Sunday, December 20, 2009

Here's a Tongue Twister for You.

So when I was in High School I decided to invent a tongue twister. I must have been really bored. I thought I would publish it for the first time for anyone to see.

Jamaican Bacon

Are Jamaicans makin' Jamaican bacon for the Jamaicans achin' for Jamaican bacon made from Jamaican bacon-makin' pigs?

There you have it.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Good of Education

I love to learn. That is probably why I may never actually leave the classroom (figuratively speaking of course). I am one that want to take full advantage of every opportunity I am given to learn. I make the most of the even the most mundane classes, from Physics (interesting concepts, but horrible teacher) to Deaf Heritage (a topic I never really thought about before). I am usually the annoying kid in class who always has something to say about what the teacher is explaining. This has its positive and negative effects.

The Negative:
My obsession with school almost always estranges me from my peers. Few college students that I come in contact care about their education the way I do. Most of my classmates just want to get the grade and move on. One graduate student even went so far as to say that her college education is "knowledge bulimia" in that she upchucks all of the info she learned at the end of each quarter in order to make room for the next quarter. I am the opposite in that I hope to retain as much info about the class as possible (in case I need it).

Fortunately technology has made this much easier and less messy. The quarter has just passed and I have spent about two or three hours scanning in all of my notes, hand-outs, and tests from the quarter. I have documented each item in its appropriate spot, and pushed it back into my school archives. I can breathe easier, but I can't easily forget what I have learned. I may be considered by some as obsessive, but I prefer the term "knowledge-centric." This centricity can easily seen as a negative, but only from the outside.

The positive:

I always try to do more than I need to. This often annoys the other students (especially if there is a curve), but I feel that I owe it to myself to do the best that I can possibly do. Part of this is immersing myself in the the subject. I do this to the point that I blend the past experiences I've had with what I'm learning and get highly interested in even the most difficult subjects. This generally leades to several after class discussions with the professor. My professors have usually learned that I am a bit more committed than the usual student, and consequently entrust me with some interesting assignments.

For example: I made a comment in class about Dr. Seligman's work on learned optimism and explanatory style. The teacher was so interested that she asked for some more information. I went home and composed an email with some of the basics about learned optimism as it pertained to the topic in class. She then emailed me and asked if I wanted to help her do research on the topic that I had brought to her attention. Wow! I wasn't expecting that to come from a simple comment in class. This same professor also submitted my name to be a good candidate for the new Organizational Leadership Club that our school is trying to start. I was able to become the inaugural recruitment chair. Neat opportunities.

Another example is a professor in one class who started lobbying for me to go to her department's masters program once I completed my Bachelor's Degree. It seemed interesting, and I began doing some research into the degree and my options. At the end of the quarter after I received one of only two A's in the class, I was asked by the same professor if I would be willing to work for her. The job would be reading the textbook for her class next quarter (which I will be taking) and helping with the research to get it ready for publication. I am amazed at the opportunity to learn more even outside the classroom.

It is for these reasons that I am happy to say that I may never leave the classroom. Even if I don't quite see things the same way my peers do. This has been a great quarter for these opportunities, and I look forward to next quarter.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Thank You Brian Kelly and Farewell

There has been quite a bit of hatred around Cincinnati recently with the announcement that Brian Kelly is the new head coach at Notre Dame. I will admit that I was also extremely upset, but I have moved on and feel that the rest of Cincinnati, barring the UC football team, should do so as well. This city needs to be grateful for what Brian Kelly has done to the University of Cincinnati's football program. Here are a couple reasons why.

1. Brian Kelly left for his dream job. Although most people are claiming that he chose to go to Notre Dame because of the money, I don't think he would have left for any other school even if they offered significantly more money. Because of his success he was a highly desired football coach. His negotiations with both Notre Dame and Cincinnati were rigorous. According to Cincinnati's Athletic Director Mike Thomas, every effort was made to keep Kelly here in Cincinnati. The final decision came down to the fact that Brian Kelly would rather be in Notre Dame. I think that even if Notre Dame offered the exact same amount of money that Cincinnati offered, he would still have picked Notre Dame.

2. Isn't it better that Kelly used Cincinnati as a stepping stone to Notre Dame than UConn or Louisville? This is my biggest point. It doesn't take much to see the impact that Brian Kelly has had on the Cincinnati football program. Would this have happened if he had never worked here? I doubt it. So why complain that he left so long as he left the program significantly better.

3. I can understand why people are upset, and I've been frustrated in the past couple days in which Kelly left Cincinnati. Especially considering that several of the players that are upset, have been classmates of mine at one point or another. However, Brian Kelly didn't do anything to me personally, and he really didn't hurt my "pride" in Cincinnati. If anything I am much more "proud" of Cincinnati and rub it into my Ohio State counterparts every chance I get. I wish he was still here, but he isn't and maybe it is just as good.

