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Happy Holiday Weekend

Today, July 23, a holiday.

What do you mean, you’ve never heard about it? Sure, it’s probably someone’s birthday. And today is National

  • Mosquito Day
  • Vanilla Ice Cream Day
  • Peanut butter and Chocolate Day

(Seriously, who comes up with these?)

Okay. Here in Utah, businesses were closed. And they didn’t close for National Peanut Butter and Chocolate Day. It’s Pioneer Day. Actually tomorrow, July 24, is Pioneer Day. But, since it’s a state holiday, everyone had today off.

I’m not sure if I had today off or not. When you are unemployed, it’s hard to tell. I didn’t have to go to work today, so I guess I had it off. But, I spent the day studying Six Sigma concepts and looking for work, so maybe I didn’t have it off.

Pioneer Day commemorates the day in 1847 when Mormon pioneers first reached the Salt Lake City valley. If you’ve heard of Brigham Young, it was his wagon train that reached the valley on this day, tomorrow, 174 years ago.

Brother Young and his followers weren’t the first white men to visit the valley. That was Father Escalante way back on September, 1776. They weren’t even the first Americans. That would be Kit Carson and John C Fremont in the 1843-1844 expedition.

And, of course, they weren’t the first people here. That would be the native Ute Indians.

But, unlike the explorers and like the Native Americans, the Mormons came to stay. Brigham Young, who had heard about the valley from Carson declared,

This is the right place.

That has been shorted to just “this is the place” over the years.

One member of that company was a man named Thomas Woolsey. He was a soldier. He was an explorer. He was a farmer. And he built the first permanent structure in the valley. He was also my 5th great-grandfather.

So, enjoy your holiday weekend (if you’re in Utah.) Enjoy National Vanilla Ice Cream day elsewhere.

I’m ready to be done with my extended weekends.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
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(c) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

In Defense Of Space Barons

Slavery was the root cause of the Civil War. That’s a controversial topic. And the reason it’s controversial is that the United States was in the middle of a transition in the 1860’s. Up until that time Rivers had been the main routes for commerce. And the biggest river was the Mississippi. And it went straight through the heart of the South ending in New Orleans.

By controlling the port, the South controlled much of the commerce for “the West.” (Which today, we’d call the mid-west.) But, something was happening around this time. Railroads were starting to be used more and more. And the development of a transcontinental railroad would cut the South out of the commerce routes. No longer would people in the West have to ship their goods through New Orleans.

July 1, 1862 The Pacific Railroad Act was signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln. This act formed the Transcontinental Railroad. The Union Pacific started building westward from Omaha/Council Bluffs. January 8, 1863 the Central Pacific broke ground in Sacramento and started building East.

The two lines met at Promontory Summit, Utah on May 10, 1869.

The thing is though, the government didn’t build the lines. That was the Railroad barons. People like James Hill, Jay and George Gould, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Edward Harriman and Collins P Huntington.

They were called Railroad barons, but they are typically also included in the list of Robber barons. They used their control of the railroads to become insanely rich. And in the process they laid the foundation for American manufacturing might that would last for more than 100 years.

Even today, railroads remain the cheapest way to ship goods.

  • Rail cost per net ton: $70.27
  • Trucking cost per net ton: $214.96

Were the Railroad barons good for America? I think you’d have to say that today we are better off than if we’d never had the Railroad barons laying all that track. Of course, as good as it was for the country, it was even better for the barons. But, they still had to compete with each other. And that drove innovation.

Today we have another competition going. It’s space instead of trains. And the men involved are already fabulously wealthy. They have to be. They are pretty much funding the space race out of their own pockets. Bezos has spent $5.5 billion dollars on Blue Origin. Richard Branson has spent over $1 billion on his efforts. Elon Musk’s company, SpaceX has already started making money, but still spent hundreds of millions more than expected to build it’s space capsules. (SpaceX has a $2.6 billion contract to take men to the moon.)

These men have spent fortunes. And as much as they think space is “cool,” they all expect to get that money back and more. Whether it’s subcontracting for NASA, or getting minerals, or space tourism, these three space barons have their eyes set on a HUGE payday.

Is it worth it? Would the money be better spent somewhere else?

