Recently Read Books

  • A Delicate Truth- John Le Carre (fiction)
  • Perfect - Rachel Joyce (Fiction)
  • The Expats - Chris Pavone (Fiction)
  • An Event in Autumn - Henning Mankel (Fiction)
  • Winter in Madrid - C.J.Sansom (Fiction)
  • The Brothers - John Foster Dulles and Allen Dulles - non-fiction
  • LIfe Among Giants - Bill Roorbach (Novel)
  • Empty Mansions - Bill Dedman (non-fiction)
  • Woodrow Wilson (non fiction)
  • Lawrence in Arabia (Non-Fiction)
  • In Sunlight and In Shadow by Mark Helpren (Fiction)
  • Lesson in French - Hilary Reyl (fiction)
  • Unbroken- Laura Hillenbrand (Non-Fiction)
  • Venice, A New History- Thomas Madden - (Non- Fiction)
  • Life is a Gift - Tony Bennett Autobiography
  • The First Counsell - Brad Meltzer (Fiction)
  • Destiny of the Republic - President James Garfield non-fiction by Candice Millard
  • The Last Lion (volume III)- William Manchester and Paul Reid (non-fiction, Winston Churchill)
  • Yellowstone Autumn -W.D. Wetherell (non-fiction about turning 55 and fishing in Yellowstone)
  • Everybody was Young- (non-fiction Paris in the 1920's)
  • Scorpion - (non fiction US Supreme Court)
  • Supreme Power - Jeff Shesol (non-fiction)
  • Zero day by David Baldacci ( I read all of Baldacci's Books)
  • Northwest Angle - William Kent Krueger (fiction - I have read 5 or 6 books by this author)
  • Camelot's Court-Insider the Kennedy Whitehouse- Robert Dallek
  • Childe Hassam -Impressionist (a beautiful book of his paintings)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Hair Cuts

I have never liked getting a haircut. I always put it off until my hair is too long. I have never had a regular barber since I was about 20. In the last 36 years I have probably had my hair cut at more than 100 different shops. I have had hairs cuts at the Salt Lake City airport, the Detroit airport, in Honolulu, Palm Desert, Salt Lake and other cities. Sometimes when I am driving down the road, I will see a place and stop in to get a hair cut. It seems to me that there are three basic types of places to get a haircut.

There are national or regional chains like Supercuts, Haircuts Plus and others of that ilk. These places are fast and relatively inexpensive but I don’t like them. Even though from time to time I get my haircut at these shops, I just don’t like them. They are not really barber shops. They are assembly lines. Each hair cutter uses the same technique. They want to know what your phone number is. Why do I have to give my hair cutter my phone number? Sometimes, I ask them for their phone number and they refuse to give it to me. Once, I refused to give them my phone number and they refused to cut my hair. At these shops there are women customers, men customers, little boy and little girl customers. All of the hair cutters at these places seemed to be named Mandy or Mindy or something similar. A lot of them look like I am their very first customer. The only conversation we engage in, is about the movies we have seen and how many kids we have. The magazines in the waiting area seemed to be geared for women and kids. Cosmo, Ladies Home Journal, and People.

The second type of hair cutting places is the high end “salon”. Some of these places are for men, some are for women and some are for both. I try to avoid these places. They are expensive and a hair cut takes along time as they wash your hair first and then you have detailed conversation about what you are trying to accomplish with your “look”. One time I was talking to some lady friends of mine in Palm Desert at their clothing boutique. I told them I was going to get a haircut. They asked who “did” my hair and I told them I was going to one of the inexpensive chains. They were as horrified as if I had told them I was going to eat road kill. They immediately called a male hair cutter friend of theirs at a Salon on El Paseo (A very high end shopping street) to make me an appointment. He agreed to squeeze me in as a favor to the ladies. The place was only a block or so away so I walked over. When I walked in I noticed that I was the only male customer among 7 or 8 women customers. My “stylist” was named Jake or Bobbie or something like that. He asked me to come back with him to a dressing room. He told me to take off my shirt and put on a bright green smock. I thought he was kidding. I had never changed clothes to get a haircut except during law school when I had no money and I used to sit naked in the tub while my wife cut my hair. (It was easy to clean up that way). Anyway, I took off my shirt, put on the bright green smock and walked with him to my chair. I sat in a row with six women around me. They each had on smocks but mine was the only green one. Jake (or Bobbie) told me the smock color had to do with what services would be rendered to the client. The lady next to me was wearing a blue smock and she had silver metal things in her wet hair. It made me glad I had a bright green smock on. Jake (or Bobbie) and I talked about track lighting, bamboo furniture and white wine. He did a good job (for a $125, plus tip, haircut I thought he should have let me keep the smock), but I was relieved to get out of there. Now, I refuse to go into any place that has the word salon on the premises.

