Family June 2014

Family June 2014
After Grandpa Manning's Funeral

Sunday, December 14, 2014

XMAS 2014 Letter and Translation

Each paragraph in white text is as was included in the letter sent out with our card.  Following each is a rough translation in blue text.

Wow, that was fast. Richard must have voted for Pedro. The vampire facilitated visits to my blackfish, but not the one on CNN, where, among other things, he heard some inspiring tunes tripping down a Moorish alleyway of sorts, which caused him to want to imitate the really big wheel cyclist only to learn that it’s a lot harder than it looks, where he saw that Germany is not confined to a place on the map, and neither is England by the way  (did that kid really want pudding?), nor Spain; to that place where they are still working on that big holy family to learn that gaudy is not merely a decorating style, well, actually, they aren’t one in the same; one was around long before the other; they don’t have the Olympics every year but that event isn’t in the Olympics anyway – at least he tried, but he was so mean!; there is also one of those places under  the Y. Richard realized he needed a formaldehyde detector very late in the year (thank you Facebook friends! – good thing you can buy them on Amazon), does anyone have a recommendation for the best type?  But, voting for Pedro does have lots of benefits, even if ultimately becoming an orphan isn’t one of them; which under the right circumstances is not so bad, in fact, a good thing. Being platinum isn’t what it used to be, Mr. Tin Man. He also realized that time isn’t necessarily monotonic, and that it can be mind-expanding and entertaining to contemplate and practice that realization. The bucket list still has three – maybe next year – and the nonsense could go on forever, especially given the nonmonotonicity of time, but probably shouldn’t. When the hive is empty there is less noise so the drone can drone on, you know – good thing? Vampires, unlike pirates, aren’t real, but they can do good things for you. Wear some pants on your head for style, he said. Can anyone help him write a book about hats? Evidently not.

Richard noticed when he wrote 12/13/14 on a check and realized it was the last sequential date for some time to come. Probably last in his lifetime, no? Time flies whether you are having fun or not, but he is (we are) indeed having fun. All his wildest dreams really have come true - well almost all
 : ). Work is engaging and demanding, but  he likes that, and likes the people he works with. Rich and Roch managed to get away to Barcelona and Mallorca. Rich was in Barca on business and Roch tagged along for a few extra days. Barca is a beautiful and fun city, with things like Sagrada Familia being more impressive than expected, and lots of other interesting stuff. Mallorca is cool, but not quite Hawaiiesque; We went there for a weekend and found enclaves from various European countries, dominated by their language and vacation styles. We also accumulated lots of miles visiting existing and new grandchildren in Montana and Walnut Creek, and Rich reclaimed platinum status on Delta, but not Diamond, alas, which is where the real perks lie. In Walnut Creek one visit, we were on hand when Arrin delivered Jonah Carl Baron on March 25 in California. He is a bundle of energy and a cute little boy, often making everyone tired because he's too curious to want to sleep for long. Hopefully he's learning that skill now. Harper and Sam are also tons of fun - cute and smart as can be and no doubt tired of having pictures taken of them all the time. The entire family got together for Thanksgiving in Walnut Creek and most of us ran the Turkey Trot 5K Thanksgiving morning. Rich and Roch alternated pushing the running stroller with Harper and Sam aboard. During the race, upon encountering a group of about 5 high school age girls walking not so fast side by side, taking up most of the running path and asking them if they could let him through, Rich heard one of them step aside, but say, "that's so mean!"  Not certain she was talking about him, but it was California, you know, even if not SoCal.  Well, that's enough of that. On a more somber note, both of Rich's parents passed away this year, his father in June (on Father's Day) and his mother in October. They lived long, wonderful and blessed lives and it was a sweet experience to celebrate their lives with friends and family.   Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas (the last three states on Rich's bucket list) will have to wait for 2015. Rich has a book about a hat that he wants to write, but nobody will help him. Maybe that means they have more sense than he does. But he is pretty good at hat making, just check out some of those photos.

Rochelle looked way up for nearly three hours and said, “Wow, I am really short!” When did that happen? Was it in 2001? She never got into that one so much, but mind expansion is good. How much did she like Seals and Croft? I guess we’ll have to see, but for now, it’s over the rainbow. Sprogs are good enough to keep you busy a lot of the day, or three, she thinks, those of others’ that is. Those of her own sprogs are better in two week increments. Rocket ships are fascinating, especially when they are really water towers, among other misunderstandings. Talent comes in many forms. Some people can sing. Other people can dance. Still other people can be on TV. Did she vote for Pedro?  It isn’t Oahu after all – good thing. Did she want to go to the Olympics, where Rochelle proved her bravery and nearly ended up out there with Will Robinson – good thing the robot was nearby and was that guy really like that? Well, why did they put nuts in that small river and why is the large firmament so cold? Probably because that’s where the best sprogs are – good thing. Where’s Tom Sawyer when you need him? Is he at the beach in the Old Dominion, or is it a Commonwealth? Good thing Martha came along; Washington? It’s never too late for a little education in construction techniques, nursing or elephant riding, or for getting everyone together at the old stomping ground, even if it gets really dark. Is that the Air Force? Real pirates aren’t cute. 

We also went to a few movies, among them Interstellar, which made quite an impression on us. Rochelle in particular, because the only seats left were on the front row of an Imax theater. We both came away with sore necks, but impressed with the show. Rich tried his hand at making a musical instrument, appealing to Rochelle's cousin and master maker, to help make a mandolin for Rochelle's birthday - it's the thought that counts. This was inspired by a lute player we heard on Mallorca. Rich being naive, thought the two might sound somewhat similar.  Wrong.  We spent  a couple of weeks (or so) of the summer at family reunions in Utah, with Rochelle being in charge of one of her family's parties. Lots of work, but a good day with Rich being able to throw water on people like the good old days. Roch almost got lost in Barcelona one day when she was venturing out on her own but found a woman in a grocery store that spoke English so she made it back on the right train. That's good.  Later, Rich heard a story of a wife of one of the people at his meeting that had been assaulted on the street in the city. Good thing for that robot. Rochelle spearheaded staining a new 6' fence that surrounds our back yard. Rich's initial estimate was that it would be a 1/2 day job. Wrong, by a factor of about 20. Fortunately Roch did most of the work. Nobody came by to help. We also went to the beach in southern Virginia with Rachel and family, toppling both Harper and Sam in the surf, which was more fun than they realized at the time. The 12 and 13 year old girls from our church (whom Rochelle teaches) talked us into taking them to the same beach one Saturday. Fun, but exhausting - none of them is named Martha. Rochelle was also recruited to teach part time at a local pre-school, sound familiar? She's very popular. Rochelle spent three weeks in India with Rising Star Outreach, working with people afflicted with Leprosy. It was a world rocking experience, leaving her never to be the same. Among other things, she, helpped dig a latrine, and rode an elephant. 

Rachel, Shiloh, Harper, Sam and the other brother: How close is 5.5/9 to 1.0? Most of the year spent tripping big time, then off to Bobcat land finally. Cool kids: fun, smart, cute, really nice. You have to be there to understand. How did the whales swim? How about sea lions? Does that cross really fit? At least the dog is the same color, but the drive is longer now. Snow, don’t go to China, or Nigeria.

We are so happy that Rachel is expecting a baby boy in April.  Rachel's family spent most of their year in Great Falls, Montana, but recently moved to Bozeman, Montana.  They really do have great children.  They had a chance to walk the hills of Wales on a vacation.  When at home they are both occasionally found at a Cross Fit gym.  Shiloh had work assignments that he thought were going to take him overseas, but they ended up not happening. 

