Monday, September 26, 2011

17 Miracles, the movie

Several months ago I took my family to see the movie 17 Miracles, by T.C. Christensen.  The movie recently came out on video.  Last Saturday I purchased it.  For family home evening tonight, we watched the movie again as a family.  This is such an incredible movie.

The movie came out about the time my Dad passed away.  There is a scene in the movie where a candle is burning.  It burns, and burns and burns, burning all the way down to nothing before being extinguished.  I have often compared my father's life to that of a candle.  That scene exemplifies how I felt.  The first time I saw the movie, I cried like a baby.

If you have a chance to see the movie, do it.  It is a great movie!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

10th anniversary of September 11, 2001

Today is the 10th anniversary of September 11, 2001.  As a tribute to that day, I will record my memories of the events of that day...  Details that I remember.

I got up that morning and prepared for work just like any other day.  I got in my car and drove to work.  As I was heading into work, I turned on the radio and started listening to the news.  I then realized that something bad had happened.  I really couldn't believe what I was hearing.  That the World Trade Center buildings had been hit by aircraft.  I quickly called my wife and told her to turn on the radio or turn on the TV and to find out what was going on.

I went into work and everyone was just awestruck.  Work was quiet like a morgue.  I tried to go to and CNN's servers were so busy and overwhelmed, I was unable to get to their news site.  After repeated tries, they finally put up a blurb of text up on their site and that was it.  Someone pulled in a TV into a meeting room and several people were watching TV trying to figure out what had happened.

One of my co-workers had plans to be at ground zero the day of the attacks.  Something happened and he and his girlfriend had to reschedule their trip to NY one week earlier.  He was back at work from a trip to the NY/Boston area the previous week.  He was pretty shook up about all of it.  I mean, he was really shaken up about it.  He was from Germany and his girlfriend/fiancee was in Europe and he was in the United States.  He went back home shortly (within months) after the attacks.  Honestly, I didn't blame him.

I remember thinking about my own mortality.  How, in an instant, your life can be snuffed out like that of a bug.  And I took an evaluation of my life and I didn't like the direction I was heading, so I made some changes in my life.

My house is 50 or 60 miles south of a major airport.  While there isn't a lot of noisy air traffic where I live, there is a fairly regular stream of air traffic over my house.  In the days past 9/11, I remember how weird it was to go outside and not have ANY air traffic at all.  No airliners.  No prop planes.  Nothing.  I remember how quiet it was outside and how the skies were free of any noise.  I also remember how unusual it was to hear airplanes again once commercial service started again.

In the hours and days after 9/11, I remember I had co-workers who worked on people's networks and systems who had been affected by the 9/11 attacks.  They were cleaning up the electronic messes made by the terrorists.

In my short life, I have lived or visited many countries of the world.  I have met people who don't like Americans, but generally they are few.  I remember meeting one guy (he was a German living in Argentina) who hated Americans.  I'm sure he was a part of Nazi Germany from WWII.  He was probably the person I've met in my life that hated Americans and America the most.  I have met people who don't like Americans because we are loud and obnoxious.  They don't like our government or our policies.  They don't understand us or what we do or why we do it.  They think we are ignorant because our news only consists of news from the United States and not the entire world.  But as much as I know people have disliked America, little did I know that there were people out there who hated us so much that they wished to destroy us like Osama Bin Laden wanted to destroy us.  I just didn't know there was that kind of hatred towards my country until 9/11/01.

To a degree I understand why people dislike Americans.  We do have some character flaws.  As a nation, we have gone astray.  Religion is no longer important.  Morality/honesty is losing its value or has been lost.  Our elected officials can't/won't work together and compromise.  We are hated because we trample the commandments of God.  We are viewed as the great Satan.  There are good people here in America, but I think there are ever decreasing numbers of good people. 

How do we fix it all?  First and foremost, we need to return and become a God fearing nation.  We need to be humble.  I believe we are reaping the fruits of our selfishness both as individuals and collectively as a nation.  God will have a hard time blessing us unless we do humble ourselves and change our ways.  If we keep doing what we are doing or we become even worse, then it won't get better.  The country has had numerous wake up calls.  We had 9/11.  We had hurricane Katrina.  We had the economic crash of 2008.  We have a sputtering/stalling economy.  What more do we need to wake us up and get us to change?  Or are we so blinded/proud that we can't change?

