California’s Minimum Wage Will Be $15 an Hour. Where Does Your State Stand?

I live out here in Utah and I’m mighty proud to say

that our state never raises wages in that ‘gentile’ way!

An honest dollar for an honest day of labor, chum,

keeps a man from turning into just a lazy bum.

Because, you see, with wages low a man must cast about

to find a second job and not expect a free handout.

That is why the hum of industry in Deseret

never slackens one iota, though there’s lots of sweat.

We do not desire filthy lucre and its spawn;

we are happy to get paid a buck to mow your lawn.

Hard work builds a character that money cannot grow.

(Besides, the legislature’s in the pocket of Costco . . . )



The Provo Museum of Mail Art

This is to announce the opening of the Provo Museum of Mail Art.

Submissions via snail mail in all media will be accepted and displayed at the Museum on a rotating basis. There are no entry fees. Multiple entries are encouraged. No electronic submissions are being accepted at this time.

All submissions become the property of the Provo Museum of Mail Art, and will be indexed and kept on file and accessible to the public.

Contributing artists are encouraged to include a brief biographical sketch if possible to display along with your work.

A catalog of all work submitted will be posted online at a date to be announced in 2016.

A new mail art subject will be announced on a monthly basis.

For the month of January, 2016, the subject is “Wherever you go, there you are.”  

Please send your mail art to:

Tim Torkildson

650 West  100 North  #115

Provo Utah  84601   USA

Tours of the Museum are by appointment only. To request a tour or for general inquiries please email the Museum at:  Please put “Provo Museum” in your subject heading.

Mail Art-Japan 2 (2)

Joe Hill’s Ashes


(Editor’s Note: Joe Hill was born this day in 1879. He was a notable, and notorious, union organizer who was brutally executed by a Utah firing squad in 1915 for a crime he did not commit.)

Joe Hill had come from Sweden for to find a better life;

but all he ever got from Uncle Sam was death and strife.

Traveling the country, working odd jobs as he could,

Joe Hill was lonely, shunned, and often quite misunderstood.


He wanted ev’ry worker to be unionized and safe

from bosses who would otherwise treat each man as a waif.

He was called an anarchist and wobbly by the mob

of plutocrats and toadies (ev’ry one of them a snob).


They killed poor Joe with bullets for a crime he didn’t do;

then burned him up for ashes that were scattered like the dew.

His dust still chokes the moneybags who exploit human flesh,

from the barrios of Chile to the slums of Bangladesh!  


My Soul to Heaven Wants to Soar

My soul to heaven wants to soar when’er I sing a hymn.

But when I reach the upper notes, I’m out upon a limb.

The spirit may be willing but the vocal chords rebel —

as I scale the treble clef my warbling sounds like . . . well —

if angels are recording all my choral genuflections,

it may be that the heavenly host is riven with defections!


389 new Utah laws take effect Tuesday


The Utah legislature has been busy as a bee,

passing bills to make the state go down in history.

Driving with a seatbelt now is mandatory, see —

if you’re caught without one you will pay a whopping fee!


The gas tax has been raised again; why am I not surprised?

My Mobile card is feeling mighty scanty and chastised.

County clerks from same sex hitching now can take a breather —

but what if they don’t want to marry reg’lar couples either?


By acclamation firing squads are once again a right

for those who with a bang want to go out into the night.

And finally no powdered vodka or Kentucky rye

will be allowed to make martinis that are very dry.


Like ev’ry legislature since old Solon banged his gavel

our legislature still has much to study and unravel.

We ought to say a prayer for them — or send a postal card

(or maybe put them in a padded cell with windows barred).

from a story on KSL 

Giving Away Money in Provo, Utah.


The Man with the Sign is iconic and depressing. He is seen in parking lots and at intersections, holding up a piece of cardboard asking for help. Is he scamming or does he really need help? It’s such a common sight that we usually just stare straight ahead, ignoring his plight, and pass by without acknowledging him (or her) in any way.  If nothing else, we thus deny these people their humanity.

So this morning I went over to Maceys in Riverside Plaza in Provo, Utah, withdrew a stack of ten dollar bills (a SMALL stack) from my bank, and stood next to the Plaza exit holding a sign that read: “PLEASE HELP ME GIVE AWAY $10.  THANKS!”

In two hours about 50 cars went by me. 45 of them did not look at me or acknowledge me in any way. The other 5 stopped, rolled down their windows, and offered ME money. They couldn’t understand the sign, or didn’t bother to read it – just assuming I was asking for money.

I assured them I was NOT asking for money; I was giving away ten dollar bills.

The looks I got from these 5 strangers ranged from incredulous double-takes to deep suspicion (I must be up to no good!) But each of the 5 took my ten dollars and drove away either happy and laughing, or deeply disturbed and worried that they had broken some law or contravened some basic principle of the Universe.

