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2008 - Year in Review

Tracie's highlights from the year 2008: January: In January I hosted a dinner at my home. The highlight was the nasty gumbo that I made and never finished. Hosted corporate visitors for a work project. February: The trip from H-E-double to Panama City, Florida. Although there was some fun involved, and it was good to be with all my co-workers, the prevailing memories are bad weather, missed planes, delayed luggage, water outages and bronchitis. Our ward created 3 Relief Societies and I was called to be RS secretary. March: Raising money for and participating in the Big Brothers Big Sisters Bowl for Kid's Sake bowl-a-thon. Hosted more corporate visitors. April: April was a big month for birthdays, both for friends and family. My friends Carma and Joe got married. My friend Janeen and I started a golf class. May: In mid-month I went with friends to visit Mesa Verde National Park. I drove home to Oregon to spend my birthday with my family. Some friends and I camped out and

Body Worlds

Went with my friend Randy to see the Body Worlds exhibit at the Leonardo (old Main Library) yesterday. It's been here for several months and I think I'm probably the last person in Salt Lake to see it. I was a little leery at first, knowing that I am not good with seeing medical things sometimes. But it was really cool. There were displays of what our blood vessels look like, and our nerves, and it was cool to see how all the muscles work, especially in relation to the tendeons and ligaments. Bodies were sculpted to show them in motion, and show how everything worked. Each organ, muscle, blood vessel, nerve, and bone all serve specific functions. But in order for the body to function and perform correctly, all the individual pieces need to be unified and work together. It's going to sound cliche, but in designing the human body, the Lord really did something miraculous.

In Other Words

I saw this list in today's Deseret News, and thought it sounded fun. Can you guess the names of these Christmas songs? (The answers are in the next post) 1. Tucked into a desolate point halfway to spring 2. Winged beings belonging to effulgent kingdoms. 3. A chocolate-covered cake blithely floating above. 4. Questions come to me while I aimlessly rove. 5. A special winter day devoid of any color. 6. Ascend, Oh crook user and come after. 7. I won't be off in some distant place when it's time to open presents. 8. The smog-less bewitching hour arrived. 9. Leave and do an elevated broadcast. 10. That exiguous hamlet south of the holy city. 11. Oh, member of the round table with missing areas. 12. Cup-shaped instruments fashioned of a whitish metallic element. 13. May the Deity bestow an absence of fatigue to mild male humans. 14. Obese personification fabricated of compressed mounds of minute crystals. 15. Tranquility upon the terrestrial sphere. 16. Listen,

Answers...

1. In The Bleak Mid-Winter 2. Angels From The Realms of Glory. 3. Ding Dong Merrily on High. 4. I Wonder as I Wander. 5. White Christmas. 6. Rise Up Shepherd and Follow. 7. I'll Be Home for Christmas. 8. It Came Upon a Midnight Clear. 9. Go tell It On The Mountain. 10. O Little Town of Bethlehem. 11. O Holy Night. 12. Silver Bells. 13. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. 14. Frosty The Snowman. 15. Peace On Earth. 16. hark, The Herald Angels Sing. 17. Silent Night. 18. Joy to the World. 19. Little Drummer Boy 20. O Come All Ye Faithful. 21. The First Noel. 22. As Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night. 23. Away in a Manger. 24. Twelve Days of Christmas 25. Do You Hear What I Hear ?

Men...!

On Wednesday, a friend of mine called to catch up. We had not visited for awhile, so he invited me to go to The Nutcracker with him. I said that would be great. He asked what days were good, and I said either Thursday or Saturday. He Saturday tickets would be too hard to get, so he would get tickets for Thursday. That same evening, a guy called and asked if I would go with him to his company party Thursday night. I told him I would love to, but I already had plans to see The Nutcracker Thursday night. He apologized and said he should have called in advance. We continued talking, and I mentioned that Las Vegas bowl would be on Saturday. He said that would be fun to watch, and he would probably come over Saturday night to watch the game with me. On Thursday afternoon, my friend called and had just gotten the tickets, but for Saturday instead of Thursday. So I said, I'm sorry but I can't go now, because I made plans and am having people over on Saturday evening. He a

Feeding the Missionaries

Our Relief Society was given the assignment to feed the sister missionaries last night. The only stipulation we were given was that we needed to live between 1300 and 2100 South, and dinner needed to be between 5 and 6:00 PM. Knowing that I was one of the few who lived between those coordinates, I volunteered. I figured I needed the good vibes anyway, and that the missionaries would for sure bring them. So, I called the sisters Tuesday, and said I would be feeding them. I gave them my address, and was then informed that I was out of their area and lived too far west. They said they would request permission from the office to come to my place. They also mentioned that they had an appointment at Temple Square at 5:45, so could we make dinner at 4:30. Normally I get off work at 4:30, but I figured I could probably duck out a bit early. I told my friend Angie about it, who lives a little further east, and she graciously volunteered to do the dinner at her place. She could also a

