Easy to Maintain Double-Rail Playground Slide

In developing countries, standard metal slides can be a serious problem.  The sheet metal that the children slide on can:

  • have rough joints,
  • get hot during intemperate weather, and
  • be subject to rusting in humid climes.

Playground Slide with Maintenance Issues

For these reasons, I’ve been looking for a safe playground slide that is relatively easy to fabricate.  It turns out that there is one in common use in the United States.

At a recent visit to a playground near my home in Orem, Utah, I saw an ideal design.

Banister-Rail Playground Slide in Orem, Utah

This double-banister slide shows signs of heavy use.  This particular slide is attached to an elevated platform.  But there is no reason it has to be.

David Cardenas-Torres in Cusco, Peru, has come up with the design below.

This standalone double-rail banister slide will be an excellent addition to our developing country playgrounds in Peru and Uganda.

Double Rail Playground Slide Installed at a Primary School in Urco, Peru

Peruvian Children Enjoying Their New Slide

The first prototype was installed at a primary school in Urco, Peru.

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Installing a Playground High in the Peruvian Andes

On May 5, the Cardenas-Torres family (Andean Quechua World Organization) travelled high into the Andes to install a playground at a village school high in the Andes.  The Peruvian village of  Sipasqanch provides porters for mountaineers from around the world

Work Crew Gathered Around Monkey Bars

Assembling the 4-Seat Swing Set

Lifting the Swing Set into Place

Quechua Children Trying Out Their   New Climbing Tower

The C-T family installed a climbing tower, monkey bars, and a swing set.  They got great assistance from the local villagers who helped carry the equipment, assisted with assembly, dug holes, and mixed and placed concrete.

The village children were very cute in their traditional costumes.

C-T granddaughter with Attractively Dressed Village Children

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Why Do Mormon’s Keep Throwing God “Under the Bus”?

We Mormons (particularly LDS leaders) still haven’t admitted that it was Brigham Young’s (uninspired) prejudice that initiated the black priesthood/temple ban.  And that it was subsequent (uninspired) presidents of the Church who continued the practice.  How many times were we told that this discrimination was doctrine?  Even after the ban was lifted in 1978, forty years ago, many Mormons continue to believe that the ban was from God.  And Church leaders have yet to apologize for the more than a century of discrimination against the black community.  Racism is man-made; we need to deal with it.  So are other forms discrimination, like the Church’s current attitude toward the LGBTQ community.  Yet we continue to throw God “under the bus.”

And to be perfectly frank, I’m more than worried about the Church’s upcoming celebration of the 1978 “revelation” lifting the priesthood ban.  Who celebrates a major faux pas?  Our discrimination was wrong.  But if the Church chooses this moment to apologize, then my criticism is unfounded.

The latest example of throwing God “under the bus” is from aggressive Mormon apologist Daniel Peterson.  He tries to explain why there are no scientists among the Church’s current leadership:

The most obvious and reliable answer to that question is that, for whatever reason, God hasn’t called them.  But I speculate, too, that the current needs of the international Church call for particular skills that are perhaps less common among scientists than among others of other professional backgrounds.

Historically, scientists have been very important for the leadership.  It was John A. Widtsoe who helped keep Joseph Fielding Smith in check.  Smith was only able to publish his ridiculous Man, His Origin and Destiny after Widtsoe had passed away.

To say that scientists don’t generally have the requisite leadership skills to lead an international church is a ridiculous excuse.  What and lawyers and doctors do?  Continuing to load the top 15 with businessmen may make for a great corporation with “interesting” investment decisions, but it also severely handicaps leaders when it comes to understanding issues like the genetics of sexuality.

Another interesting question would be:  Why aren’t there also more theologians, philosophers, and social scientist among the LDS Church’s top leadership?  Wouldn’t it help with understanding Mormon history?  Wouldn’t it help when dealing with ethical issues?  Might it not help with understanding male/female dynamics?

LDS leaders need to take responsibility for their very human decisions.  The mistakes of man shouldn’t be blamed on God.

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How Dim Were the Dark Ages?