Chris and Kasey: Swimming with sharks to Havana? How about being a Maverick and building a bridge? Stand next to giants and don’t swing. Cook spaghetti and charge a cell phone in the wilderness that is. Still on the farm? Probably not for long. Make a battery out of soap. Can they really do that? It depends how clean you want to get. Do they want pictures of that?

Chris got a job with a company called Power Practical - a startup in Salt Lake that was on Shark Tank recently and made a deal with Mark Cuban. The company makes a cooking pot that generates electricity and Chris has been setting up tests to see how well it will work as a primary power source for people in developing countries who don't have power in their homes - he also helped make the prototype for this battery and wrote the words for the kickstarter page:

Kasey got a job with an engineering firm in Dallas and goes to a lot of Maverics games. She's very happy there and the plan is that Chris will join her there in the next few months. 

Arrin, Marcus and Jonah: Tried to sneak that past the whale. What kind of dog is that? Mind the gap, as they say across the pond, but that pond is really big. Investing, but not in the bank. Mind the gap, I said. Funny that you can see the mountains better from the creek than from the peninsula, and the train ride is shorter, and grandmas live closer, one more-so than the other.

Arrin and Marcus had a son named Jonah. Jonah is a happy, energetic boy who loves the water and their dog, Juno, who has an unusual look. Marcus works for Deloitte, and often travels internationally for work. His passport now has stamps from Portugal, Germany, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Vietnam, Brazil, The Netherlands and Saudi Arabia. Arrin is no longer working in finance and is now working at Gap inc. in Inventory Management where she's found a work-life balance. They live in Walnut Creek, a train ride away from San Francisco and a short drive away from Grandma and Grandpa Barton.    

Ben: Doesn’t look like he carries a ring in his pocket. How many economists can fit into one family? Good thing there wasn’t any oncoming traffic. He wasn’t on TV; studying too hard. Visits to the vampire provide a little pocket change. Say cheese, and don’t mind that there’s a bush in the way. Philanthropy fits on the map, if you can find it. Profit is OK with me, him?

Ben doesn't have a girlfriend, and dabbled with the idea of studying economics at BYU. After a long night and a day on the lake with some friends, he fell asleep at the wheel while driving on the highway, luckily there wasn't oncoming traffic and escaped just having had an expensive nap. He wasn't on TV in the student section at the basketball game because he was at the library preparing for an exam. He's been working with a company that tracks the locations of international aid projects, providing the information in a format that can be easily accessed for researchers and those responsible for allocating aid funding. He's also been taking photos as a side-profession, but we think he should charge more than he does; you can see his work at

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Christmas Letter 2013 with Rough Translation

“Excuse me, are you from Namgoong?” the unknown lady in the lobby of the building asked.  “No, but why do you ask?” he said.  “Oh, just curious I guess.  I thought you looked a bit like that man on The Sound of Music and it is New Year’s Day, after all” she said.  “Ah, I understand” he said, but did he really?  Rich puzzled over that brief conversation for several weeks.  Ultimately, he told Rochelle about it and said it might be a sign that they should leave the hi-rise living behind and look for a house to buy.  The Sound of Music has long been a favorite of Rochelle’s so she immediately started looking at properties in Austria.  Having identified one in Salzburg and another in Vienna that looked appealing, she made offers on each, subject to strict contingencies.  Vienna, won out, but the contingency was that it relocate to Virginia to shorten Rich’s commute. The contingency was satisfied so there we are. Construction zone city, but without five sides, has a slightly longer commute, but is quite tolerable.  And there is the nearby jungle and wildlife sanctuary.  And so we tinker a bit, but not nearly as much as the past two houses.  We don’t have a farm, you know, so we made sure we had our two-year supply of water.  He took note as he wrote 11/12/13.  Rich and Roch hopped a bicycle built for about 1.75 (given depreciation) but they rounded to 2 and went rolling up and down the path.  The weather, beach and scenery were nice; they looked but didn’t find Amelia even though they nearly crashed more than once.  He was driving.  There was some fun involved, but also lots of driving.  It probably is a good thing in the end that she didn’t really want to see the sun come up over Santa Monica Boulevard. Nevertheless, always the more.  Why doesn’t anyone say that?  They say lots of other things.  How about doing the windy city dance and having real deep dish pizza?  It really does get too cold there, global warming notwithstanding, or something without sitting. It’s a good thing Rochelle at least doesn’t tweet.  She and Rich do the T-24, or 23 sometimes – occasionally all the way to 25.  A little rounding isn’t so bad, as demonstrated on the beach; we don’t need to splash.  Children everywhere really love the music, but mostly love feeling loved, and she is a star.

You know, when the kids have all moved out, there isn’t as much to write about so you have to make up more stuff.  Actually, nobody asked about Namgoong or any other such place (actually, there isn't such a place), or the Sound of Music, but there were some rather odd interactions with fellow residents in our otherwise nice high-rise apartment building in Pentagon City.  So after about 6 months of apartment living, Rochelle and I decided to buy a house.  Despite many people urging us to live in the city, we settled on a new house in Vienna, Virginia which is a suburb directly west of the city.  We relocated in March so if you didn't get our change of address card, drop us a line.  The commute is very civilized and tolerable – about 30 minutes by train – and so far predictable and easy to do.  It’s nice to have a yard and a place to tinker, but having a new house means there isn’t much I can do to get my do-it-yourself fix.  We’ve still managed to find some small things to do and reasons to go to Home Depot.  The town has many 1950’s era houses that are being knocked down and rebuilt.  We are in one of those, and have new houses being built on either side of us, and one directly across the street that will be knocked down soon.  So we live in a construction zone. There is a bamboo grove in the neighbor’s yard that houses a large flock of somewhat chatty birds in the evening, and some other local not-so wildlife keeps it from being too quiet.  Most of the travel was to visit children and grandchildren so no globetrotting to report, but we did spend an afternoon riding a somewhat dilapidated tandem bike up and down the beach in Santa Monica, which was fun and educational.  Following the tradition in which Rochelle was raised, we also took two trips to see BYU’s football team lose at UVA and at Notre Dame, the latter on an exceptionally cold and snowy day.  We salvaged the trip by having deep dish spinach and mozzarella pizza at Edwardo’s.  If you haven’t ever had it, you don’t know what deep dish pizza really is – and shouldn’t pretend to know – sorry.  We spent some time doing the Insanity workouts and T25, but our enthusiasm for the latter is limited.  We’re just not young or fast enough.  One day at church I asked a 10 year old girl how old she thought I was.  75 was her answer.  So much for T25.  We’ve gone back to running.  Rochelle has had some very good experiences teaching young children in local elementary and pre-schools on a part-time basis.  She takes an autoharp and a ukulele with her and charms the kids with her tunes.  After one such visit, an 8 year old boy asked if he could “connect” with her online.  She broke the kid’s heart, I’m sure.  She does have an extraordinary talent at helping children feel loved, and the kids love her for it.   

Rachel, Sam, Harper, Shiloh, Atti.  Only one is a dog.  Harper is getting ready for the Kentucky Derby and Sam is about ready for the marathon.  Neither is very close to the triathalon yet, sprint or otherwise.  Living in Montana usually means that there is a tent.  And there is always Grandpa Cowboy with pony rides and other fragrant experiences.  You’ll have to check in with Rachel to see how she feels about tucking and rolling to avoid the face plant. She is brave, and her kids are remarkably good at being have, in addition to being fun and smart and pleasant, mostly, and tall completely; maybe they wear Shiloh’s jeans.  The words are there but not the pictures; Grandpa wishes he could draw.

