1 comments Sunday, August 31, 2008

Well, the weekend's not quite over yet and we've got some great photos to share. Earlier in the week Jamie McDonald, the builder for our development here, lived up to a promise he made a few months ago. When he originally did the landscaping it was back in April time frame. After he grated the yard it had perfect drainage. Then the typical April and May showers arrived--including some t-storms that drop an inch or more in a half an hour--there was a lot of damage due to erosion. He knew we had a couple of 'puddle spots' and volunteered to fix them. I asked him to wait until I could get enough grass seed.

Let me tell you about the COOP in Elgin. I talked with Chrissy about how much money we could spend on grass seed. She told me $50. I walked in and talked to the gentleman behind the counter and said: "My wife has given me $50 to buy grass seed."

He smiles. Then he does some math on an old calculator and says: "That's about 15lbs."

We go to the section of the store with the grass seed. He picks up a bag with some seed in it, and puts in on the scale. It weighs in at 18lbs. He goes to grab a scoop and takes out one scoop. I tell him the scale reads 16lbs. He shrugs his shoulders and then puts the scoop back in. Takes the entire bag back to the register and rings me up for $50. I then ask him how much land this will cover and he explains that it's 10lbs for 1 acre.

I'm only re-seeding about half an acre and I manage to get more seed than I paid for and more seed than I need. What a deal!

So when Jamie was here we put Daniel in the tractor and had him help drive it. Jamie took a few turns with Daniel at the wheel and then let Eliza had a turn. Both the kids, and our builder were good sports and now the dirt is a lot closer to being ready to plant! Yahoo!

On Friday we got to go see the parade in Fletcher OK. It consisted of tractors, the entire school system from grades 3+ and some other local interests. One of my favorite is the BEE truck. A while back I ran into a store that sold local honey--great stuff. There was a newspaper clipping showing how their truck was part of a tv show. I guess there's a show on CMT called "Trick My Truck" and at some point the business was selected to have their truck revamped by the show. The painting detail looks incredible and so I had Chrissy take a couple of pictures while I was holding the kids.

In other news, dad told me about how he got a Mac. It looks like the one he got was one of the newer groovy really really really cool ones. Well, we got a MAC as well. It's not as nice as dad's but hey, you pay for the logo right? This thing even has a 3.5 inch floppy drive and an RJ10 network card. It's going to take some gadget hunting to get the thing on the internet--I don't even think they made a browser for this machine! It's a fun project to have on the side.

Yesterday we took Leslie up to Mt Scott and the Holy City near here. We all had fun and snapped photos of things while we were up there. It was a good time. All of the photos so far are part of the web album slideshow at the end of this post.

Last night it rained. Our water bill from last month showed up and told us we needed to water the yard less than what we were doing. I bought large blue rain barrels to catch the water off the roof and we had just the right amount of rain last night. No erosion--but all the soil is throughly moist so I can plant tomorrow morning. I love having a yard. It's neat! It's work, but I've got to learn to take care of it. It's one of the reasons why Chrissy's taking a job. I figure if we take care of what we've been entrusted with, God will help take care of us. So far I'd say my theory is right--you be the judge.

0 comments Thursday, August 28, 2008

I remember going to see Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade when it came out. It was a fun evening out as a family. At the beginning of that movie River Phoenix played a younger version of Indiana Jones showing how as a youth the character was stricken with adventures. I remember watching that scene play out and thinking to myself that it would be cool to watch more young adventures of Indiana Jones.

Then of course someone actually made a TV series about a younger Indiana Jones and his adventures. I'm not sure why I didn't watch it much, but there was still something phenomenally cool about a teenager going off in search of adventure.

I must not have been the only one interested because a while back I found the film "Outlaw Trail." In it a young man dressed in a period boy scout uniform follows the trail of Butch Cassidy having a series of adventures along the way. For a lower budget production, the film turned out quite well. I don't regret the time I spent watching it, or the money I spent buying it. I doubt though, that Mr. Spielberg considers Ryan Little a threat to his work. It's respectable enough that the giant would consider him a colleague.

