Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Monday, October 20, 2008

Frightmares 2008

Saturday was our annual Lagoon trip to Frightmares (thanks for the link to the $avings Steph!). Krista brought one of the neighbor girls (the Ute). It was a PERFECT day... and we weren't the only ones taking advantage of it.

Lagoon was more crowded than I ever remember seeing it. In addition to the normal lines, there were four walk-in spook allies each with lines that wound around corners and down the main section of Lagoon. This picture was taken inside one of the little walk through areas.

I still like the Jet Star II, the "airplane ride" (Flying Aces), and the Spider is my favorite "newer" ride.

It's great going these places with kids this age... no strollers... everyone likes the rides... no whining about being too tired... etc.

Great time had by all!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Visiting Logan

Kira is getting ready to attend college next year. On top of her list of potential schools is Utah State. This past friday I took Kira, her probable roommate Ann Marie, and dad up to Logan with me to walk around campus for a while and then go to the BYU-USU football game.

We had a great time up there. The girls found a lot of the support buildings, their desired living location, and gathered some information. As we were leaving, we walked by the Aviation building and the professor invited us in. The girls sat in the pilot seats of a corporate jet that was there for training. We also were able to inspect the inner workings of several aviation motors and saw an experimental ultralight.

The game was a fun ending to the evening. Word to the wise: If you go to a USU football game, use the bathroom before you go.

I start my new job tomorrow... lots to do but I'm very excited!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

More BYU Football Stuff

The past two weekends have been all about BYU football. The girls love going with me... woop, gotta run Kira is done with Guitar

Sunday, September 7, 2008

BYU squeeks by Washington

A few of the kids and I had a great time watching BYU play over at "fwampa's" house. As always, he's a great host for a BYU football game.

This win will be talked about all season if BYU remains undefeated as there was a lot of controversy after the game given what was a pretty tough call on UW... tough call, but followed the rules of the game.

We can't wait for the UCLA game next week. The stadium is going to be loud and this will be one of the few games remaining on BYU's schedule (and the only one at home) that should be even close.

The conference is terrible again this year, only TCU and Utah should even give the Coogs a game.

Friday, September 5, 2008

My one and only political blog

I've come to really dislike the politics.

There was a time, not too long ago, I liked listening to the talking heads -- some from both sides. I thought Rush and Hannity were entertaining. I liked Chris Matthew's inside views of politics from the left side.

Now they all sound like a bunch of yap dogs.

I know I believe the federal government has grown so far beyond what the founding fathers had intended, they would be shocked to find Americans tolerating this. Our founding fathers revolted over an unjust tea tax. Today we have to tell the government just about everything we do so they can properly asses how much we owe them. I cannot see Jefferson or Madison tolerating that level of intrusion into our lives. But no one is talking about changing this.

I know the Democrats don't care about this intrusion and want to give the government even more power -- but they care most about funding their friends through tax breaks and legal reform

I know the Republicans only pretend to care about this -- because mostly they care about funding their friends from office and writing more garbage into the tax code to do so.

I now firmly believe the best government is one that is divided and paralyzed by their own sycophantic infighting. At least that way they can't continue to waste our money on their friends -- because they can't agree which friends to fund.

I do not think it was a coincidence the last balanced budget was accomplished by a deeply divided Washington.... they couldn't agree on how to waste our money.

I've been a life-long republican -- but George Bush as cured me of that. With perhaps the exception of Jimmy Carter, he has easily been the worst president of my lifetime. I do, in fact, think he is an utter moron who was never qualified for the job. The last four years he has been completely inept and, as far as I can tell, enjoying the golf perks and little else. His insistance on giving his unqualified friends jobs in high office -- and remaining loyal to their incompetence -- is literally stunning.

BTW, I think Barack Obama is another utter moron who is wholly unqualified for the job. He is largely the same as GWB, only on the flip-side of the spectrum. He speaks in platitudes and has no clue how impractical most of the stuff he spouts is in real life.

John McCain is so dull I'd rather watch paint dry than hear him speak.

I've enjoyed learning much more about the business world over the past several years as my interest in this garbage has waned. Some people worry about the power of Corporations -- and probably rightfully so.

However, given the choice between a world controlled by corporations and a world controlled by the likes of Obama and Bush, you will excuse me if I'm glad the corporations, which are governed by people of substance -- have more power than these political yahoos who seem only qualified to win a High School populatarity contest.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Football season is here!

