w3w

I think the concept of What3Words is fascinating. It’s a simple, memorable way to define geographic locations with high precision. The entire planet is divided into 3×3-meter squares, and every one of those squares has a three-word “address”.

For example, my address is endearing.sunflower.subculture. Bam.

The goal of the w3w organization is to use their mapping algorithm and technology to provide a new way to accurately locate points on the earth. The use cases are myriad, from self-driving cars to package delivery (by truck or by drone) to simply giving directions. I’m curious whether it’ll “catch on”. In the meantime, maybe when someone asks for directions to my house I’ll just tell them to head over to “endearing sunflower subculture”.

Sunrise

Today as I left seminary, I was treated to quite a light show as the sun rose. Here’s the view from the church:

And from my car as I waited at the stoplight:

And a little while later, as I drove to work:

I guess getting up early does have some benefit!

Our next set of wheels

In about a year, Laralee and I are going to sell our cars (and maybe give one to Kyra) prior to heading out on our mission. Then, a year and a half later, we’ll need cars again. So we’ve been thinking about what we might drive.

Of course we’ll need something to haul a pair of jet skis, and maybe a sailboat, so I’m leaning toward a Honda CR-V. Dad has one, and it’s really nice. It has plenty of towing capacity, and it’s not a huge SUV. I agreed to drive the “practical” car, since Laralee’s been stuck with the practical car for 20+ years while I drive the sporty coupes (if one can call a Saturn SC2 and a Honda Civic EXL “sporty”). So it’s her turn to have something with a bit of pep.

Today Zaque and I were driving home, and I noticed a nice-looking Lexus parked in a garage. I snapped a photo:

Mom has a Lexus that’s pretty sweet. I headed over to the Lexus web site to see what’s available, and was immediately drawn to the LC model:

I’m not sure if that’s what I saw in the garage (possibly a different model year?), but it sure looks like a fun car to drive. Unfortunately I noticed the sticker price: it starts at $92,000 and goes up from there. The hybrid model– which would probably be my choice– starts at a cool $98,000.

Alas, perhaps we’ll forego the Lexus and settle for another Honda Civic. Laralee says she likes the sporty look of the new models.

Time to vote

A few days ago in seminary, I was talking to the class about choosing leaders and influencing laws, and I mentioned the voting process. Since none of them are eighteen yet, they’ve never voted and likely only have a high-level understanding of the process. I brought my mail-in ballots, as well as the booklets sent by the county and the city that explain the ballot measures.

They were astounded. “You read all of that?” The booklets are probably around 80 pages in total, and of course there’s a heavy dose of dense legal language. Yep, I read all of that. It’s important to be an informed and educated voter, right?

Anyway, the discussion reminded me of the importance of understanding the power we have as a people, and exercising that power. I’m frequently frustrated or disappointed in our government, but I do my part.

Final Fancy D

The fall Longmont ultimate league ended last night. Although it’s sad to think this was most likely my last fall league here, my team was absolutely awesome. We had so much fun together. Our team name was Final Fancy D, a play on the video game Final Fantasy (video game team names were our theme this season).

In the tournament, we squeaked out a victory in the first round by scoring the tiebreaker “universe point” after the final horn. It was a great game, back and forth the whole time. We went on to the semi-finals, where we faced the top-ranked team, who had only lost a single game all season. They were clearly the favorites, and even though we gave them a run for their money, we couldn’t beat their super-fast athletes and their long hucks. They went on to win the championship, cementing our third-place finish.

One of the women on my team, Jordan, brought a couple of glittery skirts and asked if anyone wanted to wear them. Although men wearing skirts was “a thing” back in the early days of ultimate, I admit I’ve never done it. Until last night. I donned a sparkling pink thing, and Kyle took the red one. It was hilarious, and the three of us posed after the game.

Then Kyle explained to me and Jordan that we should try posing with facial expressions that were “aroused and afraid”.

Unsure of what that meant, she and I tried it.

