Friday, November 26, 2010

10 Years Ago...

Just over 10 years ago I finished my 2-month stint at the MTC and flew out to Moscow, Russia. A few final stories from my time at the MTC.

Probably the best two days of my time in the MTC were during General Conference. It felt like all that we did was sleep, eat and watch the prophet(s) and other general authorities. Most days at the MTC were so busy that it was difficult to keep up (some days we would be in class for 13+ hours), but on conference weekend we were able to catch up on studying, writing letters home and general rejuvenation. While I was at the MTC, a missionary choir from the MTC sang in General Conference. The one week that my companion and I skipped choir was the week that they invited everybody there to sing at the Conference Center (which was being dedicated that October). I was pretty disappointed to have missed out, but it was nobody's fault but our own.

Our district in the MTC probably had the best service assignment. We were placed on a special committee to taste-test food and test laundry detergent. The Mission President's wife as well as the food services people from BYU would give us food to taste-test and then listen to our opinions. We tasted/tested a bunch of chicken cordon bleus, brownies, spaghettis, macaronis and other foods and desserts. I was already gaining weight while in the MTC and this service did nothing but expedite the weight gains.

The last few weeks of my time in the MTC my companion and I were called to be the APs (Assistant's to the President). This was a tough assignment for me to fulfill because I always felt that I was already struggling in my classes and learning the language that this was just one more thing to take care of. We had some Spanish speaking roommate companions that were so different from each other. Late one night one of them sneaked out of the bedroom and pulled the fire alarm. The whole building of 400 sleepy missionaries in pajamas had to stand outside on the cold October night to wait for security to clear the building.

We finally flew out on Monday the 13th of November. It was so exciting to be embarking on another leg of the missionary journey.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Ada's Letter to Santa

First off - Happy Thanksgiving! There is nothing I'm more thankful for than Al's girls and Alison, Ada and Kate. See Alison's post about the girls here.

Ada figured that she needed to send a letter to Santa this year. She suggested to Alison that she should just take it outside and let the wind carry it up to the North Pole. I countered that suggestion be telling her that we should mail it to the North Pole (I hope she doesn't find her letter in my work bag. I'd better hide it)...

Here is her letter to Santa (we try and help on the spelling, but she often just tries to wing it on her own):
Princess makeup
Princess instrument set
Sleeping Beauty house
Pillow pet
Rainbow dash pony bicycle

I also had her address an envelope to Santa:
To Santa
From Ada Squire (notice the Squire reads right to left).

Let's just say that Santa got the message and it should be a good Christmas for little Ada.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Student Loans

I completed my Bachelors degree without us having to take out any loans. For my Masters degree Alison and I took out $10k in loans. We've been paying for around 2 years and have around $8,000 left. We have been feeling very strongly that we need to get these loans paid off as quickly as possible. In order to focus on getting these paid off, we cancelled our home phone and cable in August.

It wasn't a big deal for us to cancel either the home phone or cable because we felt we were overpaying for both. The last month that we had our home phone, we used it for maybe 40 minutes (we would go 4-5 days without even using it). Our per minute rate was probably around $1/minute. We have virtually unlimited minutes on our cell phones, so it seemed like a no brainer. The cable was a little more difficult decision. We really watch very, very little TV. There is no sitcom or similar show that we watch, we don't watch the news and I've watched only 7 or 8 movies so far this year. We have dozens and dozens of children's shows recorded on our computer, as well as about 100 movies, many of which we have never watched, so Ada and Kate haven't had to suffer.

The one thing that Alison and I do watch, though, is sports. We are dying not being able to watch the Jazz during their amazing come-from-behind win streak. We've been tracking each game using gametracker, but it's obviously not the same. Same goes for watching the Utes (for me) and the Cougs (for Alison). Luckily, I get to watch half of the Utes games in person, but Alison isn't so lucky and is feeling the pain more than I am. Sidenote: We are able to watch many sporting events on, but if the game isn't on an ESPN/ABC network or they decide not to stream it online (such as Monday Night Football) then we are out of luck.

What this has really done for us, is to motivate us to get our student loans paid off as soon as we can. As soon as they're paid off, we'll reinstate our cable and once again be able to waste away in front of the boob tube as is our pleasure.


Start: $10k

Current: $8,000



Monday, November 08, 2010

TCU 47, Utah 7

TCU 47, Utah 7

The Horned Frogs knew the Utes better than the Utes knew themselves. They enacted a gameplan that exposed the Utes weaknesses in every area. The Utes were outcoached and outplayed from the first minute to the last. Coach Whittingham has typically been a solid coach in big games (he is 5-0 in bowl games after all), but he team looked unprepared and shocked from the very outset.