Katie and I had a great time at the first BYU football game... Here's a picture of the two of us. Great seats we had just above the concourse.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Family Boating Trip

We just had to get grandpa out on the boat after getting home from the mission. Our kids were very anxious to show off their new boating skills.

Kira put together this video of the boating outing... Video editing kids rock!

That was awesome... and yes, the water is really that blicky green.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Finally got the new airplane video to work

My kids know the video stuff so much better than I do now it is pathetic. I used to make fun of people who would ask their kids how to run their computer stuff... but the video stuff I have to plead guilty on now.

My kids just have more if it figured out than I do.

But, here's a video of my birthday presents flying... hum... still a week before my birthday

School starts tomorrow

I can't believe summer is over for the kids and we are headed into school tomorrow. It's been so crazy we didn't get much done we wanted to... although we did make several boating trips that were awesome.

Krista and Kira particularly like skiing, wake boarding and tubing.

Katie is joining the flying club with me.

I spent most of the day sick today..... I hate sick. I have to be really sick to take benedryl because the side effects are almost as bad as being sick in the first place... at least for me.

After visitors in town Mon-Wed, mom and dad will be back!

I should be there for clean up tomorrow unless something odd happens with the visitor.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Back Online

The past few months have been very busy with summer, lots of transitions going on at work, some significant successes, and just having fun.

We are very excited for Mom and Dad to get home. Just to see them for one. The kids have improved their boating skills and can't wait to show grandpa what they can do. Krista is pressing me for a couple more trips so she can get slalom skiing down.

Kids have been busy in other activities too including girls camp, EFY, etc.

I can't believe school starts in just over a week! Holy Where did the summer go Batman? It feels like we really were short-changed this year since it didn't warm up until mid June.

I had a great pre-return to school meeting with all the kids this past week to set goals. Those conversations become more and more interesting as they get older. Cool thing about storing them on the computer is I have goals from the kids going back to 2000 when I started putting them on excel. It's fun to see all the different things they've wanted to do at different ages.

The scary part about that is I remember writing Kira's goals in 2000 like it was yesterday and in that same amount of time all our kids will be graduated from High School. Yikes.

One fun note from me... I have spent my personal free time on my favorite hobby: Airplanes. Prices have come waaaay down on the stuff for them, so my planes have gotten bigger. This one was on sale for $160 (usually ones this big are $400+). It ended up being an early birthday present... I flew it for the first time last Saturday morning... it flies great!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Family History

Hey Family,

We have a family history class starting and I'm finally going get PAF and the other online geneology tools figured out...

I had an idea... we should start a blog about our ancestors and have a post about each one to add stories and such to. Does anyone know if this already exists somewhere either in digital or written form?

If it's just written, we should digitize the information to share more easily.

Just a thought...

Finishing the trip

I think I covered all the destinations... now I'll talk about the ship time.

I didn't realize when we booked this that the best part about a cruise is literally having to worry about nothing. They totally pamper you. Normally our vacations are in a time share and we fix meals to save money... but this means there are several "homemaking" type projects to do with dishes, cooking, etc.

On a cruise you literally eat whatever you want whenever you want and the food is outstanding. With Nicol's family, we took up an entire table for the formal dinner. I thought I wouldn't like the formal dinners, but given the food and the atmosphere, it was one of the highlights of the whole trip. Dad would have loved all the "dinner tricks" they did... Oh yeah, except I showed them the "pull the cork from the wine bottle one"... they had not seen that one. Here's a picture of our servers: Vernon and Clifford

Anyway, having a four course meal each night of excellent food rocked. We drank virgin daquiris and pina coladas every night to go with appetizer, soup/salad, entre, and desert. The portions were just right so we didn't finish each night so full it hurt... and some nights we ordered double appetizers or even entres if we wanted. Usually the standard dinner was enough... but things like chilled shrimp for the appetizer needed to be eaten twice just to be sure it was really as good as the first time.

There were lots of activities including great shows every night, pools, video games, shuffleboard, ping pong, and many on-board classes and crafts. But the kids' favorite was probably the rock wall. Here's a picture of Krista at the top:

This wasn't just our family... Nicol's parents paid for the tickets for the family (waaaay many thanks for that one) which included Trevor and his family and Nicol's parents. Here's a picture Trevor, Maryanne, Dad and Mom in the theater seats (the theatre where we had the evening entertainment was awesome).

