Wednesday, December 30, 2009


I feel so good this morning that I feel compelled to write a blog about it. In a past blog or two I have written about my bouts with Meniere's Disease, so if you have read those blogs or know me personally to any great degree, you are aware of the bane of my life: Meniere's Disease. It is an inner ear affliction, apparently caused by stress (they think), which cause tinnitus (a ringing sensation int the ears), dizziness, nausea and lethargy. When I am suffering from the symptoms, all I want to do is lay down and try to sleep. I first experienced the disease at about age thirty and had violent episodes as often as two weeks apart. The tinnitus, nausea and dizziness would increase in intensity until I would have what I would call an eruption--when the world we seem to spin and I would become so nauseated that I would begin the vomit. I would have to keep water and a garbage bag and lots of water beside my bed--as soon as I could get to a bed--to allow me to vomit and then replace my stomach fluids so that I could have something more to throw up. Otherwise it was Dry Heaves City until I passed out from exhaustion. It is not a pretty picture and it was not nice experience.

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, I suffered with Meniere's for several years until I was called by my stake president (an ecclesiastical leader in my faith) to serve in a bishopric. When I explained my reservations about being as dependable as I thought i might need to be due to my affliction, he offered to give me a special blessing when he set me apart for the new calling. I then went more than twenty years without any serious Meniere's symptoms. Then I moved to Utah, and the very day of my arrival I experienced a Meniere's flair-up. I had been hearing the ringing during my drive from Kansas and feeling the lethargy--I had been very tired and stressed by the move and the decision to take a new job and being separated for several months from my family--and when I finally got to the place I was to stay, the proverbial fountain burst and the room began to move on me. I buried my head in a pillow and went to sleep as soon as I could.

Since then (almost three years), I have had occasional flair-ups, but nothing of the lengthy demobilizing variety of my early thirties. My recent experience has been a few uncomfortable days at a time, maybe lasting a week, but rarely ending in the dreaded vomit fest. However, about three weeks ago, the ringing began and gradually got stronger. I took a week of my vacation time that I still had left, the week before Christmas and I was generally miserable, having ups and downs the entire time. The Sunday before last I had to leave the Christmas program at church as soon as my reading part was done, because I felt so badly and the sound in the chapel was so distorted that it was adding to my misery. I made it through the Christmas weekend and went back to work on Monday and was feeling pretty miserable all day--the ringing in my right ear was pretty intense. Just as i was heading to bed I became suddenly more nauseated and ran to the bathroom vomited a bit. I then went straight to bed at 7pm and slept until 5am. The extra rest was helpful initially--the ringing was less and I felt a bit better. I went to work, but by 2pm the ringing intensified and the dizziness began again. I was driving, on my way to Lehi to look at a job that would be starting soon, when it became obvious that i should go directly home before I became incapacitated and started vomiting on myself while trying to drive. I laid down most of the evening and watched my Jayhawks play. By the end of the game, I felt like a big one was coming--the room was beginning to move. So, I went to bed and tried to keep my head low and still until I fell asleep.

When I awoke this morning I was like a new man. At this moment I feel wonderful--no ringing, no dizziness, no nausea. I actually feel like doing something without forcing myself. It is a very liberating and joyful feeling. I realize, of course, that it may be just a respite, and that the symptoms may recure in time, but right now it feels good to feel good. I need to appreciate the blessing of good health. And, we need to experience the bad to appreciate the good. I feel good! WAHOO!!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Merry Christmas 2009

The Mundy’s are sending you a little Christmas ‘cheer’ this year –

Wow! We’re almost through with this decade! Not much has changed this year for us - Randy is still doing safety management for 2 roofing companies. He has formed a blues band with 11 members (drums, guitar, bass guitar, trumpet, saxophone, 2 keyboards, background singers) and they have performed several times. They have recorded 2 CD’s that he has for sale. He is also offering downloads on “itunes” for all his songs over the years. He finished his sculpting class where he learned to make molds of the sculptures that he creates with oil-based clay so that he can produce multiple casts of the same sculpture out of various materials. He hopes to get sales of that going shortly. He is still having some health problems with his Meniere’s (inner ear) disease and a new one related to his kidneys, but hopefully he’ll be able to get that taken care of soon. Karen is trying to get a huge amount of temple work done for family names – more than 380 ordinances done so far- because she will hopefully begin a Master’s program with Southern Columbia University online in January to get her Master of Science in Organizational Leadership. Then there will probably be little time for anything else! She is still driving her sister, Connie, to work and back 5 days a week and helping her mother. She got new glasses and also now has contacts, but found out that she has slow-growing cataracts in one eye – isn’t that supposed to wait about 20 years until that starts!!??

Jesse is still waiting on tables in Topeka at several different restaurants and he has also done some roofing for his Uncle Danny. His girlfriend is still Amanda Nelson. Tyler is still installing wireless internet 3 days a week and going to school full-time at UVU in Graphic Arts on the other 2 days. (He did our Christmas picture again this year – YEA!) Heidi is still working as a police officer at the University of Utah and as an armed security officer at the Salt Lake City Zoo. She has started back to school for her Bachelor’s in Exercise Science. She has her own apartment now and lives about halfway between our house and the University. Ingrid and Jeff are still working in Colorado and are now the proud owners of a puppy named Ginger. Dylan graduated from high school and is working part-time at Kohl’s department store for the holidays. He’s been working out a lot with weights and is as big as a bull (or so he says!).

Our hearts have been full of the blessings that we have in our lives lately – we are truly enjoying the happiness of heaven! This month we focus on the gift of the life of our Savior Jesus Christ and all that He has done for us. We can never hope to express our full gratitude for the Atonement, but we do everything that we can to show our love and appreciation for it.

We hope all is well with you and yours, and that you have a peaceful, joyful, holiday season! Stop by when you’re in town! With much love,

Randy and Karen Mundy & family

Friday, December 4, 2009

Almost Tevye

It was close. I almost went to the audition. But, I didn't.

A week ago I saw in the paper that the Hale Theater people in Salt Lake were going to be doing Fiddler on the Roof in February and were going to be holding auditions on Saturday, December 5. This was the moment I had been waiting for. For many years I had thought that I wanted to do the Tevye part in a big, quality production of Fiddler on the Roof. I had done it in small church mini productions years ago when we lived in Nashville and had been very well received by the audiences. The role was actually perfect for me and I had been very comfortable doing it. I had long thought that if the opportunity came again, I would surely try to audition. When we moved to the Salt Lake area almost three years ago, I realised that there would be plenty of opportunities to do live theater, if I wanted to. so I decided I would keep my eyes open and maybe try out for some smaller roles in other plays or musicals to see if I still had any acting chops and bide my time for an opportunity to put on the prayer shawl. I took a small part in a local community production of Sound of Music a couple of years ago to see if I had enjoyment for the stage left in me. It was Okay--I didn't embarrass myself too much. Then last year I took a big role in Smokey Joe's Cafe and thoroughly enjoyed it. The audience was very responsive to my performance. I thought "Yeh, I can do this." I would maybe go for it when the time came. Since then I have been working really hard at finishing up my two Blues CDs and getting by Blues Band, The Mundy Mourning Blues Band, ready to play out. Those things have been accomplished, so when I saw that Hale was doing Fiddler, I got excited. I wasn't sure I wanted to commit though to such a big production. I searched around and found music to take to the audition and I had some 8X10s made up, and put together a new acting bio. I even started singing If I were a Rich Man and trying to recite some of Tevye's dialog from the show to slap my Russian accent into shape. I even emailed a friend of mine who has appeared in a recent Hale production to ask about pay. I really wanted to do it, but then i went to their website to see what the dates for rehearsals and performances would be and I decided that the time commitment would be too great for me at this time. With sadness I elected to not attend the audition. Maybe it won't be my last opportunity. I hope not. It could have been great. I might have been a sensation. I would hate that the theater-goers in the Salt Lake City area would never get to see me do the Tevye stomp.

Global Warming Unraveling? YES!!!

I have to take a moment to gloat and say "I told you so" to all those people out there who had fallen for the "Man-Made Global Warming" scam. As many of us, who pay attention and seek information outside of the "mainstream media", Hollywood's guardians of the Earth, and public school systems, have learned during the past week or so, thousands of emails have been revealed that show the great lengths that the politically driven "scientists", pseudo scientists (Al Gore), evil corporations out to skin the public (Enron, general Electric, Al Gore, ...), Political stooges and patsies who don't want to be left out or are easily fooled (most everyone in the Democrat Party (Al Gore)and brain-dead Republicans like Schwarzenegger, McCain, ...) and evil leftist ideologues who want to make our economy equal with those of everybody else (The Obama administration and Al Gore) have gone to, to hide the truth from the gullible general public. The truth being: There is no Global Warming, not to mention Man-Made Global Warming. Granted, they tried to change the terminology from "Global Warming" to "Global Climate Change" because a general non-scientific observer could see that it was clearly not getting hotter everywhere, that in some recent years we got more snow and more rain and fewer hurricanes etc. Changing the name of the thing was an attempt at mollifying those who wanted to believe that America's lifestyle was bad for something, somehow, but was having a hard time arguing with people who just couldn't find any evidence of the world actually getting any hotter, when it seemed to them that it was getting cooler. That was a big give away to many of us global warming skeptics. You weren't supposed to really think about it. People like me were saying, "Doesn't the weather change all of the time? How do you prove that carbon emissions make the weather change?" Some of us remember that there were scientists in the 70s who claimed that human activity was bringing on an ice age, that temperatures were getting cooler and that one way of bringing temperatures in check would be to cover the poles with soot. Brilliant!

