Today was our annual Halloween party in seminary (a three-year running tradition now) so of course I dressed up, along with my fellow teachers. It was a lot of fun. Jodi was the gold plates, and Suzanne was a dust bunny. GET IT?

My nephew Jake left for his mission at the same time Kyra did. He’s serving in Kiribati, which is a tiny speck in the south Pacific. Most of the thirty or so islands are uninhabited. He was told to bring a fishing pole, which might seem like an unusual requirement for a mission, until you realize that pretty much the only thing the islanders eat is fish, which they catch themselves. It’s regarded as one of the least developed nations in the world, and makes Alex’s mission to Peru look like a first-world paradise.

Jake doesn’t have reliable internet access, but he was able to fire off an email with a few photos. He described the living conditions as “like camping, but worse”. This is his house:

And the “bathroom”:

Apparently they shower occasionally. This is what the shower looks like:

Despite the primitive conditions, Jake says it’s one of the most beautiful places he’s ever been.

One of Zing’s clients puts together a Christmas card every year, and in that card they include photos of their entire team. The card is sent to all of their clients, which number in the hundreds. Since they consider us “part of the team”, every year I’m asked to send some photos of Ben and myself (since we’re the two who work on the project).

Ben had the brilliant idea of posing like one of those horribly cheesy stock photos where businesspeople are all pointing and looking at a computer screen. Although we didn’t have a multi-racial or multi-gender crowd to draw from (like all the stock photographers do), I think the results are pretty awesome.

In the spring and fall, when the weather is always a little dicey, I’m always watching the forecast with special attention on Thursdays. That’s because Thursday evenings are when my ultimate league plays. It’s comical sometimes how the weather might be nice all week, except on Thursday. Here’s an example from this week:

Now, I freely admit it’s the end of October, and it’s not unreasonable to expect the temperature to be in the 40’s and 50’s. But we’ve had absolutely amazing weather lately, and it looks like it’s going to continue this week (81 on Wednesday?!) but then, in typical fashion, it’s going to be cold and cloudy for our Thursday league games. Sigh.

Last Thursday at ultimate league, Ryan won the D Trophy by playing some stunning defense. He wanted a picture of himself holding it, which of course I turned into an inspirational poster for the team.

Every Sunday, our church program has miscellaneous information for everyone to review. It’s pretty cool to see that two of the seven* missionaries serving from our ward belong to us!

* There are only six listed in the program, but there are actually seven… Laralee and I can’t figure out why the people who print the program keep forgetting one.

We’ve had the same couch in our family room for well over a decade. It’s been fine, but it’s also been showing it’s age a bit. After some thought and a bit of shopping, we decided to get a new couch and loveseat (the loveseat replaces the barstools we’ve had for almost as long, but hardly ever use).

Yesterday afternoon, the goodies arrived and we set them up:

A nice feature is they recline! Laralee gave it a test run:

To celebrate, we had some friends over and watched a movie. Both the couch and loveseat worked really well for that (because hey, the highest purpose of family-room furniture is to provide a better movie-watching experience).

One of the nice things about teaching seminary so early is that class finishes before the sun even rises, and sometimes I’m rewarded with a beautiful view as I come out of the building.

One of the main reasons I enjoy hiking and backpacking is the opportunity to see the amazing beauty deep in the wilderness. Although I love having a long line of distant mountains on the western horizon every day, it’s an entirely different experience to be in them, walking amongst trees and navigating rock fields.

The Royal Museums Greenwich just announced the winner of their annual 2017 Astronomy Photograph of the Year contest, and it’s absolutely stunning. It shows nebulae in the Rho Ophiuchi cloud.

Although I’m sure the photographer did a bit of retouching, the stunning majesty of this space scene is truly breathtaking. I love space science, and seeing things like this puts a lot of things in perspective for me.

The runners-up in the contest were also incredible; I really liked these two photographs of aurorae, from Russia and then Iceland:

Isn’t nature beautiful?

Me: (Logs into Chase bank web site)
Chase: Hi there! Please update your preferences for electronic statements.
Me: Sounds great! (Updates preferences)

Sigh. You’d think banks– with their vast resources and need for the very best technology– would actually get stuff like this right.

I wonder if I’m missing out on an amazing new business opportunity by ignoring text messages like this:

After about two weeks in the Missionary Training Center, Kyra flew to her mission area today. She had to wake up at 3 in the morning so she could catch her 7am flight from Salt Lake City to Phoenix, then had a two-hour layover before flying to Bakersfield, California. Knowing how hard it is for her to miss her beauty sleep, I’m sure she was pretty exhausted when she finally arrived in the mid-afternoon.

This evening we received an email from the mission office with the happy subject line “your daughter has arrived”. Here she is with President Layton (her mission president) and his wife.

And the adventure begins! Bakersfield doesn’t have the greatest reputation as a city, and in fact several people have commented about how it’s hot, smelly, and kind of ugly. Someone called it the “armpit of California”. Well, today Laralee wrote an email to Kyra with this inspiring wisdom:

You’ll be the deodorant for the armpit of California.