Yes, it’s worth it. It doesn’t even matter that it’s space. Even if these three had a competition building sand castles in the desert, it would be worth it. The fact that they are actually building something we will use? Makes it even more worth it.

The Space Barons funded their space race with stock. They sold stock and used the money to fund the space race. That space race, that money, went to engineers, and cooks, and programmers, and computer makers, and janitors, and construction workers, and restaurant workers, and housing, and property taxes, and income taxes, and sales taxes, and on and on.

Money invested into an economy has a multiplier effect. The idea that if you get $1, you don’t stick it under your bed. You go spend it. And in turn the person you spent it with spends it again. It’s nearly impossible to calculate the exact multiplier from a specific purchase. But, it’s understood that if you dump $5 billion dollars into the economy, you are going to get more than $5 billion dollars worth of economic activity.

So, if the Space Barons were simply buying stuff and doing nothing else, the financial benefits of their little space race would be billions and billions of dollars in the economy. That money helps everyone. And it gets taxed. Multiple times. That helps the government. Money sitting in a stock portfolio does not get taxed. So, if Bezos, for example had left his money in Amazon stock, there would be zero economic benefit for anyone.

(If your suggestion at this point is to “tax the rich,” trust me that it’s impossible and impractical to tax stocks held in a portfolio. Sure, if it goes up you could try to tax the increase. But, if it goes down are you going to give them a refund?)

But, the Space Barons aren’t building sand castles in the desert. They are laying the railroads to outer space. And we are going to want those railroads. Bezos suggested that we move the worst polluting industries to out space to help combat climate change. That’s impractical today. Today it costs $10,000 to put one pound of payload into Earth orbit. NASA wants to lower that to hundreds of dollars per pound in the next 25 years and tens of dollars per pound in the next 40 years.

To achieve those goals we need space railroads and that means Space Barons. Like their counterparts from two centuries ago, they are going to get fabulously rich. Even richer than they are today. But, it’s worth it.

We have the chance to completely transform our world for the better. And space will help us do that. But, we have to get there first, and these men are going to help us do that.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
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or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

What Are Your Three Laws?

First Law: A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

Second Law: A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

Third Law: A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

– Three Laws of Robotic by Isaac Asimov

I watched iRobot. The new one with Will Smith. (Yes, I know it was 2004, that’s still new. Of course, I know it’s almost two decades. We are getting off track. Who’s writing this anyway?)

Isaac Asimov used the three laws as the basis for much of his writing. He introduced them in a short story called Runaround) in 1942. Interestingly it wasn’t Asimov who first came up with the term “robot.” That was the Czech playwright, Karel Capek. He first used it in his 1920 play, R.U.R., or Rossum’s Universal Robots.

The three laws, in Asimov’s stories are unbreakable. They are the foundation of the robots’ brains. Of course, just because they can’t be broken doesn’t mean that robots will behave as you would think. That’s what makes the stories interesting, including the most recent (okay, yes, it was 17 years ago!) version.

It got me thinking, what are your underlying laws? As humans, we are all different, and of course, there is no unifying set of laws. “Human nature” is a varied as humans themselves.

So, we each build our own world, our own logic. What rules govern your life?

For some, it could be “family above all.” That ones not for me, although I love my family. But, there are times when I’ve had to separate, or I’ve chosen to separate from family.

Some people put truth above all else. Most of us don’t Truth, absolute truth is difficult to practice.

“Does this dress make me look fat?”

“How did you like the veteran lasagna?”

“Isn’t she just the cutest baby?”

I’m going to lie more often than tell the truth to these questions.

I’m not sure there are absolute laws. Maybe fidelity to a spouse. That’s one that I could see people being unwavering on.

I think my first law would be Loyalty. I put a great premium on loyalty. Loyalty to people, none necessarily ideas or political parties. Also, I’m not talking about the kind of loyalty that leads people to storm the Capital building. But, person to person loyalty.

First Law: I am loyal to my friends and expect them to be loyal to me.

I’m a seriously loyal friend.

My second law would have to be around commitments. If you say you are going to do something, you should do it. If it conflicts with loyalty, I would value loyalty first.

I’ll be home at 6:00.

It’s 6:30. What happened?

A friend needed some help.

Commitment is why I don’t renegotiate contracts. If I’ve committed to do a job for $80/hour, and later I realize that your budget was $95/hour, I’ll keep doing the job at $80. I might ask for more on the next contract, but once I’ve committed, I’m committed.