Well, in recent years, the answer has always been: "Most of the scientific community agrees that man's activities are causing the earth to get hotter, and if you disagree or question, you are a Holocaust denier or you think that the world is flat". If you were a scientist who disbelieved, you were called a heretic and ran the risk of being hounded from your job, and not allowed to publish in peer reviews. It reminded me a bit of the Spanish Inquisition. The truth is that there was never a general consensus among "most" scientists and the "verdict" was clearly not in. The newly-revealed emails from climatologists and others from around the world with vested interest in the climate hoax continuing, show that they were desperate to keep the public ignorant of the true facts and were willing to destroy evidence that did not support their beliefs.

If anything, the Earth is now going through a cooling period. I would suspect that this has something to do with the absence of sun spot activity in recent years. I remember being taught as a child in school that the sun, since it provided almost all of our surface heat, was primarily responsible for our weather, that sun spot activity seemed to influence some of the fluctuations in our weather. I was clearly not a scientist at the time, but that made a lot of sense to me then, and it does today, though I am still not a scientist. I also remember being taught that we had a rather lengthy cold snap called the Ice Age. Was there significant human activity during the thousands of years since that caused that long warming trend? Also, I remember hearing and reading that NASA scientists reported increases in the temperatures on some of our neighboring planets during the past few years. If this is so, then I want to know who caused it. Surely man-made global warming hasn't spread to Venus and Mars. If these other planets are also getting a bit warmer, it would make sense to me that Old Sol has something to do with it there as well as here, and not our evil oil consumption. The emails reveal that there was a lot of bullying and coercion employed to keep mouths shut about the "tricks" being used to keep the public in the dark. They show that the hoaxters were desperate to keep actual measurements and facts out of the hands of anyone who might use such information against them. And, the rush was on to get the United States on board with the treaties that would tie us up and make us weaker and less competitive in the global market place.

So what happens now that the proverbial cat is out of the bag? My guess is that the hard core believers and those with huge financial investment in the cap and trade scheme will try to say that black is white and up is down. The news media in bed with the Obama administration, will drag their feet in reporting. The politicians on the left will try to say we still need to do what we can to reduce carbon emissions, because it will still be good for the environment, even if we are not making the Earth into an oven.

It will depend on reasonable Americans standing up and paying attention, educating themselves, recognizing the hoax, demanding that these economy killing schemes be put to death and the individuals who have knowingly perpetrated this great hoax be brought up on charges and punished for their crimes.

Is it getting hot in here, or is it just me?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

BLUE MUNDY (Parts 1 and 2)

Well, my BLUE MUNDY CD project is finally done. Mitch Vice and I mastered "Part 2" last night and I should get it burnt and packaged in time for our three-night show Nov. 19,20,21 in Lehi, Utah, this weekend at the Lehi City Arts Theater. I am glad to have it done. I have been working on it for the best part of four years, starting back in Kansas, before moving here to Utah. Now I can concentrate on other things untill Christmas, like a safety audit coming up for my work, shopping for Christmas gifts, and trying to book the band in some new venues along the Wasatch Front. The band is sounding pretty good. As can be seen from the poster above, we are an eleven-member group and rehearsal logistics have been problematic at best. We very rarely have been able to rehearse all together, We were able to play last moth for the Utah Festival of Arts with the full band but the background singers had not been able to rehearse with us for about six weeks prior. Even though is was fun and we sounded pretty good. This time around we will be missing one of the girl singers all three nights and one of the girl singers on one of the nights. But we will soldier on. The show must go on, unless of course it can't.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Free Masonry

It has been a few weeks now since I tackled the brick mailbox project, but I thought I would mention it when I had an opportunity. When I moved into our house two and a half years ago, I discovered a stack of bricks in the garage. The bricks looked very much like the bricks used on the house, so I thought that they were probably left over from the construction some ten years earlier. Eventually I moved the bricks outside and thought I might try to build something with them, if I had the time and could discover the energy. I think it may have been a year ago or so that it dawned on me—it actually may have been a dawning on my wife Karen and she reproduced the dawn’s light on me—that the bricks had been there because the previous owners of the house had planned to build a brick mailbox. Actually, it should have been obvious to me long ago. Probably a third of the homes in our neighborhood have brick mailboxes that match the bricks of the houses.

The idea of having a brick mailbox was an appealing one—they look cool. They are especially cool-looking when they are built by actual masons. Our neighbors down the street have a cool-looking brick mailbox built by the lady's mason father. However, masons like to be paid for their skilled work and after asking what the lady thought her dad would charge to build a brick mailbox for us, with the materials supplied by us, we determined that we would need to resort to "Free Masonry", or Do-ityourself-masonry. But, the more I thought about it, the less I liked the idea of having to build it.

Now, I am a relatively handy guy. I have worked in the construction industry my whole life. I even had my own roofing and home improvement business for many years. But, though I am a skilled roofer, a good carpenter, a fair drywall finisher and finish carpenter, and passable plumber, I stink on ice when it comes to masonry, for some reason. I also choose not to do electrical if I can help it—it seems like magic to me. As I say, I am pretty good with my hands, but the fine art of masonry has eluded me through the years.

I think part of my problem has been that literally all of my attempts at laying brick have come in the shape of repairs to crumbling brick walls. Early in our marriage I backed a moving van—at night, if that some how makes me look less unintelligent—into the corner of my in-laws’ home in La Mesa, California. This afforded me my first opportunity of making masonry repairs. The result was Okay, if you did not look directly at the spot too closely. My father-in-law was very magnanimous. He said it looked fine.

The next chance I had to improve my masonry skills came many years later at our home in Nashville, Tennessee. We had a short brick wall that contained a flower bed that ran along the length of our 32-foot in-ground swimming pool. The last ten feet of the wall had come apart. The property had sat empty for a couple of years or so and I had had to make major repairs to make the house itself livable. After we moved in, I tackled the yard, pool, fences, gazebo and, finally the little brick wall. I had pretty good success and satisfaction with everything but the brick wall. Again, if you did not look directly at it, it was fine. It also helped if you had vegetation hanging down over the edge a bit.

I think the next attempt was at our home in Topeka, Kansas. Again, we had a brick wall—this time, about four feet high that was falling apart. It was at the end of our house and was actually a big planter attached to the brick veneer that covered the lower half of the front of the house. The inside of the planter was made of cinder block and the outside was made of long narrow specialized brick that, of course, I could not find anywhere. Big sections were breaking loose where the bricks were broken in half. I either had to tear it out, or try to piece it back together. As I said, I could not find that type of brick anywhere, so I felt, to my great displeasure, that I had to try and piece it back together. It was a bear, as they say. Somehow, I was able to get the little and big (and very heavy) sections back in a semblance of a masonry wall. Of course, it had a slight—I am being gracious to myself here—bulge, and there were few—actually quite a few—places where the joints between bricks were in line with joints between broken bricks. The original color of the bricks were a pink, salmon, color, which we thought was pretty ugly, so we had decided to paint the upper wood siding of the house a light blue and all of the brick a dark blue. This made the house look much nicer and helped hide the flaws in the brick work. Again, if you did not look directly at the planter wall, or too closely at it, it looked fine.

So, having had little success, in my mind, with masonry, I was not eager to do it again. But, Karen would bring up the idea of the “brick mailbox” every now and then and she would find plans on the internet. I would groan. Finally, I conceded, warning Karen that I was not a mason and the outcome would likely not be pretty. The mailbox would be by itself with nothing else around it to take your eye off of it. You had to look at it directly to put mail in it or take mail out of it. I did not relish the thought of the mail deliverer snickering or feeling sorry for us six times a week. But I picked a Saturday to get started, but then changed to a day earlier, because rain was expected that day. With Karen by my side, we started laying brick the night before and got a few courses laid. The next day we got everything done (with almost no bickering or dissention in the ranks) except the cap. The cap had to be ordered and would not be available for a couple more days. There had been some debate about using the old mailbox or getting a new, bigger, one. After the mail lady, who came by while we were working on the project voiced her opinion that we should definitely get a bigger one—it would make her life more bearable—we opted for a new box.

I was actually pretty surprised at how good the thing looked. I told my son, Dylan, to come out and see his parent’s handiwork. He came out, admired it, said, “Cool!”, and then proceeded to grasp the top brick and tugged at it to see how sturdy it was. Of course, the mortar had not really set yet, so the few bricks pulled away. We were both astonished and speechless. At least I was for about a second. I said, “What were you thinking?” Dylan was mortified, or perhaps “mortarfied”, and I was thinking, “No, no, no! I don’t want to have to do masonry repairs again this soon!” But, I made the repairs and covered the project with a tarp to keep the rain off of it while it dried and hoped that it would be strong enough when we eventually put the cap on.

When the cap was ready, I went to pick it up and discovered that a 24” by 24” cap is extremely heavy. Since, the structure was close to five feet high, it was going to be awkward, at best, to lift the cap in place and get it centered, with about an inch to grasp it on the four sides. I was not able to lift it alone and felt like I needed several people lifting it together to get in place without having to move it around after the fact. A couple of days later, Dylan made up for tearing the top course of bricks off by bringing two of his friends over and helping me lift the cap out of the back of my track and laying it in place on the top of our new brick mailbox.

The result was really pretty good. Our new brick mailbox looks great, except on the back lower corner where the half-bricks are laid on top of each other (for the soldier row at that level) and do not quite come out far enough to be flush with horizontal courses above and below. But, if you do not look directly at the spot and stand back…

Just like the sprinkler system we installed earlier in the summer and the section of vinyl fence we installed the summer before, I could do it even better now, if I had to, but I hope

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Elvis is Back in the Building!

