Monday, December 23, 2019

What Gear Should You Bring For a Ski Trip?

Gear for a ski trip
What all should you bring on a ski trip, gear-wise? Credit: SnowBrains
It's the holidays, and for those of us lucky enough to escape work and the in-laws we are going to want to go skiing. I love ski trips, especially ones that involve the freedom of driving from ski area to ski area. But when going on an extended ski vacation, it's crucial that you bring all the right gear - for both comfort, and efficiency. That's why I decided to provide a list of everything gear-related that I bring when going on a ski trip so you don't leave anything out the next time that you decide to hit the road to hit the slopes.

This is everything I brought with me on my latest ski-adventure to the mountains of New Mexico:
  • Helmet
  • Skis - ON3P Jeffrey 108s
  • Adjustable poles
  • Climbing skins
  • Backcountry backpack
  • Avalanche Transceiver + spare batteries
  • Avalanche shovel
  • Avalanche probe
  • First aid kit
  • Headlamp
  • Binoculars
  • Paracord
  • Voile strap
  • Dry sack
  • Sun screen/moisturizer
  • Chapstick
  • 2 pairs of goggles - one for bluebird days, the other for storm days
  • Ski boots - Lange XT Free 120
  • Boot dryers
  • Toe warmers
  • Travel backpack
  • Puffy/mid-layer
  • Insulated ski jacket - Canada Goose
  • Warm layers/long underwear
  • Ski pants
  • Ski socks - several pairs
  • Mittens
  • Beanie
  • 2 face-masks
  • Rylo camera
  • Charging cords
  • Water bottle
Hope this helps you on your next ski adventure! Happy holidays!

White Sands National Monument, NM to be America's Newest National Park

White Sands White Sands National Monument will soon be America's newest national park. Credit: Facebook/CCNP
The list of U.S. National Parks is about to get a little longer, with the addition of White Sands National Monument in Southern New Mexico as the latest national park.

Last Tuesday, Congress passed a bill designating White Sands as our country's newest national park. The bill just has to go to President Trump where he will then decide to sign the bill into law or veto it, however officials are confident he will sign the bill into law.

White Sands National Monument was erected in 1933 and is the largest gypsum dunefield on earthThe area has long been known to be near where some of the first atomic bombs were tested, including the Trinity Site which was the location of the world's first atomic bomb detonation some 60 miles away from the monument, detonating on July 16, 1945.

The Men's Journal reports that Senator Heinrich of New Mexico released documents stating that 5,766 acres of adjacent land to White Sands that is managed by the U.S. army in the White Sands Missile Range will be added to the proposed park. Apparently, the land swap has been a topic of discussion for quite some time as the The Army and the National Park Service have been working on it since the 1970s.

Changing the monument to the status of a national park is expected to increase tourist visits along with revenue for the state of New Mexico. A study provided by The Men's Journal enacted last year found that upgrading White Sands to a national park could increase visits by 21% and result in a $7.5 million increase in spending in the local economy.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Utah Issuing New Safety Sticker Program for Big and Little Cottonwood Employees & Residents

UDOT
A new sticker program for employees/residents of the Cottonwood canyons in Utah is being put in place by the Utah Department of Transportation to ensure safety in winter-driving conditions. Credit: UDOT

KSL News reports that Utah Department of Transportation officials are implementing a sticker program for ski resort employees and residents of Big and Little Cottonwood canyons in Salt Lake City, Utah. The new sticker program is a means to verify that employees/residents' vehicles are adequately equipped for winter driving conditions.

Vehicles that are up to par with inspection will be given stickers that allow them to bypass canyon field inspections that occur when weather-related road inspections are in place in both Big and Little Cottonwood canyons. 

Inspections ensuring that participants are in compliance with snow tire and chain tire requirements will commence in January 2020, according to KSL News. Chains will be required on all 2WD vehicles and vehicles with worn snow tires past 5/32nds of an inch will not meet requirements for the new stickers.

To apply for a sticker, click here. UDOT officials warn that once 5,000 applications have been received the link for the online application will close.

