Un Cachito de la vida

Un Cachito

"My_life" Archives

Un Cachito de la vida - A little piece of Cameron's life

July 12, 2010


415. That's how many days it's been since my last post. Since the home page on my web browsers on numerous computers is my blog, I see my delinquency constantly. I was going to make a new post on my 1-yr anniversary, but the place where my server was being hosted was having lots of power problems and the server was unavailable. A lot has happened to me in the last year, but I guess Facebook provides a medium with which to share enough information that I'm left with no desire to write a blog post. I think others are the same. I've also been quite busy and never seem to have enough time. I constantly think things will get less busy in another week or so, but they never do.

My son, Spencer, is nearly 10 months old now and is a very handsome redhead. The problem is, he won't sleep much - a trait he probably got from me. And when he doesn't sleep, his parents don't sleep, so I find myself in a perpetual state of grogginess. I've noticed my sleep deprivation in my hollow eyes, my resistance to laughing at others' jokes and in my making lots of little errors in different tasks. I naively thought he'd be sleeping through the night long before now, but I guess every kid's different.

As mentioned in my last post, I work in Monterey, Ca., a place which constantly reminds me of its beauty. It's a lot cooler than I thought it'd be, with highs hovering in the upper 50's to lower 60's much of the year. While I'd like it to be 10 degrees warmer, I love not having to deal with snow anymore. I live less than a mile from the beach and I don't have to go far to see sea otters and sea lions in the wild, with occasional glimpses of whales and dolphins. If the water were 25-30 degrees warmer, it'd be perfect.

My work is going pretty well too. I'm a contractor now, which means I'm only hired for the duration of a contract, which at FNMOC, last no longer than a year. The contract I was hired for expired in April, but I was able to jump to a couple new contracts fairly seamlessly and will probably be doing a lot of contiguous 6-month contract jumps. It's not necessarily the most stable way to work, but I have good bosses and it's not as bad as it sounds. In fact, I enjoy what I do quite a bit. There are politics, which I hate, and a small number of people I don't see eye to eye with, but I have respect, friendships and lots of interesting work to keep myself busy. So, in short, I enjoy my current job a lot more than my last one.

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May 23, 2009

Life 2.0

I can't believe how long it's been since I last posted. You'd think I'd have found time. Actually, although I've been unemployed, I feel a lot has happened. Enough, in fact, to say I'm making significant changes in my life.

I'm moving to the Monterey, California area.

I'll be a father in about 4 months.

How's that for a little change? I have a feeling it's going to be a hectic next two or three months. To begin with, I start a new job on Tuesday, although I've already been doing an enormous amount of paper work for it. The job is with SAIC, working at FNMOC. SAIC is a large contractor - one of those ginormous companies you've never heard of. FNMOC is a US Navy site and stands for Fleet Numeric Meteorology and Oceanography Center. They provide weather and other data for the US armed forces. When I worked at Linux Networx, I did a fair amount of work with some super computers at FNMOC and have a good relationship with the folks there. When they heard I was available, we started to talk and things eventually worked out (after some hoops to jump through). As you probably gathered, I will be relocating from Utah and will be seeking to sell my Utah house in order to buy a house down there, renting a small apartment in the mean time. It will be an adventure methinks, but one that I hope to enjoy. Plus, it's pretty much idyllic out there in the Monterey Bay area. As long as I don't think about selling my house here, I'm excited :).

On the baby front (and yes, I know I'm a little late to the game, but I don't care), my wife is around 5 months along and, if you haven't followed her Facebook updates, it's a boy.  I think I'm pretty much in denial over how much my life will change and how much patience I'll be forced to develop, but I'm excited about this too.

So, anyway, wish me luck in the move and all the house stuff.
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December 30, 2008

Immigration's broken

You've heard me rant before about how the immigration system is broken in this country. It's so hard to get in legally, that unfortunately - but understandably - some people choose to come illegally.

My latest disappointment with the system came this morning. I've spent a fair amount of effort, time and some money trying to bring a man from central Africa over here to Utah to go to college. He was accepted by the college. We then spent a lot of time and some money trying to get all the necessary documents in order to obtain the necessary F-1 visa. We were racing against time, but I was fairly confident we had all we needed and that he'd get the visa.

He had his appointment at the embassy this morning and was rejected? Why? Was it because he messed up on one of the many forms or because he didn't have sufficient funds? No. It's because the interviewer decided that even though my friend's visa would expire after a couple years of school, he (the interviewer) wasn't convinced there was a compelling reason for my friend to return to Africa (which they want to see). Besides the fact that my friend helps run a business in his country and is needed, perhaps the biggest problem is that the decision is incredibly subjective and really affects a life. My friend said that there were several other interviewers there at the US embassy also, and he said one seemed to just be handing out visas, even to people who couldn't really speak any English (which my friend speaks natively). Had he had a different interviewer, he very well may have been able to start school here on the 5th. Now he has to do the forms over and spend a bunch of money to try again. The system's broken.
Posted by charr at 4:05 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 19, 2008

My Politics

I have a few articles I want to write that touch on politics, so I thought I'd state some of my views as a prelude.