Rachel and family are still in Great Falls, MT.  We’ve seen them a few times and Rachel and kids came to spend some weeks with us, but we would like to see more of them still.  Fortunately, their other grandparents are close and have lots of fringe benefits to offer – such as a Shetland Pony for Harper to ride, and lots of other cattle auction-related activity.  Sam is a walker/runner but neither Harper nor Sam are much for actual swimming yet.  Rachel accompanied Rich and Rochelle and Roch’s family on a mountain biking trip near Yellowstone and Rachel went over the bars on the way down.  Fortunately she tucked her head and rolled, managing not to be hit by other riders or rocks, etc.  That turned out to be fortunate as two other riders in our group ended up with pretty serious head injuries taking similar spills.  Harper and Sam are both taller than average, so they didn’t get Rochelle’s genes.  They are also very funny, smart and cute.  Harper is adept at politely explaining why things should be done her way.  Sam is learning how to manipulate things in his own quiet way but both are very well behaved.  Rich penned the text of a children’s book based on one visit, but can’t draw well enough to make it real. 

Arrin, Marcus, Juno and 5/9.  Only one is a dog, and the lady of the house/apartment doesn’t evidently believe much in rounding.  The bank required a lot of investment; so will a sprog. One of the 3.556 is lanky and curly, kind of like Marcus, who does the run, splash and roll.  He also does Y-Gnacio regularly, and maybe even goes to Manning’s occasionally – he’s in the right part of the world often enough.  By April, there should be no more need for rounding, some people really are named Gomez, or Smedly, but nobody is really named Enzyme as far as we can tell, so that’s out, so is Chocolate Zane.

Arrin and Marcus moved from Mountain View to Walnut Creek, CA midway through the year.  They got a puppy (Australian Shepherd/Standard Poodle mix) named Juno.  Juno is a lanky dog who loves being with Arrin and Marcus. Arrin and Marcus take her to the dog park often and she is pretty well behaved.  Arrin also expect to add to the grandchildren in March of next year, but is showing absolutely no externally evident signs of that.  She hasn’t been sick, and the ultrasound confirms that there is a little Marcus cooking, but you wouldn’t know it.  After a little more than a year, she decided the investment banking world wasn’t for her so she is looking for a more family friendly place to work.  She seems to have some interesting prospects, but no deal yet.  Marcus is doing well at his job, traveling a great deal to Asia and other places (Mannings, by the way, is a pharmacy chain in Hong Kong), and earning lots of frequent flyer miles.  He also runs marathons and triathlons regularly.  I don’t understand how he manages that.  They are stumped for names for the bun, but don’t seem very impressed by Rich’s efforts to help on that front.

Chris, Kasey, Banjo, Scout.  Only two are dogs, but one was an Eagle.  Where does he live?  Sodium Chloride Big Hydrogen Dioxide Body, The Old Dominion (that was a really big storm that wrecked that game), That City That Might Be In Maine?  Take your pick, depending.  He got the red to go with the dark blue and hopes to add plenty of green to go with them.  He talks to a lot of people, helps with the homework and cleans up some, especially after the Scout. Kasey spends a lot of time with Gru, Cmu and Gre. She's almost done being red, and is deciding what color to be next and for how long. Banjo is better than Scout, but that depends on whom you ask.

Christopher finished his MBA at the U of U in June and has moved from SLC to Virginia to Oregon and back to SLC over the months since.  He was profiled nicely in the Eccles School Alumni Magazine and has had several interesting job prospects, but hasn’t found the right one yet.  He is doing part time work for a couple of start-ups while he continues the search.  He and his dog, Scout, traveled the country together, with Kasey (Chris’ girlfriend) and Banjo (the other dog) staying put in SLC.  Kasey has been very busy at school and working as a nanny. In May she will have completed her degree in civil engineering and is applying to PhD programs now.  Scout and Banjo are relatively good dogs who listen to their owners most of the time. 

Ben.  None is a dog.  He’ll be taking off the tag before 14, actually probably on 17. He’s been quiet for so long that it isn’t clear what Harper will think when he starts talking.  How will he adjust to the cold, the snow and the letter on the mountain?  Will they still use the same colors, the same light, the same numbers? Will it be an all-boys school? I guess he’ll just have to find in or out?

Elder Ben Manning returns from his 2 year mission for the LDS church on December 17.  A full-sized cutout picture of him has been standing in the corner of our house for the past two years and it will be great to see him and have him home in the flesh for a few weeks before he goes back to Provo to continue school at BYU.  Harper (remember she was just barely 2 when he left) has commented on Ben’s cutout by saying, “Ben is being quiet, he’s on a mission” – funny.  Ben will continue working on a photography degree and thinking about other majors to go with it to broaden his appeal on the job market someday.  Will he find a girlfriend on a campus with lots of girls his age out on missions of their own?  Stand by till next year.
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The Green version is really boring, but Merry Christmas anyway.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

XMAS Letter 2012 with Rough Translation

Twenty dozen.  Richard drove halfway around the world without getting wet once.  If you check out Google maps, you’ll see what a feat that is.  He stopped just outside the nation’s capital but goes inside most days.  Halfway up the mountain was good enough for a first try, and the trees really are tall.  The roof is also a lot taller than it used to be, the lawn doesn’t need mowing, and the pool is shared with any number of his closest friends.  At least he doesn’t have to clean it or worry about a bear taking a swim with him, but there was the Binjabed Man.  He hasn’t exercised in about 203 years, but he keeps saying he will start again soon.  If you lose a ton on your house, you don’t have as much to lose elsewhere.  We’ll see if he dies first or becomes an expert.  When the kids are all gone, there isn’t as much to write about, but who advises him on his wardrobe? 

2012.  Richard took a new job at an economics consulting firm in Washington DC beginning the end of January and drove back to NJ most weekends until August when the house was finished and sold  (big loss) and Rochelle moved down to DC to join him.  They are living in a nice hi-rise apartment building for the time being just outside the District in Arlington, VA.  The commute on the Metro is wonderful and a nice shopping mall is just across the street so XMAS shopping is pretty easy.  He and Rochelle went to visit Arrin's in laws this summer and they took him biking halfway up Mount Diablo.  He didn't die, but will someday.   Harper and family enjoyed coming to the building to swim in the pool and otherwise enjoy the amenities while their house was under construction in advance of their sale - more below.  Driving on the weekends put him in a sedentary habit that he hasn't shaken yet.  The new job is good, but his first gig as a testifying expert ended with the client winning the case before he testified. Harper provided frequent insightful commentary on his clothing before moving away.  Once when I walked into her house wearing a new shirt, Harper (then about 2 1/2) looked up and said, "nice shirt Grandpa."  I was impressed.

Rochelle didn’t kill or do bodily harm to anyone but herself, but she was tempted.  At least we sold the house before Sandy came to visit.  She vows never to do that again.  Irene and previous visitors left enough of an impression.  The basement was cleaned out, the leftovers were sold on the webbernet, and it was full time grandma for a about a quarter until Hanna called and took them all away.  Does she want a house?  If so, where?  Does she want to sing or cook again?  She can barely resist the temptation to eat those greens before the go into the machine thing.  The party was the most fun she had all year, and then there was that guy without a head in the magazine that could also play the drums.  The pomp was sufficient for the circumstance, and there weren’t leftovers to take out in the snow.   

Rochelle spent much of the year overseeing yet another remodeling project with many frustrations with our builder and subcontractors.   A project that was supposed to start in July (2011) and end before Christmas, began in September (2011) and came to a merciful end in July (2012) just in time to put the house on the market.  At least we finished with the same contractor we started with - small consolation.  We will not undertake a major remodel again.  The hurricaines and other storms that came through during the year proficed interesing opportunities to serve others and to see the destructive power of nature.  She was glad we were gone before Sandy came along.  After spending most of her life downsizing - selling and giving away much of the stuff that fills a big house - selling the house in August and moving to the Arlingotn, VA to join Richard in a 2 BR apartment, she spent a lot of time being grandma to Rachel's kid(s).  Shortly after arriving in Arlington, however, she learned that Rachel and Shiloh were going to be moving to Montana.  She was sad that day.  Now she tries to decide whether to buy a house or stay in an apartment, whether to eat food or drink vegetable juice, whether to sing or dance like a psychotic.  Earlier in the year, in addition to doing the house, she did the wedding planner thing for Arrin and Marcus.  Multiple venues, but it was a lot of fun, and better planned (especially the weather) than Rachel's SLC reception so not so much food left over.

