Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Christmas I Remember Best

I wrote this for a Deseret News contest a number of years ago, and it wasn't chosen.  I understood why, but figured, I could always publish it myself, if for no other reason, than for myself.  I hope you'll enjoy.

            The Christmas I remember best was the Christmas of 1975.  I had just turned 10 years old and was attending the fourth grade in elementary school.  My father, Robert M. Christensen, had been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease, a cancer of the lymph system a few months earlier.   For most of his career, Dad’s occupation had been in retailing and Christmas had historically been his busiest time of the year.  In addition to his work, he had served what would have been my ten years, in my church’s Stake Presidency, first as a counselor and later as Stake President.  It was a rare moment for me to have him home for any extended period of time and even more rare to see him unable to do hard physical labor.
            In 1975, Hodgkin’s disease only had about a 30% cure rate, but in my young and simple mind, I had accepted the fact my father would be ill, but never did I have the thought that he would die.  However as the months moved on, he became increasingly ill and the hospital stays seem to increase.  I missed the touch of his big soft hands and the little moments where he made me feel like I was his only concern in the world.  As the first part of December came around it was unclear when he would come home from the hospital. Fortunately, before Christmas Dad was allowed to come home to spend time with our family.  He had a difficult time getting up and moving very far and due to his weakened state, my family placed him in his own bedroom.  Being young and a very heavy sleeper, my parents decided to have me sleep on a bed in the same room with my Dad.  I could help him if needed, but also because I could sleep through the rest of the night due to his frequent need to get up and down.
            Early Christmas morning of 1975, my father once again was having a sleepless night.  My mother, Verda Mae Christensen was busy helping Santa place the gifts and as a young boy I lay awake anxiously wondering what it was that Santa would bring.  I could tell my dad was awake and started talking to him.  It was one of those rare moments you wish would go on forever and look back and would give nearly anything to have it again.  I really can’t remember much of what was said, but I knew he loved me and wanted me to be happy.  I don’t think I appreciated how much pain he endured and the myriad of thoughts you deal with as you realize your time on this earth will be drawing to a close.  My mother stopped her activity for a moment to go use the bathroom, so my father released me from our conversation and encouraged me to go check out the Christmas spoils in anticipation of Christmas morning.  Christmas came and went and about three weeks later, my dad passed away letting go of the physical strain of life and leaving a pretty empty void in my own.
            Thirty years later, I will now be 40 years old this Christmas.  While I can’t remember much about the presents received during Christmas of 1975, I remember the love and time of one who loved me.  My parents have now both passed away, and as we put up the Christmas Tree this year in the home in which I grew up, which is now my own, I lay on the floor adjusting the Christmas tree in hopes of getting it to stand straight.  As I looked across the floor, there lay my two daughters, Jessica and Sarah smiling at me, reminding me that the greatest gift of Christmas was there lying under our tree.  They represent many of my hopes and dreams and remind me of the good things of this life. And maybe just maybe, I can share with them the same gift my dad gave me, his love and his time. 

Picture from a family trip, being held by my Dad, Robert Christensen
With my daughters, Jessica & Sarah at the gravesite of my father

Friday, December 23, 2011

Making a difference in the lives of others

When the Savior commanded that we love our neighbor, I think it's easy to define that in a more narrower term than he intended.  Really, we are admonished to look out for everyone and it's sometimes troubling to watch some of my fellow elected servants turn their heads to the issues around us and quickly label one group or another as if we don't have a responsibility to them all.   This last week however, in doing some extra service, I had a couple of rewarding experiences that I wanted to mention, if for no other reason than to remind myself why I got involved nearly fourteen years ago.