Those of you who have followed my blogs long enough to have read my last blog, Current Events, will know that I was generally a good, conservative right-wing Republican. Well, in the last several years I have moved decidedly left and now consider myself a center-right moderate.

There are some areas in which I am still decidedly conservative such as small government, fiscal responsibility and social issues such as abortion and gay marriage. However there are other areas in which I strongly disagree with my fellow Republicans and which I feel push me farther away from the GOP (though not necessarily to the Democrats). This list of disagreements includes my positions on illegal immigration, the planet Earth and general intellectuality. Let me expound.

I've become somewhat passionate about the illegal immigration issue in a large part because I have several acquaintances or friends who are legal and illegal immigrants, and have come to understand the issue perhaps a little more than the general populace (which doesn't say much). The general argument of the Right is that the illegals committed a crime coming here and thus have no rights. They opine that we should round up all the illegal immigrants, send them home unconditionally and punish those who employee them. Some even wanted to criminalize the providing of general assistance to illegal immigrants. Now, I can see logic in the general argument - that they are criminals, so treat them as such - but I strongly feel the premise is faulty. It's overly simplistic. If you break the speed limit or jaywalk, does that mean you are a criminal and should be locked up? (Of course not; there are different degrees of breaking the law.) The main problem, per my understanding, is that it is nearly impossible to immigrate legally (I've seen it take years for someone's foreign spouse to get residency). If the situation back home (for instance, in Mexico) is terrible, you are going to want to find a way to better your situation. If the country up north won't let you come legally, you take a lot of risks and come illegally, trying to eke out a living. And let me be clear; it's not at all something I condone, but I do understand the rationale. I also realize there are a lot of problems that come with illegal immigration, but I know many who work very hard, pay taxes without receiving tax-payer benefits, and are an asset to the country.  Plus, a lot of those problems (like identity theft) would would largely be solved by legalizing in some fashion the immigrants. My desire on the immigration issue is to find a way to bring those who are assets into the legal citizenry and deal humanely with all. I believe in a 3-prong approach of making it much easier to come legally (even as a guest worker), make it harder to come illegally (I'm OK with the border fence) and deal reasonably with those who are here. Those who can pass English proficiency tests, don't have criminal records (ignoring of course their immigration status), and in general are a boon to the economy should be put on the path to citizenship, paying any relevant fees. This is similar to what Bush and McCain tried to do and I was in favor of that (although, for skilled laborers I wouldn't require them to go back to their home country first). If you want to call that amnesty, then so be it - I call it an approach that could do a lot to solve the problem.

Wow! That was longer than I had planned, but let's move on to Earth. I don't share Al Gore's conclusion that the planet is on the precipice of doom. I'll agree that it is getting warmer, but my priorities are more on taking care of the planet more than aggressively preventing further global warming. There's definitely overlap between those two ideas, but good stewardship of nature is my focus. Two of my personal hobbies are cycling and scuba diving and I can tell bad air from good and polluted seas from pristine coral reefs. Basically, I want clean air and clean seas. The GOP doesn't have a good environmental record and while there has been some progress, I don't see the Right doing much. On a positive note, Bush did set up an enormous marine preserve northwest of Hawaii which is commendable.

On the intellectuality issue, I feel like the politicians are dismissing any intellectuals as "elitists" and basically trying to pander to the less educated - saying they are the "real America." Well guess what, if you want to progress, you need to learn. Intellectuality, science and higher education should be prized, not scorned. There was a great Op-Ed in the NY Times that talked about this issue.

Posted by charr at 8:45 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

April 28, 2008

Back to life

I keep realizing I haven't posted in a really long time and then I immediately do nothing about it. Yeah, I've been busy with work and wedding stuff, but figured I should post something. The marriage went great. Alice was beautiful and said yes (accidentally said it twice during the ceremony :) ), and the weather stayed dry (albeit cold and windy) for the pictures. We had a great honeymoon in Kauai, and - I know this is a shocker - really didn't want to come back to work, though we did a week ago. Kauai happens to have the wettest spot on earth, but relative to that, the weather was great; we took the top off the convertible every day. Before going to Kauai, I was told that if you ever do a helicopter ride, this was the place to do it. So, despite my normally frugal self, we did the ride and even got front seats. It was spectacular. The scenery is both diverse and incredible. For instance, did you know that the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific" is there in its arid red-rock glory, right next to the rainiest spot on earth? It starts about two valleys over from the lush tropical scenery you saw in Jurassic Park. On a boat, we saw humpback whales and dolphins jumping, turtles and more. Our room was incredible as well and about the only dim spot was that the ocean took my brand new wedding band off my finger. Unfortunately as well, it was gold and thus expensive. Oh well. We still had a great time and would definitely go back to Kauai some day.Other than that, we had our reception this past Saturday, which went better than anticipated, with lots of people. Overall, both "the marriage" and "marriage" were/are great.

Posted by charr at 12:12 PM | Comments (3)

March 3, 2008

Hell Freezes!