Rachel got a Ram Sam Sam now to go with the Binjabed Man.   Oh, Shiloh got a call from Hanna so away they ran from the grandparents.  Probably because they wouldn’t adopt the dog.  The Ram and Harp are pretty entertaining.  The Harp can’t get Rochelle to guess what, but she knows when her birthday is and last we heard, she wants to go home now.   The Ram eats and grows, is sparing with words, but does get that goolie goolie type look on his face from time to time.  Rapunzel and Eugene got some candy, but the hair was itchy.  
July 5 Rachel gave birth to Samuel Frederick Allen.  Sam and Harper (the Binjabed Man is Harper's version of Gingergread Man - long story).  Shortly after the grandparents relocated, Shiloh got an opportuinty to transfer to Montana, which he (and Rachel) obviously accepted.  Harper is learning to tell jokes, pretty funny.  She just turned 3.  Sam still looks kind of goofy, like most baby boys do, but in a charming way.  He's tall and eats much.  Wants to stand, but not yet.  Harper is in love with all things princess.  She has several, of which her favorite seems to be Rapunzel, whom she dressed up like for Halloween.  Euguene is a useful tag along.  The kids are very entertaining.  The parents are good too, but not nearly as interesting to talk about.  They live in Great Falls Montana; we don't.   

Chris spent the summer flying the alphabet.  The rest of the year, he did other stuff, like played with his dogs, typed on a computer, talked to people and ate bread.  Working on the railroad, working all day long, working, working, working, working, working, working, working!  Pancakes cooked in cabbage juice, those guys just think it’s swell, but if you ever eat the stuff, you’ll think you’ve gone to Toledo.  Which football team is really better, U or Y?  Does he know Tommy Smothers and e-commerce?  What’s the negotio?
Chris is now in the second year of his MBA at the U of Utah.  He had an interesting summer internship at a financial holding company.  He adopted a second dog, worked hard at school and at the internship and worked and worked more.  In addition to the official student duties, he worked on some volunteer things that have benefited the university and community, and he put together a football game between U of U and BYU MBAs.  If I recall, the red won, and there was typical pleasantness and good sportsmanship on all sides - did you ever see a church basketball game?  The first game ended (2011?); that was good.  The second (2012) was snowed out - at least until it could be rescheduled.  He has an intersting idea for starting a new business.  We're all excited to see his enthusiasm and anxious to see how it goes!!!
Arrin became a Barton, but not a Dumb one.  She crosses that bridge when she gets to it.  Riding to the top of the mountain in the rain, not the chocolate type.  Why doesn’t Marcus have a head in that picture?  Is that really her father’s daughter?  That’s what being an econ major will do for you.  How’s the sour dough out there?  Is there anytime to play in the sun after the work is done?  Seems not so much.  She always did want to go to Crete, but the rattlesnake wasn’t part of the plan.  She made the party lots of fun for all. 

March 23, Arrin married Marcus Barton and relocated with him to the Bay Area after graduation (she in Econ) from BYU in the spring.  She works in Palo Alto and he in San Jose or San Francisco depending on what is going on at the firm he works for.  She drives across various Bay Area bridges from time to time.  Do you know their names?  One of them is the Dumbarton Bridge.  She rode to the top of Mount Diablo in a driving rain storm, she was put on the cover of the BYU Bridal Guide - quite a nice glossy photo - greatly resembling her father : ), who thought she ought to be on the cover of the Econ Department Magazine too : ).  She works very hard and long hours.  Her parents wonder if they would be able to do it if they were her.  They had a nice honeymoon cruise and she was attacked by a baby rattlesnake outside the in-laws' house - thank goodness for thick jeans, which saved her from being bit.  And she made the wedding reception(s) a ton of fun for all.

Ben is in the burbs of Sin City.  He’s not oldest, and not youngest, so kind of like older the way the dragon was named.  He wears a tie, he carries books and doesn’t get paid.  Learning a lot and helping people is a great deal.  He appears to love what he’s doing, and so do we.  Snail mail occasionally, email most of the time.  Give us another year or so and a couple of phone calls.

Ben is serving as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) in the Nevada, Las Vegas mission.  We get weekly email updates and occasional letters.  He is having a wonderful experience.  We're all happy for that and look forward to talking to him on Christmas day. 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

"Xmas" letter 2011 with translation

OK, OK, OK, so you didn’t get this letter in 2011. We understand the disappointment. Hopefully your misfortune wasn’t compounded by being in an earthquake, being flooded out, having your dog get stuck in a vat of glue or burning your toast in the morning. Who liked eleven anyway? Did we even go on vacation? On to 12 we go, and if you are lucky, you won’t be in a hurricane and you’ll receive another fine letter in December of this year. As always, Rochelle wants you to see the translation at: it should be there in a few days.

As they often do, things got crazy toward the end of the year, but this year crazier than ever before so we just didn't write a Christmas letter. We also didn't have a Christmas tree in our house, and Richard had to stop Rochelle from selling our artificial tree online. We didn't go on a vacation that anyone can remember, but we did spend a week at the beach in Delaware, and we drove the length of North Dakota, and we had lots of fun in various places, including home. We had lots of interesting weather events during the year, including a hurricane, major rain storms that flooded areas around us, but fortunately not us, an early heavy snow that dropped some limbs off trees, etc. We were able to join others in the Mormon Helping Hands effort to clean up after these events and found that interesting and enjoyable. Some of the homes we worked on had been in 10 feet of standing water for extended periods. Sheetrock and other building materials don't do well in such conditions. If you are reading this, you have already made Rochelle happy.

The walls creaked, the desk kind of wobbled and he got kind of dizzy. Later he heard the bells were ringing in DC.     The new C guy sent a video.   As a consequence, Richard joined the 9% in November and then got on the phone, the train and the airplane. Lots of meetings. Two people named Mike, but what happened to the other three?   Come February, will it be Idaho Avenue without a coat having fun until the sun comes up, or taking the risk of being buried yet again in white, this time following the Snow?  Let’s hope he likes it. In the process he got a close up look at the 99% and wondered what they wanted. Who needs a vacation when you can spray the guests in the back yard? Who needs to pay too much for a house when you can dump money into a renovation? Did the Archer shoot at you?

Richard felt the earthquake from his office at the major pharma company located in Whitehouse Station, NJ (he has learned that he shouldn't put company names in his blog so he doesn't). For as minor as the shaking was it was interesting that it made him queasy, almost nauseous. Earlier in the year, the company's new CEO announced a new round of cutbacks and corporate restructuring. Richard naively thought he would be safe, being the only one doing what he did, and having been recruited to the company just over a year before to do just what he was doing... WRONG. The day before Thanksgiving was his last at that company so he started calling people he knew, traveling a lot talking about new opportunities, etc. and landing some interesting offers. He also got a close up look at some of the "occupy" encampments. Interesting, to say the least. The most interesting jobs turned out to be in Santa Monica, CA and Washington, DC. He chose one in the latter - he'll be a partner in an economics consulting firm in DC. Let's hope we don't get stuck in the snow down there like we did this past year. We hope Rachel and Shiloh don't tire of us being too close. Moving there also reveres a long trend of a friend from grad school who formerly had followed Richard to three places of school/employment/residence. This friend (nameless out of respect for privacy) also works at the firm. Richard started writing the novel he has long thought he would write and learned that it is a lot harder to write fiction than he realized. He decided to just stick to nonsense - his standard genre.

