Camp Frozen Dune

So, that happened. Camping, I mean.

Friday afternoon the boy scouts gathered at the scoutmaster's house to caravan to the camp site. Questions about where we were going were answered by naming some person that apparently everyone in Idaho knows. "It's at so-and-so's place." Oh. Okay, then.

Eventually I was able to get someone to point out where we were going, more or less, on a map. And eventually we were off. The property was a patch of dirt in the scrubland just a few minutes from some local sand dunes.


We basically got there in time to set up camp and cook dinner. Then we hung around the fire and the kids told scary stories while I tried to watch the Jazz game on my phone (there was surprisingly decent reception). Of course it rained a bit, which is pretty much a legal requirement when you camp, and then it cleared up and the temperature plummeted. We all scrambled for our tents and, in my case, shivered for the next 8 hours.

I hadn't been camping in 20 years, so maybe I just forgot how cold camping was. I had brought several jackets and plenty of warm clothing, and I put on as much as I reasonably could, but I pretty much lay there all night shivering. The air mattress was better than being on the ground, I'm sure, but I basically didn't get any sleep. I got up around 4 to find a bush, and the one positive thing I can say is that the sky was incredible. I don't know if I have ever seen stars like that. I eve caught a couple shooting stars, as Friday night was supposed to be the peak of the Lyrid meteor shower.

I was happy when people got up and moving around 6:30, and I could get moving again. I went on a run with one of the guys in the ward who is a crazy ultramarathoner, and we packed up after breakfast. We stopped by the dunes themselves to let the boys run around and jump off them for a while.



Sam is the one in the air there.

He had fun, which is what is important. But I'm hoping we can go in the summer next time.

Fix-It Weekend

Last weekend was kind of an interesting one where lots of things seem to happen close together. It started Friday, when Katie informed me she had driven to the school and had gotten a flat tire. I had her use the tire inflator to get enough air in it to get home. Later I couldn't see an obvious nail or anything in it, so I took it back where we had gotten it for warranty-covered repair. They had to replace it, but of course they didn't have the same tire in stock so I had to pay for an upgrade. Blah.

On Saturday the kids went outside to hide plastic eggs with candy, and Sam put one in the furnace exhaust pipe, which drops down into our basement. I spent all day trying to flush it out, using a shop vac from either end to suck it out, then an air compressor, and even a hose to flush it out with water. I never managed to find it, but things were obviously moving through the pipe well enough so I patched things back up. I ordered a 30-foot flexible inspection camera that attaches to my phone, so when it arrives I'll see if I can find it.

While going to get the PVC pipe to repair the cut pipe I had used to try to find the egg, I noticed one of my windshield wipers was messed up. When I got to the store I took it off and left it sitting on the hood, telling myself to remember it was there. Of course I didn't, so on Monday morning when I drove to work in the rain I had no wiper (on the driver's side, naturally). I had to stop for a new one on my way to work.

An interesting but not ideal weekend. Tonight Sam and I go on his very first campout, with the scouts, so we'll see how this one goes.

There and Back Again

Last weekend my family visited Salt Lake City, the first time we had returned to Utah since moving. All in all, it went pretty well, although James struggled with a drive that was longer than anything he had endured before.

A couple weeks previous I had traveled to Texas for a work convention. So what to me has been more travel than usual has made me think about traveling. It's something I've never really understood. I mean, I get travel when there's a necessity, and I do understand the occasional vacation. What I don't understand is people who travel frequently for fun. It's just so exhausting, and I think you spend more time in preparation and sitting places waiting than you do enjoying your destination.

I guess I have a strange feeling that you should live where you live, and spend the vast majority of your time there. But maybe I'm just jealous because I have four kids now and don't have the money to travel for fun. I suppose I will chalk it up to "Some people like X activity, and some people like Y activity."

Something Fishy This Way Comes

I want to write this down before I forget it.

Last December we made a payment to a doctor for one of our maternity bills. The check bounced, which is of course our fault. Later we paid off the full amount when we got our tax refund, but a week or two later they ran that check again, so we paid twice. Katie talked to the bank and the billing company, and each blamed the other.

I finally went to the bank and determined that someone physically brought this check in a second time to cash it, which happened 10 days after we had paid the full amount. The management company said they didn't show this payment and eventually shifted the blame to the medical practice itself. They finally looked into it, and one of the partners called me. He showed that they did get this additional payment, but he also claimed that his bank automatically ran the check the second time. That doesn't square with what I understand. I believe someone was trying to embezzle money through the practice. At any rate, they are refunding our money, so I don't really care. But something still seems fishy.

Revenge of the Banana

This all started with a banana. As I've noted before, bananas are something I want to like but struggle with. But I think I've discovered how to like them better.

