Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Official Photograph

We got our engagment photos taken last Saturday. Sharon, took the pictures and they turned out great. We found out about the Provo-photographers' secret spot for engagement shots. It's behind the mental hospital on center street.

If you drive in past it there is a hill and there is a little castle type thing there with an ampitheatre. Everyone who takes engagement photos around here has the rocks in the background. We tried to avoid them, but after taking about 50 pictures, the one with the rocks turned out the best! Oh well.

I took the digital picture (added a white border and touched it up, of course) to wal-mart and they had 375 pictures printed out in under 30 minutes for me! INCREDIBLE. Now I guess I'm going to spend the next day or two stuffing invitations and cards and licking envelopes. I hope I got the non-toxic kind.

Thursday, July 24, 2003

New shoelace wanted, needed

I think that you can tell how much money somebody has by looking at their shoelaces. If they don't even HAVE shoelaces, you know they're in trouble. That was a blanket statement, which included all sandal-wear. I have never seen a rich guy walking around in flipflops.

If you will take a second to observe my shoe in this picture, you will readily see that I have hit rock-bottom and am completely out of money. I just bought a diamond and a new car for Rachie. And now we're looking at buying a house rather than renting. I think my shoelace tells the rest of the story very well.

Sometimes, life is like a shoelace. But isn't it supposed to be like this when you first get married? Isn't this part of the American dream? If not, please don't tell me.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

A very engaging experience

Rachel and I got engaged Monday night. She knew it was coming - I mean, we were practically planning our wedding already - but I was still able to surprise her. So much that she did a double-take when she saw the ring.

We are getting married on 23 August 2003 at 9:30am at the Provo Temple. We both love the Provo temple very much. We've been there together so it holds sentimental value to us. Rachel grew up next to it, also. She only lives a few blocks behind it. It is also my "favorite" temple because it is the one that I've gone to the most. I've had countless special and sacred experiences there. When we talked about places to get married, Provo stuck out in both of our minds. We also both agree that the recent exterior changes they have done to the temple are good. The new white spire with a Moroni is excellent.

We chose August 23 because, quite frankly, it's the only time that works - not because it is my birthday, but you got to admit, that is kind of cool. I will never forget my wedding anniversary for the rest of my life. And even if I do, it's okay because she can't get mad at me because it's my birthday! haha. If we did it any later people would be in school and it would be hard for people to travel. If we did it any earlier that would just be insanely fast and wouldn't be enough time to plan things.

We will most likely be having our reception that night at 7pm at the Art Museum on BYU Campus. More details to come on that. My bride-to-be (B2B - I don't like the word fiancee very much - it's French) is taking care of getting that place scheduled for sure today or tomorrow. As of yesterday, when they closed, it was still available. So I think we will be able to get it.

I think we found a place to stay over close to our friends Larry and Krista. There is a small townhouse community over there and we looked at a few yesterday and found one that we love. I just figure it'd be better to buy a home and live frugally for a month or two than to throw money down the drain renting for a year or two. Rachel loves the place and is very excited. More to come on that, later.

Wedding planning is a lot of work. I will most likely be very busy for the next few weeks. Any recommendations on photographers, reception ideas, honeymoons, etc are more than welcome...

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Jimmy Rowell's great police chase

Jason is going on a huge, week-long backpacking trip this week, so I took him to the airport very early this morning. I don't think I've gotten up that early since I was a kid. I've felt like I am going to puke all day long.

As I was pulling off of the freeway and entering into airport property there was a white SUV pulled over to the side of the road. I was following three cars and going the same speed as all of them so I thought nothing of it. Jason said it was a cop, and I was like "no way."

After about 15 seconds I saw the lights in my rear-view mirror. Oh crap. He pulled us over and asked for license and registration. He informed me that I was doing 63 in a 55. I told him I was just going with the flow. I hear that you're never supposed to say that to a cop, but for some reason when you are put on the spot it just comes out. I couldn't help it.

