Sunday, November 30, 2008

My Grandma Liston & Thanksgiving

Well yesterday my Grandma Liston came to visit my dad, and I happened to be there (I have been there a lot this weekend, it has been great). She was there with my aunt Joyce who lives rignt nextdoor to her so she was the lucky one who gets to drive her places. =0)

Well my grandma is about 95 years old, and I truthfully think that she has better knees that I do. I don't know what keeps her going, she said that she eats a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, and other healthy things, but who knows what her secret it.

So we all decided to snap a picture, here is my Aunt, My Dad, My Grandma, and Myself.
You may notice that my dad doesn't look very healthy, he is going through a pretty nasty fight with cancer right now. He has been so good to do anything and everything to kill the cancer, so we all still have high hopes that he can beat it and live for a long time still.

I had a nice quiet thanksgiving though with my dad and Patty's family (she is the one behind the camera, Thanks Patty!). Uncle Shane made one awesome turkey with some wicked moist white meat, and uncle George couldn't get over how moist it was, LOL. Then of course we had Grandma Joyce's famous banana cream pie, Mmmmm. Of course I ate too much, but it was just so dang good!

I was able to see everyone in my immediate family this Thanksgiving as well. Jill came down thanksgiving morning, Brad was staying at my dad's house so I ran into him a couple times, Mark made it down Saturday morning, and Kerri made it home saturday evening for a couple hours. It is sad that we all live within such close proximity, and yet hardly see each other. Life is too crazy.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Go UTES! [BYU 24 - Utah 48]

Well another year, another win.

If you aren't from Utah you won't get it, but it has been quite the week getting ready for the BYU - UTAH rivalry football game. There are blue and red flags and apparel everywhere. It is usually a pretty big thing in Utah, but this year both teams have had a great seasons, so it was bound to be an exciting game.

I don't have cable, and I was doing homework, so I was stuck listening to the game. As the game progressed, I really wanted to watch the game. Well I found the next best thing. There is an awesome virtual game recap on-line that I found by looking on the U of U sports page. It is called GameTracker and it is pretty dang cool! Here is a screen shot of the last field goal (you can see the little player on the field and the football flying through the goal posts). There are a bunch of other options that you can see on the screen too, but I was just watching this part. =0)

I thought it was pretty cool...

Needless to say I didn't really get a lot of homework done during the game. Oh well! He he

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Weekend in Washington DC

What an Fun and Incredible weekend! Let me tell you about it...

This weekend I decided to go visit a good friend that is doing an internship with Congressman Jim Matheson that has good political and tourist connections. Andy is currently living in the Washington DC and invited me down to help him spend some time touring the capital of the US. I of course jumped in as a great friend would in order to help him see a little more of the touristy part of DC while he is working on his Internship.

I flew out on November 13th, which just happens to be my Birthday. Happy Birthday! It was a great one! I flew all night and arrived Friday morning just in time to go sight-seeing. Wahoo!

  • Day 1 - Friday November 14th:
Once I was able to go to the apartment and drop off my luggage, I was ready to tour the place. The first official tour that we had planned was the Pentagon. We took the metro to the Pentagon City area. We were a little early so we wandered around the pentagon to the new recently dedicated 9-11 Pentagon Memorial, which was incredible. The site of the impact of the plane is now re-built, but they have built the memorial in front of the area where it all happened. They have a "bench" if you will, for each causality of the attack (in the plane and building alike). They are supported on one side and point toward the building if they were on the plane, or away from the building if they were in the building. They are all aligned in a grid-like system listed from youngest to oldest, following a wall that grows an inch for every year that is represented. It is really cool all of the symbolism that they have built into it. You should go see it if you get a chance.

Once inside the Pentagon, we were told that we couldn't take pictures, but I wanted to. Most of what we saw was pretty boring. Hallway after hallway with white tile, unmarked or marked doors, and tonz of memorabilia for great warriors and leaders. I did learn that there is a lot of smbolism built into the pentagon. There are of course 5 sides to the building, but there are also 5 floors above ground, and each floor is divided into 5 rings starting from the inside to the outside. There are 5 hallways that lead from the center to the outside ring. All built in 5's. In the plaza in the center of the pentagon, there is a little shack (hot dog stand) that was the target of the soviets during the cold war. If you look at a picture from above the pentagon you can see it, and it looks like a huge giant wall there to protect whatever is in the center. That is what the Soviets saw and targeted the poor little hot dog stand. Oops! :0]

After that we headed into the center of DC to get some food and check out some of the museums. Well after just a couple minutes inside the National Museum of Natural History we realized that they were closing, so we made note that almost all museums close at 5:30 in DC (good to know). So we headed to get some food in down town DC. ON the way we saw police card sitting at every intersection, just waiting for something. I just figured it was normal I guess. After a while though we heard sirens coming down the road. There was a huge motorcade of cop cars, vans, and limousines, several of the vehicles sporting flags of Japan. We quickly assumed that the dignitaries from Japan were heading to the White House for dinner with the President.

