Monday, August 27, 2007


I love my family. Wife and son; mom, dad, brothers and sisters; grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles; and yes, even al of the in-laws (I am lucky to have great in-laws). I love 'em all! Yesterday we spent some time at my sister Dana's house and then went over to Aunt Patsy's (Aimee's aunt). I loved it.

At Dana's we got to hang out with her, my sister Haley, their husbands JJ and Shawn, and their kids. The kids are all so cute and sweet. It is fun to have Haley and JJ back (thery were in Arkansas for the summer for an internship with Walmart) because it means that all the cousins get to be together. Cousins were always very important to my family with I was a kid. There is really nothing that can compare to hanging out with my family. With the hard things we have had to go through, there is a special bond between us siblings ("it cannot be broken... not by a thousand swords"). The parenthetical comment was a joke by the way.

After Dana's, we went over to Patsy and Brett's for Chloe's birthday. She had asked if we could come so we felt very special to be there. I love going over there. I wish we could do it more often! We always get to eat great food more importantly it is so fun to be around that family. There is something about the way they are that makes me want to be like them. I think Patsy and Brett have done an amazing job as parents. If you have the priviledge of knowing their kids then you know what I mean.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Mind Games I - Introduction

This is the first of a series of posts describing the different games I play in my mind. It may sound strange, but for every minute of every day, I am solving meaningless puzzles based on the letters, syllables, words and sentences that I say, hear and read. If you ever catch me whispering to myself or silently moving my lips in the middle of a conversation, this is what I am doing. I don't know why I do it. It's just something that started when I was a kid, and I am completely unaware of it most of the time. Somehow when I was young I developed this "mental pathway" that just kind of runs at all times in the back of my brain. There are about 10 different games that I play, and it gets really interesting when - without consciously deciding to do so - I mix them together forming new rules and patterns with the words running around in my head. To give you an idea, I will explain one of my games. Although I have never done so, I am going to start giving them names so that when you read about them, you will be able to distinguish which one I am talking about. I will start out with one of the simplest ones. It isn't challenging at all, and you can always win. The point is that there is no point and it merely provides something for my brain to work on while it is "idling". I will call it "Vowels 4 Sale". The rules work something like this:

** You can still be my friend if you don't want to read this. :) **

1. To play the game, you need a set of words. This is usually a sentence that you have read, said or heard. Sometimes I even do it with an entire paragraph.

2. Next, take the words in the set and count the vowels. The goal is to come out with a number of vowels that is divisible by 4 (hence the name of the game). This may seem pointless since you cannot change the number of vowels. Just be patient, this mother of a cliffhanger will be continued in the next instruction.

3. What makes the game work is that fact that most punctuation can be converted into a number of vowels by replacing it with the actual word for the punctuation mark. For example, if you had the sentence "Are you hungry?" you might at first think your score is always going to be 7... not so. Instead you can convert the question mark and get "Are you hungry question mark" making the total vowel count 12. You win! Doesn't that make you feel great? :)

4. This instruction is really what makes the game work. In order to really have options on how you can make the vowels add up, you have to take advantage of punctuation that has different words to describe it. For example, the '.' character can be read "dot", "period" and "point" or the '-' character can be replaced with "dash" or "hyphen". This means that you can come up with many different totals if you have a paragraph with just a few of these symbols.

5. To wrap it up, we need to go over a couple of rules that make it more interesting. When analyzing a sentence, it is better to only read through the sentence once, and then come up with a good result by making smart substitutions along the way. This is harder than just reading through a million times and getting it right. The other thing that I haven't mentioned is that multiples of 4 are good, but there is something better. Anything that is a power of 2 and is >= 4 is a REALLY good answer, so you should try for these. Examples: 4, 8, 16, 32, 64 etc.

OK, you can roll your eyes now.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Walgreens, Blockbuster and Greyhound. Oh my!

Work has been crazy lately. I love my job, but sometimes I really wish I could be my own boss and have more control over my time and income. Lately we have been closing some big deals. In the US: Walgreens, Cumberland Farms, Blockbuster, Greyhound; and in the UK: WHSith, Somerfield, Clinton Cards, PayPoint. Each one of these requires a lot of time and effort for me and a lot of other people at the company. All of these projects combined could add up to a total of over 15,000 new locations for us. We only have 6,000 right now. Since I am now the Lead Software Engineer in our group here in SLC, I feel more responsibility than ever to make sure our system doesn't crash or get overloaded and tank. I find myself going to sleep at night thinking about whether there is anything I have forgotten about that might cause a transaction to fail or whether a small bug might cause a very important customer to get upset. I know that being more organized would take away a lot of the stress, but that is another story. Even if I did have better organization, I know I would still wake my wife up in the middle of the night talking in my sleep about transactions and databases and program designs. Don't get me wrong, I really do love my job. I've had it since I was 16 and I love how much I have grown and learned because of it. It's just that sometimes I feel like I could be doing more with my career. I think I just want to be solving bigger problems than invoice formatting, or shaving off a few milliseconds from the round trip time of a transaction. Things like solving the world's energy problem, making higher education available for everyone, or finding a unified field theory for the world of physics are the big three that always come to mind.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Here goes nothin'

Well this is exciting for me. The idea of a blog seemed a little out of character to me at first but after watching my wife do it I realize now what a creative outlet it can be. I have always felt like I could be a good writer if I put some time into it (actual writing, not rollin' doobies). So the question now is, what should I write about? Well, I added a list to the main page that contains upcoming blog entries. I also left comments turned on so that anyone can suggest post ideas; I really want to post things that are interesting to other people so please do so! You can name any subject that you think I might be interested in and I will research about it and write. That would be fun for me.

I hope this Blog is everything you have been dreaming of.