March 27, 2013

Hold Down the Fort!

Liam and Tomas spent a lazy weekend afternoon thoroughly engrossed in a favorite pastime—blanket fort building. They actually spent the night in it (yes, on the hardwood floor).

Good times.

March 23, 2013

The Magic Flute

On the Vienna study abroad we directed back in 2011, we took our students to the Vienna Opera to see The Magic Flute. We saw it on our second day, so everyone was suffering from serious jet lag. I noticed several of our students nodding off for brief moments, and I'm sure I probably did too. However, we were all wide awake for the Queen of the Night's aria. Not only did the singer completely blow us away, the setting of the Vienna Opera House couldn't have been more spectacular.

This past December, I discovered the Utah Opera would be performing The Magic Flute in March. I knew I had to get the family tickets for Christmas, and the three months was worth the wait.

There were a few hiccups though. I wanted to make the whole experience remind us of our time in Vienna, so I planned for us to take the new Frontrunner train to Salt Lake and have dinner at Siegfried's German Deli before the opera. Well, it turned out that if we had taken the train, we wouldn't have gotten home until one in the morning. Since it was a school night, we opted for the minivan.

We arrived in Salt Lake in plenty of time to find a good parking spot and head over to Siegfried's. But, as we approached the deli, we didn't see any lights on. Grrrr. They closed at 6 p.m.! We looked around and didn't see any alternatives that were in our budget or somewhere the boys would want to eat. Katie suggested Farr's in the City Creek shopping center only a few blocks away. That sounded good to everyone, so we began our walk. We failed to consider, though, that Salt Lake City blocks are huge. Due to this fact and because we ended up taking a little detour by mistake, it took longer than planned. Once we arrived, it was deja vu all over again—no lights on. It was closed for renovation. We were starting to get desperate, but Liam reminded us that the Lion House Pantry was only a half a block down the street. I figured it would be just our luck that they were closed on a Monday night for FHE. Thankfully, we were pleasantly relieved to find them open.

We all got our meals, and then I looked at my phone for the time. Ay yai yai!! We did not realize how much time we had wasted. We had a total of 15 minutes to wolf down our dinner and run (and I mean run) all the way back to the theater. We went as fast as Tomas' little legs could go, and   luckily made it in time with a couple seconds to spare.

We were way up in the back of the balcony, but we had a nice view. Anyone who knows me, knows I am a magnet for people with bad theater etiquette. For this performance, the man sitting next to me was quiet, but he smelled really bad of tobacco. It was fine as long as I breathed through my mouth. On the other side of our family where Katie sat was a woman who thought it was OK to bring her dinner with her in a crinkly bag no less. Maybe she knew that Siegfried's closed early on Mondays.

The Capitol Theatre isn't quite the Vienna State Opera House, but it is very beautiful.

Overall, we really liked the performance. Tamino and Papagano's acting wasn't the best, but Pamina was outstanding. She had a beautiful voice. The Queen of the Night looked like she was going through a real physical workout, but she nailed her big song. We also liked the sets and costuming. The costumes were a mix of styles from all over Asia. I think they were going for a look of what Europeans in Mozart's day thought Asia was like.

It was a fun night out with the family, and after the performance, it was unanimous—We need to go back to Vienna!

March 13, 2013

Fishing with Grandpa

This is one of those posts that should have been written months ago. I'm going to be transferring my 2012 photos to the external hard drive and need to get caught up.

Grandpa Gene invited the boys up to Midway for a little fishing expedition over the 24th of July weekend. I was happy for the offer since I do not fish. Not only do I find it kind of boring, but I don't see the point when I don't like to eat basically anything that lives in water. However, I was happy to go along and watch with Grandma Jo and the dogs.

We went to a small state park with a fishing pond. This has become a favorite hang out spot for the grandparents since buying the "cabin." Grandpa rented poles for the boys, and taught them how to cast. I did end up getting involved since it grossed Liam out to put the giant night crawlers on the hooks. In addition to the worms, we used these colored marshmallows that I think were flavored.

Scooter enjoyed hanging out by the water, and Bella lounged on Grandma's lap.

It was probably due to the time of day, but the fish weren't really biting. Liam and Tomas each got a few nibbles, but the fish ended up taking the worms and enjoying lunch. Finally, near the end of our stay and on our last worm, Liam caught a fish.

Grandpa took the hook out and put the fish on the rope. As soon as Liam saw the blood running out from the fish's gills, he turned very pale. He was completely creeped out watching the fish depart this life. I got him to pose for this photo, but he did not want anything more to do with the fish.