Cool Yule Christmas Music

'Tis the season to break out all my Christmas CD's and even my old cassettes, so I can get my fix of Christmas music. Since I don't listen to it the rest of the year, I only have so long to work through all of them, especially since I keep adding to the collection every year. As a general rule, I prefer the classics. For me, it's just not Christmas without Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, Rosemary Clooney, Andy Williams or The Carpenters. But every once in awhile, I really enjoy something new, like The Barenaked Ladies and Sarah Mclaughlin singing "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings". So far this year, my favorites have been The Mormon Tabernacle Choir and The King's Singers "Rejoice and Be Merry" (thanks to Steph for giving it to me), and Gladys Knight and The Saints Unified Voices Christmas CD. I've been listening to them over and over again. And the MoTab, thanks to Mac Wilberg, does this totally awesome version of "O Holy

I Heard the Bells and Hallelujah

Saturday night, I got to attend the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's Christmas concert with my friend Dtephanie and her Dad. It was a great evening! The concert featured Brian Stokes Mitchell (love that man) and Edward Hermann. There were a lot of touching moments for me, but my personal favorite moment was Edward Hermann's narration of the story "Longfellow's Christmas", which is the story behind the writing of the hymn "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day". I don't hear of a lot of people enjooying it, but it has always been one of my favorite Christmas hymns. I can really relate to the feeling of despair, but then the message of hope through Christ that comes at the end of the song. Sunday morning the Choir performed it again for Music and the Spoken word. And it thrilled me even more, and I got all choked-up as Edward Hermann shouted out at the end of the story that Christ is the message of hope and peace. Later that morning I put in my old cas

Airborne

This just in - the makers of Airborne reached a legal settlement with some 30 states, where they have to pay out a lot of money, and remove any labeling on their product that makes it sound like it prevents and treats colds. They weren't sued for being dangerous, just for claiming to treat and prevent the common cold. Now isn't that just something worth suing for. Sigh... I personally have used Airborne, and another brand called Emergen-C, and have liked them both. When a sore throat hits, they give me enough "juice" to get through for a few hours until I can get home and take a nap. Whether they really work, I don't care. It makes me feel better to be taking something, and it might as well be vitamins rather than something else. That begs the question - what are some of your home remedies for treating a cold?

Beverly Garland

Beverly Garland died the other day. You may not be aware of who she was, but if you are a lover of classic sci-fi films of the B-grad variety, or of classic TV, then you've probably seen her. Some of her more famous roles were as the new wife/step-mother on "My Three Sons", and Kate Jackson's mother on "Scarecrow and Mrs. King". She also starred in the cult TV classic "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman", and guest-starred in many others. I got to meet her once. For those of us who work at Holiday Inn, we also knew her as the owner of the hotel now known as Holiday Inn Universal Studios, but formerly known as Beverly Garland's Holiday Inn, located in Los Angeles. She came and toured and did a presentation at our facilities here several years ago. All the employees had the chance to meet her, get a photo taken with her, and have her sign autographs. I had a personally signed mousepad with her photo on it. (Kitzchy, I know.) There was nothing shy or

Such a Putz

In baseball news, the Seattle Mariners just traded one of their relief pitchers to the New York Mets. The pitcher's name is J.J. Putz. I'm sure he's a nice guy, but with a name like "Putz", the fans in New York are going to have a field day. Because no matter how good the guy is, he's always going to be a putz. Here's a small sampling of the things you could say about Mr. Putz. If he's good, they'll all go nuts for Putz. If he's bad, they'll hate the guts of Putz. If he's really bad and gets released, the headlines will scream "Team cuts Putz". If he gets any dogs, they'll be known as the Putz mutts. If he smokes, they'll be talking about the Putz butts. The list is practically endless. Too bad there's no longer a team in Brooklyn. Because if he could have played for them, no matter what he did, they would at least "fuhgedaboutit".

Bad Karma Chameleon

In today's creepy entertainment news, Boy George was convicted of false imprisonment of a male "escort". Kind of brings a whole new meaning to "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?". (Sometimes it's just too easy...)

Christmas Carol

It's December, and that means it's time to watch Holiday movies. I'm a sucker not just for the classics, but for those sappy ones on Lifetime and Hallmark. You know the ones - "A Boyfriend for Christmas", "A Town Without a Christmas Tree", "A Carol Christmas", "Snowglobe", etc. They usually star some fading TV star like Tori Spelling or one of the angels from "Touched By An Angel", or someone from a daytime soap who's hoping to hit it big. One thing I have noticed is that there are about a gazillion remakes and updates of "A Christmas Carol". The other day I think I counted 4 or 5, all being played on the same day. So this begs the question - What is your favorite version of "A Christmas Carol"? My personal fave is a black and white British version from 1950, starring Alistair Sim. I remember seeing it for the first time the year that my family lived in Bellingham, Washington. It was Chri

Villa Trapp

The news of the day from Salzburg, Austria: Apparently the city has blocked developers plans to turn the former Trapp family home (and seen in "The Sound of Music" as the home of the Von Trapp family) into a hotel. Residents complained and were concerned that tourists would tie up traffic and make a nuisance of themselves. Umm - HELLO! Of course they would have, but do you really think anyone visits Salzburg for any other reason than to climb every mountain and go on "The Sound of Music" tour? It ain't because Mozart was born there, that's for sure. It's because the hills are alive with the sound of music. Who do you think pays your sales taxes? Loud obnoxious tourists!

