Friday, December 18, 2009

Flag Friday - U.S.S. Constitution

While in Boston some years ago we simply had to visit the U.S.S. Constitution aka Old Ironsides.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Flag Friday - Utah Jazz

Ah yes. The Jazz and and their old logo. I got this pennant when Karl Malone's big rig came to the Smith's by my house and I waited in a long line to have him and Mike Brown sign it.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Flag Friday - Great Smoky Mountains

Yep. This week's edition is all about the Great Smoky Mountains. That's a place that I would like to visit again and spend some quality time in the area. Just beautiful.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Flag Friday - Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island (pronounced Mackinaw) is a fun little island in the strait separating Michigan's upper peninsula from its lower peninsula. No cars are allowed on the island, the Grand Hotel has the world's longest covered porch and the little island is very popular with the tourist crowd. If I remember correctly, they've got some pretty good ice cream as well.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Flag Friday - Final Four

Yeah, back in the 90's the Utes were pretty good. They even made the final four once and easily beat North Caroline in the first game. They played Kentucky for the championship and had a 10 point lead at halftime before choking. Maybe Boylen can take them back to where they belong.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Go Utes!

Utah Utes:
  • 5-1 all time against TCU, with the only loss coming in overtime
  • 7-0 all time in games where both they and their opponent are ranked in the AP top 25
  • Win the big games: 13-10 last year against TCU and 34-17 against Alabama last year. Beat Louisville this year.
  • 2 Undefeated seasons in the last 6 years.
  • Won 29 of the last 31 games
  • 16-20 point underdogs in this game
  • Have more than 600 wins in their football history, with an overall winning percentage of .586 (placing them 36th all time)
  • Only school in the BCS era to have two undefeated seasons
  • One of 5 schools to have two BCS game wins in the last 5 years
  • One of seven school to have two top 5 finishes in the last 5 years
  • Their "Superfan of the game" a few weeks ago:
Pros of the Utes winning:
  • Opens up a three-way race for the conference title between Utah, TCU and BYU, with Utah in the driver's seat.
  • Probably allows Utah to move up into the top 12 of the BCS standings, making them eligible for an at-large bid to the BCS (although we know that won't happen)
  • The Utes continue their winning tradition and domination of the conference
  • Keeps Texas as one of the most fertile recruiting areas for the Utes
Pros of the Utes losing:
  • Virtually guarantees TCU a spot in a BCS game.
  • The Mountain West Conference gets a $13 million payout, with each team in the conference getting around $1.3-1.5 million.
  • The Mountain West proves that one of its teams belongs in the top 5 and that the conference should have an automatic bid every season.
  • Keeps TCU ranked ahead of all other hopeful BCS Busters
  • Keeps TCU in the national championship picture if the right teams lose.
Some of the better (i.e. more interesting) signs from College Game Day on the Quad in front of Amon G. Carter Stadium:
  • Utah Utes - Mormon Fruits
  • What's the difference between the Utes and Cheerios? Cheerios belong in a bowl
  • Lee Corso sits down to pee
  • We pity Salt Lake City
  • Toadally going to Crush the Utes
  • Fear the Murtleneck
  • Top Coached University
  • Jerry Hughes is my facebook friend
  • Hughes your Daddy
  • Utalk the talk we Walk the Walk
Hoping for the best, expecting the worst. I hope Desmond, Kirk and Corso are wrong, Go Utes!

Now, if only I could get CBS College Sports in HD on Comcast...

Friday, November 13, 2009

Flag Friday - Salt Lake 2002

Yeah, I wasn't around for the Olympics, but I'm still getting excited for Vancouver 2010. I'll get the chance to go someday.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Flag Friday - Western Conference Champions

Back in the day when the Jazz were good, they won the conference a couple of times. Even with an $82 million+ payroll this year, they started out 1-3 and will have a difficult road of winning the conference. Basketball must not be so much like baseball where championships can be purchased...

Friday, October 30, 2009

Flyin', Cruisin' and Drivin'

As most of you know, Alison and I got back a while ago from a fantastic trip. Lucky for us, Rachelle works for JetBlue and gave us each a buddy pass about a year ago. They expired at the end of October, so we had to use them now or never. We looked at just going to any of the fantastic places that JetBlue flies, including Jamaica, Aruba, Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic. We found that a cruise (which essentially includes lodging, transportation and food) was going to be quite a bit cheaper than any other option. We booked a 5-night Western Carribbean cruise out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida with Royal Carribbean and couldn't have had a better time (more on this later). Half the excitement was in getting to and from Fort Lauderdale.

