Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Discovering Scuba

One important item on my bucket list is that I really want to get Scuba Certified.  However, to maximize my certification, I really want Robyn to get certified as well.  That way, we can go diving on vacations and have lots of adventures together.

I had it all planned out.  We would take a class together and then live happily ever after.  (I know, it's a very detailed plan.  I hope you were able to follow that.)  Unfortunately, Robyn had a concern with this plan.  She was pretty sure that Scuba is too scary and she might die.

Amazon has a little program they've started to compete with City Deals and other similar companies, called Amazon Local.  They sent me a deal for a local dive shop where they could do a "Scuba Discovery" class for $10 / person.

When I saw that my heart leaped for joy!  This was the perfect compromise.  I asked Robyn if she would be willing to go discover Scuba with me.  I told her she only had to commit to one hour and then we could either confirm that it's much too scary and I would never bother her about it again, or she would discover it's pretty cool and we could get certified together.

The place is called Dive Utah and it's located in Holladay.  It was a little inconvenient because the class started at 6, so I had to leave work early to drive through traffic and get there on time.  But we made it safely, so all was well.

When we arrived, the first 30 minutes was a classroom atmosphere.  They explained all the equipment, they explained basic principles of diving.  (The most important thing we learned is to never stop breathing, because if you drift up or down while holding your breath, the change in pressure could cause serious problems.)

We had to pass a little quiz before we could get in the water.  I took the quiz before we started and got 100%.  But if that wasn't easy enough already, he went through the quiz question by question and told us the answers, so we could just fill it out as he told us if we wanted.

We finally got to get in the water.  It was just a swimming pool, but there were still crazy marine life forms such as a real live Scuba certification class.

The first thing we did in the water was put on all our gear.  As soon as I got it on, I realized that wearing a big air tank on your back is kind of like being a ghostbuster, with their big nuclear reactors on their backs.  Naturally, I shared that with the whole class.  "It feels like I'm a ghostbuster!"

Only seconds later, he had us put the regulator in our mouths and try breathing through it, above the water. Instantly, I knew that I had become Darth Vader.  (They must have based Darth Vader's breathing on a scuba regulator.)  I immediately regretted using up my geek moment talking about Ghostbusters.  Luckily, the teacher was either as geeky as me or he just knew his audience, because he said, "Luke, I am your father."  It filled me with gladness.

Once we were geared up, he showed us some basic skills.  We had to show that we could take the regulator out of our mouth (while still breathing out, because you never stop breathing) and then put it back in and clear it of water.  We also had to be able to clear water out of the mask.

Finally, he just let us swim around the swimming pool.  I definitely need work, I would be crawling along the bottom and would push the button to gain some buoyancy, then I would magically be at the top of the water.  After that, I would push the button to release air and I would be back on the bottom.  It would seem I need to learn balance.

After swimming around for a while, the class was over.  Then came the most important part.  We grabbed a camera for a photo op.
Robyn with some underwater love
Not to be outdone, I threw up some double love.
We're just the cutest little scuba couple.
The best part of the whole thing?  Robyn has agreed to get certified with me.  That means we have a future filled with diving all over the world.

Monday, June 24, 2013

She Will Catch Up

I haven't shared one of my dreams with you in a while.  I had a pretty good one the other night.  The time has come for you to once again plunge into my unconscious mind.

I haven't talked a ton about it on this blog, but anyone who has spent any time with me in person knows that I'm going on a cruise to Alaska pretty soon.  This may be due to the fact that I refuse to stop talking about it.  I'm doing my best, but it's very difficult.

Anyway, the dream was a clear prediction of the future.

I was on a boat.  The boat was bouncing up and down with the waves.  I looked around and realized that I wasn't on the cruise ship.  But I knew that I was on my Alaska vacation.  I very quickly realized that this was some sort of ferry that was taking us to the actual cruise ship.

This "ferry" was actually a pretty small boat.  It was maybe 20 feet long.  There were probably ten or 12 people on the boat.  I didn't see any luggage or anything.  Perhaps that was located in some sort of cargo hold.