The third type of hair cutting place is the “barber shop”. It has a red, white and blue striped pole or a sign with stripes. The hair cutters are called “barbers”. The barber shop’s customer chairs are soft, about 25 years old and surrounded with magazines. The magazines are Sports Illustrated, Hot Rod, Outdoor Adventure and Playboy. The best barber shops have at least 10 years of Playboys on the premises. The barbers are all named Joe or Sam. They cut your hair the way they want it cut not the way you want it cut. They talk to you about sports, or cars or politics. They tell you about the problems the last customer has with his wife, his business or his prostrate. They trim your eyebrows and your ears. When you walk out of there, you think, that was almost fun, I think I will go back to this place.

By the way, I think I need to get a haircut this weekend.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

My Dad

On this Father's Day I woke up thinking about my Dad. My Dad has always been a man of few words. His life has been a life of actions speaking louder than words. The lessons he taught were primarily taught by action and example.

My Dad taught me about hard work by working hard. I never saw anyone work harder than my Dad. He was a contractor. I worked for him every summer from the time I was 12 through my completion of law school. I never really saw him take it easy except for the few days he would take off from time to time. He did not coast through life. He would work all day, come in and eat dinner and then go back to the shop and work some more, building cabinets or laying out plans for the next day’s job. When I was a teenager, our church had a lot of summer activities at a local lake. Some of these outings were for the youth and others were for the entire family. There would be camping, boating, water skiing and just great fun on the beach. The campground was 70 or 80 feet above the beach and the trail down to the shore was steep and seemed even steeper going back up. One year when everyone was having fun on the beach and in the lake, my Dad built a staircase out of sand and dirt He worked for 4 or 5 hours with a shovel carving a staircase into the hillside to make the trek to the beach and back to the campground easier.

My Dad taught about me about doing the job right. He never did anything half way. If he undertook a job or a task, he not only completed it, he did it correctly. He wasn’t an irritating perfectionist, he just a man who did it right. Once he had me and another man build a herringbone patterned, hardwood floor in a men’s clothing store. We had to work on Sunday when the store was closed. He laid out the first few rows for us and then left for another job. Each board had to be hand cut. My co-worker and I worked all day and finished the job. When my Dad came back he looked at the floor and told us the floor was about a half of an inch out of alignment over its 30 foot length. I thought, there was no way that could be true. The floor looked perfect. We measured the floor from one of the walls and found the floor was indeed a half of an inch out of alignment. My Dad was not angry, he did not belittle us, he just said, we needed to start over and do it right. We removed all of the boards and rebuilt the floor. His client was not billed extra for this work. I am still convinced that no one would have every noticed the slight misalignment. But my Dad did and we did it right the second time.

My Dad taught me about love of country. He quit high school and joined the military to serve in World War II and thereafter. As a boy I saw photos of him as a Seabee in Cuba and Newfoundland, with natives in far off jungles, on ships on the high seas. He was on a tanker during the Battle of Guadalcanal in the Pacific Ocean. He told me that when his tanker went to fuel up a hospital ship off shore from the battle, the entire side of the hospital ship was red with the blood of solders being lifted on board. My Dad was not one to wear flag pins on his lapels or make speeches about love of country; he just did what needed to be done. His efforts, his work, his sacrifice taught me about love of country.

My Dad taught me about treating people with respect regardless of wealth or poverty, education, or station in life. He was a highly sought after contractor who had many wealthy and prominent clients. He treated them with respect and dignity. He employed laborers for hard and dirty tasks. He treated them with respect and dignity. I never saw or heard him belittle anyone or look down on any one. He treated everyone as an equal with a right to respect. This is rare in a society where we often treat those with greater resources as somehow more worthy of respect. I have been a lawyer for 32 years, however I still can vivdly remember, sweeping floors on job sites, going to the garbage dump, carrying wood and sheet rock. I am proud of what I did when I worked for my Dad . I learned that a person's worth as a human being is not measured in dollars or by his neightborhood or whether he has a tie on, but by what is in his heart, by how he treats others, and by what he gives to those around him.

My Dad taught me about love of family. He provided for our family. When I needed something, he gave it to me. He put me through college and law school. When I got engaged with no money, he bought the wedding ring. When he and mother would come to visit during my college years, he would bring a bag of groceries. Throughout my life he would always give me a hug and tell me he loved me and he still does.

My Dad was not one to stand up in church and give a sermon about how to live your life. He didn't tell you about some verse in the Bible. He just did those things that we are suppose to do because it is right. He showed his Christianity by helping those around him. If you needed his help, he helped. Most of the time he did not even need to be asked. He saw that help was needed and he helped. He taught the lessons of honesty by being honest. I have never seen the cosmetics of religion as important. The putting on of appearances so people will see how wonderful we are has never been a part of my life. I was taught about the virtures of life by my Mother and Father through their actions.

