Monday, December 7, 2009

Nine Book Recomendations From 09

This post is my favorite of the year, probably the longest, and lets be honest probably the least read or commented on. But it's mostly for me. I like to keep track on this blog of what I have read on the sidebar and I do a post at the end of the year recommending good books I've read.

I love to read. I usually read a few Mormon related books I order online, some History, and a lot of nonfiction . This year I read a lot of financial stuff to try to understand what is going on economically. I've grouped the genres of books I've read and put asterisks by the nine books I especially recommend (I put them in red as well).Here we go...


19th Century
*********What Hath God Wrought*********
A wonderful history of America from 1814-1848 that won the Pulitzer a few years back. Conflict in government, the rise of political parties, wars, expansion, slavery, its all there and written in a fascinating way by a talented historian. It's thick and takes a while, but is well worth the effort. The author talks about how canals and telegraphs completely changed peoples way of life in this time period. Utopians and Mormons get a lot of pages in the book.
The Life of Andrew Jackson
A great biography by Remini that he also got a Pulitzer for. Good but only if your really into presidential history. Andrew Jackson is the only president under which their was no government debt (for a year.)

20th Century
This book is a lot of fun. Henry Ford had a Utopian streak in him and decided to set up an ideal community based on his desire for work efficiency and hope to bring civilization to an area in the Amazon. It didn't go so well, but the story is fascinating
The Forgotten Man
A revisionist history of the great depression that tilts right, but not embarrassingly so. I think my favorite thing about this book is finding out who this Eccles guy was whose name is all over everything in Utah, and how his ideas still affect US financial policy.
I'll have to say this was my favorite read of the year. It's super thick but the author is so great. This book is over a thousand pages but doesn't feel like it. I came away with a lot of respect for the President who wasn't appreciated in his own day but is considered by many to be one of the better US Presidents. Truman's simple life and unlikely presidency is worth the time to explore. This author wrote the famous John Adams biography that was so popular a few years back.
*********Eisenhower Soldier and President*********
I had to read about Truman's successor. Ike was a great man in the tradition of George Washington. He led the efforts that saved Western Civilization, and that happened even before he became president. As a president he steered the middle ground between progressive and conservative.
A biography of the great short story writer. Great for a devotee like myself but not as good as could be in showing the general reader how fantastic my favorite author really is.

Contemporary History/Politics
*********How Rome Fell*********
Great book that goes through history, talks about Gibbons work. I loved it after being in Greece and Turkey for a little last year. The author tries not to draw many comparisons to contemporary society and mostly questions those who have. I came away from it so glad I don't live during Roman times.
This is the book by the Nobel tree planting lady. She does great works but is a narcissist and it grated on me so I threw it down before I finished.
*********A Long Time Coming*********
A bunch of reporters from Newsweek recount the presidential election in Narrative form. Fascinating even for a news junkey. Palin, Mccain, Romney, Hillary. That was a heck of a battle. My Mom recommended this to me.
Liberty and Tyranny
A conservative Doctor I worked with dared me to read this and still be a Democrat. Interesting polemics. Liberty and Tyranny is an interesting if inaccurate way to frame American Government.

The idea of libertarian paternalism and how it can be utilized in public policy and finance.
The Ascent of Money
A history of financial expansion and downturns from the Renaissance onward
*********Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk*********
This is a great book that talks about how risk management lead to the modernization of the world and economy as we now know it. A great writer who makes a difficult subject fascinating to the layman.
While America Aged
About how demographics will negatively affect the economy, how social security will run out, and other depressing things.

The Gathering of Zion:The Story of the Mormon Trail
My father-in-law gave me this. The story of the heroic Mormon pioneers as they journeyed to Utah. I especially enjoyed descriptions of being on the trail.
Joseph Smith, Jr.: Reappraisals After Two Centuries
A book of essays on Joseph Smith by academics. A few great articles but most of them seemed like people writing articles to help them get tenure and increase their CV.
On the Road with Joseph Smith
The author of Rough Stone Rolling talks about his Joseph Smith biography.
*********The Cost of Discipleship*********
This is just a classic. The author has a personal story of active faith that leads him to his death in Nazi Germany. In this theological work he preaches against "Cheap Grace," and lauds, active determined Discipleship to Christ and his Gospel. This was a reread but is still vibrant and great.
The Screwtape Letters
Reread this for a family book group. I enjoyed talking to the family about it.

Other Non Fiction:
Well Behaved Women Seldom Make History
The author won a Pulitzer a few decades back writing about a 17 th century midwife. here she writes essays on feminism and also about her famous quote. I have interests in feminist writing and theory so I enjoyed it.
A New Yorker writer who also happens to be a Surgeon on healthcare issues, hospitals, doctors and patients.
A fun quick read that explores nature vs. nurture. Another New Yorker author. Fun to read this with family.
A book by one of the Sound Opinions guys on NPR on the music industry and bands in this past decade. Great chapters on Radiohead and Arcade Fire.