4. The last two schools that Kelly has left are still doing really well because of the way that he structured their systems for the future. The same has happened for Cincinnati. I will be highly surprised if Cincinnati goes back to being a "no-name" team in college football just because Kelly isn't here anymore. Because of the way Kelly left the program, we can get another good coach, continue to dominate the Big East, and stay in contention for the national title in years to come.

Cincinnati should be grateful that Kelly came. Stop beating the man up and let him move on to Notre Dame. The only people that shouldn't move on, at least not yet, are the football players that used to be under Kelly's guidance. He ditched them flat out. Take that anger and frustration and use it. Use it to destroy Florida! That kind of rage could tip the scales even more in favor of Cincinnati at the Sugar Bowl. Then when the Sugar Bowl is over, we can start working on next season with the new coach. For goodness sake, we still have Zach Collaros, DJ Woods, and Armon Binns. Let Cincinnati football continue on in greatness.

The one thing that has upset me the most about this whole BK to ND deal is that Notre Dame acts as if it is their right to pick anybody for the position. It also seems crazy that a program as dilapidated as Notre Dame's can still hold such a strong sway over a man as intelligent as Kelly. In this sense, maybe it is all about the money. In some sense, I wish Kelly would fall flat at Notre Dame, but not because I want Kelly to fail. I just want Notre Dame to be knocked down a couple more pride notches. I wish Kelly the best of luck in everything he does, mostly for the way he has positioned out football program for a magnificent future. I am not going to predict if Kelly will succeed or fail, I'm not that vested in the Fighting (and losing) Irish. Either way, I am looking forward to the new coach and the next chapter in UC football history. Bring on the Sugar Bowl!!

Monday, November 9, 2009

PB&J In a Bag and more M&M Creations

I was at the new Wal-Mart in Fairfax today and was stunned to see a new product in the check out line. The Mars M&M company has come out with a limited edition equivalent of Peanut Butter and Jelly (PB&J) in a Bag. The special M&M's are called "Strawberried Peanut Butter M&Ms," and they are weird. I couldn't resist buying a pack to test them out. Sure enough, as I suspected, they tasted like little morsels of America's favorite slap together sandwich. Just add a hint of chocolate, shrink it down to the size of a pea, and put a candy shell around it. Why not?

Just to clarify, I don't really like PB&J, so I was really going out on a limb with this little pack. But I figured in a worse case scenario I could give them all to my toddlers who will eat anything. However, the most I shared was two M&Ms to each of my two kids, and about three or four with my wife. Yeah, I'm stingy. Fortunately for my taste buds the peanut butter flavor overpowered the PB&J effect, which made for a good mid-morning snack. I love peanut butter.

Shortly after eating them, I patted my portly belly and decided to check and see if I had done myself a nutritional favor by eating that bag of M&Ms instead of a real PB&J. One bag contains about 230 calories and various other nefarious ingredients. One PB&J sandwich contains about as many calories, perhaps a few more, and is possibly healthier. It all depends on the bread, peanut butter, and jam that you use; And also if you lay it on thick (like I do), or spread it so thin you have to sniff the bread to see if there is anything on it (like my wife). Needless to say the Mars M&M Company has come out with a nifty little snack. I just wonder if we as a society are to the point where we are too lazy to make a PB&J. If so, we now have an easy solution.

I checked out the M&M website to see if I could find anything else about their nifty little sandwich in a bag (not named such, probably for marketing reasons. It doesn’t sound as appealing). Unfortunately I didn’t see anything about their strawberry excursion, but I did see something else that really caught my eye. M&M’s have offered personalization to their candies for a while now, letting people pick their color, and even picking messages to go on the candies as in those little sweet hearts at Valentines Day. Now they have taken it one step further, and creepier. You can now get faces printed on your M&Ms. On their web page they highlight a girl’s face on some pieces with phrases such as “Tiff is 16” and “Born to Party!” on other pieces. I think this is a clever idea, although it is a little strange. Why would you want your face on a piece of candy that is going to be crushed to bits in one of your friend's mouth. I do think we could really put this to good use though. If the US Government had special M&Ms created with the top ten most wanted criminals’ faces on them, we the people could literally help take a bite out of crime! Think about it.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Selling Books (Half Price may not be so great)

I love Half Price Books. A regular bookstore where everything is half price or better. What a brilliant idea. To top it off, they even let you sell your old books to them for cash. I thought this might be a good way to clean up the old home library. We have collected several books we rarely touch, and even more rarely think about or read.

I packed up a box full of books and headed to the local Half Price Book Store. It is only 10 minutes away and easily accessible to the freeway. I hoped to get at least $50 for my box of books, which I thought was extremely low considering several of the books cost at least $30 or more. However, $50 would have been worth the trip.

