Religion, Thoughtful January 18, 2017 matt No comments

Stay Positive

Oftentimes so many of us focus on the negative. This talk by Gordon B Hinckley speaks to me on the importance of staying positive.

“I come this morning with a plea that we stop seeking out the storms and enjoy more fully the sunlight. I am suggesting that we “accentuate the positive.” I am asking that we look a little deeper for the good, that we still our voices of insult and sarcasm, that we more generously compliment virtue and effort. What I am suggesting and asking is that we turn from the negativism that so permeates our society and look for the remarkable good in the land and times in which we live, that we speak of one another’s virtues more than we speak of one another’s faults, that optimism replace pessimism, that our faith exceed our fears.” -Gordon B. Hinckley

 

Full talk is here: https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/gordon-b-hinckley_let-heart-troubled/

Family, Fatherhood October 14, 2014 matt No comments

My Burden Was Made Light

It’s amazing to see strength like this from a Father who had lost so much. It seems to me that he’s recognized that he needs to step up and continue to be the best father he can be. Fatherhood is a very stressful calling in life but the joys far outweigh the sorrows and hardships. The father in this video clearly had more hardships than most to overcome. It’s inspiring to me to see a father like this continue to press forward through troubles and to be so forgiving of others. His perspective on life is also inspiring. Regardless of your faith or religion this should be an inspiration to us all.

Family October 12, 2014 matt No comments

Do the Puyallup

 

We love the Puyallup Fair and we go each year to enjoy the great elephant ears, scones, and other yummy food. The kids are big enough to enjoy the rides as well. They aren’t too brave so we stick to the little kid rides. I love having this tradition and it’s a great way to kick off the fall right.

 

Family, Football September 22, 2014 matt No comments

The Coach

Dad_Macy_PuyallupFair_2014This fall is the first time I’m coaching one of my children. This experience takes me back to my childhood when my father would leave work early to coach me in basketball and baseball. He wouldn’t touch soccer…for obvious reasons. I’m not so lucky on the soccer part but I get to coach my daughter Macy in soccer. I no very little about soccer and really dislike the sport or at least watching the sport. It has some commonality with football which is the sport I love and have been coaching for the past 8 years at the high school level. Let’s just say coaching 16-17 year old boys is MUCH different than coaching 7-9 year old girls! I have been able to pick up many good habits from my football coaching and translate that to coaching soccer. We had our first game this past Saturday. We didn’t win, we don’t keep score…well it’s not officially kept, but my competitive side kept score and we lost 4-2. I don’t show that competitiveness outward, I keep it inside. At this age I want the experience for all the girls to be a great one. They will have plenty of time as they get older to get down about losing, for now it’s about fun. This is such an awarding experience for me. I feel like up to this point my relationship with my 2nd daughter Macy isn’t all that great. I’m so busy with work, church, and football that I haven’t had as much time to experience life with her. Coaching the team forces me to do this. Unfortunately the way I’m wired if I’m not placed in a role I will not voluntarily do it, that is one of my many struggles. Macy said the other day to Meag, “I love having Daddy as my coach, he’s the best!” That is all that matters right there. I need to cherish these moments and other moments where Macy runs to the door to give me a big hug when I get home from a long day. Someday she won’t be so eager to do this, hopefully later than sooner. Her teenage years will be filled with lots of emotion, most of which I will have no clue about. Growing up in a family of all boys I’m so grateful that my wife is sensitive and will be able to help both of my daughters through the emotions that they will face throughout their teenage years. For now, I’m going to capture the moment and coach my ass off, but also create memories that Macy will be able to look back on like I do and think of how great it was to kick the ball around with dad…the coach.

Photography December 31, 2013 matt One comment

The Digital Photo Dilemma

The Digital Photo Dilemma

Meag and I have been married for almost 14 years and over those years we’ve taken a lot of pictures. Those pictures first started out being taken with a simple 1.5 megapixel digital camera. When we started to have kids 5 years into our marriage we decided to buy a digital SLR. The camera is a Canon Rebel XT. It was way faster than our digital camera it replaced, significantly faster, which means we took a lot more photos as it was more convenient to do so. As the years went by the SLR started to show it’s size, it’s clunky and difficult for a Mom with kids to carry around and be able to take photos easily.