Brave New World
I read this because it was a critique on Fordism and felt like so many people talk about it. I got about halfway through it. The author wrote this before Acid was invented, which could have fooled me.
*********The Lost Symbol*********
Pure bubble gum, formulaic, preachy at the end, but just a fun brainless quick read. If you like his other stuff you'll like this. I wont give away the surprise plot twist at the end, but I loved it and it caught me by surprise.

So you made it through my run down. Now lets hear your comments about what books you recommend that you have read this year.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Weekend Trip to Visit The Jones's

Some guys get more handsome with age

My roomie from college and his family have been overseas for the past three years in Japan. We finally got to go up and visit them in DC over the weekend. This weekend coincided with the first big snow so we got to spend a lot of time indoors catching up. It was wonderful to be around Nate's wife, Lindi, and their great kids. Little Ryan played checkers with both of us and beat us both badly. And we were both trying our hardest.

We did get a chance to go out with the kids and play in the snow. Here are a couple videos. We love you guys!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Deck The Halls...

  • Ice on our car windshields this morning
  • December 1st
  • Holiday music playing on Pandora
  • The tree is up and decorated

The Christmas season has officially begun!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Alaska to Brazil

Tomorrow Bran and Claire will drive to Ft. Lauderdale Florida to complete their treck from the most northern state, Alaska, to the most southern. Luckily, on their ridiculously long trip they stopped by for a visit. It was so wonderful to see them. Marriage really does Branagan well and I loved getting to know Claire better.

Bran is still a hoot and made a few transitions from beard to beard-free. Here are poses from the "handle bar" stage.
From Collages

Now they are off on a month long trip to Brazil before they start grad school and nursing school in Dallas Texas. I used to be the adventurous one. Now with a brother in Mexico, another in Brazil and a sister getting married, I am the dull one.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Scenes from the Primary Halloween Party

Here are some pictures of kids from our current and past primary class all dressed up. Happy Halloween Everyone!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Aztec Ruins

From Collages
While in New Mexico, we got to visit the Aztec Ruins. We had a nice time exploring the ruins and admiring the bright yellow Cottonwoods. We also got a family photo. Our family has grown a bit over the last year. The photo is incomplete without Ryan. The poor guy has had to be photoshopped into family photos before.

From Grandpa Orville 10-2009

The Rock KING

From Collages

Uncle Cal and Aunt Paige were gracious enough to host all 9 of us (everyone in my family minus Ryan) in New Mexico while we were there for the funeral. As you can tell, Calvin is the ultimate rock collector. He had us all cutting and polishing rocks and making pretty awesome jewelry. I made a banded florite necklace. Who knew rocks could be so fun?... Uncle Cal did.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Thrills from the four little Hills

Benjo after eating some hot salsa

It was so great to have Wendy, Justin, and kids come up for a visit. The kids did tons of fun things while here like Marbles kids' museum, Frankie's fun house, a scavenger hunt, Cook Out's milk shakes and much more. When asked what was their favorite part, they said, "going to the gym." (which is our apartment gym with one treadmill, elliptical machine, and stationary bike). It doesn't take much to make them happy. Ryan's highlight was introducing the kids to Ghostbusters. They made it easy to have 8 people in our little apartment. My favorite is how Wendy picked out a place for Benjamin to sleep... yep, pack-n-play in my closet. We are so glad that they came. It was so nice of them to make the long drive, even with Justin recovering from jet lag from India.

Monday, October 19, 2009

See You Later Dorothy!

The past two years and some months I (Ryan) worked as a Social Worker at the State Psychiatric Hospital. During my time there I worked on the crisis unit. I got to help a lot of people who had hit rock bottom or needed to be hospitalized for their own or others safety. I have tons of great stories from my time there. I learned a lot about drugs, Psychiatric illness, and lots of places and services in North Carolina.

I think what I will miss most as I move on is my co-workers. I work with a lot of cool Psychiatrists, PCP's, RN's, and Social Workers. It kind of fun to spend the day chatting with a fun psychiatrist all day talking about human behavior and treatment. We also get a lot of time to talk about college football, tell stories, and de-stress from some of the patients we are trying to work with.

My social work supervisors and other coworkers have been great as well. I keep in touch with some of them that have left already and they have been a blessing to us moving to a new area two years ago. We usually meet up for dinner every other month.

