27 September 2008

From down south

I must give credit where credit is due. Bronco Mendenhall has had a successful stint as coach of the Cougars. I cannot argue with three and a half years of an impressive win/loss record. However, I think I would go crazy if I played for the guy:


At least he stopped using scriptural analogies to describe his team at press conferences .

22 September 2008

As requested

I had some requests for pictures I framed on my wall. Here they are:

During the short time I lived in The City, New York made an indelible impression in my memory. In my final weeks there I decided that I wanted to keep these memories close to the surface even while living in St. Louis. I thought the best way to do this would be to frame a few pictures of the city and hang them on the wall in my living room. For anyone who has visited New York, you well know that on nearly any street corner you can buy famous, well-recognized photographs of city landmarks - the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, the Flatiron Building, Wall Street, etc. However, as I looked around for pictures I simply could not find the images which captured my experiences the great city of New York. I was looking for a more intimate portrayal of the city. I was not looking for a grand skyline panorama or an impersonal snapshot of an iron and cement building. Rather, I wanted images which highlighted a simple life in the big city. The images I see in my mind when I remember the city are not grandiose views atop large buildings. No, I see and hear street performers on the Subway platform as I wait for my ride home from church. I see a quiet pathway in Central Park during an early morning run. I see quaint restaurants and neighborhood grocers lining the bustling street as I walk home from a long day at school. These images capture the character of New York - a city which remains very close to the heart.

Note: The top picture was taken by my former roommate in New York who happens to be a professional photographer (Mark Hedengren). The bottom two pictures I took myself.

19 September 2008


My Saturdays are officially booked between now and the end of the college football season.

My Saturday ritual begins with a long morning run. I am sure to make it back to my apartment in time to clean up, don my crimson red Utah shirt, and begin making lunch before the main events. Perhaps my biggest meal of the week is Saturday's lunch. I throw my own little tailgating party. Featured at last week's meal: pulled BBQ pork sandwiches, Amy's famous pink salad, Krunchers Potato Chips (the best potato chip ever made), lemonade-flavored Gatorade, all finished off with a root beer float. Highlighting this week's meal are hot bratwurst topped with sauerkraut and spicy brown mustard. Chips and salsa will serve as a fitting sidedish. While Heidi's delicious peanut butter squares will round out the tasty meal as dessert.

There are only two matters of interest the remainder of the day: 1) cheer for the Utes and 2) cheer against the Cougars. Living in a television market where demand for these games is low, at times I must settle for radio broadcasts of these events. Fortunately with the internet I can get streaming audio of both KALL 700 to listen to the Utes and KSL 1160 to listen to the Cougars (I just hate listening to Greg Wrubell). I am lucky this week in that Versus has picked up the Utah vs. Air Force game - my cable provider carries Versus (but not The Mtn.). I will just catch snippets of Wrubell's call of the BYU vs. Wyoming game this week because they will be playing at the same time as the Utes.

If anyone happens to be in the area, let me know and I will have a brat waiting for you.

Go Utes!!! Go Cowboys!!!

14 September 2008

Free time

I awoke this morning at 7:00 to prepare for the day. I usually do not listen long to the clock radio when it sounds each morning. Today was no exception. However, it was on long enough for me to hear the D.J.'s mention the severe rain we are receiving. I arose and looked outside to see the remnants of Hurricane Ike pouring down upon us. Of course, it is not a hurricane anymore. In fact, the storm now consists of very little wind - there is just so much moisture still caught up in the depression that it needs to get rid of it somehow.

It is now 8:15 a.m. I just returned into my apartment from my car. Just as I was pulling out of my parking lot I received a phone call from the Elders Quorum President informing me that church is canceled today. The weather service has issued flood warnings for several counties throughout the region. Several of the main roads commonly used to travel to the chapel have been closed by local authorities. It has been raining very hard for quite some time now, and apparently it is to continue for a good while.

Do you ever see those meteorological radar maps displaying the regional precipitation? You know, the severity and degree of rainfall is color coded. Light green patches signify drizzling rain, dark green suggests a steady rainfall, yellow indicates an intense storm with significant rain, orange shows sever precipitation, and red... well red suggests such a heavy rainfall that there is really no way for any more water to fall from the sky. Right now the local radar shows a big red patch passing over the top of St. Louis. Immediately surrounding this storm center is a significant amount of orange - covering several counties. And the yellow and green areas reach from western Missouri all the way over to central Illinois and on up toward Chicago. It is quite a storm.

Anyways, now I need to figure out what I am going to do cooped up in my apartment all day today. In all my life I do not think I have ever had church canceled before. I put a roast in the crock pot when I awoke, looking forward to a good meal this afternoon when I was to return from church. Now I will be teased all morning with the familiar aroma of a pending Sunday meal.

