Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I'm PRETTY sure we're being cursed now

Hardest hail storm I've seen hits us and gets to some of our stuff that was stored outside. I have no other place for it all right now.

Joes Valley

Trip report is posted:

Joes Valley

Monday, July 21, 2008

Down in the dumps

It's amazing what life throws at you from time to time. Alene, Caiden and I just took our last camping trip before the baby comes (and likely of the rest of the year because Football takes up pretty much from August to December) and we came home to an absolute disaster.

So, we left for Joes Valley on Saturday morning around 9:45am. We arrived back at home in SLC on Sunday around 5:30 and were greeted by our basement with this:






(Yes, that's a window well full of water)



I was stunned and I thought for sure this wasn't happening. You see, we've been VERY busy lately with the bedroom/closet remodel, birthing classes, family get-togethers and life in general. I had PROMISED Alene that once we did this last camping trip, all we had to do was just relax every night and get the baby's room ready. I really wanted so badly for Alene to be able to relax and have a stress-free birth (which is somewhat vital in doing a natural birth). So, yes, needless to say I was stunned and almost lost it. I could not believe what was ahead of us.

First of all, we had not finished un-packing, so all of our un-packed boxes were in the basement. In addition to this, we had purchased this new Ikea bookshelf that extended all the way to the floor. All the books on that level were destroyed, including my photo albums from when I was younger, my high school yearbooks, my coaching books and countless other things. Moving on, Alene's laptop was soaked in water AND all her papers from her school work, journals from her archaeology dig, my baby box, which included all my pictures from growing up, momentos, etc. all of it soaked and pretty much destroyed.

The good news is I have great family and great neighbors. I called my brother Russ and he and Billy (who was staying with us, but had to stay with Russ while we were gone), rushed over and helped us get a lot of the stuff out of the basement. The thing that was driving me nuts though was even though I'd bail the water out of the window well, I'd still get more water filling up. This told me for sure that it was a main water line break. I shut off the main water and it all stopped flowing in.

My next door neighbor (Allen) just recently retired from the Jordan water district and happened to have all the tools, parts, and know-how to get us fixed. Along with him were some great guys from our ward that dug down to the main (about 5' down), then they spent a good 4 hrs trying to get the threads lined up on the coupling part they put on. I felt so badly for them. Allen was sicker than a dog and bound and determined to get the pipe threads lined up. At one point he jumped out of the hole, ran home and puked. I told him he should stop now and I'd get someone out tomorrow. He insisted on one last shot at it and low and behold, he got it fixed. This was 11:30pm. I was so relieved I was going to be able to take a shower.

Neighbor fixing the water main break

Anyway, we also had the rest of the ward all over the place taking wet clothing and blankets over to their houses to wash and dry everything. I cannot express my thanks enough how great they were. If we had done this on our own, I would probably barely be getting that main line fixed as I type this. They were fantastic and I've never seen a ward respond so quickly to help (this, without me even asking for it). It was overwhelming at times because they were doing a lot of things we didn't want them to do, like lay out stuff to dry that we would have just junked anyway. But still, they wanted to help out and they were awesome. I still cannot believe how lucky we were to have them here helping out.



So, the damage is done. We had Utah Disaster Kleanup out that evening and for 5 hours they sucked up water and extracted the carpets along with tearing out the old padding. Those guys worked their tails off to get the job done too. Disaster Kleanup came out again today to remove the carpet (it's totaled) and they'll be out tomorrow to tear out 2' up from the bottom of the drywall. The insurance guy will be out on Wednesday to assess damage and cut us a check for all of it. I really hope it's an honest assessment.

This sucks but we're getting past it and just going to deal with it. I've got to try to look at the bright side and realize how lucky I was to have great neighbors. No way this would have happened at my old house.

Here is a video tour of the damage.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

My wife is the best pregnant woman out there

I say that in terms of everything. She's still cute (even though she doesn't think so), she's in great shape physical shape (still goes to the gym every day), and she's "ready" for our baby to come.

We've been attending hypnobirthing classes together (only one more class to go) and it's been a good experience for me. I'll admit, it didn't start off well as we had gotten in an argument on our way there. I thought for sure were going to bag the whole thing, but we made it through it.