I was nervous using buddy passes to get to our cruise, because there is always a chance that you con't make it. We were willing to take this risk and we made sure to leave a few days before our cruise departed to give ourselves plenty of time. The day that we had planned on leaving, we found out that the flights to Long Beach were pretty well booked. We went with our backup option and flew to San Diego, rented a car and drove to Long Beach where we had planned on catching a direct flight from Long Beach to Fort Lauderdale. Unfortunately, my brain was not working properly that day and I delivered us to the airport late for our flight and we missed it (I thought the flight left an hour later than it actually did (i.e. MTN time). We spent the night in Long Beach and caught an early morning flight to New York City where we were able to make our connecting flight to Fort Lauderdale. We had been planning on arriving in Fort Lauderdale at 5:30 AM on Saturday morning and instead we arrived after 9:30 PM.

The next day we took a one day cruise to the Bahamas that was simply fantastic (travelogues, coming soon!). We spent Monday morning in the Everglades before boarding our cruise ship. Our cruise took us to Key West, Florida then Cozumel, Mexico then Belize City, Belize before returning to Fort Lauderdale.

We went directly to the airport and were able to get on a flight to New York City less than 1 hour after arriving back in Fort Lauderdale. Unfortunately, there was just no way that we would be able to get from New York City to Salt Lake City in the next few days because all of the flights were booked solid. Our only other option was to fly into Las Vegas and find our own way home from there. Luckily for us, my parents were in Vegas for the Utah vs. UNLV football game. They picked us up from the airport about an hour before kickoff and we all went and watched the Utes beat Rebels. We returned to La Verkin, Utah late that night before finally making our way home Sunday morning.

In total we drove over 900 miles (blue line on map - click on it to make it larger), cruised over 1,920 miles (green line on map) and flew 7,466 miles (red line on map) for a total of more than 10, 294 miles!

Flag Friday - Houston Space Center

When I was in High School, my Mom and I flew to Houston to visit my Aunt and Uncle who lived there. I remember that I was amazed by how big Houston. It seemed that you could drive for an hour and still be in Houston. While there, we made a little trip to the Houston Space Center (Houston, we have a problem...).

Friday, October 23, 2009

Flag Friday - Mt. Rushmore

Oops. I already gave away that we were at Mt. Rushmore for its 50th anniversary when I posted the South Dakota pennant. Now there's nothing left to say...

Friday, October 16, 2009

Flag Friday - Knott's Berry Farm

I went to Knott's Berry Farm a few times in my younger days. One of those times I was 16 and picked up on a 15-year-old and went on the Love Canal ride with her. Good times those were.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Flag Friday - Zion National Park

If you haven't ever been to Zion National Park, then you really should go. It's nice.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Small World or Big Neighborhood?

Alison and I received this card in the mail a few days ago (I include myself because it was addressed to "The Squire Family"). A few questions immediately came to mind:

1. How on earth did we get on this mailing list? We've never lived together outside of Utah nor have we ever even been to New Jersey while married, much less Southern New Jersey.

2. How much money is this physician's office spending on mailings that are going to people far from their potential clientele? Can't they run a quick filter and remove everybody that doesn't live in New Jersey or within 100 miles of their office? As far as I can tell, junk mail like this is probably the biggest reason that health care costs are spiraling out of control. I'm forwarding this onto Obama.

(While we did briefly consider driving to New Jersey to check out the conditions, we decided that a 32 hour, 2,154 mile one-way commute to a doctor's appointment probably didn't make sense.)

Friday, October 02, 2009

Flag Friday - Utah Utes

Yeah, the Utes basketball team had a few pretty good seasons in the 1990's. In the 1998 Final Four, they were up by double digits on Kentucky at halftime (having beaten North Carolina the round before). Unfortunately, the Utes couldn't hold off the Wildcats and had to settle for 2nd place. Maybe this year they can redeem themselves...

Friday, September 25, 2009

Flag Friday - Cincinnati Reds III

This is one of my favorite pennants. I got it after the Reds swept the Oakland Athletics in the 1990 World Series. Go Reds!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Oregon 31, Utah 24

All good things must come to an end sometime, right? It's been so long since Utah lost that I almost forgot what it felt like when your team loses. The one benefit with this loss, is that I almost expected it to happen. Utah has yet to prove this year that they are capable of beating any team that will finish over .500. They show glimmers of greatness, but way too many mistakes and freshman miscues (even though they have very few freshmen seeing playing time). The good news is that the team appears to improve every week and after this week's game against Louisville, the Utes have lucked into a much-needed early bye week.

Everybody expected Oregon to be a better team that the one that showed up to play against Boise St. After working through their self-imposed difficulties, they are turning out to be a pretty good team. A real test will be whether or not they can compete with Cal this week.