Not long after that we say a similar motorcade pass us with flags from Australia, and then another one with British flags. There were sirens everywhere, it was insane! We found a good place for dinner, snuck in, and had some food. When we came out the roads had totally been cleared out and blocked off. Cops were standing and waiting everywhere. We found out that the President and all of the other delegates were still on their way to the White House, and for security reasons the roads had been blocked off and cleared of everything. We started walking down the road, and ducked inside a hotel to ask for directions. As we were coming out again, we were able to catch the last 12 vehicles of the motorcade headed toward the white house. Later we heard that they were having a summit meeting about the financial crisis of the economy with many world leaders.

For the rest of the weekend we saw several motorcades moving dignitaries and their guards around the capital. There were cops everywhere you would look. Someone said that the national threat level was raised to orange that night, but I never checked that out to see if that was true.

Crazy stuff though! Here is a news article from the Washington Post that covered the meeting at the White House:

Full Plate at White House for G20: Economic Talk and Quail

By Martin Weil and Marissa Newhall
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, November 15, 2008; Page A10

President Bush welcomed visiting heads of state to the White House last night for a dinner held on the eve of a financial summit prompted by global economic distress.

Last night's event, designed to help cope with the crisis, actually added to Washington's pain for a time: Street-clogging convoys of limousines aggravated the city's rush-hour traffic congestion.

Carefully orchestrated, the arrivals of the international leaders at the North Portico began at 5:55 p.m. They continued until the Brazil delegation made its appearance about 80 minutes later.

The gathering inside the mansion was described as a "working dinner." It was intended to be relatively informal, conducted without spouses and with less pomp and ceremony than characterizes state and official occasions.

The guests were the leaders of the G20, which consists of the important industrialized and developing economies. Joining them were heads of key international financial organizations.

The official menu included fruitwood-smoked quail, thyme-roasted rack of lamb and baked Vermont brie with walnut crostini, along with three wines.

In his toast in the State Dining Room, Bush said the financial crisis "did not develop overnight, and it will not be solved overnight."

To the leaders from North and South and from both hemispheres, he emphasized a global outlook. He urged recognition of global economic interdependence and a resistance to any calls for protectionism.

In a statement, the White House said the leaders "had a good, productive meeting."

  • Day 2 - Saturday November 15th:
Today the first thing that we had planned was to tour the White House. This tour was initially scheduled for Friday, but I guess they had to get ready for the G20 Summit meetings, so they moved the tour to Saturday. fine with us.

There were a lot of people there that morning to tour the White House. They pushed up through there like cattle, but it was still really fun to see. It was hard to imagine all of the things that had happened within that incredible building. Even just to think that the night before world leaders from all over met around a table to discuss the crisis and possible solutions and affects. It was really fun to think about that as we walked through each of the rooms.

The decoration was pretty cool. Several of the rooms had themes that had been followed during their decoration. It was fun to see some of the artifacts that they had used as decoration. We were able to read though the history of the rooms as we walked through them too. Just a very historical environment, it was a great feeling finally being able to see the White House. This is the house that every great American leader had lived in since George Washington.

After that we wandered around downtown for a while taking in all of the sites sounds and smells of the capital. It was a nice fall day in the Capital. The leaves were still falling to the ground, and the weather had a hint of chill, but it was still fairly mild weather, luckily.

Our final goal was to make it to the National Air and Space Museum to explore some of the interesting facts about flight and space travel. I spent the better part of the day here walking through all of the different and interesting exhibits. It was a really fun museum. I have always been interested in flight and space, so the mixture of the two was perfect! Finally at 5:30 they kicked us out and forced us to go find something else to do.

We decided that it was time for dinner and that maybe we could catch a movie since we had been walking all day long. We ended up going to see the movie "W" which was about the life and presidency of President George W. Bush. It was interesting. I have seen it once though and don't ever have to see it again.

  • Day 3 - Sunday November 16th
Today we slept in a little, which was nice. Once we were up and going though we headed back to check out some more of the museums in the DC area.

We made it to the American Art Museum and Portrait Gallery first. Here we looked at a little of the modern art, but I didn't feel like I was really enjoying it after exploring the Air and Space Museum all day the day before. We headed down to go through the Presidents of the United States, which I enjoyed. They had at least one portrait of each of the past presidents. They also had a little write-up on several of them, and a media addition to some of the exciting happenings in the history of the United States. It was pretty cool, and it was free too. Well worth that for sure!

After a while of that we headed to the The National Archives Building in DC. This is where all of the American Documents are housed. There is a museum that shows a lot of the history and then there is a quiet hall where all of these documents are put on display. The three that we were there to see were The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution of the United States, and The Bill of Rights; in that order of course.