I've accepted a job working at another hospital in the area and my last day at Dorothea Dix Hospital will be on thursday.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Grandpa Orville

My Grandpa Orville died peacefully in his home on Saturday, October 10th, at age 92. He was always cheating in games against his grandkids, telling tall tales, and making everyone laugh. He made his grandchildren (all 22 of us) promise to never push him down or spit on his shoes. Because of him, we are all proud to be "Dog-faced Webbs".

I feel so blessed to have such a wonderful Grandpa and to have had him here for so long. I was able to call him before he died to tell him a joke (one of his own) and say goodbye. I am so grateful for eternal families so we can be together forever.

Pictures from my last visit with him

Monday, October 12, 2009

Mexigonia Weekly

My brother, Brady, and his girlfriend, Elizabeth, are off on a ridiculously amazing adventure. They have bought a 1981 Rabbit Volkswagen and are driving through Central America to South America. They met last summer (2008) while doing an journalism internship in Washington D.C. Their plan is to document their travels while learning more about the region and cultures. They plan to be gone for over a year! If you would like to check them out, go to

They stopped by for a visit before they begin their trip. We got to see their sweet ride that runs on diesel and vegetable oil. They have buckets and a pillow case filter so they can stop off at restaurants and use their old cooking oil as fuel. I love that their car has a ton of personality with yellow rims and red seat belts. It only goes 55 mph and they have to warm some plugs before they start it. They are so adventurous. I am sure they will have a wonderful time and I am sure my mom will be up many nights worrying about them.

(notice their spare tires in the back seat)

I love you Brady and Elizabeth.

....and they're off.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Fun with Ruby and Julie

Ruby and Jules came up for a visit. I love it when friends and family come to visit. We had a wonderful time. Here are some pics of our outings to Marbles Museum, painting, and feeding the ducks. Thanks so much for coming.

Monday, September 21, 2009


One of the nights on the cruise, there was a hypnotist as our evening entertainer. I have always been curious of being hypnotized and have never seen a show. McKay was eager to go on stage to try it out. It was very easy to get on stage, as not very many people were volunteering, so without over analyzing or even thinking about it, I jumped up too. Then I was worried, what if I lose control and wet my pants. I really should have gone to the bathroom before.

He started out with the elimination process. I was not being put under but did feel relaxed. I did not want to be banished from the stage or leave McKay. Before I knew it, it was too late. I was stuck on stage doing whatever he told me. I felt like it was peer pressure to make everyone think I was under. So, I used my acting skills which apparently are not so good because at one point I was laughing at the lady next to me. She was totally over acting. She was freaking out and fell on me. I moved my legs so she would fall to the floor. I also noticed McKay was doing some pretty good fake crying when he told us that we were watching a REALLY SAD movie.

So, in all, he had us acting cold, smelly, sad, scared, swatting flies, smelling other people's shoes, catching fake money, being covered in poison ivy, and falling back asleep. My favorite was the end when he had a guy dance like Michael Jackson to Thriller. We were his back up dancers and were supposed to be Hunchback of Notre Dame. As I walked by McKay, she swatted me on the bum. She is a good actor too.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


I just returned from a cruise to Baja Mexico with my Mom, my Aunt Bick, and McKay. We had a wonderful time doing cruise things (eating, dressing up, laughing, laying out, and relaxing). We ported on Catalina Island and Ensenada Mexico where we went parasailing and horseback riding respectively. We spent the nights playing quadruple solitaire (or as Wendy calls it "Wacky Six"). We had a blast and I am already brainstorming our next cruise. Next time Ryan has got to be there. Anyone want to come?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Home Alone

On Monday,Cheyney left for a cruise in California and Mexico with her Mom, Sister, and Aunt. I have spent this past week back here in Raleigh. I was kind of wondering how this week would go down but I've tried to stay busy and reverted to the bachelor life. I managed to read a couple books while she was gone: The new Dan Brown Novel (contact me if you want a review), and Nudge on libertarian paternalism and choice architecture in public policy.

My time alone has given me a time to enjoy my bad habits. I haven't made the bed for five days. I make sure the air conditioning is really cold. I leave the toilet seat up. When I jump out of the shower I get water everywhere on purpose. I also listen to Christmas music because its forbidden in our house till the Holiday Season. I'm doing all the things that might get me in trouble. But much like Kevin McCallister, I've learned a lesson and thankfully no robbers have tried to invade the apartment.

I do miss my wonderful wife. She really does bring a joy to my life and I'm so happy I get to spend most every day around her. She is such a great woman. So Cheyn comes back tonight, and I can't wait to see her!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Shoplifters of the world unite and take over

Ahhh. I was such a huge Smith's fan. I (Cheyney) must confess to accidentally shop lifting. How can you accidentally shop lift you might ask? Well, leave it to me to pull it off not once but TWICE.

