Monday, December 22, 2014

My 2014 Christmas Card

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Merry Christmas!

and hello again to anyone out there who only hears about my life through this blog. Anyone checking this site for news about me obviously knows that this is my first, and very likely only blog post for the year 2014. In part I blame that on my life being a little busier this year, both professionally and residentially (see last year's notes on our HOA situation).

In any case, I always enjoy having these Christmas posts to look back on, so unfortunately that means that I have to actually sit down and write them at some point.

One highlight from January was a gorgeous snowshoe day, where we hiked from the Spruces campground through the woods over to the Donut Falls trailhead and up to the falls.

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Also in January, I went up to Midway to see the Ice Castles. Very picturesque, but also very crowded on the night I was there.

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A highlight of February was the night that I took my nieces, Lucy & Elise, to a gymnastics meet at the U, and then the spent the night here at the house.

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Best Book (Non-fiction): Creativity, Inc
Best Book (Fiction): The Passage

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In March, Ben and I took a little road trip down to Moab during his spring break at the U. We hit some classic hikes (Delicate Arch, Corona Arch, and Landscape Arch), checked out some other classic sights (Balanced Rock, the North & South Window Arches, and Double Arch), watched Utah basketball games via the internet, and ate at pretty much every place that looked semi-decent.

Delicate Arch
That's Ben down there under Delicate Arch

Turret Arch through North Window Arch
It was interesting to see where I had to get to, in order to recreate this shot I'd seen in promotional materials.

Double Arch

March also brought spring and the beautiful buds on the trees outside my windows.
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Best TV Show (Drama): Sherlock
Best TV Show (Comedy): Brooklyn Nine-Nine

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In April, I stayed up way too late watching the lunar eclipse and taking photos from my deck
Lunar Eclipse Montage

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This year in Work Involvement

I'm continuing to work at Intermountain Healthcare as a Medical Informaticist (it'll be 6 years in a couple weeks).  Things have been busier and more stressful due to a complete overhaul of our computerized medical record systems, and working to ensure that the project areas I am responsible for make it into the new system.  I feel very grateful to be able to work for a great boss, and to have co-workers that I enjoy spending time with.

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A couple highlights from May were a pair of concerts I went to.  The first was Augustana with Twin Forks.  I was pretty excited to see Augustana again, given how great the acoustic show was that I'd seen last year, but was pleasantly surprised by Twin Forks, a new project from Chris Carrabba, previously the guy behind Dashboard Confessional.

2014-05-07 Augustana & Twin Forks

The second fun concert of the month was a trio of rocking sisters going by the name of Haim (that's their last name).  Loved their debut album, and it was fun to see them live.

2014-05-22 Haim & Tennis

In June, I started dating a great girl named April, who I'd briefly dated a bit earlier in the year. We dated for most of the summer, and while ultimately things between us didn't work out, we definitely  had a lot of fun.

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At Strawberry Days rodeo in Pleasant Grove

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Best Movie: X-Men: Days of Future Past
Runner-up: Guardians of the Galaxy
Runner-up: Edge of Tomorrow
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In July, I went with some friends to a little spot outside of Cedar City called Kanarraville and did a hike up a little slot canyon there called Kanarraville Falls. It was beautiful scenery and a fun, quick weekend trip with friends.  Definitely worth checking out if you haven't been there before.

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Also in July, we had a family vacation at a place in the Uintas called Spirit Lake.  They had some cabins and restrooms, but no electricity, so kind of like camping but with a little nicer accommodations. We had fun fishing, playing, and hiking for a few days.

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This year in Church Service

I started out the year serving in the Elders Quorum presidency in the ward that my home is in, and that kept me pretty busy until June when I decided to move my records to a "mid-singles" ward (ages 31-45) that meets over in Sugarhouse.  It's definitely a big change, as my new ward has just over 800 members, and has 6 Relief Societies and 6 Elders Quorums.  I've been pleasantly surprised to run into lots of old friends there, and make some new friends along the way. For most of my time there I was serving on the Sealings committee, doing proxy work for deceased persons once a week. I was recently called to organize some sports activities for my Elders Quorum, so that will definitely be a change of pace. Its been many years since I last played church basketball.

