Thursday, January 31, 2013

Our Sterling Scholar in Music

My talented nephew Anders with his licorice stick
I'm so lucky to have four handsome nephews and a beautiful niece.  They make life a lot more interesting!

My nephew Anders (nephew #3) was selected as a Bingham High School Sterling Scholar in Music back in December.  I think that is pretty cool.

He plays the clarinet.

I guess getting chosen to represent your school is only the first step of the Sterling Scholar process.  He now has put in his application for the Sterling Scholar competition.  I'm told he played a Hindemith piece that showed off his abilities.

Now the judges will sift through the applications and decide who to interview further as a finalist.

Good luck, Anders!

Anders playing at Abravanel Hall

Anders also made it into the Utah All-State Band, against stiff competition.

I hear that the All-State band performance at Abravanel Hall (Jan 19, 2013) was fantastic.  They had a guest conductor and composer from Pittsburgh.

Abravanel Hall is a concert hall located in the heart of downtown Salt Lake City.  A cultural landmark adjacent to historic Temple Square and the Salt Palace, it's known for its outstanding acoustics and a grand four-story lobby with a spectacular city view.  It's also home to the Utah Symphony and is part of the Salt Lake County Center for the Arts.

Just to show you how ancient of days I am, I remember back in the day when Maurice Abravanel was the conductor of the Utah Symphony.  He was a marvelous man and a musical force to be reckoned with. The hall was named in his honor back in 1993.

I think it's terrific that Anders had a chance to play there.  What a fun opportunity, and a well-deserved honor for this talented and hard-working high school senior.

Whether he wins the Sterling Scholar competition or not, I think he's a winner in my book.  He's quite the accomplished young man.  In addition to his musicianship, he's an outstanding mathematician.  He's one of those wunderkinds who can solve a Rubik's cube in under a minute.

A Rubik's Cube
Seriously.  I've seen him do it. It's amazing.

I'd hate him for that alone, if he wasn't so doggone adorable.

And related to me.

Actually, if you think about it, math and music go hand in hand.  Music is just audible mathematics, after all!  But I digress...

Anders' immediate goals involve graduating from high school, then serving a full-time LDS mission before going off to college.

Yup.  Just another over-achiever!

I repeat: Good luck, Anders!  We're all rooting for you.

Photos: JD Evensen, L Farnsworth

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Fred and the Birds

I love this picture.

When you're three years old the whole world is a pretty interesting place.  

And ordinary things can seem amazing.

Even these empty tennis courts in Seoul, Korea.

And the pigeons..

Ordinary pigeons look slightly different here in Korea.  Not hugely different, but a little.

Not surprising, since they eat Korean food and speak the Korean language.

And fly the friendly skies of a free, south Korea.

Wonder if they ever sneak over to the north, just to see how things are going with their oppressed communist counterparts? 

I suppose we'll never know.

Hi, my name is Fredrik.
What's yours?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Freezing your patootie?

Waiting for the TRAX in Downtown Salt Lake City
- photo: J. D. Evensen

I am always fascinated by winterscapes like this.  Maybe it's because I live in a warmer, Mediterranean-type clime now, and have previously spent a good part of my life living in the Sonora desert.

In spite of that, I actually have fond memories of living in places that got winter snow.  When I was little it was fun.  Everything is a great adventure when you are a child, of course.  It's mom and dad who have to drive in the mess, go to work and shop in it!  I remember my mother complaining about all my play clothes being wet from the snow, and constantly drying mittens in front of the heater.  I don't remember it being a problem at age 4 or 5 or 6.  It was so much fun to be outside playing in it, building snow castles and making snow angels! I would play until I was tired and cold, then trudge happily home, ready to be fortified by some steaming hot soup, or cocoa or Ovaltine.

Remember Ovaltine?

Mmmmm.  Those were the days.

My brother sent me the above photo yesterday showing the light rail TRAX stop on his way to work.  From what I gather, he takes the train, then walks about a block in the snow, ice and slush to get to work.  (Uphill both ways.)

I submit that there is not much middle ground this time of year.  You're either in a snow, ice and slush cycle such as depicted in this photo.

Or, you're not.

My neck of the woods
This picture isn't entirely correct.  Our skies have been grayer, more overcast and rainy, for a few days, but my small downtown area still looks pretty much like this.

Sorry to even bring this up to all you snow, ice and slush people.

Try to have a nice day, anyway.

Monday, January 28, 2013

At the Inaugural Ball

The inimitable Stevie Wonder performing
A week ago, following the swearing in ceremonies for President Obama, the Inaugural Ball was held in Washington, D.C.  (Actually there were two of them.)  Fate has a way of intervening sometimes to bring about interesting things: my niece, a brilliant photographer, took a chance and answered an ad for a photographer on Craigslist (of all things!) and ended up being able to attend the Ball!

I never figured Craigslist as a Fairy Godmother... but there ya go.

Linnea was given the chance to attend by a man named Andrew Lee.  Andrew said he was interested in photographs of the everyday person attending the ball.  As Linnea puts it, it would be "sort of like a society page for the common man."  She says she and Andrew went around talking with different people and taking their pictures, so they were moving around the entire time through the crowd of about 30,000 other people. Andrew is very out-going and had no trouble chatting with everyone and anyone.

