August 29, 2008

Best Wife Ever...

Wednesday was our third anniversary. We can't believe it's already been this long but so be it. Sarah's new boss suggested she reserve a table in the formal dining room of the super swanky hotel where she works now. (Oh yeah, did she tell you about her awesome new job? You should ask her about it.) We were treated to the complete 5-star experience for dinner; an amazing meal with such exquisite flavors and tremendous service. All the while we sat comfortably in the gorgeous mountain-lodge setting amidst the evening alpenglow, overlooking the lush green slopes of Deer Valley Resort.

But the real shock was before dinner. In the weeks leading up to our anniversary, Sarah had asked for carte blanch in buying us a mutual anniversary gift, no questions asked. I said "Sure, I'm off the hook. Run with it." I thought it might involve the flat screen TV we've been discussing, or the carpet we've been wanting. But I had no idea.

Prologue: A few weeks ago we were out for drinks with friends, watching the Red Sox on TV. Someone mentioned what a shame it was that Yankee Stadium was being closed after this year and a friend from Massachusetts asked me if I had ever been to the Stadium. I simply said no, but Sarah picked up on a sadness or disappointment in my voice or expression of which even I not aware.

Anyway before dinner, in the privacy of her office (she knows I can get a bit emotional) she told me that she had gone to the trouble of buying tickets to the Yankees/Rays game on September 13th at Yankee Stadium. She had booked plane tickets using her free Delta companion fare and arranged to stay in Long Island with our friends Meredith and Brian (Meredith may very well be our only RSS subscriber so I know she'll be the first to read this post.) I can't even express how blown away I was when Sarah told me. I couldn't speak. I could only stutter and babble about how much I love her. What's more is that as circumstance would have it, the Tampa Bay Rays are actually in first place in the AL East so not only were these tickets nearly impossible to obtain, but I'll actually be in Yankee Stadium with the rare opportunity to root for the Yankees to play the spoiler and beat the Rays, thereby helping my beloved Red Sox in the standings. All I can say is HOLY CRAP!!!

Attention Ladies: If you’d like to ask Sarah how to be the best wife or girlfriend ever, please form an orderly line and please, no pushing or shoving.

Trip to Maine/NH (continued)

OK, so I guess Sarah wants me to write about the rest of the trip. (Please read her post below.) Firstly, I'd like to apologize to all the folks we didn't get to see this time around. We miss you all.

In a stroke of convenience, I was able to arrange a trip to Portland, ME to make a quarterly appearance at the FetchDog Mothership and coordinate the timing to allow us to attend Tera and Jeff's wedding in Auburn. I also used the opportunity, to see my family in Epping, NH. I flew into Manchester on Friday night, where my Brother, Jay picked me up. In the morning he kindly took me scuba diving (his new hobby) for the first time ever, using some of his spare gear. My parents, my sister Jules, and my sister-in-law Jeannine were there to root me on. Apparently, conventional wisdom dictates one should have several days worth of training in shallow pools learning to breathe underwater and operate the equipment. However, I don't think there's any room in the big-brother/little-brother paradigm for conventionalism. After all, I've also taken to 11,000 feet and simply told him to point his skis down the hill. So maybe this was payback I thought as I submerged myself in the Atlantic, tightly bound in an ill-fitting, 7-mm wetsuit with 60 pounds of Ghostbusters Proton Pack on my back. The initial discomfort and aimless flailing gave way to novelty as I scoured the shallow shoreline inside the breakers. We then decided to head out a little further. That's when it got really interesting. As I headed out to the deeper areas, I found myself lost in a dark world of kelp, which basically freaked me out. So I fought through it thinking it would lighten up any second. Before I knew it, I had made my way out well, past any comfort zone I might have known and started freaking out. My brother was right behind me and helped me take a break to get my heart rate under control. We made our way over to a set of rocks, away from the kelp jungle, where I was able to regroup and eventually explore down as far as 10 feet or so, and see crabs, lobsters, snails, and of course golf balls.