Even though the Utes were utterly destroyed in this game, Saturday was a fun day. I arrived up on campus just before 8:00 AM to watch College Gameday with Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Lee Corso, and Desmond Howard. One of my favorite things to do on a Saturday morning is to watch the show which culminates with the announcers picking who they think will win the game, with Corso wearing the mascot's headgear as an indication of who he thinks will win. Throughout the show, they were very civil to the Utes but Howard and Corso wisely picked the Horned Frogs to win the game. Just before Corso donned the Horned Frog headgear, he turned around to the large crowd and stated "You know, this place (Salt Lake City) is almost as nice as Provo!". Ouch. That's some major smack to a Ute fan...

After Gameday we had a couple of hours to kill before we went to the Ute Walk, which is where the fans can high-five and cheer on the team as they walk from the team buses to the stadium. Just like as at Gameday, there were thousands of fans lined up to cheer the team on. It was great, but just one more way in which the team was pressured.

We arrived to the stadium 60 minutes before kickoff and 30 minutes or so before kickoff the stadium was full, 15 minutes before kickoff the stadium was packed. Never before has a home game at Rice-Eccles Stadium filled up so early with a tension-laced crowd. The atmosphere throughout the day was simply amazing. And then the kickoff happened.

It became apparent pretty quickly that the Utes were once again unprepared for the Horned Frogs speed and gameplan. Without getting into the details, it seemed as though the Horned Frogs knew the Utes better than they knew themselves. The Utes gameplan was to try and get TCU's QB Andy Dalton rattled, but the TCU defense was able to quickly rattle the Utes' QB Jordan Wynn and the Utes became just another team for the Horned Frogs to easily steam roll.

Obviously, the Utes were overrated. They have since dropped to 14th in the BCS standings, which I believe is a fairly accurate ranking of the skills of this team. Boise St. TCU and Oregon just seem to be in a class of their own. Possibly Auburn can be included in that group as well. I'm pulling for the Horned Frogs to have a chance to play in the National Championship game - even though Boise St. killed the Horned Frogs in their BCS game last year. It would be an awesome championship game if the #1 offense (Oregon) met the #1 defense (TCU).

EDIT: I forgot to mention that I think Utah somewhat suffered from all of the hype that surrounded the game. The blackout, the butt-ugly wounded warrior cam jerseys, College Gameday, 2nd largest crowd in RES history, etc. That being said, I think that Utah could have played their best game of the year and still lost by 3 touchdowns. The Utes are just not on the same level as TCU. /EDIT

I believe that the Utes will be able to regroup and head into South Bend next week ready to take on the mighty Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Whittingham was outcoached this last Saturday, but I believe that he is still a good enough coach to get his team back into shape by this next weekend. Sometimes, it's good to be humbled.

Go Utes!

Sunday, October 03, 2010

10 Years Ago...

Let me preface this post with a bit of a disclaimer, the biggest reason I started this blog was for me to have a place to document my own thoughts, impressions and memories. I realize that posts about my mission 10-years ago will probably be interesting to very few visitors, but this is as good of place as any for me to document my favorite stories and experiences. Now on with the show:

Just a hair over 10 years ago (September 13, 2000) I entered the MTC to begin training to be a missionary in the Russia Moscow South Mission. I've been reading my missionary journals and the letters that I sent home from my early days in the MTC and thought it might be fun to share a few things.

The first day of the MTC you meet your companion, branch president, district and have a little time to get acclimated to the new environment. I also had to have a couple of vaccinations. No offense to the family, but as I've always been one up for an adventure, it wasn't too hard to walk through that door and leave them behind to start my life as a missionary.

The second day in the MTC found us in a full day of classes learning Russian and studying the gospel. We spent a large part of the day learning the Cyrillic alphabet. By the next day, we had moved on to reading Russian and other topics, what amazed me was that if you didn't grasp the full 32 letter alphabet in the first day, then you were already behind by the second. The whole time in the MTC was spent studying and learning at the same pace. The gift of tongues is real, but don't ever doubt the hard work that is put into learning the languages at the MTC.

Each day in the MTC my district was allowed a bit of time in the gym. One funny comment I made in a letter home was that the gym had "more rules than missionaries in Michigan." If only I was still such a clever lad...

Lastly, I loved reading my testimony in the letters that I sent home to my family during the first 3-4 weeks of the MTC. I don't remember sharing it as much as I should have with my family while I was on my mission, so I was glad that I tried to share the powerful spirit of the MTC with my family at home.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Utah 56, San Jose State 3

The Utes are now 4-0 on the season and have moved up to #12 in the USA Today poll and remained at #13 in the AP poll. As they game wasn't televised, there was a lot that you missed if you weren't up at Rice-Eccles Stadium on the beautiful Saturday evening in late September.