The first thing I realized as I noticed the violent rocking and bumping of the boat was that I wasn't sea sick.  This made me really excited.  I figured if this overly motion filled boat wasn't giving me any problems, I definitely wouldn't have problems on the much larger and more stable cruise ship.

I looked around and saw all the members of my family that are going on the cruise with us.   But then I realized there was someone missing.  My sister-in-law Delta was not there.  Her husband, Zack was, however.  I asked him where she was.

"She slept in and wasn't ready when it was time to go.  I didn't want to miss the boat, so I left."

"What?  How could you leave her?"

"Don't worry, she said she'd catch up."

If my brother wasn't concerned that he went on vacation without his wife, I suppose I shouldn't be, either.  Nevertheless,  I was kind of distraught about the whole situation.  How was she supposed to catch up?  Was she going to fly to our first port?  Was she just going to swim after the boat?

I pondered this for a few moments when what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a miniature boat and a precious Delta.
She's so good, she can go at breakneck speeds and her hair doesn't even blow.

She had suddenly appeared, speeding across the water.  Her personal watercraft zipped back and forth, showing off her jet skiing prowess.  She pulled up next to our boat, standing up and steering with one hand. Suddenly, she did some sort of a James Bond move where she flew through the air and landed safely on our boat.  Her PWC drifted away with no pilot.

She came and sat next to Zack.  They snuggled, and looked at me like nothing unusual had happened.  It would seem this sort of thing is completely normal in their marriage.

Zack gave me a look that said, "I told you she would catch up."

I looked at Robyn, she looked at me.  We both shrugged, and we all lived happily ever after.

Okay, dream interpreters.  What does it all mean?  I think it's pretty much just a vision of the future.  What do you think?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

I Lost Forty Five Pounds

So it turns out I'm better at this weight loss thing then I thought.

Remember back when I said that my weight loss goal for the year was to reach 250 pounds?  When I made the goal I was 293 pounds.  I figured a 43 pound loss would be pretty good for the year.  That's just under 1 pound a week.

Well, as of this morning I was 248 pounds.  I blew past my yearly goal 2 pounds ago.  I've lost 45 pounds.

Remember when I said that my shorts have started falling off?  I've taken to pulling them up over my belly.  But my belly has shrunk enough that they are starting to fall off even then.
Don't worry.  I'm still precious.
The good news is that they only fall off my belly when I'm on the treadmill.  The only other person that's there is usually Dr. Who, and he's generally too busy saving the world to notice that I'm watching him while I walk.

I may have to break down and get some new shorts here, soon.  I'm also drowning in my white shirt I wear to church.  This weight loss thing could get expensive.  But the worst part?  I can't order Google Glass.

Remember how my reward was going to be to get Glass when I hit the goal?  That was going to be so perfect.  I would hit the goal at the end of the year just in time to preorder.  Well, here I am, a precious 45 pounds later, and Google hasn't seen fit to put it on sale.

Several people have told me I should set a new goal.  I agree with them.  But, I should emphasize, I already earned Glass, and I'm preordering it the moment it's available.  Just because I have a new goal doesn't mean I have to meet it to have my shiny new wearable computer.

So here's the new goal.  I want to get to 223 pounds by the end of the year.  That would be an annual weight loss of 70 pounds.  More importantly, when I got home after serving a 2 year mission for my church, I was 230 pounds.  That would mean I would be the thinnest I've been in over a decade.

Wish me luck!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Ghosts Love Bacon

Warning:  This post is kind of long.  Also, it involves strange paranormal things that might make you think I'm crazy.  But don't worry.  If you read far enough, there will be bacon.

Friday night I was able to cross an important item off my bucket list.  I had the opportunity to go ghost hunting.

When I heard that there was an opportunity to do an expedition in Brigham City, naturally I asked my brother Zack to come with me.