Before I took office, back in the mid '90's, I participated in a United Way Funding Review panel on Homeless agencies.  After spending nearly two months reviewing different agencies each week, I came away from that experience knowing that the creation of transitional housing is the real key to the success of helping those in need.  Over the years of my public life, I've participated and been part of the creation of over 1,000 units of housing for low income families, with hundreds being set aside for those coming out of our shelter at The Road Home.  In fact, for the last four or five years, I've participated as a board member of Shelter the Homeless, which owns the shelter in Salt Lake City and Palmer Court, a new transitional housing complex.  I've heard personally many heart wrenching stories of those who have suffered on the street for decades, who now have a chance to be off the street and finally have a place to call home.  My friend Pamela Atkinson told a story once of her outreach efforts and how she once gave a hug to a homeless man and he had relayed that it had been years since he had ever received a hug. It's not uncommon for someone who is homeless to have had some tragedy or act beyond their control, leave them out on the street and yet I find myself guilty at times, judging them without knowing them.  It really isn't my place to judge, it's my responsibility to give.

Fast forward to this week and I was answering phones for the Annual Road Home Holiday Fundraising Drive and a caller called with a lot of emotion in her voice and said, "I don't really have any money to give, but I wanted to thank you for this housing in which I live, I am so grateful to have a place to call my own".   Later that night I was then helping to serve a Christmas Dinner at a transitional housing for Veterans, Freedom Landing in my district and a Vet, who had served our country and now was suffering from some extended medical problems, reached over to me and said, "If it weren't for this place, I would be down at the shelter with no place to live."  Both projects mentioned, were ones in which I had to work a little to make sure they got funded, but maybe in a little way, were making a difference and hopefully moving me a little closer to the charge given to me by my Savior, Jesus Christ. 

Today I celebrate my 46th birthday and I am ever so grateful for my parents, who chose to have me in their later years of life  Both of whom have had a profound impact on my life and my desire to do good.  I am equally grateful to my wife and children who have always been gracious in responding to my requests to help and were helping at the phone bank last night and playing the piano for the 100 Vets Wednesday night.  This has been a good week.

If you've gotten this far, take a moment and donate to The Road Home at to make a difference youself in the life of thousands in our community.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Land of Misfit Christmas Decorations-We Have a Place for Yours!

A few years ago our front yard Christmas decorations started looking a little tired and we had wanted to refocus a little more on the Savior's birth.  We decided to replace the front yard decorations with the Nativity scene and figured our Snoopy Santa Clause probably didn't blend too well. 

In looking at other options for Snoopy, three legged reindeer, and partially lit Christmas Tree figures, I realized they still needed some love and could still brighten our lives some more.  I then realized that we have a fruit orchard that lines our back driveway could be the perfect place for misfit Christmas decorations.  It was truly a location of non-consumption, but for these figures it would be dark. Yet we drive in there and see it more than our front yard.  A neighbor gave us all her old Christmas lights, some of which only lit up half a string, but as I draped them over the fruit trees, combining sets to get the full effect, our little wonderland started to take place.  It was actually a nice change, and Snoopy with his cracked nose, continues to remind my kids of the lights of their youth. 

Well, as reindeer began to go to one leg, and sleighs were only 1/3 lit, I've brought myself to finally start throwing sections away and putting the poor animals out of their misery.  This year, things have held their own, but it is starting to need something for future years.  If you happen to find that you have that three legged reindeer or a partially lit Santa that isn't cutting it in your front yard anymore, but don't quite want to throw it away, give me a call or drop me a note, to  Chances are we can provide it a home and give it some love for another year or two.  Every decorations deserves to live until it's last leg!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Freedom Landing - a gem within our community

A couple of years ago, shortly after a transitional housing unit owned by the Salt Lake City Housing Authority opened on 1900 W and North Temple, I had an opportunity to tour it and see how it was being used.  The site had formally been a Days Inn and was sold at a good price to the Housing Authority, who did some renovation to it and used it for Veterans who need housing as they transitioned through some tough times, often related to medical or other needs.  The alternative for many, would be homelessness, which is not the way we should be treating those who sacrificed to serve our country.

