Thursday, January 31, 2008


I had mentioned in my personal information spot and my introductory blog that I was a sculptor. Actually, I have not done too much work over my career, but I have recently recovered much of the interest that I had when I was a kid molding dinosaurs from modeling clay and play dough. I thought now might be a time for a change of pace and show a bit of my recent work.

In all humility, I was considered a great potential talent in Jr. High and High School by my teachers. One of my teachers kept some of my sculptures for her private collection, telling me that she hoped to retire on them some day. But, I was also excited about music—songwriting in particular. I played in rock bands in and out of High School and after my mission in Guatemala and El Salvador from 71' to 73' I devoted my creative efforts to a music career, which though somewhat successful never panned out as I would have wished.

When I moved back to Kansas, my home state, to care for my mother, I decided that I had given the music career a good shot and needed to go back to school and get a degree before I turned 50. I did get a Bachelor's in History—before my 50th birthday—and a Master of Science degree in Occupational safety and Health—within two years after. During the process of getting the degrees I worked full time as a safety manager and donated a lot of time to my church responsibility as member a student branch presidency—a very busy schedule. When I had finished, I felt like I had lots of time on my hands, so at my wife's suggestion, I tried my hand at sculpting again. She wanted me to do portraits of all of our family, which I did in ceramic clay that I fired in a kiln and painted. We used the busts in a picture for a theme-based Christmas card that year.

So, for the past few years I have done a number of pieces that I feel pretty good about. A friend who had been living in Topeka and had seen some of my recent work moved to southern Utah and called me with a commission to create a bust portrait of his business partner who had passed away. The result was a bronze bust to be placed on a pedestal in a local St; George Park named in his partner's honor.

This got me to thinking I could do some other portraits of famous characters from history and find a home for them. It occurred to me that a piece on Jesus would be of serious interest of Christian churches of any denomination. I got a write-up in the Topeka Capital-Journal about the “smiling Christ”, but so far, I have not gotten a lot of interest to mass produce the piece in bronze.

I followed that with an Idea of doing Abe Lincoln and Ichabod Washburn. Abe, of course, is probably the most sculpted character in history, but my intension was to sell Abe along with Ichabod, due to their combined historical import to Washburn University, of Topeka, Kansas. You see, Topeka started a city college in 1865 and named it Lincoln College in honor of the President who had just been assassinated. By 1868, the school was in danger of bankruptcy. Ichabod Washburn, the Massachusetts industrialist noted for inventing barbed wire and supporting and donating to good causes, donated $25,000 to save the school--he died shortly after making the donation and never had the opportunity to visit the school. In honor of his donation, the school changed its name to Washburn College, later to become Washburn University. My idea was to sell them the idea of placing a bust of both Lincoln and Washburn on campus. The idea was good to a degree--sadly, they commissioned a bronze bust of Washburn only.

I followed up the Lincoln with a George Washington—it seemed like the obvious move—who I think he epitomizes the American ideal. A Matching Washington and Lincoln set.

Then, during a recent conversation with a musician friend who saw my work, my friend suggested that Rock Icons were a good plan for marketing mass production. He suggested a bust of Rock Legend, John Lennon as a starting point for a reproduction marketing scheme. I thought he was probably on to something, so I began a bust of Lennon, who is a favorite of mine due to his song writing skills.

I am not sure where the sculpting business will go for me but it has been a lot of fun. Tell me what you think.

Monday, January 28, 2008



My family and I were having our Family Home Evening last night—we generally have ours on Sundays, since we have conflicts most Mondays for various reasons—when my son, Dylan, received a text message telling us that President Gordon B. Hinckley had just passed away. My emotional response was an interesting one. I had been expecting it (his death) any time; after all, he was 97 years of age and had been widowed from the love of his life for several years. Typically, men in his situation tend to go out pretty quickly, losing interest in life. But with President Hinckley there was a feeling that he might just decide to go on forever. He somewhat reminded me of the energizer bunny. But somehow you had to know that eventually, when no one was looking, when you were paying attention to something else, the old bunny’s batteries would run out. They did last night, and I am both sad for myself and others that loved him so much and elated for him and his loved ones on the other side of the veil who have been patiently waiting for him to rejoin them.

At 97, he was still brilliant, as far as I could tell, in all of his mental faculties. His sense of humor, legend within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, had stayed extremely sharp until the end of his earthly existence. I have always enjoyed listening to the Prophet speak in what ever capacity, whether addressing a congregation himself, introducing someone else at the pulpit, or adding a thought or responding to someone else’s address. I knew and expected, as did everyone else in the listening audience, that somewhere along the way he would say something with a mischievous light in his eyes that would crack everyone up. He expressed such warmth and love for his fellow man with every word an action. I had known President Hinckley as a general authority in the Church since I was baptized as a new convert in 1963. He was the youngest member of the 12 Apostles at the time —later that year Thomas S. Monson was added to the Quorum of the Twelve—and I watched him grow in his priesthood assignments, in his responsibilities during the past few decades serving in several 1st. Presidencies, and ultimately as the President of the Church for nearly 13 years. He personally directed the church through great growth and productivity. The Church has become synonymous with helping the needy of the world, always at the front when catastrophe strikes. Under his direction, the temple growth in the Church has catapulted from roughly 50 to nearly 150 in existence, under construction, or announced. He made many efforts to reach out to other denominations and to the world at large, allowing himself to appear on nation-wide news programs to talk about his role as “Prophet”. He was inspirational to me and the other 13,000,000 members and friends of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We love him.

I personally believed him to be the man on earth authorized by God in Heaven to direct the affairs of His Kingdom on the earth. I believe he was and is a Prophet of God, and I believe his successor, President Thomas B. Monson, a wonderful man in his own right, whom I met him during a visit of his to my mission in Guatemala and El Salvador, and I am confident that the work of the Lord will continues as before with warmth love, humor and Godly inspiration.

Good bye, President Gordon B. Hinckley, we will miss you, but look foreword to embracing you again in the presence of our Heavenly Father.

Randy Mundy

Thursday, January 24, 2008

What's New With Me?

Since I last wrote I have had shoulder surgery and a bad bought with Meniere's Disease. The Meniere's was much worse than the surgery. I did not have to take anything for the pain in my shoulder, but the ringing ears, nausea, spinning sensation and projectile vomiting were enough to make want to cry. I had Meniere's back when Karen was carrying our oldest son, Jesse, and I was twenty-nine years of age in a new part of the country--we had moved to Los Angeles--and I had started a new job. I was under a bit of stress at the time and my body decided to react to the stress by making sick as a dog most of the time. For the next 4 years the symptoms ( ringing ears, nausea, spinning sensations, projectile vomiting, etc) continued to get worse until I was having major episodes every two weeks. The spinning would start after a gradual worsening ear-ringing of about two weeks and I would have to crawl to the nearest bathroom (barfroom?)to be near a place where I could politely hurl up everything in me. I would keep a big water cup by my side to replenish my stomache so that I would not be continually dry heaving--and I would definitely keep that up with out relief for hours. The water helped me stand it longer until I physically passed out from exhaustion. I would then sleep for about 24 hours straight followed by a day of recouping my strength. For short day or two respite I would have none of the Meniere's symptoms and then the ringing and lethargy would begin to creep back and my Hell would start over again. I remember a very sad Christmas Eve while I was laying on my bed with head in a "puke bag" and my wife was putting together a swing set we had gotten for our little kids.

