Monday, December 28, 2009

iCatchup with iPictures

The other day I downloaded all my photos off my iPhone, so I decided to post a few of the top pictures here. Forgive me if I've already posted any of them.

This first one is from a date night that Child's parents gave us. They watched Ash while Child and I went to an Egyptian museum that was hosting a date night for couples. We did Egyptian-themed activities like writing something in Egyptian hieroglyphics (mine says supercalifragilisticexpealidocious) and having a mummy-wrapping contest.

Child in a mummy wrap.

We were playing Pirates' Dice with a cousin of mine. The rules clearly state that since it's a piratey game, you're allowed to try to peek at other people's dice. Leaning over towards the other players is suspicious, though, so I just stuck my iPhone over his shoulder and took a pictures.

A few weeks ago the animal shelter had an appreciation luncheon for all the area rescues, animal control officers, and volunteers. I was invited for old time's sake. This was a cake that one of the shelter employees made; it's sort of a tradition at the shelter. (Don't worry, the litter box was washed really well before she used it for the cake.)

Nothing like buying your precious darling a "Minnie the Fiend" blanket...

Thursday, December 17, 2009


Why would you pierce the ears of an 18 month old baby?

Especially if it looks like a boy?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I just need your social security number now.

I was playing Scrabble online, and after saying hello to my opponent over the in-game chat, I asked a common question. "So, where are you from?"

"Pretty sure I'm not going to tell you that one. I know how things go on the Internet," she said.

I was surprised, and a little impressed. Most people don't have a clue about privacy on the Internet. At the same time, giving away your state (the usual answer) isn't usually a danger, since that narrows you down to at the least 500,000 people (hello, Wyoming!). I said something to that effect to her, but there was no immediate response.

It made me curious though. She also had a picture of herself and her full name right there as her profile name. "If you're worried about privacy, why do you have your full name right there?" I asked.

"Do you know how many people don't use their real names?" she said.

Well, no. And I noticed that she didn't actually say that wasn't her real name. It was an uncommon name, but it sounded pretty realistic.

I did a quick Google search of that name, which turned up a bare 46 results. Most of them led back to a single MySpace page, owned by a girl with the same name...and the same person in the profile picture. With all sorts of details about the girl, including her age, occupation, home town, which schools she was attending, and the fact that she was going to be away from home for the weekend visiting family.

As it turns out, her home state was pretty uncommon as well. South Dakota. I felt a little guilty; she was probably right not to give it out. That uncommon state, combined with the fact that her name only turned up one significant person, was pretty compelling.

About that time, she posted another message in the Scrabble chat. Apparently she had thought about what I said, and decided that I was right, the state didn't give away that much. "South Dakota," she had posted.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Where's narcolepsy when you need it?

My wife's asleep on the bed. Our daughter is asleep beside her. Our niece is asleep in the crib. Our cat is asleep behind my computer.

Why am I awake again?

Hint: he's talking about a favicon

what do I need to tilte and icon to needs to be to show up in the address bar and what size that is?


The top two pictures are of me (left) and Child (right). The bottom picture is our (now 11 week old) baby, Ash. Who does she look more like?

Monday, November 23, 2009


1. Smokers Stink

Do smokers realize how bad they smell? I know this isn't unique to me, but I can be sitting in my car at a stoplight, with the windows rolled up, smell cigarette smoke, look around, and spot a smoker in a car several yards away.

Today I was walking through one end of the lobby of a building, and I smelled smoke. Sure enough, a distance away across the lobby was a smoker. He wasn't even smoking at the time, just standing there obviously waiting for someone. He just emanated cigarette smoke smell.

I'm just glad I live in a part of the country where very few people smoke. I don't know how people in high-smoking areas stand the stench and the carcinogens so thoughtfully foisted on them smokers.

2. Unethical People Stink

People telling lies. People implying things that aren't true. People furthering personal grudges by taking advantage of their position. Employers lining their pockets at the expense of their employees. People lining their pockets by taking advantage of the inexperience or lack of knowledge of others. I'm shocked by how some of these brokerages treat their agents, and what they'll do to make some money.

3. Jealousy Stinks

Even though I would never lower myself to that level, it's still hard to hear about people not that different from myself making hundreds of thousands of dollars by doing unethical things.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Why would a hacker wear gloves?

A story on CNN about hackers messing with Comcast's homepage had the following image:

Why is the hacker wearing gloves? You can't really type with gloves on, and what exactly is their purpose? Are you trying to keep from getting fingerprints on your own keyboard?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Fun and games!

Two nights ago, Child surprised me with a trip to "Play!", put on by the Utah Symphony, where they played music from video games. It was tons of fun. They had music from classics like Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog, up to modern games like Halo and World of Warcraft.

I had to laugh, though. Child was crowing about how sneaky she was to get me into nice clothes for the symphony without me suspecting that something was up, then we get there and there's people wearing death metal tee-shirts and spiky purple hair. It reminded me of the time we went to the Tran-Siberian Orchestra and saw an older couple walking in wearing a really nice suit and fancy dress. I'm not sure they knew exactly what kind of music TSO played...

Even considering the subject matter, I was surprised how many kids were at Play!. It was a brilliant scheme to get the younger generation involved in "culture." Abravanel Hall was packed, and I'm surprised it was a one-night only event.

As an addendum, yesterday afternoon I played some Frisbee. The weather was amazing! I seemed to have more energy than I've had the past couple months, the games were exciting and close, and our team pulled out a win in the end. It was just about perfect.

As he was leaving, one of the guys said out loud what was also my opinion, something to the effect of liking playing with this group of people because everyone played hard but no one took the game too seriously. Everyone had fun, and everyone went home happy.