The way it works is that you take your books to the counter, and while they are tabulating your box of books, you can wander around looking for new books to spend your cash on. They told me that once they tabulated everything they would make an offer and I could accept or decline. I had come in with the intention to take whatever offer they gave me.

I left with the whole box of books. Not only was the offer well below my expectations ($26), I wouldn't even be able to buy the new books I had picked up while wandering around the store. I was incredulous. Still am. Now I know that if I want to sell enough books to buy a few new books, I have to bring my whole bookcase. Crazy!

I decided to check out a couple websites that offer to buy books from you. One is Cash 4 Books, which would only take 6 of the books I was offering for $45. The other website, Powell's Books, Offered me $7 for 3 other books. This is totaling $52 (or twice as much as Half Price) for only 9 books of the offered 20-30. Not bad. Good thing I didn't take Half Price's offer. It's a rip off.

In Half Price's defense, I'm sure that they have seen an influx of people bringing in old books due to the economy. They were the only place I checked out that would actually take all of the books. Based on simple principles of supply and demand, I can't really imagine that they are offering top prices in this economy. It is still surprising though that I can get double their offer with a third of the books.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Vote "No" on Issue 9

So I just started a class in the Planning Department of the University of Cincinnati. The class is called organizational theory, and will be fascinating (call me weird). On the first day we were told about how the class would go etc. We were given a service learning assignment to be completed by November 3rd - election day. It is focused on the election and we have to volunteer at least four hours toward an organization or cause that is directly related with the elections. I wanted to do something I was interested in so that my volunteering wouldn't feel so much like volunteering. I decided to check out the Hamilton County Board of Elections to see what issues are up for the vote.

One of the biggest ones right now is the issue on Casinos. I could easily join the cause against the casinos, but I thought I better check out the other issues first. Then issue 9 stuck out. Of course! This is the issue I've been preaching for years, and now it is up for vote!

Issue 9 deals with the streetcar debate in Cincinnati. Many people think that a streetcar system is a waste of money. I however, totally disagree. I think it is the first step of many toward a stupendous public transportation system around Cincinnati. Few Ohioans realize the powerful benefits of a solid public transportation system. Why, Because Ohio has no good public transportation systems. Cincinnati would be the first. Let me give you a little background on where I come from on this matter.

From July 2001 I moved to Bairnsdale, Australia. Bairnsdale is 3 hours east of Melbourne and 8 hours south of Sydney. Despite the distance from Melbourne, I could hop on a train and ride into the city. Once in the city, I could hop on numerous trams to go all around downtown and see the sights, or take the trams straight into some of the near suburbs. It was wonderful. It greatly reduced the reliance on cars to get everywhere, and made it easy for me to check out Australia without a chaperon (I wasn't allowed to drive while I was there).

In July 2002 I moved back home. It was so sad to be 45 minutes away from downtown Columbus Ohio and not even capable of catching a bus into the city. The closest bus stop was halfway into the city. At that point, taking the bus was pointless. Then in 2003 I moved to Salt Lake city. Anybody familiar with Salt Lake will agree that traffic on I-15 can be a burden. For the 2002 Olympics, Salt Lake City installed a light rail system that paralleled I-15. It greatly reduced the congestion on I-15 and continues to be a boon to the city out there.

Then I moved back to Ohio, this time to Cincinnati. Here is a town that has an extensive rail network, much bigger than that of Columbus or Salt Lake City. Many of these rail corridors are no longer in service, but they still exist. Although the bus system is better than Columbus, it is still ridiculously slow. Now the Mayor and several other key groups want to get funding for a Tram system downtown. I think it is a brilliant idea.

I hate to pay for parking. I will park 8 blocks away at the University of Cincinnati just to ensure I get free parking. That is by far the worst part for me of going downtown. If it was possible to get free parking (it is) and then hop on a tram into the heart of downtown (not yet) I would visit downtown significantly more often. It would make it much easier to see a Reds game too. I've uploaded a map of the proposed corridors.

The key to remember here too is that this is phase 1 of a much bigger plan. Later phases of the plan would implement light rail all around the city, mostly on preexisting rail corridors. The real scary thing about issue nine isn't that it bans street cars. Issue 9 changes the city charter to ban any "passenger rail transportation." This seems a little extreme for the people against a Trolley system. Hey if you love hanging out on I-75 for an hour on your way home from work, be my guest. I won't lie and say that a rail system will reduce your commute time. It might and it might not, but it will reduce your commuting stress. I would much rather hop on a train and read the newspaper for that same hour. You can't read the newspaper and drive, finish that big project for work and drive, or even safely talk on the phone and drive at the same time.

Don't vote yes. Cincinnati has a great opportunity with it's preexisting corridors to become one of the best public transportation cities in the country. Why would we want to ruin that forever. By the way, I'm not even going to count this blog post toward my four hours of service requirement.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Tom Peters on Leadership

Here is a little video from Tom Peters about Leadership, that I thought I would share.
The hand movements are a little exaggerated, but the point is good.