Well, my music career is going again, with new live performances and new recorded product.
Randy Mundy & The Mundy Mourning Blues Band had its 1st official gig Saturday night (10/10/09). We were the last act to perform at the Utah Local Festival of Arts held at the Masonic Temple in down town Salt Lake. We had to start almost an hour and a half late because the other acts kept getting pushed further and further back in the schedule. This was the inaugural year for this event, so the crowd was sparse, and even more so by the time we got on stage. Even so, we w3ere a big hit with those in attendance and the folks in charge of the event. They told me they were pleasantly surprised by the quality of our performance and found it hard to believe that it was in essence our maiden voyage as a band. They said that they hoped that we would agree to repeat next year and that they would create the evening around us making sure that we would have the optimum slot and venue.

It was great fun. I was excited to have the whole group there for the performance. The band included: Bob Bailey and Steve Coltrin on keyboards; Bob Bonham on lead guitar; Eric Manning on Bass; Glen Meigs on drums; Berin Stephens on Saxophones; Jim Breardon on trumpet; and Dave Wayt, Cassie Wayt and Lacey Jackson on background and harmony vocals. I think everyone is fired up and eager to play again soon. Our next official dates are the last two weekends in November for the Lehi Arts Council, but I’ve talked to some other people about other possible dates.

I also finished up and released my 6th CD of my original music. This one is entitled BLUE MUNDY (Part 1) and includes 12 of the songs I have been working on for the last four or five years for a Blues album. It is, as the title suggests, the first installment of blues CDs. It has been a long time coming, but I feel like the work put into it has been worth it. “Part 2” will, I hope make its appearance within a month or so.

I also have a new website up and partially running after a half dozen years. I let my old one,, die because I hadn’t been active with promoting my music and art, but I decided to revive the site quite awhile ago and have been rethinking how it should be and what it might promote. With the new direction of my music and a renewed interest in doing something with my sculptures, I have started a new site called to promote both of my interests. I guess we’ll see how it goes.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Overwhelmed and Amazed

I am overwhelmed by the remarkable events over the past week or so. If you have read some of my political blogs you will know that I do not have good feelings for ACORN. I am not at all surprised to see that they are ready and willing to be involved in criminal acts such as helping possible under-age prostitution businesses get off the ground. Anyone who has kept up with their history of involvement in election fraud strong arm tactics of banks and businesses knows that they are a bunch of thugs preying on the poor and stealing taxpayer money. They have been in bed with the extreme left of the Democrat party from their beginning and have helped the extreme left to gain control of the party. The amazing thing for me is the fact that the general public is beginning to see it for the first time. Conservatives have known this stuff for a long time and have been clamoring for the government and the news media to investigate the ACORN. I suppose that the reason nothing was done earlier, was because the democrats in government have enjoyed a degree of success because of ACORN's actions and the mainstream media are not eager to report on anything that might hurt the prospects of their political heroes--liberal democrats in general and President Barack Obama in particular for, whom they have worked so hard to protect. Any questions are immediately chalked up to racism on the part of the questioner. But thanks to several brave young people, who were willing to go under cover and do the work that the media refused to do, the rest of the media is being forced to acknowledge, regretfully, I am sure, that ACORN may be rotten to the core. Their reporting has been late and minimal, with as much spin as possible, but I suspect that they will continue to be dragged kicking and screaming to report on it because of FOX NEWS' coverage and conservatives in general taking the story on with gusto.

The other thing that amazes me is the audacity of the the left leaning media and idiots on the left in general who call everyone who disagrees with President Obama's policies as racists. Every where you look, simpering liberals in the media and politics--Ex-president Jimmy (the cry baby) Carter, is a good example--are calling the growing grass-roots opposition to the federal government's growth and efforts to manhandle the constitution a bunch of right-wing racists. They would have anyone who might listen to them believe that those opposed to his (Obama's)health care and cap and trade initiatives and efforts to place non-congressionally approved Czars in control of more than 30 government agencies could not possibly be opposed because they simply think the policies are wrong. Because our president is a black man, they would say, you would have to be a racist to disagree with him--the fact that the policies are stupid and wrong could never be the reason. This, of course, is ridiculous. Of course, no intelligent and informed person could fall for that, and I believe they know that. They play the race card because it is their trump card, as they see it, and they count on their belief that the majority of Americans either uninformed and unintelligent enough to by it. And, you really can not blame them for trying. It seams to have worked for them many times in the past, including the last general election. But, I find solace in the fact that we have a growing conservative base who are beginning to come alive again and a few legitimate, fare, and honest reporters and media personalities--thank you FOX News, Glenn Beck, others--who are willing to do hard work. It makes me look forward to tomorrow. In fact, I have "Hope" that things will continue to "Change."

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Day in My Life

My daughter, Heidi, tells me that she has a hard time reading my blogs that have to do with politics or historical in nature. She says she likes to read the ones where I tell about myself. So, for her and those of similar taste, I have elected to blog about what I do most days.

Today, like most days, I drove around Utah going from jobsite to jobsite checking to see how our guys are doing with the safety procedures we have put in place. Often, I will spend as much time behind the wheel of my pickup truck as I do doing inspections and writing reports. As I do this, I entertain myself while driving by switching from music CDs or audio books to talk radio. I spend several hours each day doing this and it allows me to listen to my mixes of my recent recordings—I am a songwriter—checking to see if everything is blended properly, that I can hear everything and that the result is pleasing to the ear. I t also allows me some rehearsal time, to sing along and get my lyrics indelibly inked into my memory—we (my band and I) are supposed to play at the Utah Festival of Arts on October10th and we haven’t been able to rehears as often as I would like. I will also occasionally listen to my favorite recordings from other artists. Today I went through a CD of my stuff and then listened to the latest Eagles CD, “Long Road out of Eden”—a really good CD, though I have to look past Don Henley’s incessant liberal political drivel in the lyrics of most of his songs and focus on the lyric musical structure and performance, which are as good as ever for the band.

The books on CD that I listen to are varied in nature. I have probably gone through 50 or 60 this year. I will often listen to novels for a while and then catch up on political and historical books that I have wanted to read. Through the past year or so, I have gone through all of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series—the ones released so far (11) and completed by Jordan. I have also gone through, again, the first seven books of Burroughs’ Tarzan series and the first 5 of his Mars series. I also did a couple Vince Flynn books this year—I think I’m caught up there. And, all of Ian Fleming’s James Bond series—I had read them all in paperback when I was in junior high school. There have been a number of other novels, but you get the picture.

When I get tired of the diversions of novels, I slake my thirst for knowledge by listening to histories of political books. I just finished a book by Thomas Sowell that I thoroughly enjoyed called “Black Rednecks and White Liberals”. Others have included: Glenn Beck’s “Common Sense” and “The Christmas Sweater”; Bernie Goldberg’s “Slobbering Love Affair”; Ann Coulter’s “Guilty”—I’ve read all of hers—she’s brilliant; Amity Schlaes’ “Forgotten Man”; Jonah Goldberg’s “Liberal Fascism”: and Lara Hillenbrand’s “Seabiscuit”—better than the movie.

Though I have listened to a lot of books on CD, I am also trying to finish several books I have started—actually reading—this year and have by the side of my bed. One is a biography of General Charles” Chinese” Gordon of Khartoum fame, a very interesting read. Another is a biography of Winston Churchill that I barely got into when my eye caught the Gordon biography. I also started into Thomas Sowell’s “Basic Economics”—I enjoyed his other writings on other subjects so much that when I saw it in the library, I decided I needed to put the others aside for a bit read what he had to say about his main field. There were a couple of others on my night stand by Terry Pratchett—“Nation” and “Good Omens” that I finished quickly, both really funny. Pratchett has become my favorite writer for comedy—I have read almost all of his books. I am waiting with bated breath for his next Disc world novel, “Unseen Academicals” to be released, and I understand that another Tiffany Aching is in the works.

But, I digress… I was talking about what I do when I drive around during the day to keep my mind entertained, wasn’t I? The other pastime for me during my driving hours is talk radio. I have several shows that I try to catch bits and pieces of. I like Glenn Beck, but he is only broadcast here locally for an hour—the last hour of his three-hour show--in the morning (9 to 10). His show is later broadcast in its entirety at 4 pm, but I’m usually trying to get home by then, so I miss his show a lot of the time. I will listen to Bob Bennet sometimes in the early morning—I am usually out the door and off to work by 6: am. Laura Ingraham is also on the same station as Bennet and comes on right after him and goes to 10: am. After Ingraham, Dennis Miller—I find that I really enjoy Miller’s wit and he has some good guests on sometimes like Norm McDonald, Martin Short, John Luvitz and Dana Carvey, with whom worked on Saturday Night Live—is on for three hours. On the other station that has Beck, I can listen to Rush Limbaugh—he is still probably the most astute analyst of politics around—until 1:pm. So, until 1:pm, I jump around and listen to whoever peaks my interest the most at a given moment. After 1:pm I have the choice of Michael Medved or Dr. Laura Schlessinger. I find that I usually choose Medved, because he knows a lot of history at the drop of a hat, but I’ll sometimes check out the Doctor at a commercial break to see who she’s ripping into for being a low-life.

So you see, besides my work that I do when I’m outside of my car or in the office, I have a really full day. I wish I had more time to fill with fun and educational brain candy. Now, wasn’t that interesting?