Along that same note Ryan Little's company "GOFilms" is off doing other productions as well. One of my favorite movies they've produced is "Saints and Soldiers." I managed to acquire a bootleg copy of this while on my last deployment. It was very poetic watching my grandfather's generation at war while participating in my generation's conflict. It's a must see, poetic, and tasteful. It inspires a certain reverence to the diversity of experiences played out during the massive conflicts of WWII. Surprisingly enough Saints and Soldiers can be watched on hulu.com. You don't even have to redbox it to decide if it's something you'd enjoy.

I'm really excited for what's coming next. I'm not a rugby guy. I'm not a football guy either, but I enjoyed the movie "Rudy." Low and behold here's a movie staring Sean Faris that deals with rugby. It's about a month away from hitting the theaters but it's gotten a lot more press than Saints and Soldiers did during its production. Independent films often have trouble getting released during the big box office seasons--early summer and the holiday seasons. Timing should be right though and we'll see if the film is worth more hype then it's got.

GOFilms helped us with our 5K in Logan Utah. I went and visited their offices Pleasant Grove. For producing such good films they work in rather humble circumstances. Adam Able acts like a real person. Ryan Little actually responds to his emails. I hope that this next film turns into "the big one" but that they keep the down to earth mentality that seems to have brought them their success so far.

Enjoy the teaser trailer and don't call on opening night--I'll be at the movies.

26 September 2008

0 comments Wednesday, August 27, 2008

You know there's a lot of unanswered questions in life. There are trivial unanswered questions. Like those math problems about one train leaving Denver and another one leaving Los Angeles and when they're going to crash. I mean really--who takes the train anymore? Why should I care?

The hot-dog bun phenomena. While can't the hot dog companies and the bun companies come to a consensus on a common denominator for the bun/dog ratio? I understand that there are some exceptions, but I think the issue is still perplexing the populous.

Then there's the unspoken questions. Why is it taboo to openly discuss race issues in America? This presidential campaign gives us a terrific opportunity to confront some of the underlying themes in our society, and yet the subject is once again tabooed. Polite conversations do not continue when race issues are brought up--I've tried.

There's the important questions as well. Of course I can't think of any important unanswered questions at the moment. I'm sure there out there though. Although not as important I can ask this one:

THE WAFFLE QUESTION: How come Eggo waffle's advertising campaign hasn't started using this song? I mean really, you figure in the 16,000+ times it's been viewed someone from the marketing department at Kellogg's would have had a cousin tell them about it. I mean really, it's catchy, clever, clean, and fun to sing with the kids.

Brian Biehle does a great job orchestrating all of his kid's music. We've got both CD's lying around here at the house and listen to the songs frequently. A number of years ago we took Brian's song "Pretend" and made a montage out of it with Eliza.

I've talked to Brian on the phone a time or two about how he took his aspirations of being a rock star from large concerts to kid's classrooms. He's found a great niche, scored a few 'cool points' with his kids, and helped me build bonds with mine. Brian, it's not much, but this blog post is for you! Thanks!

If you'd like to find out more about Brian & his music visit http://brianbiehle.com

1 comments Saturday, August 23, 2008

If you were here right now you'd see Chrissy and I each typing away at our computers. Each of us composing our own blog entries. Outside there are stars shining and in the not too far night time are a bunch of coyotes calling to each other in their semi-melodic method. In Connecticut we lived on "Old Meadow Plain Road" and there wasn't any meadows, and the road wasn't particularly plain. In California we lived on "College Ave," although there wasn't a college on the street. I've seen Birch streets without Birch Trees and Pine streets without pines. It's seems I'm finally living in a good old honest town.