Meag wanted a smaller point and shoot camera to pack in the purse and be able to take photos more easily and quickly and rid herself of the bulky SLR. So we bought the Canon PowerShot S95. This was a great buy, it’s a fantastic camera and performs really well in all types of scenes. However, convenience wasn’t yet fully satisfied with this solution as there was still two devices that Meag would take along with her, the camera and her phone.  The phone she had at the time was an iPhone 3GS. This in itself was an ok camera but Meag never used it as the quality was so much better with the S95. When our contracts were up we upgraded to the iPhone 4s. This phones camera was much better than the 3GS. The photos were clearer and the photos we took were higher quality. However, again, Meag tended to fall back to her S95 for taking good quality photos, such as close ups of the kids drawing or playing or whatever.

A little over a year ago Windows Phone 8 was released and with that I splurged and bought the Nokia Lumia 920. I was so impressed with the photo quality of that phone that 6 months later I bought Meag the 920 by adding my mother to our plan and using that new contract to get the 920 (I gave my mom an old iPhone). For the past 6 months Meag’s been using the 920. As I look through all the photos taken she’s increased her usage of the 920 over the S95 because of the photo quality, due in part to the camera tech in the 920. However, again she falls back to using the S95, but again her usage of the S95 has decreased even more as it did when she got the iPhone 4S.

This year Nokia released the Lumia 1020, the phone which I think will finally replace her S95. For Christmas, Meag’s contract was up so I upgraded her phone to the 1020. Time will tell if she continues to fall back to the S95 or stay with the Lumia 1020. I believe she’ll stick with the 1020 for most if not all of her photos. The combination of Nokia Camera App which has a great ability to adjust many camera settings on the fly like White Balance, and ISO is something that will help the camera stand up against the point and shoot. Also the post-processing options with the 1020 are a huge plus. Being able to zoom in to and crop a photo to only the parts desired without the photo losing any quality is a big deal. Here is a sample shot that Meag took at the local park of one of our kids.

Macy at Park

Note: This is a reduced image of the full size. To view the FULL SIZE (21 MB) go here: http://sdrv.ms/JI2Y7K (Click the “Download” button in the top left corner of the page loaded to download the full res file)

Macy - Zoomed In

NOTE: This is a zoomed in section of the photo taken (previously shown). The zoom capability is amazing on the 1020 for a smartphone!

Convenience and Quality

As I look back at our catalog of photos I noticed a trend occurring that was quite obvious. The growth of our photo libraries increased year over year with the different types of devices that we’ve used. Two critical parts to our photo catalog size was convenience and quality. With increased convenience comes an increase in photos. With an increase in quality (particularly in the smartphone) comes a decrease in the # of devices used to capture those precious moments.

I’ve always wanted to consolidate our devices to one for each person. I’ve found that since we rely on our SLR, Point and Shoot, and Smartphones for different photos that I tend to forget about one or the other device and it becomes tiring trying to manage and import photos from all those devices. I’ve continually searched for the one device that delivers both convenience and quality. I believe I’ve purchased the device that fully satisfies both, the Nokia Lumia 1020.

Photo Management – iPhoto

Over the years our catalog of photos has increased in both number of photos and the size of photos. I bought Meag a MacBook Air a few years ago, it has a 128GB hard drive. I put all of the photos we’ve taken over the last 13+ years in an iPhoto library. However, over the past year we discovered that Meag had less than 100MB of disk space left!!! I had to figure something out.

I searched the web trying to find different ways that people managed/organized their files that used MacBook Air’s as their primary computing device. I found that most people didn’t use the MacBook Air as their primary computing device, which was unfortunate since Meag doesn’t care to have a second machine.

I then discovered the AirPort Time Capsule. This device houses a 2TB hard drive and includes a USB port that you can plug a second hard drive into. I purchased this device and plugged in a 2TB hard drive that I had attached to my PC.

Purchasing the AirPort Time Capsule was part of the solution. The other was figuring out the best way to organize the photos leveraging the space I just opened up.

iPhoto Library Manager

I discovered a VERY handy and I believe critical tool to maintaining multiple iPhoto libraries. iPhoto Library Manager allows you to open multiple iPhoto Libraries and has two critical features: merge libraries, search for duplicate photos. I use this tool to create an iPhoto library for each Year.

The Workflow

The workflow is not ideal. With Windows Phones you can take a photo or video and it would automatically upload to SkyDrive. There is one problem with using this as the automatic workflow is that it doesn’t automatically import those photos into iPhoto. Also, the limitation of SkyDrive prevents Meag from downloading my Camera Roll to her computer for importing into iPhoto. So I do the following every few weeks to ensure all of our photos are together.

  1. Ensure all Meag’s photos from her phone are imported into her iPhoto library
  2. Do the same for my phone
  3. Do the same for our SLR and point and shoot
  4. Merge the changes from Meag’s iPhoto library with the one on my MacBook Pro using the iPhoto Library Manager software.
  5. Backup this iPhoto library to the AirPort Time Capsule.

