Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Rules of Camping

My post today is a bit of an inside joke, but anyone who knows me well will understand it. A bunch of friends have been sharing old pictures on facebook and my friend Kari reminded me of some of our campouts. I love nature and being outside, so camping is one of my favorite activities. When I was going to school in Provo we went on a couple campouts down to southern Utah where it was a bit warmer. The problem I had was that a bunch of people were going and some of them novices at camping so I was worried they would be unprepared. I had a meeting prior to the campout to try to arrange things for our first trip. Of course I have been mocked ever since. For our second campout somewhat as a joke, but some for real I made of set of camping rules and basic agenda for our trip. These rules have taken on a life of their own. When Kari brought them up yesterday I dug through some old papers and found them and thought I would post them.

In order for some of them to make sense a little background it required. On our first trip we got caught in a blizzard driving down I 15. It was a white out and we were only driving 5-10 miles an hour. I was outside the car trying to keep the window clear so Matt could see to drive. After driving like this for a while one of the cars (Jen) decided to turn back. That would have been fine, but some of our gear was with them. The other two cars, being the mountain men we were pushed on until the conditions just simply got too bad to drive and we all piled into a hotel room. The next day we made it to St. George where we camped in Zion Park and proceeded to enjoy ourselves. Number 3 will make more since if you know that Tommy Boy was still a very popular movie. This second trip we camped at Gunlocke Lake West of St. George where we fished and my favorite part, cooking over an open fire.

The Rules of Camping

1. Must leave on time
2, Only appropriate music allowed on road trip (ex Steve Miller Band)
3. Superstar must be played at least once
4. But no radios allowed once at camping site
5. Upon arrival camp must be set up right away
6. No marshmallows until after dark
7. It is not dark until the camping director declares it so
8. No one is to say anything that is not funny to Lorna
9. Everyone must play nice
10. If you catch a fish you must clean your own fish
11. No making fun of food is allowed
12. You must please the camping gods at all times
13. The camping gods speak through the voice of the camping director
14. No attempting to get loving from Hottie Abe since he will not be attending
15. No putting out the fire the Ol’ boy scout way
16. No wearing the same socks to bed that your wore all day
17. No forgetting of clothes in others cars is permitted
18. Once on the road, no turning around is allowed (punishable by death)
19. There will be a five dollar fine for whining and crying (RIP Chris)
20. Any rules may be added by camping director as moved by camping gods when needed


James’ truck: James, Kari
Matt’s car: Matt, Lorna, Staci


Tent one: James and Matt
Tent two: Kari, Lorna, and Staci
Note: Loving may be acquired at tent one after midnight
-for more on our camping adventure see Kari's blog, it comes complete with soundtrack

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Olymipic Games

This has been another great two weeks watching the Olympics. I am glad it ended right before school started so I can stop staying up so late every night watching the games. There were some great highlights that came out of watching the games, but I think they have been covered to death; I would like to just make a few side comments.

What Michael Phelps did was amazing. The only problem I had with the coverage of Phelps is that he was considered the greatest athlete ever. That may or may not be true, but should gold medals be the standard for how good an athlete is, or does it mean they compete in the right sports. The only athletes who have a chance to earn 9 medals are in swimming or possible track. If you want to talk about the best athletes, May and Walsh must be in the discussion, but the maximum amount of medals they can earn is one. If May and Walsh earned a medal for every match the way swimmers earn one for every race, they could earn more than Phelps and receive the glory. What about the American that won the decathlon, is there a better athlete? He should get a medal for every event, but he only gets one for competing in ten events. Having said that Phelps was amazing, I still do not know how he pulled off the final race, it still looks to me like the other guy won.

I used to love playing beach volleyball and I still love watching it. Watching May and Walsh and the Thin Beast and the Professor play was awesome. Both Golds going to the Americans is the way it should be in beach volleyball.

Yes the men finally took back the gold in basketball, but they were not impressive doing it. They blew out every team they played until the last two. The way they played the first quarter against Argentina was truly amazing, but it must have gone to their head because that was the last great quarter they played. The American team has one thing going for them, more pure talent, but it ends there. I loved watching the Spanish play, they way they play as a team is how basketball should be, the way the college game it. They scored a bunch of their points off lay-up by setting back screens. The NBA players just want to go one on one and show off how good they are and expect a foul like they get in the NBA. The Americans played like cocky punks whom they just expected everyone to role over for them, but the Spanish had different plans. Several times we had fast breaks and the American player with the ball would not pass to the open man running the court but tried to take it himself and missed the circus shot. The worst was Kobe, he is a black hole, once he touches the ball he shots it. For ever great shot he made and everyone cheered his wildly he missed 5 or 6 other shots. And what’s with shooting all the three pointers. The American team better enjoy their medal, there is no guarantee they will keep it, one the other teams get a bid deeper and some more athletic ability, we are in real trouble.