The only solution that I offer is to make a change for the better in my own life.  I also need to raise my kids to be good kids and to stay out of trouble.  I can't change the whole country, but I can change myself and help those that are around me.  That's what we can do.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Busy, busy, busy...

Life has been very busy lately.  Work, Church, kids all consuming every waking moment of my life.  The hardest part is the lack of sleep.  I've been averaging about 5 - 6 hours of sleep per night for the last six to nine months.  It is taking a toll on me.  And even though I'm tired, when I lay down, I can't sleep because my mind is going.  So, I stay with the poor sleeping routine.

Several weeks ago I was having a discussion with my two oldest kids about school and the home PC.  I have two kids that will need to be on the computer a lot during the year for an extended period of time.  At the time, we only had a single PC to split amongst all the kids.  So I decided to pick up a netbook computer at a certain large retailer for $250.  When I got there, I looked at some of the other machines that were in the $300 range.  Then I ran across something that made me wonder....  It was a fairly non-descript box, but it was a computer with specs better than the netbook for $278.....  It was $30 more than my original purchase price point...  I thought it over and decided to get it on the spot without doing any research.  I ended up with a low end Toshiba notebook with an AMD C-50 as the brains.  It only had 2GB of RAM, but much to my surprise, it had a 64-bit version of Windows 7 and could take 8GB of RAM.   So for an extra $60, I upgraded the RAM.  While it will not be any sort of speed demon, it will serve the purpose of writing papers and surfing the web just fine.  In fact, I'm writing this blog posting on it at this very moment.  And strangely enough, even though I'm a tech guy, this is my first laptop that I purchased with my own money.  I have a laptop from work, but I've never purchased one for myself or for the family.  I've been eyeballing a laptop for about a year, but I haven't really been impressed with the offerings out there.  So I waited.  In tech, waiting is good because it means new stuff will come out and prices will drop.  The C-50 really is good because it uses very little power (I think it is rated at like 9 watts) and is sufficiently powerful to do what I need to do.  And I get to do the geek thing and max out the RAM to a truly outrageous amount for such a low-end processor.  Life is a balance of trade-offs.  I feel like I got my money's worth out of this purchase.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

United States Debt ceiling

Watching the Democrats and Republicans squabble over the national debt ceiling is like watching my six and eight year old fight with each other.  You know what's going to happen.  No one will win the fight and they will both end up crying.  The thing that ticks me off about these two parties, they are more interested in pushing their own agenda than actually putting aside their own differences and working on making something happen.  You can sit and blame one party over the other, but the fact of the matter is that both parties are to blame.  Both parties don't care enough about our country to get something passed.  Neither are willing to compromise.  I'm sick of both parties.  If I could, I would vote for something other than the two ring circus we currently have.  Yeah, you have all the other political parties out there, but they are so far out there they are practically unsupportable.  So we are stuck where we are at.

If I had more time and energy, I'd craft some clever email, spam a few hundred of my closest friends, and do some sort of march/protest somewhere.  I would encourage others to do the same.  But, I don't have the time or the energy to do any of that.  Instead, I may blog about it and I may send my congressmen an email or two about it. 

So, I don't think we will get a deal passed unless there is an outcry from the citizens of the United States.  Americans are too self-absorbed to do anything meaningful about it.  I don't know exactly what will happen when the government defaults, but I know something for sure, we will have some gnarly inflation happen because faith in the dollar will cease.  If you look at the exchange rate of the dollar and the price of oil and gold, the dollar has weakened against all of those things.

Additionally, the country has too much outstanding debt.  We will never be able to do anything about it.  The only way to "fix" it is to monetize the national debt.  When you monetize the debt, that causes inflation.  And with inflation everyone hurts.  So, hold on.  Our bumpy ride will just get that much bumpier. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

KSL pulling "Playboy Club" from Fall 2011 lineup has a story about KSL pulling "Playboy Club" from their fall show lineup.  KSL serves a predominantly LDS community and is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (otherwise known as the LDS Church).  I went to and looked at the show and it looks like garbage TV to me.  It was interesting to read the comments on the page.  To sum it up, here is what I saw from the comments:

  • People bashing on the station for choosing not to aire the program.
  • Claims of censorship for not airing the program.
  • Jabs at the LDS faith and beliefs
  • Agitated LDS people attempting to defend their religion and lowering themselves to the level of those doing the bashing
So, let's go through these comment categories one by one.