Second Law: I keep my commitments except where that commitment conflicts with the First Law.

I’m not sure of the Third Law. Or maybe I am, and I just don’t want to face it. I have a mean streak. It’s buried very deep, and most people not only have never seen, but they would be surprised to hear I have it. Revenge, that dish best served cold? I can hold it for years, decades even. A silly example is Jack In the Box restaurants. I decided in the 1980s that I found their advertising not only poor, but offensive. I thought, if good advertising should convince you to frequent an establishment, poor advertising should convince you to avoid it. And offensive advertising even more so. I haven’t set foot inside a Jack In The Box restaurant in 40 years.

There are only a couple of people in my background that I hold any animosity toward. But those few will probably never get in my good graces. As a person of faith, I don’t like the fact that I can hold on to negative emotions like that. And as a person who’s been through plenty of therapy, it’s more than a little worrisome that there’s a part of me that I keep locked away.

It seems wrong to make revenge or distrust, or whatever it is that I hold deep in the darkest parts of my soul, as a personal law. But, I have to admit that it definitely influences my life.

What are your personal Laws? What makes you who you are? What rules govern your life?

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
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or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Every Interview Question Has The Same Answer

Let’s just get it out of the way right here in the beginning: Communication.

For a short time in college I took a couple ROTC classes. Sadly, a military career was not to be for me. However, I still remember many of the lessons taught. An important one was taught by Major Turberville. He was probably the greatest leader I ever had the chance to observe.

A classic infantry position is a “V” formation with overlapping fields of fire. When you are placed on the line, what is the first thing you do?

This being a military organization, if you got the answer wrong, you had to do pushups. And, in an attempt to build squad cohesiveness, if anyone didn’t know the answer to that question everyone did pushups.

What do you think the answer is? Check your position? Secure your equipment? Dig in?

Communicate.

The first thing you need to do is communicate with the people on each side of you.

I’ve been doing a lot of interviewing. I’m trained as a Program and Project manager. PMs do a lot of talking in their job. In fact, unless you are in charge of the PMO (Project Management Office) you have no direct reports. Everyone you talk to works for someone else. No one works for you.

Also, don’t tell anyone, but Program Managers don’t do a lot. Our main job is making sure we know the people who do know how to do stuff. I guess you’d say Program Managers are supposed to know stuff. Project Managers as well. We are the keepers of the schedule, and the feature list, and the budget.

Interview questions for Program Managers are generally around times where you had a problem to solve, or a deadline to make, or a set of requirements to gather. What did you do?

Communicate.

The first step is always communicate. Communicate with you engineers. Communicate with your Stake Holders. Communicate with your Operations teams.

It’s literally impossible to over-communicate. It’s the first and last task for a PM.

And it’s the first thing to do if you’re assigned to a firing line as part of an infantry company.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
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(c) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

And Then The Rains Come. . .Sort Of

It’s no surprise that Utah is a desert. Sure, we have the greatest snow on earth. (It says so right on the license plates.) The problem is there just isn’t enough of it. Well, there’s enough to ski on in the winter, but when that snow melts it goes into the reservoirs. And there’s not enough. There hasn’t been for years.

It rained today.

That’s unique enough to make the evening news, if we still had evening news. Maybe we do, I don’t really watch TV.

But, it did make the news sites. Not just our little rainstorm, of course. But, apparently we are starting into the monsoon season. It is projected to be an above average rainfall season. And because no good news can go unsullied, the news also talked about the increased chance of lightening strikes. Our mountains and valleys are covered with dried grass just waiting for something to set it on fire.

But, you live in a desert, in the middle of a drought you learn to be careful with fire. My little town of Pleasant Grove, Utah had two firework related over the 4th of July weekend. They mentioned our good showing on the 4th because we have another holiday coming up here in Utah.

The 24th of July is a celebration of the day in 1847, that Mormon pioneers first arrived in the Salt Lake valley. The 24th of July is almost as big a celebration in Utah as Independence Day. Fireworks stands get left up all month long. Fireworks are allowed three days before and after the two July holidays.

So, the rains are coming. The late summer monsoon rains. But, here’s the thing, even with a monsoon, Utah is still a desert. So, if we get the rains they are forecasting, and there’s guarantee they will, it will be a desert-level monsoon.

