Sunday, April 7, 2013

Just wanted to post the link to the blog Auntie Meriden created for those under her dad's (ie: my Grandpa Harold Slocum) family tree:

Monday, December 28, 2009

Disney Trip Hunt

For Christmas, Julianne got the snazzy idea of going to Dizzyland after New Years because its less crowded. Sounds good, let's go! Now, this should be a Christmas present, and we would have fewer other presents; but, how do we let the chil'en know what this big neato present is?

Well, have a clue hunt with the final clue at the end describing the big prize - Juls is so cutely smart! But, I (Sean) have to take credit for making up the hunt, which went like this (all done in G&G McKell's house, and think in poetic rhyme & rhythm for the clues):
1. Open a box present with a clue inside saying:
"Andralyn & Kyle, To find your big present, go the white snowy tree where the birds are chirpee."
(this was the white porcelain snowy Christmas tree by the front door)
2. Clue by this tree:
"Next, go to see / The place you will eat today - yummee!"
(the dining room table)
3. From the table:
"Ding Dong! / Someone's here to play Ping-Pong!"
(the ping-pong table)
4. From ping-pong:
"Hey, what's up!? / Go to where you sup."
(the kitchen table)
5. From kitchen:
"Take it to the edge, / In front of me, people like to veg."
(the main TV)
6. From TV:
"As the poet says oft: / Look in the loft for something soft."
(loft up in grandparent's bedroom)
7. In the loft was a big stuffed Micky Mouse with a note on it saying
"Hey, this is something you might like to hear: / Let's go to *Disneyland* next year!
(And, after cheering loud-us, turn this page over for a Bonus) ...
Bonus, hey you: Grandma and Grandpa are coming too!"

How did it turn out and what did the kiddos think? It went just great and they were sort of stunned at what they found out at the end because they didn't jump up and down like crazy banshees - sort of stood there probably processing what they just had read. Then they were happy excited and it was all fun, yeehaw!

So, the phrase to end it all: "Hey kids, you just finished opening presents on Christmas Day, now what are you going to do!?" "I'm going to DISNEYLAND!"

That was a fun family moment, and we certainly hope it ends up good there in So Cal.

- Sean

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Fishing Derby - Trophy Fish

Well, this was funny for the ironic-ity of how it turned out. I guess it shows that if you make some effort, unexpected rewards of whatever type may turn up.

On May 9, 2009, I took Adam and Andralyn to a city fishing derby at the pond in front of our Longmont (Colorado) Rec Center. The rec/parks division had organized a fun fishing activity providing instruction and other help to be able to catch some fish in the pond. Andra was not too excited about going, but I figured it would be a good experience getting out there (Mom, Kyle, Nathan were at Kyle's soccer game). We had our little rod, but I had misplaced my simple tackle box, so that was about it. A nice man from a bait shop in Berthoud helped us get geared up at his station, and we went out with our rod and worms to the other side to find a somewhat open spot.

I showed Andra how to cast, but she wasn't too happy about doing it herself and whined some; but, eventually she got a little casting technique figured out, and hook was in the water with a bobber on the surface. Amazingly, and with some reverential delight, we actually caught a cute little fish - a sunfish or other spiky finned one. They had people watching things and noting fish size along with the catcher's name.

So, we kept along with trying to learn to cast and hopefully catch some more water critters. There were a few nibbles and we caught a couple more. Adam was quite interested in the process and was actually pretty good about keeping somewhat out of the way and not getting things tangled up. Andra was pretty content that she actually did catch a couple, though my efforts to get her to learn to cast more were met with squeals of 'nooo!!' most the time. At least she tried it a couple times to get used to it.

Then eventually it was about time to finish. I decided to do one more cast and brought Adam over to reel in. We were reeling in and, wee, exciting things started happening to the bobber and line - it seemed like we had one on our last try! Sure enough, I got Adam to reel in and there was a cute little fish on the line - neato, his first fish. He was pretty intent and seemingly careful about landing this one, and we were able to bring it to shore - a mini-fish maybe 4" long, just Adam's size, heh. Then the funny part happened. Behind us happened to be the event organizer who apparently saw it all happen - a younger guy who was as excited as us. He measured fish junior and said he thought it might be the smallest fish and made a point of writing our info down. Neato!