I think that the Utes will be able to bounce back against Louisville. They will be happy to be home, but they will still make mistakes that will allow Louisville to keep the game closer than it should be. My prediction is Utah in a close one.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Flag Friday - South Dakota

If I remember correctly we were at Mount Rushmore on July 4, 1991 for the 50th anniversary of the enormous mountain carvings. Unfortunately, I haven't been back since. Maybe next year...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Utah 24, San Jose State 14

Yikes. I almost forgot all about posting about this game. In a way, I think that it is good that I waited to put my analysis down because my opinion of the game has changed quite a bit since last weekend. Watching the game was depressing because the Utes offense, kicking game and pass coverage were all sputtering. It turns out, that the Utes had plenty of offense, they just couldn't get anything done. They turned the ball over twice, turned the ball over on downs at the goal line and missed 3 field goals. What I didn't realize during the game is that they moved the ball up and down the field fairly well, but were unable to turn those yards into anything.

Utah's defense had its bright spots. They only gave up 22 yards rushing on about 23 attempts. The weakness was in their pass coverage. I didn't realize just how good Brice McCain and Sean Smith were (Utah's cornerbacks from last year). They play in a position where you only notice them when they do something wrong. Last year few teams even challenged the corners because the Utes defense was so solid.

San Jose State impressed me (much like USU did last week). I didn't think they would after their first week shallacking by USC, but they seemed to improve from quarter to quarter and were able to keep up with Utah for most of the game.

Can Utah keep up with Oregon? I think that they can - but I'm not sure that they will. Autzen Stadium is a notoriously difficult place to play and the Ducks have a chip on their shoulder after being embarrassed by Boise State. If Utah wants to have any respect this year, it's a game that they've got to win. In order to do that, they'll have to bring a better team than either of the first two weeks.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Flag Friday - Jr. Jazz

Oh yeah, Jr. Jazz. But what is Smokey the Bear doing on the pennant? In two places, no less.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Utah 35, Utah State 17

In the Utes first game of the 2009 football season they took on the Aggies of Utah State. While the Utes didn't deliver the solid pounding of previous years they had control of the game and allowed many of their young players to gain critical game experience. The game actually turned out much like I expected it to. I had a feeling that the Aggies would be better than in years past and that Coach Anderson would use some wrinkles to try and throw the Utes off. While I had heard about their young speed and talent, I was surprised and impressed to see it in person. The Aggies will win some games this year and have the potential to be a pretty good team next year.

Both teams made a few first-game/young team mistakes. Impressively, the Aggies forced Utah into three turnovers and had a couple decent drives as well. They came out of the gates swinging and had the Utes on their heels. The brightest spots for the Utes were the offensive trio of David Reed (WR), Terrance Cain (QB) and Matt Asiata (RB). Together they accounted for more than 600 yards of total offense (obviously the WR and QB stats overlap).

This week the Utes travel to San Jose to meet the Spartans in another game that they should win without too much trouble. The following week they travel to Eugene, Oregon to take on the Ducks in a game that lost a lot of its luster after Boise State delivered a smackdown on Oregon. With Boise State beating Oregon so easily, I see that game as a must-win for the Utes to remain respected nationally. The Ducks are not the team we thought they were.

From here on out, go Aggies!

Friday, September 04, 2009

Flag Friday - Final Four (Seattle)

This is another pennant that my parents brought home from their visit to the Final Four when it was in the Kingdome in Seattle, Washington. The four teams participating were: UCLA, Oklahoma State, Arkansas and North Carolina with UCLA winning it all.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Ute Football

I'm sitting here on TRAX riding to the first game of the year and I couldn't be more excited. Â Since probably a week after the Sugar Bowl, I have been looking forward to this game.

My thoughts on tonight's game:
Obviously Utah should have no problem with Utah State. The Aggies have some great young talent and (I think) the right coach for the job. These next few weeks are critical for them. I won't be surprised if Utah struggles to put them away as easily as everybody expects. Utah by 21.

My thoughts on the season:
Beast case scenario is that Utah wins every game and goes undefeated and to the BCS yet again. That would be nice.

Worst case scenario is that Utah loses every game or to Utah State, San Jose State or New Mexico.

My prediction is that they will win most games and lose maybe 3 games (to Oregon, TCU, and one other game - that they probably shouldn't have lost - not BYU).

It's going to be a good year in the MUSS! Row 6, 25 yard line!

-- Sent from my Palm Pre

Friday, August 28, 2009

Flag Friday - Superbowl XXX

No, I didn't go to this game, but it is the stadium that hosted the Fiesta Bowl when the Utes played in it (which I did go to). Superbowl XXX had the Cowboys beating the Steelers. It is the last Superbowl to be held in a stadium on a college campus or containing bleacher seats. Also, the broadcast was watched by 95.1 million people making it the second most watched event of all time (first is the final episode of M*A*S*H).

Friday, August 21, 2009

Friday, August 14, 2009

Flag Friday - University of Utah

Ah, the pennant of mine and Alison's beloved alma mater. What makes this one special is that it has been signed by the one-and-only Michael Doleac (and Mike Puzey...).