Seattle, where I grew up, gets about .7″ of rain in July, .88″ in August and 1.5″ of rain each September. That’s about 3″ of rain between now and the end of September. On an average year.

We are hoping for an above average monsoon season. The weather god are predicting about an inch and a half.

Pray for rain and stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
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or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

What Would Jesus Do? No Idea. Here’s What I Did

Many people of faith pray. We ask God, whether that be Jehovah, Allah, Jesus, or The Flying Spaghetti Monster (God bless the Pastafarians) to help us make wise decisions. Help us make the decision that God would want us to make.

There’s no proof that prayer works. I understand that. I’m enough of a man of science to know that prayer will not stand up to the scientific method. But, there is also no proof that God does not exist. Whenever someone challenges my faith by reminding me that there’s zero proof, I am quick to agree with them.

I’m not interested in trying to convince anyone of the existence of God. There actually are some scientific speculation that would support the idea of a grand design architect. But, again, there is literally no proof. (For a fascinating fiction story exploring this I would recommend Calculating God, by Robert Sawyer.)

But, as a person of faith, I pray and I believe that God both hears and answers those prayers. Of course, sometimes the answer is no.

I also think at times, God doesn’t care. As I type this I’m watching the Mariners hold on to a one run lead over the Anaheim Angels. No matter how much I might pray for a Mariners win, I don’t think God cares.

I served a two year full-time mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You would think that if God cares about anything he cares about missionaries out in his name. Sometimes. I mean, how else did I survived 12 months in South Chicago walking around with a white shirt, tie and a Bible.

But there was one experience that convinced me that while God cares. It’s often on us to make our best guess and go with it. I was in a leadership position over about a dozen other missionaries. We shuffled the players every two months. Some missionaries went to new areas and everyone got a new companion. As the Zone Leader, I had to make recommendations to the Mission President who had the final say.

Of course, I prayed about where each missionary should go. I then make my best guess and reported to the Mission President, a wonderful older man named Gene Simmons. He accepted my recommendation and I started calling around announcing new assignments. I called one elder. We’ll call him Elder Smith.

Elder Smith, this is Elder Bliss. You’re being transferred to Aurora on Thursday. You’ll be companions with Johnson.

Okay, thanks.

They were short phone calls. Then, I called Elder Fairbanks. He was new to my Zone. He’d been in the English speaking program. Our zone was ASL missionaries. Fairbanks had been an internal transfer. He was a good guy, but struggling to learn sign language. Not surprisingly.

Elder Fairbanks, this is Elder Bliss. You’re being transferred to Arlington Heights this Thursday. You’ll be companions with. . .

I can’t go to Arlington Heights.

Ah. . .okay. Why not?

.

I served in Arlington Heights when I was in the English program. There’s a girl there that has a major crush on me. All the elders in the English program are sworn to not tell her where I’m currently serving.

.

Okay. Let me call the mission president and I’ll get back to you.

I called President Simmons back.

Elder Fairbanks says he can’t go to Arlington Heights. Something about a girl that has a crush on him.

Oh, is THAT where she lives. Yeah, we can’t send him to Arlington Heights.

What if we send Smith to Arlington Heights and we’ll send Fairbanks to Aurora to be companions with Johnson?

Yeah, I think that will be a good plan.

So, I let a much relieved Elder Fairbanks know that he was headed to Aurora. I then had to call Elder Smith back.

Elder Smith, this is Elder Bliss again. I know I just told you that you were going to Aurora, but there’s an issue with Elder Fairbanks going to Arlington Heights. I just talked to President and he agrees we should send Fairbanks to Aurora and have you go to Arlington Heights in his place.

.

Ah. . .

.

Is there a problem?

.

Elder Bliss, am I going to Arlington Heights because that is where the Lord wants me to server, or am I only going because Elder Fairbanks can’t go?

They did not teach the answer to that question in the Missionary Training Center. It really felt like the answer should be “YES.” But, that wasn’t what Elder Smith needed to hear.

Well, Elder. I don’t know. But, maybe the Lord made it so that Fairbanks couldn’t go to Arlington Heights so that you could?

That was a lame answer. But, it helped Elder Smith to be able to look for the hand of God in his situation. Was it just because some girl fell for a missionary and I didn’t know and therefore I screwed up the first time?

