My Title of Liberty

     "In Memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children." - Alma 46:12    

School Papers

Random Number Generators A look at various ways that random numbers are generated.
A Nation at Risk A reply to an assertion by John Steinbeck
Last Thoughts A fictional account of the demise of the last early American prophet
How Could a Baptist ... Become a Mormon? My journey in search of Truth
Alone Is ... Free verse




Random Number Generators
MTH 105, 10:30 am Class
 - December 4, 1992  -

We chose, for our Term Project, to investigate ways in which random numbers are produced.

“A phenomenon is called random if individual outcomes are uncertain but the long-term pattern of many individual outcomes is predictable.”  Our Text, page 184.

     The Nature of Modern Mathematics, a textbook by Karl J. Smith, published in 1976, gives two tests for randomness:

     a. Each digit should appear approximately the same number of times. This means that, given enough such digits, the percentage of occurrence for each should be close to 10%.

     b. Are there any sequences of numbers? In naming 100 digits, we could expect a random selection to have a sequence of several digits.

I. Tossing a Coin.

     Coins have been tossed to make decisions, probably for as long as we have had coins. The two-headed coin probably followed soon after. A coin toss may be the most reliable way to choose between two equally desirable (or dreaded) outcomes. Some of the randomizing influences acting upon a tossed coin are: velocity, spin, wind speed and direction, and air resistance against the different surfaces of the coin. Gravity, though it always pulls downward, may combine with the others to have some effect on the result. One evidence that coin-tossing produces a random result is that it may sometimes produce long sequences of heads, or of tails.

II. Drawing Straws.

     Drawing straws must also be a very old method of choosing an outcome, due to its simplicity. There would be one straw for each person; all but one of which would be the same length. One person would hold the straws while the others, in turn, would draw a straw from his hand. The person drawing the odd-­lengthed straw would be chosen. As long as there is no cheating, and the visible parts of the straws appear basically identical, It should be a reliably fair way to choose who, of a relatively small group, will perform a duty, receive an indivisible portion, or make some other decision which requires the utmost impartiality.

     Drawing names or numbers out of a hat, or from some other container, is a common way of choosing from a group of people or options, and is akin to drawing straws.

     Years ago, you used to see on television, the use of large drums, into which postcards were put. The postcards were sent in by television viewers as an entry in a contest of some sort. The large drum was made so that you could see inside (so you could tell there was no trickery involved), and the drum was turned to mix up the cards, to make it as impossible as possible to locate any particular card, and then someone was blind-folded and led to the drum. At this point, a door was opened in the drum and the blind-folded person reached into the drum and pulled out a postcard, or more than one if there were more than one winner to be chosen.

III. Rolling Dice.

     According to the Academic American Encyclopedia, online with Prodigy, dice are “... the oldest gaming instruments known to humankind, ....“ They can presently be found in versions with different numbers of faces besides the original (presumably) 6-sided dice. There are games that use dice with letters, numbers, or dots, but all are used to represent a randomized outcome. We learned through this course how dice for gambling houses are made to exacting specifications, so that the randomness of the roll will not be skewed. As long as the roll of the dice is fair, the gambling houses stand to make a bundle.

IV. Spinning Wheels.

     Many board games use a wheel or circle divided into an appropriate number of segments with

some type of spinning pointer to select a number, or other outcome, by the position of the pointer when the pointer stops spinning. These can be random, by making the areas equal, or weighted, by varying the area of each segment. A famous example is the Wheel of Fortune from television. We learned about the roulette wheel in class. Some of us even remember the old game, Spin-the-bottle, which is a crude use of a spinning wheel for choosing.

V. Daisies.

     How many of us have picked up a daisy, or another flower, and started plucking the petals off one by one, muttering something like, “ She loves me. She loves me not. She loves me ... .”   How did it turn out? Chances are, you didn’t know when you started. Whether or not this is a good random decision-maker depends on what mechanism in the flower deter­mines the oddness or evenness of the number of petals. If you knew (which we don’t) that all daisies have an odd number of petals (or even), you would know whether to start with “She loves me.” or “She loves me not.”