Kyle looks like he was suffering an aneurysm or something.  Jordan and I were still confused, so he attempted to explain it.

Then he thought it would be good to do some weird touchy thing.  Jordan remained perplexed.

Suddenly I felt like a victim.

But in the end, we all stayed friends.

While I joked with the team that they were “definitely one of the top twenty teams I’ve played with”, in truth they were in the top two.  We may not have won the season, but we sure had a good time together.

Surprise

My friend Kyle just returned from his mission to Brazil. I talked to him on Sunday to welcome him home, and then he left town Tuesday to live in Utah for a while before returning to school at BYU.

I was surprised to get a text message Tuesday night with this photo:

That’s Kyle on the right. And of course that’s Alex in the back seat.

Apparently Kyle and his mom, Rocio (on the left) were driving on the streets of Provo, Utah in the dark and saw Alex on the street corner. They shouted at him, he jumped in the car, and they drove around for a while reminiscing. The two guys haven’t seen each other in over three years, because Alex is a year older and left on his mission before Kyle left for his. But I’m thrilled to see they caught up again. Small world!

Memories hanging from the rear-view mirror

Today as I was driving around town, I glanced over at the things hanging from my rear-view mirror. Of course I always see them– they’ve been there for years– but normally I just look past them, paying them no mind.

But apparently today I was in a more reflective mood, because I saw each of them, one by one, and thought about them for a moment.

– A tassel from my high-school graduation (black and gold, with a golden “90”)… reminding me of the amazing friends I met in high school, and still hang out with today.

– A second tassel from college (also black and gold, with a golden “95”)… reminding me of the many people and experiences that, in many ways and over the course of five years, shaped my life.

– A little globe, taken from a seminar I attended in college… reminding me of the fragility of the earth, and also of relationships. The seminar featured a powerful speaker who told a group of ambitious, eager, not-too-mature college students how they could enrich their lives, deeper their relationships, and care for the earth and all that’s in it.

– A set of car keys… reminding me of a couple of dear friends who helped me to grow as a person.

– A string-and-bead gecko… reminding me of Kyra, who made it for me when she was very young. The string has stretched a bit over the years, and the beads aren’t quite as shiny and vibrant, but in a way that little gecko represents a daughter’s love.

– A tiny llama… reminding me of Alex, who picked it up when he was serving his mission in Peru because he thought I’d like it. Indeed I do. He’s always been a sharp, strong, steadfast young man, and even now as he navigates the tricky waters of college, I have no doubt he’ll go far in this world.

Some people might see all this stuff hanging from my mirror and wonder why I have such junk impeding my view. But these little reminders, infrequent though they may be, help me remember how lucky I am.

222 days

I retire in 222 days. It’s strange to think of it… I guess it feels a little like getting close to graduation from high school or college, and counting down the days. It’s still a big number, so it doesn’t feel real quite yet. But in a couple of months, as the numbers wind down, I wonder what it will feel like. For so many years, I’ve poured so much time and energy into a job that I truly love. Yet all that time I’ve had this feeling in the back of my mind that I wanted to do something new and different. I still don’t know what that will be, but having the option to go in an entirely different direction will be a strange mix of liberating and frightening.

And so, the countdown continues.

Autumn

Today was a gorgeous fall day, so Laralee and I headed out on a walk. I brought my camera, thinking I might catch some pretty fall colors in the trees, but I think I’m about a week too late– most of the leaves are brown and crispy, not orange and red. Still, I managed to catch a few fun shots.

These aren’t weird trees– they’re some kind of plant in someone’s backyard.

We really enjoy the sidewalk that runs along the creek near our house. It’s a good route to head out into town.

The ground is covered in a thick layer of leaves. Last week’s snow accelerated the fall of the leaves, I think, and they’re everywhere because no one’s taken much time to rake them yet.

We found a fun little swing near the creek. Someone had climbed into a tall, ancient oak tree to tie it. Because the ropes were so long (maybe thirty feet) it took some effort to get much momentum.

