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The Real Reason The Mormons And The Scouts Are Getting Divorced (As Told By A Guy Who Has No Idea What He’s Talking About)

It’s not what you think. At least I don’t think it is.

Much has been made of how much the Boy Scouts of America have been alienating their largest sponsor, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormons, or LDS church. The Church had nearly half a million young men in the BSA program and about 100,000 leaders.

Last week, the church announced it was going to abandon Scouting at the end of 2019. This after they just this year pulled over a quarter million boys out of the Scouting program.

Critics of the BSA point out that it’s hardly surprising. Over the past several years the BSA has implemented changes that are more and more at odds with the Church.

Here’s a brief list of the changes the Scouts made that were inconsistent with the LDS Church

  • 5/23/2013 – BSA agreed to allow gay boys. (A position the Church said was not inconsistent, but most people consider the Church as hostile to the LGBTQ community)
  • 7/10/2015 – BSA rescinds ban on gay leaders
  • 10/11/2017 – BSA announces that girls can now join Boy Scouts and cub scouts
  • 1/30/2017 – BSA announces that it will no longer ban transgendered boys
  • 5/2018 – BSA announces name change from Boy Scouts of America to Scouts BSA

When the church recently announced it was leaving the Scouts, many peoople looked at the list of changes above, shook their head and said,

What did they think would happen? The Scouts did it to themselves.

And I have to admit many of those changes are directly, or indirectly at odds with the LDS standards for their youth organization.

However, I don’t blame the Scouts. Not a bit. In fact, I don’t think it’s their fault at all.

I think rather than the above changes being the cause of the LDS Church leaving, I think the LDS Church leaving is what caused the above changes.

As early as 2015 the LDS Church publically admitted that the Boy Scouts did not meet the needs of most of their international young men.

The Church is a very conservative organization. I worked for the Church’s IT department several years ago. When the different departments put their budgets together, the entire next year’s budget was allocated at the beginning of the year and placed in an escrow account.

When the Church builds a new chapel or a temple, all of the cost of construction is allocated at the beginning of the project.

A senior church official spoke to the IT department at one point and acknowledged that they were reluctant to adopt cutting edge technology. They were happy to let a technology become more mature before adopting it.

I think the Church did the same thing with its youth program. I think the decision was made as much as a decade ago that Scouting was not going to meet the needs of the Church. However, the Church was also interested in making sure that the BSA continued as a viable organization. If the Church were to suddenly pull out of Scouting, it would be devastaing to the BSA budget. I think the Church approached the BSA sometime around the centinial celebration in 2010 and told them that they had 10 years left.

The BSA then looked at its membership which at the time was 1/6 LDS. They had to figure out how to replace at least a portion of those scouts. That’s why they started loosening the membership requirements. The two organizations had a delicate balance. The BSA had to expand its membership, but do it in such a way that didn’t alienate the church too much during the transition period.

One reason this theory has some strength is the announcement last year that the church was taking the older boys (14-17 year olds) out of the scouting program, but leaving the younger boys and cub scouts.

If the Church had decided the BSA beliefs were inconsistent with the Church beliefs, they would have pulled all the boys out. And this year (2018) the Church is making the same lump sum payment to the BSA as it made in 2017. This despite the fact that the membership dropped from 470,000 to 280,000. Why? Because the BSA was not through the transition yet.

Remember that it was June 23, 2000 when the Boy Scouts fought and won a Supreme Court case to exclude gays. What changed between June of 2000 and May 2013 when they voted to allow gays? For one thing, the Scouts lost a lot of non-Church sponsorships. But, I’m suggesting it was also during that period that the LDS Church let them know it was developing its own program.

Thomas Monson is the past president of the LDS Church. He passed away January 2, 2018. He was a lifetime member of the BSA national board. He was, by far the longest serving member in BSA history, actively attending board meetings from 1969-2011. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the church announced it was leaving Scouting shortly after his death.