As we we went down one of the hallways and knocked on one of the residents doors, I was unprepared emotionally for what I would experience.  Behind the door was a Vet, who had fallen on hard times and was being visited by his daughter, who at the time was the same age as my Sarah.  Because of his previous housing situation, this Vet was unable to have any visitors and it had been eight months since he had been able to have his daughter stay with him. His little girl was obviously excited to have the opportunity of being there that weekend and as we thanked him for the inconvenience and I struggled to hold back my emotions, he said to me, to "tell the rest of them thank you for providing us a place to stay".  Later as I got in my car, I started to cry and think how grateful I was that on a daily basis, I can go home to my family, hug my girls and enjoy the blessing of a beautiful home.

Fast forward to last night, and I again visited Freedom Landing.  However this time, it was courtesy of the Airport Trax Line Contractor, Stacy and Witbeck and their workers who had decided to make sure these men and women had a great Thanksgiving meal.  They started to pass the hat, and pretty soon the contractor invited sub contractors to participate and with every dollar raised, Stacy and Witbeck offered to match it.  What was hoped for being enough to pay the meal, ended up being enough to not only do the meal, but furnish a room with furniture, a big screen TV, money to provide turkeys for needy families in the area and some money to go towards the new Fisher House at the VA Medical Center for family members of injured Vets who are being treated at the Hospital.  I had the opportunity to help serve dinner last night to these men and women who had served their country, paid a price in health and other challenges and just wanted to make the best out of their circumstances. 

I had the opportunity after serving to sit down with half a dozen of the residents and hear their stories of where they came from, how they got there and what current challenges they faced.  The stories were varied but in the end, I again realized they were just like you and me, but with an extra burden and challenge.  As I sit down for dinner today with my family in our beautiful home, and we pray, I know I have even more to be grateful for in my life and included in it, is my experience with the residents of Freedom Landing.

See the KSL Story at:  Freedom Landing Thanksgiving for Vets

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Collecting those Leaves

As the evenings are getting darker and the weather is turning cooler, it seems like fall is coming quicker than we want. If you have a house that gets more than its fair share of leaves, here is a reminder on the ins & outs of the brown yard waste bins.

The Yard Waste bins will continue to be picked-up weekly to collect your leaves and other compostable items. The weekly pick-up may require that you do leaves in stages or, based on last year, you may have noticed that two cans would be a big help. If you would like to request a second can, a limited number of extra yard waste bins (approximately 450) will be made available free of charge during leaf season. They will be available one per household while supplies last. The City started taking requests October 31 and bins will be delivered within one week of request. To request an extra leaf bin email your name, address and phone number to:
slcstreets@slcgov.comor call 801-535-6999. (At the end of the season, remember to place your extra leaf bin at the curb on January 3 so it can be retrieved.)

Please also remember a few “Leaf Rules” – please do not  place leaf bags in the yard waste bin – these cannot be composted, and they contaminate the reusable materials.  (This even applies to “compostable” or “biodegradable” bags – these are not able to be processed by the compost facility at this time.)  Also, please take precautions to clear gutters of fallen leaves. Clearing the gutters helps greatly with the storm drain system and prevents pooling of water or ice during a storm.

For the soon-to-be-approaching Holiday season, the city will be collecting trees in the Yard Waste bins as well. Since the bin collection will continue weekly throughout the Winter, you may put the tree out in the bin whenever you are ready. If the tree will not fit in your bin, or is too cumbersome to trim, cut & stuff, City crews will also be collecting trees from the curb for two weeks beginning January 9.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Happy Birthday Cathy!

Cathy and I are 10 months apart, which seems to always work in her favor.  Either I'm much older and she always claims to be younger than me (and she looks it) or if I try to claim the older and wiser argument, she reminds me we are only 10 months difference in our age.  Either way, I'm always grateful to her parents for bringing her into this world and she is without a doubt, the best thing that ever happened to me.  If you get a chance, stop by her Facebook page and wish her a Happy Birthday: Cathy's Facebook Page.

So today, October 29th, Happy Birthday Cathy!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Honoring my Ancestors by Doing their Temple Work - Sarah participates for the first time!