By Daniel Peterson (sic et non):

Here’s a passage from The Victory of Reason:  How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success, a brilliant and provocative book by Rodney Stark.

Dr. Stark, now in his mid-eighties, is a famous sociologist of religion who taught for more than three decades at the University of Washington and then, after retirement from that school, assumed a position as Distinguished Professor of the Social Sciences at Baylor University and became co-director of the university’s Institute for Studies of Religion.  He describes himself now as an “independent Christian,” although he identified himself for much of his life as an agnostic:

For the past two or three centuries, every educated person has known that from the fall of Rome until about the fifteenth century Europe was submerged in the “Dark Ages” — centuries of ignorance, superstition, and misery — from which it was suddenly, almost miraculously rescued, first by the Renaissance and then by the Enlightenment.  But it didn’t happen that way.  Instead, during the so-called Dark Ages, European technology and science overtook and surpassed the rest of the world!

The idea that Europe fell into the Dark Ages is a hoax originated by antireligious, and bitterly anti-Catholic, eighteenth-century intellectuals who were determined to assert the cultural superiority of their own time and who boosted their claim by denigrating previous centuries as — in the words of Voltaire — a time when “barbarism, superstition, [and] ignorance covered the face of the world.”  Views such as these were repeated so often and so unanimously that, until very recently, even dictionaries and encyclopedias accepted the Dark Ages as an historical fact.  Some writers even seemed to suggest that people living in, say, the ninth century described their own time as one of backwardness and superstition.

Fortunately, in the past few years these views have been so completely discredited that even some dictionaries and encyclopedias have begun to refer to the notion of Dark Ages as mythical.  Unfortunately, the myth has so deeply penetrated our culture that even most scholars continue to take it for granted that — in the words of Edward Gibbon — after Rome fell came the “triumph of barbarism and religion.”  (35-36)

Webmasters Note:  Hight commenting on Daniel’s blog takes issue with Stark:

How shall I harmonize the seeming contradiction between the following two statements?

Dr. Stark writes: “… during the so-called Dark Ages, European technology and science overtook and surpassed the rest of the world!”

While earlier this month you [Peterson] upvoted this statement: “… from about 750 to 1100, Islamic science and technology far surpassed those of Europe, which needed to recover its heritage and did so to some extent through contacts with Muslims in such frontier areas as Spain.  Islam was Europe’s teacher.”

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Wayfarers Chapel in Rancho Palos Verdes in California

According to Daniel Peterson, an impressive place to visit is Wayfarers Chapel in southern California:

[If you can’t have Frank Lloyd Wright design your celestial home], there’s always his son, Lloyd Wright (1890-1978), who himself wasn’t too bad.  Among other things, he designed the Hollywood Bowl.  But I’m particularly — no, passionately — fond of his Wayfarers Chapel, a jewel that’s located along the coast of southern California at Rancho Palos Verdes.

Daniel is excited that if Frank doesn’t make it to the Celestial Kingdom (Mormonism’s highest heavenly level), that maybe Lloyd can design his heavenly aerie.  Assuming Daniel makes it, of course.

Wayfarers Chapel in Southern California

According to the Chapel’s website:

The completed Chapel was dedicated in 1951 as a memorial to Emanuel Swedenborg, theologian and scientist from the 1700’s. Swedenborg’s spiritual illumination of the Bible is the basis for its sponsoring Christian denomination, the Swedenborgian Church.

When the Chapel was completed, it stood alone like a precious jewel on a deserted dusty knoll overlooking the blue Pacific. Today what you are looking at is a “tree chapel.” Chapel architect Lloyd Wright had been inspired by the cathedral-like majesty of the redwood trees in northern California. The redwood trees that surround Wayfarers Chapel are forming living walls and roof to a natural sanctuary encased in glass with view of the surrounding forest and nearby Pacific Ocean. These are typical traits of Organic Architecture, which aims at using nature as the framework and regards the space inside as sacred.  Lloyd Wright’s design of Wayfarers Chapel is the perfect combination of nature and architectural genius and is one of the foremost examples of organic architecture.