Finally, we did not get home without a hitch. After we docked, I went to pick up the car from long term parking. Instead of driving between the lines, I must have been still thinking of waves because I bent down to pick something up ("I'm picking something up!") and hit the side of a concrete barrier, broke the radiator, and we ended up in LA two extra days to get that taken care of. Here's a picture of that:

The kids were very happy to miss a couple extra days of school and I am still getting compliments from them on my excellent driving skills (yes, girls only like guys with skills).

From the family this trip rated just behind Hawaii in all time great trips. I was a little surprised they didn't like Disney better... but this was a really terrific trip.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Mazatalan and Puerto Vallarta

We left Cabo and sailed over night to Mazatlan. Our shore excursion there was a bus tour with stops along the way including by mom and dad's time share in the "Golden Zone" -- which looked very much like San Diego to me. The tour stopped near a historic lighthouse and we saw a cliff diver jump...

We also stopped at a neat little restaurant overlooking the harbor. We didn't eat there (too early at the stop) but it was definitely a place we'd like to return to in the historic section. The tour also went through some of the less attractive places in Mazatlan so the kids did get to see some of "real life" outside the US. One staple of Latin America is the Cathedrals with town squares across the street. Mazatlan is no exception. Here's a picture of the kids outside one very large cathedral:

The day after Mazatlan we hit Puerto Vallarta. Of all the cities, Puerto Vallarta I liked best. Puerto is far enough south to be in the tropical jungle area with much more natural vegetation. Unfortunately there were some fires nearby the day we visited so the air was a little smoky. Our shore excursion was a trip to a secluded beach for snorkeling, beach fun, and relaxation. As it turned out, the Snorkeling was awful (no visibility there) and our beach day was cut short (we ended up getting a refund for time lost). But we did have a good lunch and I found a new fun activity I need to do more on these trips: ocean kiyacking. It was a blast playing in the waves on those little boats.

Puerto Vallarta is very long and narrow situated right by the shoreline as the mountains become very steep leaving the beach. Here's a picture of part of the city:

There was a small animal show on the island and Katie got to hold a parakeet:

I'll finish up with pictures of the trip and the tales of the "incident" coming home...

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Vacation Pictures

Here's a brief description and some pictures from our vacation.

We left on Friday with me doing work most of the way to LA. We stopped and visited a really great new customer in St. George and I had a bunch of calls to do. But Saturday we were up bright and early to hit Disneyland. Disney has been a favorite vacation site for some time. We always end the day with our "Mountain Tour" of rides which includes: Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Thunder Mountain Railroad, and the Matterhorn.

Cool thing happened... the Matterhorn broke while we were near the top of the ride. We were stopped and the workers had to come get us and walk us down through the inside of the mountain. It was surprisingly dirty and noisy... Disney definitely takes some control and work to keep moving... Great view though of an iconic ride that most won't ever see.

Here's a pic of the Thunder Mountain:

Sunday we left on the Cruise. I'll cover destinations here although we spent Sunday evening and Monday cruising on the ship.

Cabo San Lucas was our first port. Cabo is very unique situated right at the end of Baja California. There were more boats going in and out of Cabo harbor (mostly small water taxi's) than I have seen anywhere. Here's a shot of the harbor from the inland side taken from a restaurant patio. From here we took a glass-bottom water taxi tour around the area.

The water taxi ride was a highlight of the trip. The water near Cabo is beautiful and the effect of the cliffs near the water is unique. Cabo was surprisingly dry naturally (as in cactus plants everywhere dry). But the rock formations were really cool. Oh yeah, and we saw some sea lions playing around too. The rocky shot is literally the end of Baja california looking south out into the pacific ocean

Okay... this is getting to be too much of a pain to manage all these pictures in one post.... but that takes care of Disney and Cabo...

I'll add more about Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta in another entry...

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Funny quick hit

Some of the funniest reading you will find comes from Utah county police reports. One of my all-time favorites was the Nephi police busting an "Education Week Ticket Forgery" ring. I couldn't decide which was funnier: Some dork printing fake Education Week tickets in his basement, losers actually buying fake tickets from him, or the police finding enough time to crack down on it.