VI. Lotteries.

     According to the Academic American Encyclopedia, “The earliest state lotteries were organized in France in 1520. In 1680, England held a historic lottery to raise funds for improving London’s water supply equipment. Spain developed the Gordo, and Ireland, the sweepstakes. Lotteries were popular in the United States ...“ until 1890, and until “1963, no government-sponsored lotteries were held in the United States.”

     Some lotteries used the spinning drum method as described in V. Lately, we seem to prefer the little balls blowing around in a plastic chamber, then popping up to the top as if chosen by the wind (which is believed to be pretty random) with numbers printed on them. In gambling, the numbers are compared with the numbers on a tickets held by the players to determine a winner. A lottery was used to select the Selective Service Numbers of men to be called into the Armed Services.

VII. Random Number Tables.

     Various textbooks have tables of random digits. Our textbook has the famous (or infamous) Table 5.1. It is very useful for classroom situations, in that it allows an instructor to designate a situation and a starting place, and he will be able to predict the outcome, and all students who follow the directions carefully will get the same outcome. But this shows that the digits are not truly random, because the outcome is predictable. And besides this, all possible outcomes are not representable. Using Table 5.1, for instance, it is impossible to represent an occurrence of more than three consecutive identical digits. In a table of 100,000 non-duplicated 5-digit numbers, you could not find represented an occurrence of more than nine consecutive identical digits. Tables are useful, but they have their limitations.

VIII. The Digits in the fractional part of Pi:

   The value of Pi has been approximated by a computer to 480 million digits (according to the Academic American Encyclopedia). The digits, 0 through 9, seem to be distributed randomly. If you ever needed a Table of Random digits, the 480 million digits of Pi (so far known) would make a doozy of a table.

Here it is figured to 500 decimal places:                    Pi = 3.  followed by

14159 26535 89793 23846 26433 83279 50288 41971 69399 37514 58209 74944
59230 78164 06286 20899 86280 34825 34211 70679 82148 08651 32823 06647
09384 46095 50582 23172 53594 08128 48111 74502 84102 70193 85211 05559
64462 29489 54930 38196 44288 10975 66593 34461 28475 64823 37867 83165
27120 19091 45648 56692 34603 48610 45432 66482 13393 60726 02491 41273
72458 70066 06315 58817 48815 20920 96282 92540 91715 36436 78925 90360
01133 05305 48820 46652 13841 46951 94151 16094 33057 27036 57595 91953
09218 61173 81932 61179 31051 18548 07446 23799 62749 56735 18857 52724
89122 79381 83011 94912

IX. Computer Random or RND Functions.

     Some computer algorhithms use Pi and a seed number to generate a random number between 0 and 1. This result is multiplied by the desired range of numbers and added to the desired minimum, INTed (the fractional part removed) and 1 added to give an integer in the desired range. The result of the first computation is fed back into the algorithm as a seed number to produce the next random number.

     Other computer algorithms may use a table, similar to Table 5.1, and a seed number (sometimes from the TIME function) to produce random numbers.

Often you may choose between a random function that will create the same sequence of random numbers every time the program is run, or an entirely new sequence each time the program is run.

     IN CONCLUSION, may we say that sometimes the oldest methods are the best. It is hard to beat the randomness of a tossed coin, or the roll of a well-balanced die. For otherwise uncomp­licated decisions, these seem unexcelled, but if we have to produce large numbers of random numbers, or simulate millions of random out­comes, nothing beats a good computer.



Not having read any of John Steinbeck's works in the last 20 years [now 30], I find myself at a disadvantage, since I would rather answer the man himself on his opinions, than what I perceive them to be through a faulty memory, or perhaps through an incomplete representation Nevertheless, I will respond to the assertion, as represented, that our nation is at risk because the American people are "selfish, self-centered, and incapable of handling most stressful situations," and that "our children are reared under such lenient conditions with little respect for themselves or others."

In regard to the assertion of our being "selfish, self-centered, and incapable of handling most stressful situations," I would admit that it is a condition of mortality that we are inclined to be self-centered, but would point out that there are many who rise above this tendency. We tend to see the acts of selfishness and greed, and failure to handle stress in the newspapers and on television, but we have also seen (I believe, only the tip of the iceberg) many instances in local or more general emergencies where selflessness is displayed, beyond what most of us may think ourselves capable. I believe that such greatness is in every one of us: not in America alone, but throughout the world.