Friday and Saturday, we were able to attend the temple and perform ordinance work for my our ancestors.  In my faith, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we believe not only do you have the opportunity to make sacred promises with God, but you can vicariously, in acting in behalf of others who have died, perform similar ordinances for them.  Those individuals still have the option of accepting or declining the work done for them, but we have the obligation to try and give them that chance.  The beauty of it all, is that everyone has the chance of returning to our Heavenly Father and they get the opportunity to make that choice themselves. 

My mother and her sisters are really the only members of the Church on her Father's side.  My Grandfather, a dry farmer from the Chicago area (Elgin) had gone up to Canada to get inexpensive farm land and met my grandmother a nurse from the Benjamin area of Utah County, who was staying with relatives in the small farming community of Barnwell, Alberta, Canada.  They fell in love, had six girls with my mother being number 3.  At the age of six, my mother lost her father unexpectedly and her youngest sister was born after my grandfather died.  He never joined the Church, but was supportive of my Grandmother and his girls.  He was a good dad and loved his girls and it would strike me as unfair in the Kingdom of God, that he never get the chance of being with his family again or enjoying all the blessing the Lord has in store for him.

The temple provides that opportunity and it is one of the reason my faith encourages us to work on our Family History.  Not only does it give us a sense from where we have come, but it helps also in performing ordinance work for those who have passed on before us.  In the two days, we attended the Salt Lake Temple, performing baptisms for 30 ancestors and then on Friday, we attended the Logan Temple and performed ordinance work for another 30 ancestors.  Included in the group we did, were my ancestors, Maria Bach, born on the 10 February 1856, Elisabetha Frey, born abt 1770 and Maria Carolina Glaser, born 26 March 1812.  We owe nearly all the success of finding these ancestors to my brother-in-law, Warren Bittner of Ancestors Lost and Found, LLC. who has worked tirelessly over the last decade helping us to piece together some gaping holes in our family research.  Thanks to the generosity of other family members we have found nearly 4,000 names of ancestors that 10 years ago, we never knew existed.  

Perhaps one of the best parts of the experience was being with my family and attending together.  Sarah, who recently turned 12, can now go and perform "Baptisms for the Dead" or the vicarious act of being baptized for her ancestors.  It was sweet moment being able to perform that work and have her be part of it.  In addition on Saturday, my mother-in-law, Lois Nielsen joined us and helped us perform another ordinance work for Barbara Krapff, who was Christened, 24 Jan 1653.  Opportunities like that don't come very often, and I'm glad we had the chance.  It was a beautiful day, some of the leaves were still turning and the food at the Bluebird Cafe afterwards was great! 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Maureen Haltiner - Poet, Author, and Teacher

A good friend of mine, Cal Noyce passed along to me the other day, an invitation to a poetry reading by my former AP English Teacher from West High, Maurine Haltiner. The flyer brought back a lot of memories, mostly good about my experiences with both her and literature.  Having grown up in a home where my mother held a Masters Degree in Creative Writing with her Bachelors in English and Theater, poetry and literature flowed abundantly in the walls of our home.  I've always enjoyed it but not exceptionally good at either reading it or writing it.  In fact, in most of my advance testing for college, including my AP exam, I never could test very well and despite much higher scores in other areas, it always brought me down in my overall score.

However the lessons I learned in Ms. Haltiner's AP English class were more than simply learning the advanced pieces of literature from around the world.  It had a lot to do with keeping commitments, meeting deadlines, and living with integrity.  In fact, the only incomplete I received in High School, came from her because I had failed to finish an assigned reading in her class during the peak of basketball season.  I eventually finished the book, did my report, and received an A- or B+ for that term.  My siblings have often remarked that it was really Ms. Haltiner that prepared them for college, where all too frequently if you missed deadlines, failed to turn in papers, it was only you who really paid that price, not the teacher.  Of course Ms. Haltiner's lessons were much more civilized and compassionate than college, and we will often be grateful for it.