This one was highlighted on the BYU board and it's great. Hey Heidi... this is Will and Luke in a few years:

April 8: A 6-year-old boy called the police when his 9-year-old brother would not let him watch television. BYU police checked the situation to make sure the boys were supervised. Both boys were fine.

Most difficult month in a long time

Well, even with a cruise stuck in the middle of it, I couldn't be happier to see a month end. This has easily been the most stressful time for me since the working full time/school part time/little kids at home days. The week before our trip, I couldn't sleep more than a couple hours at night if I was lucky.

All of this has been work-related so luckily it's nothing too important. :-)

We are hiring someone new who will take a load off of my shoulders... he's going to be very aggressive and he's very skilled at both the engineering and sales side..

I need to put up a cruise outline because, aside from bashing the car, it was a terrific vacation! Actually, the kids really enjoyed the fact I bashed the car too since they missed an extra two days of school. Kira has not stopped congratulating me on my "fine driving skills" yet.

That ending sure made the trip a little more of an adventure.

I'll put up pictures at some point...

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Life Tracker

I'm in Boise with some time so let me elaborate on "Life Tracker". It started as a financial effort so most of my post will deal with that aspect, but it's grown over time to encompass more of what I want to do.

I could go on a long time here about how I came up with my "life tracker", but my comfort isn't likely to be generally applicable as I am a math/engineering geek and I love excel more than I should. My recommended reading "Smart Couples Finish Rich" is the best resource I've found for couples who plan on retiring together because it brings up conversations shockingly many couples do not have about long term financial wants and needs.

But most the concepts apply to individuals. A few items general items I've found:

1) Just to live my current lifestyle in retirement, I will need almost $2 million in a "retirement fund". This should provide an income of approx $150K and growth to cover inflation during an anticipated 30+ year retirement. $150K sounds like a lot for retirement income, but think 20 years ago... when I was 20, I thought I'd live comfortably my entire life if I could make $35K per year. Costs of living will likely double again in 20 years. So $150K then will be more like $75K now. That money is just to live the day-to-day lifestyle we have now.

2) Anything I get from Social Security I will view as a bonus. By that age, I fully expect Social Security to be means-tested out of my ability to access it. I think anyone 40 and under should expect massive changes to current policy.

3) "Dreams" -- Dreams don't come true without planning. And you can't plan for dreams to come true unless you sit down, realistically plan what those dreams will cost, then fund them. BTW, it is a HUGE help for immediate budgeting to say "we'll eat in and save" when a dream is attached to the savings account. Nicol and I want to spend winters in Hawaii (or similar warm spot) during retirement -- particularly in early retirement when hopefully health issues aren't paramount. I want to fly as part of the Civil Air Patrol and for humanitarian aid. We've talked about doing work with education during those times we are in the "warm place" for the winter. Those examples require a "dream fund" capable of funding them.

4) After listing my Needs and Wants, and finding how much I will need when, it's a simple matter of plugging numbers into a spreadsheet and seeing if I'm saving enough for each item. My models include each want listed in the rows, years in the columns, and each year I can see if I'm on track, behind, or ahead.

5) Single point of reference. Finances are complicated. We should maintain an emergency fund of 3-6 months income, life insurance, education fund, retirement money, dream money, "good cause" money, etc. Without one place to keep it sorted out and a place to state objectives and plans, it becomes very confusing to manage. For example, many people dump some money into a 401(k) each month but don't manage or watch it or have much idea if that money will end up doing what they want.

6) I use this same format now for time... or at least I'm trying to. Time needs to be allocated with family, work, church, recreation, friends, exercise etc.... I'm finding though, unlike money, that time is much more difficult to allocate in planned blocks at least for me. I have a harder time as family or church or work will dominate for a while, then another will. Stress sometimes causes me to retreat to "recreation" more than I probably should -- but I have to deal with the stress constructively.

My program is helping here, but I'm not nearly as experienced with that yet. But it seems the same principles apply. Anything you want to BE needs to have time allocated to it or it WON'T happen.

Now that was one wail of a Mike Brady Moment.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Handbell performance

Krista woke me up a while ago (she thought it was time to get up and she started to shawer... at 12:30am!!!)

But at last I have a minute at the computer to post this. Here's a sample of Krista's school performance She's in the first year of Handbells offered at the Jr High.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Baptisms and Blessing

It was an important weekend around here. Saturday morning was the baptism for two kids that are part of families I've been home teaching and friends with for several years now.