In regard to the assertion that "our children are reared under such lenient conditions with little respect for themselves or others," I would say this: Many of our children are suffering from too little leniency, and many adults are suffering because they, as children, suffered. Fear is not respect. Love brings respect. It is true that we need to be firm with our children, but we cannot gain their respect by hitting them because we can't get them to do what we want them to do. We shouldn't even be able to respect ourselves as parents if we have to resort to bullying. My wife and I are learning ways to raise our daughter with love. We have not had to resort to hitting or bullying, though the urge does come to us a times. It is a matter of education, and help from the Lord to do that which we know to be right. Perhaps our nation is at risk partly because parents have not known how to raise their children with true respect: Parents must respect their children, who are a gift from God, and children must respect their parents because of the example of patience and love which they are shown.

In regard to the assertion that our nation is at risk, I believe that America is a land belonging to Jesus Christ and is blessed to those who are obedient, and cursed to those who are not. The nation is made up of individuals, some of whom are obedient to that which they know [or understand] to be right, and some of whom are disobedient.

"And if the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgements of God will come upon you; yea, then is the time he will visit you with great destruction even as he has hitherto visited this land" (Mosiah 29:27-39).

Yes, the nation is at risk, but it is also given a great opportunity. America is the land where Adam and his family dwelt. America is the land that was separated in the days of Peleg, the great-great-grandson of Noah, "for in his days was the earth divided" (Genesis 10:25). America is the land to which some of the scattered at the time of Babel were led (Book of Ether). America is the land to which various pilgrims, exiles and wanderers have come, led by the hand of the Lord, including part of the tribe of Ephraim of Joseph at the time of the fall of Jerusalem (about 600 B.C.). America is the land to which a Jew, Cristobal Colon (Columbus), was directed by the Holy Ghost (by his own confession). America is and has been a land to which God has chosen to bring some of all races and creeds, some in chains; most of them ignorant of their calling. They came, and are still coming. We as a nation have a great opportunity and a great responsibility. The world still looks to us to see what we will do with it. God is watching, too.

- David Sawyer, Summer 1992
written as an Essay for my writing class at Chemeketa Community College.



Last Thoughts

This is where I will die: Sitting on dry leaves amid patches of sunlight and shade, I lean my head back against this great tree and look up toward the leaves which are lashing at each other in the breeze. Though a few of the branches have long ago been hewn off by men and have healed over, the rest of the branches reach toward the sky and intermingle with each other in the canopy.

I am sitting here a short distance from the top of a hill, that I might not be easily visible to any who still search for me. I am the last of my people and my enemies seek my life. I have wandered many years, avoiding all contact with them because of their hatred; they would kill me if they found me.

They do not understand why they want to kill me; it seems right and natural to them. It is because they were brought up hating my people, and as long as one of my people lives, they will not be able to give up that hatred. I do not hate them; I cannot. I do not fear them, nor do I fear that old enemy, Death, for I fear only my God, and that is another kind of fear altogether.

My father, who led the armies of our people, refused to lead them when the people desired to attack our enemies in revenge, after they had been driven off from our cities. The people would not listen to his counsel that they humble themselves and thank their God for deliverance, but took it as a matter of pride that they were able to defeat their enemies. They began a war of revenge against their enemies, and the enemy began to capture our cities, and our people began to flee before them from city to city.

My father relented because of the state our people were in, and our people eagerly looked to him to lead them to victory again. He had no hope of victory, because our people had gone beyond their ability to repent; they did not give up their hatred or pride.

It was a terrible thing for my father and I to lead our people in the final battles with our enemies. We witnessed much carnage: our enemies in loincloths hacking with scimiters and axes upon the bodies of our people, and they, though in protective clothing, could not repel the attacks of so many of our enemy.

Finally, all my people, with their families, gathered to a hill much like this one, and prepared for the attack. When the attack came, our people were filled with terror. All but twenty-four of us, fathers, mothers, sons and daughters, died in that battle, and we only survived because we were wounded and were left for dead. And since that time, the other 23 have been hunted down and killed, and I alone am left of my people.