After 4 years of this and losing my job because I seemed to be absent from work one day out of five, Our local Stake President asked me to accept a call to our ward bishopric. I told him I was willing but I had this projectile vomiting issue every couple of weeks or so. He said they would handle that and gave me a priesthood blessing to handle it. For the next 22 or 23 years I had no problems with Meniere's attacks. If I started to hear a little ringing, I would make an effort to cut back on my stress level. All seemed to be well in my world.

Then, we prayed about trying to get out to Utah to be able to help care for my elderly mother-in-law and my handicapped sister-in-law--we had moved back to Kansas 10 years prior to take care of my elderly mother in the beginning stages of Alzheimer's. She eventually passed away and we felt that we had done a thing, but that my wife's family's need was now great enough for us to move on. We started looking at job situations in Utah that might fit my talents--I was self-employed as a safety consultant for primarily roofing companies in Kansas/Missouri area. I eventually heard of a family in Utah that owned two large roofing companies in Utah that were searching for someone with credentials. We talked, we liked each other, and they hired me. I came out in March of 07', driving a small truck of personal belongings to start the process of working and finding a home that we could afford for us and my in-laws. Karen was to stay behind until the kids finished school and try to get the house sold. No Stress there?

The day I arrived and crawled into bed at some friends' home in Salt Lake my ears were ringing--they had been going for a couple of days--and the spinning was beginning. I thought "Oh, No!" But that was pretty much it. The next morning I showed up at my new place of work and got to know my new comrade's-in-arms. I was still feeling the effects of the day before and asked two of the active Mormon priesthood holders on the management team of the company where my office was to give me another blessing. It seemed to do the trick.

Fast forward to this moment in time and I have stressed out once again and am hopeful once again to get off these dire straights. The last week and a half have been very stressful. I left Sunday with the ringing ears to attend a safety managers' meeting of two days in Phoenix--I did not really enjoy the new scenery since I spent every free moment lying on my bed trying to keep my head still. I came back on Wednesday to work with no relief and then into surgery Thursday morning. It was down hill from there. I vomited several times from the post surgery nausea--couldn't keep anything down fro about 24 hours--and got stopped up from not going to the bathroom for a couple of days which kept from sleeping another night. Then, I had a violent Meniere's attack in the middle of the following night and spent the next day not being able to eat getting stopped again. And, although my shoulder never hurt enough to take any pain medicine for it, I was unable to sleep on my stomach, which is a real plus when you trying sink your head as low as you can into a bed. So, because of the this stuff, I'm using the moment to vent some frustration. As we know Meniere's is stress related, and if I stress out about having a Meniere's episode, it will likely happen. Please pray for me out there!

Oh yes, and Mitt seems to be doing better after a win in Nevada and improving his situation in Florida. So there is something positive to look at that could make me feel better.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Romney Wins!

My friend, Mike Mayer, emailed me today asking if he had detected a Romney win. He was softly chiding me, I suspect, because of my earlier blog about Romney's chances of gaining the White House. I honestly did not expect as strong a win for Romney in Michigan as he racked up. I was returning from a safety managers' meeting in Phoenix last night and was excited to see Romney ahead while I was at the airport in Phoenix preparing to board the plane. I had to wait until I arrived at the airport in Salt Lake to see that he had indeed won, and won pretty big. With the Michigan win, do Romney's chances get better? I will have to say yes. But, I am only slightly more optimistic than I was yesterday morning. Romney has a good portion of the serious conservative Republicans, but the mods and undecided lemmings are numerous enough and so unpredictable that it is hard for me to get my hopes up very high. Under those circumstances the anti Mormon vote can still hurt Romney. I hope it doesn't, but I fear it will. Prove me wrong, America!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

MITT ROMNEY: Can A Mormon Make It To The White House?

Mitt Romney: Can a Mormon get to the White House?

I like Mitt Romney. I liked him from the time he took over the Salt Lake Olympics and turned it around. I thought then that he looked like presidential material and thought that he should go into politics. I didn’t know what his politics were, but I figured since he was a Mormon that they would likely be conservative, like mine. Later, when he went up against Kennedy for the US senate, I learned that, though he was obviously right of the Socialist, Ted, he was not as conservative as I had hoped. Still, he was a Republican and I wished him well. He lost that one, but he eventually won as Governor of Massachusetts, a traditionally liberal stronghold, and placed the governorship of that State much farther to the right than it had been for a very long time and was successful in making some good fiscal changes against great odds. When I learned of Mitt’s desire to run for President and that he had changed his opinions on abortion, I was a bit skeptical, thinking that he was perhaps calculating in his desire to be President, but I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, and I listened to his reason for his change of heart. I bought it. It may be that my giving him the benefit of the doubt is because I want to have a Mormon in the White House—I am a Mormon—but I don’t think so. Harry Reid is a Mormon, but I could never vote for him for any imagined office.

I do have to say, however, that the fact that Romney is a Mormon makes me proud of him. And, because of our shared religious and political beliefs, and the fact that he has served as Bishop and Stake President in our faith—I have also served in similar capacity and understand the unselfish service and spiritual commitment involved—I feel confident that he would serve honorably as President. The other big plus for me is that he is such a smart guy, easily the smartest guy of anyone running for the office at this time, and a financial genius. We need someone like him to tackle the economy and prepare us for the obvious world economic war on the horizon. He is also apparently committed to fighting the war against the Islamic Jihadists and to seriously try to control illegal immigration. When I stack him up against the others in the Republican field, all of whom have very strong points, I have to say that Mitt is my choice.

It is unlikely, however, that Romney can be elected. The biggest reason is that he is Mormon. James Joyner, in a recent article about the likelihood of a Mormon being elected, sited a poll showing that 24 percent of voters said they would never consider voting for a Mormon. Some will see that and be surprised that such religious bigotry still exists in America—the same poll showed that 5 percent would still not vote for a black person, so there was a positive. I was actually surprised that the number was so low. I am guessing that the vast majority of those opposed to a Mormon in the White House were of evangelical persuasion. My thoughts here are shaded by the fact that I am a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from a Baptist background. Virtually all of my extended family, on both my father’s and mother’s sides, were Baptists or of similar evangelical beliefs—I have a brother-in-law who is a Baptist minister. Though perhaps anecdotal, my experience as a convert has taught me that evangelical prejudice against Mormons, in particular, is both strong and widespread. When my parents and the younger half of my siblings joined the Mormon Church in the sixties, it created serious divisions that are still not completely healed. I have since lived in Kansas, Central America, California, Tennessee, and Utah, and in every place I have lived I have run into the same religious prejudice—“Mormons are a cult”, “Mormons believe that Jesus and Satan are brothers”, “Mormons are trying to take over the world”. I might interject here that Huckabee’s “innocent” question in an interview about his beliefs about Mormonism being a Christian religion, “Don’t Mormons believe that Jesus and the Devil are brothers? I don’t know”, was laughable in my opinion. He was a Baptist minister in Arkansas for over ten years. He knew exactly what he was saying. He was reminding the Evangelical electorate that Mormons are heretics.