Robyn wasn't exactly excited about me going.   She heard the word 'ghost' and decided she should be scared.  She let me know that under no circumstances was I allowed to bring any ghosts home with me.  I told her I would do my best.  Of course, we all know how likable I am, so it does make sense that they would all want to follow me home to spend more time together.

We arrived at the Baron Woolen Mill in Brigham City, Utah.  It was built by the LDS Church in the late 1800s and was later purchased by the Baron family.  It continued to operate privately until 2002 when it was abandoned.
It has never looked as good as it did when I was in front of it.

We walked in where we met Tom, the owner of Wasatch Paranormal Investigators.

I had no idea what to expect.  I wasn't even sure if I believed in ghosts.  My religion teaches that there is life after death and that there are spirits of those who have passed on.  However, that doesn't mean I'm not skeptical about those who claim to have contact with the other side.

Zack voiced this skepticism (that he also shared) to Tom and asked him what we should do if we are skeptical but want to be believers.

"Just keep an open mind." was Tom's advice.

I consider myself pretty open minded.  I think that's something I can do.

The first hour was spent with Tom.  He gave us some history of the Baron Woolen Mill.  He told us the stories of the 4 known deaths that have happened here.  He explained to us what exactly it is that we would be doing.  Finally, a man named Fred, and his wife Tracy, arrived.  They were to be our guides as we toured the mill.  The 3 remaining hours were divided up between 3 parts of the mill.  One hour in each.

The first hour was in the main building of the mill.  This was the largest of the 3 areas and had the most to look at.  I commented to Fred that even without ghost hunting, it was worth the 15 dollar admission to get to explore the ruin of an abandoned mill.  I thought it was super cool.

This section was also where I took the most pictures.
The vent on the boiler

This is the room where they stored the coal for the furnace.
The furnace

They placed these flashlights here and asked the ghosts to turn them on.  They actually turned on and off.  The first time it happened it blew my mind.  I told Fred that and he was very excited.  By the end of the night, it was old news because it happened so many times.

This is the "Ghost Meter Pro".  It detects electromagnetic fields.  You ask the ghosts questions and they can flash the lights to answer.  We told them to do once for yes and twice for no.

This room was for processing the wool.  The big things would suck up the wool and do something magical with it.

Zack tried out the divining rods.  We weren't convinced that they did much.
That first area was super huge, so we spent a lot of time exploring and not tons of time "hunting".  However, we did familiarize ourselves with the equipment, which helped us on the rest of the hunt.  (I'm not gonna lie, the equipment made me feel a little bit like a ghost buster.)

The second area was a smaller building that had been used primarily for storing the wool and some of the equipment.  We wandered through a little bit and then they told us they were gonna do some stuff with candles and flashlights.  This was the area that made me come pretty close to being a believer.  (I'm too much of a skeptic to be an all the way believer, until I can verify that nothing I saw was faked.)

I know the above picture is terrible.  We were sitting in pitch black.  They lit 3 candles and placed a flashlight on the table.  This is my excellent iphone shot of the setup.

What happened next was impressive.  I'm not gonna lie.  They asked the ghost to blow out the middle candle.  A wind filled the room, but only the middle candle blew out.

Fred looked at me and asked, "How is your mind now?"

"Doubly blown."

I wish I had caught that on video.  But after that, I started taking video.  They asked the ghost to turn on the flashlight, and the light turned on.  I actually got several videos of that, like I said earlier, that quickly became old news.  My videos are kind of lame, though, because it was so dark.  You can just see points of light coming on and off.

We relit the candle and asked them to do it again.  The little ghost pro devices kept saying "no" whenever we asked them.  I guess ghosts get tired.

We then went to our final area.

This was an outdoor enclosure.  I actually don't even know what its purpose was during the mill days.  They setup this laser grid so that we could see any movement in the dark.  We all took turns walking through it because it looked really cool to see figures moving.
I should have turned off the flash for this picture, so you could see the laser points better.

We sat and talked for a bit.  This area supposedly has a little boy who was killed in the mill.  Our guides offered the little boy some licorice.  He said yes through the ghost meter.