The class has been very helpful in making me more aware of what I need to do as Alene's partner and the role I play. However, a side-affect has also been to learn a bit more about Alene and how she is. Most of that is personal, but we were able to leave one class and at the end discuss an issue which would normally have turned into an argument, but we were able to talk about it and figure out what works best for us. It was a great feeling.

It makes me so proud of her when I hear all these other women tell her that she has a cute belly. I think she should be proud of it (I know she is). I'm so excited to have our baby soon and to be able to experience this. One part that I still have a hard time with is watching the birthing videos. It's VERY hard to watch (not grossed out, just mentally painful), but I'll admit I get pretty misty-eyed when I see that baby and it immediately in the mothers arms and hear it's little crying voice. I know this may sound lame, but I hope our baby has a good set of lungs and cries a lot. I can't wait to hold her and to see Alene hold her and bond with her.

At the same time, I realize how much more work I have to do to prepare. Alene is so good about being prepared and reading on everything (she's read the birthing book 3 times while I haven't finished it). I feel extremely guilty not having finished that book, but I really hope to by the end of this weekend. I also want our birthing plan memorized so I can enforce everything. Lastly, I'm horrible at making sure we practice all the stages of birthing with Alene. We need to get better at that.

Still, I'm excited.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

A somewhat embarrasing moment

We have window washers here at my building and I have a private cubicle next to the windows, which makes for a decent view. Well, as I am curious about rappelling and wanting to learn as much as I can about it, I turned around and was checking out all the climbing gear the dude was using as he rappelled down the building to clean the windows. We have tinted windows on the outside, so my subconscious thought the dude couldn't see me. As I was getting a count of all his gear, I noticed he stopped what he was doing and as I looked up, he was staring at me, kind of wondering what the hell I was looking at. Since he couldn't hear me, I just turned around and decided to not try to explain.

Dude probably thought I was checking HIM out. Oh well.

On a side note (I was going to post this, but then the awkward situation came up), what is with the fascination for hot stuff? Who gets satisfaction by burning the crap out of their mouths? I sure don't. It seems to me that people that like really hot stuff are just in competition with other people that like really hot stuff. They want to prove how their "hot tolerance" is so bad ass. I like mild stuff with a tang of hot in it, but I'm not about to wolf down some alien powder or something like that.

Master Bedroom expansion project


I get teased about it all the time "so what project are you working on now?" Well, this one happened to be so we could have more space for our Master Bedroom. We did not like the colors at all when we first moved into the house, so one of the things we spent some left over money on was paint for the house. We bought enough paint for pretty much the entire up-stairs and Caiden's room. In addition to that, we bought supplies to convert one bedroom into a walk-in closet and future master bathroom (babies room for now). This consisted of us sealing off the existing door way, cutting a hole in the wall between our room and this room, building another wall to create a walk-in closet, and demolishing our existing closet in the current Master Bedroom.

The reason was that our closet space in the Master was just not enough. Plus, by opening up the closet, it made the room much bigger.

I guess I'll try to just show before/after pictures as I go, or do whatever. Enjoy.

This is a previous shot of the picture you see above

Bedroom & Closet Remodel

The previous bedroom (this is the room we converted to the closet and future bathroom) and door (this is the door that I sealed off)

Bedroom & Closet Remodel

Previous shot of the closet being built

Bedroom & Closet Remodel

I installed recessed lighting through it all. Two in the closet, four in our bedroom, and two in the future bathroom/babies room. Patching the ceiling and matching the texture was interesting. I also removed the old light fixture (gawdy gold-finish stuff) and patched those holes, then textured/painted those areas to match

Bedroom & Closet Remodel


Bedroom & Closet Remodel

We added these dope dimmer switches to each room

Bedroom & Closet Remodel

New wall is sanded, textured, and ready for paint. I had never done knock-down texturing, so that was cool to learn that technique.

Bedroom & Closet remodel

Alene getting her paint-on

Bedroom & Closet remodel

Installing the closet pieces. We made it so we would have two levels of hanging space (upper and lower)

Bedroom & Closet remodel

Bedroom & Closet remodel

Bedroom & Closet remodel

Left an open space on the lower for Alene to hang her dresses

Bedroom & Closet remodel

My side of the closet (I don't wear dresses, so I didn't need an open space)

Bedroom & Closet remodel

Here is our previously cramped closet space

Bedroom & Closet remodel

After demolition it, I patched it up to make room for our dressers



The patched area with primer on the wall and the contrast color (wild honey) next to it


Here is what it looked like when I was done


New carpet was installed and I quickly started putting our bed back together.