Monday, November 16, 2009

And more.

While I was typing that last post, Child came in and said, "I need to vent some frustrations." She had three different companies she's trying to call (to give them money!), and 5 different phone numbers between them. No one answered.

Seriously, businesses. Do you honestly feel good running this way? I still think dark thoughts about Comcast, Dell, and Brent Brown auto, whose reps at various times misled, lied, and simply hung up on me.

3 for 3

Three companies, three problems, one day! I'm on a roll!

With this company, my online account was having problems. The customer rep I called said they knew about the problem and that it only affected certain accounts, but their systems were down so she couldn't transfer me to the person who could fix the problem. Her advice was to "wait another billing cycle and see if the problem's still there."

Their system was also down the last time I called, a month ago. Either they have a terrible system, or it's a convenient excuse to avoid doing anything.

If I ever start a company, "customer service" isn't going to be a PR phrase, it's going to be a top priority.


If you gave someone a $3,000 check, and they didn't cash it for a month and a half, would you cancel it and hope they had forgotten about it, or would you remind them about it?

If someone did that to you (the "cancel and hope you forgot about it" option) , how would you react?

Stuck a between rock and a hard place

GiantInsuranceCompany(tm) says they attempted to charge my credit card for my premium, and the charge was reversed. BankOfVisaCard(tm) says no request was made, much less a reverse or decline on a charge.

So what now happens? I'll tell you what happens: I get stuck with a fee.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Attitude problems

We have a great daughter, but I've gotta say, she has a real chip on her shoulder.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Double meaning

Our company is building a website for a medical software company. Their tagline is "Whether your patient is coming in or going out, [Company] has the solution."

Considering that their software will potentially be used to manage terminal patients, perhaps "going out" isn't a good phrase to use...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

And it's the kitchen by a nose!

Yesterday, Child and I got a clock that we ordered online. It has the spiffy feature that it projects the time on the ceiling--a nice feature when you wake up every few hours with a baby.

The clock is a "radio controlled" clock, meaning the time is set automatically to a radio signal it receives from an atomic clock based in Colorado.

Child and I had to laugh when we reached this part of the instructions: "It is highly recommended to set the projection the area of your home that is closest to Colorado."

Let's see, closest to Colorado...would that be the living room or kitchen? Better get out my ruler.

(In fairness, this is only during the setup phase of the clock, because they want the fewest number of walls between the clock and the radio signal, but still...)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Favicons are the little icon next to the address bar at the top of your browser.

This is more of a note to myself so I can find it later, but it might come in handy down the road to someone else:

<link rel="shortcut icon" type="image/x-icon" href="/images/favicon.ico">

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Random Acquaintance

Yesterday, Child and I attended a baptism for one of her high-school friends. While there, she met another friend who had recently gotten married. During introductions, we found out that both I and Child's friend's husband have the same first name. We also are both programmers. We both program in PHP. We both work from home.

The coincidences didn't stop there. We both looked familiar to each other, and after running through Ultimate Frisbee, college classes, and old apartments, we realized that we knew each other from a past writing group. In the process of figuring that out, Child and I found out that he and his friends had actually started the Quark club (BYU's sci-fi/fantasy club) many years ago. Quark was where Child and I first met. (Incidentally, "quark" is the sound a quantum duck makes.)

He thought it had died out when he and his friends left college, and it actually had, but someone had eventually revived it. It's now a full-blown club with dozens of active members; weekly writing meetings, reading groups, and movie nights; monthly socials; and at least one marriage a year. He was shocked to hear that, and I think it made his day to know that the club he had started was going so strong.

Completely unrelated: if Jean Valjean used the prison number tattooed on his chest to prove that he was Jean Valjean instead of the innocent man Javert had captured, then why didn't the LACK of a tattoo on the innocent man's chest prove his innocence?

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Out you go!

This makes me happy.

In short, the mayor of Stockon tried to fire a policeman who gave his son a ticket. Talk about your sense of entitlement. The town was rightly angered, and the situation was made worse by the mayor's refusal to talk about the situation at a town meeting.

Fortunately, the town was in the middle of elections, and the mayor was promptly kicked out, garnering less than 25% of the vote. Some of those votes were from people who voted (by mail) before the incident happened and wanted to change their votes after, but were denied.

The system still works on occasion.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Depths of plumbing

Our house has plumbing problems. They're not related in any way, but over the last couple months I've had to figure out how to fix toilet problems, bathtub problems, bathroom sink problems, and finally kitchen sink/disposal problems.

Look out Mario, I'm moving up.


Last night I dreamed about bread. But this wasn't just any bread, it was delicious, airy-light French bread, crackly on the outside and soft, smooth, and almost sweet on the inside. It was amazing.

Maybe it was because we were looking at wheat grinders and talking about making bread the night before.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Amazon oops!

This morning Amazon started a promotion, selling the new Tran-Siberian Orchestra album "Night Castle" for cheap. I bought it using the credit card number Amazon had thoughtfully (and un-asked for, as far as I can remember) remembered from the last time I bought something, then I downloaded the MP3s.

A couple hours later, I got a notice saying that the credit card I had used was invalid and my order was being canceled. I went and checked my Amazon account, and sure enough the credit card was an old one. However, I've already downloaded the MP3s.

Do I call them up and say, "Hey, I need to give you money!" Do I just re-buy the album using a valid credit card even though I don't need to download it again? Why didn't they run the credit card before allowing me to download the album in the first place?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Crackers for all!

Yesterday, Child and I visited the animal shelter to show off Ash. We visited a couple weeks ago but missed a couple friends so we visited again. Pat had made a beautiful blanket with cat faces on it for Ash.