I think that the “24 percent” group’s likely impact on the elections so far this year, cannot be ignored. As much as 60 percent of the Republican voters in Iowa were said to have been Evangelicals. I think it is safe to assume that the percentage of those voters who reflect the nation-wide “24 percent” anti- Mormon sentiment was significantly greater than a quarter of its number. It is easy for me to imagine evangelical pastors telling their churches to get out there and keep the Mormon out of the White House—that is exactly what I witnessed in my own Baptist congregation when the Catholic, Jack Kennedy, threatened the nation’s separation of Church and State. Before the focus on Mitt’s religion in Iowa, Romney was leading by big numbers in the Iowa Polls. It was closer in New Hampshire and the number of Evangelicals living in the state are comparably small to Iowa, but I suspect that there were enough of the “24 Percenters”, combined with the result in Iowa influencing the lemming-like voting patterns among American Voters to more than account for the 5 percent win of McCain. It will only get worse for Romney in the future, even if he wins in Michigan. Huckabee and McCain complain about Romney’s unfair “negative attack ads”—not a new stance for McCain during elections— and some political analysts seem to believe that his ”negative ads” turned some voters off. I think, however that the ads were helpful to delineate differences between specific candidates. I suspect it is preferable for some to ascribe a decision to not support Romney because of “his mean and unfair tactics” rather than their own religious prejudice.

This is, of course, sad for the country at this time. Mitt is a very talented man who brings a lot of conservative leadership qualities to the plate. He recognizes the world’s economic challenges, with the likes of communist China, Russia and the Oil-producing third world states threatening to wreck us economically and weaken our influence for democracy on the world stage. That, along with his obvious clean living, willingness to seriously fight illegal immigration, desire to continue an aggressive war against radical Islamic terrorists, penchant towards cutting taxes and spending, along with his conversion to a pro-life position, if you trust his explanation for his enlightenment, should make him the Republican darling. However, as far as we have come from our nation’s inception in overcoming petty racial and religious bigotry, we still have a way to go.

So, I have to concede that it is not likely that a Mormon can get to the White House in today’s social and religious climate. In my opinion, Romney’s best chance of reaching the White House will likely be by way of the Vice Presidency this time around. On the bottom of the ticket he will attract less anti Mormon bigotry within the traditional Republican voting block and be able to prove himself for a future presidential bid. Perhaps, in another 4 to 8 years, Mormons will be as acceptable to American voters as black people have become. It is ironic to me that Evangelicals would not support Mormons who generally believe as they do on most political and social issues. Mormons are big believers in the divine power that brought The United States of America into existence, traditionally supported the same candidates that Evangelicals generally do. Utah voters, heavily Mormon, were the greatest supporters of Reagan and George W. Bush. We Mormons are among the strongest supporters of religious freedom and moral values in our nation. We would unabashedly vote for an Evangelical for president—we overwhelmingly did in the case of Bush—and would collectively condemn any equivalent religious bigotry proposed from within our ranks. We try to do the right thing and put the best candidate in the office, who will represent all of America, no matter his brand of Christianity.

Monday, January 7, 2008


Last week I was rereading a short story my best friend, Dan Wood, sent me awhile ago and thought it deserved to be added to my blog. Dan is a teacher in the Los Angeles area and has been working on a PhD in education, and, he is possibly the funniest character I personally know. Whenever Dan and I are together, we have a great time. I think he's very sensitive to all things humorous--he laughs at my jokes. I think his exposure to some of the silliness that exists in "greater" education--Dan is a pretty pragmatic conservative guy stuck in a liberal wonderland--and his natural ability to appreciate the absurd inspired this little bit. It was published earlier in a literary journal, but I asked him for permission to republish it here. I hope you enjoy it.

Breakdown in the Semiosphere

By Dan Wood

As Terrance Rex Inteligencci stood in line wearing the blue and black cap and gown, symbols of the source of his newly acquired PhD., and the academic beating he took to get it, he felt at once a sense of empowerment and resentment. "Finally!" he thought as he looked askance at the sea of mediocre faces in the audience, waiting to take a picture of their own "successful" sons or daughters, children of privilege, of money, of guarantees, of connections, of tutors, of ass wipers. Resentful of the past four years of hoop jumping, sitting up, rolling over, begging, barking, ass kissing, he inched his way toward the Dean of the School of Philosophy. Incensed that he lived in a society that validated intelligence and granted social mobility to possessors of ink-stained parchment – a necessary game society made him play--Terrance reached out to take the diploma without shaking the inferior hand of its giver. Avoiding eye contact, Terrance felt no need to smile as he continued across the stage, seemingly unaware of the momentary absence of camera flashes.

Outside, he hurried past huddled groups of parents and graduates smiling, laughing, hugging, taking pictures. They were weak people who needed other people.
On Sunset Blvd, the siren alerted the new graduate to the red flashing light in his rear-view mirror. A numbers game, it was just a matter of time before his incessant disregard for traffic laws, a small part of his overall contempt for the mindless society he lived in, was noticed by the authorities.

Seeing the youth was angry about something, "Don't your brakes work son?" asked the officer with unperceived double meaning.

"Fortunately, I don't see the resemblance" came the insult.

"Did you see anything resembling a stop sign back there? Or what about something that looked like a speed limit sign?" came the sarcastic retort, this time with a little anger rising in his voice.
Seeing his rudeness had hit its mark, Terrance, by his reckoning a real philosopher, smugly continued "If a tree fell in the forest, and no one was there to hear the sound, was there in fact a sound?"

"If a policeman gave a smart ass a ticket, and he didn't pay it, would he go to jail?"
Terrance’s respite from anger was short lived when he was asked to sign the ticket. Then, seeing an opportunity to publicly embarrass the officer, he autographed it with a sneer. "See you in court officer." This would be his debut in the real world. A chance for philosophy to meet reality. The beginning of Terrance’s contribution to altering the unalterable, of doing what Socrates only dreamed of, helping the masses to get it. Not a life of perpetuating the status quo of perceptual blindness by hiding in ivory towers, keeping the truth from the underprivileged.

Tension was mounting as Terrance not so patiently waited for his name to be called. This was his big moment, his turning point, the day of reckoning, the day that would fill the void of all those empty moments of nonrecognition. To everyone else, the common folk, the masses leading unexamined lives of quiet desperation, the light was about to shine in darkness, and by his extraordinary wit, be comprehensible.

"Docket number 013. Terrance Rex Intelligencci."
Full of confidence, Terrance rose to enlighten the unenlightened, to fool the fools, to rupture the very fabric of their social conventions. As he walked to the rostrum, he envisioned suspended in the air behind him, and smiling approvingly, the authors he had mastered from his bookshelves: Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Hume, Alfred E Newman…

"Mr. Intelligencci. You have entered a plea of ‘Not Guilty’ to the charge of failing to stop at a stop sign. I understand that you have chosen to, contrary to the court's advice, waive your right to counsel. Is that correct?"

"Yes, your honor. No attorney is capable of defending me at the level I can defend myself."