So, rather than the BSA driving the Mormons away, I think the Mormons announced they were leaving anyway and the Scouts started making changes to have a leaner organization, but one that also included a broader range of American youth.

Is any of this accurate? Did the Mormons ask for a divorce first? I doubt I’ll ever know. But, I think the timeline I’ve laid out here makes more sense than the idea that the Scouts decided to accept gays despite the objection of their largest sponsor and the Mormons decided to leave in a huff.

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) 2018 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

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Thoughts From An Old Scouter

I joined the Boy Scouts when I was eleven years old. That was also the time I joined the LDS Church. My association with the two organizations has been inseparable over the past four decades.

As you may have heard, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recently announced its intention to disassociate with the Boy Scouts at the end of 2019. This announcement wasn’t a surprise. I’m not saying that I knew it would happen, but the fact that it has is not a surprise. The two organizations have been associated for 105 years.

Were it not for the LDS Church I can say with certainty that I never would have joined the Boy Scouts. In fact, at the beginning I only attended because it was what 11 year old boys did in this new church. That and stand in the back during the children’s music program and hope no one noticed that I knew absolutely none of the songs.

My first campout was memorable, and not necessarily in a good way. Our scoutmaster was a man named Liddell. I’m still friends with his son. Keone, recently reminded me of that first campout. I don’t think I even had a backpack. It wasn’t a big deal since we were car camping. What people remember 40 years later is the cast iron frying pan that I packed. It was like a shallow Dutch oven, without the legs and the lid. It was huge and weighed a ton.

I got better at scouting and camping. I went on to earn the Eagle Scout award with a couple of palms. I served as Junior Assistant Scoutmaster my last couple of years in scouts.

Like many young men, I served a mission for the LDS church. I served a Sign Language Mission in Chicago. The small deaf branch I served in sponsored a deaf Boy Scout troop. The missionaries were the scout leaders. It was a strange letter that I sent home asking my mother to send me my scout uniform.

As my senior missionary companion, who was scoutmaster, was transferred, it fell on me to take over the role of scoutmaster. The only problem was that I was only 20 years old at the time. Scoutmasters are supposed to be 21. I considered lying. But, a Mormon missionary filling out a Boy Scout application seemed like a really bad place to lie. Finally, the professional scouter suggested I put my true birthday and leave the AGE box blank. The paperwork went through and I became the world’s youngest scoutmaster.

My lovely wife understood from the time we were married how much scouting meant to me. When our first son was born, she presented me with a custom t-shirt that said “Big Scout.” She made a matching baby t-shirt that said “Little Scout.”

I’ve had the privilege of taking all 5 of my sons into the Utah wilderness. We’ve camped, and hiked, cooked and fished all over the great Mountain West. My oldest son followed in my footsteps and earned the Eagle Scout award. He asked me to be the one to present him with the award. “I figured it would mean more coming from you, Dad.”

Thanks, son.

I have two boys still in scouting. They are on track to earn the Eagle award before the Church and the Scouts separate in a little over 18 months.

I’m disappointed at the prospect that these two organizations that mean so much to me will no longer be associated with each other. I can’t say if it’s a good thing or a bad thing. I understand the reasons that the two organizations are making the decisions they are. And I wish the very best for both organizations. Like the actors at the end of a play’s run, it’s time to separate and each pursue separate projects.

I know many are happy about the change, and I respect their opinions. For me, I will miss the association and will look back on my time as a scout and a scout leader with the fondest of memories.

Gone home.

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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(c) 2018 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Uh Oh, No-No. . .Eh?

Baseball is one of the most boring sports in the world.

Why do you say that?

What’s one of the best games a pitcher throw? A No-Hitter.

Yeah, so?

NO ONE HITS THE BALL!

Yesterday was a pretty boring day for the Seattle Mariners Major League Baseball team. A man named James Paxton, a left-handed starting pitcher for the Mariners, did something that has never been done before. He threw the ball 99 times over 9 innings. And it was pretty boring. . .in the most exciting sort of way.