Friday, August 7, 2009

Randy vs. The Sprinkler System

I have lately been working hard on home improvements. We had been planning to do three important projects this summer: Install a sprinkling system, so that Karen would not have to continue devoting two hours every day to watering our lawn; building a shed, so that we can make more room in the garage—with some of Heidi’s stuff in there besides our clutter, we can barely get through to tools and the freezer; and build another section or two of fence to close in our back yard.

The plan was a good one, but it depended on money coming to me from the companies I work for apart from my usual weekly compensation. One third of my salary is paid to me in three installments throughout the year. The first comes after our first insurance captive’s spring safety audit, with the second coming after an autumn audit and the last coming at the end of the year. However, this year the first audit did not happen until half way through June and the total of the check was diminished by taxes and other withholding allotted for a week-long pay period. The result was a much smaller chunk of money than we thought we would have to work with for the summer. Nonetheless, we reevaluated our resources and chose our priorities.

We decided the sprinklers needed to be done as soon as possible, so we tackled it first. To be honest, I made several mistakes in the process of installing the system. To save money, we chose to do it ourselves. This was not in itself a mistake, but it would have been better if I had had better oversight by someone with experience. There were several brethren from our ward that assured me they would be glad to help and share their experience and knowledge, but they were not readily available for various reasons to join in when our window of opportunity arrived. We had gotten an estimate from one supplier—they required a map of out property so that they could figure the layout for us—but it was a little more than we wanted to spend. So, we went to another supplier to compare. They also needed a map, so asked Karen—she had produced the first one for the other company and had spent a good bit of time getting it very detailed—to do another map. This time around, Karen spent much less time on the map and it was not as detailed as we probably needed it to be—it did not show the front porch, and some of the dimensions were rough estimates. The price was better for the second estimate, so we chose it.

I knew I did not want to hand dig the trenches, because our dirt is extremely rocky, so I went to Home Depot and rented a trencher. I made the mistake of getting a smaller one, which broke down about ten minutes into the trenching process. I took the small trencher back and got a bigger “Ditch Witch” and started in again. The Witch was a better choice and dug well, but I did not remember the directions for getting the machine to operate with both-wheel drive. So, I spent the whole time struggling with the help of my sons, Tyler and Dylan, pushing and pulling on one side or the other to keep it on track—the two wheel drive would have pretty much done that for us.

Even with the trencher, there was plenty of hand digging trenches where the machine would not go and excavating under sidewalks for me to do. A couple of days into the project, some of the brethren from the ward eventually arrived to help out. They were very helpful in digging some of the last bits and showing me how to get under the sidewalks. They also got me started on putting the pipe together. The pipe went together pretty well, but because the map was not as accurate as it could have been, it became apparent that the count of the different sized elbows and other fittings we needed was not correct. Also there were several items that did not make it out with the delivered materials. So, I had to make several trips to get what I needed, often when the supplier had closed for the day, making have to go to Home Depot instead.

After getting all the system to the point of testing, a couple of times I would turn the system on and find a part that I had forgotten to glue. Luckily I had not started filling dirt back in yet. The project ended up taking us over two weeks. Then there was the problem of programming the timer. It has taken several attempts and several days to get it to come on when we want it to and to adjust the sprinkler heads to get the best coverage. We also had to go looking for some extra dirt to fill in some places. You would think that with all of the pipe and boxes we have placed in the ground that we would have plenty of dirt left over, but you would be wrong to think that.

At any rate, the sprinkler system is done and I am satisfied that I could do the job again and do it perfectly. But I really do not want to do it again any time soon.

The second thing on the priority list was the shed. We had enough money earmarked for the shed I wanted to do and a little left over to buy a new computer for Karen—the home PC she has been using for many years is on its last legs—so, we went out this week and purchased a shed kit and a new laptop. I have built pretty nice sheds from scratch in the past, but the location we had picked out for the shed would put it right up next to our neighbor’s fence and would preclude my having enough room to side and finish it properly. So, I decided I would buy an 8’X 10’ vinyl structure from Sam’s Wholesale that I could put together pre-finished. I plan to get on that shed project tomorrow. Wish me luck.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

One of My Dreams May Be Coming True!

I have been encouraged lately by videos shot of the response of some people attending various town hall meetings set by the Obama administration to sell his “economic” and “health care reform” plans. Apparently most people aren’t buying the crazy plans. The democrat congressmen and cabinet representatives are being blasted by unbelieving electorate. I say, “Wahoo!” Maybe the majority of the American people are begging to wake up and take an interest in what their government is doing.

I am also encouraged by the outrageous actions by some of the stupid actions of some of the more arrogant and clueless democrats in office and the unflattering media coverage their stupidity is getting. House Judiciary Chairman, John Conyers (D-Mich.) speaking recently at a National Press Club luncheon, commented on his fellow House members on the right side of the aisle wanting to read the health care bill: “I love these members, they get up and say, ‘Read the bill.’ What good is reading the bill if it’s a thousand pages and you don’t have two days and two lawyers to find out what it means after you read the bill?” Then there is Barbara Boxer, US Senator (D-Cal.) trying to speak down to Harry Alford, CEO of the Black Chamber of Commerce, in a climate change hearing in a smug, racist manor in a climate change hearing, and having Alford ream her out for her efforts. And then there is Boxer insisting that a military officer refer to her as “Senator” rather than “Ma’am”—I think that is the customary polite salutation by the military towards women—because she “worked so hard to get that title”. And then again, there is Boxer claiming that people protesting Obamacare are obviously fakes because they were “too well dressed”. She knows this because when she went to Florida to wade into the 2000 Florida Presidential recount farce in behalf of Al Gore, the people calling for her to go back to California were dressed similarly. Then, she goes on to make the brilliant political observation that these people are just trying to “hurt our President and it’s to change the Congress.” Whoa, SENATOR Boxer, do you really think so? I certainly hope it is working. And the there is one of my favorite democrat mental giants, the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi (D-Cal), who responded to a reporter asking if she thought there was agenuine grass-roots opposition to Obamacare by saying "I think they're Astroturf... You be the judge. They're carrying swastikas and symbols like that to a town meeting on healthcare." Let us face the facts: Pelosi is NUTS! I am pretty sure that if there had actually been someone sporting "swastikas and symbols like that" they would have made to the nightly news.

There are literally too many examples of ignorance, stupidity, arrogance and out-and-out duplicitous and criminal behavior among some of the high profile democrats to catalogue in a short blog, but I encourage anyone reading this to search out comments and actions on the internet by the likes of Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Boxer, John Conyers, Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, Charlie Rangel, etc. and then find a good explanation for why these people keep getting elected. Granted, there are plenty of phonies on the Republican side as well, as can be attested to by the likes of Alaska’s Ted Stevens, Idaho’s Larry Craig, South Carolina’s Mark Sanford, etc. but they are now political toast and we can say “Good Riddance!” However, the former group of political stooges and malfeasants need to go.

Clearly, it appears that the democrats have been feeling pretty feisty now that they are in control and they do not realize that they have only gotten there because of two things: Firstly, because the conservative voters were fed up with the republicans trying to be democrat-lites and they sat on their hands—I am unable to find much fault with them on that count; and secondly, because the moderate voters and independents, who generally do not pay attention to politics at all until about a week before an election and depend on the left-leaning mainstream media for their news and information, do not realize who the democrats really are politically, and how genuinely stupid, inept and dishonest they can be. If democrats continue to expose themselves as the silly and corrupt leftists that most of their leadership truly are, and the news media do not cover for them, and a good conservative leader takes control of the republican party or a new conservative party, the democrats’ control of our government will be short-lived and there will be less damage done.

If the scenario I have described actually happens—the majority of Americans actually paying attention and voting as an informed and self-educated electorate—one of fondest dreams will have come true.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Buyer's Remorse?

Is it not ironic that President Obama’s approval rating has been going down in recent weeks? I saw where it has now hit the 48% approval level. Buyer’s remorse is an interesting thing. I was hoping to be pleasantly surprised that he would not be as bad as I thought he would be, but that hasn’t happened yet. Instead, he is just about as bad as I suspected he would be. What has surprised me though is the fact that, though try as he may, his federal health care plan looks to be stalling and the cap and trade plan is in similar straights. I guess we can thank some blue dog democrats for that. Appently, the democrats strategy of enlisting more conservative democrat candidates to run in traditional republican districts and states has not worked out as well as they hoped. It has given them the strong majorities they wanted, but the blue dogs aren’t playing along with the more drastic spending and taxing schemes cooked up by the Obama, Reid and Pelosi cabal. So that is a good thing.

But still, the rascals are in office and there can still be a lot of damage done in the next year and a half before we can take out the trash. The republicans are polling better at this point pretty much across the board, with Mitt Romney currently polling even or ahead of Obama and the democrats in Congress are polling worse than ever. I suspect that the democrat brand will continue it’s slide, if they continue on the spending and taxing track they are on. So what’s going on?

My guess is that the American voters, who were hoodwinked by the mainstream media’s used-car-salesman’s slight of hand and seduced by the prospect of proving to the world that they were not racists, and were caught up in the “Historical” moment of the “First Black President”, have recognized, as the Reverend Jeremiah Wright would say, “America’s chickens have come home to roost!” The bloom is off the rose, as they say. It should be obvious to anyone paying attention that Obama has shown himself to be every bit as liberal as his critics said he was. Those who were not really paying attention, or didn’t really think there was that much difference between the candidates and the parties—I was often of the same mind myself—are staring to realize that they really made a mistake, that jumping towards socialism is not a viable answer to our problems. At least I hope so.