It will be interesting to see if things are different in four years in London when it comes to the Chinese supremacy. There was a few times when it seemed like hometown judges or at least swayed by the crowd. This Olympics reminded me of the 1934 games in Berlin. There are some similarities. Both were hosted by tyrannical governments, Hitler and the Communist Chinese. Both wanted to host the games to show their prowess. Hitler wanted to show the world the Aryan race was supreme, where as I believe the Chinese government had basically the same goal for their own people. Both had government support machines to help their athletes. Both achieved their goals. Everyone knows about Jesse Owens winning four gold medals, but then they forget that the Germans won the most medals of the games, just like the Chinese won the most golds. However the Germans did not retain their dominance, we will have to wait to see about the Chinese.

I think it is a testament to how good our athletes are that they can compete against nations like China. China’s programs are fully sponsored by the government, who this year had even put in place directives to begin excelling in areas where they never have before. Their athletes are chosen at very young ages and once part of the athletics program are given anything required to succeed. Our athletes, yes some are spoiled with money and are sent off to train, but others work full time jobs and train on the side. Some of our athletes come from meager circumstances yet excel in spite of their surroundings.

I don’t care that the Chinese gymnasts were underage, and yes anyone could tell that they were underage. It was not like they were 15 year olds competing in a 12 and under league where being older was a clear advantage. Unless we had some 15 year old phenom waiting in the wings, they still beat us, they were just better. Having said that, it shows the character of the Chinese government and the IOC in allowing it to happen. There was no way the IOC would investigate the host nation, not that it would do any good. How can you argue with the government who would just print fake birth certificates?

What a horrible loss for the coach of the men’s indoor volleyball, the greatest joy mixed with such tragedy. Their victory on Sunday was the most emotional, it will not make up for the loss of loved ones, but somehow it might ease the pain and make all the players feel better for winning for their coach.
I love the games; we look forward to every Olympic year. There were so many good stories that make you want to just try a bit harder, like distance swimmers with only one leg. I hope everyone got something from the games that can inspire them to greatness

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Hunt Begins

I thought I would give a quick update on what is going on with my job hunt. I was hired here on a three-year lectureship and now I am going into my last year. So my goal this year is to get a tenure track job. It is still early yet, many good jobs will come out in the next couple of months. So far there are a few good possibilities. I am not sure any of these jobs are my dream job, but I have not visited them, so who knows. So far these are my choices. As a note, the more specific a job the less amount of applicants. In other words a job looking for anyone who does 1965 or above may get 100 to 200 applicants where a strict Civil War only job may get 30 to 50.

1. Missouri Southern State University, Joplin MO. They are looking for a historian who could teach several areas, but one of the areas is Civil War and Reconstruction. This is in the Ozark Mountains that we loved.

2. Brigham Young University, Provo Ut. Their preference is a Western Historian and they must be able to teach Utah history. Utah history is very close to Mormon history so I could learn it, Western history is a stretch, but possible. They would really have to like me to even consider me for the position.

3. University of Victoria, Victoria, BC. Any American field before 1920. Good school and not as many will apply because of location. The negative part is I am not sure about living in Canada. I lived there for two years, it is a nice, but what can I say, I like America.

4. Weber State University, Ogden UT. They are looking for some to teach either 19th or 20th Century. I should have a shot, but they will get a lot of applicants. One positive is it close to family and seems to be the kind of town I would enjoy.

5. Rutgers, Newark, NJ. 19th Century historian. Positives are a good school and good football team, negatives is Newark.

6. University of California-Riverside, Riverside CA. Looking for a 19th Century historian. Positives are good school and close to family. I would have two siblings within two hours, and Melissa’s grandma lives in Riverside. The negative is living in California. I am not crazy about CA, it is very expensive and crowded. My perfect job would be a college town.

7. Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT. Looking for a 19th Century historian. This is an excellent school, they will be looking for the best. I do not know enough about the area to make any judgments yet.

8.York College, York, PA. Civil War historian. The best part about this job is it is a Civil War job, meaning fewer applicants. So far the area sounds good. My cousin Lindsey’s husband is from there and they lived there for a while and loved it. It is close to Melissa’s Mom and close to my research.