I'm not sure if that's the right title. I mean, its not like I said I'd never do it or that it'd never happen, but it's taken so long, people start to wonder if it will in fact come to pass.Yes, I'm getting married. I'm pretty excited about it too. April 10, 2008 is the date and will be a couple weeks shy of a year from when I started dating my fiancé Alice. It's funny to hear culture differences about this: In Utah, I'm ancient and people wonder why I waited so long (it's fairly common to be engaged after less than 2 months of dating), while outside, I'm young and it's a "quick" relationship. But I've always considered marriage as a pretty darn big deal and want to make sure it's with the right person at the right time. It is with Alice and I really look forward to starting an eternal family with her.Here are a couple pictures of us.

Posted by charr at 8:37 PM | Comments (3)

February 15, 2008

LNXI is dead

It has been a long journey for them and I put a quarter of my life into the company, but Linux Networx (LNXI) is dead. They were basically shut down and had their assets purchased by SGI at the same time. I'm kinda sad for the company but more so for some of my friends there who are now out of jobs or whose visa applications this threatens. I'm really hoping things work out.

Posted by charr at 8:59 AM | Comments (2)

February 14, 2008


It just keeps coming. Northern Utah got pounded last night, but some places were certainly worse than others. In fact, north of a point called "The Point of the Mountain" which separates Salt Lake and Utah counties, things weren't too bad. I went and picked up a friend and then headed down to Provo (in Utah County). I didn't get too far. In about 10 minutes the freeway had turned into a parking lot due to two jackknifed semis. So I took some side roads, which again, I didn't think were all that bad, until I got to SR92, a highway just on the other side of the Point. There I encountered winds blowing snow at 60-70 mph. Not realizing the highway had been closed, I started driving along with near-zero visibility, just trying to watch the lights in front of me. I had no idea where on the road I was and when I finally turned around due to an impass, I found myself on the left side of the road instead of the right with my front end off the road in deep snow. With the help of another good samaritan, I was able to push the car out and go back home (very slowly), dodging cars (including some very expensive ones) that had just been abandoned. It was seriously crazy. KSL has some coverage of it here, mentioning the busses full of kids that were stranded on the same highway where I was.

Posted by charr at 11:27 AM | Comments (2)

February 4, 2008

More snow!

I wrote a few days ago about how I've gotten a lot of snow at my place this winter. Well, it just keeps coming. I now have snow banks over 6' tall by my driveway and walkway to my house. The flat base of my front yard is around 3.5'-4'. I know this would be normal for some places in the states, and I've seen it at ski resorts, but I've never seen this much snow at once at any place I've lived. Here a couple other pics from yesterday, though we got a few more inches last night. As a reference, I'm about 6' 4" in these shoes. It's crazy!

Posted by charr at 8:02 AM | Comments (0)

January 31, 2008

Good side of Cameroon

As you may remember, I had some bad experiences in Cameroon, mostly because of the tour operator. I talked about that here. Despite my problems with Victor, the actual two guides we had were great, especially Patrick. I just got an email from Patrick yesterday, which made me very happy as I haven't had any contact with him since the beginning of October. But he told me he is getting his own tour business going, which is good news.Cameroon actually has a lot to offer in the way of eco-tourism because it has both savanna and deep central-African jungle. Josh has a great posting of it here with pictures. My bad experiences there overshadowed my good ones, but I would recommend Cameroon to people, as long as they stay away from Equatorial Tours. Now that Patrick is in business, he'd be the guy to go with. If you are interested in Cameroon, let me know and I can put you in contact with Patrick.

Posted by charr at 1:40 PM | Comments (0)

January 21, 2008


Utah and the West have been in a pretty serious drought for around 7 yrs. The arid west highly depends on the winter snowfall for continued water throughout the year and this year winter wasn't looking too good. At least until mid-December. Then we got dumped on. Seriously.We got probably the biggest storm of the season this morning, leaving somewhere between 12"-18". I just got back from playing in it, riding my snowboard as a sled down the street. I think I lost about 20 yrs. Anyway, here's a picture from my front door - you can see some of the snow piles. My driveway is practically a canyon with banks on each side that are 5' - 6' high, due to shoveling and plowing.

Posted by charr at 9:19 PM | Comments (0)

December 13, 2007

Moving On

I've been at Linux Networx for a long time: around 7.5 years or more. In fact, I think there are only two people at the company who have been here longer than me. My last day however is tomorrow. It's a big change.It was also an excruciating decision, involving me going back and forth constantly between a new offer I received and staying at my current employment. I'm sure I annoyed a lot of people with my indecisiveness and flip-flopping. But, while they aren't very happy, they have been nothing but cool, professional and even supportive about the whole thing once I made up my mind. I have a lot invested in Linux Networx and would love to see it succeed. I get approached frequently with job possibilities and pretty much universally ignore them, but the new offer I got was just too attractive to pass up. It is at a company called Fusion IO, a young startup that makes very-high-performance storage in a relatively very small footprint. I'm excited at the possibilities, and really hoping it's the right move. I think it is. Wish me luck!