Friday, August 07, 2009

Flag Friday - Great Basin National Park

You've got to love our country's National Parks. While this one isn't as impressive as many others, it still has charm - and you've got to go there at least onc when it is so close to home.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Flag Friday - Final Four

This weeks pennant comes to you from New Orleans, Louisiana. My parents brought this one home to me after going to the 1993 Final Four at the New Orleans Superdome. The final game of this tournament is remembered as one of the best ever (when Chris Webber tried to call a timeout at the end of the game when the Wolverines had none left - which resulted in a technical foul). I don't remember the games, but I remember my beautiful pennant.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Flag Friday - All-Star Weekend

Before there was an Energy Solutions Arena, there was the Delta Center. Before the Delta Center got old, it was fairly new. It was at this time that the Jazz hosted the All-Star Weekend. It was kind of a big deal. Somehow, along with this pennant, I found myself with a big bag of pins from All-Star Weekend that I was giving away for years afterward. Strange.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Hard Questions Answered

You've all probably forgotten when I solicited your questions, but just as promised, following are the answers to the 5-year mailbag.

JTENMAN asks: What do we have to do to get on your blog roll?

Well, typically I only update my blogroll every 2 years - and even then it is with people that I like... ;) But, I'll let this one slide. Consider yourself added.

Anonymous asks: Do you pay a full tithe?


Trever and Heather ask (It was actually probably only Heather, but how can I know for sure?): I want to know if you met your goal in high school of going out with 100 different girls (it may have been only 50)?

Hmmmm. How to answer this one without making the whole place feel awkward... First off, my goal was to go on at least 100 dates with at least 50 different girls during High School. I did go on 100 dates, but I was a few girls shy of 50. Now if those dozen girls that turned me down hadn't, then I would have made it.

Funny story though - Just a couple of weeks ago my younger sister Rachelle got really excited because she found my notebook where I kept track of all my dates and who I went on them with. I used stars to signify the number of dates that I had gone on with a particular person - but she (and others in my family) thought that the stars signified the number of times that I kissed the girl on each date. If only my life had been so interesting...

David and Amy ask: Wow, 5 years! I want to know what happened to the it still around or long gone?

You know, I'm not really sure what happened to the original Lurp Truck. If my memory serves me correctly, my older sister and I were driving up to a concert at Deer Valley that one of us had won tickets to. At the top of Parley's Canyon the car crapped out and gave up the ghost. Apparently, the oil needs to changed (or at the very least refilled) every so often so I think that the car was scrapped. Yours truly did not take care of the poor Lurp Truck - or maybe it was punishment for attempting to go to a concert on a Sunday. Oops, lesson learned.

Rachelle asks: Happy 5 years blogging. You certainly started before the blogging craze! I have to go think of a really good question for you.

Apparently, no questions came to mind?

Ben asks: If you were Whit, which of the 3 QB's do you go with as the starter for 2009, and why? How would you rank all 3? (I know this'll at least get a good paragraph out of ya)

This is a tough question (and I contemplated giving the question its own blog post), but here is a short answer about how I think things will turn out.

The freshman Jordan Wynn redshirts and leaves Brian Johnson and (oops) Corbin Louks and Terrance Cain to fight for the starting job. I think that Louks gets the nod simply because of his game experience but that Cain still sees playing time (much like Louks did last year). Louks keeps the starting job, but Cain comes in when the coaches want a wrinkle to throw at the other team. Either way it's a good situation to be in.

Ben (different from Ben above) asks: I'd like to see a tribute post to MJ with a picture of you wearing your MJ shirt.

I took care of the MJ tribute post a few days ago. I'm sure glad I don't have to broach that depressing subject again.

And, here's a couple of good questions for you to post on: 1. What is one thing that have you done over the past 5 years that you are ashamed of?

Now you didn't ask for the thing that I am most ashamed of, but this just might be it. After the Utes beat Pittsburgh in the 2005 Fiesta Bowl they were honored at halftime of a Utah basketball game and the glorious Rocky Anderson (loved in SLC, hated throughout the rest of the state) presented them with the key to the city. Just days before, Rocky had given his State of the City which dissed on Davis County (you don't mess with the DC) and reaffirmed his despise of the Legacy Parkway among other things. I booed him and got a little carried away... People started yelling at me to shut-up and sit down and I'm sure I embarrassed Alison and my Dad... I learned a valuable lesson that day (and why am I blushing about this?). Funny thing is, by the end of his 2nd term, I didn't hate him.

2. If you could choose one commandment to break, which would it be?

This is an interesting question and I decided that I will limit my choices to the 10 commandments. I have no desire to break any commandments that cause harm to another person, which narrows it down a bit. The first commandment to go would probably be keeping the Sabbath day holy. It sure would be nice to have 2 Saturday-type days in every week, so that would probably be the first to go. After that it's a slippery slope...

T.Irwin mentions: seeing as how the 24th is my bday, I vote that you should just say that you created your blog in honor of me :D Just cuz.

Did I mention that my cousin Tina was the inspiration behind starting my blog? Well she was.