Who knows about any of these, I may not get an interview to any of them or all of them. Not to mention my dream job may open up next week. I just thought I would post these because several people have been asking about where I am applying.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


I watched a couple of movies this week that I thought I would comment on. We watched Across the Universe and I Am Legend. I enjoyed one and wanted to like the other but found it difficult. The one I like was Across the Universe, even though it definitely had its weird parts. This was a musical, and if you read this blog you know I enjoy musicals, but this is musical like Mamma Mia where all the songs are from the Beatles. I do not know what I think about this new trend, it seems too easy. Of course people are going to like the music, the Beatles are one of the most popular bands ever, and except for just a couple I knew every song. It was like I knew the movie before I saw it, because I knew the songs. Where this does seem like a cop out (stealing already written music) it does take some work to make the music fit the story. Across the Universe is about the 60s, a decade I am glad I did not have to endure. They focused their attention on the counter culture of the 60s and mainly the Grenich Village section of New York. As I said I did not live in the 60s but have studied it some, and felt the movie did a great job capturing the essence of the 60s, and historically speaking gave some good detail of the events of the 60s. For example Lucy worked for SDS and eventually the splinter group the Weatherman. The movie demonstrated how the movement turned more radical and grew to the point where even radicals like Lucy turned from them when they became violent. It also showed how the leadership of the Weatherman killed themselves when building a bomb. The movie showed the turmoil of young men being drafted, and of course drugs, sex and rock and roll. Towards the end there were some psychedelic trips that were long, but I enjoyed the movie non-the less. If you like the Beatles you will just like hearing the songs, and if you are too young to be a Beatles fan, watch the movie and introduce yourself to one of the greatest bands ever. Also they used relatively unknown actors who could actually sing (something Mamma Mia should of considered). Be prepared if you have young ones watching, there is a quick nude scene. I do not understand how nudity can be in a PG-13 movie or why it is needed. Its funny how if it is art then it is allowed, but these are subjects for another post.

The other movie was I Am Legend. I expected to enjoy this movie, but the end was so unsatisfying that I was disappointed. I do not want to give anything away, but the conflict, resolution, and finish happen so fast. Most of the movie was about him surviving as the sole man left in NYC. Most of the movie was very intense and watching what he did and how he lived was interesting. Without talking about the ending, I wanted more, some more resolution. As soon as the conflict started, 10 minutes later the movie was finished. They seemed to want to make some statements about God, but then never played it out. If fact the filmmaker seemed to want to make several statements, but then never drew out the several themes. Will Smith did a great job as normal, and they had an interesting concept. It seems like the writer had

an interesting idea about the last man on earth, but did not what the plot would be. I would still rent the movie if you have not seen it, but be prepared to be let down by the ending.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Epic Journey, Part III- Idaho

After spending 8 days in St. George we set out once more for the next leg of our journey. Our destination was Island Park, Idaho, the site of the third Finck Family Reunion. Our family goal is to get together every three years at the site of a different family member. This year was Angie’s turn and my grandparents have a place in Island Park, not far from where Angie lives. These reunions have been great, a great chance to see family and for our kids to get to know each other. The oldest boys have become friends and these reunions have been the major reason why.

The trip was not a straight shot for us; we drove only 4 hours the first day and spent the night at Melissa’s aunt’s house. Glen and Yolanda were excellent hosts and are always so much fun. Glen is so good with kids and kept ours laughing the entire time. The next morning we woke up and took the kids to visit Temple Square. It was hot in Salt Lake, but we enjoyed visiting the temple. It was very crowded, and we kept getting caught up in wedding parties. The best part of Temple Square was at the visitor center we were looking at pictures of Jesus’ life and Melissa asked Savannah what was happening in the picture. Savannah responded that, “Jesus wants to be a Sunbeam.” We also had the opportunity to meet my aunt Sandy for lunch a couple blocks away. We do not get to Utah very often, so it was nice to visit with so many family members. We left Temple Square and drove to the airport and picked up my Dad and then my Grandfather and then traveled the three hours up to Idaho Falls and spent the night at Angie’s house. The next day we were off to my grandparent’s house in Island Park.

This was another great reunion. All the kids got along very well, and as always we all had a lot of fun. When it was over we drove back to St. George, but stopped to look at the campus of Weber State who has a job opening this year. We spend a couple days in St. George and than back to my folks and than all the way back to Texas. It was a long few days driving, but well worth it. We drove a lot, and put a bunch of miles on the van, but look forward to the next reunion. Tami, you are on the clock.

Highlights from Island Park:

1. Getting together with the entire family together and watching the kids all play to well together. The three boys, Jake, Luke, and Colton are separate by three months and are good friends. Savannah and Bree were inseparable.

2. Spending time with my Grandpa Finck. He is a great man, and we were able to spend time talking. He is getting up there in age, and I am grateful to spent time with him.

3. Ridding the ATVs. My grandparents had three bikes and my brother brought up three and Erik had one, so we had plenty of bikes to go around and cover a lot of ground around the area. Island Park is not much of a town and there are bike trails everywhere.

4. Canoeing. I love canoeing; there is something very enjoyable about relaxing down a river. We canoed down the Snake River twice, both time were great fun

5. Seeing the wildlife. We saw 6 elk at various locations. Lots of birds on the Canoe trip. One day as we were heading home a buffalo was just walking through town like he owned the place

6. Sage’s baptism. One of the treats was being able to attend my niece’s baptism. Sage is the oldest of the grandkids and with all her family there and Hailey’s close they baptized her at West Yellowstone. This was a spiritual event. We had a big picnic afterwords with all of Hailey’s family.