Rochelle doesn’t remember the first half of the year because she was up before the sun, but not after June, for which she is grateful – even if the building didn’t start until September. She got to see the harp more often that way. She really must like dust and mud, and sheetrock soaked in water, and the sound of hammers. She is really not a hoarder; how much stuff can she sell? Sing a solo, do a dance for old folks – no problem. Make spaghetti? Well, that’s another matter. Decorate a Christmas tree? Forget about it. Let the trucks keep you up at night? No thanks. Some challenges are difficult, and the accompanying miracles small and large difficult to describe. Sometimes listening to your husband is actually a good idea. Let’s hope they are done before February ends.

Rochelle was freed from the responsibility of teaching early morning seminary (religious instruction for high school kids in our church) as of June. She has few memories outside that experience (which she says she enjoyed) due to sleep deprivation.   One reason she quit teaching is that we were supposed to start construction on a major renovation of the house in May or June to be completed in November or December. It actually didn't start until September and is still going on. We live in dust, we have no kitchen (hence no real cooking), no oven, no stove and only partial bathrooms (some with water-type facilities, others with lights, but none with both - until yesterday. Our family room is a construction zone and our living room is full of furniture from other rooms. No Xmas tree. Sounds kind of familiar.   Hopefully we're just a few weeks from the end of it all. Then do we sell the house? Maybe. What a drag.  She continued singing with a group of friends at retirement homes, this year featuring a solo performance that made some of the men in the audience swoon.  Arrin took a look at the basement and asked her mother if she was a hoarder so Rochelle started selling some stuff on various websites that exist for such purposes.  In the summer, Rochelle's father passed away after a difficult final few years. Richard convinced her to go spend some time in Pocatello with him and her mother when things were difficult and she was able to be there when he passed. She experienced some tender moments better left to her to discuss in person.

Rachel, Shiloh, Harper, Atti. The singing harp watches the show and dances and shops and loves noodles and manages the iPad. Now the dog is in the back yard, but the big gate thing is stuck in place, just like Harper sometimes. The jobs seem the same to an outsider, but then, we’ve never been to Manassas on the one hand. On the other hand, there is about half the pay but apparently more like ¾ of the work. Is that a good deal? Maybe if they give you some free spaghetti. Atti is still the dog – but it’s getting lonelier because grandpa is no longer the food wizard and grandma’s affections have gone elsewhere. The basement is becoming a zebra – slowly.

Rachel and family are frequently visited by the grandparents. Even more so toward the end of the year. Harper is hilarious, just like her grandfather. She turned 2 at Thanksgiving time. She sings and dances and says "outta here" with a wave of her hand when you are sitting where she wants to sit. She is a master of Apple technology, knowing how to operate an iPad and iPhone (at least the photos and video components) better than lots of adults. As for Rachel and Shiloh, they seem fine, but really we tend to ignore them anyway. They both work hard, Shiloh and friends/cousins built a nice fence so Attie can spend her days there. Poor Atti is largely ignored by the grandparents now that there is a small human to talk to. Rachel started painting the basement an interesting and attractive pattern, but progress has stalled in recent months.

Chris got into the red, fulfilling a long time dream of beating the blue on the gridiron. Did you see Groundhog Day - how long can you stay 21? Until about mid year, it turns out. In class to make the brain work – going well, and not folding shirts any more. The red car still chugs along – how much longer? Let’s hope there is a car payment on the other end. What is the summer like in NJ by the pool? Why does dad do those things? Chris was an Eagle, but his scout is a dog. It doesn’t look like a sheep. Has it been to Perth? How long can he live in a house? About three months. Then back to an apartment with a pretty good friend and a scout.

Christopher left his job in management at a clothing retailer whose name seems to suggest one can never get to age 22 (remember, no corporate names) and started the MBA program at the University of Utah (I guess it's OK to identify nonprofit organizations).  Still driving the red Passat.  Hoping to get a good summer internship and a good job on the other side of the program.  He has been very involved in student activities, including arranging a football game between the MBAs at the U and the Y (BYU).  The U won.  Evidently there were some hard feelings but that isn't much of a surprise if you have ever seen a Mormon church men's basketball game (the joke is: church ball is the only place you can see a fight start with a prayer).  Chris spent some of the summer with us in NJ, tending to the pool, having a party, being puzzled why his dad can't resist the temptation to spray visitors at the pool with water.  He started the semester living in a house near campus but got an Australian Shepherd named Scout and moved into a new apartment with a friend named Casey.  He seems pretty happy.     suggests

Who is that guy Arrin? At least this red car doesn’t have a NJ license plate – and she doesn’t have to have a NJ drivers license. Working in the man’s hat was fun sometimes, interesting other times, successful all the time, but also a long commute sometimes so NJ wasn’t so bad – especially on the hot summer days by the pool. What is that thing on your finger and why does your class care it was your birthday? What does X’X-1X’Y mean? Is there such a thing as leptosis? Where did Leland J. live? Does he know the way to San Jose or San Juan? You know they don’t have a man’s hat in the Bay. Maybe that’s why the hotel is in that state.

If you look closely, you will see that we have added a new face to the enclosed card. We hope it's not premature. Arrin was engaged to Marcus Barton just before her birthday in November. That allowed her to show off her engagement ring in her econometrics class on her birthday. Her professor isobviously a very friendly fellow. She marries in March, graduates in April and starts a job in Palo Alto, California in July (?), working as an analyst for an investment bank. Marcus is a great guy - a little less noisy than some in our family, but we'll get him used to us. He also graduates in April and has a job in San Jose. So where will they live?

Summer in Perryville, Ben. Not a ton of cash, but a few tips: buy low, sell high; wear black shoes with black pants; take pictures if that’s what you do and they’ll pay you for it, but charge more; get a scholarboat; make friends even in the Garden State. New roomie, new ward, finish the summer and go back to school for one more half – then do the mister merry thing at Xmas time. No more teachers’ dirty looks, no more of many things, but much more of other things for two whole years. What does that camera do? Why do they call it Sin City? Where is Winnemucca? Will he need his coat or his umbrella? We’ll miss him but are happy for his service.

To begin the 2nd semester of his Freshman year, Ben moved down the hall to a new dorm with a new room mate and was in a new student ward (church congregation).  Funny how that works at BYU.  He came to NJ for summer and tried his hand for one day working at a plant nursery but settled in as a member of the wait staff at a swanky restaurant in a town nearby.  He made some money and learned some important life skills - like which spoon  goes where.  He got a scholarship for his photography work, and returned for the first semester of his Sophomore year before leaving on Dec 21 for the Nevada, Las Vegas West mission.  He'll be gone for two years.  The mission includes the western half of the city (clever naming, no?) and about the western half of the state, plus slivers of California and Oregon.  We miss him already and pray for his success and happiness.

To keep Rochelle happy, etc....