Posted by charr at 8:10 AM | Comments (1)

November 14, 2007

Tour fraud

I wanted to avoid posting anything negative while I was on my trip-around-the-world. However, now that I'm back I do need to write a brief review of Victor Awasung, the operator of Equatorial Tours in Cameroon, and his bad behavior, in the hopes others don't get cheated. Josh wrote about it here and I'll add a few comments. We went looking for an exotic, off-the-beaten-path destination and we also wanted to see Africa; Cameroon fit the bill. We made it very clear many times that we wanted to help Equatorial Tours (EqT) and would write an honest but favorable review of them and try to help in other ways. Victor, the operator, seemed pleased at this. However, as he started to cheat us, he seemed to no longer care and had no regard for us, nor our finances, assuming we could easily cough up the $1300 he suddenly asked for. At first we thought there was a chance it could be legitimate, even though it was very hard to swallow. As Josh mentioned, we looked at many other options and finally decided to pay the extra money after we talked him down a little. The deliberations included the facts that we wouldn't get a refund for leaving early (thereby abandoning much of the pre-paid fee), that the cost of doing something else would be substantial and that we really wanted unique experiences like seeing gorillas in the wild. Now take the extra $1000 we paid, the hundred or so he borrowed and didn't repay, combined with wire transfer fees (that we shouldn't have had to pay if he had done his job correctly) and add some enormous phone charges (several hundred dollars). In all, Victor likely cost us over $1500 extra. That wasn't cool and his completely unrepentant demeanor implies he'd do it again without qualms. Perhaps he had exceptional circumstances on his end that helped him justify the thievery; I don't know. But we would warn any potential clients of EqT that in our opinion Victor Awasung and Equatorial Tours can't be trusted, which is a shame because they have some great employees as Josh mentioned.

Posted by charr at 10:08 AM | Comments (0)

November 10, 2007

I'm back!

I'm back; safe and sound. I'm healthy, 8 lbs lighter than when I left (was 13 lbs lighter just about 10 days ago), have a full beard and am happy to be home. Coming home wasn't actually that surreal, but when I try to think of the places I went at the beginning of my trip they seem forrr-eeee-ver ago. But I've had some interesting experiences that will last a lifetime. I've made some new connections and friends and it's been neat to have people following us. I plan on doing some more specific posts in the coming week or so, but for now I need to get back to my life. 2 months of mail to sort through, bills to organize, a car to register - all the fun things of a hyper-civilized life. There are benefits to that life though and I'm indulging myself in some of those:

  • using water from the faucet to brush my teeth
  • a nice bed
  • a proper shower
  • relatively no bugs (a biggie!)
  • a properly working shower and toilet
  • ...and there are a lot more
I've included a photo here so you can admire my beard (which is now trimmed down a bit).

Posted by charr at 10:39 AM | Comments (4)

