Deep thought

The only time “incorrectly” isn’t spelled incorrectly is when it’s spelled “incorrectly”.

So it begins…

Well, tomorrow is the first official day of seminary. This will be my third year teaching, and I’m excited about a new class and an opportunity to spend my (early!) mornings with 18 awesome high schoolers.

My classroom is ready.

I’m not sure I’m ready, but as always, I’ll take it a day at a time. I usually prepare my lessons the night before, and in fact I’ve found that preparing a few days in advance doesn’t help because the material isn’t as “fresh”. My brain isn’t running at full power at six in the morning!

Spur of the moment

Some realtor/sales guy just called and said he has a buyer who’s interested in purchasing a home in my neighborhood. He asked how long I’d been living in my house, and whether I’d be interested in selling it to this buyer.

It makes me wonder how often this little sales technique is successful. Does he really expect people to say, “Gosh, I’ve been living here for 15 years and didn’t have any plans to move, until you called and convinced me to make a major life decision right now. Let’s do this!”

Welcome to 1988, Equifax

I was out all this week on Trek, with no phone service whatsoever. When I returned to civilization, I had nine voicemail messages from different people at Equifax. In every message, they were asking me to provide a fax number so they could send me a form to use to verify employment for one of my guys.

Fax? Really? Equifax is one of the “big three” credit reporting agencies, and since personal credit is such a sensitive thing– witness millions of consumers who have to go through a herculean process to “fix” their credit after identity theft– I’d expect that they’d use a little more caution handling that data. Faxes are horribly insecure, of course, but not only that, it’s the Twenty-first Century now. We have this nifty thing called the “internet”. Can’t they use a secure web form instead? Sheesh.

Now that I’m back in the office, I expect it’ll only be a matter of time (probably an hour or two) before they call a tenth time to ask me for my fax number. That’ll be a fun conversation!

PII everywhere

I just called to make a reservation for dinner tonight at a nice Italian restaurant. Kyra’s birthday is coming up, and she really likes a place in Denver. The hostess asked me for a name and I said “Kyra”, and she asked if that was her last name. Nope. “I need a last name.” I said “Can’t you just put ‘Kyra’?” but she was insistent that it’s simply not possible to hold a reservation without a first and last name. Sigh.

Just a few minutes later I logged into my T-Mobile account so I could download my latest bill. I was informed that my profile was incomplete, and I needed to provide a first and last name. Heaven forbid I look at my T-Mobile account without providing my name!

I get increasingly frustrated by all of the companies who demand personally-identifiable information for every transaction. I’m supposed to give my phone number to get “rewards”, my ZIP code to receive “targeted offers”, my email to “link to my account”, and on and on. Of course I’m not ignorant: I’m well aware that my digital footprint is substantial, and all kinds of marketing companies and web providers know a ton of stuff about me (and share it amongst themselves). Still, I feel like I need to take little steps whenever I can to protect that information and avoid the all-too-common problem of identity theft these days.

So, T-Mobile, you may now refer to me as Mr. Grey.

Yum…?

Note to self: Don’t eat at Taco Time.

Another stumper

Last night Zaque was pondering the mysteries of the universe and came up with this one:

Would Jesus ever trip on a rock?

Because of course Jesus knows everything, so he’d know there was a rock on the road about to trip him, right? Hmm.

Why is this better?

One of my clients is a pretty big company, and they just sent an email saying this:

In our effort to increase working capital… we have improved our average Days Payable Outstanding (DPO). However, a recent benchmark study has shown that we have lost ground to our competitors.

Okay, so they’re saying they’re getting better at paying invoices (like the ones I send to them), but they’re still behind other companies. That’s good to know, and I’d expect them to do something to gain back that ground. They go on:

We believe the most critical action we can take to improve our DPO is extending terms, improving our competitive position to invest in growth and make strong financial decisions.

Umm… what?

Because they’re losing ground in the number of days it takes them to pay their suppliers, they’re going to… intentionally increase the number of days it takes them to pay their suppliers.

I’ll never understand big business, I guess.

Great Red Spot

Juno has been orbiting Jupiter for just over a year now.

A couple of days ago, during one of its “perijove” encounters (closest pass to the cloud-tops of the planet), it snapped some photos of the Great Red Spot. NASA released the raw image data to the public, and many people took the opportunity to combine, colorize, and edit the photos into works of art. Here’s one I particularly liked:

It’s amazing to think that this massive storm, which has persisted for hundreds of years (as long as we’ve been able to observe Jupiter through a telescope), is more than twice the size of our entire planet. It’s stunning and humbling and beautiful and scary all at once.

Bug blood

As we were driving through the hinterlands of Wyoming over the past few days, we were remarking on all of the bug splats on the windshield of the van. There were a few “juicy” ones– apparently pretty large bugs. I noticed that all of them had more or less clear liquid, and I commented about that to Laralee, which made us wonder (well, made me wonder, anyway) why bug blood isn’t red.

So last night at dinner I opened Wikipedia to take a look, and learned that insects don’t have hemoglobin like vertebrates do… instead, they have something called hemolymph. It’s a (generally) clear liquid that serves more or less the same purpose of distributing oxygen to the internal organs. I was fascinated to find out that insects don’t have circulatory systems, either: no arteries or veins, just an ocean of internal fluid that sort of washes around inside their exoskeleton and bathes the organs in nutrients. Their hearts slosh the fluid around a bit, and in fact they can push it into certain parts of their bodies as needed.