That's all there is.  Happy New Year!!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Christmas Letter 2010 Including Rough Translation

Ten, Ten, Ten. Where were you? We weren’t where we used to be. Some wonder where Eleven, Eleven, Eleven will be. Or even Twelve, Twelve, Twelve. Those are rational numbers, why shouldn't I be? Shouldn't you be able to get Avogadro's number at the information booth at the airport if you traveled all that way and didn't see the Yankees? Did you realize that the price of cotton is lower today than it was during the Civil War? Is that why DI has cheap clothes? The more you learn, the less room there is in your brain for other stuff. The best part of the vacation to Blackfoot was the world potato museum. Make sure to get your picture taken there. Rochelle wants you to see the translation at:

So this is 2010. On October 10, we were living in a new house in a new place, wondering if we would be able to adjust. Richard and Rochelle did try some to shake things up, by traveling to BYU football games, etc. On a trip to Dallas to see TCU destroy BYU, the Yankees were also being beaten by the Texas Rangers in the ALCS. Richard asked a kid manning the information booth at the airport lots of off the wall questions (e.g., did he know Avagadro's number; what was the price of cotton today v. 150 yrs ago). After 30 years, Rochelle still doesn't understand him and with the kids not around the house she now has more time to wonder - she'll make it, but it's good to start getting old so you can't remember as many things. We also traveled once accidentally without luggage to Utah and ended up buying new wardrobes at a thrift shop. We are now DI fans.

Richard decided he really didn't have enough personality so he loaded up the truck and moved to Green-ville in wawa-land, taking Rochelle along, but leaving A and B behind. No more man hat and less train of one kind, but more of another. No more Shuttle, but more miles. "Be home for dinner in 10, dear." Or in Belgium, or Barcelona doing things that are hard to explain – check him out at: – which one is he? In Green-land there are green logos, green computer desk tops and people who love green. Most people think the license plates are a lie, but far enough west, it's actually true, and beautiful in October. We are pretty far – and he still thinks Rochelle is pretty. He hopes the bears don't find her (or us) on the path – especially at night. Or that we don't find more floating dead than a rabbit. He, at least, is happy. He does wonder, however, what the deal is with living in places named for the Holy Land. Is it natural selection or a cast iron stomach?

Richard was offered a job at a major pharmaceutical company located in Whitehouse Station, NJ so he left the big accounting/consulting firm in Manhattan in June. So he is back in the pharmaceutical industry, working on the economics of the global public policy environment. Whitehouse Station is in western NJ, far from New York, and Connecticut. Have you ever been to a Wawa? Richard went to his first and highly recommends it - just ask Dave J. if you want a second opinion. So Richard had the choice between a 105 minute commute each way (by car) or a move to a better house (at half the price) that is an 8 minute drive from the office. No more commuter train, but frequent Acela trains to DC. More international travel, but no more Delta Shuttle. The decision was a no brainer for Richard - not so much for Rochelle - and it was bye-bye to New Canaan and hello to Lebanon and the wildlife. Western Jersey is really very pretty; not at all like the I-95 corridor, so come and see for yourself and understand the Garden State thing. There are deer galore, an occasional fox or coyote in the street, our neighbor had 5 bears in their back yard last spring, Richard found a dead rabbit floating in the pool one morning, and up one end of our street is a woods that is too scary to walk into in the dark - who knows what lives there. On the big family vacation, while most of the rest were deathly ill from a food-born bug, Richard sailed through unscathed perhaps that's because he ate lots of ketchup sandwiches as a youngster.

Early in the year Rochelle entered the lottery and won a golden yo-yo. She tried again, but walk-the-dog is always a challenge. She really loved the green juice with her old "new" friends, whom she misses. The new "new" friends get together every week and make noise. They shot a video, check them out: Rochelle is up before the sun, but this time the kids are awake and ready to learn, but not sing. She has put some stars on the floor in more than one place. She can walk up a big hill and carry a big stick but can't string a ham on a water ski. She loves the harp even if it is still a little far away and wears a hat. She didn't die, but felt like she wanted to for a day or two. That's what happens when you go to the center of culture or Japan, or have a weak stomach. She didn't get swept away in the tide and is glad we don't have a well, but needs a water filter. Standing on a wobbly board is hard; hitting your face on the board leaves a mark. She doesn't think anyone knows Avogadro's number. Despite her general friendliness, she won't wave at the trucks on I-78 and misses her nest.

Early in the year, Rochelle entered a biggest looser contest with friends in New Canaan and got down to a pre-marriage weight, winning the contest. She did this mostly by living on various concoctions of juiced vegetables. Quite amazing actually. Of course, consistency is the key there, so a month later she had the opportunity to enter a second round of the contest - if you know what I mean; she didn't win this time, but did well. New Jersey, the gateway to Appalachia, is a whole new yo-yo contest. Rochelle has taken up singing with a group of women from our church. They visit elder care centers and do Lawerence Welk-type shows. All the folks love it. Rochelle (along with Arrin and Ben) wasn't exactly thrilled about leaving all her friends in NC, but one thing she looked forward to was not getting up and teaching early-morning seminary (religious instruction for high school kids in our church). Unfortunately, as soon as we arrived in the new location, she was asked to teach seminary again. She is actually liking that a lot, despite the limited sleep (4:45 alarm clock, 6 am start time). It doesn't hurt that they pay her 10 times what she was paid in NC for the same gig - remember your mathematics identities. Moving into the new house gave her the chance to change flooring and prepare to re-do a kitchen and bathrooms. Let's hope we're better at picking contractors than we were last time. She and Richard walk up the road after work when it isn't too dark. A few key health challenges: She pulled a hamstring water skiing in Idaho and spent much of the rest of the year getting over it. She spent two days feeling like death was near after food poisoning in Hawaii - beginning the morning after eating dinner at the Polynesian Cultural Center, but we also visited a Japanese restaurant that day so who knows. The only things we're sure of is that it was ugly for everyone but Richard, Arrin and Harper, none of whom got sick. She also tried surfing on a wide stand-up surf board and fell off hitting her face on the side of the board as she went in. We are both disappointed that when we were looking at the house, we didn't notice that from the upstairs (especially at night) you can hear the trucks on I-78 which is closer than we realized. The neighbors say we'll get used to it.

Rachel, Shiloh, Harper, Atti. What to say about that other than, leap, surge and walk. Walk 10 or 11 months? Don’t make me eat that. Feed the dog. Skype away. Wear grandma’s hat. Inside is done, except for the finishing touches; outside was timber, pull, push, dig, pile, burn. Is that legal? A g -man should know. Atticus Finch in the basement, no longer the favorite lawyer; Shiloh gets to leave the basement, so does Rachel. Are you ever going to move west? How far? Was it Samoa, Tonga, Japan or Burger in Paradise? At least they weren't as bad off as Chris and Rochelle, and the harp didn't get out of tune. Good thing there's Skype. Abraham Lincoln continues to influence the course of events, even working part time. Tugg McGraw quit throwing a long time ago; Shiloh hasn't. It's nice to have friends in far places.

Rachel, Shiloh, Harper and Atti the dog are all well. Harper demonstrated preciousness by taking first steps at about 10.5 months of age, and by blowing out the candle on her 1st birthday cake. She is Richard's grad-daughter, after all. She doesn't like to be fed, but prefers to feed herself with finger food, which she also likes to drop on the floor for the dog. Rochelle loves going to VA to visit and babysit, and to Skype with her when far away. She taught Harper to say "hat" and to put various things on her head. The house, which had sat vacant for a few years before R&S bought it has now been mostly finished up inside and most of the exterior bushes and trees which were grossly overgrown have been cut down, burned, and/or hauled away. Attie sheds a lot and now is consigned to the basement much more than before Harper arrived. They sometimes wonder how long they will stay in VA - or at least that part of it. R&S have a friend living in rural western Oahu that we stopped in to visit while there. He suggested S look into a temporary assignment on the island. Wouldn't be a bad place to visit, actually. Yes, R&S got very food-sick on the vacation, but not Harper. R continues her PR career with the big firm in DC, working 3 days a week now. S continues to take battle classes that nobody but him understands.
Chris tried salt and left the airmail behind. He lost his oil in the road. The muffler went to Switzerland to learn cheese making; it’s a fast learner. Or perhaps that happened in Iowa or Nebraska. Does he really like KFC? Forever 22? How many birthdays can he skip? Will he get a red U to go with the blue one? Too bad for those people in the hotel. Was it Samoa, Tonga or Japan? Where is the center of culture anyway? He didn't do the burger in paradise the first time, so that can't be it. At least the beach was nearby. But so was Ben, or at least his shorts. The opulence? – he has it. Good thing - even if it is funnier when grammatically incorrect. Funny, nobody I know has seen him with the miniature giraffe or the other accoutrement's. Maybe they're hiding in the closet or under the couch. Still providing entertainment via Mac videos.