The truth is that I had been enjoying reading Tina's twin sister Sandy's blog for quite a while before I decided to start one myself (Sandy started her blog in 07/02). So the truth is nearer to her than she probably expected...

Thanks everybody for humoring me. Maybe I'll make it a blogiversary tradition!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Flag Friday - Yellowstone

Obviously, this one is from one of the times that we visited Yellowstone when I was younger. It's been a while since I've been there - and it's free this weekend.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Flag Friday - Six Flags

I'm pretty sure this pennant came from Six Flags AstroWorld in Houston. The park has since been closed down - but I thought that it was a pretty good amusement park.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Michael Jackson

As I sit here watching the Michael Jackson Memorial Service that I recorded from earlier, I figure it is a pretty good time to write his eugulogy. As most of my good friends know, I've always been a fan of MJ (as I affectionately call him). My friends and I would always listen to his music as we cruised around in the Lurp Truck. I'm not sure what my favorite song of his is, but my favorite line of any song is found in "The Girl is Mine," a duet by Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney. The best line of the song, "I think I told you, I'm a lover not a fighter" is found at the 3:02 mark in the following video:

A high school friend of mine, Dave Marshall, and I found 4 sweet Michael Jackson shirts at the DI. I used to wear them all the time. I spent an hour looking for a photo of myself in one of the shirts when Alison reminded me that I proposed to her wearing one. That's a true fan:
And on our honeymoon we made a quick stop at his star (once again I'm wearing his shirt):
And lastly, I'm wearing my MJ shirt in this happy partial-family photo:

One of the best tribute posts that I've seen in the last couple weeks was actually posted on the blog - 10 Michael Jackson Video Clips You Won't See On The Nightly News. It's a good read/watch.

Alison was just sent this interesting clip and I thought that I'd better include it:

Rest in Peace - the King of Pop!

Friday, July 03, 2009

Flag Friday - Salt Lake 2002

This one is interesting because it is one of the only pennants that I have where I wasn't there for the actual event/place. In addition, in order to photograph the pennant for the blog, I actually had to remove the tags. This poor pennant has gotten no love.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Flag Friday - Fenway Park

For some reason, when we visited New England as a family, we didn't take the time to visit Maine. Because of that, my mom and I flew out to Boston so that I could knock Maine off my list. We spent some time in Boston (and Kittery, Maine), but because the Red Sox didn't make the playoffs that year Fenway Park stood empty on the day that we visited. On the trip home, I convinced my mom to let me bump and stay another night alone in Boston, while she flew home. I got a free flight out of the deal and flew First Class from Boston to Phoenix (because I was a 16-year-old working it with the flight attendants (that or they felt bad for me...). Boston is one of my favorite places (and I have since been to a ballgame at Fenway Park - see this post).

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

5 years!?

5 years ago today was my first blog post. A blogiversary of sorts. As I couldn’t come up with any suitable way for celebrating short of offering free cake to all visitors of my blog, I’ve devised a secondary plan.

I’ve put it all out there on this thing. The blog has been with me through thick and thin. I’ve poured my heart out on these screens, laughed, cried (my tears stain your screen) and talked a lot about the Utes. Is there anything that I haven’t put out there?

I don’t think so, but on the off chance that there is something that I may not have covered, I’m turning the blog over to you, gentle reader, to ask me anything. It makes no difference whether or not you leave your name, use an alibi or comment anonymously, I’ll treat all questions equally. I won’t promise to answer every question (because there are still some things that I may want to keep personal), but I may surprise you.

Have at it! (Oh yes, and my first blog post is about as interesting as everybody else's – here’s a link)

PF - Week II - What to do With

I know that I promised to make these posts a weekly occurrence but, I've been a little busy (oldest excuse in the book, I know), but I've still got tons to share. From The Complete Tightwad Gazette p. 60:

What to do With:

1. Toilet paper tubes. Use to gather up unsightly loose excess electrical cord on kitchen appliances, lamps, entertainment center, etc.

I actually use twist-ties for this purpose (from bread bags, new purchases, etc.). They work pretty well - and I would just use rubber bands before I used toilet paper tubes.

2. Crayon bits. Place a variety of colors in a muffin tin and melt in the oven. Cool. This makes a scribble cookie. Each one has its own unique color and pattern. Use for an inexpensive stocking stuffer.

I wonder if you could do something similar with soap bits, once you've whittled the soap down to a size that's too hard to hold onto. I know some people place all of the soap bits in a loofah-type bag and use it to make the soap last.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Flag Friday - Cincinnati Reds II

If you look closely, you'll notice Chris Sabo's autograph in the baseball. My mom took me out of school to go stand in a long line at Kroger in order to get it. Sweet.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Flag Friday - Walt Disney World

This one is obviously from Walt Disney World. I remember really liking the Epcot Center and I was even old enough to go to a filming of "Let's Make A Deal."