Slamming the station for not airing the program and claims of censorship:

Let's think about this for a little bit.  According to the entry on Utah, 60% of the state belongs to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  That TV station services the entire state.  The station is a business.  Would you show a TV program that will immediately offend 60% of your audience?  Would you be willing to get emails, phone calls, letters, and threats of boycotts from your audience?  The TV station is a business.  It doesn't want to inflict that kind of pain upon itself.

Part of the mission statement for KSL (which is a part of the Deseret Media Companies) is to champion virtue.  Playboy and the Playboy brand does NOT champion virtue.  The station is also a sponsor of the group "Out in the Light - Women uniting against pornography".  Playboy is a champion of pornography.  The goals of KSL and Playboy are opposing and irreconsileable, so the outcome is clear.

KSL does recognize that 40% of the state that may want to view the show.  There are inactive and probably some "active" LDS that want to view the show.  KSL is trying to find a different station in the state to carry the program.  If they were trying to censor the show, do you think they would go about trying to get another station to carry the program?  I don't think so.  KSL does not carry Saturday Night Live.  Is that censorship?  There is another station that carries SNL, but KSL chooses not to do so.

I remember when I was a kid, the TV show Quark was produced.  The local TV affliate refused to air that program.  They opted to show something else.  Is that censorship?  Or is that using your business smarts when reviewing the program and saying to yourself, "This program isn't going to fly here.  We can't afford to waste time on a loser program.  Let's show something else."  This TV program is like any kind of product that is made.  Car dealers don't have to carry every product the manufacturer sells.  If a particular vehicle is not popular, then it isn't carried by the dealer.  This program is no different than that.  If your viewership is going to tank for that 30 or 60 minutes, you won't get local advertisers who will sponsor the program.  It just doesn't make business sense to air a program that won't be supported.

If you really want to watch the show, I am sure it will be available on a different station. will probably stream it.  It may end up on or a part of Hulu Plus.  If it is really popular, you'll even be able to buy it like other popular shows.  You might not be able to see it when it is originally aired, but who cares.  You'll still have access to it someway or some how.  Heck, you can even have your friends that live outside the state tape it for you and send it to you if you're really that interested in it.

Jabs at the LDS faith:

This is summed up in one word:  Bigotry.  It is the same stuff that the Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland did during the time of The Troubles.  Bigotry.  Just because someone has a different belief than you have doesn't mean they are worth less than you are.  It just means their beliefs are different than yours.  You can believe whatever you want to believe.  We may agree.  We may disagree.  But you are no more or less of a person than I am for what you believe in.  We are ALL children of God, regardless of our beliefs.  And I will defend your right to practice your faith.  If you don't defend my faith, then who is going to protect you when your faith is attacked?

Mormons defending the faith:

If you kick a man's faith, you're going to get slammed.  I do not defend or condone the disrespect that the defenders put on the comment board.  They should be more respectful and try to use reason and kindness rather than the same kind of vitriol and poison the Mormon bashers use.  People, remember what the Savior said, "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;"  (Matthew 5:44).  If we want to be taken seriously as a religion and not despised for what we believe in, we need to show Christ like attributes and attitudes.  If we don't do that, then we aren't any better than the Mormon bashers on the site.  They know that the LDS faithful will read the comments and they will retaliate.  They are baiting you.  Don't take the bait.  Simply state fact and move on.

The future of "Playboy Club"

The "Playboy Club" will probably have the same success as "Brokeback Mountain".  It will be heralded as great cinema.  It may be successful.  But at the end of the day, I doubt that it will be compelling drama.  Maybe I will be wrong.  It will probably have its season and time in the limelight, but in the end, it won't have any more significance on popular TV culture than Quark had on TV culture when I was growing up.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Hapy Mother's day!

