Christmas Card 2013

Dear Family and Friends,

It seems the rule for family Christmas letters is about a paragraph per person. I’m not sure how that translates for me as an individual so I will try to be brief.

For the past year I have been working for Mocavo, a new family history website. Up until recently my primary task has been content creation but I have just been promoted to run the sales and customer service aspects of the company. It’s all still new and a little intimidating but it’s a fun company and I look forward to the challenge.

When the weather was warm I took a few trips including hiking in Zion with my uncle and cousin (I think we all suffered from hypothermia), exploring Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons with some good friends (my first stay at a hostel), and the big one—driving across the country from Florida to Utah in a thirty-foot truck as my parents decided to buy a house in Provo.

Naturally with my family so close I have chosen to spend my first Christmas and New Year’s not in their company. Instead my friends have invited me to visit them in Pittsburgh and New York City which promises to be a memorable trip that I thankfully took the time off for before I was promoted.

I am still serving my congregation as a secretary and it seems I will continue to do so. To occupy the rest of my time I have picked up sewing my own bowties and have been dating a lovely young lady for the past several months.

I hope this letter finds you in good health and please know that you remain in my heart.

Warm regards and a Merry Christmas,

Photo by Mirielle


Work Christmas Party

Its a tough season to post anything here, partially since I'm so busy getting ready for my vacation to the East Coast next week but also because most of the cool stuff I have done recently revolves around making gifts for people who read this blog so instead I will tell you about my work Christmas Party.

A little over a month ago I volunteered to be on the party planning committee at work and I did this for two reasons: I am pretty snobby when it comes to food and decor, and it was a good excuse to not do work. Unfortunately for my time but my desire to throw a good party won over those and I ended up spending much more time getting ready for the party and stressed about it way more then anyone should about a similar event.
One of the big things we wanted was for people to walk into the room and instead of thinking "office party in an office building" they would instead react with a sense of wonder similar to waking up Christmas morning. To aid this we gathers many iconic gifts such as a BB gun, sled, toy truck, etc to fill out the tree along with the office Secret Santa gifts. HR also provided a great set of full Christmas stockings which really pushed the theme.

The most fun aspect of the whole deal though was that we collected family photos--mostly childhood era--from all the employees and displayed them unlabeled as centerpieces for the tables with the bonus of each employee then having a framed photo of their family to take home. Here's the one I picked:
The joke is that Allison has no soul and I have anime eyes.
Major credit to my Mother who provided a bulk of the ideas for the party, as well as Mirielle who did the food almost entirely by herself and frankly did just as much as I did. The party was a huge success and even our visiting COO remarked about how great it was.

I beamed with pride.

Oh yeah, and I got promoted.


Thanksgiving and Company

As one might expect, Thanksgiving came and went here in Provo much as it did through the rest of the nation. It was a pleasant change having it right at home instead of traveling a state over and using foreign kitchens.
Thanks to my father for the table pictures.
As is traditional I was in charge of the family scalloped corn. It's basically just creamed corn with butter and an egg binder--it sounds like it should be disgusting but I grew up with it so leave me alone.

My mathernal grandmother flew over for the week and my brother Seth came out for the holiday. Following dinner we trimmed the living room tree as well as the blue spruce in front of my parents' home. It looks spectacular with all the snow we got recently but did I take pictures? No.

Cuddling with Grandma. She is so uncomfortable.
The new window at my parents' by Allison and my mother.
In other news the family dog, Evee, has been declining pretty quickly the past week. My mother determined that perhaps it was time to consider euthanization and so made an appointment with the veterinarian. I arrived early to the house to spend my last few hours with Evee. She paced around the house, not anxiously, but as if she was looking to soak in the last bit of life and home she would feel.
Our last picture together; I'm making a funny face.
We arrived at the vet and she determined that Evee had a pretty bad heart mumor, arthritis, and severe periodontitis and that if we wanted to end her life it was an option but in her opinion Evee was still is good shape.

Needless to say:
I'm hoping to get my Christmas Card out soon, Mirielle will be taking my portrait hopefully sometime this week or early next. I should probably find my envelopes, but in the mean time...
Happy December!


A Full Utahan

So I did something big, I finally got my Utah license. I've lived here continuously for over five years and the address on my Florida license was invalid due to my parents moving so I figured it was time. I suppose it was a bit abnormal but I wasn't actually concered about the time, or money it would take but rather the quality of my picture.

My last license was taken when I was 17 and while it wasn't horrible I had a bit of an acne problem (which luckily was solved by scratching my picture in convenient places) and for some reason they decided to zoom in so far that my chin is missing. The point is I wasn't a big fan and I didn't want to be stuck with another horrible picture for the next five years.

So I did what any rational person would do, I put on my suit and my favorite bow-tie and practiced my serious half-smile that would project confidence yet communicate that I take governmental IDs seriously. A couple days of practice seemed to be enough so I headed to the DMV and took care of business.
...and I look like a priest.

Here's some other pictures of things I did:
Sarah and I went and saw Provo High's production of Suessical starring our dear friend June.

We stopped by my parent's house to eat some pie and discovered my father fast asleep in front of a roaring fire.

I finished the lights on my parents' house!
Is it strange that even after all these years I still find it offensive when people call me Utahan? I will self identify Utah as home but I still irrationally do not want to take on the demonym.


120 Stars!

It still bums me out that you don't get to ride Yoshi at the end.
My main motivation in writing this post is to brag that I beat Mario 64 for the first time with all 120 stars. Even the first time I played through it in 1996 my brother Seth and I traded off on the same save--each getting different ones.

Thankfully games today have better cameras and controls. Allison can attest to the fact that I threw the controller more than once. I can't count how many times the camera decided do an up close zoom of a wall instead of my jump or how many times Mario decided to run off the edge for whatever reason.

Luckily more has happened in my life besides twenty-year-old games.

I don't have any pictures from Halloween but it was the same costume. I fulfilled my usual role of handing out candy while the kids are out with their parents. I always try to play up some character for the task and this year was no different. I spooked up my outfit a little by closing my cloak, and popping up the hood. Furthermore I started walking with a limp and used my best psychotic villain voice. As the kids walked up I would either be standing at the open door with my back turned or I would jump out at them just as they were about to knock on the glass storm door.

There were several times I had to break character as small children's eyes went wide with fear but for the most part the kids played along. The best time by far was when a young teenager came to the door and as I came out at him he visibly jumped. This caused even the stoic father of my cousin to laugh.

Some other things:
Old Bones had a fantastic makeup job by Ariel Stardust.
My family, Sarah, and I attended the Salt Lake showing of Deep Love. It was a fantastic folk/rock opera written by some of Allison's friends in Rexburg. It was full of passion, betrayal, and superb singing; if you're in the area next Halloween I highly recommend you go see it.
Sarah gifted me several swatches of fabric of which I was able to make a few more bow-ties. The picture above only has them partially finished but I have since completed all of them (making more than one sewing mistakes in the process). Sewing is a lot of fun and hopefully I'll be able to branch out into other patterns soon.
At the planetarium. Space is so cool!



It's not quite Halloween yet but I attended my first Halloween party and received high praise for my costume. I couldn't find the associated props for Frodo or Sam so I ended up being Ryan Gosling as a hobbit; this had the perk of allowing me to do my same hair and not shave my beard.
Gosling Hobbit and Tim Burton Clown
I figured no one would guess what I actually was beyond a hobbit but my friend Megan did actually guess the Gosling connection proving that I am just as handsome as People's sexiest man alive. The costume was 100% made of things I already had--as you remember I previously used this costume in 2003. Even the hair was free though I don't know if I'll do it again; there is still adhesive on my feet.
In other news I finally bought my tickets to go to the East Coast for Christmas and New Years. I'll be spending two weeks in Pittsburgh and New York City visiting some friends in what will be my first Christmas away from family.

I also got a small promotion at work. Now when you call Mocavo support/sale you have a small chance of talking to me. It's purely a raise in responsibilities but it does include more hours than I was getting.


Shamless Selfies

Provo city was having another give away but I didn't make it to the news this time. They did ask that everyone dress up in red carpet attire though so Allison, Sarah and I did our best.
I was going for Indie-Director
The grand prize was four tickets and hotel stay to Los Angeles but all we walked away with was two movie tickets that Allison won by knowing how many kids the Mayor had. I feel like I disappointed everyone by not being the one who knew.

Here are some other pictures:
New haircut. It's still growing on me. (HA)

Wandering the woods with Sarah.
My current plans for Halloween is to dress up as a Hobbit. I was one in high school and it turned out decent minus looking like a teenager. I have all the parts still and I should still fit fine in it; my feet will be so cold though. Next year I'll do something cool.
I will regret posting this.


Beautiful Butterfly

I have been severely neglecting this blog--as far as actual events this blog is over two weeks out of date. It is in fact so out of date that I am having to consult my journal to figure out what interesting things I have actually done.
My parents have officially moved into their Provo house. It's a cute little 1953 ranch home right in the middle of a historic neighborhood. They are mostly moved in but as luck would have it the week after they closed on the house Provo had one of the worst storms it's had in fifty years and now we're looking at a pretty bleak Winter. Welcome to Provo I guess.
I posted previously about my bow tie crafting and I still had the fabric for two more ties so I used my mother's newly accessible sewing machine to finish them off. The above ties were wholly cut and sewn by me making them the first sewing project I have ever completed without assistance. I'm going to get fabric for a few more (my mother might have some antique Japanese silk) and then eventually move into full neck ties. I will never have to buy a gift for a male again.
I've done a few other things as well, the above picture is from a chalk festival in which the winner actually made the front page of Reddit. I also attended a couple weddings and started dating someone. It's starting to get colder and so I'm desperately trying to do everything outdoors I can do.


Salt Lake Comic Con 2013

Last week I attended Salt Lake's inagural Comic-Con with my sister and some friends. There were so many people; four fold the expected registration.
One of the best moments of the Con was the Henry Winkler Q&A. A young lady went up to ask her question but Mr. Winkler interrupted her with general praise about how attractive Utah women are and specifically how pretty she was. The lady then told him she was 23 and had never been kissed and asked him to do the honors. Winkler agreed and the girl got one of the best first kiss stories I have ever known.

We tried to go look at the booths but there mass of people made it too much to bare so instead we said hi to some cosplayers.

I'm excited about next year, there was some planning problems with the con that I hope they sort out next year. They had so many people there that when we left for lunch we were told we couldn't come back in so we missed a lot of stuff. Next year!


Justin and Jen's Wedding Weekend

Mirielle, the wedding photographer, posted some pictures from the wedding on her photography blog located here. It pays to know the photographer--I made the blog cut!

It was a small party and a lot of fun. I ended up harassing all the guests to sign the guestbook because I didn't know what else to do. The prospect of sitting and talking with no other activity is unbearable to me. Everyone did love my bow-tie though and I once I get my parents settled into their new home in Provo I'll continue making some more.

The following day we met up with my Aunt Mary and Cousin Heidi and wandered over to the Denver Art Museum which was stellar. One artist, Nick Cave, had a special exhibit which was fascinating. He had built these suits and covered them in buttons which he called "soundsuits." There was no photography allowed but I had to spite them.
The black is covered in buttons, not camera noise.
It was all very reminiscent of the video game Journey which, if you haven't played, is probably one of the best arguments for video games as a medium of art.

Suzi getting stabbed by giant knives.

Riding a turtle in the kids section.
Much of the rest of the vacation involved playing games with my cousins and siblings. An enjoyable weekend for sure, would go again.


Patchwork Cables

We ran some new fiber cable in the office at work and while pulling it through the conduit--the fish tape got caught on some CAT-5 cable and ripped it in two.  This was not our cable but we did some quick thinking and fixed it.
I wish my camera could focus on things closer than four feet.
Unfortunately the call center who uses this line for all their data and voice was not satisfied so we had to run a brand new cable the following day.

I just got back from a trip to Colorado for my brother's wedding but I'm going to hold off on a write up until I get some of the pictures from the wedding photographer.


Custom Neckware for the Soon Unemployed

They let us know this week that the project at work is winding down and that depending on the decisions by higher-ups they may terminate my team in 1-3 months--sigh. There is a slight chance I'll be kept on as on for other projects as I am one of the most senior members but we'll see. The important thing is I'll always have this dry-erase mural of this job to remember it by.
Top: David L, Lucus W, Sally W, Jentry W, Claire S, Mirielle S, Kyle, Zander N. Middle: Kathrine C, Rachale C, Matt, Chusi, Christian O, Ryan M, Richard B. Bottom: Rayna, Ashley J, Doug M, Davey M, Willow, Crissy M, Ramsey, Mark W.
You'll find me in the center with my stylish short beard. This mural has been in progress for over a month but it was just barely finished to include the whole office--well what is left of us. Mirielle drew most of them and a co-worker started giving them teeth, red lips, and blue eyes. Once that co-worker left to dental school I took over and even drew one of the portraits--Ramsey, the man with a big beard.

I also started a new project this week which will perhaps transform into a hobby. My friend June offered her help and taught me how to make bow-ties. This is the result:
I felt a little like a Chippendale dancer while taking this picture.
I'm happy with how it turned out and have the fabric for two more: a yellow honeycomb, and a red with white polka-dot. June helped me considerably with this one so we'll see how two and three turn out; once I master the bow-tie I'll try my hand at full neckties.


Florida and Back Again

As some of you know my parents had recently decided to move away from Florida and into a home on Center Street in Provo. This last week was when the sale became final on my childhood home and in exchange for helping my parents driving a moving truck cross county they flew me down to say good bye.
It was eerie to be back in Florida for so long; seeing my old haunt brought back many memories that otherwise would have never come up. Packing the house took most of my two days but I was able to drive around and eat dim-sum lunch with a few friends whom I rarely see. 
We hit the beach on Sunday before church to say farewell to the Atlantic. Church was a strange mix of the familiar and strangers; a few people there I had known for years but there were many whom I have never seen. My parents both spoke and both cried and later that day there was a farewell party open house in which I knew very little people.

On Monday we started to drive. Florida had terribly narrow roads and mixing that with us still learning to handle the thirty-foot truck equaled to terror. As we came into Georgia I was dumbstruck with how beautiful it was--this feeling continued to intensify as we came into Tennessee the next day and drove past serene lakes flanked by dramatic cliff faces and southern greenery all gently blanketed in just enough mist to create a sense of magic.

We continued through  Kentucky and Illinois where we stopped in the town of Metropolis, IL--the self proclaimed home of Superman. We ate a delightfully mid-western meal with wonder-bread and all.

We continued through Missouri and had a slight delay due to the truck engine but it was sorted out quickly and we pushed through Kansas and into Denver the following day.
St. Louis Gateway Arch from I-70
We spent the next day with family in Denver as everyone was present save one brother and his family. I also got to finally meet my new sister-in-law, Jen, as she married into the family about a week ago.

Then on Friday my mother and I did the final leg through Wyoming and on to Utah. We unloaded the whole truck into storage units since my parents don't close on their new house for a few weeks and I finally was home and excited to get back onto a normal schedule.

I may not know what I want to do with my life but I do know that its not being a trucker.


Rooftops and Stuff

In Provo, the first Friday of every month during the Summer is host to the Provo Rooftop Concert Series. It is outside (avoiding the stink), free, and yet still manages to get some great bands out. The most memorable concert for me was last year when they did a tribute concert to Tom Petty in which several local band-members (including the singer of Neon Trees) took turns singing various Tom Petty songs--climaxing in "Free Fallin" which somehow the singers all forgot the lyrics and skipped half the song.

This is mostly a filler post. I have a second interview with Provo City on Monday for a part time position in the IT department which I'm hoping to get. I'm going to Florida on the 9th and helping my parents drive out to Provo so here's hoping something fun will happen. At the very least I'll be going to a couple temples on the way.


Allison Graduates

My sister, Allison, graduated from BYU-Idaho this week so my brother, my parents, and I all went up to celebrate. She is not normally in a wheel chair but decided to try to learn how to skateboard right before we got there and broke her foot.

Among the many things we did were wander campus and put hipster glasses on a statue of Joseph Smith, eat at the Rexburg's finest restaurant--the taco bus, and deep clean Allison's apartment for her move. I also locked my keys in my car for the first time in my life which was a blast.


Montana and Back Again

My friends, the Bryner-Feltis Family, invited me up to Montana for the weekend to hit Yellowstone and the Tetons. I accepted.
We met up at Grandparent's house in Bozeman, Montana. It was a great little area that I'm sure would be considerably less great in the Winter. After a late breakfast I sat on the porch and contemplated retirement while we waited for the rest of our party to arrive from Billings.
When they arrived we headed into Yellowstone and found a great little section of a river where everyone was swimming. Many people were fighting the rapids upstream in order to float down the quick waters. It was reasonably deep which made this possible but incredibly frightening to do with two small children. We did it anyway--the kids did fine in their life jackets but Jon and I almost drowned as we swam with him. It was a blast.
We hit some hot pots after  as well as Old Faithful (which was as impressive as I hoped) and we had dinner at the cafeteria overlooking the geyser. We then headed into Jackson Hole for supper and ice cream before driving to Teton Village to check into our Hostel.

This was the coolest place to sleep.
There was a great common area for everyone to hang out in since the rooms were so sparse and there was even pets wandering around. It was refreshing to stay in a place with such personality. There were even signatures on the wall in the common room dating back to the 60s.

The next day we headed into Grand Teton National Park and instantly saw a bear some thirty feet from the road which of course everyone got out of their cars to look. The kids really wanted to swim so we drove to Lake Jenny and waded around a peninsula while skipping rocks.
We wanted to be back in Provo by dinner so said farewell to the great West and headed home. The little computer told us there were three possible ways to get home with minutes difference in travel time so we took the back roads. It was such a long drive.
Thanks Bryner-Feltis Family  for inviting me and for taking pictures. Most of the above pictures were taken by them.