegedly stealing court records? I'm not sure, but, I have my suspicions. It could be the money. According to the article, Jill charged about $850 to find birth parents for adoptees. It could be that Jill was frustrated by Utah laws dealing with closed adoptions and felt this could be a big help to many adoptees. It could be that Jill wanted to find out information for herself. It could also be that the records were not stolen, but, accidentally provided to Jill by a court staff member.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Perpetuating Rumors

A post on Mark Towner's blog (see here) made me think of the widespread problem of perpetuating rumors and falsehoods. With the advent of e-mail and the internet, it seems all too easy for people to pass on rumors and falsehoods without even checking if they are true. Mr. Towner has done that with his post. He says in part, "This is an actual job application that a 75 year old senior citizen submitted to Walmart in Arkansas." This statement is false and can easily be found on http://www.snopes.com. I frequently use Snopes to check on the truth of stories that seem pretty far-fetched to me.

Mr. Towner is not the only one to have this problem. A few weeks ago in my church meeting, an individual perpetuated the rumor that President Boyd K. Packer said "When you get to heaven, someone will ask you what prophet's time did you live in and when you say Gordon B. Hinckley, a hush will fall, and all present will bow at your presence." I had heard this before and knew it wasn't true because I had done research to see if it was something that President Packer had said. This past week, in the LDS Church News, it talks about the First Presidency of the Church releasing a statement that says in part "This is a false statement. It is not Church doctrine. At various times, this statement has been attributed erroneously to President Thomas S. Monson, President Henry B. Eyring, President Boyd K. Packer, and others. None of these Brethren made this statement." I have heard of several bishops where this was read over the pulpit because the false statement had been perpetuated over the pulpit.

The internet makes it easy to perpetuate these rumors, however, with a little effort, the internet also makes it easy to check on the truth of stories.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Expecting an apology leads to disappointment.

Mark Towner makes an interesting comment in a recent post at his blog. He says, "I would hope the Supreme Court decision and HB 493 puts to rest that this action was somehow not warranted, and would expect several bloggers who were very vocal in opposition to my actions, without the actual facts of the case, that they might want to apologize to my wife and family."

I can tell Mr. Towner, from my own personal experience, that if you wait around expecting an apology when people have wronged you, you will usually only meet with disappointment. It's better to just forgive those who have wronged you and move on with your life.

Times Up!

The Utah Legislative Session ended at midnight last night. Our state legislators passed about 400 bills and a bunch of resolutions. (see here) This session, as with most sessions, was a lot like a roller coaster ride. Lots of twists and turns, up and downs, and an abrupt stop at the end.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Candy Bar Quiz

Do you eat a lot of Candy Bars? Even if you don't, this is a fun quiz to take:
I got 15 out of 20 correct.

Monday, March 03, 2008

What others are saying...

In my travels around the blogosphere recently, I've come across some interesting posts.

First off, there is the story of one persons engagement and marriage:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7a
Part 7b
Update: Part 8
Part 9
Part 10
Part 11

Then there is another persons post about "A Real American Hero." This one is a great example of being positive.

These are just a couple of the stops I've made in my travels around the internet. Maybe you'll find them interesting. If not, I'll give you back all the money you've given me.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Why Be Positive?

I decided to write a post in response to a recent comment to my previous post. The comment says that being positive is "too narrow and restricting." I believe that if more people were positive in this world, a lot more things would get done. Not only would more things get done, but, a lot of wars wouldn't happen. To use the analogy that the commenter used, if certain people had been positive and not been looking for revenge, the Mountain Meadows Massacre wouldn't have happened. It doesn't take a whole lot of effort to be negative about what is going on in the world. However, if you have a positive outlook on life, things go a lot better. I once had a very smart person tell me that if you smile it makes life go better. I have found that to be the case.

Let me give you an example from the life of my son. He went to Camp Steiner for his first week-long scout camp. This was one of the weeks last summer when there were a lot of thunderstorms. My wife and I were worried about him getting soaked and not enjoying his first week-long scout camp. When he came home on Saturday, we asked him if he had fun. He responded that he had had a great time. We then asked him if it had rained much. His response to this has been very enlightening to me. He said, "No, it didn't rain much at all, only about half the week." That's a positive outlook on life. I can tell you that his life goes much better than some of the bloggers out there. It does take more effort to be positive, but, it does make life go much better. It doesn't take much effort at all to be negative and as my previous post says, it's more childish also.