“I’m sure that’s true” thought the judge, looking at him with a mixture of amusement and pity. The judge gave his consent, but for reasons other than what Terrance would have wanted.

"Very well, we have a busy day, let's proceed."

A freshly sworn in Rex, erect before his accuser, eagerly awaited the judge's first question.
Irritated for having to waste time in the first place with such an open-and-shut case, the judge began. "So, Mr. Intelligencci, it's your contention that you are in fact not guilty of passing the plane of the stop sign at the intersection of Charles Young and Royce on August 30th?"

"That's correct."

"Would you care to share with the court why your testimony of that event does not corroborate Officer Ben Thrutbfor’s, and why the officer’s video also contradicts your version of events?"

Glancing smugly and condescendingly at the officer, "Of course your honor, but I don't think it's necessarily the officer's fault that he has a different version of the facts."

"Oh, how so?"

Terrance began to wax eloquent. "Well, no disrespect your honor, but he's just part of the system - an unconscious cog in the thoughtless machinery of our conventional social paradigm. He had no real sense of the underlying reality of the situation."

"And you did" intoned the judge with mild sarcasm.

"If I may be permitted to explain, your honor."

Continuing the sarcasm, "The court is on the edge of its bench."

"If the officer had only been aware of the writings of Hoffmeyer, this whole situation could have been avoided?"


"Well, for one thing boundaries don't really exist. They’re simply mental constructs."

"They don't?"

"Oh, they may seem to on the macro-level, but certainly are not on the micro-level. It’s just an illusion."


"Just imagine you suddenly began to shrink. You get smaller and smaller until you're the size of an atom."

"An atom."

"Yes, you begin to shrink until you are the size of an atom. If you were standing on the gavel plate you would eventually notice that instead of a clear distinction between the plate and the atmosphere, there would exist a random mixture of air and wood molecules on either side of you, completely eroding any notion you would have of a boundary."

"I assume you're trying to make a point here regarding your traffic ticket, Mr. Intelligencci?"

"Ok your honor, which should really be my honor technically speaking, just another example of our system of archaic relics of inequality."

"About the traffic ticket..."

"Well, even if I were to concede that boundaries did exist, which I don't, the court would still find it necessary to declare my innocence based on the writings of Aristotle. We know that the unaided human eye only has the ability to perceive matter at or larger than 0.5mm, hence the apparent need for the video. But, undermining that is Aristotle’s observation, if you’ll pardon the pun, that an object in motion is continually passing through space in increasingly smaller increments, rendering it impossible to actually observe the moment a plane is broken, assuming such a thing could ever occur."

The judge, looking at his watch interjected, "Please make this brief, Mr. Inteligencci."

"Ok, let's say that I was asked to approach the bench."

"Heaven forbid" thought the judge.

"Imagine I first get to the half way mark."

The judge is trying not to roll his eyes.

"I then cover the distance half way to the bench again."

"Uh, huh" knowing where this is going.

"Well, your honor can see that by this reckoning, I would never reach the bench."

"So you're still approaching the stop sign?"

"It's all a matter of perspective, your honor. You're assuming that that boundary existed in the first place!"

"Ok, Mr. Inteligencci, you've made your point. The court finds you guilty of not making a lawful stop at the aforesaid intersection on the aforesaid date, and orders you to pay a fine of $300.00 dollars and court costs of $100.00 dollars. How much time do you need to take care of this?"
Terrance, incensed, shouted,” I refuse to be a party to this gross injustice; I will not pay one cent toward either charge! You’re squandering an opportunity to make some meaningful changes here!"

Getting up and leaving, officer Ben Thrutbfor smiles and winks at Rex as he passes him on his way out.

Full of rage, Terrance grabs a law text from the table and hurls it towards the judge. As it ricochets from the judge’s forehead, Terrance screams rhetorically, “Did anyone see the exact point of impact, or when the plane of his forehead was broken?”

"Fools" thought Terrance as he heard the lock catch on the door of his cell. "The idiots actually think these bars are boundaries. They'll never get it!"

Friday, January 4, 2008


I felt compelled to write this.


Recently, I have been discussing OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder) with friends and family—we recognize the disorder in most of our personalities. Since I now have a blog site, I felt compelled to write an essay inspired by an article written years ago by Edward Dolnick on Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder—I don’t remember the title of the article, but it had to do with a patient, Joshua Brown and his OCD nightmare.

But seriously, it is especially interesting to me because I think that I personally do some obsessive-compulsive-type things. It is mentioned in the article that "counting" is a compulsion that "turns up again and again". I am a compulsive counter, as is, it turns out, my daughter, Heidi—I am also a compulsive comma user, using them as often as I can work them in. Anyway, I have counted things for as long as I can remember. In my early years the compulsion to count may have been more severe. I do not suppose that my compulsion rivaled that of 'The Count', of 'Sesame Street' fame, but it was fairly substantial. I would find myself counting various things at school and at home; books, desks, tables, chairs, furniture legs and people, to name a few. The fact that I might have already counted some things and was convinced of their exact quantity would not keep me from reestablishing the fact by counting them again. I do not know how many times I have counted my own fingers. Of course, if I were seriously obsessive-compulsive, I might well know. Maybe I should have kept track.

About twenty some years ago, I heard from a friend of mine that his brother had been diagnosed as having a mental disorder called "Obsessive-Compulsive." The more I heard of his brother's odd behavior, the more intrigued I became with this mental disorder. I started reading about the disorder and asking questions about it from friends of mine in the mental health field. Of course Dolnick's article was not the first time that I learned that counting was a compulsive behavior. I realized early on that I was compulsive in that regard and I was a long-time 'nail chewer.' I also recognize that I had obsessive thoughts as a child. I would often imagine myself running on the desktops or swinging from the lights in my classrooms. Happily, for my parents and myself, I never felt compelled to act on those particular obsessive thoughts.

Clearly, I was aware that I was at least prone to possible obsessive-compulsive behavior and I admit that I was at least a bit concerned that I might some day fall into a serious case of 'OCD.' I determined years ago, however that I would try to curb my obsessive thoughts and compulsive behavior. It was my belief that I needed to overcome my problem with ‘will power’, that I needed to just "cut it out." I started on a campaign to stop my silly thoughts, painful nail chewing and useless counting. For example, whenever I would catch myself counting my fingers I would stop myself in mid-count. Even if I had only gotten half of my fingers counted, I would force myself to stop counting and start in on some other activity that did not necessitate counting or keeping score. I modified my nail-chewing behavior in the same manner.

I can report that I have been reasonably successful. I do not count things as much as I used to. I still occasionally catch myself numbering digits, but I quickly turn my attention to singing a song or some other worthy pursuit. I have longer, normal looking fingernails that allow me to scratch my wife's back much more efficiently. I do not harbor fears any longer that I may some day start washing my hands or showering for hours on end. Although I do enjoy a good long hot shower, I only stay in for fifteen minutes at the most. My life is under my control and I live pretty happily.

Joshua Brown's experience with OCD, as recorded in Edward Dolnick's article, must have been living hell for him and his family. His love for sports and his desire to excel physically was the catalyst for a strict exercise regimen. Eventually, his love for athletics turned into a fanatical self-torture that threatened his health. Josh developed a myriad of other OCD symptoms and was finally diagnosed and received treatment.

