Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Winter Sun on the Mountains

I love the way the mountains glowed tonight. Had I the time, I would have mounted my zoom lens on a tripod and taken a closer picture. As things were, I was lucky to shoot this before the sun disappeared.


Monday, December 13, 2010


Every year around Christmas time, my family becomes a group of architects, designers, and structural engineers, as we engage in the yearly tradition of creating "gingerbread" houses. I've never actually built anything out of gingerbread. We, like ninety percent of Americans, use graham crackers.

Steve and Ashlyn build their homes in the "Puritan American" style.

Shannon does as well, but Tyler opts for the "Eco-love Hexagonal" model. His gingerbread house is entirely carbon neutral.

Mom watched little Alexa (who couldn't be happier) while we made houses.


Shannon asked Tyler to make a jealous/disgusted face while I was decorating my house. She kept asking him to "exaggerate more." :)

This is my finished house in which two red bears live. They like ice skating on their private pond when it freezes over.


Sunday, December 5, 2010


I ventured out into the fog tonight to take pictures. Sure, there are driving risks associated with fog, but it's just too rare a phenomenon around here to not take advantage of the unique photographic qualities it accompanies.

Here are a few of my favorites:


Saturday, November 27, 2010


I am a deeply passionate BYU fan, and tonight my heart is broken. :(

Last year, at this time, I was relishing in the sweet taste of a BYU victory over Utah. I still remember the moment when the touchdown was scored. Andrew George, a tight end for the Cougars, pulled in the pass and, as he broke for the end zone, the stadium erupted with an explosiveness I'd never heard before. We rushed the field in a frenzy of elated euphoria. That was an incredible night.

This year couldn't be more different. With one second left on the clock, the Cougars lined up for the game winning field goal. Hopes, dreams, and breath hung for a moment. The ball was snapped, and, in an instant, the field goal... and my dreams of victory... were blocked. It's a strange and terrible sensation to be so primed to cheer, only to be suddenly deflated. What seemed so palpable and so real was, in a flash, swept away.


But such are the rewards and penalties of being a passionate fan. In some years, you will rush away from the game riding a euphoric high, laughing with no voice, hugging complete strangers, and gushing about what an incredible game it was. In other years you will walk away from the stadium in painful disbelief. I am aware of this and I accept it.

Football is a beautiful game and I would have it no other way. With that said, over the next few days, I'll be gluing together the shattered pieces of my broken, blue heart.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Cavity in my Wallet

Don't you hate it when you make a stupid mistake that ends up costing you a lot of money? We all do it at some point in our life, and for me that moment came today.

I received a call from my dentist's office while at work today. The woman on the other line told me that my insurance wasn't going to pay for my recent visit (cleaning, x-rays, and replacing an old filling) because my dentist was not on my plan. I was sure I had looked up my family dentist - the one I've been going to for the past 8 years - and had seen them in the list of providers covered under my insurance plan. I told the lady I'd call my insurance company and get things sorted out.

Before I did that, though, I went online to view the list again. I navigated to the website for my dental insurance and typed in my dentists name. Sure enough, he popped up in the list. I called the insurance company and spoke with a woman who sounded (of course) like she was twelve and foreign. I could hardly understand her and her voice was so sweet and calm it made me nauseous. I was in no mood for civil dialogue. I had the fury of hell in my veins and was ready to spew fire and venom at her for their mistake. Luckily, I held back.

She kindly explained (in broken English) that my dentist was a provider for only the paid plan, as opposed to my plan, which was free. Then she explained where on the page I could find that information - tucked away in the corner in small print. I told her that this was misleading, as there was no indication in the search that you'd have to specify which plan you were on before you found a dentist. Speaking from a web developer's point of few, I was adamant about the misleading nature of the website and the casual nature in which this important information was displayed. This elicited no sympathy from the woman with the Chinese candy* voice, though, and I was left to pay for the bill myself.

I called my dentist to see what could be done.

"Well..." she said, "The total for the work is two hundred ten dollars"

"Ahh, hell no..."

"Excuse me, sir?"

"Umm..." I sighed. "Is there any way we can get that lower?"

"Well, if you pay it all at once, we can give you a thirty dollar discount."

I paused, grimacing at the costly reality of my stupid mistake.

"Okay," I mumbled. "Let's do that."

Let this be a lesson to all of you. When dealing with insurance, you can never be too careful, too suspicious, or too overbearing.

Leave no stone uncovered, lest ye pay...


*You know exactly what Chinese candy is like. Strange, sickeningly sweet, and confusing. Yes, it perfectly describes this woman's voice. And no, that's not racist. It's a damn fine description of what she sounded like. :)

P.S. THANK THE GLORIOUS HEAVENS I HAD NO CAVITIES! I could have been out HUNDREDS of dollars. (Yes, there is a silver lining to this raincloud.)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Mustache Kart

This is the best Japanese commercial I've seen tonight. :)

Actually... this might be better...


