Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Public Official

Well, my exciting news for the world is that I am now the newest member of the Tooele County Planning Commission. While I took the oath this evening, it won't actually be official until Tuesday when I am formally appointed by the Tooele County Commissioners. I will then have my first planning meeting on Wednesday evening. I am excited for this opportunity. It is a four year appointment and will afford me great opportunity to get to know people within the county and possibly open other doors for public service.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

It's Beginning to Feel Alot Like Christmas

With tomorrow being Christmas Eve, I guess that it is beginning to feel like Christmas has arrived. We have snow on the ground here in Tooele, so it should be a white Christmas. Jonathan completed the gingerbread house (although I have to admit we bought a kit this year rather than baking the pieces). He did a nice job for his first time. I finished the quilt rack for hanging Sherrie's quilts in the dining area. I think that it turned out really nice, even if I say so myself. It was a trick getting it up on the wall - it measures six feed wide to accomodate the larger quilts she has designed. Today at work we had our Christmas luncheon. I am still trying to figure out why Honeybaked Ham is better than Macey's Ham. It tasted like ham to me. We will finish up the luncheon food on Friday when we have our pity party for those that have to work on Friday. One of the highlights of the Christmas season was attending the Tabernacle Choir Christmas Concert the Sunday before last. It was such a fantastic concert and President Monson and President Uchdorff were in attendance. President Monson went up onto the stage at the end of the concert and made some remarks and some presentations to the guest artists. It was an incredible experience and well worth tromping through the snow and begging for a ticket to get in. When I put in for tickets they would only allow a maximum request for 4 tickets. I figured that it was early enough that Jordan wouldn't be back from school so all we would need was 4 tickets. Well, he came home (in our eventful trip) on Friday into Saturday. We decided to go on faith anyway. I dropped everybody off at the Conference Center and proceeded to my assigned parking area on 400 West. I then ran through the snow (it was alsmot a near death experience), and made it to the Conference Center a few minutes before we were supposed to be seated. I began asking if anybody had extra tickets. Finally one of the workers directed me to a lady that was taking ticket requests. When I explained my situation she gave me a pass and sent me to the front of the line. She told me to call my wife and tell that I was on my way up. Anybody who knows me, knows that I really wanted to attend that concert when I gave in to begging for a ticket. I am ready for the Gold's Gym to open on January 1st. Sherrie has been making all my favorite Christmas candies and of course I have been partaking. I am just hoping that I don't outgrow all of my clothes before January 1. Jonathan and his friends built a snow fort yesterday across the street at Bishop Fivas' house. He is such a good Bishop to let all the kids use his yard like it is a park. Jonathan designed the fort with various cubicles and shoots through which they could drop snow balls from the snowball manufacturing center at the back of the fort. That was a much more complex design than any of my forts. I think I gave up throwing snowballs years ago after I pegged Keri Piche with a fairly compact one. It hit pretty hard, she cried alot, and I felt really bad. Well, I don't think anybody was hurt yesterday or today by a snowball. Sarah went in an had her hair highlighted so that she would look cute for Christmas. (She always looks cute - however, I am wondering if there is somebody that she is trying to impress because she has really become concerned about her appearance.)

Jared's 20th Birthday

It was fun to see Jared's room decorated for his birthday.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Jeff House Baptism - Dec 21, 2008

Jared and Elder Myrvang had a baptism today, on Jared's 20th birthday. Brother Jeff House was baptized by Jared. We are excited for him. He has worked hard in Cullman and we are so pleased that he was able to see the fruits of his labors before being transferred.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Jared's Birthday Party

Again, we are thankful to the Frye's for both celebrating Jared's birthday and sending us pictures of it. They were able to have another set of Elders come down and also, Jeff, who will be baptized tomorrow (Sunday - Jared's birthday). What a happy birthday and a great way to turn 20. I remember when I turned 20, the branch in Guatelama had a party for me at the church. We had seven cakes and a big pinata. It was alot of fun. While we miss having Jared here for his birthday, we are glad that he is serving in Alabama and know that he is being blessed for his service and attitude.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Bro and Sis Frye

Jared, Elder Myrvang and Brother & Sister Frye. I am so grateful for the Frye's and how they take care of the Elders. They are having a birthday party for Jared tonight with some other Elders and gentleman that will be baptized on Sunday.