I asked our guide, "What does he do with the licorice?"  She said she's not sure.  Perhaps they can still taste or smell food.  Then she said the best thing of the whole night:  "I can't imagine not having bacon in the next world."

Important life lesson:  Bacon is the best part of this life, it's probably the best part of the next.

As time went on, they said the little boy likes to run around.  They asked him to "run through the pretty lights for us".  This is where the last fragment of my sanity left me.  I saw a figure running back and forth through the lasers.  It wasn't a full bodied form.  I couldn't necessarily see the shape of a person, but there was definitely movement.  If there was any trace of my mind that hadn't already been blown to pieces, that finished the job.

Soon after that, there was a glowing light, almost like an orb, that I saw for about a half second.  One of the other ladies with us pointed it out.  The guides tried to debunk it.  They said that other tour groups were on the other side of the wall, and it was probably flashes from their cameras.

The problem was that we had seen camera flashes, and they were much higher on the wall than this light.  The whole group got up and walked down to the end to investigate.  I was sitting there by myself with the ghost pro device.  I asked, "Did you cause the light?"  The device said yes.

That was the last exciting thing that happened.  Soon our time was over, and it was time to make the long, late night drive home.

In the end, I can't explain all the things I saw.  Certainly there are ways to fake many of the things.  Some of them would be pretty elaborate for the 15 dollars I spent, but I can't prove it wasn't an elaborate show.

At this point, I don't know what I believe.  I definitely saw things that expanded my reality.  Is it possible I was completely duped?  Yes.   And if so, they put on a show that was worth much more than my 15 dollars.

The final verdict:  I'm doing this again.  For science.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Bloglovin and Facebook

With the demise of Google Reader coming up shortly, I have setup a couple new ways to follow this blog.

You can Follow my blog with Bloglovin (I recently started using Bloglovin and it's super cool.)
Or you can go like my new Facebook page.  (There's nothing there yet, but I promise to share future posts.)

Whatever you do, don't let Google separate us.  I'll miss you if you do.

Monday, June 10, 2013

I Like My Dentist

It's true.  I actually like my dentist.

What's that you say?  "But, Jeff, I follow you on Instagram and I saw your post about the implements of torture."

You follow me on Instagram?  What a wise choice!  I bet that decision has brought you great joy throughout your life.

And, yes, I did post this picture on Instagram:

Why do they have to put their instruments of torture on display? #dentist
And, yes, I agree those look like items that would be used in a horror movie.  But, that's exactly why I like my dentist.  When I go to the dentist, it doesn't actually seem like I'm in a horror movie.

I know, it's pretty surprising.  Because most dentists are experts at finding new and more horrible ways to inflict pain.

Growing up, I would go to the torturer's office once every 6 months.  I remember one time in particular, I was 7 or 8 years old and I was screaming because it hurt so bad.  The dentist just told me to buck up.

He had shot me with Novocaine, and my face was definitely numb, but he failed to numb my tooth, and was not willing to give me a second shot.  I don't know if he was just too incompetent to make the right spot numb or if he was just too cheap to use the Novocaine for a second try.  Either way, the semiannual visit to Dr. Crawford's house of pain was very much like a horror movie.

That's why I love my current dentist's office.  They may have instruments of torture, but they are actually competent enough to numb me during the torture process, thus making it nothing like a horror movie.

I know that statements like, "A visit there is nothing like a horror movie" are not exactly ringing endorsements.  Just imagine if you read that kind of review about a restaurant:  "While eating there, I did not die.  Also no one was tortured or maimed.  Also, there was food available."