Inspections are scheduled to be held at the UDOT Cottonwood
 Maintenance Shed at 6601 South 3000 East in Cottonwood Heights
 on the following days:

- Wed., Jan. 8, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. / Last vehicles checked at
 4:45 p.m.
 (Alta, Snowbird, Solitude, Brighton employees)

-Fri., Jan. 10, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. / Last vehicles checked at
 4:45 p.m.
 (Alta, Snowbird, Solitude, Brighton employees)

-Sun., Jan. 12, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. / Last vehicles checked at
 4:45 p.m.
 (Residents)

-Tue., Jan. 14, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. / Last vehicles checked at
 4:45 p.m. (Residents)

- KSL News

Former SkiCo Executive's Wife Pleads Guilty to Felony Theft

Kerry Johnson pleads guilty Kerri Johnson, the former SkiCo executive's wife, pleads guilty to felony theft. Credit: SnowBrains

It's been a month since the former SkiCo executive Derek Johnson pleaded guilty to felony theft for the illegal sales of thousands of stolen rental skis. Today, his wife, Kerri Johnosn, 48, followed suit by pleading guilty in the Pitkin County District Court to class 4 felony theft.

Derek Johnson, 52, was the former executive at The Aspen Skiing Company, known locally as "Ski Co", which is a commercial enterprise based in Aspen, Colorado. He and his wife Kerri were accused of over 6,000 illegal sales of rental skis that the couple stole and sold for a profit that they deposited directly into their own pockets, off the books.

The couple was crafty with how they sold their stolen rental skis. Between 2010 and 2018, the Johnsons would take the demo skis that were 'retired' by their company and no longer in use to a storage shed they rented in Aspen, and from there they would sell the skis on Ebay. The Johnsons made over 6,000 sales of stolen merchandise, according to The Aspen Daily News.

A police detective in Aspen, CO recognized the skis on Ebay as rental skis because of the specific binding design of rental skis that cater to multiple boot sizes. He recognized that all of the listings provided by the couple showed this style of binding, which is not sold to the general public.

Derek Johnson and his wife have since pleaded guilty of class 3 and class 4 felony theft.  Derek, convicted of class 3 felony theft, will get somewhere between 4 to 12 years in the prison where as his wife Kerri is facing a lesser charge and sentence. Kerri pleaded guilty to class 4 felony theft and will receive possible jail time and definite probation with open conditions along with a $250,000 restitution to be shared with her husband Derek. It seems that crime doesn't pay, especially in the ski industry.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

NOAA: Up to 24″ of Snow Forecast at Alta, UT Thursday & Friday

NOAA calling for 2 feet of powder at Alta, UT NOAA is calling for up to 2 FEET of snow for Thursday through Friday this week at Alta Ski Area. Credit: NOAA 12/10/19
Brought to you by Alta Ski Area
"A Winter Storm Watch is in effect from Thursday afternoon through late Friday Night."
- NOAA, Salt Lake City, UT, 12/13/19
NOAA is calling for 12-24" of snow to fall at Alta Ski Area, UT on Thursday and Friday. There's also potential for accumulating snow to continue across portions of the Wasatch Mountains into later Saturday and through the day Sunday.

NOAA is calling for some isolated locations to receive EVEN HIGHER amounts. 

* WHAT...Heavy snow possible. Total snow accumulations 12 to 24
  inches with isolated higher amounts.-NOAA, SLC UT, 12/10/19

Last Sunday's snowfall in the Wasatch Mountains totaled 6-12 inches of snow (0.8-1.57 inches of water) according to The Utah Avalanche Center. Much of that storm had graupel and dense snow which has created fast, surfy riding conditions.

So far, every weekend of the 2019-2020 ski season has seen powder skiing at Alta, and it looks like the trend is only going to continue. 

The Supreme Chair at Alta opened TODAY for the first time this season giving way to stashes and goods tucked away in Katherine's Bowl. With this next storm rolling in this weekend, the skiing ought to be damn good as new terrain is opening at Alta weekly!