  • I live on 165 NE Coyote Drive and there are coyotes outside
  • You pump your gas BEFORE you pay.
  • The gas station opens up before the sign says it's supposed to 'cause they know you might need it heading into work
  • When you need change to pay a babysitter the folks at the pizza place will search through the register, the money bag, and their own pockets to help--without even expecting a purchase.
  • At "Mr Goodcents Subs and Pasta" there's only one employee needed on a Saturday night and no one's worried about her being alone.
  • When you run into a police officer and ask if he'll say 'hi' to your three year old he'll stop and shake his hand. To my surprise, the officer asked Daniel if he'd like to see the lights--normally it would be the other way around.
  • Everyone's your neighbor even if they live a few miles down the road. You're expected to wave.
  • They'll drive as fast as they want until they see your kids or your dog--then they'll slow down to a crawl, wave, and smile as they pass by.
Saturday nights are date nights for Chrissy and I. Tonight was between paydays and so we needed something fun and inexpensive. We decided to out and take some photos of the other novelties that surround us. Up the road a ways in the town of Fletcher we found an old welding shop with tractors and other equipment lying around. It made for great photos. Towards the end of the shoot a truck pulled up and the man inside looked like he was capable and willing to lay a few blows on us for taking photos. Luckily we were double dating with a couple who's expecting--and looks it. A few soft spoken words and we left rather shocked at the possibilities we avoided.

Fletcher manages to have kept a building that used to sell Ice and Ice Lockers. It helped inspire the date, and the photo appears in the evening's shoots. Fletcher's not that large of a town. There's often 10 minutes between cars driving down their main street. On that main street you can only expect to stop once at a blinking red light. You'll see two funeral homes, one gravestone maker, and two churches. It's nice to know there are still places in America that look like this.

Of course it's a little shocking to find out that the Elgin Public Library is co-located with the town hall and that the library is only open for six hours the entire week. Folks thought that Stephanie was crazy when she named her boy Ambrose. Well, she's right--his name is Ambrose--and he's not alone. Someone in Oklahoma has the same name, and runs a "style shop".

We finished off the date at Trivets, a local eatery that's uber popular at lunch time. The dinner/desert crowd isn't as thick and we nearly had the place to ourselves. They're known for being a good local eatery--especially when it comes to pies. They're home made--and generally delicious. At the end of Saturday night Monday starts looming in the distance and the weekend's accomplishments seem too little. A good date is an accomplishment and the photos look great in sepia. I'm not sure if I'll love it here forever--but I have plenty of reasons to love it here for now.

1 comments Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I've had a CD now for 10 years. It's got the song Chrissy and I danced to at our wedding reception. It was the first LDS Artist CD I ever purchased. During the past 10 years the album has gone further and further into obscurity to the point now where it's fairly impossible to find out who the authors are. All of the search engines yield no luck. This post will probably end up as the #1 result for "Deans and Bryson Mountain Move" as soon as I hit [publish].

So this blog post is dedicated to finding them. Here's what I know:
  • Lisa Deans and her missionary companion (maybe) wrote an album.
  • One of them (or both) played the guitar.
  • The CD used to be for sale at an LDS bookstore in Chico California.
  • I like the music

I've intentionally posted all of the music from the album here in this handy MP3 player. I did that hoping that someone out there somewhere will know who these folks are and let me say "hi" and "thanks for 10 years of tuneage." Track 7 "This I Know" is the song that was played at our reception. The last song "The Olive Tree" is a great song to add to any Sunday music playlist.

Enjoy the music. Pass it around among friends and let's see if we can't manage to send the folks that made it a kindly, "Thank you!"


In Logan Utah there's a theater that shows old movies. You know the classics: The Wizard of Oz, Gone With the Wind, and Citizen Kane. Around easter they'd have Ben Hur up. At Christmas they'd have White Christmas, It's a Wonderful Life, & Miracle on 34th Street. It provided another generation the opportunity to see some of what previous generations have passed down. I got to take the kids to go see "Singing in the Rain" while we were in Logan. WOW! What a terrific movie. Eliza liked it so much she was dancing in the aisles and the manager had to come and tell us to keep her in her seat.

Do they make movies like this any more? There's a lot of remakes floating around these days. "Flight Plan" with Jodi Foster was a Hitchcock movie from back in 30's and was later re-done in the first season of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents." Both the older versions were quite commendable. I think we'd all agree that Cecil B. DeMille's "The Ten Commandments" was better the second time, that it was the first. How many of you know that the one with Charlton Heston was a remake?