We all went over to the award ceremony at the other end of the pond and waited to see what happened. They went thru various awards and eventually came to the different fish categories, with pretty cool trophies for the winners. 3rd place was called out, then 2nd, and then incredibly, they called out Adam McKell for 1st place! Andra excitedly took her brother up to get the large trophy that was up to Adam's neck or so - amazing! That was funny as all get out, us winning first place in a fishing derby, not being the big fishing masters. I guess we'll take the novice luck for this day. Andra wasn't too sure about the whole activity at the start, but between catching a couple little cute ones, then ending up with the big 1st-place catch, she was 'hooked', and we should have more fun angling experiences (and hopefully fish 'trophies') in the future.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

VGA: Boy Saver

VGA: Boy Saver

Sean McKell

November 2008

This topic has particular meaning to me, instilling a certain passion considering my experiences. So, on to the soapbox with some hopefully semi-coherent ramblings. I’m pretty sure I won’t say anything most people haven’t already thought about, but we all need to have things said again and again to spur us to action, eg: ‘repetition is the key to learning’, the prophets often talk of ‘remembering’, etc.

Video Gaming past

I remember back in the late 70s my dad getting one of the first personal computers – the Apple II. It brought a whole new world of fun and interest to our lives, and I remember playing my first video game: Space Invaders. It was relatively crude compared to today’s standards, but still held the same interest. Many other interesting and challenging games came along, and I and my brothers spent a good amount of time with them.

Also came the stand up video arcade games, where you pump a quarter to lose quickly, but eventually get good enough to make it to the holy grail – ‘turning over’ the score. It could take a lot of practice and money to get that good. I remember being enthralled enough with these games that I would spend a decent amount of time and money to play them. I hate to admit that I would even ‘borrow’ funds from parents in order to be able to play - it was something interesting that held attention, and was even addicting trying to get past the various levels and do better. I remember riding my bike to a pizza place that had arcades and spending some time there amongst a few other poor young souls that had made it a social event in a sad sort of way too often in their lives, and there was that groupiness that developed.

This arcading and computer gaming continued for maybe 1-2 years during my 11-12 year-old timeframe. Gratefully, as I think about it now, I kept reasonably busy with Scouts and church and school pursuits as well, with the normal encouragement from parents and being with other peers in quorum and class. These experiences outside of that gaming world provided real satisfaction, and eventually I somehow came to the conclusion that this gaming stuff was draining and diverting me of/from the enjoyment of real life and the satisfaction that comes from living real life in a real world. Challenge and creativity with real things came back to being more interesting in the end to me, though of course a fun diversion to the gaming world was had now and then, amongst the normal world of activities.

Virtual, Physical

So, more and more, life has become more virtual – where we don’t physically interact with each other or with things quite as much. This is a wonderful thing in multitudinous ways, providing easier and quicker communication, greater ability to learn without the overhead of having to spend time getting there, the list is endless. But, as many of us have already concluded, it just isn’t quite the same as actually ‘being there’. As we read in Moses 3:5,7,9: “For I, the Lord God, acreated all things, of which I have spoken, bspiritually, before they were cnaturally upon the face of the earth.” I imagine this creating things ‘spiritually’ included both planning/thinking, and creating some ‘virtual’ view of how things were to be. But, of course, God did not stop there. He wanted to really enjoy his creations, and thus created them physically. This earth and all of us are physical creations, backed by spiritual creation, both being our Father in Heaven’s great work.

Thus, God has made it so we need to deal with physical things in our lives – ‘by the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread’. In our day, most of us don’t really sweat directly to create our bread, but that bread doesn’t just get created – ‘poof!’ – from some Webkinz world of shopping. We really need to do physical things to survive, and even to thrive. Did our house get created by some ‘beam-me-up-scotty’ sort of magic, or did someone need to dig real dirt with some real shovel, or pump real nails with a real air gun, etc.? Do we change virtual diapers or pickup virtual toys or eat virtual food, or rather does raising children and keeping a house in order involve real physical work?

VGA: Boy Saver

Which brings me to explain the title of this rant of mine. In the spirit of AA (Alcoholics Anonymous), I thought with Joel Sy of something associated with video gaming addiction, and came up with the incredibly ingenious (oh geez) acronym ‘VGA’ for ‘Video Gamers Anonymous’. Interestingly, people who know computer stuff somewhat would recognize VGA as the acronym for Video Graphics Array – the hardware providing the graphics for us to see all that computer stuff, including the games, so it’s a convenient coincidence that the 2 acronyms are related in some way.