Let’s do a short review for those who perhaps think baseball ranks slightly below golf and chess on the action-sports scale.

The object of the batter in baseball is obviously to hit the ball. The object of the pitcher is to either prevent him from hitting it, or have him hit it to one of the defenders.

Baseball, a game of statistics is all about measuring things. For example, if you take the number of at bats a hitter has and divide that into the number of hits he achieved, you will get his batting average. A batting average of .300 is considered very good. That means that if a batter gets 3 hits for every 10 times at the plate, he’s doing well.

There are lots of ways a batter can get out. He can strike out, for example. He can hit a fly ball to one of the defenders. He can hit the ball on the ground and fail to reach first base before a defender is able to pick up the ball and throw it to the first basemen.

There are other ways, too. For example, if there are fewer than two outs with a force play at third or the bases loaded and the batter hits a ball that in the umpire’s judgement an infielder could catch with ease, the umpire can invoke the Infield Fly rule and rule the batter is out. (Yeah, we don’t really understand it clearly either.)

A batter can hit with an illegal bat and he’ll be called out.

Or, as happened today in Cincinatti to the visiting New York Mets, the players can fail to bat in the order written down on the lineup card. If they do, the batter that hit out of order is automatically out. And if you are a professional baseball player getting called out for batting out of order is one of the most embarrassing things you can do.

The pitcher’s job, of course, is to throw the ball and try to get the batter to strike out or hit the ball to one of the fielders. Yesterday, James Paxton did exactly that 27 times. During those 27 at bats, the hitters failed to safely reach base one time. It’s what’s known as a no-hitter. And it’s pretty rare. There have been three no-hitters in all of baseball this year. And the Seattle Mariners have five in the 35 year history of their franchise. Well, after yesterday they now have six.

So, if there have been three no-hitters this year and the Mariners have had 6 total, how did Paxton make history?

Paxton was born in British Columbia Canada. He’s not the first Canadian to throw a no-hitter. That has happened exactly one other time. It was a man named Dick Fowler pitched a no-hitter for the Philadelphia Athletcis on September 9, 1945. Seventy-three years ago. It was so long ago that the Athletics are no longer in Philadelphia. They are in Oakland and the Phillies are the Philadelphia team now.

So, Paxton becomes the second Canadian born pitcher to throw a no-hitter. But, what makes him unique is that Fowler threw his no no in Pennslyvia. Paxton threw his yesterday in Toronto. The first Canadian to throw a no-hitter in Canada.

I doubt I’ve done anything to convince you that baseball really is an exciting game. You probably still think it’s boring and now you realize it has a lot of obscure records. But, as a Seattle Mariners fan, take my word for it. It was a pretty exciting thing.

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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(c) 2018 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

He Was 5 Years Old, He Was On A Motorcycle, And He Was Headed Straight For A Tree

“Motorcycle” might be too strong of a word. It was more a “mini-bike.” Basically, a lawnmower engine on a kid sized frame.

A friend of mine recently got his motorcycle endorsement and bought a bike. He posted a picture on Facebook with the caption,

Sorry, Mom. Took the class at the Harley dealership and got my motorcycle license last week. Got my first Sunday bike ride in tonight on my Nightster and it was completely wicked!

And yes, I’m wayyyy too afraid to ride without a helmet.

My friend lives in my little town of Pleasant Grove, UT. Utah doesn’t have a helmet law. Seat belts are required, but not any sort of safety gear when you get on a two wheeled vehicle with nothing between you and the pavement.

I was happy for my friend. I posted,

I’ve been riding since I was 5 years old. Motorcycles don’t scare me at all. I would NEVER ride without a helmet. I would also never ride without long pants, closed toed shoes/boots and gloves.

Welcome to the open road.

Last fall I renewed my motorcycle endoresment after having let it lapse several years ago.