It's because I have this thing with maintaining my weight. My philosophy is that if I put on a couple pounds I work to eat better and get rid of it before I get overweight. But most people scoff if I make any kind of comment about trying to eat healthy. "Pssh, what do you have to worry about?" Well, I don't think I should make it harder on myself.

Anyway, I've been on one such cycle recently, trying to minimize foods with added sugar and stop with treats for a while. But breakfast is hard, because I love me some cereal. I love to have it in the morning, and then have a bowl before bed. But it's hard for me to figure out what to eat for breakfast without it. I love eggs, but you can have only so many before you get sick of them too.

So I decided to get some plain oatmeal, which I feel is pretty darn healthy. (Oh no! Carbs!) The first morning I had it (no salt or sugar added; literally plain oatmeal) it was horrible. The second day it was still pretty horrible. I've played around with a few things like slicing hard-boiled eggs on it (not bad). But the other day I noticed a banana on the table and, desperate for anything to change up the flavor, sliced some into the bowl. Delicious!

This could be the start of a beautiful (and very one-sided) relationship.

Look at My Watch. You Feel Yourself Getting Sleepy...

I wasn't going to post this, because it's boring. But then I realized that I don't care; it's something that has been on my mind, so I'm writing it.

I might be part magpie or raccoon or something, because I've always liked shiny things. Like watches. I remember getting a little blue watch in second grade and wearing it for years. I loved that thing. Maybe there's a correlation between liking watches and me being obsessed with getting places on time.

Anyway, several years ago I decided I wanted a watch with a digital representation of an analog dial, I don't know why. It just seemed novel. In 2013 I got one of the first commercial smartwatches, a Pebble. It let me do the digital/analog thing, as well as showing notifications from my phone, letting me control music, showing weather, and acting as a display for my running apps on my phone. It's first and foremost a watch, and with a simple e-ink display it gets several days of battery life.



I've been looking to upgrade my watch, and unfortunately I bet on the wrong horse, because Pebble is dead. So I'm looking at other options. One of the most common things I see is that people apparently want a fitness tracker. I'm not sure why we are so obsessed with counting our steps and quantifying sleep, but apparently we are. Personally, I want to get my notifications from my phone. I don't care about fitness trackers that don't work anyway.


I like Android, and the latest watch OS includes Google Assistant, so you can talk to your watch and get answers, which I think would be awesome. And getting a little GPS map on my wrist while driving seems safer than trying to use my phone while driving. You can do lots of other stuff, but with fancy LED touch screens and WiFi, the battery life on these things is miserable. You can maybe get a day's use if you don't do too much.

One alternative to that is to get a dedicated GPS running watch from a company like Garmin. They have advanced running metrics (more than you get just using your phone) and can display some of the notifications from your phone. Beyond that it's limited in its ability as a smartwatch, but it would be maybe a couple weeks of battery life. Basically I am choosing between battery life and the ability to do some things like respond to texts from my watch. What I really want is an Android watch with the Garmin features that can give me two days or more of battery life. Apparently that's not possible right now.

By this point I'm acknowledging that this is the ultimate #firstworldproblems post, and super boring. But as I said above, it's my blog. #noregrets

Sock It to Him

Sam started learning martial arts about three years ago, when we were living in Lehi. He took to it immediately, and was good about practicing. It helped hi build some confidence and self-discipline, as well as physical abilities. A lot of kids start that kind of thing and don't stick with it, but it's been a big part of his life.

When we moved he started at a new place here in Idaho Falls, with a style similar enough that he was able to pick up where he left off, and he earned his first degree black belt last fall. It was an incredible achievement for him, and the culmination of a lot of seriously hard work.



He's had this mentality of always wanting to be ready to defend himself, and he's even been complaining all winter about his heavy coat and boots limiting his mobility. That being said, he's never shown any aggression or bullying tendencies. I have complete trust in him in his interactions toward others.

Yesterday Katie informed me that he had hit a kid at school. I immediately figured he was defending himself, so I wasn't concerned. When I had a chance to talk to him about it, he told me the story.

There's a kid in his class who has been bothering him for some time, both at recess and in class when they had to sit next to each other. This boy is the kind of kid who will constantly pretend to poke you with scissors, getting as close as possible, while acting like it's all a joke. He was swinging his hands at Sam in karate chop motions yesterday at recess, and there were lots of kids around and Sam didn't feel like he could get away. So he socked the kid as hard as he could, right in the gut, and he dropped like a sack of potatoes. Sam apologized and made sure he was okay, and apparently the kid wasn't even really angry. His teacher heard about it, and she didn't care, knowing how this other kid is (she also adores Sam). I was proud of him for sticking up for himself.

I guess Sam heard indirectly that the kid said he probably wouldn't mess with him anymore. This is what I call the Ender Principle, for anyone who has read Ender's Game. If you have to fight someone, beat them badly enough and quickly enough that one confrontation is all it takes for them to leave you alone (but don't accidentally kill them). Nice job, Samuel.