19 June, 2006


the land of the rising sun

the almost-immediate future, anyway. Jill and i recently received our visas for entry into the Land of the Rising Sun, which documents have us going as humanitarian workers slash international aid givers or something. either way, at least now we can go; we've been waiting for quite some time to do so and have given up good jobs to be able to start this first chapter of our life together.

we leave in a few days, so wish us luck, and we'll give you more news from the other side.

10 June, 2006


knowing that Jill and i just got married, most people will assume that we went on a honeymoon, and they'd be right. so where are the pictures? well, a few of them are coming right up, and a few more will have to wait for a post of their very own, later.

after a couple of days in Salt Lake we took off for a week in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, to stay in a condo that Jill's parents kindly provided. as an added bonus, all the traveling we had done in Asia last year had netted me enough air miles to fly both of us down to PV for free, so about all we had to pay for was food. to my surprise, however, i really didn't find Mexico, or at least this part of it, to be much cheaper than the US. granted, PV is a very touristy town, but there are some 350,000 locals, and Jill and i take some measure of pride in shopping where they do, and even still the Rizos supermercado was really not that cheap. as an aside, we did have a funny experience while in there: we were in the aisle with the American-type foods, thinking about buying some Oreos, but decided against when we saw they were going for a cool seven bucks. so as i put those down and checked the price on some Raspberry Fig Newtons, the lady next to me, who had been weighing up her options on American snacks, suddenly pointed at our Newtons (also about $7) and said, "son ricas?", meaning "are those good?" we assured her they were, and then wondered why we couldn't afford our own snacks as she hurried away with her newfound treats.

this one's for all the folks back on unit 5800 at Loma Linda University Children's Hospital who have been dying to see my pictures. the names may change, but the cereal remains the same.

what we did manage to squeeze into the budget however, were my favorite cereals, Frosted Flakes, which down Mexico way go by the slightly more charming name "Zucaritas". after this breakfast every morning, we were ready for anything, and there was plenty to do. one of our big adventures was to take an off-road, day-long tour through the Sierra Madre mountains North of PV. the company we went with, Vallarta Adventures, has outfitted themselves with several of these large military-style, all-wheel-drive Mercedes-Benz trucks, which they have painted bright yellow and outfitted with seatbelts for all the lawsuit-minded tourists they pack into the back. luckily our tour wasn't full, so it was slightly less uncomfortable, but our crazy guide Manuel made us wonder what kind of outfit we were with as he almost singlehandedly drank all the cerveza and tequila he had brought for what he must have supposed would be a full trip. even after all this though, his English was still excellent, and his knowledge of the area very comprehensive; we found during the day that he had a degree in marine biology.

Jill and I in the back of the troop transport, during a brief break in the bumps.

so the ride was pretty jarring, and we soon found that that wasn't the only thing about PV that might induce technicolor yawning. we were staying on the South side of town and would take buses into the old downtown area, known as Colonia Emiliano Zapata. then we would take the short walk to all the new sights in the Centro area, crossing the Rio Cuale as we did so. trouble was, someone had forgotten to tell the city planners that bridges aren't supposed to sway like playground swingsets; walking across the two footbridges gave sober people like us a sense of what it might be like to be one of the drunken tourists.

a lot more exciting than it looks.

it was a lot easier to navigate what we called the Bridge of Death when crossing it alone, but all too often there would be dozens of people--actually the real drunk stupid tourists, mostly--tramping across the thing and trying to help you lose your lunch. so after all this unsteadiness, Jill and i decided to add some smooth to our lives, and we went parasailing. we got all ready in our swimsuits on the morning of, expecting that we'd be dragged through several feet of surf or just kicked of the back of the boat to take off, but we soon found that James Bond could have done it without even wrinkling his dinner suit. there were a few guys standing around on this tiny patch of beach marked off by a few flags, and they hooked us into harnesses that were then attached to a rope on a boat that was so far removed from the whole process it took a wave of one of the flags to get it to take off.

takeoff shots of Jill and i, and Jill modeling the harness gear. below, a video of my slow and steady descent.

but take off the boat did, and no sooner had it done so than we were airborne. straight up, almost, just like that. and the altitude gain was quick, the noise of the streets below fading swiftly into the distance. The trip was a very brief one around the Bahia Banderas (Bay of Flags), about five minutes, which meant that each one cost about $7 (what's with that number in PV?), but they were well worth it. i was amazed by the smoothness of the ride, and the serenity of the flight; it was more relaxing than exhilarating, as i had expected it to be. but the amazing thing was the landing, which you will have seen for yourself if you watched the short video above. they brought us down so slowly, and always right in the same spot as we had left from, the few dudes just standing on the beach becoming a little more impressive in the process.

anyway not all on this honeymoon vacation was big money high profile activity, we got out and saw the sights, too. PV has this wide sidewalk sort of thing going all the way down the beach in the Centro area that they call the Malecón. the Malecón is home to many of PV's famous attractions, and also to loads of locals every evening. it's quite nice to stroll down it at night while the tourists are all getting loaded at the bars across the street and the townspeople are unwinding after a long day's work. in addition to the famous string of a few arches, Los Arcos, that appear to serve no purpose, there are a number of sculptures on the Malecón that don't seem to make much sense. among these is one pictured below:

the famous seahorse boy, and an imposter--you decide which is which. also, the landmark Parroquia de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe, or Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe, perhaps the most renowned of PV's sights.