September 24, 2007


I wasn't planning on blogging much while I'm on the trip, but I had an experience in Oruro, Bolivia I had to mention. I realize this post is long, but I'm trying to do paint the picture of what was an amazing day.First of all I'll start out by explaining that I had thought multiple times that perhaps it was a mistake to come all the way to Bolivia just to see Karen, a girl I've sponsored with Save The Children for a few years. She lives in Oruro, Bolivia and it was pretty out of the way and cost a fair bit of money to get there. Our agenda for the visit basically said we'd be visiting the STC office in La Paz, and then the STC offices in Oruro, see the school the child attends, and visit with her family. It sounded nice, but nothing incredible. It was incredible.So after breakfast at the hotel in La Paz, we went to the STC offices in Oruro (that from the outside don't even look like offices). There we met Augusto, the director of STC for the Oruro area. He spoke English and Spanish and was a pretty nice guy. He gave us a tour of the offices, including the different programs offered and then had us speak with the office of Patrocinios - the office that handles the sponsors for the children. In Oruro, they have some 20 schools involved in sponsorships and some 5700 sponsored children, in addition to another 1200 or so that are awaiting sponsors. They showed us the files they have for every child, including all the correspondance between Karen and me - letting me know I need to write more :(. Then we went to Ferroviaria - the primary school Karen attends, which consists of grades preschool - 8th grade.That's where the day turned incredible. First of all, we met with the principal of the school, who told us about the school, it's history and what they're trying to do. I also met Karen for the first time. She was understandably a little shy, but a cute 10-yr-old girl who seemed happy to be there. I talked to her a little as we began to tour the school, and she seemed eager to answer my questions. We saw the library, consisting of some tables and shelves of books, all possible thanks to STC. There were some 7th graders in there studying language. We then went and saw a preschool classroom and a computer lab where a bunch of 7th graders were working with Excel. I tried to say loudly that it's a very useful and important program to learn. :) Again, these facilities were due to STC. As we came out of one of the buildings, I could hear some kids voices singing but didn't think much of it until a lady came up to me with a piece of paper folded in 4 parts that was a printed program for the "Visita del Patrocinador Cameron Harr" (Visit of the sponsor Cameron Harr). Inside was a little program agenda for me. I thought it was nice, but to be honest, I didn't know what it was about and didn't think much of it. And then they took me into the auditorium. That's when my eyes stared to get real big. The place was packed with all the kids from grades preschool to grade 5 - probably around 600-700 kids. There were a couple teachers up front directing the kids and on the side there were bleachers with kids in yellow tops who were the chorus. They were all there to celebrate me and my visit. I was stunned. On a side note, apparently they thought I was going to be a woman, but I assured Agusto I was a man. :) Anyway, first, a boy got up and gave a memorized introduction and personalized welcome to me from on stage. Then an adult with a guitar and a boy got up and the boy belted out some songs. During one of the songs, one of the teachers came up to me and pulled me up front to dance. I wish I could say the dancing came naturally to me, but I can't - I don't dance. I can say though that I danced in my hiking boots without shame and had some fun, twirling and moving around. Music and dance is something very integral to the Bolivian people. At any rate, next a couple of the teachers played a drum and traditional flute set while the chorus sang a couple songs, one in Quechua. To emphasize the previous point, a darling little girl (maybe 4 or 5) came up to me and wanted me to dance so I danced with her in front of everyone. After the chorus, Karen got up and presented me with half a dozen roses. I stepped up on stage (which is a 3-4 foot step) and with my head about to hit the ceiling, I got some good gasps of delight from the children. After accepting the roses, they gave me the opportunity to say something, which I readily took, and sincerely thanked everyone as best I could (multilple times and in different ways). I think it went over well. I didn't break down or anything, but was overcome with gratefulness. Karen then enthusiastically and artfully recited from memory a poem. Next, another child got up and sang some other enthusiastic songs. This time, an impossibly cute little girl (again, maybe 4-5) pulled me up to dance, which I did, trying to crouch down a little at the same time. I was also starting to get winded by now, given the altitude of some 13K or so feet! At some point some cute little girl came out and did quite the dance to an energetic song and then finally, there was another song and it was over. But the experience wasn't. One of the teachers suggested I get a picture with the chorus, so I went over and was completely mobbed by the kids. It was incredible. They were all over me and all wanted to be in the photo and to be touching me. We took a bunch of other pics and then went outside where I was greeted by more kids who wanted my autograph, and then even more. Me, and then Josh, became mobbed by kids wanting our autographs. The teachers kept trying to break them up, but they were persistant. I was blown away to say the least. You'd think I was a rock star! Anyway, from there, we went and met the teachers - all women - and had a small snack (empanada with Coke) and talked a little. They, like most of the women, wanted to know if I/we were single and became pretty excited when I said we were both single. Then they started a bunch of "woman talk" about wanting to come with us and other stuff that I didn't all understand. It was pretty funny though. The teachers seemed to be in as much awe almost as the kids were. But from there, we went and visited Karen's 5th grade class where a bunch of the kids greeted me (very nicely!). I also told them to welcome Josh and encourage him to be a sponsor too - which they readily did :). We asked them if they wanted to take a picture, and they exploded in affirmation. So we went outside and took some pics and then they mobbed Josh and I again with requests for autographs but also for our email and web site (since Agusto had mentioned we were going to put up a website). Smart kids. After I gave out my email however, I was informed that direct communication is not permitted (but also that they've never seen the kids ask for it before). So I went back to just signing autographs. Again, it was crazy, but fun.After that, we left the school and went to lunch at a good but "expensive" lamb restaurant. My enormous meal cost about $6-7 bucks (but expensive for them). Again; Incredible. From there, we went back to the STC offices and met Karen and her mother there and presented them with the gifts we had gotten them (story books, stickers, coloring books, candy and a digital jump rope). They were delighted. The mother was great and was pretty excited to be there and wanted to know all about me and where I lived. She also wanted direct communication, but we had to tell her that wasn't permitted and why (to protect the children). From there, we took a little field trip with the director of the STC Adolescent program "Making Choices" to the health center. There, several young adults told us about what they do and how they are creating a new organization to educate all about health care and such. It was neat to see their enthusiasm and the benefit they are to the community.And that was my incredible day. I can't do it justice, but you can read a bit more about the STC side of things over here at Josh's blog. There are also pictures you really should see to get a better feel for it.

Posted by charr at 2:13 PM | Comments (3)

September 13, 2007

Come along

So remember the little trip I'm going on with my brother? The one around the world? It started yesterday. I'm sitting in the Quito airport waiting to go to the Galapagos. For more detail on Quito and our entire trip, with pics, go here.

Posted by charr at 5:56 AM | Comments (0)

July 25, 2007

A little trip

My brother and I have decided to go on a little trip from mid-September to mid-November. Well, it's not that little - we're going around the world. In fact, according to About.com, the earth has an equatorial circumference of 24,901.55 miles, and just our flights (even excluding a couple), come to roughly 53,678.26 miles (using Google's distance finder). So you could say we're going around the world twice, and then some.This, by the way, is what I am dumping all my money on. And I'm even getting much of the airfare for free through the Delta Round-The-World special offer, and that's flying business class. In fact, I was pretty unsure I wanted to spend so much (all my money) but between my brother and my boss and her boss all pushing me to go, I finally decided to classify it as a true once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and to heck with the cost.The girl will unfortunately have to wait. What we're doing is fairly aggressive and probably not suitable for most retirees, so doing this same trip in my golden years probably wouldn't be doable. I'll add that it probably wouldn't be possible if my brother wasn't as willing to plan as he is. While I'm at work, he has put in an enormous amount of effort putting things together and it's almost overwhelming everything that needs to be done for the trip. Anyway, here's the itinerary and map (click to go the real one). When playing with the real map, some of the legs won't show up until you pan over to another hemisphere. Also, you can look at some very brief commentary on the stops, including links to some sights:

