Sunday, December 30, 2007

Ben & Caitlin Miller December 28, 2007

Ben & Caitlin were sealed on friday the 28th of December, 2007 at the Mesa Arizona Temple. The sealing took place at 9am, and was performed by Brother Milo LeBaron - a longtime family friend.

L to R - Jeffrey D. Taylor, Alisha Taylor, Jillian Taylor (held by Alisha), Jeffrey C. Taylor, Jeanette Taylor, Emma Kay Wright, Caitlin and Ben Miller, Ross Taylor, Sarah Wright, Chloe Wright (held by Sarah), Sadee Joanne Wright (in front of Stanley), Stanley R. Taylor

The reception was to take place that night at around 6:30pm at the home of Carol Crane, Caitlin's grandma. The decorating crew (family) did a great job and the backyard looked wonderful. The planning wisely took into account some practical needs as well as the aesthetic. You see, 12-28-2007 turned out to be one of the coldest days so far this winter. We'd had a hard freeze the night before. So, being good planners, those in charge provided four or five of those standup heaters, which as you'll see, people understandably gravitated towards. Also the food was all of the hot and warming variety - cheese & potato soup served in bread bowls. Richard Crane manned a crepe station, which Ross Taylor patronized at least three times. I myself stuck with the hot chocolate. The cocoa station was equipped with the essential cocoa accesories such as marshmallows and peppermint sticks, as well as chocolate dipped spoons - which also recieved kudos from Ross.

Big Bro Jeffrey Dayton Taylor takes the opportunity to celebrate Caitlin and Ben's sealing as well as the UT victory over ASU the night before.

Papa Jeff and little Bro Ross join Big Bro Jeffrey Dayton in celebrating Caitlin & Ben's sealing as well as the UT victory over ASU the night before. You can't really tell, but Ross is also wearing a UT cap.

Aunt Becky with a well bundled Chloe, who peeped out for the photo op.

Aunt Judy and Grandma Joanne huddle by one of the aforementioned heaters, sipping some of the aforementioned cocoa.

Uncle Zack and his third cup of cocoa. No one wanted to tell him he'd had enough.
Notice the heat from the cocoa fogging his glasses.

Ben and Caitlin (looking cute in her wedding parka).

It was a memorable day and quite a festive, enjoyable reception. Somehow the cold wasn't too much of a problem. If anything it added to the coziness and fun of it.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


These are some pics I took back in July. Like my Potter story, it just never occurred to me to post them. These actually were taken the Monday prior to the reunion.

I had heard that as a means of promoting the Simpsons Movie all 7-Elevens were going to sell Simpsons Merchandise. But, they were also going to take about a dozen 7-Eleven stores throughout the US and completely convert them to Kwik-E-Marts - the convenience store on the Simpsons tv show. Instead of Slurpees - Squishees, etc.
It was funny to see people (myself included) wandering around a convenience store as though in a museum.

The store pictured in the shots is at 12ll W. Olive in Burbank, CA. My reason for going was sort of a dare. But really I made it into more of a dare than my friend Traci intended. She said something like, "I bet since you work for an airline that you could just take off and go see one of these made over 7-Elevens, couldn't you?"

I didn't really respond. Our conversation happened on Sunday afternoon. At the time I had mondays off, so I thought, "why the heck not?" I flew out to Burbank the following morning, told the cab driver to take me to the Kwik-E-Mart at 12ll W. Olive, got there, took my fill of pictures in and around the store, bought and ate one of the large cartoony donuts, then left the store and made my way back to the airport and came home.

Upon arriving home I quickly emailed the pics to Traci who replied that her boyfriend was dying of jealousy. Big Simpsons fan. Sorry Dude.

Monday, November 26, 2007

"Potter" Fan Fiction

I don't know why I haven't posted this yet. This past summer, not long after book 7 came out, we had an extremely slow day at work with very long stretches between calls. As a way of combating the extreme boredom, I wrote the following. It has been edited here and there, but about 95% of the story below is what I wrote that day.

I'd always been curious, starting at about book 3, about what a Hogwarts graduation ceremony would be like. What would it consist of? And I'd always hoped, knowing it was not in any way crucial to the overall story, that JKR would describe a Hogwarts graduation in one of the later books. And so, since that never did happen, I decided to write about it myself.