I had a motorcyle in college. It was a 125cc “enduro.” It was a street-legal dirt bike. I sold it the year after I got married. It wasn’t my wife’s insistance. It was mine. I realized that as we were starting our family, it was too dangerous to risk my health.

I’m a great rider. I have no doubt about my ability to control a motorcycle in virtually any environment. I’m not as confident about those around me. My son wants to start riding. I gave him the following advice.

Always assume the other drives cannot see you.
Assume that any drivers that can see you are actively trying to kill you.

I don’t own a bike currently, but my children will soon be graduated and off starting their own lives. I’ll probably get another bike at that point. As an old man, I’ll skip the street-legal dirt bike and go for a regular street bike. Probably a Harley.

I have to admit, I’m just a little jealous when I see pictures of my friend and his bike. I borrowed another friend’s bike last fall to take the test. I’d forgotten just how liberating it feels to ride a motorcycle. Naturally, I followed ATGATT (All The Gear All The Time.) I’ve just always followed that rule when I ride.

I think it goes back to when I started as a 5 year old. My dad ensured we learned to ride, but that we also paid attention to safety.

I don’t actually remember the time I hit the tree but it’s a family story I heard enough growing up. We hauled the bikes to a field where we were going to go riding. My dad put my gear on me. He put me on the tiny mini-bike with its single forward gear and hand brake.

The field was wide open. In fact, it only had a single tree. Yep, as soon as they cut me loose, I made a beeline for the only obstacle in the entire area. I smacked into the tree, but thanks to the gear I was unhurt. My bike, not so much. The chain broke. And that was the end of my day. Thirty seconds of riding and I was done.

But, I walked away from it.

All the gear, all the time.

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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(c) 2018 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

But, Why Was I So Angry?

Rodney, can you get one of your agents online to validate our changes?

What?

We need someone from your office to validate our changes. Is that a problem?

It wouldn’t have been if you’d asked me six hours ago. This time of night it’s going to be a lot tougher.

It was not my finest moment. In fact, I was probably. . .no, I was definitely more annoyed sounding than the above dialoug indicates. It wasn’t the fact that I was working Friday night, actually Saturday morning at 1:00AM. It was the fact that I was now going to have to spend 20 minutes trying to get an agent from our afterhours center to join our call. Getting agents to validate was not difficult. It seemed like on nearly a weekly basis for the past two months we made changes that required some sort of validation. Naturally we planned the maintenance for times when the least agents would be impacted. But, as a 24×7 operation, there was never a time when we had zero agents. That meant lots of late night work.

The process of getting agents to validate was also pretty simple. During business hours I could reach out to our onsite analysts and find out the name of the after hours manager. I could then email the manager and arrange for them to be on a call at the needed time, like 1:00AM on a Friday night.

But, without prior planning the process was a lot more challenging. It involved random emails to the list of possible managers. Depending on who was working and when they checked their email it might be a few minutes or hours before they got back to me. And the problem was that we were at the end of the maintenance window. We had a team of engineers who had finished their work and were just waiting on the conference bridge. . . waiting for my team to tell them that the maintenance was successful. They were not interested in waiting. And frankly neither was I. I’d worked a long day, and I was ready to go to bed.

But, getting angents to validate was not unusual. Except that eight hours earlier, as we were preparing for the maintenance I had actually asked my counterparts if we needed validation.

No. The maintenance shouldn’t impact your agents at all. Just let us know if they notice anything broken.

I’d let my team’s email distrabution list know that there was maintenance. I also explained they didn’t need to dial into a bridge unless there was an error.

And now I was stuck on a call with a group of tired engineers who just wanted me to get someone who could tell us if the maintenance had been successful.

And I was angry.

I shouldn’t have been. Not really. I like my job. Sure, it requires me to work long hours, and I end up on calls in the middle of the night, but I’ve been doing this for four years. I’m good at it and I enjoy it.