I have buried the records which were given me to safeguard, and those which I myself have written. They will be of great benefit to the descendants of those who seek my life, and to all people, when they are recovered and read. Like the leaves in the tree-top, the people will be stirred by them to great things.

I have had many dreams, or visions, from the Lord. I have seen the future of my enemies; indeed, I have seen the future of this world. The people who seek my life will suffer much, and also their descendants for many generations, but in the end, the records which I have hidden up will be recovered and brought to them. They will know of their fathers, and of their God. They shall be as the branches of the tree that reach to the sky. They shall intermingle with the other peoples and share with them their story, and the other peoples shall share their stories with them.

When I first sat myself down here, being too old and too feeble to care for myself any more, and having none to care for me, the birds brought food to me, that I might not hunger. Then, when I began to fast in preparation for death, the birds came, not with food but with their songs, to cheer me.

I have not eaten, nor have I been hungry, for many days now. I will close my eyes as if to sleep; but it will not be sleep, but an awakening. It has been a beautiful day. It is a good day to die, and a good day to begin new life.

- David E. Sawyer, July 11, 1992
written as an Illustration Essay for my writing class at Chemeketa Community College.



How Could a Baptist
[or a Hindu or an Atheist or Anybody]
Become a "Mormon"?


     I was attending a Church conference, a few years ago when someone came up to me and told me that he had a friend visiting with him who wanted to know how a Baptist could become a Mormon. She was a grandmotherly lady, and I told her my somewhat lengthy story.

     My first memories are of playing in a sandbox in the basement of the Keizer Community Church. It was my grandparents' church. My parents took me, and later my brother John, there for Sunday School and Worship Services. At some point, when I was still quite young, I became concerned about my eternal welfare and would kneel at my bedside and pray for Jesus to come into my heart so I could be "saved." After praying, I would climb into bed with an assurance that I was "saved;" however, the next night I would feel I had to do it all over again, and again. I finally decided to accept that I had done what was required, and to consider myself "saved."

     When I was in the Fourth Grade, my family moved into the newly forming suburbs [three] blocks east of Lancaster Drive. There were only two houses facing our street (which was not paved). We had a neighbor, Rev. Jim Spillman, who was starting a new church in town, the Willamette Baptist Church on the corner of 16th and "A" Streets. He invited us to come. We stayed. We had three pastors after that who helped guide me as I grew: John R. Turnbull, Jet S. Turner, and Warren L. Fleischmann. They were all good men who loved the scriptures and loved the people. John R. Turnbull, an elderly man, and a published author, who came here from Canada, baptized me into the Willamette Baptist Church; Jet Turner had been a missionary to Italy; and Warren was a fresh pastor, straight out of Seminary. I respected and loved them all (and still do).

     I attended 3 years at Salem Academy, a non-denominational Christian high school, rather than going to the public high school (North Salem High). I consider it a great experience, to have gone to school with others who shared the same spiritual interests. After considering a career as an astronomer, I decided to become a Baptist minister.

     I went to Judson Baptist College in Portland, Oregon, for 2 years and received a diploma. During that time, my faith was both nurtured and challenged. I attended Lents Baptist Church while I was going to school. At one time the college students at the church planned a debate on the doctrine we called "Eternal Security." I was the only one to volunteer to take the opposing view. I threw myself into preparing for the debate. I researched all the arguments I could find for or against the doctrine. I had been taking New Testament Greek so I examined the scriptures from the point of view of the original language. I organized the arguments by their logical validity and discovered to my surprise that the soundest arguments indicated that the scriptures did not teach that doctrine, which was a vital one in the Conservative Baptist group, anyway. The debate never took place, probably due to lack of interest, but the important comparison had already been made. I could not conscientiously become a minister of a church which taught what I believed the Bible did not teach - I could not just avoid the doctrine.

     I attended Oregon State University for half a year trying to continue my education, but dropped out due to not having a real goal, not being able to get the courses I needed, and financial problems.

     Somehow, I got directed to the Salvation Army, probably by a friend. They had only a few doctrines one had to accept and I believed in all of them, so I became a member. I met my first wife, who was Catholic, and we were engaged.