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In August, surprisingly, I found myself back in Hawaii. On Oahu, even.  Some of April's family lives there, and she invited me to come visit for a bit while she was out there visiting them for a couple weeks.  I rented a little apartment right on the beach in Laie, not far from where she was staying with family.  Having done most of what there is to do in Oahu, there weren't too many surprises, but it was really fun to be right there on the beach. I also tried paddleboarding for the first time, and caught several good waves while boogie boarding.  Oh, and I even got to be part of the Tongan village show at the Polynesian Culture Center.

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The view from the entrance to my apartment

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Best Song: "I Wanna Get Better" by Bleachers
Best Album: Strange Desire by Bleachers

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One highlight of September was going down to the Spring Canyon ranch for Labor Day, something that's become a bit of a tradition the last few years.

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Utah football is another fun fall tradition. I think this was my 6th year of having season tickets (5th year sitting next to my mom and dad). It was fun to see the team do a bit better this year, after missing out on bowl games for a couple seasons.  One of the highlights of the home games this year was a last second win over USC.

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In October, I took a quick weekend trip out to Washington, D.C. with my roommate Brandon and a couple friends. We rented a basement apartment in Maryland and took the train into town every day.  And walked about 50 miles in 5 days.  Always fun to see the monuments, and also got to see a few things I'd never seen before, like Mount Vernon.

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On the Speaker's balcony of the Capitol Building

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I'm always humbled by the sheer number of grave markers at Arlington Cemetery

Another fun time in October was carving pumpkins in Mountain Green with George & Kimi, and the kids, with grandma Liz joining us as well.

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Best Concert: Augustana & Twin Forks
Runner-up: Haim

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In November, I headed back to D.C., for work this time, which meant not much time for sight-seeing, but I did manage to take a hike out to the National Cathedral on a Saturday morning when I had some free time, as I'd heard it was worth checking out.  Unfortunately there were church services going on when I was there, so I couldn't see much of the interior, but I did get to go up to a viewing area, and found out where to look for the Darth Vader gargoyle on he exterior.


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This year in Home Ownership

If you remember last year's Christmas post, you might recall that I'd recently been through a crazy December dealing with a big embezzlement and mismanagement mess in my Home Owners Association.  Well that certainly didn't clear itself up overnight, and in some ways continues to keep me busy from time to time, but thankfully nothing like last December.  We were able to round up some money from our insurance company, and some more by asking people to pay monthly dues that they had missed in the past, and by doing that we were able to get some breathing room, and also do a few bits of needed maintenance, like repairing our fence that was falling down in a few place, and doing some paving work on our road.  We also hired a management company, with the hope that it would alleviate some of the work that the board was doing.  In some ways it has, and in some ways it hasn't, but for the long-term good of the community, I think it's best that a third-party is now managing our funds.

Personally, I acquired the aforementioned roommate (Brandon), and while it's taken some getting used to (the smell of fresh produce isn't one that was common before), it's been nice to have someone around, and probably healthy to be in the habit of accommodating someone else living in the house with me. And the rent money's not bad either. :)

I don't recall making any major purchases, but I did get a rusty hot water valve replaced, and added some pre-lit garland to my collection of Christmas decor. I keep thinking if I ever get the HOA straightened out, I can get around to doing a few odd jobs around my own place. Guess we'll see.
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December has been probably the craziest month of the year between busy times at work and lots of fun things going on with friends and family.

I made it downtown to check out the lights (it was lacking a little something without any snow, but it was nice that it was a little warmer than usual)
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I went with Ben to the Utah-BYU basketball game
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We had an Advent Sunday Christmas program with friends
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I went to a fun Christmas concert performance by The Lower Lights
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All in all, it's been quite a year. Each month seems to fly by, but looking back there was certainly more than enough time to fit a lot into the year. I'm grateful to have a good job, and great friends, and to have all of my family just a short drive away.  When I'm tempted to be frustrated or discouraged with any of the challenges or struggles that arise, it's easy to find reminders of the many ways that I've been blessed all around me.  I'm looking forward to another year of excitement and growth in 2015. Hope to see you there!

5 comments:

Smith said...

Thanks Jake for keeping us up to date!

Valery G said...

Cheers to another year of adventures!!!

Sica said...

Love these posts! Thanks for the update!

Liz said...

Loved reading this and enjoyed your artistic photos.

Shayla said...

Finally got around to reading this. Sounds like a fun year! I always love your "best of" lists.