Here is a couple of shots of our new closet, looking through to the future bathroom/babies room



Here is a video I did of the finished project

Lastly, I only have to get the base boards put in, and this room is done. I really liked the end-result. There is a lot more space in our master bedroom and plenty of closet space. We are down one bedroom now, but we can always add another one downstairs if we needed to in the future.

We still have a lot of painting to do on the upstairs, but we're going to take a little brake for now. I'm very tired and beat. This closet project took a lot out of me and took longer because I was pretty sick for a good week. I really do enjoy doing this stuff, but lately it has taken a toll on my body. For whatever reason, I just want to get through it and get it done. The only enjoyable part for me now is the end-result (which is understandable), but there was a time when I enjoyed actually doing the work. I don't as much anymore, but I'm sure I'll get my hand in some little project in the future.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Google Reader is the bomb

If any of you read more than 4-5 blogs, I would HIGHLY suggest getting a google account (same as your gmail account) and adding all the blogs you read to google reader. To find it, go to the google homepage, log in, and you'll see a list of items on the top left of your page. If you don't see "Reader" there, click on the down arrow to the right of that list and you will see "Reader". From there, copy and paste any blogs you read into the "add subscription" section on the left hand side.

From then on, all of your blogs you like to read will show up in this reader format. It saves you time of going to bookmarks and clicking from blog to blog (not to mention cluttering up your bookmarks), and then having to see if anything is new on that blog. Google reader will show the blog with a highlight on it and a number in parenthesis for the amount of recent blog posts since you last read it.

What Reader is is an RSS application. If you are on any site that has an "RSS" link (usually looks like that logo on the left), you can add it to your google reader. Just click on that logo and it will ask you if you want to add it to your google homepage or your google reader. Any time anything new is posted to that site, it will show up highlighted in your reader section. For example, I have a specific sports section for the tribune (high school sports) in my google reader, so any time a new article is posted for HS sports, the reader will tell me so I don't have to go to that page and look for it.

It's a cool application and I'd suggest it to anyone.

Friday, July 04, 2008

I shaved my head the other day


I've tried so hard to let my hair grow out, but being that I spent pretty much all of my youth (except for the 7th grade, in which I had a wicket Mullet that was WAY in style), I've always had either a buzzed or short hair.

It's been getting hot, so I decided to just go for it. The above picture is what I'm going to look like in a couple of years anyway (bald on top with the long hair on the side) and being that I didn't think the Michael Bolton look was cool, I knew I couldn't stop there.

here is the before picture

Middle phase mullet. This is what you do when you want to just give your mullet a little trim. Shave everything in front and leave the back. Don't worry folks, the front grows in pretty quickly, leaving that nice mullet look.



The damage is done


I just realized I didn't take a picture of the final results. For those of you that know me, you remember what I looked like with short hair before, so use your imagination. If you don't have an imagination, shame on you. I'll leave you with this picture from 31+ years ago.

Tyler Baby

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Celebrating the 4th on the 3rd


We aren't going to have Caiden for the 4th, so we decided to ride our bikes down to the local black cat fireworks tent and buy some stuff. First of all, what the hell is up with the prices??? I don't EVER remember paying so friggin' much for fireworks in the past. Can anyone explain to me the economic tie-in with fireworks and energy use? It's not like they have to use fossil fuels to make fireworks (or am I wrong??)

Anyway, we plopped down $30+ for enough to keep us entertained. Bill has was doing some of the slowed shutter pictures at night stuff, so I attempted to do some stuff with sparklers.

Alene showing me her heart


Me, showing my East High School pride (look at the concentration in my face)



Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Honoring the Past

Grandpa Pete's WWII Uniform

I'm very proud of my grandparents. My dad's father worked as a supervisor during WWII building cannons for the battle ships. I remember when we was younger (around 9 or 10 in fact, it's in my journal), going to the Sacramento Delta with my grandparents where there were two giant battle ships that were brought into port for show (they were obviously retired). My grandpa Root specifically pointed out the giant cannons on these guns and how he used to work in factories that built them. He was quite proud of the job he did, as was I.

