Thursday, February 27, 2014

One Sign I Work at an Awesome Company

I really like my job.

It's true.  I really do.  Today something happened that reminded me of that fact.

It all started out pretty innocently.  Thursday is the day we sometimes go out to lunch.  We did so today.  Lunch was delicious.  After lunch, we got back to the office.  One thing lead to another, and well....


See, the thing is, the company where I work is some sort of a magnet for tumbleweed.  It doesn't really make sense to me, but it's been building up over the last few months.

This is a picture I took of the buildup a few days ago.
We noticed that Chris's car had one tumbleweed that had managed to sneak under the front bumper.  That's when the brilliant idea was presented that all the tumbleweed should be on Chris's car.

So the project commenced.

After a few trips ferrying weeds back and forth, 2 of the owners of the company came out to see what all the commotion was.  Naturally, they joined in the project.  It's good to know that the owners are willing to get down and dirty and work alongside the employees when something needs to get done.

A little after five o'clock, I came up to see if he needed any help freeing his car from its bonds.  But he was already completing a little project of his own.

Revenge is sweet.  Especially when my car is unscathed on the far left.
A closer view of the revenge masterpiece.
The moral of the story is, my work is way more fun than yours.  Also, it has more tumbleweed.

Edit:  I wrote this last night, thinking that I had avoided the revenge since my car was unscathed.  I came in to the office this morning to discover this:

My work is still more awesome than yours.  Also, my office has more tumbleweed than yours.  (Or, more accurately, the hallway outside my office has more tumbleweed, since that's where I put it until I decide to take it out.)

Monday, February 24, 2014

I Just Tagged You on Facebook

I have a problem.  Well, I have lots of problems, but I'm only going to talk about one today.

I think I'm annoying all my Facebook friends.  I have a compulsive need, and I just have to feed it.  The thing is, I really need your face to be tagged on Facebook.

This need has been with me a long time, basically since the inception of Facebook.

It started out relatively harmless.  When I posted pictures I would tag everyone in my pics.  It sometimes resulted in me friending really random people just because they showed up in the background of a picture I took and I really needed to tag them.  (Now you can tag people that aren't your friends but that hasn't always been the case.)

Then I started noticing other people would post photos and not tag anyone in them.  Can you believe this?  They would post pictures WITHOUT TAGGING ANYONE!?!?!?!

I know you're as outraged as me, but for the one person out there in cyberspace who doesn't understand how important this is, let me explain.  You see, I love data.  I love that Facebook has compiled all sorts of data on my friends.  I love that I can search things like, "Photos of my friends taken in Hawaii" and I can see awesome photos of people I know in the happiest place on Earth.  (Anyone who thinks the happiest place on Earth is Disneyland has clearly never been to Hawaii.)  Or maybe I want to see my family as they were growing up, and I search something like "Photos of my family before 1999".

The point is that there are lots of ways to view the data that Facebook has gathered, but the search is useless if faces aren't tagged.

My need to perfect the data has been with me a long time.  But, for a long time I was able to resist tagging other people's photos.  Then Facebook implemented a new feature.  Now it recognizes faces and directly asks me if I want to tag them.  It's one thing to not type your name in and tag your face, but to ignore a direct question is beyond my ability to resist.

So if you're one of those people that doesn't like yourself tagged, I'm sorry.  Mark Zuckerberg and I have formed an alliance and we are going to catalog who is in every picture.  I hope you're not too annoyed.  I hope we can still be friends.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

When Spammers Try to Evict Me

Junk mail amuses me, particularly the email variety. When it's completely free to send something, people don't spend much time thinking about whether it makes sense.

Take for example this little gem I recently received:

Eviction notice,

We hereby give you a notice that due to multiple violations your tenancy of the premises you occupy will be terminated on March 04, 2014.

Detailed description of the violations and adjudication are attached herewith.

Unless you vacate the property until March 21, 2014, the Court will provide an order to evict you and require you to pay all the costs incurred in bringing this action.

Court bailiff,

First, I love that the salutation was "Eviction notice". No, "Dear Jeff", or "To the love of my life", not even a "To whom it may concern".  I just don't feel very cared about by this sender.  Also, I don't feel like they even know who I am.  It's almost like this is a form letter sent to thousands.