So here it is, my first and (so far) only attempt at a Harry Potter "fic."


Hogwarts Castle stood triumphant and whole once more on the day of Harry Potter’s graduation.

A week after You-Know-Who’s defeat, Headmistress Minerva McGonagall - along with Heads of House Sprout, Flitwick, and Slughorn held a meeting with the board of governors during which they unanimously voted to grant full class credit to Hermione Jean Granger, Ronald Bilius Weasley, and Harold James Potter – despite having attended no classes their final year. This decision received overwhelming support from the wizarding community in light of the direct roles the three played in the victory over Voldemort and his minions during the Second Wizard War.

The underclassmen were the first to file into the Great Hall on the morning of the ceremony. Although they seated themselves by houses as usual, they all wore identical black robes decorated only with the Hogwarts coat of arms, which featured the emblems of each of the four houses surrounding a large “H.”
The faculty were seated in a semi-circle at the rear of the dais. Standing front and center on the dais were McGonagall, Flitwick, Sprout, and Slughorn – their hands clasped behind their backs, each wearing a happy yet solemn expression.
Nervous whisperings which had commenced once the underclassmen had been seated were emphatically quashed by three booming knocks on the giant entrance doors. Several first-years squeaked in fright, with the boys trying to disguise theirs by coughing.

“WHO KNOCKS?” asked McGonagall, her voice amplified with the sonorous charm.

“TIS MESELF, PER-FESSER HAGRID,” answered Hagrid with no magical amplification whatsoever.




The doors slowly opened…

Early that morning Harry had been roused by a deep bullfroggy voice. “Master must wake or he’ll be late for his own graduation. Wake, Master Harry, wake - here are soap, hot water and towel for washing.” “Thanks, Kreacher” yawned Harry. Neville, Dean, and Seamus were already sluggishly going about their washing and dressing. Ron was the last to wake.
Prior instructions to the graduates consisted of being told to gather in their respective common-rooms for further guidance. Accordingly, the Gryffindors were soon seated about the fireplace in the common room with Ron on the verge of falling asleep again when Sir Nicholas, their house ghost, drifted in.
A hush fell as for several heartbeats Sir Nick merely hovered before them, letting his gaze slowly pass back and forth over them – luminous ghostly tears welling in his eyes as he smiled upon them.
“Oi, Nick. Are you gonna let us in on the procedure?” asked a bleary-eyed Ron.
“Follow me,” answered the proud ghost.
Escorted by Sir Nicholas, they descended Gryffindor Tower and made their way down the Grand Staircase. Personal landmarks from their years at the school seemed to bid them farewell as they went. There were so many memories. There was the bit of swamp left by Flitwick in tribute to the Weasley twins. They glimpsed the hallway leading to the bathroom where they had rescued Hermione from the troll. There was the spot of wall where the door to the Room of Requirement waited for a person in need. They thought as they passed the third floor of their encounter with Fluffy the giant three-headed dog. That occasion marked their first of countless brushes with death at Hogwarts.
Moaning Myrtle, secret chambers, basilisks, a werewolf for a teacher, educational decrees, large black dogs, shining silver stags, occlumency lessons, pensieves, mistletoe, nargles, Dumbledore falling…falling – all these passed through Harry’s mind during the trek through the castle.
It was a moment before Harry realized they were standing outside the castle with several thestral-drawn carriages before them. Silence fell. The winged, skeletal horses were visible to one and all.

“Up you go,” said Nick, “they know where to take you.”

Nobody felt like talking much as the carriages bore them away down the path.

“But this is the way to Hogsmeade Station,” said Ron, “What’s up d’you reckon?”
“I dunno,” said Harry, though he was beginning to have suspicions of what and who awaited them.
The gleaming Hogwarts Express loomed in front of them as the thestrals halted at the train station. There was no one in sight.
“Is this a joke?” asked Seamus. No one answered.

“Seventh years! Seventh years over here!” called a bear of a voice they all knew. Harry, Ron, and Hermione got to him first.

