Tuesday, December 24, 2013

My 2013 Christmas Card

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Merry Christmas!

I'm putting this post together at pretty much the last possible minute to have any hope of getting it out by Christmas. Typically I'd like to have gotten this finished a week or more ago, but this year my December was anything but typical, and I got quite a bit behind on a variety of things. More on that in a bit.  But if this is less thorough than it was last year, I guess that's probably why.

In terms of where I'm at these days, I continue to work for Intermountain Healthcare as a Medical Informaticist. My job level was changed from "staff" to "senior" this year, but as best as I can tell, the only result was that I'm no longer one of the only 2 staff informaticists, and I get a few more days off.  I've been in my house for just over a year now, and other than some things I'll mention in a bit, it's been a great year. Fun to be able to have people over for movie nights, or to watch a game, or whatever.  I was called in October as the 2nd counselor in the Elders Quorum Presidency in my ward. I continue to be unmarried and available, though the folks in my ward are hard at work at finding other single mormons for me to date. :)

As is my tradition, I wanted to share some photos of the past year and tell a bit of what's been going on with me, along with some of my favorites things from the year.

I started out the year buying a new camera with some of the Christmas money I got from my parents, one with a fancy 20x zoom lens. That's been a fun addition throughout the year.


In January, we got lots of snow at my house (and the rest of Salt Lake as well), and one snowy night, I went downtown to see what turned out to be my favorite concert of the year: An acoustic show by Augustana, which turned out to just be the lead singer and a fellow musician playing guitar, piano, and accordion. It was a relatively small crowd, in an intimate venue, and we were able to be pretty much right up front.


Best Book (Fiction): Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell
Best Book (Non-fiction):  Moneyball


I got some couches for my basement in January, and finally had a housewarming party on Groundhog day.

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Pounding some angel food cake in Bill Murray's honor

Later in February, I took a week off work and went out to Hawaii to help babysit the grandkids with my mom while Kimi was here in Utah looking for a house to buy.  Mostly we stayed around the house and played with the kiddos, but I did manage to get to the beach one afternoon, went snorkeling one morning with George, and Lucy, mom, and I signed up for a "whale watching" cruise, that ended up mostly being a "whale looking-for" cruise, though we did briefly see a whale fin or two for maybe a few seconds.



Best Song: "My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark" by Fall Out Boy
Runner-up: "Can't Hold Us" by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis


As football season ticket holders at the University of Utah, we were offered the chance to buy tickets to the first round of March Madness games that the U was hosting at Energy Solutions Arena.  It ended up being 6 games, I think. 4 on Thursday and 2 on Saturday. 3 of the first 4 games we saw were upsets, so that was kinda fun.

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The weekend before Easter, I made my first ever trip to the Moab Jeep Safari. I have some friends who go every year, and this year, I made it down Thursday night to hang out Friday and Saturday.  I actually only ended up going on one jeep trail with them, but I got to watch a bunch of jeeps going on the Moab Rim Trail which was within walking distance of our campground, and it was fun to hang out with some friends.


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This one didn't end well.  There was a loud noise when it came back down and then it didn't work any more.


Best TV Show (Comedy): Community
Runner-up: Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Best TV Show (Drama): Breaking Bad

In April, I made it down to Phoenix to visit Julie for a weekend.  I'd planned on going earlier in the year, but then family was in town and it didn't work to go until it was already as hot as I'd care for things to be. :)

I didn't take many pictures, except at the Maricopa County Fair, where we saw this baboon, who at one point was in a Super Bowl commercial. How the might have fallen.

In May, those of us Tripps living in Utah at the time (mom, dad, Natalie, and I) planned a little weekend trip down to St. George.  We hiked Angel's Landing at Zion, saw Brian Regan at Tuacahn, and had a pretty nice time.

View from the top

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Brian Regan @ Tuacahn

We had such a good time, we almost felt bad that Ben didn't make it home from his mission to Hawaii until June. :)




Best Album: "Days Are Gone" by Haim
Runner-up: "Let's Be Still" by The Head and The Heart


At the end of June, I took my first trip to Capitol Reef National Park (Utah's least visited National Park, apparently), and went on a fun hike with some friends there.  It was called Upper Muley Twist Canyon, and featured a great view of the Waterpocket Fold, a geographic formation that runs for about a hundred miles.

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In August, we made one final pilgrimage to Kaneohe to spend time with our Hawaii-dwelling sibling and his family, so we could attend my niece Lucy's baptism.  Ben, sadly, couldn't make it, as he'd just started a new job with the Utah Athletics department, but we somehow managed to enjoy ourselves pretty well without him. I've blogged more about this already, but here's a few photos:

One of the two octopuses (octopi?) we found while snorkeling

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Watching the sunrise at Bellows Air Force Base beach

Group shot

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One last wave goodbye


Best Video Game (Online): Card Hunter
Best Video Game (iPad): Simpons Tapped Out (I guess I really didn't play too many games this year)

As mentioned before, we had season tickets to the Utah football games again this year, and despite not having the best season ever, we still managed to enjoy some good times at the games. You can see more of my football stuff from this year here.

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Ben hard at work

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I might not look like much now, but I'm drinking milk...

