Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Proposition #8

(Following is an e-mail that I sent out just a little bit ago. Indulge me for a bit...)

Hi Everybody!

It's not often that I send out mass mailings, but this is something that I feel very strongly about. Everybody has heard about proposition 8 in California. This proposition contains the same language that was approved by 61% of voters in 2000. Four San Francisco judges overruled the voice of the people and called the previous proposition unconstitutional. Proposition 8 simply reaffirms the previous vote and adds a constitutional amendment in order to force the judges to comply.

There are numerous reasons why this vote will set a precedent for better or worse for the whole United States. Other states have similar issues on the ballot, but no other state is pushing the envelope on moral issues like California. Religious organizations are not immune from the consequences that will ensue if proposition 8 fails. While the full ramifications are not fully known, the Church's ability to perform marriage ceremonies in the temple may be compromised (unless they forfeit their tax exempt status or perform same-sex marriages), clergy that preach against same-sex marriage can be sued for hate crimes and adoption services that will not place children in homes of same-sex couples will be ineligible for government benefits (and may face lawsuits).

Let me be clear that I actually support rights for civil unions (which may differ from many of you). I like the registry that Salt Lake City has created (which allows couples, same-sex or otherwise) to share benefits and legal rights. I find a system like this to be a good compromise.

I don't know too many people that live in California. Because of this, my opportunities to support proposition 8 are limited. I have, however, donated to www.protectmarriage.com (an interfaith coalition in support of proposition 8). I urge anybody with the resources, to also donate. An interfaith fast will also be taking place on November 3rd beginning at 10:00 AM for 24 hours. I will be fasting and hope that you will join me.

I take no issue with those that feel differently on this issue than me. I sincerely believe that this is a deeply personal issue and that decisions in support or opposition should come from the heart. If you are unsure how you feel about these issues, take the time to ponder, pray and connect with your spirit in order to make this decision.

Thanks for listening,

Conversation with Ada

Daddy: Ada say "One, two, three, blow."

Ada: One, two, three, blow (followed by Daddy blowing his nose).

A minute later...

Daddy: One, two, three, burp (followed by a burp).

Ada: One, two, three, poop (followed by Ada loudly passing gas).

Where does she get it?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Monday Photo


As anyone who reads Alison’s blog already knows, I took the FE (Fundamentals of Engineering) exam on Saturday. Many universities require a passing score on the exam in order for students to graduate (mainly in the mechanical, civil or industrial engineering disciplines). The only time that an electrical engineer (like me) would ever take the exam is if they ever wanted to become a principal engineer and be able to stamp and sign drawings. I estimate that less than 5% of all EEs work in this field. If I had taken virtually any other job as an electrical engineer, then I would not have needed to take it. The test was held in a big room at the Salt Palace and I was surprised by how many people were there taking the test. There had to be around 350 people. I was assigned to sit in the front row, seat #7. I was a little disappointed that I wasn’t in seat #6 (my lucky number), but I tried not to let it distract me from the matter at hand.

I was pretty stressed about having to take the exam, but not stressed enough to start studying for the test really early. I purchased some study material a couple of months ago (with the best intentions) but I really didn’t start hitting the books hard until about the week before the exam. What made studying difficult was that my boss was out of town all week and all questions and e-mails on his projects were coming to me. In addition, we had a huge addendum due Friday on the Utah Museum of Natural History project. I came to work each day around 7:00 AM and left between 10:30 and 11:00 PM. I tried to start studying each evening at around 6:00 PM. It was difficult to only see Ada I bed for a few minutes each day but, I feel lucky that the test was scheduled during the Utes bye week. Another testament as to the divinity of the Utes…