Oh My Deer

There's an article in today's Odd News, about a deer hunter in Missouri. The hunter went hunting and shot his deer twice. The deer fell down, and the hunter went to check out and admire his kill. Apparently the deer decided to only "play" dead, and when the hunter approached, the deer leaped up and proceeded to give the hunter an old-fashioned butt-whipping. The hunter was able to recover enough to "take care of" the deer. This time he made sure the deer was absolutely dead. The hunter however, had a minor concussion, bruises, and needed stitches in his scalp. I'm not saying hunting is bad - I eat meat AND I know where it comes from. But memo to the hunter: Next time, you might want to make sure the deer is actually dead before approaching him. Deer are kind of like stray cats, in that it is not really that wise to be nice to them. Once, my family was staying at a lodge in the mountains of Easter Oregon. There were a lot of deer around who

Thanksgiving Top Ten

I thought I would put together a list of my favorite things about Thanksgiving. So here's my "Top Ten": 1. The Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. It just seems to start the day off right. 2. Football. It's the only time anyone ever watches and roots for the Detroit Lions. 3. It's the only time of the year where we sing "Over the River and Through the Woods". 4. You have left-overs for several days after. 5. It's the one day all year where it's bad form to worry about your weight. 6. It's the only time when it's ok to eat multiple helpings of dessert. 7. You have an excuse to not listen to Christmas music before you're ready for it. 8. An after dinner nap. 9. It's the only time of year you get to go around the table and say what you're grateful for. 10. Black Friday is a paid company Holiday.

So Much for Polling Research

A research firm did a national survey to measure cell phone and technology use, and how to market it. Here's a quick breakdown of the results: Texters are 49% more likely to be between the ages of 18 and 24 Texters are 24% more likely to be African-American, followed by 14% Hispanic Texters are 57% more likely to attend a hip-hop, rap, or R&B concert I guess this is the part where I say I know how to text message, and I frequently do so (although it may take me 10 minutes to send one). Based on the above information, though, I don't think I quite fit the demographic. I'm slightly older than 24, I'm white, and I prefer Reba McEntire over Rihanna. Other than that, it looks like I'm more "hip" than I thought. I'm down with that!

Most Memorable Thanksgiving

The Deseret News always runs a contest at Christmas-time about "The Christmas I Remember Best", or something along those lines. Since Christmas is not yet upon us (thank goodness), I thought I would put a different spin on it this year, and write about my most memorable Thanksgiving. It was my second year at Rick's College. Being a poor college student, I had no plans to go home. Out of the blue, my grandparents invited me to have Thanksgiving with them. They were living in St. Louis, Missouri at the time. Of course this meant that I would have to fly, and I was kind of looking forward to the adventure. I was scheduled to leave out of Idaho Falls the day before, fly to Salt Lake, and then to St. Louis. That's what was scheduled anyway. When I got to Idaho Falls, it was in the middle of a snowstorm. I wasn't aware of this, but the plane had originated in Jackson Hole, and could not leave in time because of the weather. By the time it got to I.F. (as it

Giving Thanks

I had some minor surgery last week, so in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I thought I would share what I'm grateful for (in no particular order). There's of course many more things for which I'm grateful, but these seemed pertinent to my situation the last week. 1. Lortab. Nothing makes surgery bearable better than narcotics. 2. Friends. So many friends were there for me. Some came and stayed with me and took care of me, some stopped by and visited with me, several called to check in, and one even took me to and from the hospital. And I know they all prayed for me. I felt very blessed. 3. Family. Everyone in my family called or emailed to check in several times. They all prayed for me. They sent me flowers. My sister-in-law ran errands for me and did my laundry. 4. Home Teachers. My dear home teacher came by with one of the other elders the night before the surgery and gave me a blessing. Because of that I was able to sleep through the night and was less nervou

Never Send a BYU Grad to do a U Grad's Job

My visiting teaching was scheduled for yesterday, and I had invited everyone over to my place for dinner. My companion does not drive, so I offered to pick her up from work. She works at the U. Now, being a BYU grad, I am completely unfamiliar with the U. I can manage to make my way to Kingsbury Hall and the stadium, but that's about it. She sent me some maps, but none of them had any street names on them. But I figured all I needed was a little help from my friends at Google. So yesterday, before I left work, I looked up the building address and printed the driving directions. I'm usually pretty good at navigating, so feeling fairly confident, I made my way up to the U. So much for feeling fairly confident. The directions told me to take Foothill to Wasatch Drive. But apparently Wasatch Drive has been renamed or something, because I couldn't find it. I ended up going down to 17th East, then making my way past 18th East. The directions told me to turn on 19th