Tom Peters on the Definition of Leadership from Tom Peters on Vimeo.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Two Views of Freedom - Which one is better?

I've recently understood a gospel topic in a new way. The issue has confused me a few times in the past, and I think I've finally been able to wrap my head around the idea and embrace it. (Sounds painful doesn't it.)

The issue is this. Many critics of the Latter-Day Saints or Christians in general, claim that they would be "limited" to be bound by so many rules and obligations. They feel that there is much more freedom in just living life how you want to, regardless of what God has commanded. On the other hand Brigham Young said (and I paraphrase) to really understand true freedom, one must keep the commandments of God, because as we keep the commandments our ability to exercise our agency gets enhanced and expands. (I wish I could find this quote again)

You might be able to see where the confusion lies. Both sides of are claiming greater freedom but through opposing means. As usual, reading the scriptures really helped expand my understanding. The Book of Mormon is full of great imagery that helps explain key principles. 2 Nephi 28:19-28 helped explain this principle to my mind. In these verses, there is imagery of chains as well as imagery of the rock foundation or the sandy foundation. Let me explain how this helped.

When people build their life's foundation on the sand (in the world), they may feel that they have more freedom than those who build upon the rock (in Christ). This is because those on the rock cannot move their feet from the rock while those on the sand can move around on the sand and change their foundation as the sand shifts. However, those on the rock know that there is more to freedom than where to put your feet. There is growth upward and out. Like a good tree with a strong foundation, there is no end to its height or the broadness of it's leaves. Those in the sand may feel that they have more freedom, but they are looking down at their feet. While they are paying so much attention to their feet and bragging about the freedom they have, Satan is layering chains over top of them. When at some point they look up they will realize that those chains are holding them to the sand.

We try and point out those chains to the ones in the sand. If at some point they try and balk at the lack of freedom others suggest is there, they are quickly reassured that they can still move their feet. Deeper and deeper into the sand they go as the weight of their chains hold them down. You hear advice that if you're stuck in quicksand the best thing to do is hold still. Those that balk will wiggle their feet to get reassured of their "freedom." That is when they sink down further into their sandy foundation until one day they can no longer even feel their toes. At this point they may realize that they made a mistake, they may also feel that there is no more hope. That is where those on the rock come in.

The ones on the rock slowly grow bigger and feel freer as they explore the open atmosphere of the world and "the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." Even though their feet are planted firmly, they know the true freedom comes from above. Invariably, one of the truly righteous trees hang very closely over one who is trapped in the sand. If the one in the sand decides to admit that he needs help. If he quits wiggling (committing sin) to prove that he has "freedom," then he may look up and see the branch of his former friend reaching out to him. The main role of the ones on the rock is to be an example to all around.

How do we get onto the rock? Satan tells us that we must first dig ourselves out of our mess by ourselves, and then drag ourselves onto the rock of our salvation. This route seems so difficult that many will give up or quit, which is what Satan wants. What does the Savior say? "For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Christ, having "descended below all things," works his miracles from below rather than above. The individual must decide to begin exercising his "freedom" to get onto a sure foundation, a "foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall." Once the decision is made, he stops wiggling (which is what got him into the mess in the first place), and trusts in the Savior.

As the individual in the sand exercises his freedom to be "limited" by keeping the commandments, they see that Satan's chains begin fading and breaking. After a season of faith, repentance, etc., the individual in the sand makes a huge discovery. While they have been looking skyward and keeping their feet firmly planted in the right, Christ has turned their sandy foundation into sandstone! Without realizing it, they are free from the chains of Satan and can grow ever upward and outward with a better understanding of what true freedom means. Then they understand what the God-fearing people meant all the time by having more freedom through righteous living.

Marty, Scott, Cassie, and Austin: The branch is there. I might not be the best at reaching out to you, but I do love you. I'm ready to help when you are ready for it. Please stop wiggling, let the Savior transform your foundation, and come find the freedom in the so-called "limited" path. You will be amazed.

Monday, August 24, 2009

I Got a Name

I'm a little young to remember Jim Croce. In some ways I wish I had seen his story. He died ten years before I was born, but left a legacy of music that is still alive today. Here are a couple highlights from his biography on

"Croce appealed to fans as a common man, and it was not a gimmick -- he was a father and husband who went through a series of blue-collar jobs. And whether he used dry wit, gentle emotions, or sorrow, Croce sang with a rare form of honesty and power. Few artists have ever been able to pull off such down-to-earth storytelling as convincingly as he was."

My most favorite song from all artists in all time periods is Jim Croce's I Got a Name. This simple ballad is inspiring to me. Here is a man who had his fair share of difficulties in living his dream, but he did it. In the song he states that 1) he carries his name and is "living the dream", 2) he sings his song proud, and 3) he will share his road with anyone who is "going [his] way". How do these things apply to leadership?