Saturday, June 06, 2009


Ada: Daddy I want some crackers.

I go to the pantry and pull out some Cheese-Nips.

Ada: No. Not those ones, the 'exagon ones.

I didn't really understand what she said so I asked her to repeat it. I thought that she said "hexagon," but I didn't know whether or not we had any. Just to check I found a box of Cheez-its (Don't ask why we have both kinds, we rarely eat them) and offered it to her.

Ada: No. I want the 'exagon ones, Daddy. Those aren't 'exagons.

Confused I look through the pantry again before finding some multi-grain Wheat Thins shaped as hexagons. I should have known.

Flag Friday - Alaska

Sorry for posting this late, I was at a specifier training session for Visa Lighting in Milwaukee, WI. It's good to be home now with Alison and the girls (I'm not sure who I'm apologizing to. This is MY blog for goodness sakes...). This is from one of my favorite trips. My Dad and I visited Alaska and went deep sea fishing for Halibut, saw tons of bears in Denali National Park, hiked flattop mountain, saw the whales and won a prize at the Alaska State Fair.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Personal Finance - Week I

From The Complete Tightwad Gazette, p. 19:

Most of these either don’t apply to me personally or to people in this day in age, but there are a couple that may work for us.

10 Painless Ways to Save $100 This Year

1. Purchase 10 Articles of clothing at thrift shops and yard sales this year instead of paying department store prices.

This is a good one because often times you can find new/like new clothes at thrift shops and yard sales. For example, I recently purchased a pair of Banana Republic jeans from the DI that appeared to have never been worn. If I remember correctly, it seems like the creases from the store were still visible. Even if I would never have purchased them new from BR I saved the difference between their cost and the cost of a pair at my usual stopping place – Old Navy.

2. Hang four loads of laundry per week instead of using your dryer.

Not too hard, but I would guess that with appliances with today’s efficiencies, you’d be hard pressed to add this up to $100/year.

3. Once a month make a pizza from scratch instead of having one delivered.

Alison makes the best barbecue chicken pizza. One of my very favorite meals. And we’ve even found a compromise on how much wheat flour she uses in her dough. It’s also been fun for everybody in the family (Kate excluded) to make their own pizza on a Friday night. While it may be cheaper than delivery, I’ve got a hard time knowing when to stop adding more cheese to my personal pan pizza..

4. Write a good letter instead of making a monthly long-distance phone call.

Or, how about an email?

5. Reduce your soda consumption by four cans per week.

We rarely drink soda, and if I do buy it, it means there was a killer deal on Peach Fresca.

6. Bake one batch of bread (two loaves) per week.

Unless you are baking bread and dough often you won’t save money. You’ve got to be able to buy your yeast in bulk and not waste it for this to be a frugal tactic.

7. Save $50 each on two children's birthday parties by making homemade decorations, cake, wrapping paper, and one present.

This year Ada will be getting a homemade paper-mache Minnie Doll (cost – minimal) for her birthday and Kate will be getting a bag of old screws and nails I’ve been collecting (cost – free).

8. Reduce your smoking by three cigarettes per day (or give up smoking altogether and save even more).
9. Reduce your whole milk consumption by two gallons per week, substituting dry milk in cooking, homemade cocoa mix, and in half-and-half for drinking.

We don’t currently do this and I’m not sure that we’re to the point that we ever will do this. If you’ve got to cut money from your budget, this is a great way to do it.

10. Pack four inexpensive school lunches per week.

I’ll substitute work lunches for school lunches (and note that this is an area where I can improve). There are so many ways to make a lunch cheap (no processed or pre-packaged foods) and most of the time the lunch is healthier, tastier and better for the environment with less packaged waste. Of course, you would reuse and re-wash your baggies from your lunch.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Flag Friday - Cincinnati Reds

Gotta love the Reds! (Check out the World Series pin as well.)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Complete Tightwad Gazette

I don't normally double post, but because I'm going to start posting tips and tricks from this book here, I thought I may as well copy my review on over. I love books that stimulate the mind and get your wheels turning. This is one of those books (Review taken from my book review blog):

Title: The Complete Tightwad Gazette (Vol. I)

Author: Amy Dacyczyn

Pages: 300

Genre: Personal Finance, Self-Help

Grade: B+

Synopsis: Amy Dacyczyn (aka the Frugal Zealot) published The Tightwad Gazette as a newsletter from June 1990 to December 1996. This book was created as a collection of all the tips and stories from the newsletters. It is split up into three parts (of which so far I have read only one) of about 300 pages each. The book covers ways to save money in hundreds of unique and imaginative ways.