Throughout the history of the world, there have been many addictive distractions. I believe we would have to conclude that video gaming and other virtual pursuits (like cellphones/texting, chat rooms, etc.) have come into this arena as well. These activities are ok in themselves, and we don’t really find any prophetic prohibition of them per se on their own. But, like other addictive activities, these can distract and divert us from what is more important in this life, ie: they are under the heading of causing ‘sins of Omission’. I have sometimes termed these activities ‘Boy Killers’ because they prevent real life from being part of a boy’s necessary experiences to develop into a useful man (I would include anyone with this problem in the ‘boy’ word, its just that boys have the problem more than others in the video game world because they haven’t run into the real world necessity of having to provide for themselves yet).

So, what is VGA all about? In the world of AA, I understand that they have group therapy sessions to encourage each other in driving alcoholic addictions from their lives. In the same manner, I would say that VGA would be a way for the group involved to find other activities to do together which take them out of that gaming world into yet another VGA world – the ‘Vigorous Growth Activities’ world (how’s that for another convenient acronym coincidence, eh?). This world is the world that brings one back to the reality of this life in this physical world by doing more physical activities. What sort of activities? Well, they are already right in front of our face, and have been espoused by Church policy for years: Scouts, Duty to God, For the Strength of Youth. These provide a great group of activities to keep any youth busy, and will certainly be fulfilling physically and thus spiritually (for God has given no temporal law – they are all spiritual). They challenge us to do more than we think we can do, and thus gain self-esteem when they are overcome. In my view, one does not gain self-esteem from being told you are great, rather we gain self-esteem when we overcome various challenges in our lives.

My VGA Experiences

Harking back to my youth, we had a good number of group therapy ‘Vigorous Growth Activity’ sessions.

My first campout with Scouts when I turned 12 was a -10 degree snow camp experience up at the Aspen Grove area, and to this day I consider that to have been maybe the greatest camp experience I’ve had. Why? Because I had to learn quickly to deal with something physically challenging. We had to deal with cold and figure out what to do about it, and in the end, we actually had an incredibly grand time! The snow was 7 feet deep, but we built a fire and ended up with this fire on the ground with 7 foot walls around it. We kept warm by jumping off the latrine hut into the deep snow below. I think it was Joel Sy that jumped in feet first too far and, yep, left his moon boot (that’s dating us!) in the snow. That was a little worrisome, but we laughed about it and after some digging got it out and moved on. I remember Bro. Carlisle singing a goofy ‘Put another log on the fire’ song, and my dad pulling his hat off to show off crazy hat hair. There is some picture of us standing around the fire with goofy grins eating our bacon that we were able to heat up with the fire. Later of course we did physical sledding in physical snow down a physical hill trying to avoid physical trees. In sum we survived together, and thinking about it now, it brings tears to my eyes at how great an experience that was, and how incredibly grateful I am to have been a part of that amazing brotherhood that wouldn’t have happened in some non-physical manner!

We did bike hikes in our various jalopies we called bikes. 10, 20, 50 miles thru various parts of Provo and the Utah Valley brought their own bit of challenge and discovery. It’s interesting what we did and went through in all that, and I even have a good nose and tongue job from Drs. Nelson and Herrod to prove it after my excellent car crash. On our 50 miler, I remember we ended up at the church farm (what ever happened to doing church farm work anyway???), and camped overnight. We reluctantly at first, then with more spirit sang goofy camp songs. We played physical tag running thru a physical orchard, hiding in physical darkness.

There were a few 50/20 hikes – use your legs to go 50 miles in 20 hours or less. Our first one, my dad ended up dehydrated and so I went off myself for a ways until Joel Sy and Trevor Allred met up with me or I met up with them, I can’t remember. They seemed to be going too slow to me to make it in 20 hours, so I decided to go faster and moved on ahead. Well, at the Purple Turtle (a physical place with physical food, btw), I decided it wasn’t so fun to be alone and decided to take a breather and wait for those guys to catch up. Unfortunately, I apparently wasn’t watching when they went by and missed them, so I decided to give up at that 39 mile mark, with physically sunburnt backs of my knees. I called mom who came and got me, then later found out that Joel and Trevor made it to the end with 5 minutes to spare – ugh I missed out! That was a really disappointing feeling to not have been with them to the end, and I vowed to not let it happen again. Happily, a couple years later we all did it again and many of us made it in 14 hours or so, if not less. I remember those last miles were the achiest I think I’ve been in my life, but through trial and tribulation comes the reward, and we felt pretty awesome about enduring and overcoming.