Random Facts about Tracie

Inspired by recent posts by some of my friends, here are some random facts about me. 1. One of my favorite sandwiches is peanut and mayonaisse with dill pickles. Don't ask me where that came from, but I could eat it any time of day. 2. I still believe in Santa Claus 3. I've had a life-long crush on Captain Von Trapp. 4. I would never wash my hair or brush my teeth in the kitchen sink. It's just too gross to even contemplate. 5. I have a shot gun and I know how to use it. 'Nuff said. 6. I'm a huge fan of Rosemary Clooney (may she rest in peace). 7. One of my earliest memories is of a TV commercial for Calgon. I can still recite most of it. 8. I hate the taste of malt (yucky, cah-cah). That means please do not ever give me whoppers in my Christmas stocking or robin eggs in my Easter basket. In that situation, I would be forced to re-gift. 9. Of all the places I would ever love to travel to, Salzburg, Austria (It's a "Sound of Music&quo

Nile Kinnick

Great news out of Iowa City on Saturday - the Hawkeyes defeated previously un-defeated Penn State by one point! Take that, Joe Pa! The Hawks scored on a field goal in the final seconds of the game. And it was kicked by an Iowa boy. I can only imagine it must have been pandemonium in Kinnick Stadium. Wish I could have been there. Speaking of Kinnick stadium, it got me to thinking of it's namesake, Iowa's only Heisman Trophy winner, Nile Kinnick. I was in Kinnick stadium a couple of times, and it was an incredible experience - almost spiritual. Maybe it's because of who it's named for. By all accounts, Nile Kinnick was a hero in every sense of the word. Not only an athlete, but a scholar, a Christian, and a patriot, who was killed on a training mission in WWII at the age of 24. He was constantly striving for self improvement, and it was important to him to be the best he could be. Stories about him and his goodness persist to this day. After he won the Heisman, a colum

Family Home Evening

I spent the evening with my brother's family last night, and got to participate in their family Home Evening. It was so cute. Their kids are still quite young, but they already have a chart that they use to determine who is responsible for which part, and the kids love spinning the wheel to see who gets what assignment the next week. My brother was responsible for the lesson - We talked about the Word of Wisdom and he read the story out of "Stories from the Doctrine and Covenants", and then asked my nephew questions about it. My nephew is pretty smart, and he talked about how Jesus does not want us to smoke or drink alcohol, and he only wants us to eat things that are good for us, like Milk and water. My sister-in-law was responsible for the song, so we sang "In Our Lovely Deseret", which talks about the Word of Wisdom. Actually, the three of us sang while the kids looked at us like we were pretty weird. We all remember singing that song a lot in prima

Don't Mess with Finland

From last week's weird news, it seems that in Finland, "Little House on the Prairie" will now need to be shown with the rating of "Adults Only". Apparently the fact that it plays daily on both Hallmark and KBYU was not enough to convince the Finn's that it was family-friendly. Perhaps it was Pa Ingalls' (Michael Landon's) long hair, or "mean girl" Nellie Oleson's constant tormenting of little Half-Pint that finally did them in. Of course, the "official" government line is that the TV studio did not submit the series for state inspection. I don't believe a word of it. I mean, Pa cried in every episode - it definitely has to be subversive.

Scientific Advances

This just in on Yahoo News. Scientists have discovered that hydrogen sulfide helps to control blood pressure in mice. This wouldn't be so weird, were it not that Hydrogen sulfide is the fancy term for - there's just no pleasant way to say it - gas. Apparently the gas is created by cells in the blood vessels, and this causes the vessels to relax, and maintain blood pressure. The gas is then released from the colon. Quoting the co-author of the study, Johns Hopkins neuroscientist Solomon H. Snyder, M.D., "Now that we know hydrogen sulfide's role in regulating blood pressure, it may be possible to design drug therapies that enhance its formation as an alternative to the current methods of treatment for hypertension". Seriously, I am not making this up. A scientist is saying that we might want to give ourselves more gas. I'm guessing that he doesn't socialize much. And scientists wonder why they have the reputation for not being good with people.

Levi Stubbs

Sad news out of MoTown today. It was announced that Levi Stubbs had passed away at the age of 72. Many of you probably have no idea who Levi Stubbs was, but he was one of my favorite singers. As the lead singer for The Four Tops, he was one of the great voices of 60's pop. Another perhaps little-known fact is that he was the voice of Audrey, the man-eating venus flytrap in the movie version of "Little Shop of Horrors". He had a great baritone voice, and it is really displayed in one of my all-time favorite songs, the Tops classic "(Reach Out) I'll Be There". Another memorable one is "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)". Considering all the craziness and line-up changes The Supremes and The Temptations went through, it's really cool that The Four Tops stayed with the same line-up for over 40 years, and that Mr. Stubbs stayed married to the same woman for almost 50 years. If you were to judge groups based on longevity, and group

No Joy in Mudville

No joy in Mudville this week. The Dodgers lost to the Phillies in 5 games - no National League pennant and no trip to the world series. And BYU got creamed by TCU 32-7. No trip to a BCS bowl, and no conference championship. (Say it ain't so, Bronco!) I'd cry in my beer, but since I don't drink, I'm left with wallowing in self-pity and sad country songs.