Faster! Faster!

There's a deer doing laps in the empty field across from my window. Seriously, he's sprinting across it, turning around, and sprinting back. He's already done it like three times.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Rights, and not so rights

Last night and this morning I read an extremely interesting talk by Elder Dallin H. Oaks about religious freedom, and how it was under attack.

It got me thinking about "rights." Rights are what are at the center of the "gay marriage" debate, but I think a large part of the disconnect between those for and against comes down to differing beliefs about rights.

Every right is not created equal. There are basic human rights, some of which are outlined in the U. S. Bill of Rights and all of which are granted by God/the universe/existance/whatever metaphysical concept you choose to accept. Other rights are those defined and granted by political bodies, such as speed limits, the drinking age, the voting age, municipal waste dumping laws, etc.

The tricky part here is that political bodies have stepped in and blurred the line. They've taken the basic human right of a religious union and wrapped it with a vast collection of government-granted privileges. This gray area causes confusion to arise. What exactly does the government have the right to do when it comes to marriage, and what supersedes its rights? Inevitably, because of the confusion and the nature of government, it overstepped its bounds.

And what were the opposing camps supposed to do? The religionists saw a cherished human right as being under attack and tried to protect it by codifying it into a form the government understood (a constitutional amendment), while the pro-gay-marriage activists understandably in turn saw that as an attack on their attempt to gain political privileges similar to those enjoyed by married couples, and fought back.

Result? Instant divide.

Unfortunately, there's no easy fix. Religionists will always think that pro-gay-marriage activists are contributing to the erosion of the foundation of society. Religionists won't like giving special privileges to a demographic that they see as defining themselves by a sexual deviancy. On the other hand, same-sex couples will always think they are being marginalized until they have the exact same privileges as heterosexual couples.

However, those irreconcilable differences were no excuse for the behavior that occurred before and after the Proposition 8 vote. If I understand him correctly, that was Elder Oaks' point. The Proposition 8 vote was all about political privileges to gay marriage advocates, yet they simultaneously attempted to deny other voters their political privilege of voting, by using intimidation.

Granted: neither side was blameless in every aspect. However, voter intimidation is pretty serious. I'm not aware of anything the pro-Prop-8 crowd did that approached that level.

I think both camps need to start by coming to a better understand the opposing camp's point of view. Religionists would see that same-sex marriage advocates aren't deliberately fighting against marriage, but for similar priviliges to those enjoyed by heterosexual marriages. And same-sex marriage advocates would benefit by understanding that this is a bigger issue to religionists than just hospital visitation and death benefits.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The truth is out there

Knowledge leads to understanding and happiness.

Half-truths, outright lies, and even facts taken out of context lead to confusion and unhappiness.

Go with your gut on this one.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Worst Nightmare

It's official. I had to add Internet Explorer 8 to my list of browsers to support. Curse you, IE 8!!!

How come every version of Internet Explorer that comes out insists on rendering a webpage slightly different from all its earlier incarnations? I look at the same webpage in IE 6, 7 and 8 and one has a weird gap between two elements, one thinks it's Picasso and skews an image, and the third one decides to get creative positioning an element.

I know it's possible to be consistent; Firefox has managed to do it right the past three or four versions I've used. In Firefox, I've only seen one problem that occurred from upgrading to a new version, and that was a fairly esoteric mouse dragging issue.


Health Savings Account (HSA) Research

I've been doing comparison of various health savings account (HSA) providers, and there's a lot of variety. Here's my findings so far:

Setup fee: $0 for partnered health insurance providers
Monthly fee: $2.50

Debit Account:
Interest paid:
$0 – $999.99: 0.50%
$1,000.00 – $4,999.99: 0.75%
$5,000.00 – $14,999.99: 1.00%
$15,000.00+: 2.02%

Investing Account:
Monthly fee: $1.50
Transaction fee: $14.95
Options: 7 major mutual funds

Impression: It was hard for their agents to get their fees straight. Three calls resulted in three different sets of fees, although each fee bounced around between two values. The fourth time I called (to see if I'd get yet another quote) I got a guy I had gotten before so I couldn't see if I'd get yet another. Anyway, I took the value for the fees that was quoted two out of three times in each case.

They had a nice selection of mutual funds from seven major companies (including American Funds and Fidelity), but no Vanguard, which I was hoping to find.

HealthSavings Administrators
Setup fee: $20
Monthly fee: $3.25

Debit Account:
Monthly fee: $2.00 (for balances below $2,500)

Interest paid:
$0.00 – $99.99: 0.00%
$100.00 – $999.99: 0.15%
$1,000.00 – $4,999.99: 0.50%
$5,000.00 – $14,999.99: 1.00%
$15,000.00+: 1.50%

Investing Account:
Quarterly fee: 0.0008 * account balance, max $16 per mutual fund
Options: 22 Vanguard mutual funds

Impression: The reason I found this company was because I was looking for a company that offered Vanguard mutual funds, which they did. One of the few, apparently. On the downside, you're limited to 22 pre-selected Vanguard mutual funds.

An even bigger downside: you can't have both a debit account and an investing account. You have to choose one or the other. This means if you want to invest your money (and you do) then you don't have a handy debit card to make your purchases/payments with. You'd have to submit a reimbursment request for each transaction (or perhaps you can submit them all at once at the end of the year?).

On the plus side, they don't charge transaction fees to move money into or out of their 22 Vanguard mutual funds.

This one's tricky. Apparently Humana (who we're getting our high-deductible health plan through) negotiated their own rates with Chase, so these numbers might not apply perfectly to everyone. I imagine they're close though.