It is, of course, a crying shame that we had to do this and waste four years of a presidency and possibly six years for Congress before we can get this country on the right track again. But, hopefully, we will get our stupid fantasy out of the way and come back to reality. If the Republican Party can realize that conservatism is the winning strategy and the answer to America’s economic woes, this last election will not have been a total waste. We had a similar situation during the Carter administration. We just need another Reagan and a new conservative contract with America.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Religion and Man's Search for Meaning

I have recently seen and heard reports about the state of religious belief in America that may seem troubling for Christianity. It seems that surveys reflect a down turn during the past two decades in some aspects of some Americans’ religious belief and adherence. One survey showed a drop of about 11% of people who claim a “Christian” affiliation. But, the percentage of people claiming to believe in God or a “higher power” remains roughly the same, around 90%. Some surveys show significant drops (between 5 to 8%) in membership in some of the largest mainstream Christian denominations, including Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Episcopal Churches, etc. Of course surveys also show some growth in extreme “spiritual” practices, such as paganism and wikka, but I doubt that that is where all of the Christian believers are going. Some of the American Christian denominations, which are considered by some to be less mainstream in their doctrine and practices, like Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Pentecostals, have continued to hold their own or grow during the same timeframe. Happily, for me, the Mormon Church—I must remind you readers, or inform you if you are unaware, that the actual name of the “Mormon Church” is “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”—has grown about 11% in America and Canada during the past 10 years. Reasons for this, I conclude, are that we live in a time when people are questioning their traditional faith and practices and are seeking spiritual awareness and meaning for existence that the faith of their ancestors fails to provide them. If they are like me, they want to know the “Hows”, “Wheres” and “Whys” in respect to religion, and those answers need to stand up to logic as well as provide a powerful spiritual strength and reinforcement.

Last week, to celebrate our wedding anniversary, I made a short trip with my wife to visit a couple of our church’s older temples in the state of Utah. She had never attended the St. George and Manti temples before. It was a very nice time together to reflect on my spirituality and our thirty years of marriage. A few months ago, I participated in the last dedicatory service for the Draper Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and I am anticipating the dedication of the new Oquirrh Mountain Temple in a couple months. While listening to the messages delivered by some of the principle leaders of the Church at the Draper Temple dedication, I was again impressed by the simple and logical concepts of God and Man that I have embraced since becoming a member of the “Mormon” faith. Mormon doctrine answered my questions about who God is and my relationship to Him. It was their doctrine and practice that appealed to me and provided a religious and spiritual home, or would likely have found myself joining the growing percentage of Americans who believe in God, but do not affiliate with an actual church.

I was a religious child growing up. When I was eight years of age, I was moved by a sermon at a Wednesday evening service and came to the front of the church when the call went out to be “saved.” It was a powerful experience for me. I received an assurety at that moment that Christ loved me and had atoned for my sins, that he was my personal Savior. As a youngster of about 10 and 11 years of age I would occasionally strike up conversations with my family’s Baptist minister and I often asked questions about God and religion—he once told my mother that he thought I had a “keen little mind”. My oldest sister and her husband were renting a basement apartment from the pastor in those days and on one occasion, when I had come by to visit; I found that I had just missed her. So, I took the opportunity to have one of my religious discussions with the Reverend. I asked him a question had been on my mind as of late: What happens to people who are born in places or times in history where they have no opportunity to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ? He responded that anyone who does not accept Jesus Christ as their Savior (become “Saved”) will go to Hell. I was thunder struck. I thought, “This does not compute!” How could a loving and just God penalize one of his supposed children or creations to an eternity of torment for something completely out of their control? Of course, this idea seemed ludicrous to me, and as I thought about it since, I am sure it seems crazy to most right-thinking people. No wonder people turn away from such doctrine when family pressure and traditions become less influential in society. Having said that, I must add that it is not my intention to insult anyone of such religious persuasion, and who holds to such doctrine. I know many people, even beloved extended family who adheres to such, whom I know to be good, loving people, who try every day to live according to the Gospel of Christ, as they understand it.

Probably within a few months of my conversation with the pastor, as I recall, my uncle, Leonard Nicolay, joined the “Mormon Church.” He underwent a wonderful change. He had been a generally worldly man, as I recall, but had become dynamo of missionary zeal and approached all of his family and friends about his new faith. His approach was rejected by the majority of his many siblings, but his mother and father followed him into the Church and my own mother (his sister) agreed to listen to the Mormon missionary discussions. This caused great distress for many in the family, both among my mother’s five sisters and among my two older sisters. I had no initial interest in joining a new church at that point—I actually had begun to feel, like my father and older brother, that going to church was not really necessary—but as I listened to the discussions the missionaries presented, I found that they were actually answering many of the questions that had begun to trouble me about God and Man.

The Elders, as they were called, opened the Bible and showed me where I came from, why I was here, and where I was going after this life. I learned that I was literally a spirit son of God and that, as his son, I stood to inherit all that he had if I lived according to his commandments. I learned that because I lived with him in a pre-mortal existence and was a witness and party to the planning and creations of the Heavens and Earth, I had free agency given me to participate in humanity’s mortal quest on the Earth: to gain a mortal body; to learn to live by faith; and gain the knowledge necessary to become like my Father in Heaven. This idea of free agency or free will is paramount when one tries to understand the judgments of God. Without free will we could neither sin nor do good. If we were to be judged for things we have no control over, we have no free will and the judge, God, offers no justice. God must be just to be God and make righteous judgments.

I came to realize that these concepts were familiar to me, like things that I had known all along, but did not have the references for to make them my life’s faith. I also learned that Jesus Christ was literally God the Father’s Son, as the Bible clearly teaches, not some weird personification of the Father, as is taught by much of mainstream Christianity. In essence, Jesus was not doing a ventriloquist act when it was announced from Heaven to John the Baptist at Jesus’ baptism at the Jordon River, “This is My Beloved Son.” Jesus was a literal son of the spirit—making Him our Brother—as “the only begotten Son of God” in the flesh. He was a perfect man and lived a perfect life and with the physical attributes of his mortal mother, Mary, He had the capacity to experience pain and death, and with the attributes of His immortal Father, he had power over death.
I also learned that if we live on this world at times and places where the Gospel for Christ cannot reach our ears, we are allowed the opportunity to be taught it in the spirit world where we all wait for the resurrection. That we will be resurrected with perfect immortal bodies like the Father and the Son both have at this point. These and many other doctrines and teachings, such as baptism for the dead, degrees of glory in the resurrection and eternal marriage are to be found in the scriptures for us to read and understand, however tradition and prejudice prevent most of us from understanding them.

It is therefore understandable to me why there seems to be growing disinterest in most traditional mainstream Christian sects, or what is considered by many to be organized religion. And, it is easy for me to appreciate why some other lesser known faiths, such my church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, are growing in membership and influence. My study of traditional Christianity today affirms my findings from my research into the ancient Church that Christ established. There is little resemblance except within the Mormon Church today. Mankind, to some extent, is thinking more and not leaning as much on traditional ideas. They want something that is intrinsically logical and makes them want to be better people. Also, a religion must, as the Prophet Joseph Smith affirmed, require sacrifice of its adherents to create the faith necessary for them to progress and obtain salvation. I believe people need and want meaning in life. They want to know why they are here. They want to know that they have choices and freedom. It is a powerful heady feeling that you can be whatever you want to be, and people, if they have not had that innate Heavenly spark removed from them by traditions and degrading life choices, are willing to sacrifice whatever it might take to obtain it.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Music, Music, and More Music.

I haven’t blogged much lately. I have been focused on a number of things at work and pet projects of my own to the point that even when I had a few moments to do it, I could not get the inspiration. On the work side, I have been working to be ready for the first insurance company safety audit of the year. About a third of my income is dependent on the out come of these audits—there are usually three every year—and this one did not happen until over five months into the year. The extra focus there seems to have paid off—we had our audit this week and the auditor was very impressed and will likely give us a better than average score which will equal the money needed to do several project around the home (sprinkler system, more fence and a shed—the pool will have to wait another year again).

On the music side, I am even more preoccupied. The recordings I have been doing the past few years have taken me in different directions musically. My writing, as of late, has been rather broad in style and genre and has evolved into projects beyond the typical Mundy Mundy CDs to be released every couple years or so. Usually I write a few songs representing different styles of music and decide on a dozen or so to include on a CD, package it and start trying to sell them. Now I find myself trying to do a bunch at literally the same time.

At this point, the various CD projects (6, I think) are at different levels of completion, with none complete to my satisfaction. I have been trying to get some mixes of the several recording projects I have going that I am 100% happy with, to make masters for the forthcoming CDs. I work on them when I have a few spare minutes after work or when there is a lull in my Saturday or Sunday activities. I keep thinking that I can get the mixes better, and I usually do, but at some point I will have to accept the reality that it won't be any better than I have the facilities and resources to make it.

I plan on two CDs—I’ve written a lot of material for this—of the me (A solo act with a backup band) doing Rock and Blues, which will likely be entitled "Outstanding in His Field" and "Blue Mundy"—it could also be a double CD. Along with these, I have a new Mundy Mundy CD planned to be entitled "On New Ground", with some of the usual lead vocals by my wife and singing partner, Karen, with the usual eclectic collection of Rock-Pop-Country material, and a CD compilation of songs with Karen on lead vocals, which I will probably just call The Best of Karen Mundy, or something as equally unoriginal.