All 8 touchdowns for the Utes were scored by different players. They had at least one touchdown run in each quarter (Reggie Dunn, Eddie Wide, Matt Asiata, Tauni Vakapuna and Beau Burton). In addition, starting quarterback Jordan Wynn threw two touchdown passes (Shawn Asiata and Dallin Rogers) in the second quarter. All three Utah quarterbacks saw some playing time and the Utes finished the game with 9 players having gained yardage carrying the ball. The offense had little resistance from the Spartans defense as they moved the ball for 427 yards in the game (playing a fairly conservative gameplan, as they only threw the ball 24 times).
Grade - A+

The Utes' defense played equally as well as the Utes' offense. The Spartans ran the ball 32 times for less than 100 yards. They passed the ball 13 times, once again finishing with well-under 100 yards. The secondary did a nice job of keeping the plays in front of them as San Jose State only attempted 1 deep pass downfield.
Grade - A+

Special Teams:
The only blemish on the Utes in the game was a 60+ yard kickoff return given up to the Spartans which led to their lone field goal. When you're kicking off 9 times during a game, the other team is bound to get at least one decent return, right? Special teams made up for any blemishes by blocking a punt and returning it for a touchdown and then blocking the Spartans' next punt attempt as well.
Grade - A

The Utes finished the game without any turnovers (for the first time this season) and had their lone penalty on a false start with about 5:00 to go in the ballgame (they did have two previous penalties declined by San Jose State, 1 off-sides and 1 delay of game, but neither of those show up on the statlines). The fans at the stadium stayed to watch the blowout game longer than I expected that they would. It's a lot of fun to watch your team play clean, crisp football under the lights.
Overall - A+

Looking ahead the Utes continue to have an easy road. They have a bye week this week and will return from the bye week against Iowa State before returning to conference play against Wyoming and Colorado State. We probably won't know if the Utes are any good until they finally play Air Force in the end of October, although they are in the top ten in the nation in scoring offense and scoring defense.

Monday, September 13, 2010


Sometimes you need a little Judice...

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Where Are They Now?

In the beginning of August, Sports Illustrated (Yes, Alison subscribes to SI) had an issue of "Where Are They Now?" One of my favorite parts of the issue was the section on old youtube videos. I enjoyed re-watching them and wanted to post them here.

1. Autistic Basketball Player

2. Michael Jordan vs. CEO

3. Boom Goes the Dynamite

4. Mo Cheeks National Anthem

5. Most Amazing Basketball Shot

Friday, June 18, 2010


Disclaimer: I'm not real sure what I'm trying to say in the following post as I'm trying to sort through my own opinions on the topic. I think it was just important for me to get my thoughts jotted down.

As anybody who lives here in Utah probably knows, Ronnie Lee Gardner was killed by firing squad approximately 24 hours ago. Gardner escaped from prison in 1984, seriously injuring a guard in the process before murdering a bartender in 1984 and an attorney in 1985 (while attempting to escape from prison yet again). He was sentenced to die and selected the firing squad as the method.

With all the news of Gardner's frantic last minute pleas for a stay, the death penalty has been on my mind a lot lately. My current stand on the death penalty is somewhat neutral. While I don't like it or condone it, I'm not pushing for its abolishment either.

I strongly believe that there are many crimes for which the criminal deserves to die. The question is whether or not any of us here on earth have the God-given right or authority to pass this judgment. I don't think that we do, or at least I would never want any portion of such a decision to weigh upon my mortal conscience. The United States is virtually the only Christian nation that allows for the death penalty. Would Jesus Christ condemn a man to die? (I think that the LORD of the Old Testament would, but not the Savior of the New).

Graphic found at:

What I found especially disturbing in this particular case, was the celebration and excitement the victim's families showed when Gardner's final appeals were rejected. While they see Gardner's death as closure (many of them witnessed the execution), I find it sad that this grief/grudge/hatred has been festering in their lives for the last 25 years. As a disclaimer, I have never had to forgive somebody for killing a family member (or worse crime), so I cannot speak specifically to the pain that they have had to endure. My only hope is that as tragedies or criminal acts impact me in my life, I will have the strength to forgive and move on (not to say that justice should not be served and punishments handed out).

I find myself becoming more compassionate as I embrace democratic principles and have the opportunity to interact with people from all walks of life. If the death penalty is to be used, it should be saved for the most heinous of crimes and only used when the identity of the criminal is known without a doubt (which actually probably justifies it for RLG).

I realize that all circumstances are different. I do not judge those who seek death as retribution.