Back in the day actors and actresses seemed to have to be multi-talented. Debbie Reynolds had to sing, dance, and act to star opposite Fred Astaire. Who could certainly, dance, sing, and act. Maybe I enjoy older movies too much. After all I consider Pygmalion (1938) with Leslie Howard to be a superior movie to "My Fair Lady" with Audrey Hepburn.

When it comes to music I bounce back and forth as well. Glen Miller is still an active part of my daily music list. What terrific music! It's a shame it's not played on the radio anymore. If they'd play "Be Happy" on Monday mornings there'd be less need for coffee.

On the great list of "Where Have they Gone"s, there's a few people I miss.

  • Judy Garland- What a terrific voice and screen presence. She'll always be remembered for "The Wizard of Oz" and at 17 she did a terrific job playing a prominent role in the hearts of generations of Americans.
  • Bob Hope- The only man to work everywhere. This is the only American Actor to be successful in vaudeville, work their way to success on Broadway, in radio, in movies, and television. No other actor or actress will ever have the chance to do this again, and it shouldn't have been possible even for him. I once told someone that the only reason I joined the Army was so I could see Bob Hope. Sadly, he wasn't up for entertaining my generation of troops.
  • Paul Scofield- What a terrific actor. With great ability he took one of Robert Bolt's most compelling plays and commands the screen version with perfection. The 1966 "A Man for All Seasons" should not be remade. It is already a masterpiece.
  • Jack Kerouac- Those of you who don't know who this man is I feel sorry that I can't offer a proper introduction. Jack Keroac morphed poetry into a medium for a new generation. My favorite part about his work isn't his writing, but his reading! I learned from listening to him in high school that words are meant to be 'heard.' Reading makes them more available and convenient, but they are inherently audible. When I run across chapters in Isaiah I can't understand I find the .mp3 files online and listen.
My list isn't all inclusive, but it is what I have time for at the moment. I hope there are more greats in our future than in our past. We've got some rather large shoes to fill.

3 comments Monday, August 11, 2008

Have you ever wondered who's reading your blog? You might be suprised at how many people you didn't know who visit and read what you're saying. Google bought blogger.com and blogspot.com back in 2003 as a means to increase their advertising revenue[1]. Their idea was to increase the space for their ads online. Google, being Google, they didn't make it mandatory to have ads on everyone's blog. Some do, and some don't.

If you want to track who's coming to your site you'll need to follow a simple three step process.

  1. Sign up for a google account
  2. Sign up for adsense
  3. Sign up for analytics
The whole process takes about 15 minutes of your time--depending on how good you are with online forms. If you already use blogspot, blogger, writely, or gmail then you've already got a Google account. If you don't already have one you can create one following the steps below.

Visit http://adsense.google.com There you'll want to sign up for an adsense account. The form may be a bit longer than what you're used to. Google wants to know everything it needs to right off the bat so it can send you a check at some point in the future.

Once your adsense account is created you're eligible for an analytics account. Visit http://analytics.google.com and sign up for an analytics account. Analytics will guide you through a few steps to get your blog reporting stats to the software. Copy the code it gives as an "HTML gadget" to some part of your blog layout.

It takes about 24-48 hours to track your site and have it start reporting stats. If the whole process took you 15 minutes to do, plan on spending more than that playing around with the maps, charts, and graphs that are automatically created for you.

0 comments Friday, August 8, 2008

It's no secret that for nearly two years we created a lot of good memories living in Utah. Among our memories were the many times that we visited Grandma Hill. It still surprises me that while her age may be affecting some of her other skills her mind is as keen as ever. Whether it's a couple of weeks or an afternoon any time spent with her is absolutely delightful.

Over the years, Chrissy and I have always tried to leave her house the same, or better than we found it. Organizing things in the garage, sweeping, or just making sure we washed our own sheets and changed the beds, we tried to be contributors. When I found out how Grandma's piano was silenced by her arthritis I would sneak a look at her hands. She's not too fond of the way they turned out. I'm sure catching me looking a time or two didn't help.

I imagine that if I took a poll to ask how we'd describe her hands I'd hear things like: weathered, worn, wrinkled, knotted, tired, and old. I'd also like to thing that some of us would see those hands for what they are and use adjectives like: beautiful, loved, patient, kind, and caring.