Setup fee: $0 for partnered health insurance providers
Monthly fee: $3.00 ($2.50 if you use a non-partnered health insurance provider)

Debit Account:
Interest paid: 1.01%, no matter the account balance (0.50% for non-partnered plans)

Investing Account:
Monthly fee: $2.50
No transaction fees.
Options: JPMorgan and American Century mutual funds only.

Impression: limited investing choices. The fees you're charged and interest you get may vary depending on who your insurance provider is (this is probably the case with a lot of companies). In short, the limited investing choices is the biggest con, and the 1.01% interest rate is the biggest pro.

First Horizon Msaver:
Setup fee: $0 for partnered health insurance providers
Monthly fee: $2.50

Debit Account:
Interest paid:
$0 - $499.99: 0.10%
$500 - $3,499.99: 0.20%
$3,500 - $4,999.99: 0.50%
$5,000 - $9,999.99: 0.75%
$10,000+: 1.00%

Investing Account:
Monthly fee: $2.50 if you only stick to 8 selected Goldmann Sachs mutual funds, $0 if you go their full brokerage account route.
Transaction fees: $29.95+ if you go their full brokerage account route.
Options: Potentially anything

Impression: I like their website. I like the fact that you can open a brokerage account that gives you access to whatever stocks or mutual funds (Vanguard!) you want, but the transaction fees are really high.

Fifth Third Bank
Setup fee: $0 for partnered health insurance providers
Monthly fee: $2.00

Debit Account:
Interest paid:
$0.01 - $2,999.99: 0.50%
$3,000.00– $4,999.99: 1.00%
$5,000.00+: 1.50%

Investment Account:
Monthly fee: $2.00
Transaction fees: $0
Options: 25 funds from a variety of companies

Impression: Uses a MasterCard debit card. I seem to notice that a lot of places don't accept MasterCard. Is that really the case?

HSA Bank
Setup fee: $18.00
Monthly fee: $2.25

Debit Account:
Interest paid:
Below $500: 0.25%
$500 - $2,499.99: 0.65%
$2,500 - $4,999.99: 1.00%
$5,000 - $14,999.99: 1.50%
$15,000+: 2.05%

Investment Account:
Everything is done through TD Ameritrade.
Transaction fee for stock: $10
Transaction fee for no-load mutual funds: $50 (high!)
Investment options: anything

It doesn't appear like Ameritrade has very good customer reviews, and the fee for a no-load mutual fund is really high, but the benefit is that you can invest in anything you want.

HealthEquity (IntermountainHealthCare's preferred HSA vendor, based in Draper, UT) gets a dishonorable mention and no link because they refuse to disclose their interest rates until you actually sign up. Seriously?! What type of bank (or ANY financial institution) doesn't tell you their interest rates up front? I'll tell you what type: the type that have poor and uncompetitive interest rates. I'd be interested in talking to anyone who uses them to see if that's the case.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Health Savings Account (HSA)

Child and I have been looking into health insurance options. With a new baby, our rates are about to go up, and it's hard paying all the money we do when all of us are healthy as far as we can tell.

The option we've decided on is a Health Savings Account (HSA).

The idea is that instead of paying full premiums for regular health insurance, you pay a smaller premium for health insurance with a high deductible (high-deductible health plan, or HDHP). Along with that, you open a special health savings account (HSA) where you can deposit money (such as the money you saved by paying smaller premiums). This money is used to pay for any medical expenses.

There's a few pros and cons.

If nothing ever happens to you, you're not out the money as you would have been if you'd spent it on insurance premiums. It just builds in your savings account.

Any money you put into the savings account is untaxed if you eventually use it for qualified medical expenses.

"Qualified medical expenses" are defined very broadly. Things like acupuncture, chiropractors, even lasik eye surgery are acceptable, as well as the more usual things like medications. You're still paying for the chiropractor, but if you'd be paying anyway, it's better to pay with untaxed money.

After age 65, you can take the money out for non-medical expenses without penalty, although it will still be income taxed if used for non-medical expenses. (In other words, it will be tax-deferred.)

You have a very high deductible; usually $3,000 to $10,000. This means that if something big happens, you have a very large out-of-pocket expense before insurance kicks in.

This also means that for smaller things like doctor visits and prescription medications, you'll be paying for everything since it's doubtful you'll reach your deductible.

Any money you put in the savings account is supposed to be used for medical expenses only. Before age 65, if you take it out for something other than medical expenses, the government hits you with a 10% penalty plus income tax.

Monday, October 12, 2009

A Star (A*) path/route finding Javascript code

For a little side project I was working on, I needed a Javascript implementation of the A Star (A*) path finding algorithm. I couldn't find a good/simple one online, so I coded my own. I'm posting it here in case anyone else is interested in using it. Example map:  
Example path:  
The usage is simple. Make a single function call, passing in the start and destination x/y locations as arrays (e.g. [1, 2]), the board as a two-dimensional array (where 0 means a spot is open), and the number of rows and columns in your board. A final parameter indicates whether diagonal movement should be allowed.
path = a_star(start, destination, board, rows, columns, allow_diagonals);

The function will return an array of nodes from start to destination with the shortest path. The x/y values of each node can be accessed like so: path[0].x or path[0].y.  

for (var i = 0; i < path.length; i++)
    alert("X/Y of path node: "+path[i].x+"/"+path[i].y);

Download the A Star Javascript code.