1) "I Got a Name... and I carry it with me like my daddy did, but I'm livin' the dream that he kept hid." - Everything in life has a name, it's how we carry that name that matters. Jim points out that his "daddy" carried the same name, but did so while hiding his dreams. There are some names that carry weight with them: Colin Powell, Jack Welch, and Warren Buffet for example. I don't think it is because their parents just happened to name them well. It is because they carried their name and lived their dream.

2) "I Got a Song... and I sing it loud. If it gets me nowhere, I'll go there proud." This tidbit of the song entails two things. What is your song? and How can you sing it loud and proud? The answer to the first question takes soul searching. It is what makes you a leader. It takes desire and commitment to find, but once found it will fuel your song until the day you die. The answer to the second question may be more difficult, but remember it took Jim Croce years of "blue-collar" jobs as a father before he was able to find the how.

3) "Like the fool I am and I'll always be, I've got a dream... I know I could share it if you want me to. If you're going my way I'll go with you." Leadership is all about helping others become their own singers and songwriters. As a leader you have the opportunity of sharing your dream with those who desire to "go with you." You also have a duty to help those you serve as a leader carry their name, sing their song, and live their dreams!

There is one more tidbit in the middle of the song that I think is very applicable to what I have said today. Just after the guitar solo and before the last stanza, Jim sings, "And I'm gonna go there free." It is free. We can all pursue our dreams. What is stopping you? Just so you know, this song was released on the album titled "I Got a Name" three months after Jim died in a plane crash. He lived his dream beyond his death. How are you going to live yours?

I Got a Name - Jim Croce

Like the pine trees linin' the windin' road
I've got a name, I've got a name
Like the singin' bird and the croakin' toad
I've got a name, I've got a name
And I carry it with me like my daddy did
But I'm livin' the dream that he kept hid
Movin' me down the highway
Rollin' me down the highway
Movin' ahead so life won't pass me by

Like the north wind whistlin' down the sky
I've got a song, I've got a song
Like the whippoorwill and the baby's cry
I've got a song, I've got a song
And I carry it with me and I sing it loud
If it gets me nowhere, I'll go there proud
Movin' me down the highway
Rollin' me down the highway
Movin' ahead so life won't pass me by

And I'm gonna go there free
Like the fool I am and I'll always be
I've got a dream, I've got a dream
They can change their minds but they can't change me
I've got a dream, I've got a dream
Oh, I know I could share it if you want me to
If you're going my way, I'll go with you
Movin' me down the highway
Rollin' me down the highway
Movin' ahead so life won't pass me by

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Beware of the little things!!

I recently had a job working at a small rail yard. Few people realize how large and heavy trains actually are. We transferred product from railcar to semi trucks every day. The length of an 18 wheeler from bumper to bumper is about the length of your average railcar. A standard railcar can haul about 4 - 4.5 times the amount a semi truck can legally haul. A modern railcar can have a max weight (including the empty weight) of about 286,000 pounds. (about 129.7 metric tons). To give it some perspective, if you were to make those cute holiday model trains that go around the christmas tree perfectly to scale, one of those model train cars would weigh about 3,000 pounds. The typical train engine that would service our yard could push 50 fully loaded cars with ease! Trains are big!

No matter how big trains can be though, it really doesn't take much to get them off course. We had some deep gouges in the asphalt next to one of our lines where a train had derailed. The story was that while the de-railer was in place, the conductor accidentally switched the train to the wrong track. With all the momentum of a heavy train it wasn't quick to stop, even going 5 miles per hour. When the conductor realized his mistake he called for the brakes to be put on, but it was too late. Within seconds, the de-railer lifted the fully loaded railcar off the tracks and sent it loose. The gouges were only about 20 feet long, and there was very little harm done to anything except the conductor (after his boss talked to him)! The thing that amazed me is that the de-railer is portable! I don't just mean that you can move it with a forklift, or car, but that I can pick it up with one hand! It amazed me how a well designed 40 pound piece of metal could derail a train with millions of pounds of momentum and be reusable. It is also incredible that if the conductor had thought ahead, he could have removed the de-railer by hand and avoided the whole mess.

The point is this. The de-railer did its job and knocked a moving train off course. Do we see Satan's de-railers in time? He is trying to set up those well designed diversions to really knock us off course, no matter how much momentum we have. Satan knows our weak spots, and he has designed these de-railers for each and every one of us. It is up to us to plan appropriately so we don't switch into the wrong track to begin with. If we skirt the boundaries of disaster, we may just get disaster.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

How Service Affects Leadership

For those of you who may have seen the recent BYU alumni Magazine, there was an article in there about service. While I am not a BYU alum, my wife is and I will often peruse her alma mater's magazine. the article was called Why Giving Matters by Arthur C. Brooks. He had an interesting tidbit in there about leadership, which is what I am going to school for at the University of Cincinnati. I downloaded the forum from BYU's website and spliced the leadership tidbit out for you to see.