Maurine Haltiner retired a number of years ago, and I occasionally run into her from time to time.  To her credit, while my hair seems to be going white, she looks about the same, perhaps a little more of life shows, but always courteous and interested in my well being.  Cal showed me some of her works which demonstrated her continued interest in literature and using her own talents in the expressions which tell of life's stories.  If your schedule permits, you should set aside the evening of October 20, 2011, a Thursday evening to attend her Poetry Reading at Alpine Art, 430 E South Temple.  RSVP to  Unfortunately, I may have a conflict, and can't make it, but I would like to be there.  While I'm interested in hearing her materials, it is the quality of the individual which is the real draw for me.

Monday, September 5, 2011

No more comparison's to George Costanza's wallet

OK, so I probably shouldn't be so paranoid about this issue, but a few years ago, Cathy and I were at dinner with some friends and I pulled out my wallet.  The husband of my colleague on the council and a well respected lawyer in town, started laughing and said my wallet looked like George Costanza's wallet.  I'll have to admit that I really hadn't watched many Seinfeld episodes, so it hadn't fully hit me what he was saying.  However since that time, he hasn't been alone in his assessments and I've increasingly become self conscious about both the appearance and size of my wallet.   Not to mention the physical discomfort in trying to get it out of my pocket. You see, it goes back even further.

I grew up, like any other kid, with my wallet in my back pocket.  However it was while serving on my LDS mission to Japan, and the realization that the Japanese Yen would not fit in my standard back-pocket wallet, I went to a billfold wallet.  It really wasn't a problem, since most of the time, I was wearing a suit coat anyway.  After two years of that, I got to to like the fact I didn't have to sit on it, but when I was dressed casual, it was hard to find a place for the billfold.  One day, I went back to a regular wallet, but refused to put it in my back pocket.  It sort of fit in my suit, or I would put it in my front pocket.  I was not always prompt in taking out my receipts and things tended to grow in it.  I tried to hide it at lunch when I was with friends and everywhere I went, I knew people were likening it to George Costanza's wallet. 

Fast forward to this last August and I was walking through the Outdoor Retailer's show and came across a vendor who proclaimed they had the World's Thinnest Wallet! ( - 800-642-2226).  For the show price of $18, I was going to be liberated.  I would literally, not be the butt of any wallet jokes again.  Just to show you how bad it was becoming, I had a meeting with some downtown interest after I purchased the wallet.  While waiting for the meeting to start, I was explaining to one of the gentlemen present, my wallet and about this wallet challenge.  He also didn't really know who George Costanza was, and then in walked Senator Ben McAdams.  Without saying anything to preface it, I held up my old Wallet and asked Ben, "What does this remind you of?" to which he replied, "George Costanza's wallet".

A month has come and gone, I took my new wallet on a 7 day cruise to Alaska.  It fit in many different pockets, including my shirt pocket at times.  I can put it in my suit coat (still don't like sitting on them) but I even put it into my back pocket once.  It holds some receipts, most of the cards I need and even some cash, when I have it.  I'm not quite sure life will ever be the same for me, but I just want you to know that I have the "World's thinnest wallet!"

Link to YouTube Video with the Seinfeld episodes and George Constanza's Wallet.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sunday in Seattle

While we had intentions to the contrary, Church Services for us today was too far away for us, in order to effectively arrive to the dock in time for our cruise.  In the absence of that opportunity, we decided to hold our own family/church experience here in our hotel room.  While we didn't have the chance to partake of the Sacrament, we did listen to a great talk by President Uchtdorf off my laptop.  Sarah organized everything, including a program, announcements and work assignments.  It more than reminded me of Church and the spirit was present.  I miss being at my own Ward, partaking of the Sacrament, but so grateful for the opportunity of being with my family, soon to be my extended family on board, and to know of my Heavenly Father's love for me and my family.  I was remind of what a great talk President Uchtdorf gave.

I want others to know that I do have a testimony, that giving of my own service to others helps me realize that my lot is not as bad as I would think and that often the answers I'm searching for are in the needs and helping of others.  The most discouraging thing of watching some in public service is watching their selfish reactions and games for political gain.  Instead of trying to find solutions, they look at how to undermine others and so often, I don't see the Christ-like actions I would hope to find.  I'm far from perfect and it reminds me that I have room for improvement.  Others may not be ready to accept the gospel and doctrines in which I believe, but I do want them to know that I know the Gospel of Jesus Christ is true, and hoping that one day, my life reflects it.