It was interesting that the doctors that treated Josh suspected that a strep infection was the cause of his affliction. Biology, rather than the old theory of rigid parenting, is believed to be the cause of OCD today. Blows to the head, epileptic seizures or strokes can bring OCD suddenly to life. Just as suddenly, equally traumatic events can make it go away. This is demonstrated by the example of the 22-year-old man that shot himself in the head because his OCD was making his life miserable. He survived but his OCD did not.

Still, I wonder if there is not a predisposition to fall into this bizarre syndrome. Perhaps a slightly obsessive or compulsive personality type has a greater chance to develop OCD under the right biological circumstances. It also may be that a propensity towards ADD or ADHD may have an impact—as we know the Devil makes work for idle hands, and attention-deficit brains seem to need something to occupy them. Why did I develop the finger counting compulsion? I theorize that I probably started the habit as a young math student in grade school learning to add and subtract in my head with a little assistance from my fingers. Finger counting would have probably given me the added (no pun intended) security that my answers were correct. My compulsive nature then carried the habit to extremes. Perhaps if I had experienced the right type of brain trauma, I might be washing my hands till they bleed at this moment instead of writing this blog.

Whatever the cause of OCD, the best treatment for it, when a well-placed bullet to the brain is out of the question, is apparently medication followed up with behavior therapy. Fifty to eighty percent of OCD patients, depending on the studies, are responding well to Anafranil, Prozac and other medicines of the like. In Josh Brown's case, medication did not help. Josh required complete blood cleaning and behavior therapy. In the end, after much suffering from both the illness and the cure, Josh has gotten his life back to normal. I can only imagine the extreme relief for him and his family to have their nightmare behind them. However, as much as 2 percent of the public suffer from OCD—twice the number of those suffering from Alzheimer's disease. Equal numbers of men and women as young as two or three years of age experience this "hiccup of the brain." Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, for me, is a fascinating subject. But, I think I can stop thinking about it, if I really try.

Thursday, January 3, 2008


After my last blog on honesty, I feel a need to get back to safety, so here you go you safety nuts.

Analyzing The Safety Needs Of A Roofing Project.

The Roof can obviously be a dangerous place to work. As the Safety Manager for two large commercial roofing and sheet metal contractors, it is my job to help the company make inherently dangerous work safer. This requires understanding the hazards and risks involved in the industry and, eliminating them, or at the least, reducing both to acceptable levels by designing safe or safer procedures of operation—System Safety. A hazard is a condition or situation that has the potential of evolving into an accident, or as Roland and Moriarty describe it, “when activated, transforms the hazard into a series of events that culminate in a loss (an accident).”[1] Risk, the evaluation of potential loss, “is related to the “probability of a mishap in terms of hazard severity and hazard probability.”[2]
Site Specific Safety Plan

As the safety manager, it is my job to research OSHA standards, and to see that the company is compliant. But perhaps more importantly, as the designer of a safer system, it is my responsibility to, perhaps, analyze industry data and create a system designed to meet our company’s specific safety needs. Each job we do has different challenges, and plans are needed to meet those specific challenges. The “Site-Specific Safety Plan” is that tool that I use to systematize safety for our company.

The Site Specific Safety Plan is based on analysis of industry data, the particular characteristics of the specific work site, and the company’s safety resources. The bottom line is the need for the company’s work to be profitable. The site-specific safety plan must keep OSHA happy to avoid potentially costly fines—a costly fine for noncompliance with OSHA standards could easily remove the profit from any job. Accidents on the job are even more potentially costly—property damage, injuries and deaths are not only costly in monetary measurement, but destroyed lives and pain and suffering are difficult if not impossible to measure.

OSHA Standards
OSHA’s goal is, “to assure so far as possible every working man or woman in the nation safe and healthful working conditions and to preserve our our human resources.’[3] The standards related to the roofing industry are found in OSHA Construction--29 CFR 1926. These OSHA standards are designed to eliminate or reduce hazards in the construction industry and lessen the likelihood of accidents in the workplace.
Roofing Hazards

I have to admit that when I became a safety manager in the roofing industry eight years ago, I entered with some misconceptions. Like I suspect most people would have thought, I thought the majority of my time would be spent making sure that the workers were complying with OSHA’s fall protection standards.[4] But, I soon discovered that fall hazards only represented the tip of the proverbial iceberg with respect to roofing industry hazards. Dangers on a roofing crew might include cuts, punctures, broken bones, severed limbs, chemical poisoning, respiratory damage, auditory damage, and physical reactions to extreme temperatures (hypothermia, dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke). Many of these hazards could result in fatalities, if care is not given nor attention paid to eliminate or mitigate them. All potential hazards should be analyzed and addressed in the site-specific safety plan.
It is understandable that fall hazards “get the press.” Statistics clearly show that the most serious accidents in the roofing industry result from falls. Roofing work, of course, is performed 99.99 % of the time—this is admittedly my best guess—from heights of fatal proportions under the right circumstances. According to recent NSC research, the construction industry’s occupational injury death rate consistently ranks the third highest among all major industries in the United States. These rates range from 13.3 deaths to 14.4 deaths per 100,000 workers since 1992. Among all risk exposures in the construction industry, falls to lower levels were the most significant cause of fatalities. They accounted for 372 (nearly 32 percent) of the 1,171 fatal injuries in 1998. Within this category of exposures, 123 accidents (33 percent) were categorized as falls from roofs. These include falls through existing roof openings, roof surfaces and skylights or from roof edges.[5] These statistics suggest that fall protection should have a high priority in the site-specific safety plan.

Be that as it may, when one looks at injuries apart from fatalities, the other roofing hazards begin to loom larger on the safety horizon. The chances that a roofer will suffer injuries other than those caused by a fall are much greater. During a period of three years (2000-2003), while I was the safety manager for a roofing company in the Midwest—I became a safety consultant in 2002, but kept the company as a client—we had experienced no injuries due to falls. In fact, my research of their injury reports of the prior 30 years showed a vast assortment of injuries (cuts, punctures, burns, and breaks) but only one incident of an injury due to a fall, and it was serious enough to end the employee’s roofing career. Nonetheless, it should be recognized that the potential is always there for a terrible tragedy and the potential loss from a fall should not to be taken lightly.

My research of the those 3 years (2000—2003) of injury reports for the company revealed the following statistics: 4 back and neck injuries, 12 sprained limbs, 8 cuts or punctures that needed emergency response, 2 eye injuries which required medical attention, 7 burns (with some 3rd degree damage), 2 heat related injuries (heat exhaustion), and broken bones. Their last injury in 2003 was a burn to a workers face (50% of his head). Only the quick response of his fellow workers—they immediately cooled the asphalt on his face with cold drinking water—kept the hot asphalt from burning deep into the skin causing 3rd degree damage.