12 September 2008

Memory lane anyone?

Last month, I spent the first two hours of my flight to Las Vegas with my mind wrapped up in a sudoku puzzle (I still struggle with those). Needing to give my brain a rest, I glanced out the window of the airplane. I did so just as as we began crossing the Colorado Plateau. My attention was quickly diverted as I saw mountains for the first time in months. I stared in fascination at the array of geological formations passing beneath us - from the high Rocky Mountains to barren desert mesas to deep red-rock canyons.

My excitement level jumped significantly when I saw the deep navy blue waters of Lake Powell on the horizon. We flew over the souther edge of the lake - providing a great view of the Glen Canyon Dam an Page, AZ.

Memories flooded back of childhood summers spent vacationing with family at this Southern Utah destination. Bear with me as I jaunt down memory lane:
- "Man over board!!!"
- Simon and Garfunkel; Neil Diamond; John Denver
- Carp feeding frenzy at Dangling Rope Marina
- the Cookie Jar in Padre Bay
- San Juan day trip
- Page Boy Motel (do you think they have installed A/C yet?)
- Trent and Bill sleeping in the boat to prevent theft - yet the cooler is still stolen
- Skinny dipping
- "Jake, if you play with that window thing you are going to break it... Jake, please don't play with that... Jake, don't touch that... Jake... Jake... What did I tell you?"
- Dad sets up his daily deli in the boat cabin (pita or regular? ham or turkey? mustard? salt and pepper?)
- Mom forces us kids to eat the air puff cereal Trent and Bill bought while they are out in the boat chowing down on Cocoa Pebbles
- Ice cream at Dangling Rope
- Cliff jumping
- A day trip to Utah Lake turns into a weekend at Lake Powell (I can't believe we did that to Bill's date)
- Trent's infamous F-bomb after being forced out of the boat by Dad and Bill during a man over board
- Mom warming meat using the Suburban heater
- Sitting on the front of the house boat on the way back to Bullfrog Marina during a storm as waves repeatedly splashed up all over us
- How many of Bill's girlfriends did we scare away? (Andrea was never subjected to this harsh initiation - maybe that was for the best)
- Leaving Bill and Trent in the boat on the lake after breaking down while the rest of us were taken back to the marina by a ranger (was this the event that convinced Dad to finally sell the Sea Ray?) - we later learned of their dangerous encounter with man-eating cows
- Endless games of Phase 10 in the cabin of The Love Boat (that was a lame name for a boat)
- Shooting water balloons off of the boat with a slingshot
- Catching lizards
- A sick bat hanging on the front of Trent's swimsuit
- Dad's heinous waves while we rode the water weenie or the tube
- 7-hour road trips in a Suburban with 10 people and gear
- J.B.'s in Richfield, UT

Jamie's additions:

- learning to slalom (sp?) and Dad honking the horn of the boat when I finally earned my new ten speed.
- Singing "The big red letters stand for the Jello family..." while on the water weenie
- Buying sweatshirts and the Polo outlet in Page. (I know, dumb memory)
- Exploring random little canyons
- Seeing the naked man who was sunbathing when we drove up a canyon.
- Brooke almost drowning
- Sun burns
- That forever long hike to "waterfalls" that we never found. I hated that.
- Laying by the speaker so I could hear Simon and Garfunkel on our way to San Juan.
- The bumpy ride up to San Juan.
- Your face plant into the water while cliff jumping.
- Riding on Bill's shoulders while he was skiing.
- Sun burns.
- Falling off the ski and thinking a shark was going to come eat me while the boat was turning back around. (I know, another dumb memory)
- Heidi's stinky sandals (Heidi, don't hate me that I remembered that one).
- Indian poop
- Pretending to sleep in the boat cabin so I wouldn't have to do a Man Over Board.
- Sun burns
- Mom and Dad trying to make us play the Quiet Game on the way home.
- Mountains of laundry in the washroom.
- The boys wearing bandanas on their heads. Didn't we all want to be just like Bill?
- That huge sand hill just past the Wauwep (sp?) marina.
- Waving to all the people on the tour boats.
- Mom's sunglasses she found in the water, then continued to wear them for the next year.
- Glass water at San Juan.

Heidi's additions:

-Skiing and letting go by the shore so we could coast in.
-Being bounced around on the tube with to many of us on.
-Trying to see how long we could get away with out wearing our life jackets.
-The big sand hill in that took all we had to climb up and then run down into the water.
-I have to add Gordon Lightfoot to the list of music. I think it was only one song that really sticks out.
-Thinking it was so odd that dish soap was used to get your foot in the ski.
-Finding the tour boats to follow the massive waves.
-Being totally oblivious to the mass amount of noise and confusion that was us kids.