President Uchtdorf's Talk

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Trax - The Opening of the North South Line - Funny Story

I'm going to date myself a little here, but I actually spoke at the grand opening of the North South line of Trax.  I was thinking about this a little today as I get ready to attend the opening of the Mid-Jordan and WVC lines.  I thought I would share a funny experience from it.

It was a very cold morning,and of course those sitting on  the stand, which included Governor Leavitt and others, were sitting with the sun facing us, which made it warmer.  Those in the audience were in the shade,which included my 7 year old daughter and my Mother who was in her 70's.  After we got done with the speeches, we boarded the inaugural train which was going up to the Gallivan Plaza stop and then would come back.  However the last thing I saw as I boarded the train, was my 7 year old Jessica crying because it was so cold, standing next to my mother.  I felt absolutely horrible and just wanted to get back to get her warmed up.  When the train came back, I quickly got off, but couldn't see them anywhere.  I should have realized that my Mom would take care of my daughter, but I began to panic.  There were huge crowds, and of course, everyone wanted to ride the train.  The next train was leaving, and I figured they were on it.  I quickly got on it, to see if I could find them.

Picture this, a Trax train totally packed, such that you couldn't even walk, if you wanted to.  I looked desperately in the car for them, couldn't find them, so at the next stop, got off, ran up the platform and hopped in the next car.  It reminded me of the crowded trains I had taken frequently in Japan, but I had no idea what lay in store for me.  Not finding them in the next car, I got off at the next stop, ran up to the next car, and so on until I had been in all four cars, and then even proceeded back to look again in each of the cars, and to check the platform, in case they got off.

While it's hard to imagine, few had cell phones back then, and while we had one in our family, my wife had it.  There was no way to call and see where they had gone, and the haunting image of my daughter crying was really taking its toll.  We finally arrived at the Sandy stop, where the forced us all to get off.  I tried to explain that I was actually one of the speakers and an official from Salt Lake City, but they wouldn't let me stay on the train.  They told me I would have to get back in line, which was blocks long to go back to Salt Lake.  On top of that, the pay phone on the platform, had not yet been installed, so no cell, no pay phone, and stranded in Sandy!  I noticed a gentleman pulling out his cell phone, and I approached him and asked if I could make a call to my brother, who lived near by.  They too had been stranded like me, and I think were calling a taxi or something.  He looked at me and asked, "Do I know you?", to which I explained that I was Carlton Christensen from the Salt Lake City Council.  I was relatively new at the time, and pretty unknown.  It turns out the gentleman was John Saltas from the City Weekly.  He was kind enough to write about the experience later and about the fact that UTA had not be discriminating about who they stranded!

Well, my brother Elliott came and picked me up, drove me back to the arena station, and I decided I had to go call my wife and tell her I had lost both our daughter and my mother!  I started to explain to the UTA Director of Rail Operations, my plight when a train pulled up and off hopped my mother and daughter, who were both smiling and had an enjoyable ride.  I looked at them and couldn't believe what I had just been through and asked them what had happened.  It turns out, that my mother put them both on the next train, to keep my daughter warm, but when they got to Sandy, she refused to leave the train, and utilized her senior status to make the point!  Both she and Jessica enjoyed some chocolate coins she had in her purse and affirmed that they like the train! 

Today, I've decided to take my daughter Sarah with me to ride, but we both have cell phones, as does my wife, and come what may, she's a VIP and I'm not going to let anyone separate us!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Becoming part of the Community Wall at the Natural History Museum

I hope you'll take the effort to click on the link below and join Cathy and I as contributors towards the community wall of the new Natural History Museum of Utah, which is nearing completion and will be open in November. This is an opportunity for those who don't have a ton of resources to be part of this permanent opportunity showing your commitment to the Museum.