Here are some insider's peeks at this historic event, thanks to Linnea!

Newly re-elected Vice President Joe Biden trippin' the light fantastic
I asked her if she had gotten close to the Obamas.  She replied that she was not very close to the stage when the Obamas danced, because there was no set schedule and they had no idea what would happen when.

President Obama and his wife were actually there very briefly.  They walked out, waved, danced and went away.  It couldn't have been more than five minutes, according to Linnea.  It was pretty much the same with the Bidens.

I'm sure they had to visit the VIP areas, and the other ball too, which accounts for their brief appearance.

John Legend performs
According to my niece the ball itself was very different than she had expected.  It was in a very large room that had a warehouse feel, with a concrete floor - just a huge, cavernous open space.

My niece Linnea with Andrew Lee
She writes, "The whole event was more like a concert than anything else, and we had been expecting people to be talking and dancing and no one really was."

"People were crowded around the stage, too close together to really dance, and not willing to move in case they missed the next big thing to happen."

There were lots of great performers, as you've probably heard in the media: Alicia Keys, Fun, John Legend, Darren Criss and Amber Riely from the Glee cast, Stevie Wonder, Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Hudson, and Soundgarden, just to name a few.

It sounds very much like a music festival, only minus the sun, dirt and food vendors!  

According to Linnea, there wasn't any food served, but you could buy drinks.

There were two levels of the ball, and upstairs there was a VIP section.  Linnea heard they had some different performers there, like Katy Perry and Usher.

As you can see by the photos, everyone was in a festive mood and dressed up in their very best.

There was also a section on the lower level set aside for "Special Guests".

Linnea laughs and says she was just out there with the commoners!

People were all being very nice and on their best behavior.  There was no shoving and whenever someone was trying to get through the crowd everyone was quick to let them.. 

It was just a great big, fun All-American party.

You can see the wide variety of ordinary folks that were there amidst the celebrities.

The great thing about America is that no matter who you vote for, you know that you have the chance to turn things around in four years.  Government for the people and by the people is a wonderful thing.  And if your guy happens to win, all the better.

Either way, the wheels of government keep churning, and there are opportunities for all.

Amber Reily from Glee performs
Linnea says she didn't get home until 2 a.m. - she's still trying to recuperate!  (I don't really believe that, as she's only in her mid-twenties, and probably bounced right back - but we'll give her this one as she's been so nice to share her photos with us!)

What an amazing evening.  To be able to attend such an historic event is a once in a lifetime thing.

Thanks to Linnea for sharing her beautiful pictures, and helping us ordinary folks to have a glimpse of what it was like to be there!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Remodeling the Castle

Jack inside his Christmas Present - a new castle
Every man's home is his castle.  In Jack's case, his castle was a Christmas gift, this past Christmas, that he immediately liked a lot. He enjoyed playing inside it and on top of it.

He was King of all he surveyed.
Jack, the king of the castle

But then, one day not long after Christmas, my Jack, the little kitty engineer, decided to make some home improvements.

And so, the renovations to his castle began!

Jack calculated his remodel carefully
Pretty soon he was chipping away at the walls and towers - one mouthful at a time.

It was a tough job, but he was relentless.

Renovating the castle bit by bit and bite by bite
I didn't understand his overall plan at first, not realizing the extent of this major remodel.  It turns out Jack prefers a more modern, streamlined look for his castle.

Hard at work
The towers began to come down, one by one.

The ramparts... slowly disappeared!

Jack spit out the construction materials, one mouthful at a time onto our carpet.

Lucky me.  I have apparently been designated construction site clean-up supervisor.

The construction site wasn't pretty
You can still see Jack's colorful mousey toy inside the castle.  It was left to fend for itself as the walls disintegrated.  Poor thing.

However, the carpet saw the worst of the destruction.

Jack checks the new, improved Castle space
Jack finally is getting the wall down to where he wants it.  I noticed he's apparently aiming for chin-high support, when he lies down on top of his castle.

Like most major remodels, it's been a long, tough job.

What a funny little guy.

Jack, my little kitty engineer.  He's pretty darn amazing.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Batman Lives!

On the way to work one day I noticed that ... well, that BATMAN, Bruce Wayne, apparently lives in my neighborhood!

I had no idea.  You just learn something new every day.

And, license plate frame aside, I hardly think a Scion is the actual Batmobile!

So, do you think the real Batmobile's license plate is BWAYNE1?

Sorry about the spots on the photo - it was raining!

Or would the it be BWAYNE3?

The original Batman car
(Photo: ABC Network)
I want to know.

I say Number 3, because I would think he'd have a limo, like a Rolls-Royce as his first car, complete with his Chauffeur -  Alfred, of course.  This makes the Scion Number 2, and that leaves Number 3 for the Batmobile.

Of course, if the Batmobile has a license and registration, does that mean the DMV knows Batman's secret identity?!  Hmmmm.  That could be problematic!