I was asked to baptize and confirm Cody. Krista has been friends with their youngest daughter just about since the time we moved in. Their family is awesome. I really enjoy visiting with them and hearing their great stories. Cody really enjoys coming to our gaming activities which is a commonality we share.

Victoria is part of the family that bought our last house. Kirsten (Victoria's mom) moved into ward several years ago after fleeing a bad situation with her husband. Nicol and I started visiting our them when she moved in about three years ago. Since then they've become good friends and we very much enjoy having them over from time to time.

I had the chance also to participate in the ordination to Elder of a really neat new ward member. He and his wife were married a little while ago and decided to get things in order as their first kid is on the way. I've been to weddings where the bride did not look as beaming as that young wife and soon-to-be mother did as her new husband received the priesthood. Truly that was a great experience.

Finally, today Heidi and Jairon blessed their third child. It was really good to be with them. I'm sure Heidi will write more about it in her blog. I was struck in their testimony meeting how many of them were glad they had a ward family that pulled together during the last few weeks of flooding. Heidi was obviously not the only one with water in a basement.

Great weekend... very meaningful and one I'll remember for the rest of my life.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

RC Air Combat

So I've mentioned RC Air Combat from time to time... and finally having a dose today after a long winter, I'm excited about flying again. Here's a great sample of what we do. My plane in this video is Blue and white on top with the yellow/black checkerboard on the bottom (I'm involved in about half the hits).


Okay, so here's my homework from my sister who likes to assign blog homework, then skip town to escape the consequences (e.g. having to read my retort).

What was I doing 10 years ago:

Ten years ago I'd just moved back from Boise. Katie was 1, Krista 3, Kira 6. I was still winding my way though finishing college and working full time. Having kids that young seems a world away. Going places out was difficult. I remember how empty our neighborhood was... we had to drive 30 mins just to go to a movie. Lehi has more than doubled in size since then.

I was a scout master... and those boys returned from missions last year. It seems like it's been several years since Kira started driving and dating -- but she's not even 17 yet. Oh yeah, 10 years ago I also started my "life tracking" in excel. I only wish I'd started sooner because just putting together the plan helped us go from 100K in debt to nearly financially free.

Five Places I've Visited:
1. Seoul, Korea -- Itewan (sp?) and the emporer's gardens there are not to be missed. Also: Korean BBQ -- MMMMM!

2. Shanghai, China -- What a difference capitalism makes. All the commie buildings are dull gray with air conditioners thrown on the outsides as an afterthought. The pre-communist historical section and the post communist modern sections of the city are spectacular. Eating in the restaurant on top of the TV tower is a must.

3. Maui, Hawaii -- Mama's Fish House is the BEST place I have ever eaten. You will pay to go, it is worth every penny. Nicol and I had a table right by the beach on the North shore with all the big waves rolling in -- almost couldn't believe what we were looking at. Wait... I have a pic of that somewhere here -- Yup... this is what it looked like from our table in the restaurant.:

4. Disneyland: Disneyland is nearly an annual event for us. It's close enough for us to drive it and our kids have always been good in the car. Going to Disney World with the family in Orlando (our second trip) was so much fun! Disney is so much funner now with the older kids. We used to run around looking for characters to sign books all day.... now we finish each day with our traditional "Mountain Tour" which includes: Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Thunder Mountain Railroad, and The Matterhorn. Here's a pic from last year's Disney trip (taken in the pool at our time share):5. Cancun, Mexico: I actually have been a couple times. The first was with the Spanish club in High School. Great trip that I have detailed in my journal and laugh every time I read it. I went later with Dad and Ray. Dad went scuba diving one day and Ray and I rented these little motos and rode all around the little island (name escapes me at the moment.)

Five things on my "To Do" list:
1. Live 2-3 months out of the year in Hawaii (top of both Nicol and my list).
2. Completely pay off my house.
3. Get my pilot's license
5. Facilitate my kids' future through education, skills training, and approval of any dork dude that may ask to marry them.

I enjoy...
Flying radio control airplaines.. which reminds me... I'm late to my club fly this afternoon -- and it is WAAAY too beautiful outside not to cut this short and go.

Five things you may not know about me...
I covered many in my 100 list.

Gotta run!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Upcoming Movies!

My kids love to make movies. Here's a sample of some ideas they are planning for this summer's movie-making season. (Preview movie compiled and edited by Krista.)

