A Really Nice Thing Happened to Me in Kansas City

Dawn and I have just finished attending the annual conference of the Mormon History Association in Kansas City, Missouri. For the first time in several years I did not present a paper at this conference, so I relaxed and enjoyed listening to excellent presentations by other fine scholars.

Although I didn’t speak, a very nice thing happened to me nonetheless. At the Awards Dinner on Friday night I received one of three J. Talmage Jones “Article Awards of Excellence” for my BYU Studies article titled The Boggs Shooting and Attempted Extradition: Joseph Smith’s Most Famous Case.” The other two who shared the award were Matthew J.  Grow (history professor, Southern Indiana University) and Edward Leo Lyman (retired history professor, Cal State San Bernardino). Both Matt and Leo have been recent speakers at our Miller Eccles Study Group meetings and Dawn and I had a chance to get to know them better by taking them out to dinner. They are both fine historians and speakers.

I don’t know if it is ingrained in every personality to want (from time to time) a degree of validation, but I know it is in mine. I’m not sure why — I’ll leave that up to the psychologists. I know my little award doesn’t compare to winning the Nobel Prize, or the Pulitzer Prise, or even the MHA “Best Book Award,” but it made me feel good. It was a nice reward for the enormous amount of time I spent researching, writing, re-researching and re-writing the piece. Perhaps I would accomplish more if I pushed through each task more quickly. I ask myself, Why strive for perfection when you know you’ll never come close to achieving it? Perhaps it is my mother’s mantra that continues to ring in my head: “If something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.”

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An Angelic Visitation

OK, I may have gotten carried away with this blog title.

On my birthday (May 25) Dawn and I attended a baseball game at Anaheim Stadium between the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the Toronto Blue Jays. We don’t attend live sporting events very often so when my Fidelity Investments representative called a few weeks ago and offered two free tickets in their luxury suite I accepted.

Anaheim Stadium is located just a few miles from our house and getting to the game is quite simple. By leaving at 6:00 p.m. we were at the gates of the parking lot by 6:20, giving us plenty of time to park and find our suite before the 7:00 start time.

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A Magically Beautiful Night

I planned to spend the day following my Kennedy School panel traipsing around Boston and Cambridge, indulging in one of my loves: photography. I had even lugged my big, heavy Nikon D300 (with external flash attachment and spare battery) to Boston with me. On Wednesday morning when I looked out my window it was gloomy, so I dressed warmly grabbed my camera and headed for the bus stop, intending to go to Cambridge. As soon as I reached the corner it started to rain. I ducked into a little bookstore called “Trident Booksellers & Café” and found they had a terrific breakfast menu, so I ordered a New England-style omelette made with apples and creamy brie.

[Left: Tyson at the Middle East]

I had hoped the weather would clear a bit while I was in the café, but it was not to be. If anything, the rain was falling harder when I left, so I just went back to the Harvard Club and spent the afternoon in my room working on various projects – the Miller Eccles website and some family history research. It was a shame to spend my only free time in Boston in a bedroom, but there seemed to be no appealing alternative.

During the afternoon Tyson called – he was en route from New York City to Boston – and we made arrangements to meet for dinner at a restaurant that was part of the club where his band, called Magical, Beautiful, would be performing. By then the rain had mostly stopped, so I took a bus to Central Square (near MIT) where I soon found The Middle East Restaurant and Nightclub.

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“Is Marriage a Right?”

A Panel at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government

I mentioned in my last blog entry that my plan was to spend the second week of my Utah stay attending the NGS annual conference in Salt Lake City. I had even paid my registration fee for the event. However, shortly before I left for Utah, I was asked if I could participate on a panel at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government that would address the topic, “Is Marriage a Right?” It would require me to miss most of the NGS conference.

[Right: Harvard Kennedy School’s Littauer Building]

Nevertheless, this seemed to be a great opportunity to return to Cambridge and speak on a subject I feel passionately about and Kennedy School students are likely to be heavily represented among future leaders of governments. I agreed to go.

The panel was co-sponsored by four of the Kennedy School “caucuses” (affinity groups) – Mormon, LGBT, California and Massachusetts. It would bring together students from a church that supports laws prohibiting same-sex marriage (Mormon), a group that is directly affected such laws (gays and lesbians), a state where same-sex marriage is legal (Massachusetts) and a state where it is not (California).

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