He ran my plates and was checking the VIN number of my car. Apparently, there was more to this stoppage than a speeding violation. But what was the problem? After a few minutes he came back and thanked me for the time. He kept saying "man" over and over. I think that when he saw that I was young it helped him to relax and he started talking like a surfer. "Here's your license, man. Thanks for you time, man. Sorry, man. There was a car stolen just like this one earlier, man."

So that was it. They thought that I had a stolen car - lucky for me. The whole time I was just upset because my insurance rates drop when I turn 25 (in one month) and I didn't want another ticket to ruin my rates! I've been pulled over three times in the last two years. I was speeding all three times but only got a ticket once. On that one instance, I was going really fast on the freeway and really deserved it. The other two times they thought that I had assaulted someone and had stolen my vehicle. There must be a lot of kids out there driving red Hondas and Acuras that commit crime.

Anyway, thank you Salt Lake City Airport Police for not giving me a ticket! I'll never speed in your airport again!!!

Monday, July 21, 2003

Welcome to Nice Panda

Panda Express is huge. They have anywhere from 20-50 franchises per state according to their website. You think that they would have a top-notch production facility. But if you get their chopsticks and look at the wrapping it says:

"Welcome to Chinese Restaurant. Enjoy your nice Chinese food. Experience the historical and cultual of Chinese food."

You'd think that they would have somebody who speaks English read over the label before they make like 10 million of these things. I'm not complaining about the chopsticks that the industry provides, they are good. I'm just thinking that maybe these restaurants might want to hire a content writer/editor for their products so they don't replicate a small error a million times over.

No Stowage

I've been traveling a lot recently. Well, a lot for me, anyway. Considering that I think the first time I flew on a plane was when I went to Provo, UT to go on my mission and then flew to Brazil. I may have flown before that when I was younger, but I don't remember it at all if I did.

A few months ago I was on a JetBlue aircraft on the way back from Long Beach, CA where Rachel and I had gone down to visit Jason for a 5-day weekend. I recall looking around at the signs inside the plane before take off, since they make you sit there for like an hour before the plane even moves.

I noticed that the back-left bin in the aircraft was used for the flight attendants, so they didn't want anyone else to use it. There was a small sign on that particualar bin that said "NO STOWAGE." I said it aloud because it sounded strange to me. No stowage? Don't they mean "no stoRage?"

Stowage isn't a word, is it? I laughed to myself because I thought that JetBlue had made a mistake and all of their planes said stowage on them. Not until I got home and looked up the word did I realize that I was the one that was stupid.

The word "stow" means to place or arrange, especially in a neat, compact way: stowed his gear in the footlocker or to fill (a place or container) by packing tightly. And the word "stowage" means the act, manner, or process of stowing or the state of being stored. I suppose that the word stow is appropriate when it comes to airplane bins because you really have to pack stuff tight. They NEVER have enough room for everyone's stuff.

I guess the joke's on me. But I still say that the word stowage sounds really funny - Elmer Fudd'ish.

Cell phones in the workplace

I think that we've all gone nuts with the cell phones. I see people walking around with these things everywhere. A common cell phone etiquette problem is leaving it behind in a public place when you step away for a minute. This happens quite often here at Banta in the corporate offices.

Usually someone will step out for a second to use the bathroom or get some lunch, and they will leave their cell phone sitting on their desk. The problem is, if it starts to go off then what is everyone supposed to do? You can't answer someone else's cell phone, that just seems wrong. It feels like you're reading their mail or something. Either way, it has the appearance of an invasion of privacy.

But, at the same time, you don't want to just let the phone sit there and ring. Cell phones tend to have the most annoying rings imaginable. They are loud and penetrating ... just awful. So the phone starts going off in the middle of the office and everyone just sits there looking at each other all awkward-like, not knowing what to do.

Another common problem I've noticed is DWC. It's kind of like DUI, but it's Driving-With-Cellular. On the way to and from work I see cars swerving back and forth like they are drunk. I see cars slamming on brakes, accidents, upset people ... when I get a closer look I see that the driver has a cell phone and it explains everything.

Saturday, July 19, 2003

The Legendary Konami Code

I've noticed that there are some things in this life that are just too hard for men to remember. For example, birthdates of family members, anniversaries, planned events, etc. Okay, pretty much men forget everything and completely rely on wives or palm pilots to get them through this clouded, busy life.