Reba and Kelly

Two words: REBA MCENTIRE! Several months ago I purchased tickets to see Reba McEntire and Kelly Clarkson. I'm a huge fan of Reba and my friend Steph and I have pretty much decided that we will go see her whenever she comes to town. I prepped by spending the two days leading up to the concert listening to all of my CD's. It was all Reba, all the time. Friday night came (at last), and I got in my boots and cowboy hat, picked up my other friend and went to the concert. And I just have to say that it was fabulous! Melissa Peterman (Barbara Jean from the "Reba" TV show) opened for them by doing a stand-up routine. She was hysterical. After she finished, we waited...and then the moment came - Reba and Kelly came on stage, and I stood up and started screaming and singing along. At about that moment, an older gentleman behind me started shouting and saying to sit down, that he was trying to see the concert. HELLO! Where did he think he was? He wasn't at the symphony,

Rough Day/TGIF

A little bit of a rough day yesterday. A conference call that did not go too well, a meltdown with a co-worker, having to work with another more challenging co-worker, and the Dodgers losing as the result of a throwing error. Then did not sleep too well last night, probably due to the mental and emotional angst associated with all of the above. The good news is, today's another day. It's Friday, and tonight is the Reba McEntire concert. If yesterday hadn't sucked, today would not be nearly so good.

A Good Thing

Our Relief Society is encouraging the sisters in the ward to increase their study of the Book of Mormon, and has challenged us to read it for 30 minutes a day. I have to say that I have not quite gotten up to the 30 minutes, but I have been reading daily, and lately it's been a big help. I have always tried to maintain a daily morning devotional time, either reading the scriptures, or the Ensign, or the Preach My Gospel manual. I like to set a goal at the beginning of the year - One year I read all of the standard works, one year I read the Book of Mormon 4 times. This year I thought I'd focus more on Preach My Gospel. And that was fine. But I was in a bit of a funk for awhile, and I have found that going back to the Book of Mormon has really helped. I have felt the spirit more, and felt a desire to spend more time in the scriptures. I also got a new set of scriptures recently (Elder Mervyn Arnold visited our ward recently and recommended this), and it has been like I a

Indianola

I was reading online today and saw an announcement for the opening of the B.B. King Blues Museum, located in Indianola, Mississippi. B.B. King was born there, and I served part of my mission there. We actually lived in Cleveland, but spent one or two days each week in Indianola. The local legend was that the town was named after an Indian maiden named Ola. At the time, it was quite a small town, but cute. I have memories of driving along B.B. King Boulevard, which was the town's major thoroughfare. I think there was also a Lucille Street (named after his guitar). I also have memories of there being a bayou right there in town, and Cypress trees growing out of the water. I was there in the summer, June to August, and I recall it being horribly hot and humid. We would go on appointments, and see people out in the cotton fields. It looked like back-breaking labor - pretty much bent over all day long. And if you ever see a cotton plant, you'll notice they are not the e

Joy in Mudville III

So the Dodgers won the Division Series against the Cubs. I'm a bit sorry, just because of the whole 100 years thing for the Cubs - but the rest of me is happy as a clam. We will go against the Phillies in the League Championship Series that starts this week. I'm totally prepared for it now after going to Fanzz on my lunch hour today. I have a Dodgers hat and a practice jersey. Now that I have my gear, I figure all I need to do is braid my hair and I can be Manny Ramirez for Halloween (well, I guess I would need a gold tooth, too). My prediction is the Dodgers and the Red Sox for the World Series.

A Good Night

Last night was finally a night to kick back a little bit. I left work late and got home after 6:00. I popped some bread and cheese into the oven and made toasted open-face cheese sandwiches (one of my original comfort foods from when I was a kid). I turned on the TV and watched the last half of the Dodgers vs. the Cubs. The Dodgers won 7-2, with help from a grand slam by James Loney, and a solo homer by MANNY RAMIREZ. YEAH! Then I watched the season premiere of "Pushing Daisies" - my favorite show. The episode was great. It picked up with the same humor and intelligence as when it ended last season. Then I took care of some things for church and got to bed by 10:00. It was a very good night. Evenings like that don't happen very often. Usually there is a lot to keep me busy and gone. So it was really nice to just sit back and enjoy the evening and the simple pleasures of comfort food, fall baseball, and a season premiere. Falll is my favorite time of year.

Can't We All Just Get Along?

I appreciated this article I saw on the Deseret News website. It was written by a reporter for the Chicago Tribune, and is about her family's experience and disagreements over religion. Both sides of my family consist of those who are LDS, and those who are not, and at times there has been tension as a result of different beliefs and value systems. Like the article points out, it does come down to individual choice, and we can either choose to be divided, or we can appreciate everyone's efforts and be united. That doesn't mean we need to agree with each other all the time, but that we can still be respectful and loving towards each other. A link to the article can be found at http://mormontimes.com/mormon_voices/mormon_experience/?id=3731 You can also check out the full text of the article at http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-mormon-jewssep21,0,1284438.story

Oktoberfest

Had a great time at the Oktoberfest celebration at Snowbird this past weekend. It was indeed a celebration of all things German (at least as American's envision it). We took a tram ride to the top of the mountain, and had breathtaking views over to Park City. We also enjoyed bratwurst, sauerkraut, and apple strudel. And there was plenty of German polka music. It was a truly wonderful time. I was reminded again how much I enjoy all of that, and how much I enjoy the German language. I do have some German ancestry. I also have some Welsh ancestry. I'm sure both of those account for my love of singing and sing-alongs. And I lived in Iowa, which explains my love of bratwurst. There were of course lots of references to Austria, and the "Sound of Music", and all the bands wore leiderhosen. Bratwurst and a "Valderee, Valderah" sing-along - Really, it doesn't get any better than that!