To all the women in the world, single, married, divorced, or widowed, thank you for being a woman and thank you for all your thankless service.  To my school teacher cousin, you are a mother to many, many, many children for 20+ years.  Although things in your personal life may have not gone the way you expected them to go, you have been a good, positive, and uplifting influence in the lives of thousands of children that have been fortunate enough to go through your class.  Keep up the fine work.  I wish school teachers would get paid hazard duty pay for what they do because they have a thankless job.

The passing of Osama bin Laden

Last week the United States went into Pakistan and killed Osama bin Laden.  I wish no man dead.  However, sometimes it is a relief to find out that certain people are no longer among the living.  To me, Mr. bin Laden is one of those people.  To certain people he is a hero and a martyr.  His death will only ignite added hatred to the United States.  To me, he is a terrorist that masterminded the deaths of many thousands of US citizens.  He is an evil man who will have to account for his actions, just like the rest of humanity.  However, I am glad that I am not Mr. bin Laden as I would not want to have to account for his actions.  I have done many stupid things in my life.  However, his actions are not actions I would want to account for to my maker.

Long ago when Mr. bin Laden escaped justice and got away from American forces, I said that it will be a matter of time before the US finds him and takes him out.  He is like a pesky gopher in your yard.  Ever elusive and hard to find and kill.  But one day that gopher will pop up and he will be taken care of.  That day arrived for Mr. bin Laden last Sunday when that special ops team showed up and did their job.  To that team of Navy Seals, I thank you for your act of bravery and for your professionalism.  Thank you for going into harms way and doing your job.  In my book, you are heroes and you would be welcome at my house for dinner any time.  Words cannot adequately summarize my gratitude for the fine men and women of the United States Armed Forces and for the tough job that they have keeping our country safe.  I hope that you find my pathetic attempt of gratitude acceptable.  You are in my thoughts and prayers.  Thank you for being there and literally putting your life on the line daily.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

You know you're a nerd when... order your SECOND DSL line for your house.  Yep.  It is true.  Last week I ordered a second DSL line for my house.  Why?  Well, I work from home and I like to duplicate customer issues with my resources.  So, in the spirit of wanting to be able to duplicate issues without messing up my own Internet access, I decided that getting a second instance of DSL for troubleshooting purposes would be in order.

I also want to put together a VMWare ESXi server.  I found some cool stuff (this list will really show off my geekiness)

  • ASUS KGPE-D16 Dual Socket G34 AMD SR5690 SSI EEB 3.61 Dual 8/12 Core AMD Opteron 6000 series Server Motherboard
  • AMD Opteron 6128 Magny-Cours 2.0GHz 8 x 512KB L2 Cache 12MB L3 Cache Socket G34 115W 8-Core Server Processor
  • Lots of RAM
  • Lots of hard drive space

Out of curiosity, I priced the above components (and a few other things) and I could put together this VMWare ESXi server for about $1,500.  For a very brief moment I seriously entertained the idea.  I like building stuff (putting together a new computer system) and this would be a fun project.  Then reality set in and I remembered the promise that I made to my wife (no more new debt).  With the price of gasoline, food and other things going up, my "project" would have to be funded by American Express, VISA, Mastercard or Discover and I opted for none of the above.  We have lots of expenses coming in the next several months, so building a new work "toy" would not be advantageous.  Yes, it would be cool.  And yes, it would be very nice to have with my line of work, but I'm tired of subsidizing my work environment through my own wallet.  Years ago I used to do that.  I don't any more.

Spring, Spring!

My oldest son last year had to write some poetry for his High School English class.  (Note:  I never really quite understand why English teachers wish to inflict poetry torture on themselves, the kids they teach, and the kids' parents who will be asked to help them write the "poetry".  To the English teacher, why subject yourself to the torture of actually reading what your students write?  It will never be Shakespeare or anything like unto it.  So why???)  He came home and he wasn't quite sure what to write about, when I came up with the following "gem"...  (Please note that Spring 2010 was a particularly cold, wet, and snowy spring.)

Spring, spring,
Spring in the air.

Spring, spring,
Spring is everywhere

Spring, spring,
Spring is what I want to see

Spring, spring,
.....Dang it!  Its snowing again!