Later in the day, we met up with my other brother, Jim and his wife Abby and my 6-year-old nephew Jimmy. We attended a dedication ceremony of a large wind-mill at a farm in Greenland, NH and then headed out for ice cream. The next day, we headed out on Jay's new motor-boat. I don't know what kind it is, but I think it's a really nice one because people stared at it a lot. We cruised from Dover Point out the Piscatiqua River to Portsmouth/Kittery and down to Newburyport, MA for lunch. It was one of the first nice weather days in a while so there were a lot of boats out. But we had a great lunch and headed back up. On the way back, we stopped by our old grade school, Lady Isle School in Portsmouth's Little Harbor. The little Catholic school on an island had been boarded up around 1992, a year after I left and had been mostly unoccupied. Apparently it is now owned by a single family who seems to have no interest in restoring or developing the gorgeous property and has instead let the old school buildings decay in the harsh New England climate.

That night I met up with Pete Clarke and his fiancee (!) Jenn. It was great to catch up with them but I took great satisfaction in meeting them at the church up the street from my parents' house which has been converted into a fantastic bar. I grew up attending mass in this old building when it was hot and sticky, staring at the ceiling and counting the links of chain holding up the chandeliers. The new decor, and the new purpose I found refreshing and very well done.

In the morning, my mother and I drove up to Portland, where I worked for the week at the FetchDog office on Fore Street. The week went smoothly and it was great to catch up with co-workers I usually only converse with over email or instant message.

Sarah arrived on Saturday and we began our whirlwind tour of Maine as she described, concluding with Tera and Jeff's wedding. Afterwards, we returned to the hotel in Portland around 2am. Our flight out was at 6am. Why would we do that to ourselves you ask? It's complicated. But we set the alarm for 4:30am thinking we'd get up, shower, get dressed, throw everything together, check out, drive the 20 minutes to the airport, return the rental car, check in and make it through security — NO PROBLEM. As you can imagine, that was at best, wishful thinking on our part; a poor judgment call made out of sheer exhaustion. Our lack of common sense was exacerbated when the alarm actually sounded and we hit the snooze button twice and proceeded to each take a shower. By the time we frantically got in the rental car and more or less got lost en route to the airport, our hopes of making our flight were nil. Luckily, a nice US Airways employee named Shannon did some fancy footwork and was able to get us on the next flight at 7:15 which made stops in Philadelphia, Charlotte, Phoenix and eventually Salt Lake. What's more, she did it for free, and she even got us seats next to each other on each flight. WOW. 17 hours later, we were back in Utah being serenaded by our tone-deaf dogs, safely cradled in the comforting expanse of the Wasatch Mountains.

View more photos from the trip here:

August 26, 2008

Trip to Maine

Joe and I attended Tera and Jeff's wedding this weekend in Auburn Maine. It was a quick trip for me since Joe had been back east for the week visiting his family, which I am sure he will write about next. I flew out Friday evening at 11:15p from SLC on Jet Blue and apparently they were running a 5 for 1 deal, bring 4 kids under the age of 2 with you and you fly for the price of 1. It was madness and I had to take cleansing breaths as a toddler climbed on my carry-on with chocolate covered hands.

Once I got to Maine I rented a car and drove to Joe's hotel to pick him up. When I approached the hotel I noted that there was a street art fair on the same block and there were barricades all around and the meters were all covered with emergency signs. Finally, I drove through one blocked street and explained kindly to the woman that I needed to get to the hotel parking despite the fair. I made it in and was able to shower and gather myself before we started the trip to Augusta to visit with my Aunt, Uncle and Grandmother.

Gretchen, my Aunt, put on a great lunch for me complete with lobster rolls and even introduced me to the game of Wii. It was wonderful to see them as well as their new home.