If you were wealthy Bruce Wayne, what would your first choice of automobile be?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Miss Bianca comes for a visit

My Friend Bianca standing on my desk
I got a sweet little visitor in my office on Monday.  It was my little friend Miss Bianca.  If you remember, Bianca's mom's pregnancy was documented on this blog last year.  Bianca is now 9 months old!

Can you believe that? 

Bianca pretty much has her mommy, daddy and two brothers wrapped around her tiny fingers. But it's understandable. I ask you, who can resist such cuteness?

Bianca was very happy to see me, which warmed my heart.  Boy!  Has she grown since I last saw her!  She's strong, too.  She can almost stand up on her own - but still needs a little help from her daddy.

Bianca is very petite, but she is large in spirit and her sense of adventure knows no bounds.  She is wiggly and active and interested in everything - precisely as a little person her age should be.

She is on the verge of toddling... everyone look out!

Miss Bianca and her Daddy
It was so fun to have this little sweetheart and her handsome daddy visiting my office!

Come again soon!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Kazek, the Tiger

Kazek, the mighty Tiger
Snow leopards aren't the only beautiful cats at the Hogle (Utah) Zoo!  Meet Kazek, a beautiful and ferocious male tiger, who is 9 years old.

Recently, during their annual "Cats and Cocoa" day, the keepers at the zoo did a training demo with Kazek, showing visitors how they help give this mighty tiger a regular physical check-up.

Hint:  They do it through subterfuge!  In other words, they are very sneaky about it.  And there are treats involved.  (Sounds like my early visits to the dentist!)

According to my friend Meldee, who was at the Zoo on that day, it was fun watching how the keepers carefully examined the Tiger, using some simple tricks.  The tigers have been trained to respond to certain commands to help the keepers in their work.  You'd think that the mighty tiger would be hard to train, but in her words, Kazek was a "very good boy!"

The keeper asks Kazek to do something - like put his paws on the fence.  Those paws are as large as the keeper's head!  Kazek knows the drill, so he's happy to comply.

When he does as he's asked, he gets a squirt of one of his favorite treats - reconstituted milk.

Getting a  yummy treat!
Right in the kisser!
Wow.  Just look at those teeth!  The better to eat you with, my dear!

Just to give you an idea of the size of this fellow, the trainer is about 5' 7 or 8".  My friend said the tiger could stretch even higher on the fence than she captured on her photos.

The simple training exercises serve a purpose.  They help the keepers examine the cats without having to put them inside the enclosure and/or drug them.  By getting the cat up and stretched up tall like this, keepers can examine the huge paws, and look at Kazek's massive furry underside.

Later, when he's lying against the fence, vets will give him all his shots while he's again being distracted with his treat.  The little poke he gets is no big deal to this mighty creature, and he's used to it from all his training through the years.

Pretty ingenious!

Kazek looks pretty soulful in this shot.
He looks ready to start singing: Nobody knows... the trouble I've seen!
What a magnificent tiger!

Kazek sired three sons in 2009.  (Hmmm.  My Three Sons.  Sounds like an idea for a sitcom.)

Here are two of his beautiful boys:
Kazak's  number one son snoozing
I'm pretty sure that's snow you're seeing in these two photos (above and below).
Kazak's number two son eyeing the visitors
What magnificent, beautiful animals.


Okay. Yes. I'm quoting Tony the Tiger, here.  He's Kelloggs' Frosted Flakes spokesperson, you know  He's also a TIGER, so it's totally appropriate.

Modern Tony the Tiger
He looked different when I was a kid.  More like Kazek.  Less like a  hamster.
(And yes.  I am a product of my environment.  Shoot me.)

But I digress...

I think the zoo keepers are very brave. Much as I love seeing these beautiful tigers, I wouldn't want to meet Kazek, or one - or both of his sons, alone, in the wilderness!


Would you?

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Cool Kids in Seoul

Here are more photos from my nephew's little family's visit to Korea.  (Please note this was way before the snow set in.  I'm pretty certain it's snowy there now!)

Livia shopping Seoul, Korean style
 Our little Livia enjoys shopping.

It's so hard to choose!  Do these make me look fat?

Hey mom!  You should totally get those!

Don't you love it when your eye wear perfectly matches your ensemble?

Sight-seeing in Seoul, our little family came across lots of interesting things.
A Kebab Shop
 Daniel writes, "I haven't seen a Kebab shop like this since I was in Germany."
A comfortable place to stay.

Shoes!  I want this one, Mommy!
Our little fashionista has already started loving shoes.  This does not bode well for the future of her closets!
Time to take a break and stop for a meal

Decisions, decisions!  Everything looks yummy!
The menu and booths look pretty American.

Then you see the dishes!

Not so American!

Love those little curvy plates.

Shopping in Seoul looks fun.

This is Dondaemun.
Even though it looks like a palace or a temple or something, Dongdaemun is a shopping center.  Perhaps a temple to the shopping experience?

Daniel writes, "It's home to a lot (and I mean a LOT) of clothing stores."

Sounds like shopper heaven to me.

Have a great day!