There weren’t any cattails in this part of town (they’re mostly around the lakes) but Laralee was captivated by these little seed pods. They’re stuffed full of seeds with fluffy white tops, and when they burst, the seeds float away on the wind. Pretty cool!

Well, that’s a lot of money

Yesterday I was driving through downtown Denver and noticed the lottery billboard.

I assume the sign for the Mega Millions jackpot can’t show anything higher than $999 million dollars– sure enough, when I checked the news in the evening I found that the jackpot had risen to a record-breaking $1.6 billion dollars.

I saw the winning numbers and couldn’t help but notice they definitely weren’t the numbers I would have picked. So, I guess I won’t be buying any tickets, and that means I also won’t be an instant billionaire any time soon.

There are taxes, and then there are taxes

I’m rich!

Well, sort of.

I guess I should say I’m richer than I thought I was.

Or I will be, someday.

Yesterday I was doing some retirement planning (yeah, I know… another crazy Saturday morning). In a conversation at dinner with some friends on Friday night, I realized I’d mis-calculated some of the taxes in my long-term plan. As I considered how to efficiently “draw down” from my investments to fund my retirement, I’d been calculating the taxes at standard federal income tax rates. But in a flash of insight, I remembered that withdrawals from stock positions are actually taxed at the capital gains rate. Moreover, it’s only the gains that are taxed– not the bulk of the investments (they were already taxed before I invested them).

I pulled up my spreadsheet and updated a few formulas, then sat back and looked at the numbers. Things are much better than I thought they would be. Before, retirement felt a little bit like skating on some questionable ice, and now I’m relieved that it shouldn’t be quite like that. Of course we’ll end up adjusting things as we go, but it’s nice to know I’ll have a little bit more money than I thought I would.

Yeah, the adventures of financial planning, right?

Adulting

One of the many great things about being an adult is the opportunity to make a fresh batch of chocolate-chip cookies.

Whenever you want!

So yeah, that’s what I did tonight.

Statistics

From strictly a statistical viewpoint, this is technically correct…

… but, really, Fox News?

Air travel sucks

Yesterday I booked a flight on United Airlines. Later in the day I received an email that outlined all of the services and perks I wouldn’t be getting with my ticket.

“You have a carry-on? Nope. You want to sit with your family or friends? Too bad.” I can’t decide if it’s funny or tragic that air travel is so terrible these days that the airlines have to send emails specifically to point out how terrible it is…

RIP lion’s mane

Zaque’s been growing out his hair for the better part of the year, and he finally decided it was time to give it a trim. He called himself a “mushroom head”, although I felt more like he had a lion’s mane:

After ten minutes with the trimmer, things looked much better.

I’ll miss that crazy head of hair, but I admit it does look a lot better now…

Song lyrics

Hey Pandora, I don’t remember the words to the song “Rapture” by IIO. Can you remind me?

Password generator

I get so tired of passwords. I understand their importance, and given all the crazy online attacks these days, I figure I need to be more diligent in managing my passwords.

For a few years, I’ve been using a custom password generator I wrote; it creates passwords like this:

8d3ansBLyqe_L3vg
hs$umU49ktXdn3c@
Aj8*o3_c8rC%gxNA
9pWC44CL$LoNYZzz

While those are generally considered “strong” passwords, they’re impossible to remember (of course every web site and account has its own). And if I’m logging into an account from another computer or my phone or tablet, I have to look up the password and slowly type it in. Ugh.

So, in the spirit of Randall Munroe’s famous XKCD comic…

… I decided to update my password generator to chain together a bunch of English words. Maybe that’ll make these passwords a little easier to remember, and certainly easier to type. My new tool gives me stuff like:

navel.fish.loser
decor.seep.bloke
stand.beet.whoop
moose.flue.choke
pair.blue.hydro

After adding in a number and a special character or two, I have an easy way to generate passwords for web sites. We’ll see if this ends up being any easier…