I remember going up near some lake on a Scout camp, and as eager curious boys do, we figured that we needed a cool place to sleep in. So, the project was hatched to make our own log teepee sort of thing in the forest there. We thought about what to do, then hauled and worked until our 15 foot or so diameter, 10 foot high shangrilah was complete, then we sacked out in it with a bit of pride in our work, talking and joking then sleeping in the house that the 4th ward scouts built. The next day we hiked up the hill a ways over and under the forest debris until we found some snowbanks. From there we did some physical sliding, getting physically wet, but with physical thrill.

Another backpack trip was up to the Tetons in good ol’ Vardell Lines’ old blue van. That was a pretty awesome adventure. From Greg Pitts having to keep me from being swept down the river, to having an inch or so of water in our tent thru a night’s rainstorm, to pushing big boulders 1000 ft off a cliff down to the lake below, to having our hair stand on end from lightning striking 100 ft or so up the mountain above us, to suspending irritating some compatriots’ tent 15 ft in the air from a tree because they deserved it, to just being out there and enjoying God’s green, wet, blue, hard, dirty, fragrant earth, that was an experience I wonder if I’ll ever forget throughout the eternities.

Back in the stake softball days, we 4th warders under the tutelage of Bob Hamblin ended up near the top of the heap in the multi-stake area for a couple seasons I was there. I had real butterflys in my stomach at times from being nervous about doing the right thing, but after trying and working through it with great encouragement from the brothas, I came out better than before. Again, we hit physical balls, fielded with physical mitts, ran physical bases, slid on physical grass and dirt (I still have another scar to show I made it home head first), and had a good ol’ time trying to be our best out there under the sun and sometimes the stars.

For my Eagle project, I did Vial of Life, which was to provide a paper of health information for families to fill out, then put into a vial and leave in the fridge to let themselves or emergency personnel refer to when a health emergency arose. For this I had to create a real document to present to real people in a face-to-face meeting or 3. Such experiences will be had throughout life in different arenas that we come across.

In the End …

These are a few of my VGA experiences, and there are plenty of others. I imagine their worth cannot be estimated, considering the growth that came from going through and acting on them. Frankly, I can’t imagine I would be in nearly as decent a position that I am now in life without them. Beyond this life, though, I shudder to think what I would think of myself if I hadn’t shucked off the distracting world I was in for a time, coming out to the bright world of sun, air, endurance, commitment, camaraderie, brotherhood, love, and so forth. Father in Heaven is smart, He made this a physical world and gave us physical bodies on purpose, in part at least so that our spirits would have the chance to grow more than we otherwise would without the vicissitudes and joys that come from living in them.

In the end, when we face Father and Jesus again, what will we say when they ask us something along the lines of ‘what did you do with your earthly probation?’ Will we answer that we sat in front of some screen and figured out how to obtain all the secret mushrooms in Mario Brothers (or whatever game it is)? Or, more close to current life, in a college application, will this be our answer, and how will that go over with the prospective college? Or, what about an employer?

After having been through a virtual world of computers for my career choice, and then having seen how it works and doesn’t work in a world outside of that arena, I find that there is much satisfaction and strength to be had from being involved with the physical parts of this world. Though it often seems (and probably is) harder to deal with the physical realm, it also provides greater growth and ultimate joy – no pain, no gain.

I think of the pioneers and others that didn’t have the comforts we have, how they endured and overcame, and wonder if I would feel worthy to be among them. We say that these days we have different trials, trials of spiritual temptations to overcome. Well, I think that part of the overcoming of these temptations is to keep ourselves active in physical ways so that we are too busy to take notice of them.

