Statistically speaking…

In the days following Halloween, I dropped by Walmart to buy a couple of bags of cheap candy. Over the years I’ve learned that candy is a powerful motivator for teenagers in the early morning, so I incorporate it into my seminary lessons from time to time.

Today I cracked open a big bag of assorted chocolate candies: 240 pieces of Twix, Milky Way, 3 Musketeers, and Snickers. Of those four, I love three. Snickers just aren’t that good, and I tend to avoid them.

Imagine my chagrin when I poured out a few candy bars for my first taste, and saw this:

Since Snickers should be one-fourth of the total volume of candy in the bag, I would expect a commensurate ratio when I dumped eleven little bars from the bag. Nope. Ten of eleven are Snickers.

This doesn’t bode well for how the rest of the bag is going to go…

Killer deals

Alex is in the market for a laptop for college, so he and I have been looking at the various options available. He’s narrowed down his search to a Dell XPS or an Asus Zenbook.

On the Dell web site, you can get a pretty “loaded” XPS for $1,000. I have an account rep at Dell for my hosting business, since I’ve purchased over a hundred servers from them, so I figured I’d contact her to see if she could offer a bit of a discount. For, you know, being a long-time client who’s spent well over a hundred thousand dollars there and stuff.

She came back with a quote for $1,600.

Umm. So I reminded her that the web site price– for the average plebeian consumer– was $600 less. For the same hardware. She apparently hadn’t noticed that, so she put together another quote for me.

$1,300.

I was a little flabbergasted again. She explained that buying it through a corporate channel means I can get two years of Dell support, instead of just one. Wow! What a bargain! If this laptop croaks in a year I’m going to be very, very disappointed in Dell’s products. (I have servers that have been running 24/7 for almost fifteen years.)

Anyway, I told her no thanks and if Alex decides to go with the Dell, he can just buy it through the web site. What a surreal experience.

Thanks, Amazon!

I bought something on Amazon and received some kind of mysterious “Extra Savings”.

I have no idea why, but I won’t complain…

What do you believe?

What do you believe?

I asked that question of my seminary class this morning.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect; often deep questions elicit a few wisecracks, silence, and occasionally a profound, thoughtful answer. I guess it wasn’t surprising when one girl said, “I believe I’m sixteen years old!” Taking it in stride– and aiming for a way to talk about faith, which was my goal– I replied with, “Well, your parents told you you’re sixteen. Do you trust them? Do you truly know without a doubt that’s true?” That provoked a few chuckles but I could tell the mental wheels were turning for a few of the kids.

Imagine my surprise when another girl raised her hand and said quietly, “I believe I can accomplish anything.”

I didn’t have a response for that beyond, “Wow, that’s awesome!” Because, hey, it is awesome. I love that a high-school girl has that kind of self-confidence. She’s going far.

He’s baaaaaaaaack!

It’s been twenty-five months since Alex headed to Peru for his mission. He had an amazing time, but all good things come to an end, and despite wanting to stay and continue the work, he came home today.

Wow. What an amazing feeling to see him after two years– when the only communication we really had was via a weekly email message (and even that was spotty at times). It was immediately obvious that he’d grown as a person: he’s more thoughtful and mature, although he discovered to his chagrin that he’s not as tall as Zaque.

We headed home from the airport, and when we were home I noticed his shoes.

That’s two years of walking miles every day through the dusty, rocky streets of Lima.

It was also cool to see his passport, showing the day he left and the day he returned:

Now we’ll have two months to hang out with him until he heads off to BYU for college. We have some weird Peruvian soda in the fridge…

… and who knows what else is still to come. I’m waiting for him to whip up a big bowl of suri for us…

Losers… or not?

Well, last night was the tournament to finish the fall ultimate league. My team’s record was abysmal. We went 2-12 for the season, which is the worst team I’ve ever played with. And yet, the whole team was a barrel of fun… we were positive every week, had a great time together, shrugged off our losses, and celebrated our wins. After our games we went to grab some food together, and almost the entire team went every week (most teams get maybe 3-4 people for social hour after games). In short, despite how much we sucked on the scoreboard, we were one of the most fun teams I’ve ever been on.

Every season there’s a survey to the players, and for the first time there was a question specifically about the team captains. How did they do? Did they promote a positive atmosphere? Did they help players improve in ultimate? The survey was anonymous, but I was tickled to get this feedback:

Hands down one of the very best league teams I’ve ever played with. I know not a single person went into the season expecting to do as abysmally as we did, yet everyone showed up to each game with a good attitude and enthusiasm to play another day with each other.