There is one thing, however, that all men from the age of 18 to 28 know and will never forget. It is the Konami Code. Years ago there was a Nintendo game called Contra, made by a Japanese company called Konami, that was very popular. For it's time, it was very hard and it only started you out with three lives. For your average kid, there was no way to beat it ... until Konami released their legendary code.

Up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, select, start.

This code would give the user 30 lives, which was plenty to get through Contra. It turns out that this code also works on a few other Konami games. I'm still not sure why every man knows this code, but can't remember other important things in their lives. I guess that just goes to show how important video games were to kids in the 90s as I mentioned in my last blog.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Phone Call Etiquette

The phone is the source of one of my biggest pet peeves. I hate it when you're at the store and the person there has to take a phone call - so they stop helping you and start attending the person that called.

It's amazing that they do this. That person is sitting at home in their underwear, too lazy to leave their home, and they get first-rate service! Meanwhile, I went out of my way to get ready, come all the way to the store in person, and they won't pay attention to me until they are done with their phone call. It's really screwed up. If someone comes to the store IN PERSON they should get first service regardless.

A 10-Yard Fiasco

What kid doesn't try to sneak a peak at the Christmas presents that their parents have hidden in the top of their closet? I think everyone has done it at least once or twice.

Except for maybe Karl Maeser. He is famous for his BYU Honor Code quote, but the fact is that BYU doesn't quote the whole thing usually. "Stand me on the floor and draw a chalk line around me and have me give my word of honor never to cross it. Can I get out of the circle? No. Never! I'd die before I looked at the presents my parents got me for Christmas!"

I don't recall any specific examples of doing this myself except for one time. My brothers and I were really into Nintendo at the time. I was the first kid on the block to beat Super Mario Bros. I was literally a hero to my friends. The first time I beat it was actually making up for a lie. I was over at David Nutter's house and everyone was there. David, Cory, Luke, Dan, the whole gang. We were on the last level and David said that the final Bowser was impossible to beat. I said, "No he's not, I already beat him." Which was a total lie and to this day I'm not sure why I said it. So everyone was like "NO WAY!" and they wanted me to show them how to beat him. That's when I started to get nervous. My reputation was on the line. Luckily, I made it all the way through the last castle and I approached the bridge where Bowser throws those little axes/hammers at you. The obstracles fell just right and I ran right under him and got to the end. Everyone sat in awe for a moment, looking at what just happened. Then, simultaneously, everyone leaped up and everyone began to jump up and down, giving high-fives, and screaming and yelling for joy. James has done it! He's the BEST Nintendo player ever! He saved the PRINCESS!!!!

The next year I wanted to get Kid Icarus, Tecmo Bowl, and The Legend of Zelda for Christmas. We made it very clear to my mom which games we wanted. (One of the advantages of having two brothers is that you get three new Nintendo games for Christmas) Sometime in November my parents were gone and I couldn't stand the anxiety any more. I HAD to know if I was getting all of these games.

I got a chair and found the Kaybee Hobby bag and looked inside. "Omigosh! The Legend of Zelda! Kid Icarus!" I was overwhelmed with joy. How could I possibly wait for another month? I looked at the third game, excited to see Tecmo Bowl. When I used the Chicago Bears, nobody could beat me. I was unstoppable. To much dismay, and the crushing of dreams of a little boy, I saw "10-Yard Fight." My mom must have somehow mixed up the football games or thought that they were all the same anyway.

I don't really remember what happened after that, but I do remember that when my parents got home I was crying harder than I think I've ever cried in my life. I kept saying, "We don't want 10-Yard Fight! We don't want 10-Yard Fight!"

Parents obviously don't realize how important Nintendo is to their children. Their entire happiness and self-esteem is based upon their success in video games.