This suggests to me that systems for material and equipment handling need to be made safer. Due to the great likelihood of these types of injuries and their cumulative effect in terms of loss to individuals and the company, site-specific safety plans must also focus heavily on seemingly less important operations such as housekeeping and tool and equipment use and upkeep.
Asphalt Fumes

For a time, there was concern in the roofing industry for exposure to asphalt fumes. Fumes from adhesives, primers and cleaners for one-ply rubber systems are not very hazardous due to the open-air application that is normal and are not as oppressive to the olfactory senses as asphalt seems to be. Asphalt has trace amounts of a number of compounds—polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) that have produced tumors when applied in high concentrations in "skin-painting" studies involving laboratory animals. But, no convincing evidence has been developed indicating these compounds routinely are present at significant levels in the fumes that are created when asphalt is heated during the roofing process or that exposure levels pose a cancer risk to roofing workers. However, in an historical context, the possibility of a cancer risk is sufficient to draw intense interest by government health officials.

Since 1990, scientific groups have reviewed the scientific evidence to decide whether to regulate or classify asphalt fumes as a cancer-causing substance. None of these groups, including OSHA, Cal/EPA NIOSH, and IARC, found adequate evidence justifying the classification of asphalt fumes as a cancer-causing substance. The latest comprehensive scientific review that I read, completed by a science advisory committee evaluating the adequacy of the current occupational standard for asphalt fumes in California, decided without dissent after examining the latest data, that no new regulatory action was needed.

Though there have been proposals as late as the 1990s, OSHA has no current standard for a permissible exposure limit for asphalt fumes. NIOSH recommended that asphalt fumes be considered a potential occupational carcinogen in 1988. A NIOSH report in 2003 stated:
In a 1977 criteria document [NIOSH 1977], NIOSH established a recommended exposure limit (REL) of 5.0 mg/m3 as a 15-min ceiling limit for asphalt fumes measured as total particulates. The NIOSH REL was intended to protect workers against acute effects of exposure to asphalt fumes, including irritation of the serous membranes of the conjunctiva and the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract. In 1988, NIOSH (in testimony to the Department of Labor) recommended that asphalt fumes be considered a potential occupational carcinogen [NIOSH 1988]. In a later document [NIOSH 2000], NIOSH published a review of the health effects data available since the publication of the 1977 criteria document [NIOSH 1977].[6] The current American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) threshold limit value (TLV) for asphalt fume is 0.5 mg/m3 (benzene-soluble aerosol of the inhalable fraction) as an 8-hr TWA concentration with an A4 designation, indicating that it is not classifiable as a human carcinogen [ACGIH 2002].[7] The extent of worker dermal and airborne exposure to asphalt fumes during the asphalt roofing process is limited. Typically, asphalt fume exposures are determined from personal-breathing-zone (PBZ) samples collected at different worksites and such findings vary greatly due to the different work conditions (wind and temperatures) and varying work practices. They did determine, however, that increased kettle temperatures from 500 degrees F, “caused a dramatic twofold increase in measurements of total suspended particulates.”[8]

On a positive note, data gathered by Owens Corning seemed to show a trend towards overall improvement in the industry. Asphalt fume exposures have decreased tenfold with median exposures dropping from 0.6 mg/m³ to 0.06 mg/m³ from the earliest period (1977-82) through the most recent period (1995-99).[9] These improvements are largely due to process improvements and equipment to reduce exposures. The measured asphalt fumes exposure levels in Owens Corning's plants overlap the range of exposures observed in actual roofing procedures and is judged to be similar.

Other conditions were contributing factors in the study. The study found that age and cigarette smoking were the strongest predictors of lung cancer and NMRD mortality in workers:
A history of cigarette smoking increased a worker's risk of dying from lung cancer 10 times and increased a worker's risk of dying from NMRD nearly seven times.” Mortality from lung cancer and NMRD was unrelated to occupational exposures to asphalt fumes—no continuously increasing dose-response relationships between cumulative asphalt fume exposure and mortality risks were observed. [10]

It always seems ironic to me to hear a worker complain about the asphalt fumes and worrying about possible carcinogens with a cigarette dangling from his lips. Signs and symptoms of NMRD morbidity were not related to occupational exposures to asphalt fumes. Employee demographics best explained respiratory symptoms, such as an unusual cough, wheezing or shortness of breath and respiratory signs such as impaired pulmonary function or abnormal chest X-ray.
Fumes from adhesives, primers and cleaners for one-ply rubber systems are not very hazardous due to the open air application that is normally used.

Silicosis, one of civilization’s oldest known occupational diseases, is the other major concern for the roofing industry. Hippocrates noted a link between dust and a metal digger who suffered breathing difficulties.[11] Since then, it has trouble every group of workers that are involved with dust particles. In its guide for working safely with silica, the U.S. Department of Labor says, “if its silica, its not just dust.” They estimate that more than 100,000 workers in the U.S. are at high risk in the mining industry alone. Workers in the construction industry are also at risk from crystalline silica.[12]

The tear-off process of re-roofing generates large amounts of dust particles to deal with. Dust masks are required on many tear-off jobs. Again, smoking can cause a greater hazard for those exposed to particulate matter due to the diminished ability of the smokers’ lungs to expel foreign particulates, increasing the likelihood of contracting cancer.[13]

Hot Environment of the Roof
The roof can be an extremely hot place to work during the summer months and can cause serious problems. Heat stroke, the most deadly condition related to environmental heat, occurs when the body is unable to regulate its own temperature. As the sweating mechanism fails and is unable to cool down, the body’s temperature quickly rises. With body temperatures rising above 105 degrees F in less than 15 minutes, heat stroke can cause permanent disability or even death if emergency medical treatment is not quickly given.[14] Victims need to be moved to a shady spot and efforts made to cool them with a water hose or wet towels with a fan or breeze directed on them.

Heat exhaustion, the next most serious condition related to environmental heat, is comprised of several clinical disorders having symptoms that may resemble symptoms of heat stroke in the early stages. Heat exhaustion is caused by the depletion of large amounts of fluid by sweating, sometimes with excessive loss of salt. A worker suffering from heat exhaustion still sweats but experiences extreme weakness or fatigue, giddiness, nausea, or headache. In more serious cases, the victim may vomit or lose consciousness. The skin is clammy and moist, the complexion is pale or flushed, and the body temperature is normal or only slightly elevated.[15]
In most cases, treatment involves having the victim rest in a cool place and drink plenty of liquids. Victims with mild cases of heat exhaustion usually recover quickly with this treatment. Those with severe cases may require care for several days, but there are no known permanent effects.

Transient heat fatigue refers to the temporary state of discomfort and mental or psychological strain arising from prolonged heat exposure. Workers unaccustomed to the heat are particularly susceptible and can suffer, to varying degrees, resulting in a decline in performance, coordination, alertness, and response. The severity of transient heat fatigue will be lessened by a period of gradual adjustment (heat acclimatization) to the hotter environment. This adjustment to heat, under normal circumstances, usually takes about 5 to 7 days, during which time the body will undergo a series of changes that will make continued exposure to heat more endurable.

On the first day of work in a hot environment, the body temperature, pulse rate, and general discomfort will be higher. With each succeeding daily exposure, all of these responses will gradually decrease, while the sweat rate will increase. When the body becomes acclimated to the heat, the worker will find it possible to perform work with less strain and distress. Gradual exposure to heat gives the body time to become acclimated to higher environmental temperatures. Typically, heat disorders are more likely to occur among workers who are not used to working in the heat or who have gotten accustomed to lower temperatures. The first hot weather of the summer is likely to affect the worker who is not acclimatized to heat. The worker should be given graduated workloads with enough breaks to gradually reacclimatize to the hot environment.