Each iPhoto library has a naming convention where the name of the iPhoto library is simply the year that the photos were taken.

iPhoto Libraries

The Problems

Problem #1 – With upgrading Meag’s phone to the Lumia 1020 the higher resolution photo is NOT uploaded to SkyDrive. This introduces a new problem, we need to now plug the 1020 directly to her computer to import photos. With the SLR and Point and Shoot our approach has always been this, plug the camera into the computer, import the photos, then delete all the photos from the camera. We’ve decided that this is the best approach with the 1020 given the increase in size of photos taken will significantly affect the local storage on the phone.

Problem #2 with the 1020. When you’re phone is set to JPEG (5 MP + 38 MP) (which it is by default) it creates two photos for every picture taken. When plugging the phone into the computer to import into iPhoto BOTH JPEG photos are imported. This makes maintaining the photos more tedious as you have to go through and delete the smaller photo, I care about that stuff and want only the larger JPEG in my iPhoto library, some may not care about that. There is currently no way to prevent the creation of two JPEG’s. However with the Nokia “Black” update for the 1020 you can now capture RAW DNG images. This creates problem #3.

Problem #3 is the ability to capture RAW DNG photos. This is definitely a plus but causes even more maintenance. To grab the DNG photos from the 1020 you have to do the following:

NOTE: Do this after you’ve imported all of the JPEG’s using the Windows Phone software and iPhoto.

  1. Open Nokia Photo Transfer (make sure iPhoto is open, seems to work better with iPhoto open for some reason)
  2. Plug the phone into the computer
  3. Copy the DNG photos to the hard drive
  4. Open them in Adobe software like Elements or Lightroom. (I use Photoshop Elements Editor)
  5. Save as a JPEG after processing the photo
  6. Import into iPhoto manually

This is definitely not ideal and it’s a real shame that iPhoto doesn’t support DNG out of the box. I could move to using Adobe Photoshop Elements and it’s Editor and Manager but I find that the iPhoto managing and organization approach is far easier to use so the additional steps are not too much of an inconvenience. Plus we only plan to take RAW photos for the moments where we know we want to do heavy post processing of photos.

Overall

In the end the overall consolidation to a single device for Meag and I (1020 and 1520 respectively) is a great choice. There are obviously downsides to it that I believe will mostly be fixed with some time. I’m excited to create more moments with my kids with even higher quality pictures. For anyone looking at Windows Phone or have one already and have a Mac hopefully this post helps give you some ideas.

Family October 15, 2013 matt No comments

Do What the Day Requires

I love how eloquently Elder Christofferson describes his experience and struggles in life in this video. I love how he says “Do what the day requires”. So often I get caught up in losing patience with not having the things needed to further my families well being. I have to take a step back and think, “man I’m blessed”. I struggle trying to balance my responsibilities as a parent with work and other activities. At times I let my role as a father slip due to other distractions. I struggle getting to my knees to ask for help from Heavenly Father. I need to be better. I need to do what the day requires.

httpv://youtu.be/tJKmXtoMI5s

Developer, Football October 11, 2013 matt 3 comments

Hudl for Windows Phone

I recently finished developing a beta version of HUDL for Windows Phone. If you are interested in using HUDL on your Windows Phone comment on this post or ping me on Twitter @griffith72

The App is currently BETA version so not everyone can search for and download the app. Also I have some stability issues I’m currently working through but given the lack of time I have due to coaching football and my day to day work at Microsoft I don’t have too much time to fix things right away but the app is in good enough state to be able to watch film.

UPDATE: I’ve released my app to the App Store for all to download: http://www.windowsphone.com/s?appid=1c3e81f6-7ee8-4d46-8811-a1b52da03449

Family, Kent February 2, 2013 matt 3 comments

Band of Brothers

It was the day after the Super Bowl in 2004. The Patriots beat the Carolina Panthers 32-29. It was mid morning and I was ready to head to school. This was after my career as a football player at BYU ended due to knee problems and I was still trying to stay in school and get my Computer Science degree. Meagan had a shift the night before at Ruby River steakhouse and we both stayed up late which was common for us as we had no kids at this point in our marriage. We would stay up way late and get up late. I remember we would get frustrated when our siblings would call us at 9am with kids yelling in the background and we would think to ourselves, “man, so glad we don’t have to wake up with yelling kids so early”! Man have times changed!