The test is split into two sections. The morning section is 4 hours long and is a general test for all examinees. The morning test consists of 120 questions taken from the following topics:
  • Mathematics (including calculus, differential equations, vector analysis, etc.)
  • Engineering Probability and Statistics
  • Chemistry
  • Computers
  • Ethics and Business Practices
  • Engineering Economics
  • Engineering Mechanics (Statics and Dynamics)
  • Strength of Materials
  • Material Properties
  • Fluid Mechanics
  • Electricity and Magnetism
  • Thermodynamics
I needed the full four-hours to get through the morning questions. While I couldn’t answer all of the questions, the majority of them were easier than I expected. There were a couple of questions that I just started laughing at after I had read them. I couldn’t believe that they would ask something so simple. By the time I was done with the morning exam, I was looking forward to the afternoon section because everything had gone so well. They are pretty strict about what you could take into the exam. There is a list of 6 calculators and aside from that you can only bring drinks or snacks. They wouldn’t let you in with anything other than a zip-lock bag and they took away any unauthorized writing utensils as well.

The afternoon session was 4 hours long as well but only had 60 questions. Examinees could choose from General, Electrical, Civil, Mechanical, Chemical, Environmental or Industrial tests. I took the electrical section and found it to be more difficult that the morning section, but not too bad as well. The topics on the afternoon exam were:
  • Circuits
  • Power
  • Electromagnetics
  • Control Systems
  • Communications
  • Signal Processing
  • Electronics
  • Digital Systems
  • Computer Systems
The afternoon exam was slated to go to 5:35 but I finished my part by 4:00. It was nice to leave early and to be free of the stresses that these tests cause. There were still plenty of questions that I didn’t know the answer to, but I guessed on them and knew that any additional time spent trying to figure them out wouldn’t benefit me. Alison met me downtown and we used a coupon for a free meal at Tucano’s Brazilian Grill in the Gateway. Is there a better ending to a day full of testing than a gut full of meat?

I think not.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Utah 49, Colorado State 16

Just as I predicted last week, Utah came out with a vengeance and played their best game of the year. Just as the fans have been hoping (for the last three years) Utah went back to a true spread offensive attack. I'm not sure why they hadn't been running this offense earlier in the year, but it made for an exciting game, reminiscent of their '04 blowouts.

Utah was solid in every facet of the game. Their defense wasn't as stingy as other games, but they were content to allow the offense to control the tempo of the game. This ends Utah's easy streak as now their next game is in Albuquerque against New Mexico and then against TCU at home. Utah will be preparing for TCU on a short week's rest, while TCU will have the full week to prepare for the Utes (much like Oregon State earlier in the year). Incidentally, if you want to watch the TCU game, then you'd better make sure you have CBS College Sports Network. It's not nearly as widely distributed as Versus, unfortunately.

As predicted, Utah came out on top for the non-BCS teams in the BCS polls. I was hoping that they would be ranked a little bit higher, but these things require patience. It was exciting to see 6 non-BCS teams in the rankings. With this type of parity, I'm pretty confident that the BCS won't last forever. Hopefully, it dissolves sooner rather than later...

Monday, October 20, 2008

Monday Photo

My feeble attempt at offending vegetarians everywhere:

My second favorite drink (After Fresca with bacon, of course):

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Rainbow Conspiracy

Utah 40, Wyoming 7

I know, I know. I'm getting these short reviews up later and later each week. I'll keep this one short. Once again Utah's defense and special teams stole the show. Utah's offense still struggled and was even outgained by Wyoming. The difference in the game is that Utah forced turnovers (and capitalized off them) while not turning the ball over themselves. The coaches are blaming the wind for the offensive struggles but I continue to believe that there are some deeper problems.

Incredibly, Utah received a first place vote in the Harris Interactive Poll (used for 1/3 of the BCS formula). They are #3 in time of possession and are just outside the top 10 in red zone offense. This week Utah meets CSU at home. I don't expect Utah to have any problems putting the Rams away early.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

BCS Watch

Don't get me wrong, I hate the BCS just as much as everybody else (in the non-BCS territories, of course), but we've got no choice to play along with the crummy system in place, right? While the official BCS standings don't come out for another 2 weeks, there are a few things that I have found interesting. (I realize that there is a lot of football yet to be played and Utah has looked awful their last few games. The fact remains that Utah was the first team in the country to become bowl eligible and they have continued to find ways to win games, even as they have played embarrassingly poor on the field.)