I don’t know. But, I’m comfortable with my decision and my relationship with God; then and now.

Elder Fairbanks from Chico, California. Two months after he finished his missionary service he was killed in a camping accident. A rockslide killed him while he slept.

I was still a missionary at the time. It made me consider not just my service, but our role in God’s ultimate plan. Elder Fairbanks, whom I’d gotten to know for only a short time had completed not only his missionary service, but his earthly service as well.

It was a lot to think about for a young 20 year old missionary. After 35 years it still is.

Stay safe

(Oh, the Mariners held off the Angels in the 9th to win 6-5. No prayers needed.)

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
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or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Something Older Than Myself

My therapist said that I value things that represent a connection. Talismans or tokens. I carry a watch my son gave me. I have a ring my uncle gave me. I own another watch that belonged to my great grandfather. A lapel pin that was my grandfathers.

Until she pointed it out, I didn’t really consider it. It probably has to do with my very dysfunctional childhood. I’ll probably need therapy to explore that.

I make aquintences easily, but friends not as much. I value loyalty and consider it the most cherished characteristic of my friends.

It is little wonder then, that one of the organizations I chose to join was the Freemasons. It’s the oldest fraternal organization in the world. The history of America is replete with the influence of Masons. Eight of the fifty-six signers of the Declaration of Independence were Masons. Presidents from Washington to Ford were Masons. Not all of them, of course, but many.

The history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints of which I count myself a member is also intertwined with Masons. The early leaders of the church were Masons. But, the Masonic Lodges kicked them out in the 1840s. In Utah it wasn’t until 1983 that the Masons agreed that members of the church could join. Masons and Mormons both have long memories.

Tonight was a Masons meeting. A Lodge meeting, if you will. We passed two brothers to the degree of Fellowcraft. It’s the second degree in Masonry.

Masonry is making a resurgence in the US. Perhaps it’s because men are looking for something to belong to, something that is bigger than themselves and their social media presence. Something older than themselves.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
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or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

And The Award Goes To. . .

Woody Allen won four Academy Awards. Two in 1978 (Best Director and Best Screen play for Annie Hall), Best Screenplay in 1986 (Hannah and her Sisters) and also in 2011 for Midnight in Paris.

You know what he said in his acceptance speeches?

Nothing. He didn’t attend. He went off to play clarinet with his music group instead.

“The whole concept of awards is silly. I cannot abide by the judgement of other people, because if you accept it when they say you deserve an award, then you have to accept it when they say you don’t”

– Woody Allen

I’m reminded of the Groucho Marx quote on the occasion of his resigning from the Friars’ Club,

I would not want to belong to a club that will accept me for a member.

Awards seem to fit into this category for many people. They wouldn’t accept any award for which they qualified.

I won an award once. From the Mayor. It had an expensive frame.
– Malcom Crowe “The Sixth Sense”

M. Night Shyamalan, the writer and director of The Sixth Sense used the award as a metaphor for the character’s failure to help his patient. In other words, the award was evidence of his mistake, not his success.

My former company gave out an award. It was called the Blue Diamond award. It was extremely difficult to qualify for. And if you were in IT, you actually had to be chosen for it. I got the award a couple years ago. I told my manager about it.

Steve told me that I’ve been awarded the Blue Diamond award.

Well, what do you think?

I told him I think they’ve made a terrible mistake.

Did I deserve it? I still have no idea. They thought I did. I got a nice certificate. A dinner. A bluetooth speaker and the right to put Blue Diamond in my email signature.

I’d like to say it didn’t mean that much to me. But, as I type this I still have it on my wall.

I didn’t really want to be too much like Woody Allen anyway.

How about you? Do awards motivate you?

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
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or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Mental Health – No, It’s NOT Logical

Suicide isn’t rational. By that I mean, it’s impossible for those of us left behind to look at it and logically follow the thinking of the person who took their life. It doesn’t matter if it’s someone close to us or a famous celebrity. Suicide typically (always?) is a result of mental illness.

I’ve had family members in the past attempt suicide. Fortunately they were unsuccessful and then were able to get the help they need. But, what about someone like Robin Williams? Why did he kill himself? We will probably never now the real reasons. We know a little, he was noticing a mental decline. But, lots of people notice their mental decline and choose to not kill themselves.