I find this little tidbit very interesting. I guess if any of us aspire to be leaders, then we should step up to the plate and give.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Work Changes For the Better

Well, it has been a tumultuous month and I feel like I need to explain to those who may have heard about the changes, but don't know why.
While I was at scout camp on vacation, I received a phone call from a girl I worked with at Bulkmatic. She told me that the railroad had ended Bulkmatic's contract and was getting another company in to manage the yard. The management didn't like the thought of being kicked out, but the attitude seemed to be, "well, at least we have our jobs." It created a depressing atmosphere that was very hard to overcome. Unbeknownst to Bulkmatic, I had contacted a friend of mine the week before seeking alternate employment. He set up an interview for me after I got back from scout camp.
The interview was with a financial company called Federal Financial Group. I had become a client with them back in March and really liked their retirement product. I also liked their approach of trying to help people become more financially secure through debt elimination, retirement planning, life insurance, and financial coaching. If you know much about me, I've wanted to help people understand their finances better for years. I started with Primerica, and when that fizzled I applied to Edward Jones. Nothing ever came of that, and I moved on with life. I thought that I wouldn't really help anybody with their finances besides close friends, family, and myself. Then I had the interview.
The company is headquartered in Draper Utah, and my recruiter was swapping mission stories with me when I was interviewing. I recently went to a leadership training meeting and noticed that some of the material that was used for motivation and inspiration came from General Conference. The only way that this really matters is in the aspect of company culture. It is really nice to work with people that share common morals. This is something I didn't get at Bulkmatic.
I have a hard road ahead of me and lots of foot work. Despite this, I know I made a very good switch for myself, my family, and hopefully for many other people that I can share the basics of good financial planning with.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Scout Camp Innovations

So I just returned from Boy Scout Camp with my troop. We went to Camp Friedlander and had a great time. I really want to highlight one aspect in particular that I really enjoyed, and that was our hot tub.
Every time I have been to scout camp before with other troops we were simply satisfied with the amenities provided. This troop is not like that. One family in particular has created some incredible campsite inventions. One of them is the campsite hot tub. The basic concept is very simple, and was actually very effective.
The recipe for a good campsite hot tub is:
-- A portable pool (we used two, one hot and one cool)
-- Hoses
-- A water flow adjuster (we used a y-split between the two tubs to control flow)
-- An old air-conditioner condenser
-- Running water
Our campsite had running water not too far away, which might not be possible at all locations.
All we had to do to get hot running water was connect the hoses up to the condenser and then to the tub. We put the condenser over the fire and cut back the water flow to control temperature. The average temperature we were running was about 110F. You did have to monitor it to make sure the temperature wasn't getting too high. We didn't want to burn any scouts. It was a piece of cake. I loved it too.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The True Story of Jiminy Cricket

Here is an idea I have for a story. Let me know what you think.

Jiminy Cricket is just an alias he uses to hide from his former life. Jiminy Cricket also known as Vince Carbauldi is a former member of a secretive gang that is led by Stromboli and another unknown miscreant (the operator of Pleasure Island). After witnessing the murder of Stromboli's assistant, Vince decides it is time to leave the gang before it is too late. In the process of skipping town, Vince is caught by the police. Vince has his own lengthy rap sheet and is worried about going to prison. So he offers his assistance to the police in exchange for his freedom. The chief of police (the blue fairy) doesn't quite let Vince off the hook. Instead of complete freedom Vince is entered into a witness protection program as Jiminy Cricket and sentenced to community service as a conscience for a newly created wooden boy named Pinocchio. Jiminy is greatly concerned with the thought of being a conscience for anybody, considering he lived most of his life ignoring his own conscience. Wising up to the situation Jiminy steps into the role as conscience with a determination to live a good life vicariously through Pinocchio. Unfortunately, Pinocchio runs into some of Vince's old pals. Jiminy needs to decide to help Pinocchio and risk getting caught or let Pinocchio fall in with Stromboli's old cronies and stay safe.

The traditional Pinocchio story unfolds with some twists based on the fact that Jiminy Cricket is linked to the criminal underworld. some of the twists are that Geppeto wouldn't just get lost and be swallowed by the whale, but that Stromboli's gang sent Geppeto to "sleep with the fishes." Also, pleasure island and the whole donkey thing was a ploy set up by Stromboli and his partner. However, the plan is foiled by Pinocchio, Vince, and Geppeto. I've thought about adding a love interest for Vince, but I'm not quite sure how it would fit in. We'll see.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Casket Advertisements

I was thinking the other day, that you don't see caskets advertised very often. I have since seen a casket company advertise on one of those bus billboards. I was wondering how interesting it would be if a casket company advertised like any other organization.