    Our legs:
  1. Galapagos Islands, Equador
  2. Oruro, Bolivia
  3. Noel Kempff National Park, Bolivia
  4. Lobeke and Waza, Cameroon
  5. Istanbul, Turkey
  6. Sinai, Luxor, Cairo, Egypt
  7. Bangkok, Thailand
  8. Fiji

For a mere travel leg - the travel between stops 3 and 4 is nasty. We have a little 4-seater plane from the park in Flor de Oro to Santa Cruz, Bolivia, then a flight to La Paz, Bolivia, then a connection in Lima Peru on our way to Quito, Ecuador. Then we fly to Bogota, Columbia to Miami and then to Paris and then to Douala, Cameroon. Once in Cameroon, we have some 3 days travel off-road to Lobeke. FUN! Having to go through Seoul for all Pacific area flights bites too. Just wish me luck and to not get too sick too early. I really do hope I have a great time.

Posted by charr at 8:59 AM | Comments (5)

July 18, 2007

Jury Duty

I haven't posted for a long time. It almost seems like a hassle to post something, which I don't see as a good sign if you (I) want to maintain a blog. Maybe it's that whole lazy-days-of-summer thing. It has been pretty hot in Utah with several days over 100 - kinda sucks the energy out of you.But I guess there are a few things I can report. I turned 31 in the past month, and it was actually a very enjoyable day. I had a small pre-birthday celebration a couple days earlier which was also quite nice. At some point, I also went to my first rodeo, though I can say that it's not really my thing. I was perhaps a little underwhelmed, though parts of it were fun. In other news, I decided to basically spend all the money in my bank account (which will happen in a couple of months), but I'll post about that later.Something else I did was be a juror for a Federal criminal case. I was on call with the US District Court from May - August and got called in a while ago. I had mixed feelings in that I wanted to do my civic duty and wanted to see what being on a jury was like; however I (and especially my boss) didn't want it to last too long and disrupt my life in any significant manner. I'm going to need all the vacation days I can get coming up and didn't want to take any off for an extended jury absence. Fortunately, the case was pretty short.And it was a good experience. First note is that if you ever get called in for jury duty, bring a book or magazine or something. I spent hours and hours waiting, doing nothing. I couldn't even play cell phone games because they confiscated our phones. Even when you've been selected, things still move quite slowly. But again, it was a short case. The first half of the first day was taken by selecting the jury, and then we heard witnesses and arguments for the next day, spending a few hours or so in deliberations before coming up with a verdict. I was impressed with the objectivity of the jurors. I feared some of them would just assume the defendant to be guilty, but it turns out we all (or most of us) struggled with the right decision, going back and forth between not-guilty and guilty. It was definitely an insightful and interesting experience, but I also think it was one I don't need again for a while :).

Posted by charr at 4:06 PM | Comments (5)

May 25, 2007

Temple progress

Time for my monthly-ish update on the Draper Temple construction. If some of you are wondering why I'm obsessed with it, it's because it's practically right outside my living room window and is what everybody comments on when they come over.Anyway, here's the pic as of a couple days ago. They haven't really done any cement work, but have moved on to steel framing and internal metalwork, stairs, ducts, etc:

May 23, 2007:

Posted by charr at 11:24 AM | Comments (0)

April 24, 2007

Monthly temple update

So here's the latest version of the Draper temple. As you can see from the last entry, they've added some elevator towers and started framing.

April 24 2007:

Posted by charr at 6:10 PM | Comments (0)

March 22, 2007


The title is in in reference to my legs. I shaved them today for the first time after a bunch of mixed feelings, and the result is... a bunch of mixed feelings. The idea of shaving my legs has come up before, but I've always considered it a ridiculous idea - one I'd likely never do. So what made me change my mind? I've got 3 reasons:
1) Cyclists usually shave their legs. I ride with some guys at work who have their legs shaved and I was the hairy exception. So, even though I'm not at all hard-core, part of my attempt to be a cyclist was to be like the others.
2) Wounds. Why do cyclists shave? Perhaps a little for aerodynamics, but the main reason is because if/when you crash, the hair really makes things like wound care messy and an even greater pain. (ha! a pun)
3) PT&T. Physical Therapy and Tape. This is what pushed me to actually shave, instead of just laughing at the idea. I've gone to a PT a couple of times to try to help my knees, which often cause pain and discomfort. Yesterday, the PT was trying to tape my patellas in such a way as to force them down and in, where they were supposed to be. The tape wouldn't stick well to the skin because of all the hair, and when I'd move the leg, it would try to yank out clumps of hair on my leg - not the most pleasant sensation. I've had similar problems before when trying to tape bandages, etc.So now they're shaved. It took much longer than I thought, partly because I had pretty hairy legs and partly because I'm new to this. At the end, there was a large pile of hair and I know some tricks. I also have a bit of empathy and lots of sympathy for women having to shave their legs. What do I think now? It's still weird. They look like much different legs and when I was putting some lotion on to minimize the burn, it seemed like I was applying them to someone else's legs. Ewww. It's an interesting feeling, but became really weird when I put a pair of jeans on. But, I'm sure I'll get used to the feel and I might as well keep it up for a while to make it worth it.