These documents were pretty dang cool. Sure they were hard to read due to the age and safe lighting in the room, but it was incredible to be able to see the documents that gave the United States its purpose and freedom.

After admiring these documents we headed to the old Post Office Pavilion building that has been restored as an office building with a food court. There is a clock tower that they allow people to go up into. This is the highest point in DC and has a great view of everything around. I took a good shot of the Capital building from there, and also of the Washington Monument and the FBI Building. It was fun to see everything from above for once, because it seemed that I was always looking from the bottom up.

After grabbing some food at the food court, we headed to the National Museum of Natural History. They have a really cool ocean exhibit here. We walked through that and also walked up-stairs to see the Hope Diamond along with several other gems and pretty rocks. ;)

After wandering around in the Museum, we decided to dare the chilly wind (it was cold today) and visit some of the memorials that were close by. We headed down the National Mall towards the Washington Monument. It was a very clear day, but the wind had a bitter chill in it.

The washington monument was fun to see again. I think that in 96 I went up to the Top with the tour that I took on a High School clogging tour. I didn't have to do it again, but it was good to see. Here is a shot of Andy and I as we passed the monument and headed toward the other monuments further on down the National Mall.

This picture of Andy and I was taken by some guy that spoke only a little english, but he did a pretty good job. He had a better camera than I had though so I wasn't really worried. ;0)

There is a new monument for World War II Memorial that I haven't seen before. It was really cool to
see. There are pillars for each state that participated in the war, and then there is a fountain in the middle, then a wall of stars for all the soldiers that fell during the war. The wall says something about the cost of freedom, and is really cool. I stole this picture from the Internet, but it was just like that when we saw it at night.

We then continued on to the Lincoln monument, which was also cool like always. These are monuments that are fun to see in person since they are always seen in movies and pictures. There is something about being there in person that just gives me a feeling of pride for the country that I am a member and citizen of. GO United States of America!

After admiring all of the monuments we decided to go on a tour through the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. That was very sobering. You walk in and are given a card. The card represents someone that lost their life as part of the Holocaust. The name that I was given was of a young boy named George Pick that as born in Budapest Hungary. I will have to blog about that later and share his story. It was incredible to watch the history of the war and the mass killings. It is so hard to believe that there were so few people that said that they didn't want to be a part of such a horrible thing.

Once the museum kicked us out, remember they all close at 5:30, we headed over to Georgetown to get some dinner and go see a movie. One of our friends went to get tickets for the new James Bond movie, and we wanted to eat before the show. We went out to also join in on a celebration of one of Andy's friends, David. He wanted to go to tepinyake, or the Japanese grill where they cook the food in front of you. It was a good dinner in all. Then to the movie.

NOTE - If you haven't seen the new James Bond, Quantum of Solace, you should watch the previous movie first so that you understand what is going on. This is basically a direct continuation of the previous movie, which is weird for a James Bond film.

  • Day 4 - Monday November 17th
This was a normal work day for Andy, so he had to get up and go to the office to go to work. I got up when he left though and started packing and getting ready to go tour the US Capital Buildings. I cleaned up and headed out to meet up with Andy for a tour.

When I got to his Office, Andy gave me the tourist stickers and pins and things. We then proceeded to the basement of his building where we took the top secret train that goes to the capital building. It was kind of fun being an outside but doing things the way that the insiders do things. =0)

The capital was really fun to see. I have never been through it before, so it was great to see. It was kind of fun to think of the men that had walked the same corridors that I was walking, and all the history that had been made in that building. As we walked through the tour, Any did a good job sharing informative information about everything. I wish that I remember it all, but I was kind of in an aww at the fact that I was really there. It was really pretty though.

After touring the Capital building, the next building that was on our tour was the Library of Congress. I had never really thought about visiting the Library of Congress, but it was a very elegant building. It was built of marble and was really pretty inside. We spent some time in there, going through several of the rooms and admiring the beautiful art and sculptures.

After that we headed down the road to see the Supreme Court Building. Andy had never been in there, so it was new territory for both of us. Once we entered the building, we realized that court was not in session, and that there was a little tour that you could take that would take you into the actual courtroom. We had a while before the next one started, so we just walked around for a little bit, looking at the statues again.

Once it was time for the next tour, we jumped in line, and headed into the court room. It was a beautiful room. Marble all around, with large red drapes. The murals on the walls and ceilings were what we talked about most of the time while we were in there. They were really incredible though. It was fun to see. Much more elegant than the old room that they used to use that was located inside the Capital building.

That was the end of the tour, so we headed to eat in the cafeteria located below Andy's office I believe. We had Pizza for the 50th time that weekend, but it was good Pizza. After that I went to check-out of the tour and then head back to the Apartment to get my luggage and head to the airport to go home... always the worst part of the trip.