More Pictures from Bama

More pictures from Brother Frye. It is great that he shares these pictures with us. Now we don't have to wait until Wednesday every week to see if we are going to get any pictures.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Jared Wednesday Update - 12/17/08

Elders Gibby and Myrvang with Jeff
Elders Gibby and Myrvang
The Mission District

Jared is still serving in Cullman and loving it. It sounds like he will have a baptism for a birthday gift. I am happy to see him having success since he has been working so hard. The following is an excerpt from his letter yesterday:

"Everything is great in Cullman, Alabama. Jeff is still getting baptized this Sunday. I’m super stoked for that. He has been taught all the lessons and is keeping all his commitments. Basically, he is already a member. He did service with the Elders Quorum last Saturday all on his own. He’s a great guy. He asked me on Sunday if I would be the one to baptize him. I said, “yes, I would love to!” He said that him and I have a special spiritual bond. I taught him most of the lessons. Elder Myrvang did some teaching but he is more quiet and I end up teaching at least 80% of the lesson. He’s really excited about his baptism. Also it’s the Ward Christmas program and I’m playing the piano in it. I’m pretty excited about that. Jeff took us up to the Christmas Festival in Huntsville Friday night. It was really fun. We had a blast. They had, nativities and quilts in the gym, a live nativity, free family photographs, and the wonderful stake choir and orchestra. The choir is amazing. It’s pretty much like a miniature MOTAB. Jeff liked it so much that he ended up taking his mom Sunday night. The missionaries had to be up there all three nights to talk to people and share the gospel if there was any opportunity. I really enjoyed it. I ended up talking to a ton of people and one person I think might be baptized. It was a younger guy with his girlfriend and I just walked up to them and started talking. He said that he wanted to join this church but had to talk to one of us. I’m like yep! I found out that he was barely outside of my area but that was ok, I gave the referral to the other missionaries and they took it from there. I hope that he gets baptized. There were a lot of nonmembers at this deal and I think they had a lot of success. It was really fun."

Friday, December 12, 2008

Elder Cowboy

A new approach to missionary work or a secret message to a sweet girl that will remain unnamed (initials BR)? (1980's song, I Wanna Be A Cowboy So You Can Be My Cowgirl, by Boy's Don't Cry)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Happy Day in Alabama

Jared received a Christmas package. Now he has a Christmas tree with packages under it (thank you Ruddy family). Brother Frye commented when he sent the pictures, "Attached are pictures of Elder Gibby opening packages and setting up his Christmas Tree. He loved it!"

Monday, December 8, 2008

More Christmas in Alabama

Brother Frye commented on the pictures, "Pictures taken late Sat. 12-6-08 when the Elders came home from a hard long day."

Jonathan's Piano Recital

Jonathan played in a piano recital on Friday (December 5). He played, The Scientist, by Coldplay. As a proud father I can say that he did an excellent job. He is becoming an accomplished pianist, following in the footsteps of his parents and siblings. It amazes me to watch him, because he doesn't appear to get nervous at all he performs.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Alabama Christmas

Brother Frye is so good at sending pictures to us. I was happy to see that Jared has a Christmas sock in Alabama. We've hung his here, but it is still going to be a different Christmas without all our children here.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Songs Echoing in My Head

At Thanksgiving a week ago, we were talking about the Christmas songs that we were hearing constantly on the radio. It seems as if every time I turn on the radio they are playing "Feliz Navidad". It's not that I don't enjoy the latin rhythm with the cathing lyrics (that I can actually understand); it is just that it is about the only song I hear. Well, I ran across this funny article that I have attached. Apparently, hearing the same songs and remakes of the same songs year after year eventually begins to wear on more than just me...