Boys B-Ball Bckyd
Many backyard brawls happened here between some big boys.
(Left to Right) Dave, James Eastman (a brother from another mother), Kent, Matt

Anyways, it was February 2, 2004, a day I’ll never forget. I can’t remember the exact time but it was in the morning and I was preparing to head to school for a late morning class. I was in the hallway of our condo in Orem Utah on 1030 S Orem Blvd #24. Funny how I still have that memorized…I guess not, we lived there for a while. A phone call came to my cell phone. The caller ID said it was my parents. I remember thinking to myself, “man I can’t pick up otherwise I’m going to talk for far too long and be late for my class”. It was customary for my dad to have what Kent affectionately described as “diarrhea of the mouth”. I reluctantly picked up the phone. It was Jim. Strange that he would call me on my parents phone. His voice was shaken. For those who don’t know Jim he’s a big strong man, much like the rest of us Griffith boys. He’s hard headed (he won’t admit it), strong willed, and not easily shaken. So it surprised me to hear him so shaken up. I said “hello”, and he said “Matt, Kent is dead”, I said “what?”, he said “Kent died”. I could hear my mother in the background crying. I collapsed to my knees as my body gave out on me, and began to sob, “what? no! no! no!”. He then handed the phone to my mother who described what had happened. As we were talking I couldn’t help but recollect on the fun times Kent and I had together and the fun times we would not be able to have together. I truly felt we had an unbreakable bond that was broken that day, not by my choice, not at all.

Boys Generation
(Left to right) Kent, Grandpa Griffith, Matt, Dad, Dave, Jim
MAN! Look at my FULL head of hair!

The unbreakable bond I speak of is the bond that brothers have and create over a long period of time. Now of course this is not all brothers but for me, Kent, Dave, and Jim I felt this bond, this relationship. Kent was a great example for Dave, Jim and me to follow. He set the tone for how to grow up, albeit sometimes against his own will in order to honor our father and mother. Kent always honored and respected my parents. My dad gave him guidance on career path, sports, and many other things. At times Kent was reluctant and sometimes regretful for the decisions he made, but in the end he was glad he honored his parents. That’s something that has always stuck with me about Kent.

Copy of pic (7)
I love this old school Kentridge High School helmet. This is Kent with one of his coaches.

Kent set the tone for how to grow up, sure he made mistakes and was so far from a perfect life that it was funny, from flicking putty in wood shop to breaking perfectly good chairs. One of the famous Kent stories (and there are many) was when he was caught flicking putty in wood shop at Meeker Junior High which ended up in Kent getting a beat down from my dad (it turned out that Kent wasn’t the one flicking putty), a funny story that can only be told so eloquently by Kent, no one else could tell it like he did and bring out so much laughter.

IMG_6327
One of our last family photos before Kent passed away

Kent was a great student, a great athlete who went on to earn a scholarship playing football at BYU. He served an honorable LDS mission in Germany, and married a beautiful woman in the Salt Lake Temple. He has four beautiful children. From my perspective he had achieved everything, was a great son (though that depends on what day you ask my parents Smile), a great husband and father. He was a great storyteller, always had a joke or something funny to tell. Loved to tease. There are so many stories and great memories I have of Kent. I could go on for days.

pic (2)
Kent and I dressed up  as WWF wrestlers Sting (Kent) and Hollywood Hulk Hogan (Matt) at a church Halloween party in Las Vegas before my mission in 1997.

Growing up in a house of 4 boys that were all big enough to be WWF heavyweight champions! Smile We didn’t get a long most of the time, in fact we beat the hell out of each other quite often, whether it was the “stand up, sit down” “game” or on the sport court in the backyard arguing and fighting. We would fight (brotherly love fight) to the point of my mother going through at least 15 telephones, the ones that would hang on the wall in the kitchen and had a long swirly cord, she would threaten to call our dad if we wouldn’t stop fighting. She’d pick up the phone and one of us (whomever was in trouble) would come over and place our hand over the base to hang up the phone, my mother would then proceed to pound our hands with the other end of the phone, to the point of breaking ~15 phones over our knuckles.

Me and Tae
Me and Taelor (aka SP)

All four of us boys have been close and have also grown apart at different points in our life, whether it’s because we needed space or were too busy with our children, work, church, or whatever. However, there isn’t anything that would prevent me from helping my brothers out if they needed it. Kent needed us to all come together as a family when he passed away and help his wife and children and comfort them. One of the things I look forward to is giving Taelor a big hug when Meag and I go to Utah to visit the family. I can’t help but think that my hugs are like Kent’s and I enjoy giving her that comfort. Maybe some day Jim or Dave or myself will need help in some way and I know for a fact that any one of us will swiftly come to the aid of each other. That is brotherhood, that is what a band of brothers is all about.

Copy (2) of pic (3)pic (5)
pic (24)Matt's Football Photo (001)
Band of Brothers
(top left) Kent’s BYU photo
(top right) Dave’s famous block shot @ Big Bend C.C.
(bottom left) Jim’s Kentwood HS Photo
(bottom right) Matt’s BYU photo

WP_20130202_006
Today in honor of Kent I will be eating some yummy food, and wearing one of his favorite t-shirts, orange Ralph Lauren. This isn’t his exact shirt, it’s mine, but he loved his orange shirts.

Uncategorized January 12, 2013 matt No comments

The Ultimate Lasagna

I’ve had my fair share of lasagna’s. When I served a 2 year mission for my church in Missouri one of the staple foods was lasagna when we went to visit with members of our church for dinner. I don’t eat lasagna nearly as much as I used to, partly because it’s not the healthiest food in the world. So when I do eat it I want a fabulous lasagna. I’m a bit of a foodie (i.e. food snob).

Meag and I found this Italian restaurant in Renton WA a few years ago and much to our surprise they shut their doors. They had one of the best lasagna’s I’ve ever had. It was a butternut squash lasagna with toasted pumpkin seeds on top. It was delightful.

I had some vacation time stored up for the Christmas break. Typically during that time I cook a bunch of goodies and hand them out to friends. This year we came down with a nasty cold so I avoided doing that so that I wouldn’t spread the nasty bug. With that extra time that I had I decided to make a lasagna. I came across a recipe on Food Network’s website. The Ultimate Lasagna by Tyler Florence. I decided to make that recipe. The recipe says 2 hours total time and only 20 minutes prep time…well it took me around 2 1/2 to 3 hours, probably cause I took my time.

I opted for top shelf Red Wine for this recipe. I have never drank Wine myself but have always understood that you should cook with what you would drink as it tastes better. So I bought a $17 bottle of Red Wine.

I mistakenly picked up breakfast sausage instead of Italian sausage as the recipe says but it still turned out wonderful and you couldn’t tell it was breakfast sausage.

One of the more interesting things I found with this recipe is that it uses cinnamon in the meat sauce. Next time I would probably leave out the cinnamon. It tends to give me heart burn and I don’t care much for the flavor. Although I still added (ONLY HALF) of the cinnamon to the recipe. It turned out delicious anyways, next time without the cinnamon I think it will be that much better.

TIP: I had quite a bit of meat sauce left over so I decided to pack it and freeze it and it will be delicious on some pasta at a later time.

Here is my result, looks good huh? Smile

WP_20130101_002

The recipe can be found here.

Here it is in full:

Ingredients

  • 2 pound dried lasagna noodles
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 2 pound ground Italian sausage
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped oregano leaves
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans tomatoes (recommended: San Marzano)
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 quarts ricotta cheese, (2 containers)
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • Grated Parmesan and mozzarella, for topping

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cook the lasagna noodles in plenty of boiling salted water until pliable and barely tender, about 10 minutes. Stir with a wooden spoon to prevent sticking. Drain the noodles thoroughly and coat with olive oil to keep them moist and easy to work with.

Coat a large skillet with olive oil, add beef and sausage and brown until no longer pink, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. In a food processor, combine the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, basil, parsley, an oregano. Process until pureed, add to the pan with the ground meat and stir to combine. Stir in the flour. Add the wine and cook until it has reduced by half. Stir in the tomatoes and add the heavy cream and the cinnamon.

In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta and the parmesan. Stir in the eggs and season with salt and pepper.

To assemble the lasagna: Coat the bottom of a deep 13 by 9-inch pan with olive oil. Arrange 4 noodles lengthwise in a slightly overlapping layer on the sauce. Then, line each end of the pan with a lasagna noodle. This forms a collar that holds in the corners. Dollop 1/2 of the ricotta mixture over the pasta, spread to the edges with a spatula. Spread 1/2 of the meat mixture over the ricotta. Sprinkle 1/2 of the mozzarella on top of the ricotta. Top with a ladle full of sauce, spread evenly. Repeat with the next layer of noodles, ricotta, sauce, and cheeses. Top last layer with noodles, sauce, shredded mozzarella and Parmesan. Tap the pan to force out air bubbles. Bake for 1 hour. Remove from oven. Let lasagna rest for 30 minutes so the noodles will settle and cut easily. Cut into 2-inch squares and serve.