Imagine "Buy one casket get one 1/2 off!"
or "For a limited time only..."
or "Free pillow with every casket!"
or "The 100th customer receives a free iPod!"
or "For every $500 you spend, you get a $25 gift card to Papa Johns!"
or "Now announcing our 'Frequent Die-er Miles' program"
or lastly "Early Bird Special..."

It's a good thing I'm not in marketing.

New Blog

As many of you may know, we recently purchased a home.  We are very excited to modify it and make it our own.  I have already installed a dishwasher and added house numbers outside.  We decided to chronicle our home remodeling adventures in a blog.  Both of us are contributors and will be posting to keep a tab on what we have accomplished.  So check it out and give us feedback on what we can do to improve our home even more.

Friday, April 17, 2009

KaChing - stock market imitator.

Well I've been dabbling in the stock market for about two months now.  There is an app on facebook called KaChing which lets you buy and sell stocks with market timing prices.  For the past couple days I've been in the top ten portfolios out of nearly 370,000.  I'm very pleased with my progress, but it isn't hard when you pick the right stocks.  I'm a value trader, which means that I pick stocks that have been battered by outside events.  Once I buy those stocks cheap, I hold onto them to watch the value grow back to normal levels.  I focus on large cap companies because of the rare odds that those companies will default and collapse.  The two big purchases I made which have helped my portfolio the most are Citigroup (C) and Ford (F).  Both companies have solid futures despite being battered by the market for their industry.  Citigroup is up 200% from when I bought it and Ford is up over 100%.  Within a year I think I will take some real money and start testing the waters with the market.  We will see what will happen.  To check out my portfolio click here.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Know Thyself

I attended the 24th annual leadership conference at UC on Saturday Feb 28th. It was interesting to hear what some of the people had to say about leadership. Of all that was said, the one thing that kept coming across as a theme was the concept to know thyself. This hasn't really been a new concept for me. Well over a year ago I highlighted the quote, “We are to train our bodies, our minds, and our spirits... to govern self so that one may give leadership to others“ in the Teachings of our Times Manual for Spencer W Kimball. The best way to do this is to first know yourself and then learn to govern it.

This idea has been kicking around inside of me for the past couple weeks. Maybe that is why is stood out so much at the conference. It was impressive to me to get the validation that knowing yourself is an important part of leadership. Saying that it is important however doesn't make the process of truly knowing yourself easy. Sometimes to be honest with yourself about who you truly are can be one of the biggest challenges in life. It takes humility, honesty, desire for change, and the courage to act on the promptings that we receive.

In 1 Corinthians Chapter thirteen there is an excellent discourse on Charity. My favorite part of the chapter is in verses 11-12 which state: "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." A loving heavenly father knows me completely whereas I know me only in part.

An interesting example of this is my wonderful mother who wanted to make a blanket for my second missionary christmas. I hadn't spent much time with my family in about 18 months and I felt that I had changed as a person dramatically in that time period. So when my mother said she wanted to make something for me I was afraid she would make it based on the old Brandon. When I opened the box that came in the mail and fished out the blanket I thought it was perfect. I asked my mom how she knew what style to make the blanket. She said that she might just know me better than I thought she did.

To make my point, God is our loving heavenly father.  He knows us and one day we can know ourselves "even as also [we are] known."  God is willing to show us who we truly are if we are willing to listen and see. That is what he desires most.  How you go about discovering yourself is between you and the Lord.  I've started my journey.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Alternative Hybrid Technology

I was working in the shop today with pneumatic tools, and I was thinking. It doesn't take much to spark an intriguing thought and I began thinking about the power of the pnumatic motor in the drill I was using. Then I linked that to the concept behind regular hybrid motors that mate an electric motor with a gasoline engine. I thought about how difficult it would be to replace the electric motors in hybrid with pneumatic motors. The wheels began turning.

I came home and checked the internet, because I figured I wasn't the first person to think of this idea. That's when I stumbled across this web article.
The concept with this one is even easier than my idea. Here's some of the concept:

The normal combustion engine can be a simple four cylinder engine. During the charging stage, some of the cylinders can be switched from firing (to power the car) to compressing air (to charge the pneumatic system). This eliminates the need for a separate compressor. Then during the power stage that drives the car there are two options. Option one is to use the engine like any other car, the other is to use compressed air to assist. The pneumatic assistance can be done in different modes. One mode would be to use compressed air to pump all cylinders. This would be used after stopping at a light and without any gasoline. The other mode would only add compressed air to the firing cylinders when needed in the same way a turbo or supercharger would. This would greatly increase the power for each of the cylinders, thus reducing the need for a powerful inefficient motor. According to the website this alone would reduce fuel consumption by about 32%. The other thing that would be a major plus to this system is it's simplicity. Compared to a typical hybrid system this system would remove the electronic motor, the drive assembly, and the expensive batteries. The only new thing it would add would be a compression tank and an extra valve in each cylinder. I think it is simple enough that retrofitting an older car with this technology wouldn't be impossible for the average handy-man mechanic. It sounds like a job for my buddy Joey.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

26 Random Things

I hate responding to things because I've been "tagged," but I love talking about myself enough to override my fear of following the crowd. I am responding, but I'm doing it on my blog so nobody else will get tagged and continue the foolishness.