Hot Asphalt Burns
Burns are a constant threat in the roofing industry when working with hot asphalt and have been of special concern for me as a safety manager the last few years. Hot asphalt is typically heated to temperatures of 400-550 degrees F, depending on its type and purpose. It is commonly pumped from hot kettles into “hot luggers” or “mop carts,” or carried by hand in buckets from luggers to refill mop carts, where it is mopped onto the roof surface by workers with “hot mops” or spread by mechanical “buggies.”

In all cases, personal protective equipment (PPE), including gloves, long-sleeve shirts, long pants, leather work boots, and safety glasses or face shields (when filling the kettle or lugger) are the primary protection from burns.[16] Good “house keeping” is the next most important thing to do to prevent burns. Many burns happen as a result of a worker tripping or stumbling over materials and equipment. As stated by Leslie Kazmierowski in a Professional Roofing article, “A clean job site is not necessarily safe, but a job site littered with debris definitely is unsafe.” The National Safety Council’s data shows that one of every four lost-time injuries in the construction industry is due to bad housekeeping.[17] In every burn injury I have investigated, housekeeping was a factor.

Musculature Injuries /Cuts / Bruises
Back injuries and sprains of the extremities are common among new employees and those who have been inactive for a time. In the U.S. workforce, 450,000 people suffer back injuries every year, causing 149 million lost workdays. Education of the employee in the lifting process is essential. Proper technique must be used and effort made to get workers to work together when lifting the heavier weights.[18] Repetitive body movements and awkward positions for long periods of time also take toll on the workers back and neck. Again, ankle sprains, broken bones, lacerations and punctures are most often attributable to poor housekeeping.

In the final analysis, one must conclude that a roofer has a hazardous job. When writing a site specific safety plan, the safety manager must not only address the fall hazard inherent in his profession, but he must be also focus on the many other hazards (heat, burns, respiratory, cuts and bruises) that await the roofer as he climbs the ladder to his rooftop workplace. And he must analyze conditions and the specific job, evaluate the risks involved, and prepare the worker. Depending on the weather, the roofer may need to work in the cool of the very early mornings or late evenings to avoid extreme heat in the summer months. Depending on the type of roof system to be installed, he may have to wear special PPE. Like a Boy Scout, the safe roofer must be prepared. As a safety manager, I must help him to be prepared by knowing the hazards and developing the site-specific safety plan to provide a safer system by which he can accomplish his work.

National Center Health, Retrieved June 3, 2004,
EPA AHERA Asbestos Abatement Supervisor Training Manual (1998). META,
Lawrence, Kansas.
Greenbaum, Peter (2002). NRCA and the National Safety Council embark on a
landmark study, Professional Roofing Magazine.
Goetsch, David L. (2002). Occupational Safety and Health, Saddle River,
New Jersey, Columbus: Prentice Hall.
Fayerweather, Bill PhD, MPH and Dave Trumbore, PhD. (2002). Owens Corning
Studies Asphalt Fumes: …reveals positive news for the Industry,”
Professional Roofing, November.
Kazmierowski, Leslie (2002). Mr. Clean, Professional Roofing, February.
Martin, Joel (1999). The Basics of Back Injuries, Professional Roofing, October.
NRCA Safety Program Manual (2002), CNA Commercial Insurance, National
Roofing Contractors of America.
OSHA Standards for the Construction Industry (2002), (29 CFR Part 1926) with
amendments as of Feb. 1. 2002, CCH Editorial Staff Publication Chicago.
NIOSH Publication No. 2003-112 Retrieved May 31, 2004. Asphalt Fume
Exposure During theApplication of Hot Asphalt to Roofs,
[1] Harold E. Roland and Brian Moriarty, System Safety Engineering and Management, p. 6.
[2] Ibid., p. 8.
[3] David L. Goetsch, Occupational Safety and Health, p. 53.
[4] OSHA Standards for the Construction Industry, Subpart M—Fall Protection, 1926.500-503.
[5] Peter Greenbaum, “NRCA and the National Safety Council embark on a landmark study,” Professional Roofing Magazine, December 2002.
[6] NIOSH Publication No. 2003-112: Asphalt Fume Exposure During the Application of Hot Asphalt to Roofs
[7] Ibid.
[8] Ibid.
[9] Bill Fayerweather, PhD, MPH and Dave Trumbore, PhD., “Owens Corning Studies Asphalt Fumes: …reveals positive news for the Industry,” Professional Roofing, Nov. 2002.
[10] Ibid.
[11] Thomas Gilligan, “Is Silica the Next Asbestos? Mealey’s Litigation Report, Vol. 1, Issue 5, Jan. 2003.
[12] Ibid.
[13] EPA AHERA Asbestos Abatement Supervisor Training Manual,
[14] CDC National Center for Environmental Health,
[15] David L. Goetsch, Occupational Safety and Health, p. 247.
[16] NRCA Roofing Safety Manual. Section 21.1
[17] Leslie Kazmierowski, “Mr. Clean”, Professional Roofing February, 2002.
[18] Joel Martin, “The Basics of Back Injuries,” Professional Roofing, October, 1999.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008



A few years ago I was troubled by the media coverage of a murder case in Salt Lake City involving members of my church. A husband shot his wife to death because she had discovered that he was living two different lives and had deceived her about his intentions to go to medical school. He hid her body in a dumpster--her remains eventually ended up somewhere in a landfill. He then pretended to not know what had happened to his wife. He was eventually found out, of course, but many were astonished to learn the truth, thinking that he could never have done such a thing. Many people, even those closest to him, were obviously unaware of his secret behaviors. His whole life seems to have been a deception.

One must assume that he did not start out in life to commit a horrible crime. It seems to me that his fall into such awful depths of sin must have been gradual. He must have covered up many sins in his life that he feared to expose to loved ones. I can only imagine that it must have seemed easier to be dishonest about who he was becoming than to allow the world—at least the world that cared about him—to see the real him, to be disappointed in him. Unfortunately, he has obviously come to learn that dishonesty is impossible to sustain—The truth will eventually come to the surface. I hope many of our people, young and old, who are being seduced at this time by the spirit of deception will understand that they are at risk of being sucked down into deeper and deeper depths to where it is difficult to see the light above.

When I was a young man in my teens, I struggled with my conscience. Like many others, I did things that I should not have done. And when I did those things I was rightly ashamed and hid them from people that I respected—people who I wanted to respect me back. I was new in the Church then. I wanted to be good, but though I had been taught to have faith in Christ in our prior religious faith and to try to keep his commandments—I had accepted him as my savior—I had developed some bad habits in my few years and was finding it hard to correct them. Perhaps I was unrealistic and thought I would have plenty of time to repent fully, and I made half-hearted efforts to live the Gospel. But inside, I was tormented by the secrets that I kept about myself. As time went by, I made worse and worse choices, and invariably, bigger and bigger mistakes, and as a result, my self-respect and self-esteem began to erode. And although I had a strong testimony of the restored gospel and the atoning sacrifice of my savior, Jesus Christ, I began to doubt myself and have thoughts that I had gone too far to return, that I lacked the power to repent.