Butch

Sadness in Mudville this weekend. Butch Cassidy (a.k.a Henry Gondorf, Fast Eddie Felson, Cool Hand Luke, Doc Hudson, etc.) is gone. 'Nuff said. R.I.P.

Joy in Mudville - The Sequel

My boys in blue began this morning with a magic number of "1" - meaning only one game needed, to clinch the national League West division. Thanks to the late season slide by the Arizona Diamondbacks, and their nasty loss to St. Louis this afternoon, the Bums have now clinched their first division title in 4 years. God bless Manny Ramirez!

Gift of Music

I was able to attend the "O.C. Tanner Gift of Music" concert this weekend. It was held at the Conference Center and featured the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Utah Symphony, Maestro Erich Kunzel, Denyce Graves, and Brian Stokes Mitchell. Only one word to say - FABULOUS! it was just what a girl wants to hear - old love songs and show tunes from the 30's, 40's and 50's. The music of the Gershiwins, Cole Porter, Rodgers, Hammerstein, Jerome Kern, etc. There were also classic patriotic tunes, and an armed forces salute that left me all choked up, especially after seeing the active-duty Marine standing at attention in his dress uniform for the Marine service anthem. Hoo-Rah. Brian Stokes Mitchell called it "Heaven on a Stick", and it truly was. Really, I would go just about anywhere to see any of those artists perform, and when I get to heaven, they all better be there too.

Apples to Apples

So I was having a conversation with a friend last night, who really does not enjoy country music. I of course was rhapsodizing about it and how great country music is. The conversation then turned to Opera, of which she is a big fan. I've never been able to really gain an appreciation for opera. I can appreciate the music and the skill involved, but that's about it. So I proceeded to mention how opera is all about infidelity, unrequited love, loose women, suicide and drinking. To which she replied "sounds like a country song." I had to chuckle, because she was right. It's all the same subject matter, just a different delivery method. Other than perhaps targeting different audiences, it's really comparing apples to apples. Both take a certain skill level and both dwell on the same (not necessarily uplifting) themes. "You say po-tay-to and I say po-tah-to".

Musings

1. Driving in my car today and listening to the classic country station, I first heard "Stand By Your Man", by Tammy Wynette. That was followed by "The Grand Tour" by George Jones. Is it only me that noticed that the station played both members of the Classic Country "IT" Couple one right after the other? (Answer: Probably So) 2. News of the Weird: An artist from Ottumwa has created a reproduction of the Mona Lisa entirely from Sticky Notes. I guess every artist has to have their medium, but Sticky Notes? 3. A couple of athletes have won multiple gold medals and set world records at the Paralympics. Why is it that once the regular Olympics are over, no one seems to pay attention to the Paralympics? It seems to me that the athletic feats in those games are even more incredible, considering that they're accomplished by people missing various limbs and/or senses. Somehow they seem more able-bodied than us so-called "normal" folks. 4. have

Apples and Oranges

I got to attend a performance of Beethoven's 9th Symphony by the Utah Symphony the other night. I'd never seen it performed before. It was fantastic. And when the chorus comes in, it's just breathtaking. I don't really know all that much about classical music. There are pieces and composers I know that I like, but I couldn't really expound on them or anything. I've always enjoyed Mozart, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, and a few others. And I couldn't really say I have a favorite. As I was thinking about Beethoven and Mozart, though, it got me to thinking about their different styles. For me, comparing them is like comparing Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly. Each has a unique style, but it's like comparing apples to oranges. One is more light and elegant, and the other is more passionate and powerful. But both are sublime.

Joy in Mudville

There's joy in Mudville this week. Thanks to the addition of key players like future Hall-of-Famer's Greg Maddux, and Manny Ramirez, my beloved Bums are over .500 for the first time this season and are 3 1/2 games up over the Diamondbacks. Manny is on a tear, and if all holds together, the Dodgers will win the National League West.