Example implementation:
        <script src="a_star.js"></script>
        //Set the number of rows and columns for the board
        var rows = 10;
        var columns = 10;

        //Create the board, setting random squares to be obstacles
        var board = [];
        for (var x = 0; x < columns; x++)
            board[x] = [];

            for (var y = 0; y < rows; y++)
                //Give each square a 25% chance of being an obstacle
                var square = Math.floor(Math.random()*4);

                //0 = open, 1 = obstacle
                if (square == 0)
                    board[x][y] = 1;
                    board[x][y] = 0;
        //Set the start and destination squares (and guarantee they're not an obstacle)
        var start = [1, 1];
        board[1][1] = 0;

        var destination = [8, 8];
        board[8][8] = 0;

          //Indicate whether we should do cardinal directions only (N, E, S, W) or diagonal directions as well
         var allow_diagonals = true;

        //Use A* to see if there's a path between them
        var path = a_star(start, destination, board, rows, columns, allow_diagonals);

        //Draw the board
        for (var y = 0; y < rows; y++)

            for (var x = 0; x < columns; x++)        
                document.write("<div id='board_"+x+"_"+y+"' style='"
                    + "float: left;"
                    + " width: 20; height: 20;"
                    + " border: thin solid black;"
                    + " background-color: "+(board[x][y] == 0 ? "white" : "black")
                    + "'></div>");

            document.write("<div style='clear: both;'></div>");

         //Mark the start and end nodes a special border color
        document.getElementById("board_" + start[0] + "_" + start[1]).style.borderColor = "yellow";
        document.getElementById("board_" + destination[0] + "_" + destination[1]).style.borderColor = "yellow";

         //Highlight the path
        for (var i = 0; i < path.length; i++)
            document.getElementById("board_" + path[i].x + "_" + path[i].y).style.backgroundColor = "red";

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Choice Quotes

"Although we're using the term 'radiation' it is nothing like radioactive radiation."
- Found while looking for reviews of the ultraviolet SteriPEN.

September Snow

September refused to go without a final hurrah. This pictures is a little late, from the last day of September, but I wanted to post it anyway.

We had our first taste of snow on the mountains. You can tell from the picture that it didn't make it down to the valley, but it was enough to let us know winter is coming. I always enjoy the changing of the seasons.

Of course, right now our relatives in Wyoming and Idaho have REAL snow. I don't think I envy them yet, not in the beginning of October.

Halloween I

Child had a great idea for a Halloween decoration:

After we did that, I added this to our door:

(The misspelling spelling.)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Learning all sorts of things

Did you know that the Alphabet Song and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star have the same tune? I don't know how many times I've sung both of those, but I never realized it before.

Sleep, I hardly know thee

I can see why new parent turn into "walking zombies." The first few days, Squeakaboo slept great. Last night, we went to bed at 1 AM, she fed until 2:30 or 3, and she woke up again at 5. Hopefully I can get a nappy-time this afternoon.

Unrelated, I was listening to talk radio last night driving home from the vet's when one of the hosts said (the context might be wrong, but the phrasing is right): "And from a janitor for the TSA we got the download on the situation..."

"Download"? I guess it is the digital age now...

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Ups and downs

BYU lost.

On the other hand, my two-year-old retirement account is in the black for the first time ever, thanks to the strong market over the past week.

In the grand scheme of things, I probably came out ahead.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

It's a minionette!

A new recruit has joined the Drek & Child World Domination Organization! It's a girl; 7 pounds, 4 ounces, 22.5 inches long, born at 2:09 AM on 9/17/09. No name yet.

Helpful hint #1: Men: take off your wedding ring during labor. This will prevent an imprint of it from being permanently embedded on the fingers to both sides.

Child twittered updates during labor. Actually, she had me do the updates, which is why one of them said, "Ho0-ah!"

A side effect of this was that my technologically-inclined cousin was one of the first to know Child was having her baby (from the Twitter stream), and posted it on Facebook, where my sister saw it and mentioned it to my mother later that morning.

Helpful hint #2: Make sure your mother doesn't hear about your new baby third-hand.

In our defense, we were planning to actually call people later that morning after we had woken up. Anyway, probably because of her distressing lateness in hearing the news, my mom rushed up to Draper to say hi and see her new granddaughter.

Child's parents visited later that afternoon. They were good enough to bring a few essentials, and it was actually Child's mom's birthday so she and her granddaughter share the same birthday now!

Mother and daughter are doing great and did great during the delivery as well. Active labor was only about four hours long, which was nice.

Helpful hint #3: Don't complain about how much your hand hurts when your wife squeezes it during a contraction.

Also during that day, Child's best friend Kestrel stopped by, also bringing an essential or two. She's actually been really great, coming by several times to check up on Child, bring little gifts, and generally support Child. A real life-saver.

Later that evening, Child's sister and brother-in-law came by and brought dinner with them, which was great. A lady from church had also brought dinner (meatloaf for carnivorous me, and zucchini soup for vegetarian Child) which we tucked away in the fridge.

My sister and brother-in-law were also came down from Idaho to buy a minivan, so they stopped by and saw the Kid also. I took the Kid outside so we could check out their new minivan, and on the way back inside I saw our next-door neighbor. We live in the end unit of a townhome and she lives right next to us, so Child and I were worried that we may have kept her awake during the birth. (Oh yeah, we did a water birth at home.) I showed her the kid and apologized for any noise, but she claimed she didn't hear a thing. Not sure I believe her.

Speaking of the water birth at home, Child had an uphill battle to convince me it was a better idea than the hospital. I'm very sciency and Child is very alternative, so we clash occasionally over things like that. Once Child changed tactics and pointed out that not only would I have free acccess to a refrigerator during the birth, but that a midwife would cost less than a third of our insurance maternity deductible, I was sold.