Second, if I was getting an eviction notice, I would think it would have the address of the place I'm being evicted from.

Third, shouldn't the email at least mention the landlord? Since I own the home I live in, that landlord would be me. So this email should have come from someone representing me, but I suppose that's beside the point.

Is anyone fooled by this sort of thing?  Even if you don't own your home, you'd think there would be some sort of specific information, such as your name or the landlord's name.

Oh well.  There was a nice little zip file attached.  I'm sure it had a really precious virus.  But I guess we'll never know just how precious that virus was since I deleted it.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Day of the Presidents

Our Presidents have done some pretty cool stuff.  Abraham Lincoln emancipated slaves.  George Washington fought for our independence.  But there is one thing they've done collectively that trumps all the other great things they've done.  They got me a day off of work every February.  Now that's something worth celebrating.

Holidays are the greatest thing ever.  They're like Saturdays on steroids.  Saturdays are great, but I often spend the majority of the day doing little chores around the house, things that don't get done during the week.  Holidays are like a bonus Saturday, but they're even better because I already did all my chores on Saturday.

President's Day was an excellent example of how great holidays are.  We didn't go on a fancy trip or anything.  We were just at home, but it was great nonetheless.

We started the day by sleeping in.  Once our sleep was complete we wanted to get some exercise.

Last time we had driven to the temple we noticed there was a walking trail next to the river, so we decided to give that a try.

The river was beautiful and the company was excellent.
If you can't tell, Robyn was really cranky that I made her be in a picture.
We walked the whole length of the trail, and still wanted more.  So we climbed the hill toward the temple.  We didn't make it all the way there because at the top of the hill we decided to explore the park across the street and then do some stairs at the amphitheater.

This is how precious I look on the stairs.
Robyn descended so fast that it was like a blur.
On the way back down the hill we decided to run as fast as we can.  There was a slight problem, though.  Remember when you were a kid and you were growing so fast that your parents had to buy you new clothes every few months?  We have that problem in reverse.  We're shrinking fast enough that it's hard to have clothes that fit us.  Both of us have pants that are just little too big.  Once you get running pretty good, the pants have a tendency to jostle themselves downward.  Don't worry, there was no nudity, not like the awkward time in the front yard or the awkward time in Hawaii.  But we weren't able to run quite as fast since we were both holding up our pants.

After a morning of good exercise, we figured we had earned a good meal.  Plus, we didn't go out for Valentine's (Because we hate going out that night.  Everything is crowded and extra expensive.) so this was our belated Valentine's date.  Robyn had heard of a placed called Tsunami's in South Jordan.  We drove up there and had some serious deliciousness.

I had a seaweed salad just because I wanted to try it.  It was pretty good.
Tempura shrimp, teriyaki chicken, rice, too much goodness to handle.
After our meal we came back to the house, relaxed, and I read a book.  It was an excellent day and the best part was that I totally didn't do any work, at home or at the office.

I'd like to thank George and Abe for a great day.  Oh, and thanks for freedom from tyranny and slavery, that's pretty cool too.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

One Year With Diabetes

About a week ago I had a doctor appointment.  It was my routine diabetes checkup.

My weight wasn't quite as low as I would have liked.  During the months of November and December I took somewhat of a break from dieting and consumed all sorts of holiday treats.  The net result of that was that I was only down 8 pounds from the last time I was at the doctor six months ago.

However, weight is only one way to measure success, and frankly it's the least important.  The most important test for a diabetic is A1C.  It's a measure of how saturated your blood cells are with sugar.  You are considered diabetic at 7%.  Pre-diabetic is 5.7%.  When I was diagnosed a year ago I was at 10.6%.

One year later, at my doctor appointment, my A1C came in at 5.4%.  Booya!
Just bask in that number for a moment.

That means my blood sugar is now in the normal range.  My new goal is 5.3%.  Not that I need to get any lower, but it would be cool to be half of where I was diagnosed at.

After seeing my A1C, my doctor asked if my blood sugar had ever gone too low.  I said there were a few times after exercise that I had felt lightheaded and when I tested my blood sugar it was in the 80s.  (The normal range is 90-120).  The 80s are not dangerously low, but the 70s are, so he was concerned that my blood sugar could potentially get too low, especially as I continue to lose weight.