I had not released anything apart from the "Mundy Mundy" recordings since the "Randy Mundy Band" days in the mid seventies—my "Celestial Skies" album. The reason being, that I had gotten married to a very talented singer and really enjoyed trying to promote us as a group. However, recently I decided to do something that I have wanted to do for a long time: make a blues album or CD. My brother, Danny Mundy, and my best friend, Danny Wood, and others as well, have begged me to do more blues songs in my act, because they thought I had the chops to do it and had been wasting them. In truth, I love the blues and love to do it. So, since I had the inclination, and since we, as Mundy Mundy, were not trying very hard in recent history to play out much, I started writing with a blues CD in mind. Once I got started, it was hard to slow down. I hadn't been so prolific as a song writer for many years. I guess my affinity for the blues just opened the floodgates of my creativity. Before I knew it, I had more than enough good material for a single CD, in fact I really had enough to do a double CD or two separate. Most of the songs were written and recorded with a lot of instrumentality in mind—I wanted some good blues guitar and keyboard solos to make the tracks cook, so they tend to be bit lengthy—blues lovers don’t mind long instrumental soloing, as a rule—something that does not really bother me much when I write other styles of songs either. As the recording progressed in Topeka, Lloyd McDonald did some very nice guitar work and Ted Landry did some great sounding drum tracks. We also got some other really good local keyboard talent to round-out the sound. Then, with that project just started and maybe half of the CD recorded, I moved to Utah for work. The blues CD had to wait until I rounded up some new players. Upon arriving in Utah, I got with my old buddy, Dave Wayt (also now living in Utah), who had been an intricate part of our act in California and Tennessee, and who was part of our "Life on the Run" CD recorded in Nashville. He introduced me to some of the Utah musicians he had been working with in several bands and we tried several different configurations of players till we felt like we had a good mix of interest and talent.

With Dave on Bass and backing vocals, Bob Bonham on lead guitar, and Glenn Meigs on drums, I was off and going again, and writing some more blues tunes. Along the way, I discovered that my new family doctor, David Poor, was a great sax man and I got him to play on some tracks. The result was so cool that I decided we needed to try a bigger band sound. The good doctor played on several more cuts and even arranged some sax sections for some of the tunes. Then it turned out that there was a guy in our church ward, Scott Devey, who played trumpet in a big local R&B group. He graciously added his trumpet to some horn section. I wanted a good keyboard player all along, but the new bigger sound made it imperative. We needed a keyboard player, but it was hard to find a good player that fit. Eventually, Dave suggested that his old friend, Bob Bailey, a jazz pianist and arranger who used to play with the likes of Dean Martin, might be interested in helping on the recording. So, Dave and I paid Bob a visit and played him some of the stuff that we had recorded thus far. Bob was impressed enough to take part with both keyboard and string and horn arrangements to embellish what I had already done. The ultimate product has turned into a bit of a jazzy big blues band-type sound. Bob even spiffed up some of the earlier tracks I did with the guys in Kansas.

The "Outstanding In His Field" title is one I have had in mind since about 1976, with a picture of me standing in a wheat field—I know, a bit silly, but it sort of fit with my Kansas heritage. This CD will include roughly a half dozen of some new and old songs, recorded for the most part over the last two or three years with the guys in Kansas, with some additional instrumental parts added by Bob Bonham, David Poor, Scott Devey and Bob Bailey and some backing vocals by Dave Wayt, Glenn Meigs and my two new talented backup singers, Lacey Jackson and Cassie Wayt (Dave’s daughter). The remainder will be some tracks from previously released Mundy Mundy CDs that I have re-mastered with some extra musicianship by Bob Bailey and vocals by the girls added to the mix. The overall sound from one song to the next seems cohesive in style and feel, perhaps, more Rock-laced than "Blue Mundy", the proposed follow-up blues CD.

The "Blue Mundy" CD will be almost exclusively songs written since arriving in Utah and so, almost all recorded with the Utah players. The sound, again, is big, Bluesy and Jazzy, so I was thinking of calling the act "Randy Mundy & the Little Big Blues Band"—since then, we have decided on a different name for the group, but more on that later. Between the two Blues CDs you will have around 25 songs of about 100 minutes of some pretty tasty and listenable music.

The Mundy Mundy CD, "On New Ground", consists of several songs that we started recording in Kansas and finished with differing degrees of Utah additions as well—Bob Bailey features in a majority of those cuts where keyboards and string/horn work were deemed appropriate. The collections of songs on this CD, as is generally the case with Mundy Mundy CDs, range in eclectic fashion through Country, Folk, Pop Ballads and Rock. Again, there is a strong influence of a big band in some of the arrangements, thanks to Mr. Bailey.

The Karen compilation is what it is: all of the songs that I have written over the years to feature Karen to feature as the lead vocal. She is such a great vocal talent that she deserved to be spotlighted on at least one CD for her fans who don't want to sort through all of the Randy songs to hear their girl excel.

Even with these projects and so much material, we still ended up with songs recorded that are not making it to a CD this time around. Some are pretty folksy and spiritual in nature and just didn't seem to fit on the other projects, but would be great on a CD with some other songs in the same general style and message. Our attempt at a Gospel CD, "On Solid Ground", from about ten years ago, has some good moments, but it did not carry the same production quality throughout and was actually a shorter CD than most of ours. We only had 9 originals written for the project and I was in too big of a hurry to get it done, so we added a couple of LDS hymns in a semi-pop-country-vain treatment to bring the song count to at least 11. I have been thinking about revisiting that project, recording some of the songs and adding some of these spiritually-driven songs to the remake. Other recent songs are just really different. In the process of working together, Bob Bailey and I have formed a mutual admiration society. Bob played several of his instrumental compositions he has written, but thought that they might be good candidates for lyrics. Having developed a respect for me as a lyricist, he asked me if I would try my hand with his pieces. I think we were both really pleased with the outcome--4 totally different types of songs, but individually, very cool. I also recently added lyrics and melodies to a couple of Lloyd McDonald instrumentals that I really like and think would be good candidates for such a CD.

But, first things first: these 4 CDs have to be finish and offered for popular consumption. Our website will hopefully be up and running soon, where a person may go and sample the songs to see if they want to download them for a fee. I will try to get a link on the blog site or maybe figure out a way of letting you hear them here without downloading them. I'm not a web master genius, but I am a thinker.

Note: More later on my new blues band and the shows we are planning

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


I have to admit here that much of the following was expressed in the proceeding blog, but I think it bares repeating. This blog was inspired by a couple of emails forwarded to me recently by my friend, Greg, in Kansas City. I met him while I was working in the KC area about six years ago as a safety consultant. He was a foreman for a roofing company client of mine, so I got to associate with him on just about a weekly basis, and I got to know him as a very earnest individual on the road to enlightenment. When I first met him, he had recently become more religious, and I think his faith had begun to prompt him to consider other facets of life beyond religion. So, during by safety inspections of his job sites, we would often talk for a little while on subjects apart from safety issues. He admitted that it was relatively uneducated and it was often difficult for him to read and get his mind around some things that he read. He had a lot of questions on various topics including religion and recent events and, having apparently developed some respect for my opinions would ask me my thoughts about the subjects. He was often conflicted about politics. Because of his recent turn to God, he had become more concerned about social issues and generally expressed socially conservative thoughts. However, his family background and voting pattern had been exclusively for democrats. He had grown to believe like my father, the old tired dogma that the democrats were for the working man and the republicans were for the rich man. We had number of chats on politics and I tried to help him see that the Democrat Party had evolved from the so called “working man party” to a collection of special interest groups and that the old-guard-leadership of conservative democrats had been replaced largely by liberals with proclivities towards socialism. I cannot say that I was able to make much headway initially. Old prejudices are often hard to overcome and when our conversations would head down the same tracks and he would voice his frustration with what society was becoming and what our government was doing, I often had to make the same arguments: that liberal politicians and federal judges—mainly democrats—were pushing liberal and socialist agendas that he obviously opposed and that he needed to recognize that he and others like him were voting against their conscience when they keep voting for democrats, that leadership of that party was not governing in their interest. I was never sure if my admonishments were doing him any good and I do not know how he has voted since then.

After I moved to Salt Lake we kept in contact—we have exchanged emails regularly, and, occasionally, he has called me to ask me to explain something or get my opinion on something. The emails are often forwards with religious content and occasionally with social or political content that he thinks I will appreciate. It appears from the content of the socially and politically charged emails I have gotten as of late that he is taking a more conservative stand on social, even political issues, and may be recognizing who is representing him in government. The first email he sent me, that inspired this blog, was about Speaker of the House, Pelosi, and her desire to tax “windfall retirement income.”

My response was the following:

Yes, it's not bad enough that Congress meddling in sub prime loans (mishandling Freddie Mac and Fannie May and coercing lending institutions to give bad loans, and funding ACORN to blackmail banks and falsify elections) caused the recent economic collapse and most Americans to lose 1/2 of their retirement--I lost half of my 401K--now they want to steal what is left. We now have a majority in both houses and a White House that thinks the same way Pelosi does. They are a despicable bunch. I've never been so disgusted with American political leadership. We've always had these types in government, but they were almost always in the minority. Now the nuts are running the asylum, and it's the American electorate's fault. We have to pay attention and vote these crazies out as soon as possible or even darker days are ahead of us.