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Celebrating an upset victory over eventual PAC-12 champion Stanford


Best Concert: Augustana - Acoustic show (see above)
Runner-Up: Guster/Ben Folds Five/Barenaked Ladies


In October, George and Kimi and the kids moved back to Utah.  They've been doing their best to adapt to the cold, but the rest of us I think are more than happy to have them living closer. It's been lots of fun to be able to see them more frequently and have little get-togethers without it needing to be a huge event.  The night before Halloween, Natalie, Ben, and I drove up and helped carve pumpkins with the kids.


Best Movie (Action): Captain Phillips
Runner-Up: Gravity
Best Movie (Comedy): Monsters University


Toward the end of November, my dad let us know that he'd been having some chest pains, and that his doctor had recommended he get a stress echo test done.  After that test, an angiogram was recommended, and after that, the doctors all seemed in consensus that he ought to have a cardiac bypass surgery.  This all in the course of a few short weeks.  He ended up going in for was eventually was a quadruple bypass the day before Thanksgiving, and despite any worries we might have had, the surgery went as well as could be expected, and after about 5 days in the hospital, he was home again, and on the road to recovery.  On Christmas Day, one of his presents will be that he can have his car keys back and start driving again.  Very grateful he was able to have his problem detected before having a heart attack and that his recovery has gone well so far.

Out for his first post-surgery stroll along with his physical therapist and a rack full of pumps, drains, and other good stuff

The day after dad headed home from the hospital, serving in my volunteer capacity as vice-president of our Home Owners Association, we discovered that the fellow who has been managing our finances and most of our other affairs (the treasurer's long-time live-in boyfriend), has been embezzling from our bank account.  That was a pretty crappy/busy week as I spent every waking hour gathering information from our bank, and various creditors, and then working to do all I could to get our affairs in order, and work with various organizations to try to see what we could do about things.  That is only just now starting to slow down a bit, mostly because I've done what I can do for the moment and am waiting for others (the bank, our insurance company, the police, etc) to do what they can do.  I did about 2 weeks of full-time work on that (in addition to my other paid full-time job) and that's why I'm just now, on Christmas Eve, getting around to putting this Christmas Card post together.  Definitely not something I ever envisioned having to deal with, and it certainly hasn't been too easy either. I'm grateful that things aren't worse than they are, and it's been good to have friends and family to talk things over with as I work through them.

I'd hate to end the year on such a dour note, and thankfully things have settled down enough that I've been able to get things ready for Christmas (I had to shop at stores this year instead of getting everything ordered online in time), and I've been able to spend some good quality time with my family this week with more to come soon.  I'm grateful at this time of year for the principles of the gospel that help to guide me and keep me out of trouble for the most part.  Despite some troubles that have come primarily from one person's actions, I continue to see plenty more good people doing what they can to help.  And after looking back over the last year, it's really hard to let a few bad weeks keep me from feeling what a great year it was.

Jake's Documents

Thanks to all of you for your friendship and love. Here's to another great year!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Utah Football 2013

Once again this year, my parents and I had season tickets to the University of Utah's football games.  Perhaps not the most successful season ever, but it's always fun to go enjoy some football.  Ben got a job working with the athletics department this year, so he was always there filming the games from the south endzone, and Natalie came to a few games this year, too, so there was a lot of good family time spent there.

With my new camera that I bought last winter, I was able to zoom in a lot more and get some better pictures this year, so I thought I'd share some here.

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Pinstripe look for the first game of the year

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Ben hard at work

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Grantsville High alumni Craig Harrison got in for the Aggies for a snap when Chuckie Keeton had to sit out a play

The start of another game

Travis Wilson had a few great games to start the season. Too bad about his health issues that may prevent him from playing ever again.

Freshman kicker Andy Phillips was a fun surprise

Wilson evading a tackler. Granted this was Weber St, but still.

As season ticket holders, we were invited to come take a self-guided tour of the new football facility that was completed this summer.  Pretty fancy digs. I think my favorite part was all the trophies from past bowl games and other championships.

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Mom and I with the Fiesta Bowl trophy

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Some of the oldest trophies there

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In the press conference room

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Part of the Ute-themed weight room

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Sugar Bowl trophy

More pictures from the tour here.

Back to the football games...

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Great catch by Sean Fitzgerald in the UCLA game

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Red White and Blackout

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Dres Anderson TD against Stanford

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Bubba Poole had a great game against the Cardinal

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Celebrating the upset over Stanford (eventual Pac-12 champions)

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Before each game the players do what's called the Utah Mili

It looks like this:

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O-line sporting the "Salute to America" helmets from the Arizona St. game

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Trevor Reilly had a great season on defense

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Wilson running for a first down in what would end up being his last game of the year.

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I love when the band does stuff like this, wish they did more

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The Muss getting in on the Crazy Lady dance

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Mike Honeycutt flying in for a tackle

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The loss to Arizona St was a tough one, but the sky as we were leaving was beautiful

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Nice catch by Dres against Colorado

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Jacoby Hale forcing a fumble

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Adam Schulz gave a man's effort staying in the game despite some pretty ugly hits, thereby preserving redshirt years for our quarterbacks of the future

More pictures from this season here.

So we didn't win 'em all this year, or even most of 'em, or half of 'em. But it was still fun to go watch the games and to spend time with friends and family. I suspect we'll be back again next year. :) Go Utes!