10 Christmas Songs I’m Already Sick Of (and 10 Geeky Alternatives)

We are scarcely into the month of December, and I am already dreadfully tired of classic Christmas music and, for that matter, many of its more contemporary alternatives. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got Christmas Spirit to spare, but the relentless audio assault of this holiday-themed musical fare has long since crossed the threshold from seasonally appropriate and into the realm of the obnoxious. When I shop at my local department store, I am crushed by the melancholy weight of "Blue Christmas." While I wait on hold, "Little Drummer Boy" incessantly pounds his way into my skull. At night while I slumber, "Donde Esta Santa Claus" plays in an endless loop over my horrifying (and inexplicably bilingual) dreams.

There’s obviously little wrong with the songs themselves, as they are classics for a reason. Instead the problem seems to lie with the limited aural palette from which we draw our Christmastime selections. Yes, Virginia, there is a wealth of other songs from which to choose.

Hit the jump for a list of 10 traditional offenders, and, since this is GeekDad, 10 slightly geekier alternatives.

"Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" – Gene Autry (mistakenly attributed to Bing Crosby)
From his early days as a Montgomery Ward pitchman to his haphazardly animated Rankin/Bass television special to his eventual absorption into popular culture, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer taught us all an important lesson: one of acceptance and personal pride. Sadly, the song is less specific. To this day, I have no idea what constitutes "reindeer games."

Unbeknownst to all save post-punk laptop rapper MC Lars, Rudolph has an illegitimate brother who also saved Christmas. You can hear his tale of woe in Lars's "Gary the Green-Nosed Reindeer" from the 2006 charity compilation A Santa Cause – It's a Punk Rock Christmas Vol. 2. It’s that rare piece of Yuletide songwriting to reference Osama Bin Laden.

"Santa Baby" – Eartha Kitt
In 1953, jazz chanteuse and future Catwoman Eartha Kitt described to Santa, in no uncertain terms, the various extravagances she required for a merry Christmas. It boasted a sassy, sexy shot of seasonal consumerism that made it a runaway success, and has, in the 55 years since it’s initial release, been covered by every man, woman and child on planet Earth. Madonna, RuPaul, Everclear and even Miss Piggy have taken a stab at this track, thus making it nigh inescapable.

Rather than break out this silky but well-worn number (or one of its less adept offspring) this year, why not toss something a little different into the mix? Wizard Rockers The Parselmouths’ "Voldy Baby," for example, has a similar level of cheek coupled with uniquely geeky subject matter. It also uses the phrase "Floo Network" as a clever double entendre. Who can ask for more?

"The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late)" – Alvin and the Chipmunks
Darn your black heart, Ross Bagdasarian! As David Seville, you unleashed upon the weary world a holiday tune so undeniably syrupy as to enchant children (and repulse adults) across the breadth of five decades. My kids play it incessantly so as to drive me mad, just as I did with my parents and them with theirs. May the circle be unbroken.

We get it: Alvin wants a hula hoop! If you must play a dated, pitch-altered gift-giving ditty, why not 1980’s "What Do You Get a Wookiee for Christmas (When He Already Owns a Comb)?" It’s from seminal Star Wars cash-in Christmas in the Stars, which, oddly enough, has nothing to do with The Star Wars Holiday Special. Save the fact that both kind of suck. Still, it’s long since fallen off the Christmas radar, and could probably use a revival.

"Santa Claus is Coming to Town" – Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
Never has The Boss sounded so commanding, so full of good will toward men, so utterly constipated. Yes, Clarence needs a new saxophone, Little Steven a festive head scarf, and Bruce needs a double-shot of Metamucil. It's a fun track and all, but haven't we heard it enough?

Instead of further plumbing the depths of this classic rock catastrophe, why not check out another pair of rock royalty alchemically fused together for the sheer sake of holiday lunacy? Mash-up mastermind Smash combined the music of Chuck Berry and T.Rex's Marc Bolan under the moniker "Rudolph Loves to Boogie" for a Get Your Bootleg On Christmas Challenge way back in 2003. It's gotten little hard to find, but the prize is well worth the search.

"We Three Kings" – Mannheim Steamroller
Mannheim Steamroller Christmas – much like communism and the iPod Shuffle – sounds like such a great idea in theory; you take Yuletide classics and you rock them up a bit. Unfortunately, what you end up with sounds less like "modern contemporary" takes on old school Christmas tracks and more like elevator music. Really dynamic elevator music. "We Three Kings," for all its bombast, falls particularly flat. This, of course, won’t keep your local all Christmas music radio station from playing it 40 or 50 times a day between now and year’s end.