My Review: This book has a long waiting list at the library so I was only able to cover Volume I during my allotted time. I think that it's probably for the better to split it up anyway. I really enjoyed the tips and tricks in the book and plan on utilizing many of them in my life. In fact, I'm going to try and post frugality/personal finance tips and tricks weekly on Lurp's Lounge (my regular blog). I took copious notes from this book and plan on sharing many of them with you, gentle reader. If you ever find a used copy, pick it up and it will quickly pay for itself as you practice increased frugality.

From the Book: "(p. 54) Tightwaddery without creativity is deprivation. When there is a lack of resourcefulness, inventiveness, and innovation, thrift means doing without."

"(p. 152) The manufacturing of most goods harms the environment in one way or another. The culprit is not the factory, but it is we who buy what it produces. Therefore we should think carefully about items we purchase."

"(p. 216) Jim purchased a brand-new book called How to Fix Damn Near Anything. In horror I discovered a $15.95 price tag on the inside of the jacket. Upon interrogation he confessed that he purchased it at the thrift shop for $.25." (My note: I actually purchased this book at full price for my birthday last year. How embarrassing.)

"(p. 228) So how do we sort it all out? The relationship between ethics and thrift can be summed up in just one sentence. It is wrong to save money at the expense of others. Period."

"(p. 232) The dieter will fail as long as he hates low-calorie food. The would-be athlete will fail as long as he hates exertion. The tightwad wannabe will fail as long as he views frugality as a lifestyle he has to endure, or was forced into by circumstance."

Cavs Win!

I saw this clip this morning on SportsCenter and had to pass it on.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Flag Friday - Ohio Caverns

When we lived in Ohio my family visited Ohio Caverns. It's a big underground cave system northeast of Dayton. 90% of their formations are still actively growing with the most famous one being the "Crystal King," which is almost 5' tall, 200,000 years old and one of the most perfectly formed stalactites in the world. Check out the glitter on that pennant!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

American Idol

Every year I've got to make an obligatory American Idol post. I like both Kris Allen and Adam Lambert (and I liked Danny Gokey as well). The truth is that I don't really care who wins. What I have found amazing though is how well Adam, Kris and Danny have done every single week. Alison and I look forward to watching because we never know what to expect (especially from Adam). Here are a few songs from both of them (my favorite performance of the season is the first one in queue by Kris (Falling Slowly), followed closely by Adam's performances of Ring of Fire, Mad World and One):

Huntsman to China

I think that Obama's nomination of Jon Huntsman to be ambassador to China is very shrewd. I think it's a good move and one that will benefit both of them. In my opinion, the losers are the people of the state of Utah, because Huntsman has proven to be a pretty darn good governor (and more moderate than Gary Herbert). Here's an interesting take from's First Read:
"***A-Huntsman we will go: Obama's nomination of Utah Republican Gov. Jon Huntsman to be ambassador to China seems to benefit two people: Obama and Huntsman. For Obama, it was yet another signal to independents and moderates that he's reaching across the aisle (Ray LaHood, Arlen Specter, and even the failed nomination of Judd Gregg are the other examples); it all but removed a potential 2012 challenger and an important moderate voice inside the GOP; and it showed that Obama's serious about China (Huntsman has sterling credentials -- he speaks Mandarin, did his Mormon mission in Taiwan, and served as George W. Bush's deputy U.S. trade representative). For Huntsman, the nomination gives him a job he obviously desired; it gets him out of the country at a time when his party is undergoing internecine warfare; and it possibly preps him for a presidential bid in 2016, bolstering his foreign affairs credentials. By the way, the cynical side of us is very impressed with how Obama has so cleverly tied up two of his biggest potential rivals in the future. First, he offered Hillary the plum job at the State Department, removing her as a potential obstacle from the Senate. Now he's taken Huntsman off the table for 2012."
I wanted to add the following quote from the LA Times this morning (5/20/09):
"Among the most upset over Huntsman's impending departure are Utah's embattled Democrats and their progressive allies who dread his replacement, Lt. Gov. Gary Herbert, a lawmaker about as different from the incumbent as two members of one party can be. How different? Huntsman may be the greenest Republican governor in the country, strongly advocating action to fight global warming. Herbert recently spoke at a forum hosted by the conservative Sutherland Institute which ... 'reinforced the message that global warming is not human-caused and that those who contend that it is are ignoring scientific evidence to the contrary.' David Magleby, a dean at Brigham Young University and one of Utah's most astute political observers, put it this way: 'This state will see, I think, a far more conservative agenda shared by both the governor and the Legislature than we've had in two decades. This is a sea change, not just a change from Huntsman. It's been a long time since we've had a governor as conservative as most people assume Gary Herbert will be."

Friday, May 15, 2009

Flag Friday - WPAFB Air Force Museum

We lived in Dayton, Ohio for three years when I was younger. My dad worked at WPAFB (Wright Patterson Air Force Base), which is where the Air Force headquarters are located and this museum was about 10 minutes from our house.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Salt Lake Buzz

This one might actually be worth something because the Buzz don't even exist anymore. You may have gotten the feeling that I like baseball from the last 5 pennants I've posted - which is true, but I've got a nice treat for next week - and it doesn't even have to do with baseball.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

April Flowers

I’m not usually one to do these marathon posts, but it’s been a busy month, I haven’t made a real post since April 1st, and I’ve got a lot to say.