Two Provo police cars passed by me and didn’t bother to stop; I wonder if they treat all sign holders like that?

Today I am $50.00 poorer, but immeasurably richer in . . . hmmm.

Well, hell – maybe I’m just $50.00 poorer.

ADDENDUM: Dr. Lawrence Gray, of the University of Minnesota, had this to say about my post.

“Very funny, but the outcome was not at all surprising.  People’s prior experience is so uniform about people on the streets with signs, it takes more than a sign that says something different to overcome that experience.  This is an example of Bayes Rule, which implies among other things that if your prior probability is strongly in favor of one hypothesis, then it takes a lot of contrary evidence to change that in favor of a different hypothesis.  I’ll use your example in my probability class!”

AmeriCorps Journal. Part One.


So I started work with AmeriCorps and the Boys & Girls Club of Utah a few months back.  My job is to help teach STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) in the schools as a teacher’s aide.

My first school assignment was Sharon Elementary in Orem, Utah. To help run the after-school Science Club.

The first few weeks I just sat and smiled in an avuncular way at the kids, while Jeff ran things with experiments like Alka-Seltzer rockets and how to make a paper boat float.  He is a real dynamo, and when his university class schedule changed and wouldn’t allow him to continue leading the Club I had to step into his shoes.

I’m not sure I’m doing as well as he did.  He had a natural aura of command and an air of superior knowledge that awed me as well as the kids.

When I took over I was supposed to have an assistant, but he didn’t show up.  So I’m doing the whole thing myself.  It’s only a half hour, Tuesdays through Fridays, and each afternoon is a different set of kids – so I only need one new science project a week.  Thank goodness!

I started them off with an easy math project; flipping a coin 20 times to see how many times it came up heads and how many times it came up tails.  My goal was to introduce them to the science of probability and chance.  Once the kids realized they would be working with real, albeit paltry, money they went to work like fiends.

Only, most of them did not know how to flip a coin – so the nickels went flying all over the classroom.  I told them in the sternest voice I could muster that they’d have to pay me back if they lost any.  The coins continued to whiz through the air like miniature flying saucers.

And the results were . . . um, skewed?

Before they started flipping I told them, with a broad wink and tongue firmly in cheek, that I fully expected that each pair would come up with Heads 10 times and Tails 10 times.  This, of course, was a red herring, a jape, a piece of bunkum that I assumed the children would know could not hold up in a real demonstration.

I was wrong.  Either they had been so well indoctrinated by their teachers, or so intimidated by my presence, that they ‘fixed’ the results of their tosses so that it was Heads 50% and Tails 50%.

Yikes!  I quickly had them do it over again, and this time I emphasized that it SHOULD come up as a random ratio – NOT fifty-fifty.

It went better the second time, although two of the pairs still came up with a 50/50 ratio – and were then hesitant to tell me about it.

But it all worked out in the end, and now those children realize that if you flip a nickel 20 times you can get any number of different ratios – plus they also learned that if they ‘lost’ their nickel Mr. Torkildson would not really make them pay it back.

Next time, I’m using pennies.

The Workforce in Utah.


I am a high school student here in Sandy, USA.

But I am cheated of the skills to work and make good pay!

I turn my homework in on time, with never an excuse;

Now why would an employer want to hire such a goose?


We all know that excuses, temporizing, are what’s needed

In ev’ry corporation that is rated as top-seeded.

Hard liquor will I never touch, nor any glass of beer;

I cannot ever socialize with gentile working peer.


I’m honest as the day is long, I never tell a lie.

My boss will find I’m unbending as sturdy Captain Bligh.

I guess I’ll go to college to validate my view,

And then teach lower classmen at good old BYU.




The Utah legislature’s in an uproar, naturally.

Republicans and Democrats are braying constantly.

Republicans are saying that their caucus system’s broke,

Because of SB54 – a horrible dark joke!


They can no longer dictate who a party member is,

And this is causing blood pressures to rocket and to fizz.

So they have filed a lawsuit to disable this bad law –

Claiming it makes outsiders their deputized bashaw.


The Democrats, of course, have got a diff’rent point of view,

And say that the Republicans have taken a miscue.

And so it goes; the carousel that never stops to ponder

How much time they’ve stolen just to gibber and to squander.

A Little Town in Utah.


A little town in Utah will not pass a needed tax.

This is not opinion but a story built on facts.

Residents are happy with the current status quo;

So when the city council needed money, they said “No!”


Any council member who speaks up for tax increase

Is voted out of office and arrested by police.

So now the city council will cut back on many things,

From street repair to library, and even playground swings.


When “the people” speak here in our great democracy,

Public servants must respond without hypocrisy.

But when it comes to heeding  all this vox and populi,

I’ve often found “the people” don’t know beans from apple pie.