As you may or may not know, I serve on a volunteer basis as the vice-chair of the Associates Board for the Museum of Natural History. It has been a great opportunity and this project has culminated an effort of decades as we open up not only a new venue, but a new chapter in helping everyone understand the natural history of Utah. This amazing project will truly be bright star for our community.

The project has taken millions, about 103,000,000 to be exact and we're in the final stretch. As often happens in projects like this, the final community outreach is at the end. For years, I've made the argument, that we needed a way to allow people with modest means, like myself, a permanent way to be part of the project and contribute in a way they can afford. While some others have been able to contribute thousands, and in some cases millions, realistically, the rest of us have to stretch to do anything. However, one should lead by example and so my wife, Cathy and I have committed over a few years, to contribute $1,000. We do it by a little each month and we're about half way there. I realize for many that may be too much, and so there are options for far less than it. The Museum however wants to make it as reasonable as they can, so for $500, which can be paid in monthly installments through the end of 2012, you can choose an item from within the collection to sponsor and have your name become a permanent part of the community wall within the Museum. Some are even doing it for grandchildren or kids, etc. There are a lot of ways to approach it.

In order for you to be on the wall for the opening in November, you'll need to take action by August. Please click on the link below and take a look for yourself and I hope you, like me, will want to be part of this great historical opportunity!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

No more watching Studio 5 in our home

Last night upon arriving home, I was informed by Cathy and the girls who had been watching Studio 5, about this great exercise program where you only have to do one exercise a day, but you have to do about 200 reps of that one exercise.  This morning it was crunches.  To not participate, would be highly unsupportive, but I'm thinking to myself, "Self, you haven't even done 200 in your life".

I asked this morning whether this instructor on Studio 5 was buff and thin, of course, she was.  This is really a plot to make me look like a poor dad.  Well, I did participate, but like the Federal Debt, didn't keep track of the repetitions and probably was way south of 200.  I tried to throw a few numbers out there but no believers in the group.

I've never been one of those hardliners who have claimed the communist plot theory, but now I know that Studio 5 is just a front for the movement.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Colonoscopy - check!

Today I completed my first colonoscopy, in fact two, but I'll explain that later. While I'm still younger than 50, the recommended age for a colonoscopy, some of my siblings have had polyps found during their own proceedure, which would speak to getting it done sooner than later. Additionally, I have a dear friend from Salt Lake City, Mary DeLaMare Schaefer who admonished her friends and associates at the city to get it done. I've included her story, which is a good reminder to not put it off. In consulting with my primary care doctor, looking at family history, including history of cancer, we decided having it done five years early did make some sense. I've sort of debated on whether to even write about it, but if by chance, someone I know has put it off, or is afraid of it, than I should care enough about them to encourage them to get it done.

Going into it, I was warned that the preparation for the procedure was worse than the procedure, and they were right. It could have been worse, but Sunday's clear fluid diet of broth, jello and fluids was a reminder that I should be grateful for the fact, that the alteration to my diet was only short lived. I also realize that next time, the 64 oz of Gatorade I choose to mix with Miralx, should be a flavor I don't like. It may be a while before I get back to my favorite of Orange. I am grateful however for a supportive family, incredible spouse and good insurance that took some of the worry out of it for me.

As the day moved forward, really the most painful part of the day was the process of trying to find a vein for the IV. Unfortunately, I seem to have inherited my mother's veins which always seemed to keep it challenging for medical personnel. When I woke up from my first procedure, everything seemed to be fine, but then was informed that when you're tall, your clothing size isn't the only thing that's big! How about your colon - go figure. The machine they had at the University Redwood Clinic wasn't long enough to get to the top! They had found however one polyp in this phase and then "tattooed" a mark to know how far they had reached. It was my first tattoo! I even have a picture which I would show, but Cathy would never speak to me again.

Well, since I was already prepped, had an IV stint in my hand, we decided to put me in a car and go up to University Hospital, where they had a longer scope. Dr. Fang also followed us up and completed the procedure. Things looked good, but they also found another couple of polyps and so they got removed as well. The doctor seemed optimistic they will be benign, but getting them removed early, may have been one of the few smart things I could have done. I think the whole medical team liked me so much, they wanted me to come back in three years! I very rarely get invited back to anything, so I do feel special.