So, I guess it wasn’t a total loss…

Seminary Halloween

Today was our annual Halloween party in seminary (a three-year running tradition now) so of course I dressed up, along with my fellow teachers. It was a lot of fun. Jodi was the gold plates, and Suzanne was a dust bunny. GET IT?

Mission life

My nephew Jake left for his mission at the same time Kyra did. He’s serving in Kiribati, which is a tiny speck in the south Pacific. Most of the thirty or so islands are uninhabited. He was told to bring a fishing pole, which might seem like an unusual requirement for a mission, until you realize that pretty much the only thing the islanders eat is fish, which they catch themselves. It’s regarded as one of the least developed nations in the world, and makes Alex’s mission to Peru look like a first-world paradise.

Jake doesn’t have reliable internet access, but he was able to fire off an email with a few photos. He described the living conditions as “like camping, but worse”. This is his house:

And the “bathroom”:

Apparently they shower occasionally. This is what the shower looks like:

Despite the primitive conditions, Jake says it’s one of the most beautiful places he’s ever been.

Code review

One of Zing’s clients puts together a Christmas card every year, and in that card they include photos of their entire team. The card is sent to all of their clients, which number in the hundreds. Since they consider us “part of the team”, every year I’m asked to send some photos of Ben and myself (since we’re the two who work on the project).

Ben had the brilliant idea of posing like one of those horribly cheesy stock photos where businesspeople are all pointing and looking at a computer screen. Although we didn’t have a multi-racial or multi-gender crowd to draw from (like all the stock photographers do), I think the results are pretty awesome.

Typical

In the spring and fall, when the weather is always a little dicey, I’m always watching the forecast with special attention on Thursdays. That’s because Thursday evenings are when my ultimate league plays. It’s comical sometimes how the weather might be nice all week, except on Thursday. Here’s an example from this week:

Now, I freely admit it’s the end of October, and it’s not unreasonable to expect the temperature to be in the 40’s and 50’s. But we’ve had absolutely amazing weather lately, and it looks like it’s going to continue this week (81 on Wednesday?!) but then, in typical fashion, it’s going to be cold and cloudy for our Thursday league games. Sigh.

Get the D

Last Thursday at ultimate league, Ryan won the D Trophy by playing some stunning defense. He wanted a picture of himself holding it, which of course I turned into an inspirational poster for the team.

Two missionaries

Every Sunday, our church program has miscellaneous information for everyone to review. It’s pretty cool to see that two of the seven* missionaries serving from our ward belong to us!

* There are only six listed in the program, but there are actually seven… Laralee and I can’t figure out why the people who print the program keep forgetting one.

At long last

We’ve had the same couch in our family room for well over a decade. It’s been fine, but it’s also been showing it’s age a bit. After some thought and a bit of shopping, we decided to get a new couch and loveseat (the loveseat replaces the barstools we’ve had for almost as long, but hardly ever use).

Yesterday afternoon, the goodies arrived and we set them up:

A nice feature is they recline! Laralee gave it a test run:

To celebrate, we had some friends over and watched a movie. Both the couch and loveseat worked really well for that (because hey, the highest purpose of family-room furniture is to provide a better movie-watching experience).

Perks

One of the nice things about teaching seminary so early is that class finishes before the sun even rises, and sometimes I’m rewarded with a beautiful view as I come out of the building.

Nature is beautiful

One of the main reasons I enjoy hiking and backpacking is the opportunity to see the amazing beauty deep in the wilderness. Although I love having a long line of distant mountains on the western horizon every day, it’s an entirely different experience to be in them, walking amongst trees and navigating rock fields.

The Royal Museums Greenwich just announced the winner of their annual 2017 Astronomy Photograph of the Year contest, and it’s absolutely stunning. It shows nebulae in the Rho Ophiuchi cloud.

Although I’m sure the photographer did a bit of retouching, the stunning majesty of this space scene is truly breathtaking. I love space science, and seeing things like this puts a lot of things in perspective for me.

The runners-up in the contest were also incredible; I really liked these two photographs of aurorae, from Russia and then Iceland:

Isn’t nature beautiful?

Bank technology

Me: (Logs into Chase bank web site)
Chase: Hi there! Please update your preferences for electronic statements.
Me: Sounds great! (Updates preferences)
Chase:

Sigh. You’d think banks– with their vast resources and need for the very best technology– would actually get stuff like this right.

New client?

I wonder if I’m missing out on an amazing new business opportunity by ignoring text messages like this: