Sunday, January 30, 2011

Hale Freezes Over 2011

Yesterday we ran the Hale Center Theater's 3rd annual Hale Freezes Over 5K (they also offer a 10K).  It was a very slightly different course from last year, since apparently the course they've been offering in the past is slightly longer than a 5K.  It still finished strong with a brutal half-mile uphill, but we both had a good time of it, and seemed to remember the hill being worse in the past (progress!).  It was also not nearly as cold as last year, which was a nice bonus.

I took first in my age group, 9th in men and 10th overall (21:00), so I was pretty stoked about that.

We decided to stick around through the 10K results for the raffle, even though they're pretty slow with announcing everything, but in the end it turned out to be a pretty good idea, since I caught one of the extra hand-warmers they were throwing out (see above, though it took forever to warm up, and even then it was pretty weaksauce), and I even won something in the raffle:  A day-pass to Sundance!  Maybe we'll be skiing before the winter is through.

It was a fun race, and they always have good foods and great prizes (including free tickets to upcoming Hale productions).

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


It's a  new year, so it seems like a good time to do a little bit of housekeeping on the old blog.  You've probably already noticed a pretty significant change in the coloring and layout, and I'm glad to have the ability to adjust the widths and individual elements on the new template.  There's not going to be a lot news on this post, so if it bores you, don't bother reading on, but it might be of interest to people.
For archive's sake, here's the old template, used from the blog's launch in March 2008 until now.  I'm thinking of making a new header that's not quite as tall.  We'll see.

There's something funny about this poll.  It's like it reset itself after it was up for a few months, because I was quite sure there were more voted on there back when I posted it.  Anyway, it's woefully outdated, having been posted in fall 2009.  *sigh*  LOST.

And now is as tradition after the list on the right gets too long, here are the last 100 movies I've seen with their accompanying rating.  Oy.  This list doesn't include movies I had already seen, but at least it spans from fall 2009 until now.

Ghostbusters *** 1/2 / Daria (Season 2) **** 1/2 / The Manchurian Candidate (1962) *** 1/2 / True Grit *** 1/2 / Better Off Ted (Season 1) *** / Daria (Season 1) *** 1/2 / The Sorcerer's Apprentice *** 1/2 / TRON: Legacy ** 1/2 / The Other Guys ** / 17 Again *** / Mrs. Brown *** / The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader **** 1/2 / Lady Jane ** 1/2 / The Twilight Saga: Eclipse * 1/2 / The Other Boleyn Girl (BBC) ** / Tangled **** / Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 ***** / RED *** 1/2 / Bright Star ** / The Queen *** 1/2 / The Young Victoria *** 1/2 / Project Runway (Season 8) *** / Hereafter *** 1/2 / Letters to Juliet *** 1/2 / Valentine's Day ** 1/2 / Elizabeth: The Golden Age *** / When in Rome *** / Moonlight Serenade ** / The A-Team *** / The Back-up Plan * 1/2 / Survivor: Micronesia- Fans vs. Favorites **** / Survivor: China *** 1/2 / Survivor: Fiji ** 1/2 / Inception *** 1/2 / Survivor: Cook Islands **** / The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas *** 1/2 / Diary of a Wimpy Kid ** 1/2 / Survivor: Panama-Exile Island *** 1/2 / Children of Men *** / Shutter Island *** / Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure ** 1/2 / The New World ** 1/2 / Toy Story 3 ***** / Gremlins 2: The New Batch ** 1/2 / The Stepfather ** / Big Trouble in Little China *** / Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time ** 1/2 / The Fourth Kind *** / Nine ** 1/2 / An Education *** / Robin Hood *** 1/2 / LOST (The Final Season) ***** / 24 (Season 8) *** / Survivor: Heroes Vs. Villains (Season 20) *** 1/2 / Poltergeist *** / The Office (Season 6) ** 1/2 / V (Season 1) *** / Iron Man 2 *** 1/2 / Lorna Doone *** 1/2 / Fame ** 1/2 / How to Train Your Dragon **** / Project Runway (Season 7) *** 1/2 / Shear Genius (Season 2) * 1/2 / The 39 Steps *** 1/2 / Scary Movie 3 ** 1/2 / Clash of the Titans **** / Sixteen Candles *** / Sherlock Holmes *** / Launch My Line (Season 1) * 1/2 / TMNT *** / Battlestar Galactica: The Plan *** / The Twilight Saga: New Moon * 1/2 / Lost in Austen *** / Battlestar Galactica (Season 4) ***** / The Lovely Bones *** / Alice in Wonderland *** 1/2 / The Lady Vanishes *** 1/2 / Mirrormask *** / Battlestar Galactica (Season 3) **** / Leap Year ** 1/2 / Northanger Abbey *** 1/2 / Last Holiday *** / 2012 *** 1/2 / Emma (Masterpiece Classic) *** 1/2 / Battlestar Galactica (Season 2) **** / The Pregnancy Pact ** / (500) Days of Summer *** / Little Dorrit **** / A Christmas Carol * 1/2 / Avatar ** 1/2 / Hellboy II: The Golden Army * 1/2 / Battlestar Galactica (Season 1) *** 1/2 / Survivor: Samoa *** 1/2 / Where the Wild Things Are ** / Obsessed *** / The Princess and the Frog ***** / Vacancy *** / The Uninvited *** 1/2 / Surrogates **** / Sunshine Cleaning *** 1/2

Now, here are the last 50 books I've read.  Embarrassingly, this list covers almost 3 years (since I came home from Wisconsin in March 2008), but again, I didn't include books I reread:

The Incredible Journey (Sheila Burnford) *** / The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas) *** / The Graveyard Book (Neil Gaiman) *** 1/2 / Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (Robert Louis Stevenson) *** / Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days (Jeff Kinney) *** 1/2 / Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw (Jeff Kinney) *** / Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules (Jeff Kinney) *** / Diary of a Wimpy Kid (Jeff Kinney) *** / The Phantom of the Opera (Gaston Leroux) *** 1/2 / Miss Potter (Richard Maltby, Jr.) **** / Beauty (Robin McKinley) *** 1/2 / The Scarlet Pimpernel (Baroness Orczy) *** 1/2 / Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (Rick Riordan) ** / Fantastic Mr. Fox (Roald Dahl) **** / The Invisible Man (H.G. Wells) *** / The Girl Who Could Fly (Victoria Forester) ** 1/2 / The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold) ** 1/2 / Boy (Roald Dahl) *** 1/2 / Coraline (Neil Gaiman) *** 1/2 / My Cousin Rachel (Daphne DeMaurier) **** / A Separate Peace (John Knowles) **** / Cold Comfort Farm (Stella Gibbons) **** / The Mayor of Casterbridge (Thomas Hardy) **** 1/2 / The Tales of Beedle the Bard (J.K. Rowling) **** / Under the Greenwood Tree (Thomas Hardy) **** / Ethan Frome (Edith Wharton) *** 1/2 / Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH (Robert C. O'Brien) *** 1/2 / The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger) ** / Of Mice and Men (John Steinbeck) *** / The Great Gatsby (F. Scott Fitzgerald) *** / Fahrenheit 451 (Ray Bradbury) *** 1/2 / Regarding the Fountain (Kate Klise) *** 1/2 / 1984 (George Orwell) **** / Setting the Record Straight: Mormons and Homosexuality (Dr. A. Dean Byrd) **** 1/2 / Animal Farm (George Orwell) **** / Lord of the Flies (William Golding) **** 1/2 / Breaking Dawn (Stephenie Meyer) * 1/2 / Chased By an Elephant (Janice Graham) ***** / The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown) ** / Mostly Harmless (Douglas Adams) *** 1/2 / So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish (Douglas Adams) *** / Life, the Universe and Everything (Douglas Adams) ** 1/2 / The Restaurant at the End of the Universe (Douglas Adams) *** / The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams) **** / Eclipse (Stephenie Meyer) ** 1/2 / New Moon (Stephenie Meyer) *** / Twilight (Stephenie Meyer) ** / Book the Thirteenth - The End (Lemony Snicket) **** / Captain of My Soul (Me) rating declined / Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (J.K. Rowling) *****

Phew! I think as of the start of this year I'll start rating everything I watch and read, instead of just the new things, just because I think it's fun to keep a record.  And now that this is archived I'm set to clean house and blog for real when something worth blogging about comes around.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Survivor: Redemption Island Deals a Blow

So this bummer news was officially revealed last week:

(Sure, it had been rumored for weeks, but I was really holding out hope.) Too many gimmicks, Survivor! You are this close to jumping the shark. We used to have a lot more players, but now we get ho-hum recruited casts full of bartenders and "models" from LA, while the fans almost invariably get voted out. I start every season with high hopes, but this news coupled with the Redemption Island twist (Medallion of Power, anyone?...) does not bode well.

There was a time I vowed never to watch Rob Mariano on my TV again, but then he started to win me over, but NO ONE needs to play Survivor four times. Being on competition shows has pretty much become his profession. And of course Rob's turned into a hero, Probst. He grew up. Some people, on the other hand, may get older, but remain children. Case in point: He who I have more recently hoped never to see on my TV. And RH is not a Hobbit. Hobbits are honest, sweet-tempered, good-natured and strong-hearted, none of which apply to him. How many strings are we going to pull to keep RH on until the finale this time, Burnett? Are we going to him finding barely-Hidden Immunity Idols again? And how embarrassing is it going to be when he petulantly slams your show again once he gets to the end and inevitably loses? He was such a sore loser, it was shameful.

Oh, but am I going to watch it? Of course. Is it going to make me crazy? Probably. I'm still hanging onto that old good-will-triumph-over-evil philosophy. Is it too foolish to still try to use the "I'll believe it when I see it" line?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Welcome, 2011!

We spent about a week after Christmas in Rolla as well, and had great New Year festivities, which I will briefly outline here.

  • The morning of New Year's Eve, we learned from the news that a Tornado Watch had been issued, and that we should stay tuned as the storm came closer and news developed.  Eventually the watch because a Warning, and that means we all headed down to the basement where the kids promptly had a prayer and some special Tornado Treats in the storm shelter under the stairs (there's a monthly tornado drill, so the kids know just what to do).  The reports were that the storm was getting pretty close, but all we really saw of it was a LOT of rain and thunder, though it did touch down just a few miles from our house, and apparently killed a few people who were not under adequate shelter.  It was a little scary, but after an hour or two, the clouds vanished and the sun came out, and I even went running.  Crazy!  We were warned we might get more of the storm later in the day, but it didn't seem to come back.
  • After that hubbub died down, we had a nice, quiet New Year's Eve, watching movies and episodes of Better Off Ted until midnight, where we heard local fireworks going off and watched about five minutes of the New York happenings, which turned out to be plenty.  (Some of the musical "artists" we suffer these days, my stars.)
  •  Early New Year's Day, Julie, Marci and I woke up and ran a small, local 5K (which we also ran with Tyler two years ago when we were in town for the New Year, and this time with a much improved time!).  Entrance fee was a can of food for charity, and the turnout was about 25-30.  It had been pretty warm for a few days, and all the snow had melted, but 2011 started with temperatures in the teens and below, so it was an invigorating race.  According to my best estimate, my time was about 21:15-20, and I came in second overall.  (Like I said, it was a small race.)
  • We spent the rest of the day eating delicious treats and playing with the kids.
    Such a tiny ice cream cone!
    I introduced William to The Twilight Zone as we watched a few episodes when we were done with video games (this may or may not prove to have been a mistake--after all, I was traumatized by The Dummy episode when I was like 11, and he's only 6).  I didn't get to see much of SyFy's annual Twilight Zone marathon this year, but that's okay because we only a few weeks ago finished watching all the episodes we still had recorded on the DVR from last year's marathon.
  • Julie and I made Full English Breakfast for everyone, and it was a big hit.  This might be the start of a New Year's Day tradition.
  • I had this insane impulse a couple weeks earlier when my hair and beard were getting particularly out of hand, so I decided:  New Year, new hair.  After a full facial shave, at the capable hands and clippers of Marci, with Julie's assistance, I received what surely must be my shortest haircut ever.  I thought I would panic when I saw it, but I secretly love it.  (I guess not so secretly now.)  It's probably even shorter than it ever was when I was a missionary.  The kids had to warm up to me again after, but Julie's parents really liked it.  Julie didn't recognize me when she glanced my way for the first little bit, but she kind of likes it too, and it's already growing out anyway.  (And yes, I will admit that my inspiration for the look was this.  I figured I could pull off the look now that I'm more slender than I was as a missionary.  I thought this haircut made my head look tiny back then.)  I'm still trying to decide if this is going to become another New Year tradition...
  • We said a sad goodbye to the Midwest, and had a safe and uneventful flight back to freezing cold Salt Lake City on Sunday evening.  The airplane was basically a tin can, and they didn't offer free Wi-Fi on this one (like they did on the flight over), but the passengers were a total LOST cast, and we both finished our books.  We made it home just in time to get back to work the next morning. *sigh*  Goodbye for now, vacation.  We'll meet again soon, I hope.  Until then, down comes the Christmas tree and lights.
Say, who is that guy anyway?
We'll be back soon, wife!  Never fear.
2010 was exquisite.  I expect nothing less from you, 2011!  In case people were interested, and didn't get to see our Christmas card, or couldn't read the tiny font of the text, here are our Top 10 of 2010:

Happy 2011, everyone!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Christmas Wrapping

(The title of this blogpost is taken from this song that I just love for some ridiculous reason--the associated memories, I would guess.)

I hope everyone had a blessed Christmastime.  We had a wonderful, long stay in Rolla and I'm always ever so grateful to Julie's family for having us, and for so welcoming me and treating me like a member of the family.  Here are just a few exciting happenings regarding our days in MO.  Get excited for a lot of photos.

  • Here are some pictures from Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, since I didn't really include any in my last post:
I dubbed myself the King of Christmas Eve.
Getting ready for the delicious Christmas Eve buffet dinner!
The kids were excited to reenact the Nativity.  Lily insisted she get to be Baby Jesus.  Special thanks to Julie for providing the lamb (bottom left).
Julie played a Christmas duet with me!  It was a true delight!  And something of a dream come true.
Julie did an impromptu photo shoot.  This is one of the very many shots that we took.  Her film was very impressive.
No caption necessary.  But I guess there is one now anyway.
I tried my hand at modeling too.  This is for the cover of GQ.
The girls took to the Christmas puzzle.  They're working so feverishly, the camera couldn't even catch them clearly.
I mean, these kids had a killer Christmas morning waiting for them.
New Christmas Eve pajamas/slippers!  Thanks, Mom!

Julie and her new Tim Burton Christmas book collection.
Finally!  My LOST DVD collection is complete!
This is a fortune cookie that appeared in my presents from Santa Claus...  It had a series of very intriguing numbers printed on it.
We're still trying to discover who sent this delightful present, but regardless, we have been enjoying it very much ever since.
  • We all enjoyed going to the local rec center, doing some running and swimming with the kids in the awesome pool (which included a lazy river, whirlpool, splash/play area, hot tub and serious water slide).
    • We had a lot of snow on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and spent time outside with the kids, making snowmen, rolling huge snowballs and making sledding hills in the backyard.

    • We had so much delicious food, at home and eating out (Steak 'n' Shake, it's been too long, and Imo's, you're always a favorite).
    • We had a nice time at church, and enjoyed the Sacrament Meeting Christmas program, organized by Marci and featuring almost all of the Christmas hymns (Marci and I did a duet of The First Noel).  It was later realized that William and I wore matching sweaters, so we took pictures to document the occasion:
     Then Julie and Marci decided to have a Sisters Do As Sisters Should photo shoot.  Here is a sampling from that:

    • We played a lot of fun games:  Settlers of Catan (several times), Dutch Blitz, Asteroids and Meteoroids (both variations of Wackee Six, a family favorite), Disney SceneIt! (a favorite with the kids), and Scribblish (a really fun new game from Julie's brother, a mix between Telephone and Pictionary).  We also played a little Wii:  Donkey Kong Country Returns (wee William was surely quite upset when I took it home with us), Super Monkey Ball and of course Wii Sports.  Then of course was Prison, an unexpectedly popular game with the little ones in which I put them under the table and they try to escape, only to be caught again and put back in prison.  O, the children!
    This is me and Owen (or Mr. Bigglesworth).  He was once my rival, as Julie's Kitty Boyfriend, but as you can see, we have come to an agreement.  I of course had the upper hand in the whole affair.
      • We had a really nice Family Home Evening, where I was assigned to play the piano for the musical numbers.  This proved delightfully difficult when the kids continued to climb all over me and play along with their improvised descants.

      • We watched some fun and festive movies:  Love Actually, Foyle's War, TRON: Legacy, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, the better part of season 1 of Better Off Ted.  We also watched some lame-ish movies, like The Other Guys and 17 Again (that last one wasn't too bad).
      • We went to the St. Louis Science Center.  It was so cool.  The kids were way into it, but so were the grown-ups.
      This dinosaur is awesome!  It moves!  And I heard once upon a time it also made roaring noises.
      Playing the laser light harp.
      Julie shows Ivy the dinosaurs from the upper level.
      •  We said goodbye to Tyler, Sarah and their two girls on Wednesday.  Lily, who told me many times how much she loved me, and demanded often to sit next to me at mealtimes, gave me a "chin hug" before she left, which consisted of scratching my beard under my chin.

        So there it is, another Christmas gone, and another year over.   Stay tuned for a New Year post.