Each year as I look back on the year that has passed and try to put together some kind of coherent summary of what all went on in my last 12 months, I'm always amazed at how much really does happen in a year's time. The older I get, the faster time seems to go, but taking a minute to stop and look back at everything that I've experienced helps me to take note of the many fun and eventful moments that occur in my life.
Just a warning up front: these Christmas card posts tend to run a bit long. I've tried to keep the text to a minimum and mostly take up space with photos and a few videos, so hopefully it's not too much for the few of you who really want to read through the whole thing. If you just want to scroll down and look at the pictures I will in no way be offended. Not that I would know anyway. :)
First things first. As those of you who know me fairly well are aware, and are perhaps amazed at, a big part of this past year was the fact that, for a while I did, in fact, have a girlfriend. Granted, that relationship has since ended, but I definitely am grateful for the opportunity that I had to get to know Meili as well as I did and for her being willing to take a chance on me. In the end, things didn't work out, but we definitely had some great times together. Our first date was in January, and we dated until October, so my relationship with her probably was the biggest thing that stands out to me from this past year. And she took several of the pictures that appear below, and deserves recognition for that as well.
Traditionally these Christmas cards have focused a lot on the vacations that I've taken and this year is no exception, though this year was probably a step back from last year when I went to Seattle, Yellowstone, the Bahamas, and San Francisco, among other places. I finished last year with about 8 hours of time off to my name. Given that at my place of employment, our personal time and sick time all go into the same general pool of time off, I made a goal this year to save up some time off in case of an emergency, medical or otherwise, so I pretty much stuck around town until Memorial Day. I even worked on Martin Luther King, Jr. day so that I could save up an extra 8 hours of time off toward my goal.
One non-vacationy thing that also happened this year was funerals. Last year my mom's mother passed away, and this year we lost both my mom's dad, and my dad's mom, leaving me without any living grandparents. Somewhat miraculously, both of them passed away at times when George was able to be in town with his family, so despite the bittersweetness of their passing, we were able to enjoy the company of family, especially the little ones.
At my house, we had our 2nd annual St. Patrick's Day party (last year's was scheduled to be at our new place, but ended up moving due to some last minute delays on closing).
A year ago March (March 2009), a friend from high school suggested that we all put in for a lottery to purchase March Madness tickets for this year's games that would be held at the EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake, and one of us was lucky enough to win, so we all bought tickets together, and got to watch some fun games, especially a double overtime thriller between Kansas State and Xavier that featured some amazing shots down the stretch. We also got to see eventual runner-up Butler in action.
Jordan Crawford (Xavier) hits a ridiculous 3 to force double OT.
As the weather warmed up, getting out of town became more and more appealing of an idea. For Memorial Day weekend, Meili and I drove down to St. George with my roommate Brandon and his girlfriend. We had originally planned on staying at Brandon's grandparents' place down there, but it ended up being double booked, so we ended up at a motel, which was fine. We had fun swimming, relaxing, eating, and playing. And on Memorial Day, we headed over to Zion National Park and hiked to the top of Angel's Landing, which is always a fun hike, made a little more exciting by the chain section at the top.
This summer, George and his family moved to Hawaii where they'll be stationed for 3 years while he works at the on base clinic at Hickam Field (now officially combined with Pearl Harbor). In between their moving away from San Antonio and moving to Hawaii we got to have George in town for about a week, and then Kimi and the kids in town for nearly a month. So that made for some fun times, including a party for my dad's birthday/Father's Day, a trip to Lagoon, a 4th of July celebration, a birthday party for Lucy, and other various get-togethers.
In addition to all the fun that having the kiddos around this summer was, I also managed to enjoy a variety of trips and activities with my friends.
In July, a group of us braved the heat and journeyed down to St. George to, among other things, do some cliff jumping at Sand Hollow, and see Tarzan at Tuacahn. After not jumping last year when we were there, I caved to peer pressure this year and went ahead and jumped. From everyone's feedback, apparently my form could use some work. :)
Last year at Tuacahn, we saw Footloose, and while I didn't LOVE that show, I have to say I enjoyed it more than I enjoyed Tarzan. The opening scene where the river behind the stage overflowed and covered the stage was really cool, and the monkeys hanging from ropes were impressive, but unfortunately, in my opinion, the effects were not sufficient to make up for forgettable songs and a ho-hum plot. And I wanted to see Tarzan actually SWING on a vine, not just hang on to one while it motored it's way across the stage.