Even though the end was a little bit traumatic, we had a fantastic afternoon with Grandma and Grandpa.

Back at the cabin, Grandpa cleaned the fish, and we took it back home. Later in the week, Katie fried the fish up and said it was delicious. I, of course, was not home since the only thing worse than eating fish is having to smell it.

March 11, 2013

Volleyball and Upper Lip Plumage

This past weekend, the Student Alumni from BYU-Idaho came down to do a sort of exchange with my students. It turned out to be a good experience for all. We learned a lot; they learned a lot. I just wish we could do the same with BYU-Hawaii and travel there, of course. But, I have my doubts.

On Friday night, the whole group went to a BYU men's volleyball game against Cal Baptist. Liam also came along with me. Currently, our team is ranked number one in the country. This is awesome, especially since our football and basketball teams didn't amount to a whole lot this year.

As we watched the game, we noticed a scrappy player on our team who looked like he stepped right out of the 70s. He was only about my height which isn't very tall for a volleyball player. His hair was a little longer, and he sported a sweet Magnum P.I. mustache. He was really good and fun to watch, so we started cheering extra for him.

During a break between matches, I saw a gentleman wearing what at first I thought was an Obama shirt. I thought this man was really brave to wear something like that at BYU (although I do possess such a garment). But as he came closer over to my side of the building, I could see that it was a picture of the mustached volleyball player. I told the guy I really liked his shirt. He turned out to be the player's dad. The dad also had a lip toupee. He told me I should grow a mustache and gave me a T-shirt. There were only two problems: 1) I tried a mustache once, and the experience was NOT good. 2) The T-shirt was a medium, a size I haven't worn since junior high.

BYU dominated the match winning three straight sets easily. Liam and I had such a fun time, and Katie and Tomas decided they wanted to attend Saturday's match. But this time, Tomas and I decided to have a little extra fun.

Tomas wore the T-shirt I got, and I picked up a couple of fake mustaches for Tomas and I to wear. Tomas got TONS of compliments, while most people looked at me like I was some kind of a weirdo. Yep, mustaches, real or fake, look pretty lame on me.

Tomas and Ryan "The Stache" Boyce
BYU won again on Saturday. I think we're going to be attending a lot more volleyball games this semester, and we saved the mustaches for further use to cheer on "The Stache" and BYU.

March 07, 2013

Photography Assignment #4

This week's assignment was a portrait. Almost all of the portraits I've done have been outside in natural lighting. I decided I wanted to try more of an indoor "studio" look. I hung a sheet on the wall and tried to use my external flash. I don't really know how to use the external flash, and the instructions are in Chinese (but I got it for darn cheap). It was a bunch of trial and error. We won't be covering external lighting in this class, so I'm going to have to do some online research or find a book at the library.

My model, Liam, was a barely willing. I'm just happy he combed his hair. It was a rushed session, and smiling was not part of Liam's plan. I had to enlist Katie's help to get him talking about something funny. That's how I got the one smiling shot.

Liam got a bunch of bow ties for Christmas. He sports one to school several times a week. He's created his own style. I decided to copy him and now have a couple of bow ties myself. I think this annoys him slightly, but I consider it part of my duty as a father to annoy my children.

In the words of Dr. Who, "Yeah, it's cool, bow ties are cool." I never seen a complete episode of Dr. Who, but I'm connected to several science fiction sorts on Facebook who have written this quote.
I can't wait for spring with warmer weather and longer day light hours to get out and do some more portrait work. And maybe I'll get around to cleaning out the garage to use as a make shift studio. Maybe.

March 01, 2013

Photography Assignment #3

This week's assignment was all about aperture, which is all about the depth of field. For the photos using a large aperture (things up close are in focus and then go blurry further away), I chose to use Liam with a guitar and Tomas with the piano.

The following photo is the one I chose to submit for the assignment.

For the small aperture photo (everything near and far is in focus), I ran into some difficulties. I went down by the lake to take some photos. After being sternly talked to by a grumpy old farmer telling me I couldn't take photos of his cows, I snapped a few photos of the mountains and trees. I didn't take too many shots because it was windy and bitingly cold. However, when I got back home and popped the SD card into the computer, I realized I forgot to switch back the ISO settings from when I was playing around with them in class. All my photos ended up grainy. Ugh...

I have not had a lot of extra time this past week, so to complete the assignment, I ended up taking a break from work to run over to the bell tower on campus to take these. They're not my favorite shots and I can't wait till Spring, but these photos fulfilled the assignment.

This is an OK photo, but I've seen a lot of this same shot by other photographers.

This is the photo I chose to submit because there are three distances.