Though I often felt helpless, I had not yet lost the desire to be a better person. I still had good people around me that had influence on my life. For example, there were several older men in our stake for whom I had a great deal of respect. They were gray-headed, often balding men, who reminded me of the comic book characters, “The Guardians of the Universe,” from the “Green Lantern” comics—you only saw their heads in the comics but they were venerable, wise looking, heads none the less. One of these “guardians of the universe,” or stake, in this case—he was a member of our stake high council by the name of Woody Nelson—had a conversation with me that had a big impression on me. I do not remember now what led up to it or the particular context of his words to me, but I am sure that it had to do with being honest and I remember exactly the words he said to me. He said, “It is more important to be trusted than it is to be loved. Your parents will always love you, but they may not always trust you.”

I was profoundly struck by those words. I feel that the Holy Ghost must have still had enough influence on my own spirit to teach me beyond what had actually been said. It occurred to me that it was true: that parents were able to love their children even when they were unable to trust them or even have any respect for them. I understood that my parents would most likely always love, even if they were shown the truth about some of my actions. It also struck me that the same was true with my Father in Heaven: He still loved me even though—as I knew, or felt, He knew—I was undeserving of His trust or respect.

Near the same time, my mother told me of a dream she had about me. She has since written about it in her life story but said that she could not remember which of her children it was about, but I remember, it was about me. In the dream, she saw me sleeping outside with some friends. It occurred to her that I might get cold in the night, so she brought out an extra blanket to cover me up. But as she was about to do so, she reconsidered. It was still relatively warm and early in the night and I might just kick it off, so she folded it and left it beside me so that I would have it when I got cold enough. When she awoke she reflected on her dream. She had been concerned about me. I had been out late a lot with friends and she did not always know where I was. She took the dream as an answer to her concerns for me. She believed I had a strong testimony and she felt that my conscience and the teachings I had received thus far in my life would be a blanket for me if the night got to be too cold for me. She felt she did not have to worry about Randy—she could trust him.

Her dream was a revelation to me as well. It was, of course, a comfort to my mother, but it was also a comfort to me. Even though I knew that she had plenty to worry about, Heavenly Father miraculously told her not to worry. I felt that my mother’s dream was a message to me; that there was still an opportunity for me to cover myself with the warmth of my Father in Heaven’s love and His Son’s atonement. Apparently, my Father in Heaven still loved me and he had not given up on me. I wanted to have more than his love—after all, being my Heavenly Parent, He had to love me—but I wanted to be truly worthy of his trust and respect.

But I still feared the repentance process and the necessity of being honest with myself and to my fellow man. One of my favorite passages from a novel is the Huckelberry Finn story where the hero decides that, because of his insincerity, his prayers are vain. Huck says:
“It made me shiver. And I about made up my mind to pray; and see if I couldn’t try to quit being the kind of a boy I was, and be better. So I kneeled down. But the words wouldn’t come. Why wouldn’t they? It warn’t no use to try and hide it from Him. … I knowed very well why they wouldn’t come. … It was because I was playing double. I was letting on to give up sin, but away inside of me I was holding on to the biggest one of all. I was trying to make my mouth say I would do the right thing and the clean thing, … but deep down in me I knowed it was a lie and He knowed it. You can’t pray a lie—I found that out.”

In my own case, I knew that any attempt to repent had to be sincere—it had to be real. I obviously knew that I could tell my Heavenly Father about the sins I had committed—He already knew about them. Even so, I confessed my sins to him and I asked for his forgiveness, and I prayed earnestly that he would give me the strength to overcome my weaknesses and do the difficult things. I came to know that beyond being honest with myself and my Father in Heaven—or, perhaps, as part of it—I had to be honest with my fellow man. True repentance meant that I must be honest with my Bishop, the common judge of Israel. I realized that as it says in D & C, Section 58: 43:

By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins—behold, he will confess them and forsake them.
And I was sobered by the Lord’s words in D&C, 19: 15-20:

15 Therefore I command you to repent—repent, lest I smite you by the rod of my mouth, and by my wrath, and by my anger, and your suffering be sore—how sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not.16 For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent;17 But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I;18 Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—19 Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men.20 Wherefore, I command you again to repent, lest I humble you with my almighty power; and that you confess your sins, lest you suffer these punishments of which I have spoken, of which in the smallest, yea, even in the least degree you have tasted at the time I withdrew my Spirit.

I took the leap of faith that is needed to confess my sins to my priesthood authority and was rewarded with a wonderful new appreciation of my Father in Heaven’s love for me. Through my honest sacrifice, my offering of a broken heart and a contrite spirit, I received a witness by the Holy Spirit of the sweet taste of forgiveness and an affirmation that my Father in Heaven not only loved me, but he also respected me and I felt that he trusted me again. Awhile later, these ideas were confirmed when I received my patriarchal blessing and heard the Patriarch’s words:

Our Father in Heaven is pleased with thee and with the humility of thy heart and of thy desire to pattern thy life after the principles and teachings of the Gospel as thou hast come to understand them…

I was glad in my heart that I had made the necessary changes in my life to bring me back to square one with the Lord. The atonement of my Savior Jesus Christ and my willingness to honestly humble myself and confess my sins had cleaned my slate. I was further impressed by a section of my blessing that came later that stated:

Thou wert born of goodly parentage and thou didst make agreements with thy parents and they with thee before coming here to this earth concerning thy family associations, and thy parents have joy in thy growth and development in the church. It is pleasing unto the Lord that thou shouldst never do anything that would cause thy parents hurt or harm or dishonor them in any way.

I was equally happy to comply with that directive of my Father in Heaven. I could hold my head up and know that my parents and loved ones would not be ashamed of me. Anything I might have done that would have dishonored myself, or others, had been corrected as if it had never happened. Jesus promises us that, if when we truly repent, He will remember our sins no more. The atonement of Christ does not cover our sins, as we do when we dishonestly hide them from the world. When we honestly expose our sins, the Savior is able to wash them clean.

Perhaps honesty is the best policy because it is what the Lord holds in such high esteem. During his earthly ministry, He railed against hypocrisy, “the whited sepulchers” where in dead men’s bones were invariably hidden. Our lives should be open and above reproach and we should do as the Prophet, Joseph Smith, stressed in the Thirteenth Article of Faith:

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.

If we do this—seek to be honest and virtuous—we will be truly happy and will be able to bless the lives of all those around and bring honor unto our family, friends, to our Heavenly Father and, perhaps most importantly, to ourselves. We can, and must, stop the downward spiral of our virtue that accompanies continued dishonesty in our lives. Secret sins will eventually destroy us if we fail to expose them and truly repent in a timely manner.

I know that these principles are true. I love and appreciate my Father in Heaven and my brother and Savior, Jesus Christ, and I am grateful for the Father’s great plan of salvation and the Savior’s atonement. And, it is my prayer that we will strive to be honest in all of our dealings with our fellowman and in our worship of our God and Savior. I humbly say these things in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ, amen.