Some of you know my Dad and others don’t. But I tell you as I write this that I get misty eyed at the thought of him, what he did in life, how he acted and how he treated people. He was a man of few words, but a man of action.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad, I love you.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Granite High School

In this morning's paper there was an article about Granite High School’s 100th, and last, graduation ceremony. The first graduation was in 1909 and the last was held last night, June 5, 2009. The newspaper article brought back a flood of memories for me; memories about high school and memories about my life. I went to Granite, my father went to Granite and my Grandfather went to Granite. My father left high school early for World War II. My older and younger sisters went to nearby Olympus High School but I, went to Granite. Granite Students fought in World War I, World War II, the Korean Conflict, Vietnam. Gulf War I and now Gulf War II. The history of the 20th Century was the history of Granite High School.

I graduated 38 years ago. My, it does not seem that long ago. I seems like it was just a few years ago. The memories, the sounds, the images are still vivid in my mind.

I entered Granite as a 15 year old not knowing many people as most of my junior high friends went to Olympus High School. I went to Granite after being recruited by the head basketball coach. After I agreed to go to Granite but before sophomore year started, he took a job elsewhere. So here I was at a huge school, with a big student body, not knowing many people and the primary reason for me going to Granite was gone with the coach.

When I started, I was nervous as to how I would fit in and wondered if I would be able to find my classes on a campus with several different buildings each two to four stories high; more like a college campus than a tradition high school campus. The S building, the M building, the L Building, the Auditorium, the Gym, the Craft House and one or two others. I had classes in each building. Back then, there were three different gyms in two different buildings.

In my sophomore year I learned not to step on the beautiful Granite High School Seal which was made of colored tiles and located on the floor in the middle of the main hall of the S Building. Even the school’s bad boys avoided stepping on the Seal; allegedly, the punishment for doing so, was having to scrub the Seal with a tooth brush. I never saw anyone scrubbing the seal, but in my three years of high school I never saw anyone stepping on this symbol.

Granite is where I learned teamwork with my football and basketball teammates. I learned how to win and how to lose. Through my participation in student government, Granite is where I learned about leadership, responsibility, dealing with others, and treating others with respect and as equals. Through my participation in choir I learned I would not be asked to sing any solo’s in life.

I learned to drive a car at Granite. I bought my first and second cars while I attended high school. I loved my cars, especially my second car, a “throwup green” Dodge Challenger with a raised hood, big tires, and a Hurst four speed transmission. I remember the day I installed my first eight track cassette player in this chariot. After installation, the first tape I played was a Credence Clearwater Revival album. Gas was 29 cents a gallon. My car was not just transportation, it made me an adult, it gave me freedom, and it provided me with entertainment. If I had nothing to do, I went for ride. In November of 1970, I gave Utah Symphony Director Maurice Abravanel, a ride home in my throwup green Challenger after a Veterans Day concert rehearsal of combined high school choirs and the Utah Symphony. How exciting for me to take this world famous conductor home in my car.

The greatest high school athlete I ever saw went to Granite. Golden Richards was my friend and my hero. I was about 13 when I first met Golden and he always treated me with kindness. He was the star in football, basketball, and track. He played tennis. I was a sophomore when he was a senior but I used to watch him play when I was still in junior high school. Years later I watched in person as Golden played wide receiver for the Dallas Cowboys in a Super Bowl in New Orleans.

I made friends at Granite whom I thought would always be my dearest friends, but through the years they slipped away to build their own lives, careers and families. I have lost track of most of them but they are still part of the fabric of my life.

My high school girlfriend was a Granite High Cheerleader for three years. She became my first wife, the mother of my son and to this day, my cherished friend.

I left Granite as an 18 year old with a plan to be a lawyer, worrying about college and my lottery draft number. This was 1971, the Vietnam War was still being fought and a low lottery number meant I would be drafted into a war that I opposed. As it turned out, my lottery number was high, I attended college and law school, and I have practiced law for 32 years. The path of my life, and what I have become, was in large part set in motion at Granite High School.

Demographics change, buildings become worn out and schools close. We grow older and life events hectically move us from matter to matter. But when I close my eyes and remember, I can still feel the rush of students in the halls between classes, I can see the football stands filled with fans for night games and I can hear the "Song of the G",

“When sights and sounds of the campus
Fade in the long busy years,
Yet will return in our memories
Echoes of old songs and cheers.
You of the field, track and diamond,
Fighters for clean victory,
You who love the fair, square sport,
You'll hear the song of the "G"
Go it, Granite! Go it, Granite!
Hear the battle cry;
Go it, Granite! Go it, Granite!
Yours 'till we die.
She will remember, you'll not forget her.
Though you are still far away.
She is calling, calling to you ever.
Honor the grand old "G."

As for me I will indeed remember.