That sums up this year's spring as well.  Cold, wet, and snowy.  May you enjoy the last bits of winter before the heat comes and melts it all away.

You know your children are hungry when.....

.....  they eat a "raw" Rhodes cinnamon roll and they actually like it!!  Yep.  That's what happened to one of my kids today.  A few days ago I bought some Rhodes cinnamon rolls.  Rhodes cinnamon rolls need to be set out and warmed up before baking.  We had our cinnamon rolls out and warming up.  My youngest son was over by the cinnamon rolls and apparently he ate one of the raw/uncooked cinnamon rolls.  How do we know he did it?  His older sibling came up and asked if he could have a cinnamon roll too.  Sure enough we were missing a cinnamon roll.

Anyway, it was just funny to think about this.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day - Post mortem

Valentine's Day happened two days ago.  In light of the big day, I'm going to offer the men in the audience some advice on how to make an impact on their wife or girlfriend.  So here goes nothing...

1.)  Give up the porn:  Dudes, stay away from that crap and everything that is like unto it.  If your wife or girlfriend is into that stuff, get her away from it too.  Women don't like their men participating in that.  It makes them insecure and it messes with your brain.  I know too many people who have been trapped in that lie and they have destroyed themselves and their relationships and marriages.  So if you're into it, get un-into it.  NOW!  If you need help, please see:

2.)  Do something thoughtful/show your wife that you love her.  What's thoughtful?  How do you show your wife you love her?  Here are some suggestions:

  • Heart attack her.  What does that mean?  Well, don't scare the poor woman!  Get a bunch of red construction paper.  Cut out a bunch of hearts.  Lots of hearts.  Write something on them.  Then disperse them in various places.  For example, I taped one red heart to the inside cup of my wife's bra.  I put "Not bigger, just better."  Put them on her cell phone, on her key ring, inside her check book, in her car, on her pillow, in her favorite book that she likes to read, on her shoes that she wears, on the smoke detector, inside her diary/journal, and so forth.  Why do women like this?  Because it shows that you put some thought into what you are doing.  It isn't necessarily what you do, but the amount of thought that you put into doing it.
  • Do some household chores.  Make the bed.  Wash some clothes.  Fold the clothes.  Clean up the dishes.  Make dinner and then clean up afterward.  Change a messy diaper.  Do something that you normally don't do that your wife/girlfriend typically does.  Women like it when you help them out around the home.
  • Flowers.  They don't have to be expensive, just get her some flowers.  If your woman isn't into flowers, then see above.
  • Give her a card or write her a note.  Tell her how much she means to you.  Tell her you would marry her all over again if you had to do it all over again.  Tell her she is the most wonderful thing since sliced bread.
  • Be a gentleman.  I should not have to say this, but treat your wife/girlfriend with respect.  Open the door for her.  Help her with her coat.  Pull her seat out for her at dinner.  This is stuff you should be doing all the time and not just on Valentine's day.
  • Plan something together.  Because my wife is so busy, I really can't surprise her very well.  About the only surprise I have in my arsenal is to do something which appears spontaneous, but has been  planned in advance.  Things I would like to do to surprise my wife would be to take her away for a weekend on what appears to be short/no notice, but in reality has been planned for some time.  It can't work because I have to tell my wife not to commit to things for a particular time period.  I just can't intercept everything that she does because I'm not always in the loop.  So because of our schedules, I end up telling her what I'm planning to do and involve her in the planning process.  It isn't as spontaneous as it otherwise would be, but it works.
  • Ask and listen.  Ask your wife what she likes and then listen to what she is saying.  If she likes to camp and you don't, then surprise her and go camping.  Be a part of her hobbies.
3.)  Give your significant other a back rub.  If you have a girlfriend, rub her feet and ONLY her feet.  Stop there.  If you're married, start with her feet and end at her neck.

4.)  Listen.  Most women love to talk.  They will talk for hours.  You may be tempted to tune out.  Don't.  Absolutely don't tune your woman out.  Listen to hear.  Interact with her.  Find out what makes her tick and use that wealth of information so that you can surprise and please her.  Go shopping with her.  That way you get to know her tastes.  So when it comes time to making a purchase (hopefully) you've figured her out well enough to make a fairly educated purchase.  You may not always hit a home run, but you'll do better than if you don't listen and you aren't a part of her life.