Science is so cool. And I love learning something new every day.

Stumper

The other day Zaque turned to me and out of the blue asked:

Would you rather have a head the size of a golf ball, or the size of a watermelon?

I thought for a moment and decided that a golf-ball-sized head would be pretty fun simply for practical joke value (Headless Horseman and all that). Zaque told me that he felt like a watermelon head would be much better because you couldn’t possibly eat a burger with a golf-ball-sized one. In fact, you’d pretty much have to drink everything through a straw. Good point.

This is the kind of thing that sloshes around the head of my kid.

Little America

On our trip out to Utah a few days ago, we stopped at Little America in the middle of Wyoming. Why? 75-cent ice cream cones, of course. They advertise for about two hundred miles across the plains, building the tension until you can’t stand it and simply have to pull in to get a helping of soft-serve bliss.

Before heading in, I couldn’t resist a picture of Zaque riding the dinosaur.

He looks a little off-kilter because the dinosaur’s skin was approximately 150 degrees after baking in the hot afternoon sun. I was going to have him take my picture as well, but climbing onto that boiling-hot green didn’t work out.

While we were there, we continued our time-honored tradition of trying on a few hats. There’s nothing quite like over-priced, poor-quality hats sold at a gas station.

And then, to top it all off, I loved this little gadget:

Now I know the secret of those “alluring wind in your hair selfies”. It’s Hollywood magic!

Thrilling

I brought my point-and-shoot camera to pickup ultimate today and took some pictures of the action. When I was on the field I handed it to a bystander and asked her to capture a few shots of me being awesome. This is what came of it:

Wow.

So that’s me throwing to… someone. And my defender, Trevor, apparently strolling up to mark me. And two people in the background, also taking a nice easy walk. I’m sure there were plenty of people running around, and the throw was probably amazing, but boy, in this picture it looks like the most boring sport ever.

I guess I’ll bring a camera next week and see if anything better turns up.

Chicky chicky

Zaque’s been officially working at Chick-fil-A for about a week now, and yesterday we decided to visit and see him in action. Given the choice of working in the kitchen or handling customers, he opted for the latter. It’s perfect, given his outgoing and somewhat goofy personality.

Of course his name tag says “Zaque”– I wonder how many people ask about that. And his hair is… well, enough said. He told me if anyone at the restaurant forgets their name tag for the day, they have to wear the “backup” name tag, which says “Earl”. I think it’s pretty funny that Chick-fil-A has a backup name tag, but even funnier that it’s Earl.

As far as summer jobs go, this is a great fit for Zaque and he’s excited to work. I can’t ask for much more…

A beard? Nah.

At Laralee’s suggestion, I decided to grow out a beard. For about two weeks I trimmed my neck hair and let the rest run wild. This morning, as I evaluated it, I realized that I simply can’t grow a sweet beard: the hair on the side of my face is too sparse, so even though it had grown a reasonable quarter-inch, it looked like it was barely five o’clock shadow.

I took a razor to it, but of course had to experiment with a few options first. Here’s the Amish look:

And the “chin stubble”:

But in the end, I just went back to the clean-shaven look:

Maybe my goatee will make a reappearance someday, but I’m pretty sure the beard won’t.

Mission call 2!

Kyra has nervously been monitoring the mailbox for the past few days, and finally her mission call arrived in a big white envelope. She invited a few friends to come over and join her for the Big Moment.

She started reading the letter:

“Dear Sister Schroeder, you are hereby called to serve as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You are assigned to labor in… the California Bakersfield Mission!

She paused for a moment to let it sink in.

Then, of course, she had to pull up a map to find out where Bakersfield is.

She’ll be heading out on September 13… unfortunately less than two weeks before Alex comes home from Peru. So the two of them won’t see each other for about three and a half years. That’ll be a fun reunion in March 2019.

We’re really excited for her, and proud she decided to serve.

Technology is great, except when it isn’t

Laralee’s frustrated because we’re sitting right next to each other and my phone (same model, same service provider) has full reception and hers has none. So she ran a quick web search:

Sadly, there’s no easy explanation. Now she’s off looking to buy a new phone.

The Window Well Strikes Again

I’m not sure what’s special about the window well beside my basement office, but once again it claimed a victim: this afternoon there was a bird trapped in it. Either it was a young bird still learning to fly, or one who’d been injured somehow, but it was flapping wildly and unable to clear the four-foot well to get back into the wild.

Zaque climbed down to rescue the little guy, but was taken aback by the mad fluttering.

He put on a pair of gloves (safety first!) just like all of the professional avian handlers, and eventually he was able to catch him and lift him back into our yard.

Who knows what critter will be next?

Phone camera sunset

Driving home last night, I saw a spectacular sunset. The sun was dropping behind Longs Peak, and a cloud floated just above, so the light illuminated the back of the cloud and shone in rays up into the darkening sky.

I snapped a picture with my cell phone, through my windshield, as I was driving along the highway, but of course it hardly does justice to the scene.

Pope Yes

I was down in Denver last night, and as I drove home I passed a restaurant whose name always makes me laugh.

Zaque always calls it “Pope Yes”, and now I can’t even read it as “Popeyes” any more because his name is stuck in my head. What a weird (but clever and funny) kid.