Utah continues to be highly ranked according to the computers. 5 of the 6 computers that are used in the BCS rankings have published their rankings. Utah is ranked in the top 6 according to 4 of those computer algorithms (and 9th in the other). This gives Utah a projected BCS ranking of #9, which is high enough to warrant an automatic BCS bid.

Simply for comparison's sake (and because all the talk (as of late) has centered around BYU or Boise State, busting the BCS), let's look at how a couple of other teams are ranked. BYU is unranked by two of the BCS computers and ranked 25th by another. All computer algorithms place the Utes ahead of the Cougars. Because BYU had a head start in the human polls, Utah continues to trail a few spots behind. Because of BYU's poor showing in the computer rankings, they are projected to be 12th in the BCS rankings. Boise State is projected at 14th. When Utah first busted the BCS in 2004, their weakest ranking was always the computer rankings.

To add fuel to the fire, without his permission, I am reposting Ben's comment from my earlier post on the Oregon State game. While Kirk Herbstreit is notorious for telling people what they want to hear, during Saturday morning's College GameDay broadcast he was talking up BYU like it was his job. Apparently somebody knocked some sense into him over the long weekend...
Ty, a bonus to my job here in Ohio is I get to hob-knob with influential people in the communities. This morning's winner was Kirk Herbstreit, Mr. College Gameday himself. Three things I learned from him today as he answered my questions over breakfast: 1) The Utes will still win the conference. He is annoyed with how high BYU is ranked since they haven't played any good teams. 2) If both teams remain undefeated until Nov 22, he says there probably wouldn't be anything standing in the way of College Gameday coming back to SLC. He loves the fan support in Utah, and loves the area. 3) If they come to SLC, I told him I'd take him, Chris Fowler and Lee Corso, to dinner with my good friends. (i'd need to take him somewhere spendy, so i'd need people to split the check with...) Hopefully this will ALL happen...!!! SO, there ya have it. BYU still sucks, according to Herbie.
By the way, yes Ben I will gladly help foot the bill for their dinner. In fact, they are welcome to come eat roast cougar at my new house. I'll cook it up just like the Utes have been doing for hundreds of years.

Source: BCSguru.com


From a couple of magazines:
  • Health, November 2007, p. 16 - "Q. Is the five-second rule for dropped food accurate? A. Surprise! Even food that's been on the floor for 30 seconds is safe to eat. Last May, two college students proved this by dropping apple slices and Skittles candy on the floor. They found bacteria only on the apples that had been left on the floor for a minute or more, and only on the Skittles that had been there a full five minutes"
I used to love going into an empty classroom before class and finding candy on the floor. That always made for a good day...
  • Reader's Digest, December 2007, p. 114 - "The average person passes gas between 14 and 23 times a day."
I was going to do a whole post about the quote above. I even carried a little 3x5 card around with me in order to keep track of my gas-passing abilities. I fully-expected to be above-average (and I was going to brag about this here on my blog), but there was only 1 day in the week that I ripped more than 5. A bit of a disappointment if you ask me.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Monday Photo

Does the Devil live in the Capitol?