Therefore, he instructed me to stop taking my medication.  My medication is designed to lower my blood sugar, but if it doesn't need lowering, then it can push me too low.

Of course, with that instruction came a speech.  He told me that this doesn't mean I'm cured.  It means that I'm controlling diabetes through diet and exercise.  He also said that without medication, the only thing controlling diabetes is diet and exercise.  So he just wanted to make sure I didn't quit, because that could be dangerous.

He also said that he's never had a patient turn diabetes around as quickly as I have.  Booya!  My health has never been about competing with anyone else.  But as soon as I knew I was winning the competition, then it was all about competing.

It's been a crazy year, but I've learned a few things.  I might share some other things I've learned later, but here's a big lesson I've come to know.

Nothing Is Impossible.

I know that's really cliche.  People like to say that nothing is impossible while secretly acknowledging that lots of things are impossible.  I too will acknowledge that you're bound by the laws of physics as well as the laws of the land you live in.  But what I'm trying to say is that there are things that you perceive as impossible, but they're not.

I want to show you what can happen in a year.

This picture was taken February 24, 2013.  Less than a year ago.

This picture was taken this morning, on my morning walk.

You'll notice a few things.  One, my head is less spherical.  Also, I'm wearing a hat.  It turns out I get cold sometimes now.  I'm missing 65 pounds of insulation.  But changing what I look like isn't what's impossible.

One year ago, I started walking on the treadmill and I would put it on 2 mph, with zero incline.  If I really wanted a workout, I'd put it on 3 mph, but I couldn't handle it for more than 2 or 3 minutes.  This morning, I did 3.5 miles in about an hour.  I didn't ever stop to rest, and along the way I saw this.

Of course, I saw it at the top of the hill after I had climbed it.
One year ago, climbing to the top of an 18% grade, would have been completely impossible.  For many of you, that's probably not a big deal.  But for me, I'm not exaggerating when I say it was completely impossible a year ago.

In 2014, I plan to do a number of things that were impossible a year ago.  I plan to hike to the summit of Mount Timpanogos at 11,000 feet.  I plan to hike to Havasu Falls (10 miles one way with a 2,000 foot elevation change) and I plan to go Scuba diving in Honduras.  I also want to ride a bike to my work (about 15 miles away) at least once, but hopefully more often if I actually enjoy it.

All of those things were impossible a year ago.  But now, they're not even going to be a big deal.  What was once impossible is reality today.

What impossible things will you do in your future?

I should be clear.  I'm not saying that things that you see as impossible will come easily to you, if you just decide they're not impossible.  There's a reason you think they're impossible.  It's because they're probably REALLY HARD.  But really hard is different from impossible.

It's been really hard to dramatically alter my body chemistry in one year.  It's been really hard to completely alter my eating habits.  It's been really hard to walk over 500 miles in the past year, and go to the gym 3 times a week.

But really hard is not impossible.  It just seems that way.  Whatever it is, you can do it.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Robyn's Sweet New Ride

This past weekend we said goodbye to an old friend.  Robyn's been driving Malora (That's the name she gave her Toyota Corolla) for approximately one million years.  (I may not be the best at estimating time.)

Malora has been burning oil for 6 or 7 months.  A few weeks ago, our mechanic had a heart to heart with us.  He said that the oil burning problem is getting worse and the worse it gets, the more risk there is of destroying the engine.  He said that to fix it would be a couple thousand dollars, and we decided that just wasn't worth it.

So we began shopping.  Robyn really wanted all wheel drive so she can stop being so afraid of snow.  We decided that a Subaru would be the way to go.  Robyn really liked the SUVish look of the Forester, so that was the model we had been looking at the most.

On Saturday we test drove a 2011 Forester with 76,000 miles.  The miles were a little high for its young age but it meant that we got a pretty sweet deal on the car.  So we decided to make it happen.

Saying goodbye to Malora

Hello to the sweet new ride
I was in charge of approving the finances.  I thought it was a great deal.   I was also very pleased with all of the safety features.  That left Robyn the ability to make the emotional decision.  I really wanted her to get something she would be excited to drive.