1. Spend-free April. You may remember a couple of years ago Alison and I had a spend-free April. At that time we did our best to not spend any money on pretty much anything but fresh produce and bread. Alison was on WIC at the time so we were able to pretty much go a whole month without spending. We didn’t think we were really in a position to duplicate the experiment again, but we did set a goal to cut spending on all variable categories by 80% (basically, we will pay our full mortgage, utility bills, etc.) We wanted to trim our spending on groceries, clothing and other household items. I haven’t calculated how we did, but I don’t think we quite made it. It doesn’t help that we purchased a 65” TV this month…

2. Yes. We bought a new 65” Mitsubishi DLP TV. We didn’t expect to get one so soon or so big, but we’re not complaining. Not that we need to justify this purchase to anybody but ourselves, but here are our justifications for purchasing it: We had enough money saved up to pay for a 52” LCD TV. As I was looking at them at RC Willey one evening the salesperson made an offhand comment that if we weren’t going to hang the TV on a wall we could consider a DLP TV (which is around 15” deep). We did and we purchased. We had planned on buying one at the beginning of football season in order to let the prices drop lower, and then we wouldn’t have to pay for an HD DVR until then… But RC Willey was having a good sale (and they paid our sales tax), we had free delivery and setup until the beginning of June and a $150 (or so) gift card to RC Willey that we wanted to use. We have not been disappointed with our purchase. It’s been fun to watch the Masters and the NBA Playoffs on the big screen. We put the TV on the RC Willey 18 month no interest plan because we had just paid off our last big purchase (remember this one?) and what’s not to like about making money on our savings while paying the minimum due for 17 months? But, it turns out that my payment to RC Willey was posted after we purchased the TV and they applied it to both purchases – thus leaving our interest-free purchase from last year not paid off and the TV paid halfway off. Because I don’t want there to even be a chance that there will still be a balance on last year’s purchase, we’ll pay the full remainder off this month.

3. Work. This has been a really good month for me at work. I still love my job and I was able to bill more than 100 hours the last two weeks to my principle engineer as well as many thousands of dollars on another project of my own. It feels good to work my butt off, but I still can’t believe how much I don’t know. I love my job because there is truly a lifetime of learning ahead for me. My company had an open house to show off our new office space on Earth Day. Fitting because we are going for LEED Platinum (no building is yet certified LEED Platinum in Utah, but when all is said and done, ours will probably be the third). We also changed our logo. The new one is shown below:
4. The Jazz. They’ve been a hard team to peg down all season. They’ve got great players and they have a cast that should take them a lot further than they made it this year. They just seem to have so many players that are inconsistent and don’t play hard every game. I definitely think that changes need to be made to the team this summer, but I have no idea what those might be. Part of me feels that a summer free from Olympic obligations and other injury causing activities may allow them to have an injury-free year together as a team and then they’ll go ahead and win a championship. I can dream, right?

5. The Malibu. The Malibu’s registration was due in March and I took it in on the last day of the month and it failed. There were three problems that showed up. I took it to one shop and paid for the diagnostic and they were able to take care of one problem. They told me that the second problem was intermittent and that the third would have to be taken care of at a dealer. I didn’t want to pay dealer prices so I found another shop that could fix the third problem (which they did), but they also told me that the first shop had fixed the entirely wrong problem and that the first problem code was still active in my car’s memory system. I then took it back to the first shop and they tried to explain their way out of what they fixed but they got the check engine light to finally go off. That same day I left work early to take the car back to the inspection point to get a retest done. As I was driving there the check engine light came on. Of all the rotten luck. The next day I was going to return the car to the shop that failed at fixing the first problem when I noticed the check engine light was off. I drove directly to the inspection place and had my car all checked out (but I never turned it off, so the codes wouldn’t reset). The car finally passed and as I looked through my emissions report I saw that the same problem code was still active, but that it wasn’t one that even mattered to pass emissions. $600 later, arrgh.

6. I am reading Amy Dacyczyn’s The Complete Tightwad Gazette – Promoting Thrift as a Viable Alternative Lifestyle. While many of the tips are too over the top for me or don’t apply, there are many that do and I will try to share some of them here. As always, I’ve got loads of new book reviews on my book review blog. Check them out if you haven’t in a while.

7. I befriended SeaBass on facebook. You should too. I can die happy.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Flag Friday - Los Angeles Dodgers

I've been to a few Dodgers games, both with Alison and with my family. I love how Dodger Stadium is situated up in the foothills above downtown LA. Don't worry, not all my blessed pennants are for baseball teams. It will soon start getting more interesting... :)