Wayfarers Chapel is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Interior of the Wayfarers Chapel

Which then leads to the Swedenborgian Church and Emanuel Swedenborg:

The New Church (or Swedenborgianism) is the name for several historically related Christian denominations that developed as a new religious movement, informed by the writings of Swedish scientist and theologian Emanuel Swedenborg (1688–1772). Swedenborg claimed to have received a new revelation from Jesus Christ through continuous heavenly visions which he experienced over a period of at least twenty-five years. In his writings, he predicted that God would replace the traditional Christian Church, establishing a “New Church”, which would worship God in one person: Jesus Christ. The New Church doctrine is that each person must actively cooperate in repentance, reformation, and regeneration of one’s life.

Which closes the circle for me (being born LDS).  Several authors have noted the similarities between Swedenborgianism and Mormonism:

  • Three degrees of heaven and the 3 levels in the highest degree;
  • Importance of works in obtaining a celestial reward; and
  • The apostasy of the early Christian church.

Craig Miller has written a particularly interesting piece comparing the 2 religious movements.

It’s time for me to visit the Wayfarers Chapel in southern California and learn more about the New (Swedenborgian) Church.

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Brilliance of Frank Lloyd Wright

By Daniel Peterson (sic et non)

In my youth, I had a passing desire to be an architect.  The principal factor that dissuaded me from that ambition was my utter and absolute lack of any relevant talent.

My main inspiration was the work of the great Frank Lloyd Wright.  I still love his work. And, perhaps not quite by coincidence, I was heavily influenced in my teens by Ayn Rand’s novel The Fountainhead, which I only learned considerably later was based to at least a certain degree on Wright’s actual career.  (I’m not sure that I would find the novel so appealing today.)

Anyway, after arriving at Sky Harbor Airport this morning and renting our car, we went to Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home, architectural school, and “desert laboratory” in Scottsdale.  Wright himself was not only a genius but a . . . well, shall we say, a character.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West

“Early in life,” he recalled, “I had to choose between honest arrogance and hypocritical humility. I chose the former and have seen no reason to change.”

Once, called to testify in a court case, he was asked to state his name and occupation.  “Frank Lloyd Wright,” he said.  “The world’s greatest architect.”  When, after the hearing was over, someone chided him for such vanity, he replied, simply, “I was under oath.”

He had little patience for convention or mediocrity.  “Harvard,” he said on one occasion, “takes perfectly good plums as students, and turns them into prunes.”

“The physician,” he once said, “can bury his mistakes, but the architect can only advise his client to plant vines.”

All around the gift shop at Taliesin West are signs and mugs and other items bearing what is billed as Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Organic Commandment”:

Love is the virtue of the heart, sincerity the virtue of the mind, courage the virtue of the spirit, decision the virtue of the will.

There are worse credos to live by, in my judgment.

There are perhaps some grounds for worry, but I hope that he made it to heaven.  Because I want to hire him to design my mansion there, should I too make the cut.


Webmaster Note:  While I disagree with Daniel’s politics and style of Mormon apologetics, I too enjoy the work of Frank Lloyd Wright.

My Relatives and I Visit Falling Water

Several years ago, I had the pleasure of visiting Taliesin West in Scottsdale and thorough enjoyed the tour.  Last Fall, my brother, 2 grandsons, and I visited Falling Water southeast of Pittsburgh.

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Looking for Anasazi Ruins on Cedar Mesa

On a recent family vacation to southern Utah, we explored areas on Cedar Mesa.  We took a road west of the highway, across from the road to Cigarette Spring.  The first day, we explored a canyon just off Government Trail.  We located two Anasazi ruins.  One a cliff structure and the second a lookout structure that is dramatically sited on a outcrop promontory.

Cliff Structure that Appears to Have Its Original Wood

Note Lookout Rock Structure on Nearby Outcrop

On the second day, my son quickly located a ruin near a road that headed southwest before the turnoff to Government Trail.  This structure is located in a ground-level cave, and had an interesting granary.  Eventually, on the other side of the access road, we identified a distant cave that appeared to have ruins.  We were able to confirm the find.

Small Cave Ruins Located on Cedar Mesa

A Very Efficient Entry to a Granary

Cliff Ruin

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