Update with a pic link:
This one's for you JC. I removed the thumbnail here 'cause it was weirding me out. Click on this link for the pic and please notice the exceptionally fine tan line!

Posted by charr at 8:52 AM | Comments (4)

March 16, 2007

Updated temple view

Here's an updated, photo of the Draper LDS Temple under construction close to my house. I figured out why the last one was blurry - the camera was in macro mode. As you can see, we now have many of the second-floor walls up.

Mar 15, 2007:

To compare; Feb. 07, 2007:

Posted by charr at 7:47 AM | Comments (0)

March 4, 2007

East Coast driving

I've been out in Maryland this week, and normally that's all well and good and there's not much to report. This time, however, I feel like rambling. Lucky you :)First though, an opinion on driving in general. My main rule of driving is:
Thou shalt drive so as to not impact traffic.
That implies a lot of things such as don't cut people off or make them brake. Also, if you are holding traffic up, even if you think you're going the "right" speed, you need to either speed up or get out of the way. A second rule that is a nice companion to the first is:
Thou shalt pay attention when driving.
I actually don't care if you are talking on a cell phone while putting on your pants, as long as you are paying attention and abiding rule #1 as well. In my opinion, there are too many oblivious drivers out there. And that brings me to DC. I-495 or the Capitol Beltway often demands that you pay attention when you drive. With lots of traffic and short on and off ramps, it can be exciting or terrifying. I've often been impressed with the few number of accidents I've seen in my numerous adventures near the 495. For some reason though, yesterday was different. I was traveling from northeast of Baltimore down to Bethesda, and I-95 seemed to have tons of accidents on the side of the road. Then, as I was returning about 11:30 last night I got one that prompted me to make a 911 call. I was traveling east on the 495 and came to the interchange to take 95 north, and as I was exiting, I thought I saw a couple lights about road level at the end of the gap/fork between the two now-diverging highways. I actually thought it was nice to have it marked with those lights, but as I passed the point, going fast, I realized the lights belonged to a car. As I kept driving, my mind processed a car off the road and thought it had just pulled off. Now well beyond the point, I belatedly realized the car was in a ditch with the front of the car all smashed in. There wasn't really any nice way to get back to the car, so I grabbed my phone and tried dialing 911. I couldn't even get through on my first three attempts (kinda scary, I think). On the fourth, I just had to mention "495" and "95 North" and the dispatcher asked if it was about a car in a ditch - they already new about it. Oh well - I tried to be a good citizen. Then a little bit later, I saw another driver that had driven right into the median and was stuck in a ditch in the middle. I guess my question is, is this common? Are there just a bunch of bad (drunk?) drivers here on the weekend? I was kind of surprised.

Posted by charr at 3:44 PM | Comments (0)

February 8, 2007

A nice view

I find myself thinking about what I might blog about, and when I finally find something, I promptly forget it. Yesterday however, I remembered one: The LDS temple being built right out the back of my house (practically). For those readers that are LDS (Mormon), the Draper temple is under construction about 75-100 yrds in back of me. It would be cool to set up a webcam to watch things go up, but I don't have the motivation to set that up, so instead, I'll try to post a pic every once in a while. This was taken from inside my living room. Sorry for it being a little blurry. I got a new camera that I haven't quite figured out - when I focus it goes sharp, and then blurry when the photo is taken.

Posted by charr at 8:31 AM | Comments (2)

January 11, 2007

MS Govt Funding

MS, or Multiple Sclerosis is a disease that I happen to have some feelings about. For those not familiar with it, it is a debilitating, degenerative disease for which there is no cure. I got an bulk email today from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and I while I at first thought it was an email asking for money, it turns out it's just looking for people to sign a petition to try to get more federal funding from this disease. As this is (with current knowlegde) a non-preventable disease that afflicts many, I think it is worthy of government funding and would encourage people to sign the petition. Since I'm opposed to sending out bulk email, I've taken the liberty to turn the email into a web page you can access the email and link to the petition here.Also, I'll add that I've found it important to filter good charities from not-as-good charities so that my money is going to help victims and not spam people. A great site to check for this is Charity Navigator. The NMSS of Utah gets a commendable 4 stars.

Posted by charr at 1:39 PM | Comments (6)

January 7, 2007

Seeing the world

So me and another person are thinking of going around the world sometime in the not-too-distant-future. We're allowed up to 6 stops total and a max of 3 stops per continent.You also have to keep going the direction you started out going, i.e. if you head east, each stop has to be east of your past stop.There are a lot of places I'd like to see, and I've run a few very rough itineraries, but I'd like to know what places everyone else would like to see on the above trip. One of my most recent choices is Rio de Janeiro -> Cape Town -> Copenhagen -> Dubai -> Phuket -> TahitiUsing the rules aforementioned, what would your trip be?

Posted by charr at 6:13 PM | Comments (0)

December 22, 2006


I'm an engineer. At least I thought. I have a couple major flaws: I consider myself fairly well-rounded and I do a lot of sales/marketing/business -stuff and generally do well with customers. So I guess I'm not a great engineer, especially by these engineer explanations. These are pretty dang good if you ask me and I've seen a lot of good engineer jokes. While I only partially fit into some of these, I know one or two people that fit all of these perfectly.