In retrospect she was totally right; the home birth went great, everything was relaxed (as much as could be during a birth), and having a midwife and assistant giving Child their undivided attention was great. Child had a much better experience then I imagine she would have had in a hospital, and the Kid probably did too.

Helpful hint #4: don't suggest to your wife that you might go play Frisbee the day after your daughter is born.

On day two (today), Child and Kid went outside for a brief bit o' sunshine. It was Child's furthest venture since the Kid was born. Child's a little sore (can't imagine why) so she's mostly been staying in bed while I've been running food and dishes between the upstairs and downstairs.

I did a quick back-of-the-envelope calculation: given that there are 14 stairs, and I've made a trip upstairs or downstairs on average every 10 minutes for the past two days, that means I've walked about ten billion stairs in the last 48 hours. Oh, my suffering. Can anything compare?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Football Rankings

I'm not a huge football fan, but I enjoy following BYU football. It seems like one of the recurring debates in college football (and probably most sports) is about the best way to rank teams.

If A beats B by 10 points, and the next week B turns around and beats A by 10 points, who is better?

If A beats B, and B beats C, and C beats A, who is better?

Anyway, it's only two weeks into the football season, but we can already start to compare teams with each other. BYU has only played two teams (Oklahoma and Tulane), but those teams have each played one other team, and those teams have each played one other, etc. Our network begins to come together.

If we take all the connections we can make and look strictly at the scores, we can come up with an initial ranking. It doesn't tell us much, because if BYU beats Oklahoma by 1 point and Utah beats Utah State by 18, Utah might look better strictly based on the score, but it really depends on how Oklahoma compares to Utah State.

As the network starts to fill out (e.g. as Oklahoma is eventually connected to Utah State) I think the numbers will make more sense, but just for kicks here's my own top 25 rankings after two weeks:

Florida: 40.8 (same)
California: 39 (same)
Nebraska: 37.5 (same)
Texas: 35 (same)
Brigham Young: 33.2 (same)
Iowa: 32
Cincinnati: 32 (same)
Oklahoma: 32 (same)
Texas Tech: 31
UCLA: 30.3
Boise State: 29.4 (same)
Alabama: 29.3 (same)
USC: 27.4 (same)
Boston College: 27
Auburn: 26.3
Tennessee: 25.3
Ohio State: 24 (same)
Duke: 23.7
Houston: 23.5 (same)
LSU: 22.8 (same)
Kentucky: 22.6
Pittsburgh: 22
Penn State: 22 (same)
Michigan: 21.8 (same)
Georgia Tech: 21

The numbers are the average points they beat other teams by (directly, or indirectly through intermediate teams). If it says "(same)" afterwards, then it was also on the AP top 25 rankings (although not necessarily at the same rank).

Surprisingly, the AP poll and I had 15 of the 25 teams in common, although all this really tells me is that my method isn't totally flawed. I'd still trust the AP poll over my technique because they're taking (most likely) better things into account than I am, but I'll be interested to see how we compare once more games are played.

AP ranking:

1 Florida
2 Texas
4 Alabama
5 Mississippi
5 Penn State
7 Brigham Young
8 California
10 Boise State
11 Ohio State
12 Oklahoma
13 Virginia Tech
14 Georgia Tech
15 TCU
16 Oklahoma State
17 Cincinnati
18 Utah
19 Nebraska
20 Miami (FL)
21 Houston
22 Kansas
23 Georgia
24 North Carolina
25 Michigan

Monday, September 14, 2009


I finally looked up what my blood type meant. I'm AB+, which means I belong to an elite group of "Bloodies" to which only 3.4% of Americans belong. We are universal recipients, or the bankers of the transfusion world, happy to rake in the "red gold" from anyone, while stingy and particular about who we doll it back out to.

Ah, it feels good to find out I'm part of exclusive club which I had no control over joining and couldn't leave if I wanted.

Friday, September 11, 2009


Most people have a friend or friends who play World of Warcraft or similar computer games for hours a day. My last semester in college, I had roommates who would play every evening late into the night, and resume play the next morning. I would shake my head and think "They're on the computer way too much," and I'd try to convince them to come out to club meetings or sport activities with me.

After talking with Child today, I really started to realize how many things in our lives are simply a matter of opinion, or motivation, or goal. I thought my roommates spent too much time on the computer--but Child probably thinks I spend too much time on the computer. And I know my mother would in turn think that Child spends too much time on the computer. Going on, I've no doubt that the Amish think ANY time on the computer is too much.

It really is just a matter of interests and motivation.

Child and I come from two very different backgrounds. Child's mother did everything, from cooking to cleaning to laundry. Child was never allowed to cook, much less encouraged to.

My siblings and I, on the other hand, had regularly assigned meals to make. We had a large enough family that us children made most breakfasts (oatmeal, scrambled eggs, or pancakes), and we regularly helped with laundry and all the other usual household chores.

So I get into college life and I'm more than happy to spend $1.50 on a loaf of bread rather than making it from scratch. Which I did at home. Regularly. It takes hours. I evolved laziness to an art form, or per the point I'm trying to make, I assumed a different set of values. I valued time and convenience over superior taste and healthiness of food.

Moving on, I get married. I take my college values into married life and do my best to avoid "work." Why use five dishes to make a meal when you can eat straight from the pot and get away with three? Why vacuum every day when you can vacuum every other day and your visitors are none the wiser? Why start a large chair-refinishing project when you moved away from home to get away from that?

This resulted in an interesting disconnect between Child and I. Child thought I didn't make meals because I didn't know how, while I simply valued my time over an elaborate meal. She thought I didn't do laundry because I didn't know how, while I was simply...well, lazy.