I could probably go on, but I'm drawing a blank at the moment.  I'm going to offer some advice to the women in the audience.

1.)  Whatever he does, be appreciative of it.  If you want to make a guy mad, don't say "Thank you".  Ingratitude (or if I thought I was there solely for the entertainment of my date and nothing else) would sink the relationship faster than the iceberg that sank the Titanic.  So be gracious.  Remember in these tough economic times your honey may want to do more for you, but can't.  So please, please don't be critical.  Additionally, a guy's ego can be invested in what he's given you.  If you dis on his gift, you've just dissed on his ego.  The chances of you getting something good in the future is about a snowball's chance of survival in a very warm place.

2.)  Tell your guy want you like/want.  Guys can't read minds.  The only person that I know of that could do that walked the earth 2,000 years ago.  The rest of us poor schmucks have never had the ability to do that, nor will we ever be able to read your mind.  Many of us are poor communicators.  So we appreciate it when the woman we love and adore is open and honest with us and will talk to us and tell us what you want.  Guys will work like crazy to please a woman, so be careful with what you ask for.  Be sensitive to the man's financial means and the amount of time available.  Example:  My wife wants a bigger house.  She let me know about it.  I told her "No" because of finances.  She continued to push and I continued to hold my ground.  She has accepted the answer and has moved on, although she does read the online ads for houses.  She just doesn't bring it up any more and has accepted our situation.  I would love to buy her a bigger house, but I know what I can and cannot financially afford so I hold my ground.

3.)  Ask your honey what he likes and dislikes.  You can't read guy's minds any better than they can read yours.  You just think you can read his mind.  Ask him what he likes and doesn't like.  WARNING!!  Some guys don't have a filter and will give you what they like and don't like, which may be devastating to you.  If you cannot handle the truth, then don't ask.  But if you ask, be prepared for the answer, regardless of what it is.  And don't be mad at the guy for speaking his mind.  You did ask for his likes and dislikes, did you not?  So be prepared for the tsunami of revelation that may come from it.  If you can handle this, you will receive a wealth of information that will help you understand your man.

One other thing to remember is that some guys simply won't tell you stuff.  Why?  Because they are afraid.  They are afraid of your response to the truth.  If you or someone else have asked for his opinion in the past and he's been hammered for giving his opinion, chances are you won't get much of a response from him.  If he has told you personal stuff and you've used it against him in an argument, he won't be respond with much info.  He might test the waters and float a few things and see how you respond.  If you blow a gasket, he will shutdown, put up armor defenses and hunker down reading himself for the shelling he is about to receive.  But if he thinks you are handling the truth well, then he may open up even more.  So listen.  Ask questions.  Understand.  Because if your man opens up to you, you will see his soul.  If you crap on his soul, he will no longer open up unless he feels he can trust you again.  If you repeatedly burn him, he may never open up to you ever again, regardless of any assurances you may give him to the contrary.  Dudes just don't like getting hurt.  They would rather wander in the desert for a week without food and water and risk death than get their emotions stomped on.

    Saturday, February 5, 2011

    If it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all...

    Gloom, despair, and agony on me. 
    Deep dark depression obsessive misery. 
    If it weren't for bad luck I'd have no luck at all.
    Gloom, despair, and agony on me.
    (Song from the TV show Hee Haw)

    Do you ever have days or weeks where you feel like that?  I do, but I think that is called life...

    During Christmas break while I was cleaning a clogged drain downstairs, I noticed that the $9.99 "plumber friendly" (that's code for cheap piece of crap) sink was leaking.  The sink is actually in two pieces bonded together by what looks like silicon caulk kind of stuff.  So instead of making it one piece, it was two pieces.  It started leaking where it was bonded together.  Great.  So I clean the drain and put it all back together.

    So the wife and I are off to the local Home Depot.  We get a sink and a new faucet because I really do dislike the "plumber friendly" faucet that is in the downstairs bathroom.  I rip it out, and reinstall.  I have a small problem.  The faucet has one water line longer than the other and when I went to get a hose, I couldn't find anything that was short enough to accommodate it.  I ended up getting one of those plastic hoses that you cut to the length you want (yet another "plumber friendly" solution) with a compression fitting and putting it all put back together again.