1. I am currently working on an associates degree in Aircraft maintenance and a bachelors degree in Organizational Leadership. In addition I would like to earn two masters degrees: One MPA (Masters of Public Affairs) and one MCRP (Masters of City and Regional Planning. I would then like to earn a law degree, and a PhD in either Juris Prudence or Sociology. The PhD is a maybe.

2. I once passed a county sheriff going 105 m.p.h. in a 55 m.p.h. zone on a two lane road without getting pulled over. As soon as I could, I pulled off to the side roads. I didn't want to find out if he had turned around to get me.

3. I had a dream about all of my kids before I even met my wife. So far the dream has been accurate.

4. I really want an early 70's Stingray Corvette.

5. I read the Book of Mormon 20 times on my mission. I finished it for the 21st time about a month after I came home.

6. I can't whistle and my wife can't either.

7. Nobody in my immediate family has graduated from BYU except my father who only went there after a bachelors and masters from the University of Utah, and after the U of U took too long on his law school application. On the flip side, nearly everyone in my wife's family has attended and or graduated from BYU.

8. I've read War and Peace (unabridged), Les Miserables (unabridged), and all six books of the Lord of the Rings (that is how it was originally published before it was later turned into a trilogy). I hope to someday read East of Eden, Ulysses, and The Brothers Karamazov.

9. I own an n-scale model train set. I want to someday make a rough model of the rail yard that I work in now.

10. I always wanted to name a boy William or Matthew. My wife won't let me because those names are taken by my adorable nephews William and Matthew respectively. I don't think it is fair, but I also know that there are plenty of good names still available like Fred.

11. I was in the inaugural cast of the revamped Nauvoo Pageant in 2005. I played an immigrant, an apostle, an apostate, a temple mason, and a pioneer.

12. I have always been afraid of water. I still am, and cannot even shower without my fear affecting me. The ocean is the worst.

13. I have m&m sized bumps all over my body. The doctor says that they are benign lipomas. It's a little strange.

14. Within the 3 1/2 years since my mission, I have been a forklift operator, a limousine driver, a security guard, a catering server, a construction worker, a factory peon, an irrigation specialist at a golf course, a text book sorter, a life insurance agent, an Air Force airman, a structural mechanic for the Air Force, a ramp attendant at the local airport, a tank washer, and now a rail yard / trucking company supervisor.

15. I have tooth that never grew any roots. The dentist says that one of these days it will just fall out.

16. I hate pasta.

17. I have the most eclectic music tastes of anyone I know. I'll listen to Fergie, Mozart, Patsy Cline, Keith Urban, Moby, Glen Miller, The Beatles, Heart, Pearl Jam, Coldplay, The Supremes, Andrew Lloyd Weber, Plain White T's, Motab, Three Dog Night, P!nk, Simon and Garfunkel, Ella Fitzgerald, Morcheeba, Jars of Clay, Jim Croce, O.A.R., Van Morrison, Counting Crows, Liszt, The Foo Fighters, The BeeGees, Carly Simon, John Williams, Queen, Metallica, Stevie Wonder, and many more. I love putting my library of over 9000 songs on random and listening to the mix of it all.

18. I have an innie.

19. My most favorite movie of all time is Rudy.

20. I was the academic monitor in my military basic training flight. As academic monitor I led my flight to win the academic achievement banner. Our sister flight won the female fitness banner. Our chants on the way back from the awards ceremony were "the boys have the brains and the girls have the brawn." When I left basic training my Drill Instructor shook my hand and thanked me for getting the banner.

21. I built home made spud guns, and a catapult on my mission. With the spud guns, I shot a table leg through my window, I covered my companion with bread crumbs, and I surprised my neighbor by aiming the spud gun at her when she knocked on the door.

22. My favorite scripture is actually a line from one verse and the beginning line of the next verse. It is 2 Nephi 4: 19-20 "Nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted. My God hath been my support."

23. I haven't worn my wedding ring in over two years. It is a safety hazard at work and it is too big. I almost lost it once.

24. I plan on being a millionaire someday, God willing.

25. It took me five days to come up with this stupid list. Consider this the last time I ever respond to a "tag."

26. I met Elder Ballard at Cafe Rio in Cottonwood Heights. He shook my hand and put his other hand on my neck and told me to work extra hard that afternoon to burn off all of the food I had eaten.