Ironically, at the same time she thought I didn't know how to do laundry, I was secretly thinking I'd be better at doing laundry then her, just because she never did laundry growing up while I did it all the time. I was smart enough not to say anything because then I'd end up doing the laundry, but that was where we stood.

So after some long discussions with Child today, where I clarified that I was lazy because I valued my time over most other things, and where she clarified that I better stop being lazy, I realized that there's really no "right" or "wrong" values (unless you're talking about religion or ethics). However, making a marriage work requires that you at least understand your partner's values. If you don't, you won't understand what makes them tick and it will cause a lot of problems.

Intermountain Healthcare

My brother-in-law IM'd me yesterday. He recently quit his job to start his own business and is in the process of looking for health insurance. I told him Child and I used Intermountain Healthcare and that it was pretty decent for health insurance.

Apparently Obama thinks so too. In his speech to the nation about healthcare, he singled out IHC. "We have long known that some places, like the Intermountain Healthcare in Utah...offer high-quality care at cost below average," Obama said.

When questioned about it, one of the VPs from IHC said, "I think that in Utah, that the providers here often do the right thing in spite of the fact that it's not what is financially rewarded. And around the country, that's less true than it is here."

Interesting. It's kinda nice to know we have a good health insurance company. Even if they have a crazy-high deductible for maternity: $6,500, which doesn't cover the cost of a hospital birth unless something goes wrong. As a matter-of-fact, that was partly what convinced Child and me to do a home birth.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Great Day

Yesterday was a great day. I just have to post about how great it was. It started off with Frisbee in the morning, under a cool, cloudy sky. Our team worked together really well and we kept the edge over the other team most of the game.

Afterwards, I went to a writing meeting and got some good comments on my submission.

After that, Child and I ate sushi with an old friend.

After that, I came home and took a nap, then watched the BYU-Oklahoma game on, where BYU pulled off a stunning victory.

Doesn't get much better than that.

(Oh, and Child and I also watched the latest Psych episode on -- great show.)

Saturday, September 05, 2009

BYU WON!!! Yes, that deserves three exclamation points!

22-something point underdogs and we beat Oklahoma, 14-13!


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A/C problems, or "Sometimes renting is great"

Our kitchen ceiling started dripping water three weeks. If you own your home, it might make your heart sink, but for renters like us, it's more of a, "Heh. We better call our landlord." One of the benefits of renting. :)

The drip lasted about two hours and left an inch or so of water in an ice cream bucket we put down to catch it. The kitchen also happens to be right beneath the air conditioning unit (who knows why the builders put it on the second floor).

Our landlord is in California so he sent a relative over to check it. Panels were removed and replaced, drains were checked, nothing was really done. The leak had stopped, however, so the relative shrugged and went home.

Yesterday, the leak appeared again. This time the landlord called in a real repairman, who checked it out and found a pool of water sitting inside the ducts beneath the A/C unit. Apparently we need a new "main coil." Sounds expensive. Again, I'm glad we're renting for the moment.

Anyway...the whole point to this was that the repairman is here at our house as I write, fixing the A/C. He was in our backyard doing something with the outside unit when I saw a giant praying mantis sitting on the edge of the unit. I took a trowel to brush the praying mantis off, and the A/C guy saw it and freaked out. "Gaaahhhh!!!" In his defense, they do look pretty scary if you're not accustomed to them, but it was funny to see a stocky, bearded guy react like that.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Journey to the Center of...Acadamia?

Today in the newspaper I read a heartwarming story about a young man struggling through amazing challenges and overcoming almost insurmountable obstacles. Here's what he said:

"There were times where it felt hard but I never doubted myself," [Manase Tonga] said. "My coaches all had confidence in me and my fellow players had confidence in me. My wife and family were always behind me and helped me along through the hard times."

His struggle? Passing two summer school classes with a B- or better so he could play football.

Sheesh. He makes it sound like he was summiting Everest or something.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Lotsa Stuff

1. Ultimate Frisbee. It was cool, almost chilly this morning, so Frisbee was great. We got rained on a little, but other than making the Frisbee slightly harder to catch, it wasn't really a problem. I was surprised how few players there were (seven on seven at the most, where the usual is twice that split into two games) until I remembered that Finals Week was over at school and all the students had gone home for the break.

2. Near the end of Frisbee, Child parks and comes running up. "Guess what, we get to take care of an eight-month-old baby for a few days!" I have to say, she is cute. The baby. Well, both my wife and the baby.

3. We ate sushi for lunch. It was delicious. There were six of us eating sushi, all on the all-you-can-eat plan. After we were done eating, I added up the individual prices of each of the sushis we ordered. All-you-can-eat was $16.95 each person, while the price if we had paid for each sushi individually was $16.65 each person (yes, that's $100 worth of sushi total). We were 30 cents short of getting our money's worth..

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Stupid, but we have backups now!

This time, it wasn't me, thank goodness:

DELETE FROM site_page_content WHERE site_id - 1450;

Whoops! Is that a minus sign or an equal sign near the end? Equal sign--just the one site gets deleted. Minus sign...every single website gets deleted (2,500 of them!) except, ironically, the one site that was supposed to be deleted.

Fortunately, because I accidentally deleted the entire user table discovered the backups weren't working just a couple weeks ago, the backups were fixed and working and we were able to restore all the websites in five minutes. A disaster of epic proportions was averted. Funny how things work out like that.

Apparently the bigger problem is that we are a little too quick on the draw when it comes to making changes on the production server. With only two programmers, though, it's hard to rationalize going to the time and effort of setting up a "system," although it would seem that we're rapidly getting to the point where NOT setting up a system is costing us more time and effort.