Friday, February 22, 2008

Family Video

Here's a quick experiment with a video upload... It should be a sample of a video compilation I've been doing of all our home videos... (Warning: It may take a while to load @ 21MB -- it's not in its fully compressed form yet.)

I'm not pleased with the way .wmv compressed the music... and it's not quite done... but for those of you who may have missed my kids' younger years, there are some pretty classic shots in here. Krista with her "raggie". Kira talking to the camera (we have hours and hours of this). And Katie in her little dances.


Darren's 100

1. I haven’t followed a TV show since the cancellation of Xena: Warrior Princess

2. I’m somewhat embarrassed that came to my mind first when sitting down to make this list… but not enough to change it.

3. I’m a card-carrying member of Cramerica.

4. I dressed up as a birthday cake for Halloween.

5. I've climed the highest peak in Southern Utah

6. Exercise would be great if you didn't have to shower afterward

7. My favorite movie currently is the "Pride and Prejudice"

8. Despite #7, my wife tells me I am not in touch with my feminine side.

9. I live with three daughters and a wife and #7 is still true

10. I hate dogs

11. Our dog is named Peter (which is English for Pedro).

12. I Love Waterskiing!

13. My all time favorite song is "Only Love" from "The Scarlet Pimpernel"

14. I like too many types of music to have one favorite group.

15. Model Airplanes fill my garage.

16. I am color blind but didn't know it until I was in my teens.

17. I believe the "Big Bang" theory largely explains how God created the known Universe.

18. I hated math until Calculus.

19. I rejoiced the day String Theory adopted the 11th dimension and unified their formulas.

20. I keep up with my friends -- all of them that will let me.

21. My 12th grade locker combination was 42-14-26

22. 42-14-26 are Barbie’s theoretical measurements.