Hagrid led them down a familiar footpath to a familiar quay where a number of familiar boats were moored. “Entray-voo” said their large friend with a sweep of his hand. “Yer gonna leave Hogwarts jus’ like you got there that first day all them years ago – give yeh time to remember and think how far yeh’ve come since then.”

Harry, Ron, and Hermione rode in Hagrid’s boat.

“Just look at yeh. Harry, Hermione, when you two took this ride that first time yeh’d barely found out yeh were magical folk. And you, Ron, you was afraid of not measurin’ up to yer brothers. No more need to worry about that, I reckon.”

They nodded in response. It was too emotional for words. They gazed across the vast lake as their school loomed larger and larger.

Hagrid opened the doors and preceded them into the Great Hall. He took his place with the rest of the faculty as McGonagall stepped forward.
“Please be seated,” she said, directing them to a semi-circular row of chairs at the front of the hall which mirrored those of the faculty. The Headmistress then brought forward a familiar looking stool, upon which she placed the Sorting Hat. All eyes were on the hat as it began singing its farewell to them.

“Seven years ago I sorted you
by what I sensed within,
Today that sorting is undone
that another may begin.

The gifts you have are gifts indeed,
Freely share them, freely give them
For by sharing them your gifts increase
and happiness along with them

As I sort you now into the world
To choose your own life’s lot,
I say be charitable to your fellow men
Be they magical or not.”

The hat had scarcely finished before it opened its “mouth” again.


For an instant Harry thought he was somehow in trouble again, but then he saw McGonagall kindly beckoning to him. He ascended the dais and approached her. She then waved her wand in the air above him, causing sparks to burst forth spelling the words HARRY POTTER – WIZARD, WITH HONORS. Cheers broke forth from his classmates as a silken cap of red and gold appeared in the air and descended until it rested on his head. He looked McGonagall in the eye as he switched the red tassel to the other side. “Your wand, Potter, if you please,” said McGonagall. As he produced his wand she said, laying her wand across his: “May this wand in your hand always be ready for whatever needs may arise, and Heaven willing may they from now on consist mostly of things no more serious than a broken vase, a child’s scraped knee, or a family meal prepared to give a tired wife a break.”
As she shook his hand she leaned towards him and quietly said in his ear, her other hand placed warmly on his shoulder, “Potter, you know as well as I do that there is not honor enough.”
“Thank you, Professor, but I think there is. It’s called getting to experience a world without Voldemort in it.”
“Well said,” she answered.
She gave him a quick embrace, and then he shook hands with the beaming Flitwick, Sprout, and Slughorn.
“My dear boy,” Horace said,” you’ve done Lily proud.”

The hat called up the rest of the students in turn, each to receive their own cap and to recieve their wand’s benediction. For the rest of his life Harry always meant to ask Ron and Hermione what McGonagall had whispered to them when their names were called, but whenever the chance arose he forgot about it.

The house elves gladly prepared a feast for the ages that night at the graduation party.
Kreacher, however, would let no other elf so much as refill Harry’s glass or pepper his salad.

Once the feast ended, the dance began. Harry and Ginny embraced to the music for the duration of the evening. Close together, no ominous cloud of any kind hanging over them, they looked into each others eyes. Eyes that had found what they were looking for, yet could never gaze deeply enough. Afterwards neither of them could tell what else had occurred or who else was there during that evening.
“So,” Harry said during a break as they sipped punch together, “one more year at Hogwarts for you.”
“Actually,” Ginny replied – seated on Harry’s lap with her head on his shoulder, “they gave me the option of graduating this year if I wanted to. Luna as well, she tells me. You know, being active members of the DA, aiding in the defeat of You-Know-Who and all. Or, maybe they just wanted a few Weasley-free years. Anyway, I’ve decided to stay…for the Quidditch.”
Then, fixing him with that spellbinding, blazing look of hers, she added, “I just don’t think I’d be able to stomach leaving this place with one less Cup than you.”
Harry looked at her in mock-indignation, then threw his arms around her and held her as they laughed.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Latest Effort

This is a potrait I did of Courtney Tramundanas, Andy and Michelle T's oldest. I've been working on it intermittently over the past several weeks. I drew it from a photo taken on her b-day 2006.
It was done on gray paper, the paper color serving for the middle tones. When blocking the outlines of the face and features I used vine charcoal - a very delicate charcoal which erases effortlessly. For the highlights and shadows I used a white and a black Conte Crayon - and on occasion a charcoal pencil.
I was very happy with how it turned out, particularly the hair - which is something I've been impatient with in the past.
I framed it and took it over to their house this past saturday evening, partly hoping it would make up for not having gotten any b-day presents for them this year (and hoping it's close enough calendar-wise to serve as their Christmas present).