I've had the chance to visit the State Capitol a handful of times for my job. We did the electrical design of the capitol and I've had to check the work of the electrical contractors (to ensure that things were installed correctly, clean, in good working order, etc.). I've been down underneath the capitol building where all the huge stabilizers are (in case of an earthquake) as well as in the underground tunnels and up in the walls of the rotunda. On the main floor of the capitol there is an image in the marble that is slightly disturbing:

As an added bonus, here's a picture of the rotunda (yes, it truly is your lucky day):

I'm also doing a study for the state as to the viability of solar panels on the roof of the capitol (I also did a similar study for Salt Lake County for a couple of buildings, including the Salt Palace). I visited the roof on the same visit to take pictures of possible locations for solar panels. Here's the view of downtown from the roof of the capitol:

Friday, October 03, 2008

Utah 31, Oregon State 28

A Tale of Two Teams:
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Chocolate and vanilla
Rich and poor
Obama and McCain

As I've stated just about every other week this year, Utah has some major issues playing consistently. This problem was magnified in Thursday night's game against Oregon State. At times, Utah looked like a team that might belong in the top 25. Other times, they probably would have been destroyed by the mighty Aggies. Their biggest problem lies in the play of their quarterback.

Last year Johnson was hurt for a lot of the season. This year, his body appears to be functioning at 100%. What doesn't appear to be completely working is his head - more specifically, his decision making process. If Utah's offensive line would let him, I think that he wouldn't mind having a little tea party in the pocket. He doesn't seem to mind doing anything but scramble or get rid of the ball anymore.

These bad tendencies only come up off and on throughout the game. There are other times where Johnson is the man of the hour, a quarterback so crisp and decisive that you can't imagine him playing any other way. He definitely is somebody to count on under pressure though.

I mentioned to a few people that I was more nervous for this game than for any other. I also predicted that if Rogers ran for more than 100 yards, Utah would lose. Rogers ran for 101 yards (A large chunk of them coming on 2 carries) and Utah needed a last second field goal to win the game. For the second game this year, Utah sold out on the run, stacked the box and made the Beavers beat them with their passing game (which was a highlight of the night for the Beavs).

Utah only had 30 yards of offense in the third quarter. When they got the ball back down 8 with just over two minutes remaining, most hope and all of the confidence had been sucked out of the stadium. Johnson and company proceeded to have arguably their best drive of the season, and one of their best defensive stops of the season (made more impressive by how exhausted they all looked). Utah tied the game up on a 2-point conversion, got the ball back and let King Louie kick the game winning field goal as time expired.

It has been a really long time since I've been to a game with so much emotion and passion from the fans. The stadium was probably about as loud as football games ever get - my ears were ringing for a couple of hours after the game. One of the ugliest games of the last few years as well as one of the most incredible comebacks in a long time.

As soon as the game ended, the students rushed the field. I've mentioned on this blog before that I am totally anti-students-rushing-the-field and I told my brother-in-law minutes after the game that "the Utah studentbody was embarrasing me." In cases of a conference championship or when you beat a team in the top 5, rushing the field may be justified, but I still think it's kind of hokey. I will give the Utah students the benefit of the doubt on this one though for a couple of reasons (I'm neither defending nor endorsing their actions. I was in the MUSS and stood firmly in my seat as other students rushed by):

1. While not the equivalent of making it into a BCS bowl, it's late enough in the season to know that if Utah goes undefeated, they will be in a BCS bowl game. Therefore, this win was almost like that.
2. It was pretty much only the students rushing the field, showing their school spirit. When the University of Utah class of 1998 joins in the rush, it better be a big deal.
3. The emotion in the stadium was incredible (and pretty much a had-to-be-there moment, in order to understand). Once Louie's kick went in, everybody just wanted to celebrate, hug, mosh and go crazy. Where's the best place to do that? The field of course.
4. Oregon State beat the number 1 team, USC, one week ago. Utah had 5 days to prepare and still beat Oregon State. Doesn't that mean the Utes should be ranked #1?
5. Almost everybody in the Muss was so stinking drunk that they didn't even know Utah had won. They all thought they were running from a fire.

(Point of clarification: I did join in with the Utes in rushing the field after beating BYU in 2004. This was the year Utah went to the Fiesta Bowl (an official of which was at the game Thursday night). I also went onto the field after Utah beat Georgia Tech in the 2005 Emerald Bowl in San Francisco. I had to know whether or not the field was spongy.)