When Richard & Rochelle moved to NJ, Chris quit his management job at Aeropostale and moved to Salt Lake City, finding a similar job at Forever 21. On the drive out, the muffler on his car failed, and he took his time getting it fixed, so it's easy to tell when Chris is driving up. He also hit a bump in the road and broke his oil pan. He has auditioned for a few acting things, like a television commercial, but so far no hits. He is contemplating going to grad school at the U of Utah. Chris' food-poisoning experience was the most dramatic of the family, including projectile vomiting, etc. and making quite an impression on the cleaning crew at the hotel. We left them an extra tip. A pair of Ben's favorite shorts were in the way during one episode. I didn't ask for the details, but Ben, who had been looking for his shorts, decided he wasn't so interested in finding them after he heard about it. (Sorry, that belongs in Ben's paragraph). It is all pretty funny in retrospect. Chris entertains by imitating funny TV commercials and by appearing regularly in videos of himself and family he left behind on our computer.
You can always tell Arrin by the books she carries around, and the mud she runs in, and the extra rent paid for the garbage dump. I guess that can be blamed on London, and maybe the volcano. She lost a purse but changed her life and loved it. Ran all night; saw a hippie in the morning. Investing time but not money, learns about convexity of preferences, velocity of money and owners equity. Can arrange your flowers; draw your house. Next year you won't be able to tell her much because she will have read all the 10-k's, 10-q's, and maybe even some of the 13-t's. Good thing dad's around sometimes. Will she take his place with the man's hat - at least for the summer? She’s working hard at it. No more a surfer with eco-friendly shoes. She really liked the original tight fitting sweater and isn't claiming the new-fangled one, but it is prettier than imagined.

Arrin is working very hard this semester, being an econ major at BYU and also working as a leader in the Business School's Investment Banking Club. She has had to teach herself a lot of things because she isn't a business major, but it has been good for her. She also spent the first semester of the year studying in London at the BYU center. She fell in love with the city and the country and would love to live there for a while sometime. She was stranded in London for an extra two weeks by the volcano nobody can pronounce that was erupting in Iceland. Her favorite souvenir purse from Paris was stolen in a restaurant the night before she left - bummer. Fortunately she got home in time for Spring Term classes to start. She is re-thinking the architecture idea after meeting with some people at one of the country's biggest architecture firms over the summer, and also re-thinking the hope of working for a trendy clothing manufacturer, trying instead to get an internship. She also joined with some friends running the Ragnar Relay in Las Vegas - that's something like a 100 mile all day/all night race during which team members trade off running. She slept on top of an SUV and awoke to see a straggly looking guy (probably a fellow runner) looking at her in the morning. At least he offered her a banana. She is probably the least happy about the move to New Jersey - leaving lots of good memories in CT, but she will just have to visit.

Aside from breakfast in bed, one of Ben's fondest memories is Rochelle singing, "we're going to the zoo, zoo, zoo, how about you, you, you…" That explains a lot. Ben found regional gold and national silver and some green in the camera lens, and a bit more green at Polo. Funny that you have to dress like that to interview for a game on a horse. Where did he learn to ride a horse? When you wear the red square on your head don't let it fall off, and don’t wreck the fast red wheels. Think about the red U, but do the blue. Where did the shorts go in paradise? Turns out he didn't really want to know. He didn't take a picture of it, but it's kind of like a song. Turns out he didn't really want to know how that turned out either. Do the girls at BYU really not like the pre-mature boys? His teachers like him. He lost the Freshman 15.

Ben also left us as we moved to NJ, starting his freshman year at BYU after briefly considering the possibility of going to the U of Utah instead. His mother can't make breakfast for him any more, but he lives near the Cannon center so it's pretty similar, but he says he had lost 15 pounds by Thanksgiving. He had great success with his photography during his Sr. year of high school. He entered several pictures into the national Scholastic Arts contest. Competition was stiff, but he won a gold medal in the region and silver at the national level. The national awards ceremony was in Carnegie Hall. It was fun. He is looking to major in photo at BYU - dad recognizes extraordinary talent but hopes there's a job there someday. He is getting very enviable feedback from both photo and English teachers, so it looks like there is hope for the boy. Ben worked at a Polo (clothing store), graduated in a red gown and was loaned a red Ferrari by a good and generous family friend to drive to Sr. Prom. Fortunately, no accidents or speeding tickets.

Merry Christmas from Eli and Peyton’s clan – at least that’s what the neighborhood kids thought.

Bye-bye from us, and Merry Xmas. Some kind of rumor apparently preceded us to our new neighborhood. One Saturday, Richard and Rochelle were walking down the street and some kids were playing football. Richard asked if he could throw a few passes to them, and they eagerly agreed. He asked them if they knew who he was and they said, "yes, you're Mr. Manning, who just moved in." Soon after, one of the kids came up to Richard and quietly asked, "are your really Peyton and Eli's father?" Why ruin a good thing with honesty?

Monday, December 28, 2009

2009 Christmas letter (with translation)

How many O’s are in your last name? Nine.

We have no O's in our last name, but it is '09 (sorry for the tardy post)

Richard stayed in the same place almost the entire year. Tin Medallion, not magnetic ink. Hair cuts; occasionally a tie. Tie goes to the runner. When Big Pappy hits one over the green monster it’s usually not an out. Who runs the outfit? The more things stay the same, the less they change. Madison Avenue & 42nd Street: some guy from India or Pakistan (couldn’t tell which) chased him down and yelled at him. Perhaps he deserved it. Bangkok: didn’t go there. Half the moon is dark all the time. Nice place to visit if you have a riding lawnmower to put away. Didn’t jump much with Jane or Rochelle, but hurt the same joint anyway. Fix the floor Sam, make a new basement, Bob. Surgery? Retirement? The family ROI would be higher if he just booted the pail.

Richard's job stayed the same. He worked hard and went a long time between hair cuts. He did a lot less traveling, losing platinum status on Atlanta's favorite airline which he had had for several years. His absence of status was most obvious when after boarding a flight (on American, however) an airline official came on board and told him he would have to get off because the flight was overweight. Really? It was an interesting day. Not flying that airline again if he can help it. He played NYC city league softball games with his employer's team. The 20 something captain of the team (seeing his slightly greying hair) asked him before the first game if he had played much. He went 3 for 4 that game with the out being a shot over a very high left field wall (reminiscent of Fenway) that protected a city street, to protect the cars, such hits are ruled outs rather than home runs, but the coach started calling him Big Pappy. Someone handed him a flyer on 42nd Street and seeing that he both didn't want it and that a nearby news stand had one exactly like it sitting on a ledge, he laid his down there too. The proprietor threw a fit, chased him down the street and insisted that he come back and pick it up. He did. A momentary thought about a job assignment in Asia, was all in his imagination. Built (or supervised) a new storage shed in the back yard - windows only in half, leaving the other half dark. Built and supervised newly finished basement in his house, and helped Rachel fix the floor and other things in their house, somehow injuring his knee and is wondering if he needs surgery. Wonders if he is just getting old and should die and collect on the insurance. Remember, he grew up next to a mortuary : )

In a twist of logic worthy of a biblical parable, Rochelle lost, but won in the end – and in other places too. She won so much that all her pants fell off at the same time – the wall, that is, at bedtime. Balloons, money, a bag of soup to eat with a fork. 4 was better than par for that course. She didn’t hit very many home runs, but like Mark McGwire, no Hall of Fame. Her meniscus is not in her hip. Geometry took a back seat to jumping Jane. Has anyone seen Grandma Manning running the streets of Inkom? Carry me back to old Virginny – for a week or so. Just don’t call me Gammie. She can finally get rid of all that stuff she’s been waiting to give away – and use some of the rest of it. She doesn’t wear a hairpiece, but she would probably drive 4 hours each way to see the gridiron on a Saturday pm – especially after learning the rules.