An added bonus is that it has an after market media system with DVD player, navigation, and bluetooth.  Robyn called me today on her way home from work, and she spoke through the car!  She was very excited.   I told her we need to drive into the mountains and watch a movie, because we can.

Robyn pulling into the garage for the first time.

Now we're totally gonna be outdoorsy.  Next step is to buy some sweet bikes and a bike rack.

Isn't she so cute in her sweet new ride?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

That Time I Fell to my Death

I totally fell to my death the other day.  Other than the "to the death" part, that statement is totally accurate.  I fell down like a boss.  Also an accurate statement minus, "like a boss."

So here's the story.

I went to take out the recycling.  It doesn't seem like that difficult of a task, but I assure you it was.
My mission was simple.  I just had to make it from the porch (where I was standing when I took the picture) to the blue recycling can in the top right.
It didn't seem like a hard mission. But that's because I didn't know I would encounter the great terror of my life.

This may not look like a terror, but that's exactly why it was terrible.  It looks like a patch of sidewalk, but it's actually a patch of death.
I stepped on the patch of death and suddenly my legs were no longer underneath me.  My body instantly went from being vertical to being horizontal.  Apparently, my strategy for dealing with what I call "sudden horizontal syndrome" was to fling my arms out wildly.  The net result of this flinging was that I threw the can of recycling ten feet.

As my horizontal body fell to the ground, my head found a good landing spot, right on top of one of our little solar lights.  Luckily, the light crumpled before my head did.
The light lost, but my head didn't feel like a winner.
This is a diagram of the aftermath (click to enlarge).  The can is a good 15 feet from its former contents.
The good news is that I survived.  I just had to clean up a whole bunch of trash from our front yard and deal with a skinned knee.  The moral of the story is that no matter how safe it seems to take the recycling out, don't do it.  It's not safe.  At least it's not safe from November to February.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Chiasmus in My Wardrobe

I wore chiasmus this week!  That probably doesn't make any sense to you.  If it does, (or if you don't care for an explanation) you're welcome to skip my explanation by clicking here.  If it doesn't, please partake of my explanation by reading on.

Chiasmus is a rhetorical device where clauses are related to each other and repeat in a reverse structure to make a larger point.  There can be many repeating clauses but each clause usually has an echoing clause later on.  If each clause is represented by a letter, you'll get a structure that follows the pattern of A B C C B A.

That explanation may not have made total sense.  But, luckily for you, Chiasmus is heavily used in many religious texts.  Ancient people used it as a form of poetry.  So I'll share a couple examples so you can make sense of it.

First, from the Book of Mormon: (Mosiah 3:18-19)

A "…but men drink damnation to their own souls except they humble themselves
    B and become as little children,
        C and believe that salvation was, and is, and is to come, in and through the atoning blood of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent.
            D For the natural man
                E is an enemy to God,
                    F and has been from the fall of Adam,
                    F1 and will be, forever and ever,
                E1 unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit,
            D1 and putteth off the natural man
        C1 and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord,
    B1 and becometh as a child,
A1 submissive, meek, humble…"

Here's a simple example from the Bible: (Matthew 19:30)
A "But many that are first
    B shall be last;
    B1 and the last
A1 shall be first

So why are we geeking out about an obscure form of Hebrew literature?  Well, first, because it's awesome.  But, the more immediate reason is what I mentioned above.  I wore chiasmus!

That still may not make sense, but let me just share with you what I wore this week.

Sunday: Pi
 Monday: Bazinga
 Tuesday: Bacon
 Wednesday: No raptors allowed
It should be noted that I love raptors.  I'm really just trying to say, "no raptors beyond this point."  As long as they stay further away than my shirt, we're totally good.
 Thursday: Bacon
 Friday: Bazinga
 Saturday: Pi

You know what didn't happen this entire week?  Nobody came up to me and said, "Hey!  Nice chiasmus!"  I was poetry in motion, but no one noticed.

Perhaps it was because I didn't repeat the middle clause.  It's unfortunate that  there is an odd number of days in a week.  Otherwise, I'm sure everyone would have noticed.
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