Later on, I learned that my mom's dad "Grandpa Pete", was in the Army Air Corps when he was fresh out of high school and he fought in many battles during the war (Pacific), one of which he was shot twice. I was blown away that my grandpa pete had been a soldier in the war, that he actually saw battle.

On a particular visit with us, my mom asked if he would sit down and talk about his experience in the war and what he went through. My grandpa was always a very easy-going type and fun to be around (the dude is 85...or is it 86?? and he's still maintaining an acre plot filled with a garden, christmas trees, etc.) and it was odd to me to think that he was one of those soldiers you see in remake movies and TV shows; he just didn't seem to be that type.

Anyway, he went on to tell us that he had just served in a few battles in the pacific and was on leave in seattle it seemed? He said there was a cargo plane heading out to an un-marked island to drop supplies to some of the guys there. He said they needed some help, so he volunteered to go along. He said they made their landing, dropped the supplies, then as they took off, their plane was shot. He had to jump from the plane at a low altitude with his parachute. He said as he parachuted down, he was shot twice. He landed, ditched the chute, then hid in the brush for a couple of days until more help arrived.

He talked about it so matter-of-factly. I often wonder what details he left out, or what kind of fear he remembers having. What were his thoughts, laying in the brush after having been shot?

Anyway, my brother Russ is wanting to make some sort of documentary on my grandpa. In making it, he sent my mom with his uniform and a description of all the medals on it.

I'm so proud of my ancestors and grateful for the example they've set for me. They were raised in a tough time and I think they will always be remembered as Tom Brokaw calls them, the "Greatest Generation".

Click on the link above each picture that will take you to a link with descriptions of each medal attached to it.


Grandpa Pete's WWII Uniform


Grandpa Pete's WWII Uniform


Grandpa Pete's WWII Uniform

Where is the motivation??

I know this kid who is an immigrant from another country here. They've lived here for roughly 9-10 years. Dad doesn't work, mom works p/t under the table as a motel maid or something like that. Older 20 year old brother doesn't work. As I got talking to him a bit more about finding a job this summer, he said he wasn't allowed to work because if he does, his parent's rent goes up. He basically said that his parents make the same amount of money NOT working as they would if they had to go find a job with their education and skill sets. Both of his parents only speak VERY broken english, so it's hard enough as it is to find a job that would pay decent enough (my guess is barely above minimum wage).

At first I was fuming thinking about our welfare system and in general, the flaws of socialism. Then, I calmed down and began to consider that it's just his interpretation of the situation. If I was to assume he was wrong, then I could blame it on his parents just being lazy. If I was to assume he was right, I could definitely blame it on our system. I'm leaning toward him being right and the system because this isn't the first time I've heard of this.

Which brings me to a point of sorts: Flaws. Both Capitalism and Socialism are flawed in many ways. I'm not educated enough to go over all the points of each, but in general it seems to me that in Capitalism, the flaws that come with it is the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. In Socialism the flaws are that you can still have an extreme rich and extreme poor, but you also breed a lot of laziness.

I was listening to Glenn Beck the other day (yeah, yeah, he's a nut-case, but he can be pretty entertaining and sarcastic) and he made a good point in favor of capitalism. He was going off about how people were up in arms about some oil exec making 20 million a year salary when prices were so friggin' high. He explained that that was how capitalism works. He then went on to say why we aren't freaking out about movie stars making 20 million a movie when the cost of going to the movie and vending prices rise? Now, I know a movie ticket isn't $13 (yet), but it was an interesting point.

I'm very confused what to think. I would be anti-capitalism if I were to say "exec's of major companies and movie stars should have caps on what they can make", but I'd be anti-socialism if I were to say "let them make all the money they want; it's nobodies business".

Isn't there a middle ground?

I'm so torn on what to believe and what to stand for. I know I basically stand for decency, pride, hard work, responsibility, taking care of the sick/needy (the TRULY sick/needy), and loving your neighbor. I believe in going to war for a good cause. I'm so tired of this war we are in right now. I used to believe it was for a good cause and I still don't think we were lied to about the whole "weapons of mass destruction" thing, but I'm just tired of it. The good thing is that we don't have a death rate of say a Vietnam "conflict", but it's just getting to me. I'm not sure what to think of it anymore. I choose to support our troops there in getting the job done, but that is about the best I can think of doing. On those lines, are we the world's police? Should we be involved with "the world" or should we only take care of ourselves?

Lot's of things I'm pondering from time to time.