    Everything was good until a couple of weeks ago.  One morning I hear this noise in my house.  It sounded like my furnace was on, but it was running for a lot longer than just the furnace.  It was before 6:00 AM and I really was not interested in getting out of my warm bed to find out what was going on.  Then my oldest daughter comes running in our bedroom to inform us that the basement is flooding.  "Oh $&!#."  We went flying down there to indeed find water in the basement.  Well, come to find out my compression fitting on my hose came loose and yes, I did have a (partially) flooded basement.  That story is just longer than I care to tell at the moment.  We filed an insurance claim and we're still in the process of getting our basement completely restored.

    Fast forward to today.  I'm upstairs working on my income taxes for 2010 and my wife comes upstairs to inform me that our washing machine just puked on us.  It is out of warranty for like a year.  (We bought this really nice Kenmore HE3t washing machine about six years ago and I paid some extra money to get a four year extended warranty.  That extended warranty expired a year ago.  About once a year we needed to have something in the multiple hundred dollar range fixed on it, so we knew that it was going to cost us a pretty penny to fix it.  And we just weren't interested in spending that much money on repairing it.)  When you're married and you have half a dozen kids living at home (my wife calculated that she does approximately 20 loads of laundry a week), you really can't go very long without a washing machine, especially when only one of your kids has two pairs of pants to wear to school.  Before shopping I troll the internet looking for trying to get the best washing machine for the money.  I was discouraged because there is a lot of garbage out there.

    So after dinner we head out the door.  Because of my web trolling I knew that Best Buy was having a killer sale on washing machines.  We talked about going to Best Buy, but instead we decided to head to the Home Depot to see what they had.  Home Depot was closer than Best Buy.  And I wasn't sure we were going to find anything there anyway.  So we stopped.  We shopped.  And we talked.  We discovered that LG has some pretty good stuff and they had a higher end model that would probably take care of us.  It was on sale (10% off sale for energy star appliances).  So the sales associate goes to Best Buy's site and finds the same washer there but for over $100+ off, even with the 10% discount.  So they price match.  Well, when Home Depot price matches, they match the competitor's price, plus they knock off another 10%.  Cha-ching!  The appliance associate writing the sale tries to override the additional discount, but the system won't let him.  (I'm laughing as I type this because this is so funny.....)  So, we're all good and we realize that because of Best Buy and Home Depot, we're getting a pretty good deal on this washing machine.  We get all the paperwork done.  We go up front and they ring us up.  We get up there and when the cashier rings us up, they give us another 10% off the already discounted-price-matched price.  CHA-CHING!!!  And because we're buying two extended warranties (one for the washer and the drier that we're picking up), they knock 20% off the price of the extended warranties.  My wife and I look at each other and we're afraid to say anything.  Please realize that we are spending a wad of cash AND they are getting the full price for the drier that they sold us AND they sold us two extended warranties.  (Purchasing the extended warranty on my Kenmore HE3t was probably the best extended warranty money I ever spent.)  So they may be loosing their shirts on the washer, but they're making up for it on the drier and the extended warranties.  (If we don't have a service call for either appliance in four or five years, then they just made pure profit on that extended warranty sale.)  I figure they are probably breaking even or making a few bucks off of us.  And that tax return I thought I was going to get, well, it will be used to pay for my newly purchased washer and drier.

    All I can say is that someone on high was looking out for us.  And to a certain degree I had the karma thing going for me.  Many months ago I bought several toilets from Home Depot.  Because of how my house was built, I wasn't able to use two of the three toilets that I purchased.  And in all the exchanges and so forth, Home Depot ended up giving me more money back than I should have received.  I found the error and contacted them and I sent them a check to make up for the error they made in my favor.  So it is as if today I was being "rewarded" for being honest with them in the past.  And even though I had a bad thing happen to me (my washing machine broke on me) and I had to spend a lot of money to replace it, I didn't spend as much money as I would have had things not worked out as well as they did.  So, in the end, I've been blessed.  And I have my tax refund there to help me pay for this expenditure.  Like I said, someone is watching out for us and blessing us.