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Day Tripper - Vegas

Well, during this past week I was pondering a saturday excursion. I had not flown anywhere in a while and was pondering some ponderables. Choices were New York (I wanted to get some photos of the writer's strike), Santa Barbara (to relax at Goleta Beach/Pier) and Las Vegas (just to see what oddities there were to be seen along the Strip). I guess the title of this posting is a pretty blatant spoiler alert. I went to Las Vegas. One reason was basically professional. Working for an airline it helps to have a certain amount of first-hand knowledge of a given airport.
So, what first-hand info did I gain about Las Vegas McCarran Airport? First, I had heard that the airport itself was not that far from the Strip itself. While pulling into our gate I discovered the truth of that statement.

This was taken from my window just after we came to a stop at the gate. There's Mandalay Bay and you can just see the tip of the Luxor.
Second? Well, I already knew that it had slot machines, but was not aware that they can be found in:

The baggage claim area

The food court/shopping area

And the boarding area

I took a Gray Line coach to the Strip and de-coached at the MGM Grand. I had heard that there used to be some pretty neat Hollywood themed attractions there, but I did not see any. I then ventured back out onto the strip, crossing the street to check out New York, New York.

It looks pretty awesome from the outside. I liked the little NYPD fireboats in the "harbor" around Lady Liberty.

It's kind of jarring to see a photo of her with palm leaves in the foreground.

NY NY had a pretzel stand inside which smelled incredible, but I did not end up getting one. For a while I sat in the shade under one of the over the street walkways and people-watched. As one walks down the strip there are many people who accost one with condo-deals, flyers for nightclubs and the like. But, not one of these Vegas hawkers and flim-flammers said a word to me. A couple of these types who had been giving their shpiel to the folks walking in front of me would them clam up like a radio being switched off when I passed them, then snap to life again for the next group after I passed. Maybe I'm shpiel-resistant.

I stepped into the Planet Hollywood hotel/casino to look around.

It is next to The Paris - occupying the spot once taken up by The Aladdin. The casino area has a pretty interesting look to it. They also have a Pink's hotdog stand, which was not yet open for the day.
It was an ok trip, nothing much accomplished except I found a present for me mum. I didn't even get the customary souvenir shot glass for Traci or postcard for Melissa.

Las Vegas. I commented in my posting last summer about our trip there how all the casinos seem to have a labyrinthine quality about them. It's true. Now while there are certainly some fun and worthwhile things to see and do there, Las Vegas also has an element about it which subtly and sometimes not so subtly tries to disorient you. It's obvious that they have taken the art of separating tourists from their money to a new level of perfection. One can sense the extensive research which went into it. The maze-like casino floors, the no clocks on the walls, etc. People when they arrive go into a cycle of being blindfolded, spun around, then let loose. And then repeat. It's like playing pin the tail on the donkey in a sea of jackasses.

The ads one sees on tv promote Las Vegas (totally blatantly) as a place where one can set his or her moral compass aside, and it's ok. You all know the slogan. What audacity. Especially when one thinks of all the deeds people think will really stay in Vegas. They won't. Sooner or later whatever happened in Vegas will get out of Vegas and end up staring you right in the face. I am happy to say that after my trip to Vegas, I was able to look Bishop Hansen in the eye and shake his hand.

One more thing about the place: Dr. Hugh Nibley in one of his books commented that one thing temples have in common (ancient - which ever the culture, or latter-day temples) is that they are places where people go to get their bearings, to orient themselves. To take stock of their situation spiritually, then make whatever course corrections are necessary. To get where you want to go, you first need to know where you are. The aim of the Vegas "element" is to get you onboard a ship in an uncharted sea, take away your instruments, and blank out the stars.

To illustrate, here is a photo I took in the MGM Grand shopping/restaurant area.