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Alexa's Faces

Steve and Ash's little girl, Alexa, makes the funniest faces. Tonight, after Tyler's birthday celebration, Steve was showing us how Alexa likes to have her hands rubbed. EVERY time he did it, she'd open her mouth and make a funny face. It was hilarious...

He starts rubbing her hands and...

"WHOA! That's fun..."


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Aftermath of a Nightmare

If you haven't read my post last night. I suggest you do so before continuing.

As many of you speculated, the post was inspired by this news story. I took creative license to embellish here and there and my post may not reflect, with perfect accuracy, how things went down that night. What we know for sure, though, is that the homeowner, realizing that his home was being broken into, shot the intruder through the sliding glass door. The intruder took off on foot and was discovered, dead, fifty yards from the home he was trying to break into.

It's a terribly tragic story for all parties involved - especially when you learn that the intruder was only a 19 year old boy. I saw his picture in the article and was struck with a little emotion. The kid doesn't look like a bad kid. He looks like somebody who made a stupid decision - caught in the wrong place at the wrong time - and paid for his life because of it. But as the homeowner, what can you do in a situation like that? How would you react? It's impossible to say that the homeowner over-reacted. It's also impossible to say that he didn't. Some moments in life have no defined black and white boundaries. We can only hope that in those moments we'll refrain from doing something we'd regret, and on that note I can't imagine what regret the homeowner must feel right now, even if he did feel justified in firing the shot last night.

I, like many of you who commented, would have tried to scare the intruder off before shooting him. And if I were to shoot, I'd have shot him in the leg - reducing the chances of death to something very minuscule. Then again, it's easy to say that as I sit, calmly, in my chair. In the heat of battle, in those moments of desperation, palpable fear, and split-second thinking, I'm not sure how I'd act.

Rest in peace, Kyle Poulton.


Monday, November 8, 2010

Like a Nightmare

You're suddenly awake. Your room is as quiet as it is black. For a moment you're not even sure of why you're awake as the only sounds you hear are those of your breath in the darkness and the silent rustling of your sheets. You blink a few times and turn to your nightstand to look at the clock. Three thirty four in the morning. You roll back into your pillow and close your eyes.


"What the hell was that!?" In an instant, every hair on your body stands on end and your senses become saturated with vivid life. You slide stealthily out of bed, your ears almost aching as they strain to hear something - anything that justifies what you just heard. As you stand there in the cold, by your bed, you become aware of a soft tapping, scraping, and wrenching below. Something or someone is working furiously at your sliding glass door downstairs - hammering into your home.

Without missing a beat, you open the drawer to your nightstand and pull out what you never thought you'd have to use. The cold, heavy steel sits menacingly in your hand and a soft click resounds and you turn off the safety. You grasp the gun like a knight wields his sword, ready to defend what is precious to him. In your case, it's your wife, who now holds a phone with trembling hands, and your children who you pray are still peacefully asleep.

You make your way downstairs, the shaking voice of your sweetheart fading into the background as she quietly pleads for help from the authorities. Every tiny fragment of sensation - the creaking of the floor, your shallow, frantic breath, the pounding of your heart - is processed a thousand times a second in your mind. Your thoughts weave and dart like bullet trains, astoundingly sharp, clear and quick. And yet, you can hardly think.

As you approach the sliding glass door you see a large, humanoid figure - the image of which sends a nauseating chill through your body. It suddenly stops moving. Time comes to a standstill, as your thoughts accelerate to a blur. You're unsure of whether or not you've been seen. The figure, with something in hand, raises it's arm. Acting in reflexive defense, you raise your weapon and fire a single shot. The figure falls backward, stumbling momentarily and then disappears into the night.


Did you do the right thing? Explain your thoughts.


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Some Pieces of Autumn

Took a few pictures yesterday, appreciating the last of autumn's colors before the the winter palette takes hold. I love the deliciously musty smell of the leaves and the way they rustle in the wind. I hope winter can hold off at least a few more weeks...


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

In Memory of Summer

When the weather cools and the leaves drift from their visionary heights to the frozen tundra below, I mourn a little for Summer. I was reminiscing on warmer days tonight when I happened upon pictures from a hike I never posted to the blog. This shouldn't come as a surprise as most of you have likely noticed that my posts have become increasingly rare - like polar bears in an environmentalists nightmare.

Regardless, here they are. We hiked Timpanogos at midnight - an exhausting, exhilarating, and memorable adventure.

We arrived at about 1:00am full of energy.

At the top things were COLD. And the wind was WRETCHED.

This is the back side of Timp. In the distance you can see Deer Creek Reservoir and the Heber/Midway area.

In the moments before sunrise, the clouds were spectacular.

Just as the sun came over the mountains.

And just like that, the entire valley was filled with light.

Looking north from Timpanogos. This is the valley we hiked in the blackness. Much prettier from up here.

This panorama was stitched together from 25 photographs. Click here to view the high resolution version. You MUST see this. :)


Sunday, October 31, 2010

An Education

Some undisclosed time ago, I was discussing movies with a girl. I can't remember where or when I was talking to this girl, nor can I remember who she was, where she was from, or what she looked like. Such details, though, are unimportant. I only remember talking to her about movies, and that in the course of our conversation she asked me what movies I liked. I listed a few of my favorites - all incredible films that have inspired and impressed me in life. Her response: "Oh, wow... you like really emotionally heavy movies."