Not being a student any more, I began considering my options regarding the Draft. I couldn't picture myself killing people - it went against everything I believed. I even considered going to Canada. One day, I was reading in the Bible, in Jeremiah chapter 42, and heard, not with my ears, but just as certainly, "Join the Army." There was no doubt in my mind who had spoken to me, or what was meant by it, so I went down to the Army recruiter, looked over their options and signed up for a Job on a delayed entry program. I was in Basic Training a couple of months later. I trusted that He who spoke to me would handle things, and indeed, I did not have to kill anyone. I learned to repair printing presses, and then was sent to Okinawa.

     On Okinawa there were no Salvation Army chapels, and I found the base chapels too wishy-washy, though the chaplains were fine men. They had to cater to too many different churches. I found a Pentecostal Servicemen's Center off-base that was spiritually edifying for me. There, among other things, I was shown scripturally that the gift of the Holy Ghost is not given automatically when you believe in Jesus. They said that the gift of tongues was given as a sign that you had received the Holy Ghost. I got off by myself and prayed for the gift of the Holy Ghost. I went home from Okinawa discouraged because I never spoke in tongues, though I heard others do it, and I believed the scriptures said it was necessary to receive it.

     I returned to Oregon and the Salvation Army. I married my first wife in an ecumenical wedding in the Salvation Army chapel. Two Catholic priests attended and one of them co-officiated in the marriage ceremony. That was something.

     One day, as will happen, two Jehovah's Witnesses came to our door. I was interested in listening to them, but my wife didn't want to, so we sent them away. After my wife died, however - she died after we had been married barely 6 months - they came again. I listened. They showed me that the doctrine of the Trinity was not scriptural, that it was a later invention. I believed it. I discussed it with my Salvation Army Captain (like a pastor), and with another friend who was a Methodist minister, neither could give me any acceptable answers to this from the Bible. I spent several months studying with the Jehovah's Witnesses, even to going door to door with them.

     One thing they taught was that Jesus was resurrected without a physical body. I could not accept that. The scriptures plainly say that Jesus showed himself to his disciples, telling them (in the Witnesses' own translation) "See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; feel me and see, because a spirit does not have flesh and bones just as YOU behold that I have: (Luke 24:39). He then proceeded to eat a piece of fish as further evidence that he had a body.

     After that, over a couple of years, I attended several Pentecostal Churches and my friend's Methodist church. I met and married my second wife. I attended a Seventh-day Adventist church, which taught me the value of the Sabbath. Even though they believed in the Trinity, I began to feel pretty good about that church. I was also looking into the Worldwide Church of God which had a televised preacher. They taught, among other things, about the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel.

     At this time, I was working at the Y.M.C.A. in Salem. I was actually considering starting my own church, teaching what I found the scriptures to say. One night, one of the residents was sitting in the snack area at the "Y," and asked me what I thought about the Book of Mormon. Everything I had ever been taught about Mormons must have come to mind at once. I told him I thought that Joseph Smith had been tricked by a devil disguised as an angel, that he probably believed what he wrote, but that it was all a hoax perpetrated by the devil. (You see, once in high school I had a chance to get my hands on a blue paperback version of the Book of Mormon, and I prayed to God to show me what was wrong with it: I opened it up to Mormon 8:12 which says, "And whoso will not condemn it because of the imperfections which are in it, the same shall know of greater things than these." I closed the book thinking, "The Bible doesn't have imperfections," and didn't think about it again for 10 years).

     He responded with the statement that I would have to read it and ask God if it were true to be sure. That stopped me. I had done the same thing with the Bible back at Judson Baptist College. I had gotten the answer then that the Bible was true, and have not doubted it since. I agreed with him, and said that I would do that, for I was still looking for the Truth, and had not found it all in one place yet, and even if this was false, it would be worth finding out for sure.