Saturday, July 12, 2003

ERP 4 me

A few years ago I was up in SLC at the Eagle Gate Plaza talking with my stock broker, Shree Sharma, at RBC Dain Rauscher (highly recommended, he's great). I was discussing the issue of high-risk vs. low-risk investments. Normally, a married man with children and such will want to create an 80-20 portfolio. 80 percent low-risk and 20 percent high risk. I inquired if this was the right thing for me to do. At the time I was 23 and single, had a healthy income from my new job at Banta Publishing and had no prospects of getting married - which is kind of mean to say, because I had a girlfriend at the time ... but that's a whole different story.

I was rather shocked to hear that he recommended against such a secure portfolio. He and I both ended up agreeing that I was in the stage of my life that I was perfectly able to take losses and so it was fine to make almost 100 percent high-risk investments. Long story short, in the last year I've made some big investments that turn my stomach at night.

First lesson learned - don't open a business unless it has the promise of making you millions. If the expected revenue from your new business will only equal about what a normal salary would be - assuming everything works out okay - that pretty much means that you will work about 12 hours a day and won't make enough money to even stay open. You'll lose your initial investment and a year of your life will go down the drain. I'm talking about The Hive, in case you didn't notice.

Second lesson learned - give up a bit of ownership of your company for instant cash that equates to peace of mind. (I think it's really funny when people typo "piece" of mind) Right now, if erentpayer fails then I will be out tens of thousands of dollars. I'm not sure what I would do. My life situation right now is such that I need a few thousand on hand at all times in order to cover mortgage payments and "female costs" - haha. I'm sure that I'll be fine and everything will work out in the end, but it is just scary to think that if our sale dept doesn't make any sales soon or if things dont' work out then I will lose big.

Seems to me like if you were going to invest $10,000 into a startup company, then it would be just as safe to go to Vegas for the weekend and put $10,000 down on one hand of black jack on a high-roller table. You'd either double it or lose it all - either way, you wouldn't have wasted a year of your life trying to make that $10,000 grow.

Monday, July 07, 2003

ERP, Hive, and SmartFBO

This last week has been huge. Many things have happened. eRentPayer made it's first month of payments go through, and it was so successful and profitable that we bought a new office in Las Vegas (see attached picture). It's a great facility. Very new, very modern, very comfortable. It should help us gain respect and attract skilled employees.

The Hive is all but out of business. My other partners like the idea of staying open until the end of August. However, that would only make enough money to pay for maybe one more PC. So, if you think about it, it doesn't really make sense. Staying open one more month means that between the four of us, we need to work 264 hours to make a few hundred dollars. We'd essentially be making about $2-3 per hour. Now that is impressive. I'm all for closing the thing up before we need to pay lease next - July 14. Which means that, if they agree, we may be moving out and liquidating this weekend. It is somewhat of a drastic thing to do, but all of the owners agree that The Hive uses up so much of our time and doesn't make enough money to make it worth it - it's for the best to move on with our lives.

Another drama involves an old salesman, Kyle, that tried to sell some software for me last year called SmartFBO. SmartFBO is sold to private hangers at airports to help schedule their aircraft and keep their pilots' records. At the time, our relationship with Kyle looked good. It seemed as though he would be able to do his job effectively and that we'd be around him long-term. However, after about a month or two he had no success and gave up. The bad part about this is that I helped Kyle purchase a laptop that he supposedly needed to do demos with the owners. So now, the bills are starting to pile up at my door and where is Kyle?

He was introduced to us by a mutual friend, Mark. I called Mark to get Kyle's info and he was very shady about the whole thing. He now refuses to give me Kyle's info and whenever I need to talk to Kyle, Mark calls and then relates the message back to me. I have acquired Kyle's phone number, but he never answers it anymore because he's afraid it might be me. I did talk with him last Thursday and he said that he'd give me some money that day, but then he stopped answering his phone for the next few hours and then he just turned it off - so it went straight to voice mail. I have promises from both Kyle and Mark that this whole deal will be settled today. Either Kyle will pay for the laptop in full (he now owes about $2700 due to late fees piling up) or he'll just give the laptop to me and we'll let Jason use it for eRentPayer. I hope he is willing to comply and doesn't run again!

By the way, I was totally kidding about eRentPayer buying an office in LV.