Monday, August 10, 2009


I've been sick. I rarely get sick. I don't like getting sick.

Last Saturday, I woke up feeling not-too-good and decided to forgo the early-morning mountain biking.

Later that morning, I was playing Frisbee in Provo and just felt tired. I wasn't on top of my game, and for some reason there was only a tiny crowd of people (I found out that Ultimate Frisbee intramurals was that day so a lot of the usual players were gone doing that). The players that remained were taking the game far too seriously, shouting at each other, swearing when they missed a catch, things like that.

45 minutes into playing, another player and I crashed into each other and I almost broke my knee. Later that evening, my knee was still killing me so I took an ibuprofen--the first pill I've taken in a long time. It really helped, though, and my knee stopped hurting, although I woke up Sunday morning feeling blah. My skin was hypersensitive, my chest was congested and I was exhausted so I skipped church, another first in a couple years.

I felt better Monday and Tuesday, then got a head ache which lasted for a couple days--not sure if it was connected or not. By last Saturday I was feeling better, though, and Frisbee was great. The weather was cool, the players were normal and I had fun.

Drek's Opinion of the Day: anything taken to an extreme is bad.

Saturday, August 01, 2009


Child and I are sitting in bed. Child is working on her computer and has been for the last half hour, working on our budget. I am getting bored. "Let's watch 'Trash,'" I say, referring to a Firefly episode. We usually watch DVDs on her laptop.

"Okay," she says. "Where's my computer?"

" is on your stomach. You are using it as we speak. You have been for the last half hour."

Tee hee. Pregnancy brain makes me laugh.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009



Stupid, stupid, stupid.


Stupid, stupid, stupid.

What's more stupid is that our backups have apparently been broken and not backing up for the last month. At least I can't take credit for that.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Burro Wash

Burro Wash! A canyon in Capitol Reef Park. My last canyoneering trip of the year, according to Child. For some reason, she doesn't want me to be gone when Nine is born. I'm not sure what the big deal is...

Anyway, five of us went on this trip. From left to right Rob, me, my brother Enoch, Mike, and Randall. I took Enoch on this canyoneering trip as a birthday present, so I hope he enjoyed it. He seemed to have fun.

At the very beginning, Randall's GPS wouldn't work. We also had a topographical map so you'd think we wouldn't have a problem, but when your only directions are, "leave the trail when you see a faint miner's track going roughly southeast," and that miner's track isn't on the map, then the GPS coordinates all of a sudden become more important.

After debating about the relative "faintness" of a track we saw leaving the main trail, we finally kept going. After becoming thoroughly lost and facing the prospect of either scaling a sheer 200 foot cliff or doing a three mile end-run around a mountain, I finally suggested Randall try his GPS again. This time it worked, and realized that the first track we had seen had indeed been the correct one.

We backtracked, but rather than go all the way to the proper ascent to the saddle we were looking for, we struck off a little early (or a little late, if we had been going the right way) and found our own way up the cliffs.

Here's a shot looking down. Straight down.

With that sort of drop below us, and nothing but loose sandstone underfoot, you can understand why Rob is a little cautious in his climbing.

At the top at last. We stop for a break before slipping through a crack in the wall behind us and immediately seeing...

Burro Wash.

After a bit of downhill scrambling, we get into the first narrows. There's four main sections, with the possibility of water. Considering the heat (101 degrees) and the openness (and therefore sunniness) of Burro Wash, we opted to forgo the suggested wetsuits. It was a good decision. There were only a handful of pothohles with water, and it was never more than waist deep. Coming out of the water, we dried in minutes.

Between four sections of narrows were plenty of sunny, open spaces.

There were also four or five rappels.

Either the water or a conservationally-minded hiker placed this log to hold up the rock overhang.

There was also a snake.

And our first water. It actually felt sorta nice considering the heat, and considering that my feet were burning up in my neoprene socks and water shoes I was wearing.

Hanging out over a pool of water for a rappel.

A water slide. Except despite what the sequence of this picture and the next would have you believe, there was not actually any water at the bottom of the slide. It had apparently already dried up, along with most of the potholes.

Ooh! Rookie mistake! Getting the route description wet.

Interesting rocks. They reminded me of popcorn.

I was trying to take this picture while I was hanging half-way down a rappel, but I still had the camera in video mode from something, and while I was trying to change it with one hand without dropping the camera and keeping myself braked on the rope, the picture subjects below lost interest.

The hike out.

Sorry for the brief descriptions on most of the photos. It took so long to upload them that I've sorta lost interest, and Child is making dinner downstairs.


It's always fun looking through the pictures on your digital camera when you haven't emptied it in a while. So, without further ado, here is the last couple weeks in review.

Okay, one further ado: "Starting with the most recent event and working back, since for some weird reason BlogSpot uploads pictures in reverse order of what you selected:"

Ripe tomatoes! We actually have a lot more now, but these were the first two.

My dryer-vent cleaning tool. Three screws stuck through a metal lid and duct-taped to a broom handle. On the other end: a flashlight. The broom handle is stuck into the vent, and lint is scraped out.

I'm worried that I only succeeded in shoving the lint further in...

No- yet-ripe tomatoes! Would have been cooler if you hadn't already seen pictures of the finished product. This is why BlogSpot is wrong to put pictures in reverse order.

Grasshoppers ate the three pepper plants on the ground into nubbins. In revenge, I invented a new use for grasshoppers: cat toys. Acouchi loves them.

Child's Fourth of July dessert! It was amazing!

As it turns out, I thought I had more pictures to post, but the rest are of people and events who I understand would rather remain un-Internet-posted. I wasn't even planning to post their Social Security Number, just their home address and telephone number.