Nonetheless, I love my dentist.   Dr. Crawford's House of Pain may have severely lowered my expectations, but all I know is that Stone Haven Dental is nothing like a horror movie.  That's the way I like it.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Funny Emails: Work From Home

We all get all sorts of junk emails, right?  I don't even open most of them.  Every once in a while, I check them out just to see what they are trying to sell me.  Most of them are Nigerian princes.  It turns out they need to get a lot of money into the United States, and I'm the only one they trust to help.  However, today I got an email that was more unique.  I felt it was too good not to share:

Could you get it if people told you that you are able to make 8-10 thousands US Dollars just by operating from home and just some hours per week? The good news is that this is all true and so happened to Kim Swartz, the mother who worked from home and has good pay doing very small job online! This is your best chance to earn more money than your daily job just by staying home during your spare time. Read more of the article on her blog : *********
How great is that?  I could make 8-10 thousands US Dollars.  All I would have to do is work some hours per week.  (How many is some?  I currently work 40.  Is that more than some?)  When you put it that way, I could really get it.

I think I have realized my problem.  I've been leaving my house in my spare time.  If I start staying home during my spare time, I could be like Kim Swartz, and it could so, like totally, happen to me.

I am curious, what company will pay 8-10 thousands US Dollars for me to do a very small job.  If it's a very small job, couldn't they hire a high school kid to do it for pennies?  Also, maybe they should invest some of that in a recruiter who speaks English.

I guess I'll never know how I could have been rolling in the money.  Because I'm definitely not visiting their site.  I suppose I'm just prejudiced against spam emails written by people who don't speak English.  It's just the way I am.

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Finance Industry Makes No Sense

We recently refinanced our house. After doing so, something very profound occurred to me.

The finance industry makes zero sense.

I know what you're all thinking, "But every loan I've gotten has gone through a fully logical process."

I'm sure you've experienced loads of logic. Good for you. Thanks for rubbing it in.

Let me tell you my story, and then you can judge for yourself. I should tell you, this recent refinance was actually the best process we've been through thus far. But that doesn't mean that it was logical, by any means, or that it all made sense.

For the most part it was pretty straight forward. They wanted to know things like how much money we made, how much the house appraised for, what our credit scores were. These things all make sense. They are actually relevant to loaning us money with a house as collateral.

But then, fairly quickly, logic went out the window.

They wanted a copy of my mortgage statement. I sent them a copy of the mortgage on the house I was refinancing. I got a call from the loan guy the next day, "I see that you sent us your statement, but it looks like we're missing the statement on your rental property."

Oh, sorry, I thought I was only supposed to send you things that are relevant to the house we're actually refinancing. My mistake. Would you also like a copy of my grocery list?

Then later, I get an email. "Why does your W2 have a different address than your primary address? Please send us a signed and dated letter with the explanation."

I wrote them this winner: "To whom it may concern, My employer has an old address. Love, Jeff"

Okay, maybe that was the first draft. I might have revised it just a little to remove the sarcasm.

After several more rounds of giving them more information than anyone could possibly want to know about me, we finally signed.  Oh happy day!  We're going to save 200 bucks a month!  Woot!

Then they told me I would be getting a check in the mail.

Most people would be excited.  Yes!  Free money!

What most people don't realize is that it's not free money.  It's money that I just borrowed for 30 years.  Why would I ever want to borrow 2000 dollars with a 30 year term.  That doesn't even make sense?  I figured out this check adds 7 dollars to my monthly payment, and will cost $3500 to pay back over the entire term of the loan.

I recognize I can just pay it back into the loan, and not pay interest on it for 30 years.  But I find myself wondering why they loaned me 2000 dollars more than they needed to.  You'd think someone at the bank would have been good enough at math to make the numbers add up.

Of course, there are worse things in life than getting a 2000 dollar check.  When we originally bought this same house we had to take pictures of the 2 kitchens in our rental (because the kitchens in an entirely different property were very relevant apparently), we had to write a letter explaining why I had deposited a check for 100 dollars from my parents (because no other family on the planet says stuff like, "I'll buy this, you can pay me back later."), we even had to write a letter explaining that we had received a tax return, (I'm sure they'd never seen anything that strange and unusual.)

So, I'm not really complaining about the check.  I understand it could be much worse.  But, in an industry so filled with numbers, is it too much to ask that there be a little bit of logic, and perhaps, even a dash of mathematics?
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