While I'm still a little out of it, I am grateful I didn't put it off and erred on the side of caution. I was grateful for a great doctor and a capable staff who were friendly and very helpful. I truly can't think of any legitimate reason to put off a colonoscopy if you're 50 and never had one. (I'm not saying I want to do it every day...). Just get it done, check!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Lee Creek Natural Area

I've had the opportunity over the years to be part a number of public conversations and part of formal bodies to discuss, preserve and to try and recommend policies that respect multiple uses of Utah's natural areas. It's really been an interesting opportunity for me. I was one of the original 13 members of the Quality Growth Commission, which included then private member, Jon Huntsman Jr. and a county commissioner from Utah County, Gary Herbert. Over the eight years I served in that capacity, I became acquainted with a number of the land conservation and preservation groups and also got to know a number of local individuals from around the State of Utah. The Quality Growth Commission among its responsiblities, administers the LeRay McAllister Grants, used to match other dollars in preserving some of Utah's most critical lands.

I currently serve on the Great Salt Lake Advisory Council. Again as a charter member, asked by now Governor Herbert, to represent local government. It has really been quite interesting to begin to understand the competing needs on the lake, the delicate balance and the contribution it makes to our economy, not only in tourism, but a number of other industries as well.

As part of the City Council's efforts to reach out and talk about things happening in our community, we have started producing YouTube videos which are not only posted on the council's YouTube Channel, but run like commercials during the breaks of our council meetings, which is where I'm hoping they get viewed! As I look at some of the view rates of our current postings, while mine have done as well as most, we have a long way to go!

This interview is with Ella Sorenson and Wayne Martinson of the Audubon Society is the first of three segments we filmed that day as we looked at the work that the Audubon Society is doing, just outside my district. I've had the chance to work a little with both, and respect their great passion for the work and dedication in the preservation of critical lands for the birds and other wildlife. The Lee Creek area, on the way to the GSL Marina along the frontage road, is a great educational opportunity for those passing by, or someone looking for a nice sunset walk, either by themselves, or with a friend. I hope you'll enjoy. Special thanks to council staff which includes Brian who did the filming, Kristin who did the editing, and Janice, who has given staff support as I've served on these various boards.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day - I probably haven't done a lot right, but my girls are the exception

Carlton, Cathy, Sarah and Jessica
I've often been one to share my thoughts, but in the more formal political realm, it's difficult if not impossible to say what you really want to say.  Often it can be political suicide, which doesn't make blogging any better.  However there are times, when I just want to say it anyway, and take the brunt of the result.  I guess if I'm lucky, I'll get to say whatever I want, post it, and no one will ever read it, and thus never be offended!  While I do like doing the Facebook Status update it doesn't always convey what I want, and while sometimes I can find an article that reflects my thinking, simply posting a link doesn't cut it either.  Carlton's Corner is my attempt to voice my feelings and create whatever forum it creates.

I thought about writing about my frustrations of yesterday's Republican Organizing Convention, but for my first entry, and with it being Father's Day, it just seemed like a bad way to honor this day.  Somehow, Heavenly Father blessed me with two of the choicest girls I could have wanted.  Cathy, my wife, will probably insist (as she should) that she had some bearing on it, but I haven't ever figured out how I became so lucky to be their Dad.  I've had a lot of titles in my life, but its the three letter title of Dad, that makes me feel the most important.  We have this rule, that when you put a partially empty drink bottle in the fridge (for me it's usually Gatorade) you have to write on the lid who it belongs to, so it doesn't go forever without anybody drinking it.  Carlton is too long to write on a lid, but Dad works.  I can't help but think of how lucky I am when I write that term and what it means.  It isn't always easy and sometimes I'm not as good at it as I would always like to be, but nevertheless, wouldn't trade it for anything.  On this Father's Day I miss my own Father, who died when I was 10, but will be forever grateful for the impact he has had upon my life, and a hope that maybe I might have the same impact on my own girls.