Instead, I suggest "We Three Konami" from Doctor Octoroc’s new release. Imagine if the three wise men had been Solid Snake, Simon Belmont and a Contra commando. Yeah, it sounds like that.

"Sleigh Ride" – The Carpenters
My mom likes The Carpenters. So does yours. All moms love The Carpenters, and thus they are played on infinite repeat in every cinnamon-tainted home interior tchotchke shop in the civilized world. Their 1978 album Christmas Portrait is the stuff holiday-themed Adult Contemporary playlists are made of, and "Sleigh Ride" seems to be the favored track. But it sure ain’t no "Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft."

For those who must get their Carpenters fix, try "Carpenters Christmas" by esteemed remixer Go Home Productions (of "Rapture Riders" fame). It layers Karen’s silky voice atop the dancehall rhythms of Roots Radics with surprisingly appealing results.It's still available as part of the Santastic II: Clausome bootleg compilation.

"Jingle Bell Rock" – Bobby Helms
In the 1950s, the prevailing notion was that one could vastly improve youth appeal by adding the word "rock" to any phrase, item, or activity. Folks rocked around clocks, in jailhouses and, yes, they even rocked Christmas carols. Pioneering musician and Rockabilly Hall of Fame inductee Bobby Helms released this song in 1957, and it has returned like an odd Yuletide curse practically every December since.

I much prefer ComputeHer and 8 Bit Weapon’s chiptune/ vocoder arrangement "Jingle Bitz." It’s got a unique appeal that stays true to the retro chic of micromusic whilst still jingling all the way. Plus, I don’t think you’ll have to hear it blaring from every musical Christmas card you receive this season.

"Do They Know It’s Christmas?" – Band Aid
This landmark 1984 single from the British charity supergroup has been chided for being self-righteous, Anglocentric and geographically inept, but there’s also the oft-overlooked issue of it simply not being a very good song. Widely parodied by everyone from The Simpsons to Pulp, "Do They Know It’s Christmas?" is now merely viewed as another poorly executed relic from the 1980s, and yet we’re still forced to endure it each holiday season.

For those who are looking for a little charitable giving coupled with their holiday music, Potter fandom super-site The Leaky Cauldron has recently released its second annual Jingle Spells compilation. Last year’s comp raised $35,000 for First Book, and the Cauldron is looking to do the same this year for Book Aid. Jingle Spells 2 features the track "A Ministry-Approved Christmas" by Welsh WRocker Peeved. He might not be Bob Geldolf, but he knows his way around a pop song.

"Feliz Navidad" – Jose Feliciano
"Feliz Navidad" is recognized as one of the most-played Christmas songs in the world. For anyone who disputes this claim, I have a simple challenge; try not to hear it. Seriously, try to make it through the month of December without once hearing Jose chirpily wish you a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year. I hope you have better luck escaping this track than I have.

There’s really no way to replace "Feliz Navidad," as it is inexhaustible. If you could somehow harness the energy inherent in this track, you could easily power all the Christmas lights on the eastern seaboard. It’s the horns, man. It’s got to be the horns. So why not find another song with equally hot brass? My suggestion is The OneUps’ "Super Mario’s Sleigh Ride." Like everything from Mustin and Co., it distills the musical melody of videogames past into a perfect parcel of jazzy glee.

"Wonderful Christmastime" – Paul McCartney
McCartney penned this popular Christmas ballad in 1979, when the synthesizer was finally coming into its own. How the warbling, panning synth line behind this track didn’t both kill the instrument’s momentum and destroy Christmas is a mystery for the ages. Say what you will about Paul, the guy can crank out a great pop ditty. Trying to induce vertigo in your listening audience, however, is a little uncalled for.

Some people are Beatles people. Some are Stones people. Some are Elvis people. I, personally, am a Kinks person, and thus I heartily endorse OK Go – whose delightful Youtubery and kinship with They Might Be Giants easily launched them into nerd stardom – and their 2006 cover of "Father Christmas." It’s from that year’s KROQ Christmas compilation, but it can also be found floating about the Internet.