I'd like to propose a capstone word which is also the caption of the photo below. “Trophies.” Grandma doesn't have a single trophy of her own anywhere in her house. I wonder if she's ever won anything in her life. What the world has failed to recognize in her accomplishments God has not ignored. Her hands are her trophies. God has watched them bake innumerable meals, hand sew dresses for her daughters, play the piano, make milkshakes, hold her babies (and their babies, and their babies), change cloth diapers for 7 children, braid hair, give daughters away, welcome sons-in-law, and bury three children. If my hands look so weathered in 50 years I hope I will have done half as much good to this planet as grandma has done in caring for us.

The oak trees with the thickest, weathered, bark generally provide the most shade. I appreciated having so much time under those branches. We got grandma up to Logan Utah the weekend I graduated and I had a photographer snap a photo of her hands. I'd like to share that photo with as many folks in the family as possible and encourage them to download it, print it, and hang it up on their walls.

Clicking on the image below will bring up the high-res version. Please pass the link to this post around the family, it will likely be the only Christmas present we 'buy' for everyone.

0 comments Wednesday, August 6, 2008

It's official. I called branch yesterday to ask which brigade on Fort Sill I would be going to. They in turn told me that I would be working on the TRADOC (Training and Doctrine) side of the base. This means that I will be assigned to either an AIT unit or a basic training unit. In either case I should be looking at no deployments for a year. Chrissy and I had been concerned about having time to establish the family and develop a support system in the area. Now it looks like we'll have the time to get settled together. It seems like praying actually does pay off once again. GO figure :-)

There's a still a bit of confusion about which patch I will be wearing.

If I end up at an AIT unit I'll be wearing this thing.

If I end up at a Basic Training unit this is what I'll have on my shoulder.

Now it's just a matter of time be for we know for sure--hopefully I know before I have to wear my class A's.

1 comments Saturday, August 2, 2008

One of the neatest things about living in Logan Utah was that we had a great set of friends. Thanks to the internet we still keep in touch with a lot of them. It was fun to participate in their lives, and watch the kids take off their training wheels. Sunday dinner rarely occurred without sharing the food with someone else.

It's definately fun to participate in the significant events in their lives. When Nick and Lisa had their baby blessing they took extra care to invite us among their relatives. When Leslie Haddock became Leslie Johnson she took extra time to ensure the Eliza was able to help in the ceremony. Now that we've left we watching ultrasound pictures for a welcome addition to the Snow family. We're also watching an interesting relationship unfold between Mike and McKell. The last week I was there we set them up on a date. Both of them separately put on their best selves and they've been maintaining that ever since. We'll have to see what happens to those two in the future. In the meantime the waterskiing/kissing photo will probably remain with all of us.

One of the typical concerns of a six year old during a move is finding new friends. Before leaving Eliza was very concerned with leaving behind her school and her friends in the neighborhood. There were a lot of conversations revolving around the sentiment that "it'll be ok." When in reality we didn't know if she'd find anyone close by that would be her friend.

Well, two doors down from us there's a single mom with four kids. The kids range from 15 to 7--not much of a spread--but quite a headache. One of them is named Kelsea. She's the youngest of the four and likes to belive she's a princess. Eliza and Kelsea turned into friends as soon as they met. Now their imaginations have taken over their play time. This past week I've been on leave and have rarely seen my daughter. They play together for 8-11 hours at a time only stopping for food.

Yesterday they held a pretend funeral and were reading eulogies out of a 'journal.' Other times they're playing princesses and ballerinas, watching girly kid shows, and playing dress-up. As a dad I'm a little concerned. I'm wondering if I'm ever going to take my daughter hiking again.

Daniel and Rainey are still somewhat oblivious to the 'friend' concept. As long as someone is playing with them they're fine and Kelsey's older siblings love how cute they are. They've managed to get plenty of attention. Chrissy and I have met the local mormons in the area and have figured that there's some good friendships to be had. Time will tell. We've already had the Millers over for dinner and now we're being asked to join them this Sunday.

I still can't get over the kissing/waterskiing picture. That relationship has to go somewhere. Looks like everyone needs to keep updating their blogs and we'll see where life ends up.