Miscellaneous Stuff

Thursday: Attend my soon-to be 4 year old nephew's t-ball game. I loved it - everyone gets a chance to hit and a chance to field, and then you get treats. I'm thinking of starting an adult league. :) Friday - AM: Became an Aunt for the 13th time. I love being an aunt and sure do love all of those kids. Friday - PM: Went to the Utah State Fair and Rodeo with some friends. Filled up on fair food (love those churros), and enjoyed the rodeo. No carny rides, thank you very much. The thought of portable roller coasters, etc., somehow does not appeal, especially when managed by the scary carny people. Saturday: Went fishing on for the first time in probably 20 years. Went with a group of friends from my ward to a place called Trial Lake, above Kamas, Utah, in the Unita Mountains (by the way, the Uinta Mountain Range is one of the very few that run east/west, instead of north/south). It was a great time, but the place lived up to it's name - among seven of us we caug

Chronic Conditions

Something that people may not know about me is that over the last several years, I have dealt with some chronic health issues. In addition to having seasonal allergies and having had sinus surgery for that, I also have something called Meniere's Disease. It's a chronic disease of the inner ear that causes dizziness, ringing in the ears, and symptoms of vertigo. For some people the symptoms can be quite debilitating. There is no known cause and no known cure. I try to control the symptoms of it through a low-salt diet and taking a water pill daily. Yesterday I was told by the doctor that I probably have a condition known as Interstitial Cystitis. It's a condition that causes bladder pain and tenderness, and overly-frequent urination. Again, there is known cause, and no known cure. As with Meniere's, you try to control the symptoms through diet and medication. Not sure what impact this will have yet, although those who know me know I am already dealing with the challeng

One Hundred Forty Million and Counting

The church announced last week that over 140 million copies of "The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ" have now been distributed around the world. This has been done by over 1 million missionaries and members of the church, since the church was first organized in 1830. The "Book of Mormon" is also now available in 107 languages. So goes the effort to spread the message of Jesus Christ to the corners of the earth, and to see that every one can receive the gospel message in their own language. As stated in the introduction, "We invite all men everywhere to read the Book of Mormon, to ponder in their hearts the message it contains, and then to ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ if the book is true. Those who pursue this course and ask in faith will gain a testimony of its truth and divinity by the power of the Holy Ghost. (See Moroni 10: 3-5.) Those who gain this divine witness from the Holy Spirit will also come to know by the

Not to be outdone - Tracie's Blind Date Story

My friend Inge wrote about one of her blind date stories, and since I didn't want to be outdone, I figured I would join the party. Usually, I break these stories out at parties anyway. By way of a disclaimer, this was several years ago, I am still alive, and I never heard from the guy again. Here goes...I used to work the 1:30-10PM shift. One afternoon a co-worker asked me if I would be willing to go out on a blind date with a friend of her husband's. The exact scenario was something along the lines of "he's really nice, he's been staying with us, we're sick of him, it's our anniversary, we want to go out, please take him off our hands...", to which I finally relented (mistake #1). I figured she was a church member, he was a returned missionary, and she wouldn't set me up with a creep (mistake #2). So we make arrangements for him to call me when I get home (mistake #3 - he has my number) and then to meet at my apartment (mistake #4 - he kn

MoTab Mania

I was looking around on the Church website (lds.org) this evening, and decided to see what upcoming events might be going on at Temple Square. It indicated a free concert in September, featuring the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Utah Symphony, Erich Kunzel (of the National Orchestra and the Cincinnati Pops), Denyce Graves, and Brian Stokes Mitchell. Of course I very quickly registered for tickets. Now is probably the time to mention that my friend Stephanie and I are die-hard fans of the Tabernacle Choir and The Orchestra at Temple Square. In fact, you might even consider us groupies (obsession is a good word). If we could follow them around on tour, we certainly would. (Picture it - Steph and I in our MoTab concert t-shirts, waiting outside of the Choir's hotel until the wee hours just to get Mack Wilberg's or one of the organist's autograph.) In the last 3 or 4 years, we have been fortunate to attend every concert held in the Conference Center, as well as the Tabernac

Park City Fun

My ward went on a trip to Lava Hot Springs over the weekend. But since I wasn't planning to attend, my friend Diana and I decided to go to Park City Saturday afternoon. And being on an Olympic kick, we went to the Olympic Park. There's lots of fun things to do there. We watched the Freestyle Ski team put on a show. Only this time, instead of landing on soft powder (it is August after all), they landed in a swimming pool. It was really cool all of the tricks they were able to show off. We also toured the 2002 Olympic Museum. That was pretty neat to see - there were uniforms from some of the athletes, as well as examples of some of the medals and exhibits about some of the different sports. Having lived in a city that has hosted an Olympic Games, I have to say it is a pretty incredible experience to have your city be the center of the world for two weeks. It's a very proud moment, seeing the best your city has to offer all be displayed for the entire world. It wa
Whether you love or loathe the stories NBC does on their Olympic athletes (cue the inspirational music and Jimmy Roberts's hushed and reverent tone as he talks about the hardships suffered by whatever athlete), I really enjoyed this humorous article from Andy Borowitz of Creator's Syndicate. It's just too funny (and too true). Diver Hid Details of Intact Family A member of the U.S. Olympic diving team was disqualified from competition today when it was learned that he did not have a sufficiently compelling human storyline to exploit on the NBC telecast of the worldwide sporting event. Tracy Klujian, the expelled diver, was not raised by a single mother, never had a career-threatening injury, and did not overcome a personal tragedy of any kind before making the Olympic diving team, U.S. Olympic officials revealed today. "Had Tracy been involved in an organ donation, as either a donor or a recipient, that would have been acceptable to us," a diving team spokesman t

I'm good enough

Al Franken played a character on SNL back in the 90's called Stuart Smalley. He was a perpetually annoying character whose tagline was looking in the mirror and saying "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me." I've thought about that over the years and think that (although it was intended to be cynical) there's actually a lot of truth to the statement. I think we all spend a lot of time thinking we're not good enough. We try to be competitive, and think that if we don't succeed in some tremendous way, or accomplish the grand thing, that we're failures. We tend to judge ourselves by what we think other people must feel about us. The reality is that most of us will not be Olympic athletes, or Nobel prize winners, or famous for any number of things. But we're good enough (and great enough) anyway just because we are. 'Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God' (D&C 18:10).