7-day forecast for Alta Ski Area
The extended 7-day forecast for Alta, UT. Credit: NOAA

Winter Storm Warning for Alta, UT

URGENT - WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE
National Weather Service Salt Lake City UT
223 PM MST Tue Dec 10 2019

UTZ007>010-110700-
/O.NEW.KSLC.WS.A.0009.191212T1900Z-191214T1200Z/
Wasatch Mountains I-80 North-Wasatch Mountains South of I-80-
Western Uinta Mountains-Wasatch Plateau/Book Cliffs-
Including the cities of Woodruff, Randolph, Alta, Brighton,
Mirror Lake Highway, and Scofield
223 PM MST Tue Dec 10 2019

...WINTER STORM WATCH IN EFFECT FROM THURSDAY AFTERNOON THROUGH
LATE FRIDAY NIGHT...

* WHAT...Heavy snow possible. Total snow accumulations 12 to 24
  inches with isolated higher amounts.

* WHERE...Wasatch Mountains I-80 North, Wasatch Mountains South
  of I-80, Western Uinta Mountains and Wasatch Plateau/Book
  Cliffs.

* WHEN...From Thursday afternoon through late Friday night. There
  is potential for accumulating snow to continue across portions
  of the northern mountains into later Saturday and potentially
  through the day Sunday.

* IMPACTS...Winter driving conditions can be expected across
  mountain routes of northern Utah starting Thursday afternoon and
  continuing into early Saturday morning.

New Study: Skiing Can Lower Your Risk of Anxiety, Depression, and Dementia

Skiing is good for the mind A new study is showing that skiing can help maintain your mental and neurological health. Credit: Ski Basics

I know it, you know it, we all know it - skiing makes you feel good. But the benefits of skiing go beyond just having happy days well spent in the mountains.

Apart from keeping you physically in shape, science shows that skiing is actually good for your mental health. After studying the health records of cross-country skiers in Sweden, scientists have found that those same skiers had a lower risk of depression and dementia than a control group of individuals from the general population of Sweden.

Brain researchers at Lund University and Uppsala University conducted a study on roughly 200,000 skiers between 1989 and 2010 who participated in a cross-country ski race in Sweden named Vasaloppet. When compared with a similar-sized control group from the general population of Sweden, the researchers found that the amount of skiers diagnosed with dementia, depression, and chronic anxiety was 50% lower than the control group. Those same skiers also had a lower risk of the degenerative neurological disorder known as Parkinson's disease.

“As brain researchers, we have had the unique opportunity to analyze an exceptionally large group of very physically active people over two decades and we have unraveled some interesting results,” said research team leader and Lund University professor Tomas Deierborg.
“The mechanisms behind this still need to be investigated,” said doctoral student and study author Tomas Olsson, “but it seems that those who are physically active have a ‘motor reserve’ that postpones the onset of the disease.”

The findings from the ski study provide evidence that the health benefits gained from physical activity go further than promoting heart health and muscle-building. Skiing can give your nervous system a boost, too.

“If a person trains a lot it may be possible to maintain mobility for longer despite the pathological changes in the brain,” said Olsson. 

Famous Swedish ski race Vasaloppet: An annual Swedish cross-country ski race. Credit: Vasaloppet

Fantastic Fungi


Fantastic Fungi
By Martin Kuprianowicz

Nature is unfathomably mysterious. The Earth is a living organism, and there's so much we still don't even know about it. Poetically, however, it may die that way, too. That is unless we put differences aside and assume the courage to actually do something about it. I know you’ve heard something along these lines before, and that last sentence probably gives you some degree of existential angst or another type of emotional response. But hear me out, I guarantee you this article isn’t heading in the direction you expect, like telling you to carpool or take shorter showers.

Due to the alarming rate that global temperatures are rising, life here on earth is in jeopardy. Yet, it is only in the last twelve years of existence have we discovered the world’s largest organism – a fungus in Oregon that covers over 2,200 acres of forest soil. That’s 665 football fields of a single organism in the Malheur National Forest dubbed the "Humongous Fungus." Who would have thought that something so vast –  let alone something that is alive – could go undetected for so long?