    Wednesday, February 2, 2011

    2010 New Year's Resolution (results)

    I was looking through my postings and I had a new years resolution for 2010 to drop 50 pounds in a year.  Well, that didn't happen in 2010.  Maybe in 2011.  But at the rate I'm going, it won't happen this year either.  I do have to try.  Once I'm over this cold, I'll try again.

    Vonage class action lawsuit

    Well, it looks like Vonage's disconnect runaround has finally caught up with it.  I got an email from some attorneys titled "Vonage Class Action Settlement Notice".  The actual site is:

    So if you are a former Vonage customer, go to that site and check it out.  You probably got an email from them about it.  The only way these companies will learn not to hose customers is to get stuff like this thrown at them.  Of course they claim no wrong doing because they bury all their caveats in the long user agreement that they have.  Just like credit card offers that promised a fixed interest rate for the life of the credit card or balance transfer, but yet the fine print states that they can jack your interest rate up at any time for any reason.  And guess what happened to the credit card companies.  Yep, you guessed it.  They got legislated.  When people get hosed and they feel "cheated" and there are enough of them, they will fight back. 

    The $64,000 question is will Vonage learn from their mistakes?  If they are smart they will.  Only time will tell.  Until that time, I wouldn't touch these guys with a 10 foot pole.

    Tuesday, February 1, 2011

    Text messaging

    My daughter loves to bend (and ignore) the rules of the house.  Last week she went on a school sponsored road trip and took my cell phone because the kids cell phone battery was close to dying.  While she was away, she texted a young man.  My wife and I don't want her to text because she really is too young to be texting.

    Yesterday I was driving home and I got a text message.  The message came in at 10:55PM and had the following message:

    "(Daughter's name)!  Are you still awake?"

    I was a bit annoyed that this young boy was texting my daughter at such a late hour.  I could ignore it, but that would mean that he would end up doing it again.  I wanted him to know that this wasn't my daughter's cell phone, so I sent the following text back five minutes later:

    "This is (daughter's name) dad and I am still awake."

    I sent it back and no response, which is what I was hoping for.

    My daughter went to school today and her friend told her about the incident.  I don't think that will happen again.  Yeah, I know.  I'm a mean Dad.  She can get her own cell phone and text to her heart's content when she leaves and goes to college.

    Thursday, January 20, 2011

    Utah is an open carry gun state

    The local news reported an incident where a guy took a gun to the local mall.  He didn't actually go into the mall.  He walked around outside the mall carrying the guns.  The guns he had were in plain site and were in the style of "assault weapons". 

    So, why is he doing this?  Well, Utah is an "open carry" state.  What does that mean?  It means that you can openly carry an unloaded firearm in public.  Actually, if I remember correctly, you can carry a loaded weapon, such as a revolver, but you can't have a round in the cylinder directly behind the barrel and the next cylinder.  So if you have a six shooter, two of the six cylinders need to be empty.  Anyway, Utah state law allows you to do what this guy is doing and so he decided to do it.  Is it his right?  Absolutely.  Is it the right thing to be doing, especially after the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords?  Probably not.  People tend to get a little freaked out when you're marching around the mall with a gun or two in plain view.  Not smart.  It kind of reminds me of this video.

    I'm sure Mr. Taylor is trying to prove a point that if a law permits him to walk around with an unloaded gun, he should be free to do it.  Well Mr. Taylor, you're really not helping the gun group's cause.  You're coming across as a gun nut.  And frankly, with the recent shootings in Arizona, you really can't blame people for over-reacting just a bit.  If you want to help the gun cause, then go teach someone how to shoot.  Don't go parading around like you do because you're becoming the next poster boy for the anti-gun group.  There are enough of those right now to go around.  We don't need another one.

    Wednesday, January 5, 2011

    Happy New Year!!!

    Happy New Year!!  Welcome to 2011!  I hope everyone had a safe and happy Christmas and a great new year.

    Generally we do a Christmas letter and family photo.  This year, we will send nothing.  Sorry folks.  We were just too busy.  For me, 2010 wasn't that bad of a year.  I hope 2011 is better.  I hope the economy gets better.  I'm not overly optimistic, but I hope that it is better than last year.