The following week, I went on another road trip with friends up to Lava Hot Springs, in Idaho, where we camped for the night, and then spent a day braving the dangerous Portneuf River. After last year's experience, I avoided the waterfalls near the entry point, but somehow managed to get pretty scraped up taking a spill at a different spot on the river. I'd show you the scars but they aren't in the most modest of locations. :)
In August, I rounded up a sizable group of friends and headed back to my "roots", hitting up the Tooele County Fair's Demolition Derby. Fun fact: While living in Tooele County, I never once went to a demolition derby or a rodeo. Now that I live in the city, I must feel a need to get some small town culture in my life from time to time. I always enjoy demolition derbies, but this year's was certainly my favorite one yet. Among other great moments, like the new figure 8 racing, at one point a station wagon rammed into another car and proceeded to drive up on top of it. Hadn't seen that before. :)
For Labor Day weekend, Meili invited me to join her family at Bear Lake. We stayed at her brother-in-law's family's house there and despite it being pretty chilly and windy, managed to enjoy the better part of one good day there at the lake. I also managed to pull an amazing (unintentional) back flip off of a tube. :)
Another fun thing we did in September was to go to Sundance ski resort and ride the ski lift on a full moon weekend. Meili had done it before and suggested that we go check it out. We were surprised to find out that quite possibly the entire population of the greater Provo/Orem metro area also decided to go check it out. Despite a long line, we stuck out the cold temperatures and eventually made it to the front of the line and enjoyed a pretty cool ride up over the ridge and back.
Waiting in line wasn't ALL bad. :)
In October, I boarded a plane with my parents and took my first trip to the tropical paradise known as Hawaii. We spent a week with George's family, playing on the beach, snorkeling, and having fun being grandparents and uncle. I'm excited for our return trip in March, this time with Aunt Natalie and Uncle Ben.
Blog posts about our trip:
Days 1 & 2
Day 4, Part I.
Day 4, Part II.
Days 7 & 8
More photos from the trip.
Another fun part of this fall was going to University of Utah football games. Last year I had 2 season tickets in the northeast corner of the stadium. Now that Ben is in college and no longer playing high school football on Fridays, my dad felt like maybe it was time to get season tickets at the U again, so this year, I put in a request for 4 seats. We also moved over to the west side and crossed the aisle from bleacher seats to chair seats, way up high, which has the added bonus of being sheltered from rain and snow by the luxury boxes right above our seats. While not quite on par with the two undefeated seasons we've had in recent history, the Utes finished with only 2 losses and a bunch of big wins at home. So definitely a lot of fun times, and fun to have mom and dad there to share the joy. It's been fun having Ben here in town as well, and we've managed to get together for dinner a couple times, and recently went to the Jazz-Heat game together.
Aftermath of Brandon Burton's amazing block to preserve the win over BYU
Churchwise this year I started attending a new singles ward right around the start of the year, and managed to make it all the way to April before I was put in the Elders Quorum presidency (apparently it's kind of my thing) as 1st counselor. :) It's been fun to meet a lot of new people and to get to serve with some great guys. We've also been privileged to have visits from President Monson, and Elders Perry and Hales of the 12 Apostles, so those have been some special treats as well.
Now, I know that these year end wrap ups have generally included a bit of statistical analysis on my dating life, but given that I spent the majority of the year dating Meili, I'm going to forgo a full blown report this year, except to say that January was probably a record-setting month where I went on seven dates in a single month, culminating in my beginning to go out with Meili consistently. Since we stopped dating in October the dating part of my life has been on a bit of a hiatus. Hopefully I can get back into the swing of things with the new year.
Things at my work are also going well, though the death certificate project I've mentioned before continues to resist my best efforts to get it into production. It's been through our formal testing process, but has managed to find new and innovative ways to be delayed every time I think we're ready to pilot it. Hopefully by end of January we've got it up and running with real doctors using it for real death certificates. Thankfully that hasn't been my only project this year. I've worked on a variety of other things, including making updates to software that's been running in our hospitals since the 80s. I was a co-author on a paper that was published in a top cardiovascular journal (Chest) and on a presentation my boss gave at the AMIA (American Medical Informatics Association) Fall Symposium. Hopefully I can get some first author stuff submitted and accepted this year. Speaking of AMIA, I did manage at the last minute to get to attend and it was fun to catch up with some old friends and get some ideas of what I'd like to work on next. And also to fly first class for a few minutes. :)
A quick update on my health for those who are interested:While I continue to check my blood sugars daily, things have been pretty good for a while now. My latest HbA1c was 5.7, and I've been under 6 every time it's been checked in the last year and a half.
Lots more photos from this year can be found here.
Finally, there's only so much that I'm willing to subject you to reading about every year, but what I've covered here is only a portion of the good times and memories that I made this past year. Thanks for being part of my life. I'm truly blessed to have so many great people in my life. I'll leave you with a few more photos of good times in the last 12 months.