Incidence #1.
Site: Ross Dress for Less
Item: Black Shrug

I had just tried on a few items and left them with the lady at the dressing room. I was interested in the black shrug, but I decided to first check at another store. Because I don't carry a purse, my hands were full with keys, phone, sunglasses and wallet. As I slowly walked out of the automatic doors, I felt something swinging in my hands and looked down. I hand just walked out with the black shrug on the hanger.

I gasped and ran back into the store. There was no alarm but the security guard saw the whole thing and was about to yell after me. I was so embarrassed and baffled that I told him "I have never done that before!" Like I needed to prove to him that I was an honest person. I don't think he was concerned because it was so obvious with my sneaky skills.

Incidence #2.
Site: Accupuncture office
Item: The visit

I thought I would try some holistic medicine and see what all this fuss is about accupuncture. I went once a week for a month. It was very interesting as she did many things that were a little confusing to someone who strongly goes by evidence based research. I actually found my visits very enjoyable. I became very relaxed as the little needles attached to an electric current sent jolts through my body. So relaxed in fact, I totally fell asleep like with drool and wrinkles on my face. She woke me 45 minutes later. I was so groggy and confused that I walked right out of the office WITHOUT paying. About 10 minutes later I got a call from the office. I didn't even realize what I did until I got the call.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Go Cougars!/Eat Mor Chikin

Happy Labor Day weekend all! I don't mean to turn this into a sports blog or anything, but what do you all think of the best college football game of the weekend?

BYU beat the #3 team in the nation and took out last years Heisman Trophy winner in the process. It was a super exciting game to watch on TV, that had myself and Cheyney screaming and celebrating.

Today at Chick=fil-A, they are having a promotion that if you wear your college sports apparel to their store,you get a free chicken sandwich. We wore our BYU shirts there and got a free lunch. We even got complimented on the game by the cashier. Way to represent Cougars!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Baileys

Kari and I go way back to our first year working at Primary Children's (2001). Since then, we have been travel nurses together, driven all over the US, been each other's bridesmaids and have had many adventures in between. A few of which could have gotten us killed like: Harley Davidson rides with strangers in the middle of the Nebraska and camping in Mexico without a tent. Good times, especially since we lived to tell the tale.

We were lucky to have Kari, Shaun and Olivia come to visit on their way up to Massachusetts. Hooray for visitors and forever friends.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Family in Alaska

Unfortunately, this is not our adventure. But I was pretty impressed with all of the fun my family has been having without us. My brothers and sis-in-law (Bran, Claire and Brady) are living in Alaska for the summer and recently my parents went to visit.  Mom said they were out everyday hiking, biking, kayaking, fishing, cruising, touring and zip-lining. I am so jealous.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Welcome Fall

Fall is my favorite season. I'm not a summer guy. I love the vacations and time around friends and family, but the humidity hits here the worst in mid August and I'm a goner. Its too hot to go to the beach, and by this time we've used up all of our vacation time. We can't go running unless its we go really early or really late. There is no interesting TV. August seems to throw the rest of its energy at you right at the end and break your spirits.

Well, We've all made it through it! I'm officially calling summer over as of now. You heard it here first.

And, the other reason we love fall Cougar fans?

Wait, wait wait wrong video...this is the right one...

In honor of the return of football season we've turned our blog Blue. Last August I predicted a two loss team and was off by a game. We made it out for the TCU game last year and it was their worst loss of the season. To help the team this year we probably wont go to a game in person.
This year expect another great BYU football team. I expect them to finish in the top 25 for the fourth year in a row and again predict a two loss season. So here is your chance blog readers to go on record and predict BYU's record in the comments. And if any of our friends that are Ute fans are reading this blog, 1.I'm surprised you can read 2. I know you had a great season last year, but good luck coming to Provo this year, cause you'll need it.

Whatever happens, expect a great season of Football, leaves changing color, Halloween, and great weather. Welcome Fall.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Peachtree City Triathlon

Taylor, Jamie, April Giddens

End of Race with Ruby and Julie
Hill kids sacrificing their Saturday morning to cheer us on

So, I am a little slow at blogging about the triathlon last weekend. It was a good race that I am happy to have behind me but look forward to doing again. The scariest part for me is the swim. I am scared of cold water and being kicked in the face which neither occured. And I didn't run into any water moccasins, which is always a plus. The biking was not my favorite mostly because my bike is ghetto. I was tired of every person passing me and saying "on your left." Thanks for rubbing it in! Next time I will invest in a road bike; hopefully, that will help. I was a little slower on the run this go round. But all in all, it was a good race. The highlights were seeing Ape and Jules in the race (getting pinched on the bum as they passed me) and having friends and family cheer us along.

It was so much fun hangin' with the Giddens. Everytime I leave them, my face hurts from laughing. Taylor was kind enough to spend the entire race taking pictures.