It was interesting navigating the Metro alone, but I made it without getting lost. There were several escalators that were broken that I had to haul my luggage down and up, but not too many. Finally at the airport, I was hoping to be able to travel in first class, since I was using a buddy pass with Delta, but there was a flight that had been canceled earlier, and the flight was pretty full. I finally got a seat assignment from the not so happy lady working the counter, and happily entered the airplane, just glad for a seat on a non-stop plane to SLC.

I got home earlier than I had anticipated, and had time to unpack and then go to bed in decent time so that I could get up for work in the morning, the worst part of coming home.

It took me a while to finally sit down and throw all of this together, but I kept telling myself that I had to. Hope you enjoyed it, I know I did! =0]

Thanks Andy for being an awesome friend and tour guide...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

SNOW !?!?!

I hate it!

So I took a picture of my cold white snow-covered house this morning, but I can't find the cable to get the picture downloaded to my computer... If I were the cable I would have taken off to be somewhere warmer, somewhere where I could maybe enjoy the weather without having to put on 50 layers of clothing before leaving the house.

Who wanted to live in Utah anyway? I didn't agree to this!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Obama for President...

- America has Chosen Wisely! -

I know, I know... I live in Utah! What am I doing supporting Obama?

Well McCain ran an ugly campaign, and votes with Bush "90% of the time" so I don't want him in the White House. He did however give a very nice final speech, in fact it was better than any speech that he gave during his campaign. That is a weird campaign plan...?

Oh well, we will soon have a good man in the White House. Go Obama!
***YES WE CAN***

- Quote found in ABC News -

Yay, I got out and Voted. I voted first thing this morning on my way to work. It took about 45 minutes and was as slick as it could have been.

I am now watching the results on the Internet and on the TV. Crazy stuff! It looks like Obama has taken several key states, this could be fun...

Monday, November 3, 2008

2008 Band Tour

After a long over-night bus ride we finally arrived in California. We had lunch and quickly cleaned up to get ready to go to Universal Studios.

Day 1: Universal Studios
At Universal Studios we rode all the rides that we wanted to. It was a weekday, so the lines were pretty short. My favorite was probably the Mummy and the Simpson's ride. We were also able to drive by Wysteria Lane, the set used to film the Desperate Housewives television series. We had a good time and the weather was perfect!

Day 2: Disneyland and Main Street Parade
Friday October 31st we loaded the busses with instruments and performance gear and headed to the happiest place on earth! Disneyland =0] We played around in the parks until about 2:00 when we had to meet in Mickey's Toon Town where we were taken backstage to prepare for a parade down main street.

It was fun finally going back stage, but it was true that the magic stops at the gate...

After everyone changed and warmed up, it was time for the parade. It was a short parade, but it was a blast for the students. I waited at Main Street Square where the band to pass so that I could do backstage again to chaperone all of the students that we were with. They did a great job and once again I think that it was a really great experience for the band members!

Here are some of the pictures that I was able to snap:
Banner followed by the Color Guard

Drum Majors followed by the
Pleasant Grove High School Marching Band

Drum line and the director; "Mr B"

Day 3: Riverside Community College Marching Bank Competition
Today we woke up early, loaded the busses, and headed to Riverside Community College for the Marching Band Competition. We got everything ready and started warmups. At about noon we headed to a warm-up area in preparation for the competition.

I didn't get any pictures of the competition because I was helping get setup on the field, but from where I sat it looked like the band did a great job. In the end though we didn't end up bringing any awards home. We were given a video of the competition and we could see that the students kind of fell apart a couple times and the energy wasn't there that should have been. They didn't suck, but it wasn't the best competition. Oh well, it was still fun.

Once the high schools were done with their competitions, the RCC Marching Band took to the field to give us a show. This was the 25th anniversary of the school or the competition so the team did a Beatles compilation, which was incredible. I wanted to watch it so I didn't get video. I did get a clip of the Drum Line after the show as the awards were being prepared. Check the video out below. It is a low quality recording, but it was a great performance for the drum team.

Medieval Times - For dinner we headed to the Anaheim Medieval Times dinner and show. We were assigned to cheer for the Yellow knight as seen below in the picture.

The Yellow Knight, Our Knight...

The show was really fun and we had a good time.

Day 4: Drive Home
Today we took off at about 9 and headed home. We stopped every couple of hours for bathroom breaks, so the trip took a while. It started to get cold and that is how I knew that we were getting close =0[ (i hate the cold, fyi) We finally got home late Sunday night/Monday morning, and I just went home to go to bed and go to work the following day. =0)

Fun tour, I think that everyone had a good time, and we didn't have any huge issues, Yay for a good tour! =0)