I later received another email from my friend, Greg, with a rather long attachment about a Tennessee high school sporting event where a school official allegedly stood and apologized to the people in the stands for not being able to do the usual prayer and playing of the National Anthem to honor God and Country that they were accustomed to. The official went on to lament that, though he could not, by federal court dictate, express anything publicly that might be construed as religious, but that he was free to express any politically correct policy, such as promote condom use to students, no matter who might be offended. I am not sure that the origin of the email was legitimate—things like this are often fabricated and get sent around a lot—I have not checked it with Snopes. However, the reason it is believable is because it is not far from the truth in this day and age in America and will surely be the case in short order. The gist of the email got me motivated and I responded to him with some of the following, and as I wrote my thoughts down I decided add some additional thoughts and make it the subject for this blog:

Again, we have had anti religious zealots around since the birth of the United States, because our Constitution largely allows American citizens the freedom to express their beliefs as they wish, acknowledging that free agency is God's gift to man. However, though they have always been in the small minority in our nation's past, this group has grown, because of the freedom they enjoy to preach and spread their anti religion (primarily anti-Christian), and they have influenced many of the majority of religious Americans (primarily liberals or progressives) over the past 60 years or so to believe the Constitution says something that it clearly does not. Again we need to see and understand that we in the electorate have allowed this to come to pass. We have allowed the faithless to gain the highest positions in the land and they will surely lead us to destruction, if we let them continue. Obama made a very astute analogy the other day in a press conference when he compared the US economy to a big battle ship, that it took time to reverse course, intimating that the turn had to be very wide. This can be said about the state of religious faith in America as well. We have drifted way of course and it will take some serious time, and possibly dire circumstances to humble the majority enough, to turn this ship of faith around.

Again, we have had anti religious zealots around since the birth of the United States, because our Constitution largely allows American citizens the freedom to express their beliefs as they wish, acknowledging that free agency is God's gift to man. However, though they have always been in the small minority in our nation's past, this group has grown, because of the freedom they enjoy to preach and spread their anti religion (primarily anti-Christian), and they have influenced many of the majority of religious Americans (primarily liberals or progressives) over the past 60 years or so to believe the Constitution says something that it clearly does not. Again we need to see and understand that we in the electorate have allowed this to come to pass. We have allowed the faithless to gain the highest positions in the land and they will surely lead us to destruction, if we let them continue. Obama made a very astute analogy the other day in a press conference when he compared the US economy to a big battle ship, that it took time to reverse course, intimating that the turn had to be very wide. This can be said about the state of religious faith in America as well. We have drifted way of course and it will take some serious time, and possibly dire circumstances to humble the majority enough, to turn this ship of faith around.

Having brought up the economy, I might express here again that what Obama and Congress are doing and plan to do on the economy mirrors almost exactly what was done by FDR and the Democrat majority in the 30s and 40s. Hoover, a progressive Republican, much like Bush (liberal on spending), had the great stock market crash of 1929 during his presidency. His response was to raise taxes and try to spend the way out. It was ineffective. Franklin Roosevelt then came to power with a new Democrat majority in both houses and did the same as Hoover, but more so. He tried everything he could think of but what should have been a short recession was turned into the Great Depression, which lasted until almost the end of World War II. In fact, the war is what finally brought America out of it. With the war came employment for everyone--even women who were never in the workforce in such great numbers before. When the war ended, the whole world needed what America--virtually untouched by the ravages of war that the rest of the world suffered--could make and sell to them. The stock market finally regained its prior level in the early 50s. Like it was last year, the stock market in 1929 was overvalued due to unprecedented growth and prosperity during the (roaring) 20s and needed to drop to right itself, which it would do as it had done on prior occasions. Property values were inflated and many banks had made faulty loans and investments without real security. When the Crash happened, there was a panic that influenced government to try to control it--just like it did last year. Clearly, that approach did not work well and it is very likely that it will not work well again.

A free economy must ebb and flow and right itself when it gets too inflated. If you remember the 70s and the recession then, with inflation in the double digits and interest rates for home loans as high as 19%, and Jimmy Carter trying to manage the economy with governmental price controls, you can see that we have been on this precipice before. However, Reagan's approach was to cut taxes and do away with price controls and the economy righted itself, leading to continued economic growth that continued over 25 years. It should be clear to anyone who thinks about it that when you tax something it becomes more expensive to buy or consume, whether it is food, clothing, housing, energy, or entertainment and diversions. When something is more expensive, there are fewer people who can afford to buy or consume it. When farmers, manufacturers, and merchandisers are unable to sell as much of their product, they are unable to make as much profit. Loss of profit, of course, will eventually translate to a need for cutting costs, including cutting jobs and payroll and, if they are a large enough to do so, possibly moving their businesses to states or countries with less tax stress for business. If businesses have to reduce their number of employees to keep more of their profits, or even to stay in business, the numbers of unemployed Americans go up, creating more "need" for government spending, in the form of unemployment benefits and government welfare. No economy can grow to its potential if government overly taxes it or tries to unduly control it.

The area where our local, state, and federal governments can really help the economy is where it has not done a very good job: Policing Criminal Behavior in the Business Place. We have laws on the books against graft and theft, but many times the perpetrators of these crimes in business and government--and it is generally when these two entities are combined or conspire to steal from the public that they go unpunished or ignored. It has become clear that, during the last decade quasi-government lending institutions (Freddie and Fannie)and community groups (ACORN, for one), funded by Congress and being over-sighted by Congressional committees, have repeatedly falsified records and stolen profits and coerced and blackmailed lending institutions to give faulty loans to borrowers, including illegal aliens who did not have to prove their identity, who have no serious hope of repaying them. When the Bush administration's commerce department suspected that things were getting too loose and asked for tighter oversight by Congress, they were told by powerful ranking members of the banking committee (mainly democrats, like Barney Frank and Christopher Dodd) told them to fly a kite, that there was nothing wrong with those institutions. Instead of prosecuting the CEOs of these institutions who clearly cooked the books and got away with millions in bonuses before leaving their posts before the recent "economic crisis" they are allowed to skate or even become an economic advisor to President Obama like Franklin Raines, the ex-CEO of Fannie Mae. So far, not only has not one of these corrupt members of Congress or the aforementioned institutions been brought up on criminal charges, but they have been allowed to become the chairmen of their committees and to keep their ill-gotten gains. The party in control of the federal government at this time, though they have routinely scathed their opposing party for alleged corruption and misgovernment over the past decade, has been loath to police their own--William Jefferson, the democrat congressman from Louisiana who ordered government relief troops to take him to his flooded residence, during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, to retrieve a hundred thousand dollars in bribe money hidden in his refrigerator did not suffer any reprisals from his party had to be ousted from office by losing his bid for reelection to a republican. Instead, they continue to muddy the water around their own culpability and shower blame on capitalism and big business, while agreeing to bailout failing companies and institutions which should have been allowed or required to file chapter 11 bankruptcies, requiring renegotiation of supplier and labor union contracts, or selling off assets. These actions do nothing but support the status quo of corruption and will, at best cost us and future Americans quadrillions of dollars for many decades, even if we see the proverbial light in the next elections and seriously try to change course to a more conservative social and fiscal direction. My fear is that we might have to scrap what we have and start over again. If that becomes the case, we will need a more moral and faith-based society, willing to make sacrifice and do the right things.

May God Bless Us! And my all my friends come to see the light!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Why To Vote Democrat

It has been a good little while since I was able to find time to post a blog, but I recently got an inspiration and made this time.

I get emails from conservative friends on a daily basis with attachments, some funny, expressing frustration with our government and the direction our country is heading. I recently got one entitled "Why I Voted Democrat" which was funny and from the "perspective" of a democrat voter who, if they have any conservative notions, are completely unconnected with the obvious results of their voting habits. This is an extremely frustrating thing for me. I have friends and family he routinely pull the lever for the democrats, because they "feel", like my father did throughout his life--he grew up with FDR propaganda during the Great Depression--that the "Republicans are for the rich man and the Democrats are for the working man". I should say here that I do not hold Republican politicians blameless. It seems as though most of the republican office holders are more worried about sustaining their place at the public feed trough than doing the right thing. In recent years, most of them have been willing accomplices in allowing government to run roughshod over the tax payers and the Constitution. But I have to say that the Democrats in office are the worst culprits and the the most deserving of our conservative ire and disdain.

You may have seen the following before. It is basically the attachment from my friend, but I thought, in some respects, it was not harsh enough for my taste, so I added to it and edited it to reflect my own opinions more closely. In this format, the ideas are no longer expressed sarcastically from a first person perspective, but only a little sarcastically from a second person perspective.

So, if you are a compulsive democrat voter, please read and reflect. Maybe there is hope.

You Voted Democrat:

You voted Democrat because you obviously love the fact that you (the collective public) will eventually be able to "marry" whatever you want. You might eventually decide to marry my horse (maybe even two horses, if they are both consenting adults).
note: The term marriage used to mean combining dissimilar things that work together, like "lyrics and melody", so horse and human really makes more sense than two men or two women if you want to play around with the meaning of words.

You voted Democrat because you obviously believe oil companies' profits of 4% on a gallon of gas are obscene but the government taxing the same gallon of gas at 15% isn't.

You voted Democrat because you obviously believe the government will do a better job of spending the money you (and I) earn than I would.

You voted Democrat because you obviously believe freedom of speech is fine as long as nobody is offended by it, except of course Christians.

You voted Democrat because it is obvious that when we pull out of Iraq we can trust that the bad guys will stop what they're doing because they now think we're good people.

You voted Democrat because you (and I) are way too irresponsible to own a gun, and you know that the local police are all we need to protect you (and me) from murderers and thieves.