I laughed.

Tonight I watched "The Education of Charlie Banks" - a movie that the girl would have described as "emotionally heavy." It made me think deeply, which I love. The main theme I took from the film was that you can't be too quick to judge people. Yes, I know this is something we're all taught from childhood, but the movie doesn't just throw this idea at you like a paper airplane. Instead, a master craftsman carefully pieces together a magnificent, miniature model that encapsulates the idea in a way you never grasped before.

I highly recommend it. And I'd continue with other thoughts I had, but it's late. I need to work in the morning.

One more closing thought: I judged the girl that night for having shallow taste in movies but, in retrospect, I should reconsider that notion.


Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Pumpkinator

When it comes to carving pumpkins every year, I try to challenge myself and exercise my creative side. Last year, I had a blast working on the Kanye Pumpkin, but this year I wanted to surpass the coolness and do something that looked a little better. As I brainstormed for ideas on what to do, I considered Bob Ross (but passed because I wasn't sure he was recognizable enough) and Barack Obama (but passed because it's probably being done by carving enthusiasts everywhere.) What I finally decided on was this guy:

That's right. What pumpkin carving could ever be more bad ass than Arnold Schwarzenegger as "The Terminator" ?

I decided that with the pumpkin I had, doing the whole picture would be impossible, so I cropped in and greyscaled his portrait to get this. You'll notice I had to do a little editing on the left side due to where the gun was all shiny and such.

After following the same steps from the Kanye Pumpkin project, I carved him out to become what you see here. It doesn't look very good... until you throw a candle into that bad boy and turn off the lights.

Behold. The Pumpkinator.

It doesn't match the picture exactly. In fact, I think he looks a little more like Frankenstein than Arnold. But I'm still SO happy with the way it turned out. It's such a challenge to carve these things, but I LOVE it. I enjoy discovering what works and what doesn't, refining my technique, and admiring the result of my efforts.

Happy Halloween, everyone!


Monday, October 25, 2010

Anorexia Win

Playing scrabble tonight. Used up all of my tiles spelling the word "anorexia." Major points.

Pretty sure it's the only time you can consider anorexia a win.


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Autumn Time

Things I love about Fall... pumpkins and red leaves...

...BYU football... evenings...

...quiet mountain sunsets...

...and Halloween parties.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I bought a brand new baby...

Sometimes, when I have really strange dreams, I dictate them into my iPhone so I don't forget about them. This dream is from December 6, 2009 - almost a year ago. I had completely forgotten about it till last night when I rediscovered it...

Dreams are weird. :)


Monday, October 18, 2010

Tranquility in an Ink Factory

This is mesmerizing....


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Yellowstone and Beyond...

More pictures from our road trip this summer. :)

Tyler contemplates the scenery at Yellowstone Lake (or Lake Yellowstone... whatever it's called)

Billings, MT. Loved the geometric form in this industrial complex.

Pictograph Cave State Park in Billings, MT - An incredible rocky cove filled with Native American pictographs.

You can see the pictographs on the rock wall in the background in light red. Some jack-head archaeologist thought cleaning the rock by sandblasting would improve the pictographs but ended up erasing most of them.

The main purpose of our driving under big skies was to see the location of the Battle of Little Bighorn, or what we affectionately refer to as "Custer's Last Stand." Custer's grave is marked with black.

As you gaze upon this monument, and out at the plains that lay before you, I want you to play the theme song to "Dances with Wolves" in your head. It's peaceful.

The gravestones were placed at the exact locations where the bodies of soldiers and Indians lay dead. It was a solemn, contemplative experience. This bird has no respect for the dead. Shoo, bird. SHOO!

This deer and its friend hung out just outside our hotel that night.

The next day we headed out to Devil's Tower, WY. I love the way these longhorns lie there with the birds on their backs. :)

This means something....

That afternoon we drove into Rapid City, SD and made our way into the black hills to see Mt. Rushmore. Trust me when I say that the black hills are easily the most intriguing, mysterious mountain range I've ever seen. I desperately want to go back and hike.

Close-up of the forefathers. This is a fantastic experience and well worth the driving time. I highly recommend it.

Parting shot of the Mt. Rushmore monument.

This little guy said goodbye to us just as we were leaving.

Another monument being built is that of Crazy Horse. It's insane how big this is.

This is what it'll look like when it's finished.

Reason #17 for why I love the Black Hills: gorgeous bridges.

Is there anything more delightful than watching bear cubs play? :)

On the way back we traveled through Wyoming, which wins the "most boring state for road trips" award. It's seriously so plain. It's like driving across Tilda Swinton's face. There were a few bright spots - one of which was this ghostly abandoned schoolhouse.

There is something peaceful and terrifying about giant windmills. I love places like this. Small win for Wyoming.