Rochelle joined a "biggest loser" game with some real and virtual friends and won - returning to her pre-marriage weight. She bought new clothes, pants among them (size 4) and one night as we were retiring, we heard a strange noise and ultimately found that the rail and shelf in the closet that holds her pants had fallen off the wall due to the added weight. She did lots of aerobics and running and given her new size, she started doing the high intensity version. She had a rash on her foot that required a steroid-based gel. So no hall of fame for her. When Rachel had a baby (Nov 30), Rochelle became a grandmother and went to Virginia to spend a week with the newborn and mother. She has been hoarding baby things for years - clothes, a crib, more clothes, a car seat, more clothes, and she was finally able to either use them or give them to Rachel. She also developed a love for football. She went to all of Ben's games, of course, but she also watched every one of BYU's football games - her choice. And started talking about being sure to retire someday in a place that would allow her to go to BYU football games live. She must be her father's daughter.

Rachel and Shiloh have a dog, eieio. And on that dog they put a basement eieio. And an opossum. Fix the floors and paint the walls, Dan. Since August, Rachel carried a spare volleyball under her shirt so she could join any pick-up game that happened to materialize. In November, basketball season started (women's size of course). She traded in the ball in for someone they call Harper Sophia Allen, but waited 19 days to tell her parents. Beautiful, of course, but just consider the grandparents. Mexico was even nicer without H1N1, and going to the other side of the Bishop was even a better move; checkmate. Shiloh can pitch just like Tug McGraw. Just stay out of the way or we’ll be talking about OJ. After you win the Emmy, what’s next? The Nobel Prize and a nomination to the Daughters of the Russian Revolution. Don’t tell me it’s not cold out there.

Rachel and Shiloh bought a house in Virginia. Long story short: they had a deal to buy a house next to their bishop (religious leader in local congregation), but it fell through. They ended up buying the house on the other side of the bishop's house that also happened to be vacant. There was some fix up involved (see Richard's note) but it's a good place. Rachel also spent most of the year being pregnant, though she didn't get very big. Her daughter was born on her due date, 6 lbs 2 oz. When she sent a text announcing the birth, she mistakenly said the baby had been born on December 18. They had a nice vacation in Mexico in the summer, Shiloh does this hand to hand combat training thing named something like Crawg McGraw - most of us don't know how to pronounce it - and just keep our distance.

P.S., Chris, it’s pronounced like a French word. Still the man of the age - ment. Back at the mother ship after a side trip to Tweenerville. Vacation? What’s that? When you’re the moon, scientists look at you. Sometimes they even visit, and dig. She drives a nice car; is that a peace symbol? Who would want to examine a graduate record? Wouldn’t you rather say “gee, Matt”? Maybe not, I suppose. Slavery is illegal of course – maybe they actually call it indentured servitude. The professional teen shakes a good deal. Pro teen, pro teen, pro teen. Jewels, events, music, dinners, extra cash. Professional wait lifter? Pick up what Rochelle dropped, though of a different composition. Red car, red car, white truck, blue. I have elbows, and a shoe. Julia Child for a while. Lots of other stories that move – and pretend to shoot those guys. Ant, bug baby, uncle. Dog?

Chris is still managing a clothing store for a major chain. He helped launch an "early teen" version of his store, but after a while, returned to the central chain. He works very hard and seems underpaid to his father, but he seems good at his job and seems to be appreciated by his management. All good. He drinks protein shakes and lifts weights, drives a red Passat, and for a time drove the little white truck. He works so hard that he doesn't have a ton of free time, but occasionally finds time for a movie or a video game. Enjoys being an uncle to a little girl.

Arrin. Scoop ice cream. No soup for you! Hey kid, don’t go out on those rocks, learn how to make an egg sandwich. Tips, but don’t tip over. Dorm free, as free as the wind-ows. It helps to have nice countertops when the snow gets deep. Grocery stores, The Ring, Senora: all have one thing in common. Would you buy my dinner please? Pay for a movie? No need. Drive red despite being a fan of the blue, but not the white truck. Winter weather in London is lovely, I hear. Does anyone really understand what homotheticity means? And why did Slutsky have an equation when he could have had a kayak? Perhaps because it’s cold in Russia, though not usually in southern Cal. Perhaps she’ll try swimming to Catalina next time. Guilty, not guilty? At least it helps get a job, sometimes. Auntie em(n)! on Skype. Rocks, faults, Madison Ave, Wimbledon, constrained optimization.

Arrin had a good year, surviving freshman year at BYU and working this summer at two jobs in CT. One at a sandwich shop with an ice cream counter, the other as a life guard at a beach club. Sophomore year in an apartment much nicer than a dorm room and other things have made life much more enjoyable. Enough dates to see the local restaurants for free, a red Ford Escape to drive, hates our pick up truck. Spending the coming semester on study abroad in London - but that's getting ahead of the game. She took her first serious economic theory class, homotheticity and Slutsky equations are topics of discussion. Went to California for a fun weekend including a sea kayak outing. Took a tennis class, loves being an aunt, studied geology and advertising, and took calculus.

Pretty soon it’s Alice Cooper time, Ben. Hitting harder than the body is built for and rattling that brain causes problems. Is there still a hole in that capsule? Hang up the cleats champ - 4th time. No need for a stick anymore. Ute? Cougareat? Portugal? Mongolia? Pocatello? Call him Tio Feij√£o. Not Ugly Betty. Sometimes his skin sparkles in the sun, and isn’t he fast! Why a bed in his closet? Jackie L. wants to kiss him, or him to kiss her. The question is does she know where the Maginot line is? Perhaps the others will be jealous. Where is Sigmund when you need him to explain things? Time for Seminary, Tyler. Explore eco friendliness – with tinted windows and a Goth look. Art is digital, talent is innate. The wing shines, many see it, the clouds sparkle. The colors are mysterious. Is that a bug baby? Can you play polo in a suit and tie? Don’t get up too early. And lift weight.

Ben is progressing through his Senior year, looking forward to moving on. His senior year on the football team was cut short by injury. Sprained shoulder at lacrosse camp in the summer and concussion early in the football season brought an end to the playing, but the team managed to win its fourth consecutive state championship without his services - somehow. He will either go to BYU or the U of Utah, and then plans on going on a mission to...? He's also happy to be an uncle, he doesn't use his closet because he has lots of room on the floor of his bedroom and his rule of organization is: if you can see it, you know where it is. Some people think he looks like Edward from Twilight when he dresses appropriately anyway. A good friend of his sister was home over Thanksgiving and provided a very entertaining verbal faux pas (implied pun intended). He drives a black Ford Explorer and has tinted its windows, modified many accessories from blue to black and done whatever else he can to make it black from nose to tail and top to tires. He has become a gifted photographer - check out his Flicker page.

Selected Reference:

Manning, R. (2009) “Really?” The Journal of Applied and Theoretical Anthropology, Geology, Physics and Abnormal Psychology, v 14, no 1, accessed on 12/28/2009 at

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