Mental Health, Mental Illness is hard because it doesn’t show. I recently watched a show about people who committed murder and then tried to use a “innocent by reason of insanity defense.” The accused acted confused during the police interviews. They gazed around the room distractedly. They let their hands move in unnatural ways. All to try to convince the police that they were mentally ill.

The show then showed an interview with someone who was truly mentally ill. He described in detail how he planned and executed the murder. He gave specific details. In fact, during the interview he didn’t sound crazy at all. He might have been describing how to rebuild a carburetor.

Not everyone who has a mental illness will try to kill themselves or kill others, of course. Mental illness covers a wide range of conditions. Some serious, others less so.

Mental health is not that different from physical health in that respect. Someone might have a sprained ankle and someone else has a broken leg. You would treat the two differently.

Generalized anxiety is a very common mental health issue. It’s pretty much just what it sounds like. And, like most mental illness it can be treated by therapy and prescriptions.

A friend was talking about the idea of generalized anxiety.

Yeah, if the stresses in your life would just go away, you wouldn’t be anxious anymore, right?

Well, the problem is that you would then worry about what MIGHT become a stressor.

Be kind to people. You really have no idea what those around you, even your family are going through.

The pandemic has been a huge stressor and even though we are starting to come out of it, I don’t know that any of us will ever be the same again.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
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or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Mormon Horns. . .I Was Happier Not Knowing

My grandmother remembers being asked about it from when she was a little girl traveling with her parents.

You folks are Mormons? Where are your horns?

Here father had obviously heard the question before,

Well, they haven’t come in for the little ones yet. Mine were removed, but you can feel where they were.

As hard as it is to believe, it’s a true story. Well, the fact that they got asked is true. Mormons never had horns. But, people thought they did.

But, why? Who would even think that? I heard a great explanation.

In the 1880s just about all the Mormons were off in the Utah territory. And they were by choice isolated and cut off from the rest of the United States. This was by a mutual unspoken agreement between the Mormons and the rest of the country.

But, the rest of the country, while they didn’t want Mormons living next door, were still interested in this new religion. Horace Greeley was editor of the New-York tribune. He sent reporters out to Utah to find out more about these Mormons.

And that’s where I always heard the story of the horns came from. On top of each Mormon Temple is the statue of an angel. The angel’s name is Moroni. But, a reporter missed that detail and misidentified the statue as Mormon, another ancient prophet and incidentally the father of the historical figure Moroni.

So, the reporter reports

On top of their temples are statues of Mormons with horns.

And the Moroni statue does have a horn. But, it’s the kind that you blow, not the kind you have on your head.

It’s a great story, right? It might have even been my grandmother who told me the newspaper story.

Unfortunately, other than Mormons being thought to have horns, everything else in this story is false. It was an urban legend that I grew up with mixed with just the smallest particle of truth from someone I had absolute confidence in.

I knew I wanted to write this story, and I thought I would do a little research and find the quotes I needed. We have a lot of Horace Greeley’s writings. He interviewed Brigham Young multiple times. But, nothing about the angel Moroni and the trumpet vs protrusions from their head.

Instead the story of Mormons and horns is sadly a predictable one. It’s the story of “the other.” In the 1800’s the Mormons were “the others.” There’s an interesting post here written by an author who did extensive research around the Mormon Horns myth.

He cited numerous other examples including

  • Abolitionists
  • Americans
  • Blacks
  • Canadians
  • Catholics
  • Democrats
  • French Canadians
  • Frenchmen
  • General Sherman
  • Germans
  • Irish
  • Jews
  • Lord Byron
  • Masons
  • Protestants
  • Sinn Feiners
  • Suffragists
  • Whites
  • Wisconsin politicians
  • Yankees (Civil War Unionists)
  • Yankees (WW2 Americans)

Included in that group are Mormons in the late 1800s and into the early 1900s. He explains that Mormon Horns is really a story about prejudice and “other-ing” groups. Horns were how they did it 150 years ago. Sadly it continues today. We’ve just come up with modern day equivalents of horns.

Honestly, I liked my childhood story better than this truth.

Stay safe

Note: “Mormon” is no longer a term considered acceptable by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I’ve used it here since the historically “Mormon Horns” was the name of the subject.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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