Cullman Christmas Lights

Jared and his companion performed service hours helping the Frye's get their Christmas lights hung on their home. That is good experience for Jared. Now when he gets home he will be able to put the lights up on our house. Although, I'm not sure I want to give up the annual experience of crawling up on the roof of my house, in the cold of winter, hanging over the edges of the eaves, snapping christmas bulbs in place. I'm glad that Jared was able to help so that it will feel even more like the Christmas season for him.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Jared Wednesday Update - 11/03/08

Jared completed another fantastic week in Cullman. He wrote, "Friday he had a church tour with Jeff House. It was an awesome lesson. The spirit was really strong. We committed him to baptism that night and set his date for the 21st of December. I thought that was awesome since my birthday falls on that Sunday. We are so excited for his baptism. He also came to church on Sunday. It was pretty surprising because he came 30 minutes early. I was shocked, that has never happened before. I sat with him on the second row and chatted with him. Myrvang was sitting in the foyer waiting for a family that was supposed to come but never showed up. Jeff said that he woke up that morning and started reading the Book of Mormon over again. Things like that bring such great joy to me. He loved church. All the talks were great. Gospel principles went really well. The teacher actually had a lesson planned. Everything was perfect."

It would be a wonderful birthday present for him to have a baptism on that day. He stated that his mission president is really pleased with how the work is going in Cullman.

He is also teaching a family that is a media referral. He wrote, "The Johnson’s were a media referral. We went to deliver their DVD and they had a lot of questions about what were the differences between their 'Southern Baptist Church' and ours. I love questions like that because they lead straight into the restoration. We taught their family a wonderful lesson. There were 4 adults and two children. One of the 9 year-olds was actually taking notes. I loved that part. The mother said she wasn’t going to listen to us at all but she was listening in the hallway and she said that I had an honest sound in my voice so she decided to listen. That made me feel good."

I am proud that this woman could hear the honesty in Jared's voice. He has always been a great kid. I and grateful and proud to see his successes in Cullman, Alabama.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Thanksgiving and Beyond ...

I seem to find less and less time to write on my blog. It feels as if the holiday period is so busy that there isn't time to do anything. I try and update the blog at least every Tuesday so that if Jared wants to see what is going on with his family it is available on the blog. We had a really nice Thanksgiving. Jordan came home from SUU on Tuesday night. Almost immediately he had friends over to see him. He has whole groups of friends everywhere he goes. I had to work on Wednesday so we started our festivities on Wednesday night. Sherrie made a wonderful turkey dinner with all the trimmings and plenty of homemade pies. Britney joined us Thursday afternoon. She worked in the morning serving the Elders in the MTC (we were glad for her service at the MTC). After a nice dinner we rushed down to Saratoga Springs to my parents house to see the extended family. Unfortunately, Rachelle and her family had already left when we arrived. Sione had also gone to work. We did get to see Melanie and Drew. We had some dessert and some nice company and then headed back to Tooele so the kids could get to bed. They all got up early and went to the Black Friday Sale at Walmart. I didn't got for the first time in years. It really felt nice to just sleep in and not fight the crowds. Sarah and Britney went into SLC to shop the sales. Sherrie and I decided to head up to Park City and do some Christmas shopping. We had a nice time, found some really good deals, and had a nice lunch at Ruby Tuesdays. We made a few stops in SLC on the way back and mostly finished our Christmas shopping.

This past Sunday we went to Austen Jasper's missionary farewell. He is a good friend of Jared and Jordan. He gave a nice talk and looked very Elderish. He is going into the MTC on Wednesday. We asked Britney to look out for him while he is there.

Before Jordan arrived home on Tuesday, I put the Christmas lights on the house. I wanted it to look festive when he arrived home. Now that Thanksgiving is over it is nice to have the lights on every night. On Saturday we put up the Christmas trees. Jonathan, Sarah and I did most of it and then Sherrie arranged the Christmas decorations after the trees were up. The house now looks ready for Christmas. With the shopping done, the packages sent, the house decorated and everything ready for the holidays, I should be able to just sit back, relax and enjoy the season.