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!