Now for the fun part...the reception was outdoors with beautiful waterfalls as the backdrop. Jeff did a great job of keeping his composure while still trying to coax a laugh out of Tera, who looked radiant in her gown. The reception had so many personal touches which only Tera could pull with such style. It was great to be with all the girls from my Sunday River Days and the party ensued. It made me realize what wonderful friends I have and how much I miss hanging out with them. It was a great visit and I look forward to seeing them again and with that I will let Joe tell you about of return trip since he is much wittier than I.

August 4, 2008

Rant: Rock Bands I Would Never Miss

Here's a list of Bands/musicians I would not mind seeing involved in a plane/bus crash. There's plenty more obvious artists that everyone hates, but these overrated acts can instantly make me want to crank the steering wheel off a cliff.

-No Doubt / Gwen Stephani
The Ska scene was almost still relevant when No Doubt applied their SoCal twist to it. Sure, I bet if you're a huge No Doubt fan they were great before the rest of the country caught on etc. But I have news for you, if it ceases to stay real when it's popular, it was never real in the first place. And Gwen Stephani's little pouty expressions, her look-at-me-i'm-funky style, and her candy lyrics are not cute. I know there are plenty of guys who disagree but I'm not buying it. I could honestly go the rest of my life without hearing from them again.
(*Addendum - I met Gwen Stefani the other day. She was actually very nice. But I stand by my distaste for her music.)

-Jimmy (F***ing) Buffet
I never really felt one way or another until a recent trip to Florida where the hotel played Jimmy Buffet's satelite station from every speaker indoors and out. I discovered I find his music insultingly, and mind-numbingly awful. I'm all for drunkin' good-time music but Jimmy Buffet is a hack.

Yeah, I said it. U2 has been getting the universal awesomeness award for WAY too long. I'm here to say that their music is garbage and Bono is NOT GOD. I appreciate the good work they claim to do, but let's stop treating Bono like he's a political figure. He's just another aging rocker mistaking fame for importance.

Oh Please. Enough Already. The commercial mileage accumulated from their few bubble-gum marketing hits is nausiating. Everything from Shrek to Pizza Hut has been the John to their musical prostitution. And does anyone actually like them? NO! It just so happens their crap is catchy and in-offensive, and it makes old white guys feel cool in the same way that Chumbawumba did.

-Counting Crows
Sure, there was a time I thought Adam Duritz was a genius. Their narcoleptic ramblings were great when I was a depressed teenager, but now it's just obnoxious. I even thought I still liked them until I kept skipping them on my streaming radio channel. Have you ever heard them live? Adam Duritz can't even carry his own tunes! "OOooohh...he's so experimental!" I hereby declare The Counting Crows over.

-The Greatful Dead
I've never had a use for the Dead. I didn't even have the energy to pretend to like them in high school. I respect the jam-band genre and their influence is much appreciated. But it's not for me.

-Elvis Costello
Please shoot me. I used to work at an office where Elvis Costello was on heavy rotation. And although I never paid him much mind before, I discovered that he's an absolutely wretched musician, with a horrible voice and lyrics that are no where near as brilliant as he thinks they are. To this day, I can't hear Elvis Costello without feeling the need to strangle someone.

Wow. Yes, a legendary rock band...who should have stopped recording in the 80's. At a certain point you become a characture of yourself. At this point their rock-balad formula is as tired as the bags under Steven Tyler's lips.

Other notable acts I find completely tedius include The Beatles and Elvis. Both are consistently ranked the #1 and 2 of all time, yet I find that their sound is completely intolerable. I respect them as historical figures in music, and often like their music when redone by another artist. But I can't stand listening to either artist's original recordings. But I do make a distinction between them and the previous artists mentioned because they more-or-less stopped making music before my skull fully hardened. Also in or near this category: The Beach Boys, The Who, The Stones (Yes I know they're still touring), The Eagles (Although I like hearing my father in law play their tunes), and Pink Floyd. Again, all have made a valid contribution to music but I can't stand listening to them.

The list really does go on and on.

*Disclaimer: I fully expect at least some of you to object to the preceding statements. I just don't care. These are just my opinions and you're entitled to your own.