But, not tonight. Tonight I wanted to be anywhere but here, working with anyone but this team.

It took me a while to figure out why I was angry. I’m still not sure I completely understand. But, eventually we got an agent to join the call and validate that we had no issues and we could finally stand down the call.

And I could go to bed.

We have more maintenance scheduled for tomorrow. They’ve told me that the maintenance shouldn’t impact my agents and we won’t need anyone on the call to validate.

I’m scheduling them for the call now.

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) 2018 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Happy Cinco de Quattro!

(Yes, I love Star Wars. No, I’m not going to write about it today.)

Welcome to cinco de quattro. Cinco de Mayo at the White House, we are a day early.
– President Barrack Obama 4 May, 2009

Rather than welcoming people to “Fourth of May” (Quattro de Mayo) he welcomed them to “fifth of four.” In the president’s defense, he did go on to give a very good explanation of the significance of 5 May to Mexico.

For most Americans north of the border: You’re doing it wrong. The celebration, the history, just about all of it.

First, let’s talk about what Cinco de Mayo (literally “fifth of May” in Spanish) is not. It is not Mexico’s independance day. That is 16 September. In 1810, a priest, Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla issued a call to arms to overthrow the Spanish government. His speech was called Cry of Dolores, or Grito de Dolores. That was the start of the Mexican revolution.

Cinco de Mayo commemorates a battle that took place 5 May, 1862. (Mexico had already been “free” for decades at this point.) You might think that the battle on Cinco de Mayo would be against the Spanish, the country that colonized Mexico. Nope. It was against the French. And the battle was actually the fault of the United States of America.

In 1862, the American Civil War was in full swing. The North imposed a blockade on the Southern states. This made sense. They didn’t want the South to be able to sell goods to other countries and they certainly didn’t want other countries able to get goods and arms to the Confederacy.

Interesting trivia point. The United States Government never officially recognized the Confederate States of America as a separate country. The official policy was always that the states were still part of the USA, but were in a state of rebellion. However, it is literally impossible to blockade yourself. So, when the Union imposed a blockade on the Souther states, it was a de facto recognition of the South as a separate country.

Then, as now, pretty much no one cared about the difference between a blockade of rebellious states and a de facto recognition of the CSA as a nation.

Okay, back to Cinco de Mayo. The blockade kept cotton from getting to France. After a couple of years, the French decided to take matters into their own hands. They decided to establish a base in the Americas that they could use to both support the Confederacy and they could use to get cotton out of the South.

To accomplish this task, they put together an army of 6000 French troops and landed them in Mexico. They neglected to ask the Mexican government for its opinion on the issue. In fact, they kind of put their own leader in place and forced the Mexican government to flee. The Mexicans naturally viewed an invading force of 6000 non-Mexicans as a cause of concern.

The Mexicans quickly assembled a loose collection of 2000 troops under the command of General Ignacio Zaragoza and rushed them to a little town called Puebla de Los Angeles, a small town in east-central Mexico.

Six thousand French infantry supported by heavy artillary against 2000 Mexican irregulars. They met on 5 May, 1862. The battle lasted all day. The French assaulting the entrenched positions of the Mexicans.

When the dust cleared at the end of the day, General Zaragoza had lost less than 100 men. His soldiers had inflicted over five times that many casualties on the attacking French.

It would take another 5 years before the Mexican government was able to fully drive out the French. But, the battle of Puebla was an important victory for the Mexican army and the Mexican people. Much like the battle of Bunker Hill during the American revolution showed that the Americans were able to compete with the best the British had to offer, the battle of Puebla inspired similar pride and confidence in the Mexican nation.

Okay, so that’s the history. A big deal right? Not so much. The battle of Bunker Hill took place on June 17, 1775. How many people do you know that celebrate it? My ancestors fought at Bunker Hill and I know I don’t celebrate.

In Mexico, 5 May is just another day. A typical Saturday this year. It’s not a national holiday. There are no parades. Schools and banks don’t close. In fact, outside of the state of Puebla very little notice is taken of it.