Not quite an animal and not quite a plant, fungi are something else entirely. The fungi kingdom is one of the most ancient kingdoms on earth, with fossil records of ancient mushrooms dating back to the Neoproterozoic Era over a billion years ago. Fast forward to the present day and we are only just now starting to realize the complexity and usefulness of fungi because of advanced mycological research. Mycologists are now telling us that the potential mushrooms hold for useful human applications could be the future of sustainability for our planet. They are saying that fungi could be our saving grace and ensure the future of our species. Take for example the current research on how extracts from polypore mushroom mycelia are reducing viruses in honeybees who are one of the key players in producing our food and balancing our ecosystem.

The Western Honey bee (Apis Mellifera) and other members of the genus Apis, aka bees, play a vital role in the ecological stability of wild plant communities within areas of the Americas, Europe, Africa, and Asia. Honey bees are estimated to contribute over $15 billion annually to the US agriculture economy through the pollination of numerous fruits, nuts, and vegetables. 

“Approximately a third of the crops grown require bees for cross-pollination to thrive,” says Dr. Steve Sheppard, an entomologist at the University of Washington.

We need these little buzzing buddies of ours to help produce the food that feeds our societies. We need them to survive. However, over the past decade, beekeepers have reported dramatic increases in bee colony losses with annual averages as high as 30% in some areas. The phenomenon is called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) and is affecting bee populations all over the globe, but especially here in the United States. Oklahoma, for example, was one of eight states where more than 60% of hives have died since April 2014, according to a survey released by the Bee Informed Partnership funded in part by the U.S. Agriculture Department. It’s a grim outlook for bees and humans alike. But there is hope – and it’s mushrooms.

According to a recent peer-reviewed article published in Nature by renowned mycologist Paul Stamets and other mycologists titled Extracts of Polypore Mushroom Mycelia Reduce Viruses in Honey Bees, a certain species of fungi has been proven to increase the immunity of bees to viruses like Varroa and the Lake Sinai Virus (LSV) that are currently contributing to the rapid decline of bee populations from CCD. 

Below is an excerpt from the article published in Nature:

“Bees have been observed foraging on mushroom mycelium, suggesting that they may be deriving medicinal or nutritional value from fungi. Fungi are known to produce a wide array of chemicals with antimicrobial activity, including compounds active against bacteria, other fungi. Or viruses.”

Stamets and mycologists put this hypothesis to the test in 2018 by experimenting with extracts from the mycelium of multiple polypore fungal species known to have antiviral properties in what is now known as the largest ever beehive experiment in history. They found that extracts from the amadou (Fomes) and reishi (Ganoderma) mushrooms reduced the levels of honey bee deformed wing virus (DWV) and the Lake Sinai Virus (LSV). Field trials concluded that colonies fed the reishi mushroom extract exhibited a 79-fold reduction in DWV and 45,000-fold reduction in LSV compared to control colonies. Their findings prove that honey bees can gain health benefits from fungi and their antimicrobial compounds. And that’s only the beginning.

Paul Stamets and colleagues at his company Fungi Perfecti, who are dedicated to “explore, study, preserve, and spread knowledge about the use of fungi for helping people and the planet,” are currently working on a functional and marketable bee feeder containing a syrup-like compound derived from these fungi that actively work to protect bees from the viruses like LSV and DWV that are killing off colonies. Researchers at Fungi Perfecti aim to have the bee feeders in mass production and available to the general public by the end of 2020, according to Stamets’ latest interview with Joe Rogan on the Joe Rogan Experience Podcast. But fungi aren’t just helping the bees. The list of sustainable benefits that can be reaped from mushrooms goes on.