We've all seen these types of maps in malls, theme parks, etc. HOWEVER, those maps all have something which this one does not - and believe me I looked. You will not find anywhere on this map that little stick figure or arrow marked with the words "YOU ARE HERE."

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Yumpin' Yiminy!

One great thing about YouTube is that one can revisit tv programs from one's childhood. In the past few weeks I've been reminiscing over clips from Mr. Roger's Neighborhood, H.R. Pufnstuf, Lidsville, New Zoo Revue, and most recently one of my favorites - Der Swedish Chef! Bon Apetit and a hearty "Bork, Bork, Bork" to all!

P.S. - I think I've found next year's Halloween costume. I wish I'd thought of it earlier.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

"Cone dawgs, fahr-iss wheels, and SHOT-land ponies!"

That's my shout out to Deacon Paul Brown at the Mount Riland Baptist Church in Flower Mound, Texas. They did actually have shetland ponies at the fair, I just neglected to take any pictures of them for whatever reason. This time of year I often wonder what the Deacon would have to say about the AZ State Fair as opposed to the Texas State Fair. I imagine he'd first ask where Big Tex was. Then he'd say, "Don't all farras have Big Tex?"

The Arizona State Fair is afoot. Can't you tell from the smell of fried dough in the air? Yup, fried stuff is the foundation of any state fair. I went out there Friday night.

Here's a popular establishment. Check out the menu. Of all the items available, (deep fried cinnamon rolls and Snickers Bars are listed just below the main sign) I have sampled a fried Twinky, a Snickers Bar, and a cheesecake slice. At this stand the management reserves the right to slap the face of anyone asking for a low-cal option.
Actually, all the food stands at the Fair reserve this right. Careful with the Twinkies though, seriously. If that filling squirts out on you it's like napalm.

Over the past few weeks the subject of the approaching Fair has come up. Friends and I have often joked about what new fried thing will make it's debut this year. My guesses were a fried slice o' pizza or a fried Philly Cheesesteak. I didn't make any dessert-type guesses. How 'bout a fried fruit pie (In Texas that'd be a fried fried pie) or a fried Dove Bar. Ooh. That actually sounded kinda good. They do sometimes, don't they - despite one's better judgement?

I've read in the paper that one of the foodstands this year was going to be offering fried rattlesnake. I did not find it - that time. I will go again. BUT, my favorite food find in all the years I've gone to the AZ fair has been a very special corn dog. Special in that instead of being made with your average everyday weiner, this guy is made with a polish sausage. Greasy? Yup. But oh, is it good. I'd like to see the Deacon's man-child Cleophas get a hold of one.

Notice anything about these cute little bears? They each have a corporate logo. Awwww.

These guys just might make it back to the AZ State Fair someday. Right. On a bun with a side o' cole slaw, or just dipped in batter and fried. But seriously, aren't they cute?

I may go again this year, I may not. I must think it over. I mean, once it's over then that's it. I'm left thinking "What am I gonna do for funnel cakes?"

Friday, September 28, 2007

Victor Wooten, alien?

This is a clip I found of bassist Victor Wooten. He is a member of a modern jazz group called Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. In this clip he plays a bass-solo interpretation of the Beatles' Norwegian Wood. Take a moment and check it out.
He is simply incredible. I wonder if his hands are insured, and if so, for how much?

Hello All You Corbetts

Hello everyone. Haven't posted since the reunion, so let me begin by saying that I had a wonderful time. It was great seeing everyone. It was one of those situations where one doesn't realize how much one had been needing it until it is happening. I have shown the group photo taken the last evening to friends and co-workers, and their reactions have made me realize how lucky I am to have such a large family. Their comments were all variations of "Holy smokes, that's a lot of people!"

Anyway, it was such a fun experience. It gave me a great lift of which I am still feeling the effects.