Your thoughts?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Unmoderated Thoughts

We just got back from a fun little family trip to La Verkin and Las Vegas (we tagged along with Morgan, Jordan and Brynlee) and I had a few thoughts that I wanted to post.
  • We went to Church this morning in La Verkin and I counted no less than 11 men wearing bolo ties. No offense to the cowboys out there but...
  • When we are in La Verkin we stay in my great-grandparents old house (that is now owned by my grandparents). We're so grateful to them for sharing their house and allowing us to take a cheap vacation. When we got there Wednesday night, the house had been toilet-papered and there was toilet paper all over the grass and in the trees and bushes in front of the house. wth? [what the heck, people]
  • Last month we spent upwards of $1300 keeping our two cars running (25 years and "all most" 320,000 miles between them). We were nervous about driving home tonight because our car is suffering from a couple of misfiring cylinders (and our fuel economy dropped from 30 mpg to 22 mpg). Hopefully, the news tomorrow from the shop will be for an inexpensive fix.
  • We took a pleasant drive up to Lava Point in Zion National Park (elev. 7,890). As far as I know, it's the only place in the park you can get to without having to pay the $25 entrance fee. I'll post a couple of panoramic photos that I took from the viewpoint in 6 months or so.
  • We went to the Brick Oven in St. George for dinner on Saturday night and sat waiting for a waiter for 20 minutes. I found a manager who was embarrassed we had waited so long and gave us drinks and desserts on the house.
  • When we got home this evening I checked our sprinkler controller and the date & time had been reset. I went to set the date and the default year setting is 1887 - so I had to scroll up 1 year at a time to 2010. I had no idea they had programmable sprinkler controllers back then.
  • I'm reading The Death of a President, November 20 - November 25, 1963 by William Manchester and am loving it. The book essentially spans 5 days from the time President John F. Kennedy and his wife left on their Texas trip to his assassination and State Funeral. From reading this book and biographies or historical accounts of other presidents, I have come to the conclusion that to be president you have to be amazing and have qualities that allow you to connect with people on a personal level while maintaining the bigger picture in view. (I'm not sure if that makes sense, so let me know if I need to elaborate).
  • Work is busy (I'm not complaining), but I am looking forward to slower days. Up until this last week, I had 8 straight weeks where I worked 52 hours+. From the looks of things, this schedule will have to continue for a couple more weeks. I'm blessed to have a job that I enjoy working at every day.
As Tigger says, ttfn (tata for now).

Sunday, January 31, 2010

State of the Blog

January is the month to learn the "State of the (, county, state, union, blog, etc.)". I just thought I would join in on the fun before my chance passed me by.

The last few months have had a lot of blog-worthy events.

During the months of July, August and September I taught a series of 9 courses on managing your finances. I kept a blog where I posted information for the class including the handouts, slides and other course materials. While the blog hasn't been updated since I taught my last class, there is still a bunch of good information available there. The classes that I taught (using liberally the slides, handouts and information from the fantastic websites and were the following:

1. Perspectives on Wealth and Setting Personal Goals
2. Creating a Personal/Family Budget
3. Understanding Credit
4. Understanding Debt
5. The Time Value of Money
6. Beginning Investing
7. Insurance
8. Money in Marriage
9. Frugality Tips and tricks

What managing your finances really comes down to though, is one thing, which is summed up in the following Saturday Night Live skit:

This fall I upgraded my work laptop and our home computer to Windows 7 and couldn't be more pleased. While I had very few problems with Windows Vista (on my work laptop) I have found Windows 7 to be extremely easy to use. My two favorite features is the auto-update of programs and drivers and the new taskbar. Every piece of hardware that I have connected to my computer has worked without fail once the software updates everything automatically. The new taskbar setup saves time by allowing me to place my most used programs and links across the bottom of the screen.

This fall I also got a new Palm Pre which I have also become very fond of. I most like that the phone is open source and can be hacked as needed. While not without its problems, the capabilities of the phone are essentially greater than the new Apple iPad in that it has multitasking, GPS, video and editing, full flash support and can handle programs written in C, C++ or using the Palm developer's kit.

Thanksgiving and Christmas were nice. It is always fun to spend so much time with family as we enjoy the various activities of the season.

Work is great. Have I mentioned recently how much I enjoy my job? Because I do. I'm working on interesting and challenging projects and am lucky to have work here with the state of the economy and construction industry in the state.

I have been serving as Elder's Quorum President in my ward here for the last two months or so and have enjoyed getting to know the members of our ward. It has taken an extra effort to organize my time and priorities, but is well worth it.

In other words, even though the glory days of this here blog may be behind us, there is still a lot going on in life and I hope to continue posting about the good things in life. As is usually the case, Alison has continued to update her blog with pictures, stories and information about our last few months.