23. I find shaving annoying

24. I should replace the word "hate" with "don't appreciate" during GH week.

25. I love my car even though Nicol thinks it's "Mid-life crisis red".

26. I cannot sleep in Hotels, but can on Airplanes.

27. My favorite church calling would be 6 families to Home Teach and nothing else.

28. I get bored writing long lists

29. My daughter taught me to text in ride lines at Disneyland.

30. I'm learning to play Bass Guitar

31. My first kid is named after Olivia Newton-John, for obvious reasons.

32. As soon as my kids are out of the house, I'm getting my pilot's license.

33. I'm amazed how different all my kids were from birth.

34. I like quoting movies

35. I'll use my wife's left over coloring to dye my hair.

36. I sing whenever I can

37. I threw firecrackers a girl's window well when I was a teen.

38. I've always been a sucker for big, dark eyes.

39. The only way you can ruin Chocolate is to put something else in it.

40. I'm a huge BYU Football fan

41. I have a uni-brow if I don't shave it off (refer to #22).

42. I'm meeting Ron and Steve for lunch today

43. I want to live part-time in Hawaii

44. I have successfully surfed for a combined total of 2.38 seconds

45. My mind is a steel trap, but someone forgot to oil it.

46. I played clarinet in the marching band

47. I wrote my first computer programs on cards

48. I once wondered what I’d do with all the space on a 20 Meg hard drive

49. I was the reason my sister thought she grew up in a haunted house.

50. I can’t figure out why I don’t mountain bike more

51. I like my music loud

52. I’m a big fan of old moves.

53. I try not to show how mad I am when my kids beat me at video games.

54. GrapeNuts with chocolate sauce, MMmmmmmm!

55. I used to melt plastic army men in the water heater

56. I don’t like snow after January 15th

57. I believe the biggest threat to our country is class action litigation.

58. I’ve been to Mexico, Canada, Panama, Korea, China, Japan, and Colombia

59. I couldn’t do a desk job.

60. I donated to John McCain’s presidential run in 2000, but don’t like him now.

61. BBQ ribs are well worth the mess.

62. My kids get along a lot better than I remember getting along with my siblings

63. I want to play a significant role improving education

64. I love walking in through Thanksgiving Point Gardens with my wife

65. I don’t go barefoot.

66. I know all my neighbors – and their kids.

67. Flying Radio Control Air Combat is a complete riot.

68. I can adapt my personality to my company… and it’s fun.

69. If I have one possession from my youth it would be my graffiti wall.

70. I watched scary movies alone in the basement starting at age 7

71. “The Color Code” book changed my life

72. I don’t see a conflict between Religion and Science and I study both.

73. I still learn from my friends’ parents.

74. I live well below my means and I don’t miss superfluous goodies.

75. If the price of wheat goes much higher, I’m selling my food supply.

76. My kids think our bishop looks like Fred Flintstone.

77. I find Steven Wright is the funniest man alive

78. I wish I could wear jeans, golf shirts, and running shoes everywhere.

79. I didn’t support the war in Iraq to start, but think we’d better win it now.

80. I don’t take pills unless I have to.

81. I think it’s ludicrous the US doesn’t lead the world in Nuclear Power generation.

82. I think my wife is hotter now than she was when we were married.

83. I take risks in moderation

84. Trading stocks is my favorite hobby, currently.

85. I wouldn’t trade places with anyone

86. I don’t like big crowds

87. Laura Ingram is my favorite political commentator

88. I think my kids are awesome, thanks mostly to their mom.

89. I’ve witnessed a murder

90. I’ve been stung by jellyfish more than bees even though I live in Utah.

91. I can’t understand why anyone would subscribe to a magazine these days

92. I’m an optimist

93. I dated two sisters growing up, and I’m still close to both of them.

94. I believe in random acts of kindness

95. Two Words: Chocolate Swamp

96. I manage my life with Excel spreadsheet.

97. I wish I had more than one life.

98. I like playing games – of about any sort

99. I don’t like hats, they mess up my hair.

100. I still don’t feel any different

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Dawn of Greatness...

Story? You want my story? Okay!

Life was never easy for me; I was born a rich Mormon boy. My Father was of those geek electrical engineers with entreprenurial spirit and my mom was a florence nightingale-esk nurse who loved fine arts and manners. So, as you can see, I started life with every possible disadvantage.

From there, it gets worse. Growing up in the 80's, I was schooled in all the pleasantries of the Reagan era: impeccable music, high fashion, computer science and Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. Yes, I learned the valueable life lessons like: donning the silk and satin of a Youth Choir (Second soprano section until age 13, when my voice and life changed immensely), building useful scientific items such as electro-magnetic cannons to destroy those pesky Ruskies, and discovering that no matter what the d20 said, Gerklebobs cannot be killed by dragonslayers*. Oh yes, and most importantly, I learned every possible use and mis-use of a pre-teen boy's favorite element: FIRE.

So were the days of my youth: studious, judicious, and serious. *cough*

My adolescent life began promisingly. My schoolmates and I invented the forerunner of "Warcraft" circa 1982, only to discover the state-of-the-art TI-99's of the day did not have enough memory to store even the icon sprites. We've been considering litigation for years about the rights. We have the code memorized, but it's in the funny noises from loading programs off cassette tapes. Lawyers only cringe when we try to display our evidence by "singing" the audio code then call security to escort us out of the building. (If you are a real geek, you are laughing your head off right now... if not... you missed a truly awesome age of technical wonder).

Girls, unfortunately, had not yet figured out that Geeks were poised to rule the world and the Jocks were destined to be Roid Rage debacles. For reasons I cannot explain, in that era, girls took to the Quarterback much quicker than the acne-encrusted code-monkey. I grew up before everyone knew Bill Gates would make Darth Vader look like a South American dictator.

Their naivete about the Future of Earth put somewhat of a damper on my social life -- well that and the 1972 Mercury Montego I drove... aptly named City Assault Vehicle or CAV. CAV was a typical creation of the 70's... 1/4 inch all american steel lined the hull powered an engine so big you could see the gas gauge dropping while idling at a stoplight. The upside was I could haul 13 people all with personal space left over. The downside is my date, when I was lucky enough to have one, could sit in Nevada while I drove up I-15 in Salt Lake City.

As everyone in knows, the cure for a Young Man in my situation is to ship him off to a backward foreign country to eat bad food, ride a bike in a suit, and teach peasants churchy-stuff for two years. This process, obviously, turns geeky guys into burning-hot stud muffins.... at least it does in Utah. But I promise, Utah is NOT a wierd place.

This process worked so well for me a girl that should be well out of my league decided to hitch her wagon to my One Way Ticket to Paradise (or nearest convenient parallel dimension).

And there, begins the tale detailed in this compendium of pixels.

A Missive By the Hand of:
Darren Hintze

*Variables preclude a fixed number.