Trent's additions:

- Air Supply, The Allan Parson Project, and ABBA.
- The smell of dads tool box (It still smells the same. It is at the cabin now).
- Dragging Jill down the rock on her knees.
- Dr. Jensen's First Aid Kit (and the countless injuries is soothed)
- The box of snack food in the cabin (Party Mix, The beef jerkey in the individual wrappers, Hot Tomalies, and taffey cookies.
- Sleeping on top of the houseboat.
- Drunk Indians.
- Changing propellers.
- Hoping hot chicks showed up at the hotel hot tub.

Feel free to add to the list. I am sure there is much I have overlooked. In any case, I wouldn't trade our time on the lake for anything. Maybe we can make it back there some day.

10 September 2008


I mentioned in my previous post that two weeks ago Jill visited my stompin' ground here in the midwest. Part of our festivities included a visit to the famed St. Louis arch. Before we made the journey to the top of the arch, we decided to watch a short documentary about the building of the monument. We bought our tickets and made our way to the theater.

Waiting at the door to the theater was a middle-aged man outfitted in his dapper park-ranger uniform with stiff hat and all. He pleasantly greeted us, asking how we were enjoying our morning. I offered the cordial but slightly reticent programed response: "we are well. And you?"

I later made light of his response to this question. He quickly and brightly responded, "I'm livin' the dream!"

Perhaps the fact that I found this response so humorous and even shameful speaks a bit of my own insecurities. My initial thought was, "Wow, you need to dream a bit bigger buddy... here you are in the latter years of your career stamping movie tickets while wearing a goofy outfit and you claim you are 'living [your] dream' ?"

Later in the trip an encounter with another gentleman helped me think a bit differently about this response. In Chicago, we toured the city on a boat - floating out on Lake Michigan, then up the Chicago River. For the duration of the hour and a half tour, the guide (also middle-aged and dressed a bit strangely - although this time it was a skipper's outfit) educated us regarding the history and architecture of this thriving city. The tour was fascinating and enjoyable. At the conclusion of our boat ride, the guide thanked us for joining him and said, "As you can tell, I love my job. I hope you all enjoyed it too."

Lesson learned: Dreams are not some great and imaginary end, rather there is so much immediately and presently surrounding me which can fulfill beyond what I can ever possibly dream.

02 September 2008

More travels

I apologize that my blog has morphed into a shameless travelogue. I can fairly confidently promise that this will be the last post of my travels for quite some time. Unfortunately, I do not have any more trips planned in the near future.

Once again, you will notice what I love to do in life by how I spend my vacation time (family, food, sports...).

Jill flew into St. Louis last Wednesday evening to kick off a Labor Day weekend full of fun! We awoke Thursday morning and visited the trademark of St. Louis - the Gateway Arch.

For lunch, we ventured to Alton, Illinois where we enjoyed a delicious (and cheap) meal at Fast Eddie's. This joint is quite famous around here. It is a biker bar that serves up some delicious food from the grill at an amazing price: 1/4 pound burgers - $0.99, bratwurst or hot dogs - $0.99, basket of fries - $0.99, pork kabob - $1.29, steak kabob - $2.99. They pride themselves on maintaining the original price tag on all their food since they began grilling over 15 years ago.

In the background you can see the line forming. We arrived a half hour before they opened at 1:00 p.m. By the time they opened their doors, there were probably over 60 people in line.

Our next stop was another hallmark of St. Louis - the Anheuser-Busch brewry. They give free tours (I am all about free stuff).
They even give out free drinks at the end of the tour. We opted for Pepsi instead of their featured malt beverages on tap.

Thursday evening my former roommate Chris Eyring flew into St. Louis, and early Friday morning we were on the road headed for Ann Arbor and Detroit, Michigan.

In Detroit we met up with my good friend Brent Thurgood who had flown in from New York earlier in the day.

Of course, anyone who knows me well can guess where I head first when I visit a new city - the local ballpark. The Royals of Kansas City were in town playing the Tigers at Comerica Park.

Brent, Jill, Me, and Chris at Comerica Park in downtown Detroit. They had a spectacular firework show after the game.

Saturday was the main event of the weekend. We made the pilgrimage to Ann Arbor, MI to see the mighty Utah Utes take on the Michigan Wolverines in the Big House (AKA Michigan Stadium). The Michigan fans were absolutely incredible. They were welcoming and hospitable. They understand the game of football and support their team faithfully. I will cheer for Blue for many years to come.

Fortunately we won, but just barely. Actually, I really do not feel comfortable claiming that we won the game. Rather, it is more accurate to say that we did not lose.

We finished of our Labor Day weekend with a trip to the windy city. Mom flew in to meet us on Sunday - it was sure a treat to spend time with her.

No trip to Chicago is complete without enjoying their authentic stuffed pizza. I cannot visit without a stop at Giordano's