That's Entertainment

So I've been watching "That's Entertainment" on KBYU tonight during the Olympics commercials. It's a movie MGM did in the 70's, showing clips from most of their Golden Age musicals. I have to say there are not many things that thrill me as much as a good musical. It's all I can do to stay in my seat, and I certainly can't keep from singing along (those who went to see Mamma Mia with me - twice - can vouch for it). I feel kind of like the Man in Chair character from "The Drowsy Chaperone", who loves the musical so much that he can't contain himself from participating, and inserts himself into the show. Yes, I know that musicals are far from believable, but I can't help thinking that if people would just break out into song once in awhile, the world would be a happier place. And after watching all the old musical clips tonight, I do know one thing. The Olympics may be all about the world's best athletes, but my money would

Weird Al and Iowa

So a couple of weeks ago while watching TV, I happened to click on an A&E Biography of "Weird Al" Yankovic. Boy - did that bring back some fun High School memories. There were interviews with Dr. Demento (Weird Al started out on his radio show"), and snippets from some true comedy classics - for instance "Eat It", "Like a Surgeon", and others. I remember my best friend Jill really being into his "Polkas on '45" album. I went to High School in Iowa (Go Hawks!), and one thing about the midwest is that someone like "Weird Al" really fits in there. It's the land of brats and beer, and polka (I mean, the Iowa marching band's favorite song is the polka classic "In Heaven There Ain't No Beer"), and people there have a sense of humor - they don't take themselves too seriously. They work hard, have a good time, and are all about community. They take care of each other. When I get to heaven, there&#

2008 Olympics

Whatever you think of the Olympics these days, I watched the opening ceremonies the other night, and was simply stunned. It was incredible. The creativity and production were among the coolest things I've ever seen, especially the Cauldron lighting. If you didn't get to see it, check out the video, courtesy of NBC - http://www.nbcolympics.com/video/share.html?videoid=0808_HD_OCB_EN006&forcereload=true Way to go Beijing!

Twilight

There's a book series that has been out for a few years now, that seems to be all the rage these days. It's called "Twilight", and is a series of young adult fantasy/romance novels, written by a member of the church. Seems everyone in America has been talking about it, and the latest book launch was just about as big as any of the Harry Potter book releases. I've been putting off reading them, thinking I'd wait until things kind of calmed down and they were available at the library. But I got a couple of Barnes and Noble gift cards for my birthday, so I purchased the first two books in the series (at least I waited until they were in paperback). I started the first one on Saturday, and have to say - I am hooked. I can't wait to finish it and get started on the next one. Obviously I'm not going to have any peace until I read them all. Thankfully there's only four books in the series.

"Captain McDonald"

Monday one of my co-workers came by to ask for my assistance making a training recording. He is the curriculum developer, and we have been working on a project where we will be supporting the military. The idea was to record a call, where I would have to pretend to be in the military. He came to me to ask if I would do it. (Who knew that my almost joining the Air Force would come in handy some day?) Knowing that I have a voice that is pretty much a monotone, I figured that was why he asked me. But no, it was because I sounded like I could be pretty easy to "piss off". Really I don't think that is something I want to have a reputation for. And here I like to think of myself as fairly easy to deal with - really kind of a push-over. Truth be told, I can get irritated pretty easily, although I have been working on that for a few months now, and have improved a lot. In fact, my boss told me she had noticed significant improvement (although with room for growth), so I

Monet to Picasso

I was fortunate on Saturday to attend the Monet to Picasso exhibit at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts. I seldom get to see famous materworks in person, so this was quite a treat. I particularly enjoyed Van Gogh's "Poplars at St. Remy" and Modigliani's "Portrait of a Woman". Seeing a Van Gogh up close is really something - the way he layered the paint so thick, and used such vibrant colors. The canvas just pops out at you. Modigliani is a change of pace from Van Gogh. Definitely more low-key, but there's just something peaceful and contemplative about it. There were paintings by artists such as Monet, Manet, Cezanne, Pissaro, Matisse (who I also really liked), Picasso, Dali (definitely odd); and sculptures by Rodin. Quite an extensive exhibit. Utah was fortunate to get it.

Manny Traded to Dodgers

Woo Hoo! As of last week, Manny Ramirez (my favorite baseball player) is now a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers (my all-time favorite baseball team). I've been forced the last couple of years to root for the Red Sox, since he was with them, but I'm now back to the Dodgers. I could never have been away from the boys in blue for too long anyway. On to the playoffs!