this church was pretty busy, and right in the thick of things off the main plaza. there were all sorts of people doing all sorts of things, but perhaps the most endearing image that Jill caught of all this activity was this one:

a little Puerto Vallartan feeding the pigeons just opposite the cathedral.

seeing those birds eat must have made us hungry, because we made a beeline for Pipi's restaurant, which had been emphatically recommended to us by somebody. we quickly decided that El Moreno, the small taco stand we had been frequenting back in the Colonia Emiliano Zapata, was actually much better, but Pipi's did distinguish itself by way of its drinks. as you will see, the margaritas there are a justifiable source of pride--they're huge. a sign painted on the wall warns: "DON'T DRINK WATER DRINK MARGARITAS", and at five bucks for a virgin one, it's no surprise they're so concerned about visitors' health.

a very large marge, and a very welcoming pool at the end of those busy days.

after all the many activities of Puerto Vallarta, it was nice to come back each evening to a cool pool at our hotel, the Playa del Sol Costa Sur. a little swimming, a few snacks delivered to our loungers, and then... more fun activities the next day. you didn't think i'd cover anything else, did you?

*according to our new PV friend Moises Guardado, honeymooners are lunamieleros: luna=moon, miel=honey.

09 June, 2006


it would be difficult to do justice to our wedding day in a single blog post--to give you some idea of how difficult, our two photographers from Shutterbugz took about 1400 pictures on thebigday alone, and they'd already taken 400 or so more from the engagement session and bridal session. so my purpose here isn't really to do the day justice, in picture or prose, because i couldn't. oh, and because we won't have the CDs with all of those 1400 pictures on for a while.

but i do want to share a few of the many pictures that were captured on several other cameras during the day; isn't the digital age wonderful? most of these come either from my sister, Kim's, camera or from my mother's. either way, the first one may be my favorite:

the beautiful bride

Jill looked stunning on that day--as she does on all others. as you can see, her dress is pretty intense when it's unbustled like that, though the bottom edges did pick up a lot of foreign matter. i guess that's okay when you're only wearing it once.

given that Mormons don't really need best men or maids of honor and all that, Jill and i actually had quite a crew making up our wedding party, though they were all family members. Jill had her niece, Christine, and my five nieces, MaKenna, Caitlin, Maren, Payten and Devon, as flower girls, while her five sisters were all bridesmaids, as was my younger sister, Kim, with whom i'm pictured below.

thejayfather and his adorable little sister, Kim, and then with his very sharp-looking nephew, Carter.

Kim is one of my favorite people, as is the big guy pictured with me above, my nephew Carter. he is my older sister, Carrie's, boy, and will soon turn nine. he and Jill's little brother, eight-year-old John, were the smaller groomsmen for the day, both looking very dapper in their new black suits. the larger groomsmen were my brothers, Matthew and Nathan, my brother-in-law, Coy, and Jill's younger brother, Scott.

having most of the members of both of our families there made this an even greater day for Jill and i, and they did so much to make the day go smoothly--particularly our mothers. Jill's mom, Julie, did an amazing amount of work both before and during the wedding events; she even got to spend a couple of very hot hours after the sealing ceremony traipsing around after us and carrying Jill's 10-poundish bouquet while we were having our pictures taken. and i'm sure she did plenty more after we had fled the scene that night too. then my mum, Lynn, planned and executed a delicious lunch--the only food we had all day--at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building.

theBallfamily, including its new addition. it was nice to have the whole group together at our wedding, but the day was long and a bit tiring for some... here Mother Lynn and Grandpa Bill catch 40 winks apiece. like father, like daughter.

all that planning and executing looks to have been a bit much for her though--this picture was taken in the lobby of the JSMB (though before the lunch though, i think). the handsome fellow in the picture is Lynn's dad, my grandfather, William. i guess they're keeping it in the family, and it's a preview of what i have to look forward to.

well enough about that. the day was great, and the days since have been greater; i'm sure there will soon be posts about those. but for now, let me leave you with some of my favorite scenes from thebigday, arranged chronologically going clockwise from top left:

scenes from the wedding day, clockwise from top left: thejayfather escorting Jill out of the famous temple doors; sharing a laugh during picture taking on the steps of the temple; Jill about to stuff some cake in my face; the happy couple enjoying their first dance together, married or not. you can see how impressed with my skills she is...

07 June, 2006


since i covered my dad's departure from Utah's public utilities consumer watchdog in several posts available in March 05's archives, and particularly this one, thesack, many of you have expressed an interest in knowing what he is up to now. the answer may be, in one word: blogging.

while he still keeps his hand in the public utility consumer watchdog arena, he also recently became president of the Utah Healthcare Coalition, a consumer group focused on addressing some of the problems in the healthcare system in the state. in case you're interested in the specifics, the blog itself, linked above, should provide them. having spent the last five years working in healthcare down in California, thejayfather knows of many of these problems and hopes that the Coalition and its blog will have much success.