You voted Democrat because you obviously believe that people who can't tell us if it will rain on Friday can tell us that the polar ice caps will melt away in ten years if we don't start driving Priuses, and embrace government cap and trade policies and there there is no way you can be convinced that "cap and trade" is a nothing more than a big new tax scheme.

You voted Democrat because obviously hope to have a great new government controlled socialist health insurance plan like Canada, France, The UK and Cuba. And, you think the wealthy from those countries (Cuban government leaders excepted)come here to the States to get health care because they just want to see how bad our system is.

You voted Democrat because you obviously not concerned about the slaughter of millions of babies, so long as we keep all death row inmates alive and all animals and terrorists are kept comfortable.

You voted Democrat because you obviously believe that business should not be allowed to make profits for themselves. They need to break even and give the rest away to the government for redistribution as THEY see fit. You also believe that the congressional leaders (who were primarily democrats, like Barney Frank) who bullied banks to give untold numbers of loans to risky borrowers for political interest and subsidized quasi-governmental lending institutions, like "Fannie Mae" and "Freddie Mac", in their illegal and corrupt policies, should be able to skate free and be completely in charge of banking oversight.

You voted Democrat because you obviously believe liberal judges need to rewrite the Constitution every few days to suit some fringe kooks who would never get their agendas past the voters.

And, you voted Democrat because your head is so firmly planted in such a dark and snug place that it is unlikely that you will ever have another point of view.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Odds and Ends of MY Busy Life.

Note: I deleted a portion of the this blog in reference to my recording projects. My later Blog, "Music, Music, and More Music" largely covered the same stuff, so I copied and pasted the material that was below and made revisions that reflect better the current situation.

I have not been able to get back to my blogs for a while. I've been busy with rehearsals for the Smokey Joe's Cafe production that will happen from March 27 through April 4 of 2009 and work. The show, from the standpoint of cast, is coming along Okay. The other cast members are very capable, and I have been able to avoid too much dancing and scary choreography. It has allowed me to focus on my strength: singing Rock and Roll and Rhythm and Blue. It also allowed me to spend more time learning the lyrics and vocal parts on the group numbers. However, as of last night, the band has not been fielded in entirety. We have two keyboardists, a drummer and a bass player who also plays sax. We still need a good lead guitarist and a good sax player, or maybe another bassist to free up the bassist we have to cover the sax--the sax is real important to the sound of a lot of the tunes. I play guitar as a solo on one tune and help color the instumental background with my blues harp on another song. We are supposed to start rehearsing the show with the band next week. I'll try to get curtain times for those readers of this blog who live in the Salt Lake area and think they would like to see the beast do his thing in the flesh. They should let me know if the plan to come, so that I can look for them.

I also sent out an email last week to try and garner some interest in helping fund the casting of my sculpture of Christ, which I have been trying to get done, with hopes of having it displayed at the new Oquirrh Mountain Temple. I plan on donating it to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but I do not have the cash at the moment to cover the molds and casting process to make it a more appealing donation. And, with the economy as it is, it does not look good for that project. Needless to say, my plan for a sculpting business on the side has taken a back seat to other projects, until I can generate more income. The old adage that "it takes money to make money" is unfortunately true. But, we soldier on.

On the subject of enlarging my income in a time of need, I received an email yesterday from a safety consultant friend in Topeka, asking if I would be interested in making a trip back to Topeka to teach an OSHA 10-hour class in Spanish for one of his clients sometime in the next couple of weeks. I responded that I would be indeed be interested if the logistics worked out and the remuneration was enough. They did and it was, so we made arrangements for me to fly back there next weekend (3/14/09)and teach the class on the following Monday. The money for that will be good and it will give me a chance to visit with family and friends. I will likely blog about it when I get back.

Friday, February 6, 2009


I haven't added to my Prophiles of American Leadership segments for a while, so I thought it would be a nice change of pace for me to indulge myself and return to a historical vignette of an American to whom I give credit for leading in the world of literature. So, here are my thoughts on...


Though I watched a lot of television as a young boy, where I caught old movies as well as old and current programs produced for television, I also read a lot. I tended to read adventure stories—Edgar Rice Burroughs was my favorite—but, I also read many of the classics of literature before I got into high school. Before being required to read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in high school, I had already read it twice, along with its companion, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. I have reread them both several times since, to my children, to expose them to great literature and story-telling, and for my own enjoyment. In my opinion, which I share with many others, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is likely the Great American Novel and no one has been his equal in producing colloquial speech on the printed page. Of course there have been other great American novels since—To Kill A Mockingbird and Gone With The Wind—and some extremely important and popular ones before—Uncle Tom’s Cabin and The Last Of The Mohicans—but, Mark Twain’s story about the coming of age of a disadvantaged, troubled youth, struggling with his conscience in a time when America was doing the same, was a masterpiece of writing that put America on the literary map of the English-speaking world. All of the serious novelists of the 19th century in the English language had been from Great Britain, like Sir Walter Scott, Jane Austen, and Charles Dickens. But Samuel Clemens, under the name, Mark Twain, became the Father of American Literature, and showed the American authors who followed after him how to do it well.

Samuel Longhorne Clemens (Mark Twain)
(November 30, 1835-April 21, 1910)

Samuel Langhorne Clemens was born in Florida Missouri twenty-five years before the start of the American Civil War to John Marshall and Jane Lampton Clemens. Clemens spent much of his boyhood in his Hannibal, Missouri, home along the Mississippi River. Samuel’s father died when Samuel was 11 years of age, which allowed for his mother, who was a free thinker and defender of the down-trodden and lover of animals, to have great influence on his personality and character. After his father’s death, Samuel took work as a typesetter and a contributing writer of humorous sketches for his older brother, Orion’s, newspaper. At the age of 18, Clemens traveled east and worked as a printer in Saint Louis, Cincinnati, Philadelphia and New York, and educated himself at the local libraries. By age 22, Clemens decided that he would return to The Mississippi River and pursue his childhood fancy, to be a river boat pilot. Clemens plied that trade from 1857 to 1861, from which he chose his pseudonym, Mark Twain, referring to the call of the leadsman on the river boat, measuring two fathoms depth in the river. At the start of the Civil War, Clemens and some friends joined a volunteer group for the Confederacy, but the group disbanded after a couple of weeks and decided to travel with his brother to Nevada where his brother was filling an appointment as secretary to the territorial governor. While in Nevada, he tried silver mining with little success, but in 1862, he began a career as a newspaper journalist and veered off shortly thereafter to humorous literary pieces, including the short story, The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County. This piece was picked up and republished by other newspapers across the country, and much to Samuel’s surprise, brought him national notoriety and helped launch his career as America’s premiere novelist and humorist.

Clemens’ Later novels included: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Prince and the Pauper, and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. His writings, whether fiction or nonfiction, were largely vehicles through which he criticized society’s ills and poked fun at hypocrisy. Huckleberry Finn and Pod’s Head Smith criticized the evils of racism and slavery, while The Prince and the Pauper and A Connecticut Yankee were commentaries on the injustices of monarchies and the socially privileged.

Clemens was highly critical of hypocrisy wherever he saw it. In The Gilded Age, he skewers American politicians and what he saw as a corrupted system of government in his day, which allowed “knaves” to govern at the cost of “fools”, and embraced a misguided, unthinking patriotism. Clemens seems to have shared religious notions with Thomas Jefferson, a believer in God, but suspicious of organized religion at large. In some lesser known writings, such as A Penn Warmed up in Hell and Letters from the Earth, he pokes fun at organized religion and “Christians” in particular, for a penchant to live their religion once per week or less, and a general sense of unchristian superiority and an inability to be charitable and tolerant.

Clemens was friends with and admired by many noted Americans of his time, including Ulysses S. Grant. But, he also enjoyed celebrity in Europe as well. His friends and admirers abroad included fellow greats of English literature, Rudyard Kipling, H. G. Wells, Lewis Carrol, and Alfred Tenny. His celebrity was due to his great talent as a writer and his ability to criticize, even ridicule, society and humanity, shedding light on their blemishes; and do so with disarming humor. He became, to some in his time, a voice of reason and conscience in troubled times. Much of his cynicism may have come from the many personal tragedies in his own life. His father passing at an early age and the accidental death of his younger brother, Henry, in a river boat explosion—Samuel had talked his younger brother into following him into the riverboat life—surely effected his general outlook. His later years also provided further unhappy moments: He had several financial setbacks due to business dealings with people whom he trusted too much and only had one of four of his children survive him in death. His wife, Olivia, died 1902 and his health, which had not been good for many years, declined through next eight years until his death.

Though Clemens may have suffered significant tragedy, hardship and disappointment during his life, he had a strong spirit of self achievement and social conscience. He overcame stumbling blocks placed before him by trying new things and taking chances on his abilities. His various careers prior to his final career gave him insight and experience to draw from to let his fertile imagination create characters and stories that will surely entertain and inspire readers, young and old, for centuries to come. His talent and persistence made him the first great American Novelist of international acclaim. He was the first great American humorist appreciated abroad—he was presented with a Doctor of Letters degree from Oxford University in 1907. And, he may have been the foremost popular moralist of his time. He led the way for many aspiring American writers who tried to emulate his great talent for telling a story and presenting a moral message, but few have approached the height of his achievement. In usual humor he stated the before his death:
I came in with Halley’s Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year, and I expect to go out with it. It might be the greatest disappointment of my life if I don’t go out with Halley’s Comet. The Almighty has said, no doubt: ‘Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together.’

Samuel Longhorne Clemens’ was prayer was apparently answered: He died April 10, 1910, one day after Halley’s Comet making its closest approach to the Earth.