In 2012, researchers at Yale University discovered that Pestalotiopsis Microspora, an endophytic fungus isolated from a plant in the Amazon jungle, is capable of breaking down polyurethane, the main chemical that makes up modern plastics. The mushroom has inspired lots of research into various forms of fungi that can degrade plastic without retaining the toxicity of the material. Currently, little is known about the use of endophytes in fungal remediation, and much more research is certainly needed. However, it is known now that endophytic fungi are one of the most diverse categories of fungi as any given plant can contain hundred species of them, and they are also one of the least studied branches in the fungal kingdom. 

There has also been research on 'training' a given fungus to consume substrates that it wouldn't normally grow on. For example, in remediation work with chemicals, the targeted pollutant can be introduced to the fungus at increasing concentrations until the fungus learns to produce the right enzyme at the right amount to survive off this chemical at previously toxic levels. This includes chemicals found frequently in oil spills or other toxic chemicals spilled onto the ground that harm the environment. The fungi can and will clean the polluted soil to make it healthy again, even making the once-polluted soil suitable for purposes such as crop production. 

Mushrooms can also serve industrial purposes such as the production of paper, clothing, and even infrastructure like buildings. The cell walls of fungi are made of a biological polymer called chitin, which is similar to cellulose – the key ingredient in plant-based paper. This means that mushrooms could help to substitute paper made from trees – a diminishing resource. There are also many companies finding creative alternatives to plastics, which can also reduce the amount of plastic waste we produce. These include companies such as MycoWorks, who turn mycelium and agriculture products by-products into leather, and Ecovative Design, who are collaborating with companies to create alternative meat products, biodegradable packaging materials, animal-free leather, and much more. Fungi is inspiring creative minds all over the world and bringing them together for the noble mission of healing our planet and ensuring the future for our children and our children’s children. That’s why I and a group of fungi enthusiasts at the University of Utah have decided to further the cause.

The first step towards actual change is to have the conversation about it. That means raising the conscious awareness of an issue by talking about it with your friends, loved ones, classmates, coworkers, and so forth. Then, and only then, can you start to ask questions like, “OK, how do we combat this issue? Can we delay it? Can we prevent it?" As students and local environmental activists, we believe that we have found a way to ignite this conversation. And, we believe we have found a way that's enjoyable and fun for everybody – by watching a movie. 

Fantastic Fungi is a documentary film directed by Louie Schwartzberg that came out this year and has been screening at select movie theaters around the United States and Canada for a few months now. Apart from receiving a 100% score on Rotten Tomatoes, it is a consciousness-shifting film that takes you on an immersive journey through time and scale into the beautiful earth beneath our feet that houses a lucrative, underground network that can heal our planet. Through the eyes and research of renowned scientists and mycologists like Paul Stamets, best-selling authors Michael Pollan, Eugenia Bone, Andrew Weil, and others who all appear in the film, we can become aware of the immense beauty, stark intelligence, and applicable solutions that the fungi kingdom offers us in response to some of our most pressing medical, therapeutic, and environmental challenges facing us today. 

We will be hosting a screening of a Fantastic Fungi at the Post Theater on the University of Utah campus in early of 2020. An exact screening date as well as pricing information is currently in the works and will be released shortly. We aim for students at the U to have free entry to the film and for tickets to be fairly priced for all. Fantastic Fungi presents to you the inspiring solutions for the environmental challenges society is facing today. We aim to help develop a more thoughtful recognition of the momentous ecological benefits that humans are naturally provided with from fungi. We hope that we can influence you and other members of Salt Lake City’s social and academic communities to consider nature’s restorative potential towards the physical, mental, and environmental catastrophes that are now facing western culture. Because in a world where mankind is hurling itself towards darkness, a sliver of light remains. We just have to know where to look, even if it’s right beneath our feet.




Works Cited

Bailey, Brianna. “Oklahoma Bee Colonies Dying in Large Numbers.” Oklahoman.com, Oklahoman, 2 June 2015, oklahoman.com/article/5423850/oklahoma-bee-colonies-dying-in-large-numbers.