7. West Yellowstone. We spent one afternoon walking around West Yellowstone. This is a small town, but has a lot of small shops that are fun to see. My problem is I love the clothes they sell there, but most of them are fleece and long sleeve, stuff that is not good for south Texas. I need to move.
8. Hiking. We went on a couple small hikes. One to Mesa falls, a beautiful waterfall. Another a nature hike with Robert explaining the plants along the way. I learned a bunch, but Jake did not seem to care.

9. The Rodeo. One afternoon we went to the rodeo, it was small but I enjoy rodeo’s and we had fun watching. The kids got board after a couple hours and I had to leave early.

10. Visited Rob’s ranch. My brother works for a multi--millionaire who owns ranches all over. One of them is in Island Park where they have a breath-taking piece of land. One part is the main house, but they also have an original cowboy camp with all the original buildings.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Epic Journey, Part Two-Utah

After 11 days in Arizona we set off on an eight hour journey north to St. George Utah. Four thoughts and notable parts about the trip. First I hate Phoenix. I know everyone loves it, but it is hot and crowded and it takes hours to get through. There is no way I would ever want to live there. Second, why this no good road between Phoenix and Las Vegas? Third, I love driving through the Sorrel Cactus’s in northern AZ. Lastly, the most notable part of the journey was driving over the Hoover Dam. I have always wanted to see the Dam. Building the Dam is historically one of the great events in the past 100 years. One day I would love to spend some time there and take a tour of the camp towns created to shelter the men and help find work during the Great Depression.

Melissa’s Dad lives in Ivans Utah, a small community outside of St. George and that was our next stop. Her dad and step mom have three kids (the three M’s) who are 13, 12, 10 and they are idolized by our kids. St. George is a great place, but it was a bit hot, making it into the 100s almost every day, but it was not as stifling as it is here in south Texas

Utah Highlights:
1. Spending time with family. Our kids have so much fun playing with the three M’s. I think Jake and Savannah are still trying to catch up from exhaustion incurred by trying to keep up with the kids
2. Swimming in the pool. This really helps when living in St. George with the heat. The kids did really well. I think if Savannah had another week she would be swimming on her own, she really took to the water.
3. 24th of July. Ivans is the only community in the St. George Utah that still celebrates the 24th, which is the day the Mormon Pioneers entered Utah. Melissa’s parent were in charge of the float for their ward, so are kids got to ride along. Jake was so excited to be on a float it was all he talked about for days.

4. The Sand Dunes at Snow Canyon. We spent an evening playing at the sand dunes. Jackson spent most of the time trying to eat sand.

5.The Temple. We went with Bob and Cindy to the St. George Temple. We live over 4 hours from the Temple and so it is difficult to attend often. I enjoyed the time there and being with family, it is good to rejuvenate the spirit now and again.

6. Seeing Le Mis at Tuachan. If you have never been to St. George than you are missing one of the great venues for the arts. Tuachan is an outdoor theater with the red rock cliffs as the backdrop. Nothing will beat seeing Le Mis on Broadway, but Tuachan did an excellent job. Le Mis is in my opinion the greats Broadway play ever. The music can rival any play, but when added to the story and the message no other play can compete. At its core the play is about justice and mercy. If you have a chance to watch this play at Tuacon, I recommend it or any other show they have. They are beginning Big River in September, which is another one of my favorite. By the way the tickets are only $30. You cannot beat that price anywhere for that quality of a show.

7. Riding horses. Bob has two great horses and southern Utah has some excellent rides. My favorite ride was up Pine Valley. Pine Valley is close to St. George but when you enter the valley the temperature drops 20 degrees and you leave the desert for a wooded forest. I truly think Pine Valley is one of my favorite spots. Bob and I spend a day ridding trails in the woods. One a second ride we rode along the red cliffs. We could be very happy living in that area, there are so many places to hike or ride and they are all so scenic and accessible.

8. Bob is the police and fire chief of Ivans, so one afternoon we vistited and Jake got to play on the fire engines.

9. The County Fair. We spend one evening at the Washington County Fair. The kids went on plenty of rides and ate fried fair food (always a treat). The kids enjoyed the 4-H petting zoo are, Jake actually held a snake. Cindy’s brother Travis sings a band that played that evening so we brought blankets and chairs and spent the evening listening to him. Bob and the kids were playing Frisbee. When ever Bob through to Savannah and she missed it she would say “Grandpa you missed me again.”

10. We had a birthday party for Jackson’s first birthday. We had a big family dinner and had the traditional cake for Jackson to smash in his face.