Here in Utah, we celebrate July 24. It’s a state holiday commemorating the day in 1847 when the first Mormon pioneers arrived in the Salt Lake Valley. It’s a big deal in Utah, not so much elsewhere in the United States.

Cinco de Mayo is like that in Mexico.

So, enjoy Cinco de Mayo responsibly. If you drink, find someone else to drive. Don’t wear sombreros, they are just tacky and stereotypical. Enjoy Mexican food and take a day to celebrate our neighbors South of the border. And realize that had General Zaragoza’s ragtag bunch not been successful, it would have been much harder for the good guys to win the American Civil War.

(Oh and May the Fourth be with you.)

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) 2018 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Basketball, Baseball and My Irrelevance

I live in Utah, but I grew up just South of Seattle.

Yesterday the Jazz and the Mariners played. (Not each other, because that would be weird.)

The Jazz won and the Mariners lost.

One result makes me slightly happy the other makes me slightly sad. But, I’m not sure why I care about either.

I grew up in a sports family. We didn’t play many, but we watched a lot. For part of my growing up life my dad was a professional gambler. Often we had (or rather he had) money on the game. I remember one playoff game where the Sonics were playing. I’m not sure if my dad had bet the over, or if he took one team and the points, but the Sonics were ahead going into the last few seconds. My dad needed 1 more point to cover his bet. The Sonic player threw the ball into the rafters. I’ve never seen my dad so unhappy about a win.

My dad had a reason for caring about the outcome of the game. There was a financial incentive for him. Aside from winning a couple of football pools when I worked for Microsoft, I don’t gamble. I certainly don’t gamble on sporting events. So, my interest is not fiduciary.

I love to watch baseball. The ebb and flow of the game, so annoying to many people who consider it “slow,” is a comfortable rhythm to me. Listening to a game can be sometimes even more enjoyable.

I listened to the Mariners game last night. The beauty of the internet means that I can pick up a radio station from 1000 miles away. So, I got enjoyment from the exercise of listening. But, then they lost in the 9th inning and it soured some of that enjoyment. But, at least that explains a little why I care about an event that I have no input into.

But, I didn’t watch the Jazz game. I checked the score after it was over and saw that the Jazz beat the Houston Rockets in Houston. It’s round 2 of the NBA playoffs. Each series is a best of 7 series with the team that had the best record getting home court advantage. By winning last night in Houston, the Jazz have now essentially stolen home court advantage. It’s a big deal.

And I had nothing to do with it.

Why do we follow teams? I’m part of the fan-culture and I don’t even understand the appeal. I suppose we live vicariously through those teams. But, vicariously doing what? Shooting a basketball? Hitting a baseball? Those are odd activities to live vicariously.

Perhaps it’s the affinity we feel for the team and the vicarious thrill of winning, or even the vicarious emotions associated with losing (Looking at you Cubs fans of the past century.)

It’s not uncommon to hear fans claim,

We killed them!

We played awesome tonight!

Our offense was unstoppable!

And yet, it wasn’t “us.” There was no “we.” There is a “them.” But, the affection and the closeness we feel is by our own creation. I support the Mariners because I grew up in Seattle. And yet the current team has none of the players I watched growing up. Oh sure, Edgar Martinez is a hitting coach, and Dan Wilson will pop up in the broadcast booth occasionally, but the players on the field weren’t even born when I was watching the Mariners games.

I suppose much of it is good marketing on the part of the league and the teams. And ironically, I know I’m being manipulated, but I don’t care. I know that I’m irrelevant to the outcome of the game, and yet, I let it influence my emotional state anyway.

I guess it’s that I don’t like not knowing why I think, feel or do something. After thinking about it, I’m no closer to figuring out my dilemma.

Go Jazz

Go M’s

Because even though I shouldn’t, I care.

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) 2018 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

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