Chen, Angus. “A Plastic-Eating Bacterium Might Help Deal With Waste One Day.” NPR, NPR, 10 Mar. 2016, www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/03/10/469972237/this-plastic-eating-bacterium-might-help-deal-with-waste-one-day.

“Ecovative Design.” Ecovative Design, ecovativedesign.com/.

Fungi Perfecti, fungi.com/.

“MycoWorks.” MycoWorks, www.mycoworks.com/.

Stamets, P.E., Naeger, N.L., Evans, J.D. et al. Extracts of Polypore Mushroom Mycelia Reduce Viruses in Honey Bees. Sci Rep 8, 13936 (2018) doi:10.1038/s41598-018-32194-8


































75-Footer Recorded Off the California Coast: One of the Largest Waves EVER Recorded

75 foot wave A 75-foot was recorded off the coast of California last week. The reason? A bomb cyclone generating hurricane force winds. Credit: YouTube

Last week's bomb cyclone that pummeled the West Coast brought with it some of the largest ever recorded waves off of the coast of California, including one that was up to 75-feet tall.

The University of California, San Diego's Coastal Data Information Program  recored a massive 75-foot wave roughly 20 miles off the coast of Cape Mendocino in Northern California. It was one of the tallest-ever waves recorded in the 15 years that the program has been in existence, averaging at around 43-feet tall. This is especially unusual as the average wave heights typically don't exceed 10 feet tall during the winter.

James Behrens, The CDIP manager told CNN:

"These kinds of really large waves are usually only detected way out in the middle of the ocean, when winds are being generated," he said. The program's buoys had only measured taller waves at one other station, located in the remote North Pacific Ocean where extreme waves are expected to form on occasion, he said.
Troy Nicolini, a meteorologist in charge at The National Weather Service, explained that the bomb cyclone brought what's called a dynamic fetch, or an event where strong winds move in the same direction and speed as the waves they are generating.
Nicolini compared it to pushing a child on the swing as they move. The storm maintained its grip on the waves and pushed it all the way up to the beach, he said.
75-footer The location of the monstrous 75-foot wave. Credit: SFGate

Vail Resorts: Earnings are WAY Up This Quarter

Vail's sales are way up Annual Price and EPS Surprise graph for Vail INC. Credit: Yahoo/Finance

Day lift passes at Vail Mountain, Colorado and neighboring Beaver Creek are currently $219 a day for the ongoing holiday season. They're the most expensive walk-up lift passes in the country right now.




Yesterday, Vail Resorts reported that season pass sales through December 2 for the current North American ski season increased by 17% in sales dollars as compared to the previous fiscal year. Vail is seeing a significant increase in sales and revenues, and continues to increase their lift ticket prices.
Opening day at Vail Mountain Vail Chief Operating Officer, Beth Howard, cuts the ribbon on opening day at Vail last month. Credit: VailDaily

The information is coming from a press release from Vail Resorts showing their earnings for the first quarter of this fiscal year:

“We are very pleased to see strong sales growth in our season pass program that exceeded our expectations,” said CEO of Vail Resorts, Rob Katz, in the release. “We continue to see very strong growth in our Northeast markets, which are benefiting from the first full year of pass sales with unlimited access at Stowe, Okemo and Mount Sunapee, the recent addition of Peak Resorts, and the improved impact of the expanded guest data and insight we now have in that region. Our destination markets outside of the Northeast also saw very strong growth and continue to perform well through our enhanced ability to reach destination guests with our data-driven marketing and the introduction of Epic Day Pass.”

Katz went on to explain on how the lion's share of Vail's sales growth came from Epic season pass holders, specifically new pass holders and lower frequency visitors:

"The majority of our sales growth came from our Epic and Epic Local products where we saw solid growth in new pass holders and renewing pass holders, with less trade down to Epic Day Pass than we were expecting. Epic Day Pass was a strong success in its first year with an expanded product offering and was a significant contributor to our overall growth and exceeded our expectations, particularly in the Epic two and three day products. We believe this bodes very well for the long-term opportunity of Epic Day Pass, as we begin to highlight the incredible value to lower frequency guests. Importantly, the vast majority of Epic Day Pass sales came from new pass holders, with particular success in destination markets."