Brigham Young’s widely known statement is certainly applicable to us now:

“The worst fear that I have about this people is that they will get rich in this country, forget God and His people, wax fat, and kick themselves out of the Church and go to hell. This people will stand mobbing, robbing, poverty, and all manner of persecution, and be true. But my greatest fear for them is that they cannot stand wealth; and yet they have to be tried with riches, for they will become the richest people on this earth” (Brigham Young, reported in James S. Brown, Life of a Pioneer [1900], 122-23).

God help us to keep this in mind and go forward being all we can be, obtaining strength and forgiveness from Christ and his atonement. Let us help save our boys (and girls, and parents) through Vigorous Growth Activities.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Rich Low, Poor Exalted

I (Sean) had an interesting experience and conversation while acting as a Republican 'poll watcher' on election day at our precinct. My Deomocrat counterpart was a friendly lady about my age I judged, with strong Liberal views on things, and was, I'm sure, very happy that Obama was elected. Our conversations ranged on various issues, including making socialized medicine the way of the land, and giving less-privileged people more help. I felt like I had to agree in a way with what she saw in the plight of various people, but with certain reservations and ideas of my own.

One important thing I gathered from her is that she feels people really do want to work for what they get, and by extension, improve their lot. This sounds good to me, but to really get to the core of the issue, I wanted to gather some information from our LDS Church sources to help delineate what I believe about the issue of 'taking from the rich, giving to the poor'. So, here are some of my findings and opinions, which reflect my Church's teachings, but for the normal disclaimer, all these ideas are not necessarily the views/policies of the Church. See '' for the Church's views, which I quote here in various places.

D&C 56:16-20: rich must give to poor; poor must be satisfied and labor with own hands
D&C 68:30-31: idlers, eyes full of greediness
D&C 75:29: be diligent, idler shall not have place
D&C 104:13-18: every man is an accountable steward; poor shall be exalted, in that the rich are made low.
Mosiah 2:14: King Benjamin labored with own hands for his sustenance, that people not be laden with taxes
Mosiah 4:16-28: rich should impart; poor should say 'i give not because i have not', but would give if had
4 Nephi 1:2-3,7,15-16: dealt justly with one another, had all things in common, no rich and poor, but all were free; did prosper exceedingly; no contention, could not be a happier people
Acts 2:44: had all things in common
Acts 4:32-37: one heart, had all things in common, none lacked

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Early Trunk or Treaties

Hey, how many of you have a Trunk or Treat or similar before Halloween? Our church ends up doing one every year, which is a nice quick cheap way to get plenty of good nutritious food for all involved. Two weeks of this excellent diet should clean out the young 'uns of any unneeded and unwanted word of wisdom-type material.

The kiddos even brought friends along to share the tum-tum yum-yums.

Poor Adam thought he was going to be stolen off to Afghanistan before he got to try out the new fad diet:

Monday, July 14, 2008

Sean's Freedom Run 2008

Hey, it was great to get back to the Provo Freedom Run again on Jul 4, 2008, the last time being 1994.

Back then in 1994, I remember starting around the Provo temple, then going south on 900 East, east on Center, then back west on Center St, then north on University to the Cougar track. That was a nice downhill for the most part, and I think I got around 40 mins - I was younger back then too. It was kinda fun to see Steve Young on the course, at his football pinnacle time. (Gossip note: I think he was running with a football friend and a girl, but I don't think that girl is his current wife.)

Anyway, this time was from Kiwanis Park, north to Univ Pkwy, west to Canyon, south to Univ, south to 100 S, east and up to Center, a spur past 900 E, then back north on 900 E. That first uphill was nice to get done at the first, then get downhill for a long while. It hurt as always to run, but just keep going. I had fun doing some high-stepping in front of the family at 750 E Center (thanks for the cheering, folks :-) ), which actually got me a little tired out. That final uphill to the finish was a long drag, oof, but that last stretch to the finish was a happy thing to come to. I'm happy to say I sprinted the last 1/2 block to the end.

So, I finished with 44:24 (see
Freedom Run 2008 results). Good ol' Joel Sybrowsky of course showed the way with his 40:30 or so - what an animal! I'm happy with what I did, and I think this was my fastest 10k since 1994 - wow, especially considering that me and other young whipper-snappers hiked Timp the day before; yes, I'll say we're pretty awesome.

Alright, now to relax a little more, but not too much - gotta keep the active edge to be able to keep up with our almost 2-yearold twins along with the others, and be able to hike more montanas !

Freedom Run 2008 results