Take care all,


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Here's a pre-reunion Joanne freebie

This is a clipping I ran across in my stuff, which I promptly scanned. Shown are (l to r) Charlie Waters and Cliff Harris. Stalwarts of the Dallas Cowboys legendary "Doomsday Defense" of the 1970's, Charlie and Cliff (aka Captain Crash) formed one of the most feared and intense safety tandems of the era. Their playing styles complemented eachother. While defending receivers Charlie would usually go for the interception, whereas Cliff was always aiming for the hit. One one memorable highlight Cliff zeroed in on a wide reciever. Intent on impact, Cliff actually ended up knocking Charlie out, who was trying to cover the receiver as well.
Charlie played in 5 Super Bowls: V, VI, X, XII, and XIII, with victories in VI and XII. Due to cumulative damage to his knee, he retired following the 1982 NFC Championship vs the Niners (the "Catch").
Why am I telling all this history about Dallas Cowboy Charlie Waters?
Because, dear relatives, in case you did not know this (I know some do) your Aunt/sister/grammy/great-grammy Joanne was pretty sweet on Ol' Charlie.
So there you have it. A free fact about Joanne. Hopefully you'll read this before next week - that way you can subject her to some good-natured ribbing over it.
Oh, and btw, Judy and Becky thought he was pretty cute too.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Just a few days now

I had to change the title of this entry. I typed it up in June and titled it "Just a Few Weeks Now." I wanted to add some more stuff and so I saved it as a draft, and well, here we are just about one week away.
I can't wait to get together with everyone after so long. Fifteen years means lots of catching up to do. Of course I know some of us have met from time to time during the past one and a half decades. There has been the odd funeral. But this is shaping up to be an event.
How many of you, when watching the movie Big Fat Greek Wedding, scoffed at Toula's attempt to shock "Ee-an" Miller by telling him she had 29 first cousins. Nice try babe! Ooooh, twenty-nine first cousins.
Anyway, I am excited to see all you folks. Let's make some memories.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Mission Buds - Then & Then

I got a call last saturday night from one Brad Jones, an old friend from Mision Buenos Aires Norte. We were never comps, but became good friends nevertheless. He was a co-participant in what became a weekly Sunday night ritual. Once our day's work was done, we would return to our apartment in Castelar, and later that evening Elder Jones and Elder Stevens (his comp at that time), and sometimes Elder Thomas Saul Bigelow and his companion Elder Barney would also show up. We usually had refreshments - sodas, peanuts/chips, sometimes empanadas. We would usually then begin a cutthroat UNO session/marathon, following by shooting the breeze, trading mission stories, then getting some shut-eye. The next day being monday (our prep/sight-seeing day), we would usually split off to do whatever tasks needed doing to get ready for the workweek - food shopping, laundry, etc. It became a fun tradition. I made more friends during that time (my last 2-3 months) than any other.
I was told in a letter by Elder Jones that the tradition ended pretty quickly after I left to come home. I believe he stated it thus, "After you left we came over on one more Sunday night and then we never came again." It happens. Guys get transferred, go home, etc.
Here are a few pics from those couple of months.

Elders Jones, Stevens, and Brower (with his sippy cup). He loved that cup. Looks like that night we were dining on Chinese food from Ming's place.

Myself, Jones, and Stevens. Elder Jones and I, both being serious U2 fans, joked about starting a band when we got home. We were gonna call ourselves "The Relief Society." I suppose the spelling would've had to have been altered enough to avoid litigation.

Ming's Chinese Take-out. Shown are myself, Ming, and one of his sons. They were at this time contemplating a move to Canada. His sons had already chosen their English names: One was going to call himself "Jeff," the other - "Nick." My favorite dish was a chicken stir-fry with apple chunks.

This is the familia Lobos, one of the families which Elder Brower and I visited and taught. Notice the big dark eyes on every one of them. Their happiness and optimism often made me feel quite ashamed, and made me appreciate the things I had and where I came from.

This is Calle 9 de Julio. Yes, it is mentioned in that song 'Big Apple' from "Evita." It is purported to be the widest street in South America.

Again 9 de Julio. Not as dangerous as it appeared. This and the previous were taken by Elder Brower. He and I had done a pretty big sight seeing excursion a couple of Mondays before I came home. There were still somethings I hadn't seen, so we knocked them all out that day.

This is a picture of my last apartment. It is located in Castelar, a suburb of BA. I took this picture right at the traintracks of Castelar station. I had just said goodbye to Brower and Jones and the others who'd shown up to see me off. If you look up at the top right balcony you can see them.
Adios Fellers.

Two days later I was back in Texas.