As the first quarter of the 2020 fiscal year is now under wraps, Vail Resorts expects to see further growth, with more Epic pass sales and even more skier visits to their mountains. Is there a limit to how much the corporation can make?

Monday, December 2, 2019

The Church of Scientology, Salt Lake City, Utah

The Church of Scientology, Salt Lake City, Utah 

by Martin Kuprianowicz

The Scientology emblem representing "the 8 dynamics of life."

The Church of Scientology building is located on a semi-busy street in a quiet neighborhood of suburban Salt Lake City. I probably drive past it several times a week going to and from the University of Utah where I attended classes.  I've always been curious of Scientology and have always heard different stories as to what the religion really was about. So, one morning I decided to stop on my way back from class and check the building out to find out more about this religion, its history, and its practices. Here's what I learned. 

Scientology is a religion invented in May 1952 by American author and WWII veteran L. Ron Hubbard (1911-86). Hubbard initially created a set of a ideals called Dianetics which served to promote mental health among individuals. Dianetics was originally distributed through the Dianetics Foundation, but the foundation soon entered bankruptcy and Hubbard lost the rights to his founding book, Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health in 1952. Hubbard then retransformed the subject as a religion and renamed it Scientology. He regained the rights to Dianetics and started the Church of Scientology. 


Salt Lake City's very own Church of Scientology
"Everyone wants to know, what is this thing called life?"- Anne Ying, a Salt Lake City Patron of Scientology.

The Church of Scientology claims that all humans have within their physical bodies immortal, spiritual beings called "Thetans." This was discovered by L. Ron Hubbard who used this assertion to create Dianetics and later Scientology. According to Scientology, its beliefs, practices, and doctrines are equal significance to scientific laws. This, a scientologist will claim, is due to the rigorous research conducted by L. Ron. Hubbard. 

The core of Scientology teaching is the belief that "each human has a reactive mind that responds to life's traumas, clouding the analytic mind and keeping us from experiencing reality." Scientologists undergo an "auditing" of sorts to discover sources of this trauma, and they believe that re-experiencing the trauma neutralizes it, allowing you to achieve a a spiritual state that Scientology calls "Clear." At the Church of Scientology they sell L. Ron Hubbard's book on Dianetics as well as his other works, and new members are encouraged to buy and study them. Lifetime memberships at the Church of Scientology begin at $3000.


Theological Doctrine


Scientology doesn't preach or impose a particular idea of God on Scientologists. On the other hand, people are expected to discover the truth through their own observations as they continue to heighten their awareness through Scientology's practices. Anne described Scientology as, "a religion you can use with other religions." According to she and other Scientologists, you are not only welcomed but are encouraged to use the knowledge and awareness you gain from Scientology practices within your own rite, or wherever you see fit. You are encouraged to use Scientology in a way that helps you personally. 

"The Church of Scientology has no set dogma concerning God that it imposes on its members. As with all its tenets, Scientology does not ask individuals to accept anything on faith alone. Rather, as one's level of spiritual awareness increases through participation in Scientology auditing and training, one attains his own certainty of every dynamic. Accordingly, only when the Seventh Dynamic (spiritual) is reached in its entirety will one discover and come to a full understanding of the Eighth Dynamic (infinity) and one's relationship to the Supreme Being." - L. Ron Hubbard. 


Scientologist live by a code, or a set of rules to guide them through life towards spiritual attainment. Credit: Mark Ringer's Blog

On Sundays, mass is held at the Church of Scientology. After finding this out from my initial visit to the Church building, I decided I attend one. When I got there on a Sunday, a patron was reading from one of L. Ron Hubbard's scripts and was encouraging new persons to join into Scientology. I was not the only one curious about Scientology that day.  Joseph, a Salt Lake City local who was raised LDS was attending because he never really felt accepted by the religion he was born into, and wanted to try and figure out things on his own. After Sunday mass, he and I took a tour of the church grounds with Scientologist patron Anne Ying. Anne was an older woman in her mid-sixties of Chinese origin and was dressed in a dapper, black suit with a white shirt and black tie. She had short, grey hair, glasses, and wore a gold Scientology pin on the collar of her jacket.