     During this time, my son was born and we moved to West Salem, I was reading the Book of Mormon and praying to know if it was true. I finished the Book of Mormon and began reading the Doctrine and Covenants, a book of revelations received by Joseph Smith in regard to the Church and the Gospel. I thought to myself, if anything, this book will convince me it is not true because the "stranger" doctrines such as plural marriage, etc., were in it. When I was almost precisely in the middle of the book, I had occasion to be walking up to the Mormon Bishop's home (I forget why) and suddenly I had thoughts and feelings come to me which I cannot convey to anyone else. I think of it somewhat like having one of those 500 piece jigsaw puzzles in a box and having the pieces jump out of the box onto a table and assemble themselves correctly of their own accord. All of the doctrines which I had wondered about for so long, and many other details besides, suddenly came together into one unified whole, and it was as if a voice spoke to me, comfortingly, saying, "Do not doubt, it is all true."

     I went to Albany, Oregon, where my parents were living and told them that I was going to be baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons). They asked me to wait a year (hoping this craziness would pass). I said it would not be right to wait, since I knew it was the right thing to be baptized. They asked me if I would talk to their pastor, Warren Fleishmann - he had been one of my pastors when I was a youth. He saw me immediately, no doubt as concerned as my parents were. He had a two-sided mimeographed sheet with information about the Mormons on it. He asked me questions. At one point he quoted a verse from the Book of Mormon from his paper and asked me if it didn't contradict the Bible. I asked him if he knew what the context was. He didn't. I opened my Book of Mormon and read the entire chapter, then told him that I didn't see any conflict with the Bible. We parted, neither having changed our point of view.

     I was baptized by the Bishop of the West Salem Ward. Since then it has been 17 years. I have been through a divorce (my son's mother), a third marriage, a serious auto accident, the death of my third wife, a fourth marriage, the birth of my daughter two and a half years ago, and the loss of a job which I had worked at for 16 years. I have no reason to doubt that I made the right decision when I joined the Church. Because of the Gospel which I have received, I understand the relationship between the members of the godhead, I have been baptized by the authority of Jesus Christ, have received the gift of the Holy Ghost, been ordained to the Priesthood (unpaid), have been privileged to give blessings to others with the authority of that Priesthood, and been sealed to three of my wives for all eternity (it's legal as long as they are not all alive at one time). I have had the opportunity to do work in the Temple and help others to have the same blessings.

     My story shows that anyone can become a Mormon, that is, become a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Everyone will not go through exactly the same experiences which I have had, but they must have a desire for the Truth, and have faith in God (which can be nurtured), believe that God will not give a serpent for a fish or a stone instead of bread to those who ask him sincerely, and be willing to act on that which God tells him/her.

In the last chapter of the Book of Mormon there is a great promise: "And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things" (Moroni 10:4, 5).


- David Sawyer, Summer 1992
written for my writing class at Chemeketa Community College.



Alone Is ...
A cloud-shrouded peak in the cold rarified air, lofty and inaccessible - a mountain spring bubbling from beneath a rock  - a cotton cloud in an otherwise clear blue sky - a pearl glinting in an oyster - the Evening Star on a moonless night - an oasis in the desert - the full moon just before sunrise  - the last brown leaf on the tree.
A fly, struggling in a spider's web - an eagle riding the currents of the air - a canary in a gilded cage - a wandering lamb - a spaniel left in a car while its owners are shopping - a robin's egg in the grass.
A weather-worn barn - a prison tower - a rope bridge over a chasm - a deserted lighthouse on a jetty - the caboose of an empty train - a broken-down carousel in a forgotten fairground.
A snowman wasting away in the grass - an errant balloon - the forgotten toy - a floating bottle with a note inside - the last crust of bread.
An empty mailbox - junk mail - a busy signal - reaching an answering machine - an echo - receiving a cold shoulder.
A ship at sea in a storm - a flat tire and no spare - a hitchhiker's thumb.
An orphan sleeping in a cardboard box in an alley - a child crying because she cannot find her parents in a crowd - a condemned man blind-folded in front of a firing squad - a football quarterback - a pioneer - a straggler - a dreamer of dreams - a man or woman at prayer - a sinner - the self-righteous - a leper calling out, "Unclean!"
Hate - Fear - Jealousy - unrequited love - having to always be right - divorce - defeat - losing a friend - the death of a loved one -staring up from the mud through barb-wire and tracer rounds - peace and quiet.
What we always are - What we never are.


- David Sawyer, Summer 1992
written for my writing class at Chemeketa Community College.