"How would you feel if you just can't be who you are?" Joseph asked Anne and I when describing himself to us, and what brought him in to Sunday mass at the Church of Scientology.


Joseph was intrigued by the concept of Scientology because of the freedom he thought it could allow him, as opposed to other religions. In Scientology they aren't telling you how to think or how to act or how you need to be -- instead they present you with a core set of values and practices for you to use where it applies for you; to use what works for you to better your own life.

For example, a practice in Scientology and one that is especially encouraged for new or joining members is the process of detoxifying your body, also known as the 'Purification Rundown.' According to the church,  the Purification Rundown is a detoxification program which enables an individual to rid himself of the harmful effects of drugs, toxins, and other chemicals that lodge themselves in the body and create a biochemical barrier to spiritual well-being. This is just one of the many practices within Scientology that promote your own general well-being.

But what else, besides promoting your own mental health and general sense of well-being, does Scientology focus on? I wanted to find out more so I talked to Preston Ramsey, a twenty-something year-old man who's been involved with the church since he was a child. Preston works at the Church building in Salt Lake and although both his parents are Scientologists, he wasn't coerced into the religion by his parents, he said. Instead, he said that he was allowed to choose what religion he wanted to be a part of when he was a child. He said that Scientology was an obvious choice. He then went forward to describe to me the eight dynamics, or eight core values that make up Scientology.

The eight dynamics of Scientology in ascending order, go as follow: self, spouse, family, mankind, environment, the universe, spirituality, and infinity. These are the most important things in the life of a Scientologist are to be treated and spoken about with the utmost respect. In Scientology, one must have a good relationship with all eight dynamics before any personal healing or spiritual attainment can happen. Preston and I talked a bit about the 4th dynamic - mankind, and how Scientologists help people with 4D campaigns, which is one of Preston's favorite things about Scientology.

"What I like a lot is that I've seen personal change in people, like someone can not be doing well in life - their medication might be putting them down or whatever is the case - and you just personally lift them out of that and just show them there is a better way of just living."

The 8 Dynamics. Credit: Scientology.org

Preston's remarks were thoughtful but by the time our tour ended, I was not really buying the whole concept of Scientology. Joseph, who I had attended the mass and taken the tour with, on the other hand, was fascinated by all he heard and wanted to learn more. He went forward to take a specialized personality test designed by Scientologists for new Scientologists, which Anne told us would give him a perspective on how he felt about himself. This test would establish a baseline for how Joseph would start to heal his own mind through Scientology. 

Looking back at the entire experience, I had a welcoming feeling of overall acceptance from the Scientologists at the Church of Scientology as the members of the church were quite nice, but there was something about the whole experience that was just a little off. It all felt a little too fabricated by one person to be something that I would buy into, but then again I've always been a skeptic.

As I was leaving the church grounds I wondered how Joseph's personality test would go, and if he would plan to dive deeper into Scientology, or if he felt the same feeling as I that it was all a little too good to be true. Perhaps the alluring concept of being able to attain direct results from established practices, with claims of being able to heal your own mind and tap into the oneness that transcends all eight dynamics, as well as the non-denominational attitude held by Scientologists are what members of the church find so appealing. According to recent statistics, however, the population of Scientologists is on the decline. 25,000 active members were documented in the United States in 2011 which is a 30,000 person decrease from the previous census enacted by the Church showing a total of 55,000 members nationwide in 2001. Who knows what the future of Scientology will entail?

Photo Tour


The Church of Scientology congregation hall in Salt Lake City. Sunday masses are held here at 11 am weekly.


Sunday mass at the Church of Scientology.



The rules, regulations, and practices of Scientology.


L. Ron Hubbard's book of Dianetics for sale at the Church of Scientology.