Posted by charr at 11:53 AM | Comments (0)

November 13, 2006

New Tires

On Saturday, I went and bought a new set of tires. I haven't had them for long now, but have been relatively happy with them in the few tests I've put them through. I just noticed that Goodyear (who's probably a little biased) also gave them good marks in most categories. Mine are the Assurance model at the top.I bought them at Discount Tire, who I've patronized for years and who I generally trust. I also visited Les Scwab (who I've used also), but decided on Discount, partly because I had a coupon for $50 off. But anyway, I was looking for a passenger all-season tire. There is a special Michelin model that came with my car, but replacements were fairly expensive ($179/tire). Since I need traction in snow and ice, as well as on dry pavement at high speeds :), this Assurance was the recommendation (at $117/tire). I was also told they were pretty quiet, which mattered to me.Well, my first experience, driving home, was pleasant as the tires were pretty quiet, solid and comfortable. The roads were a little wet, but there was no problem with traction (didn't expect there to be). Over the weekend, I found some dry pavement with corners, and took that as an invitation to corner at relatively high speeds. My previous set of tires (worn down and needing replacement), would squeal and I was happy to hear nothing as I cornered. There was also no slippage or fishtailing (note that I don't have a performance car, so this isn't an extreme test). Then today I was happy to wake up to snow and slush, taking it as my next road-test invitation. I tried some quick cornering as well as hard stopping. Again, there was no slippage, with the understandable exception of my anti-lock brakes engaging. The tires held fast. The only ding I'd give them is that as I traveled on the freeway for a while yesterday, they were a little noiser than I had hoped for. Not too bad, but I'd like them to be quieter. It looks like Goodyear admits that as well. However, I do get a $40 cash card from Goodyear and, mixed with the $50 back from Discount, isn't too bad of a deal. The biggest noise maker on my car is still my roof-rack (for my bike), so if I take that off for the winter, I think I'll be happy on noise as well. Also, as we start to get real snow and ice, I'll be able to really test their traction.

Posted by charr at 3:57 PM | Comments (2)

October 30, 2006

The Crazy Life

Those of you who have read my blog for a while have a general understanding that I travel a fair amount. This year, however, I haven't traveled as much, largely due to a change in positions and bosses at work; my new boss doesn't really want me traveling that much. That said, "not much" for me may still be "much" for someone else. At any rate, I didn't go anywhere from mid-August to mid-October of this year - probably the longest I've gone without travel in 2.5-3 yrs (I don't remember). When I finally left, I had what I thought was a planned and specific trip ahead of me. As usual, that got changed while I was out and I had to cancel/postpone some plans and work some pretty long hours (including the weekend). Of course, if you read my last post, that wasn't all bad :). Plus, the customer I was working with was great and worked hard right along with me and what I went out there for went smoothly. At the end of the week, I drove up to NYC to visit some friends and had an enjoyable and otherwise uneventful trip, if you ignore the evil tree. Yes - there was quite a wind storm going on over the weekend, and as my car was parked, some giant branches from a large, mostly dead tree came crashing down onto my rental car and the two cars next to me (for some reason all Ford Taurus models, hmm). I probably sustained $4k-$5k worth of damage, but still came out ahead of the other cars. Here are a few sorry pics I took with my phone: some of the broken branches that landed on the cars, and one of the neighboring cars (note the smashed windshield and large dents in the roof and hood):

Here's the evil tree:

Here's the ammo:

Here's the car that was next to me (Note the smashed windshield and large dents in the roof and hood):

Oh, and to keep things crazy, I got home late Sunday night and was supposed to leave this evening for a two week stint in California (<24 hr break!). However, late this afternoon, the trip got canceled. Then as I was typing this, I was told it might happen tomorrow. I guess when it rains it pours and I'll keep my bags packed.

Posted by charr at 5:25 PM | Comments (0)

October 23, 2006

Comfortable zones

Every once in a while I wax philosophical about myself and why or how I do things. I've longed maintained, humorously, that I'm socially schizophrenic. At work, I'm frequently outspoken, assertive or otherwise extraverted. I enjoy meeting and getting to know customers, and am generally well-liked by them as they get to know me. Now, switch over to my personal life, and I've historically been quite the introvert. Fortunately, that is changing at a pace that pleases me, but I still have a ways to go and I'm not the best at siezing an opportunity, preferring instead to wait for an opportunity to present itself on a plate before me.Even in seemingly unrelated areas, such as participation in Sunday School, I've also noticed some similar behavior. For those of you not familiar with the LDS (Mormon) church organization, it is a very organized, global church. You can go just about anywhere in the world and generally hear the same lesson in Sunday School as you would back home. Thus, when I travel and I'm on the road on a Sunday, I seek out the local LDS chapel and while the faces are new, I get to hear the same material I'd be hearing at home (sometimes in a language I don't understand!). But anyway, I've noticed that when I'm in a new or different ward (a geographically defined LDS congregation), I'm more apt to raise my hand and offer input and thoughts to the lesson. The longer I'm in the ward, the less I actively participate. This principle was reenforced yesterday when I went to a ward in the DC area and not only participated several times but also did something else I'd probably never see myself capable of doing.Another way of saying all this perhaps is that when I'm in my "comfort zone," I'm complacent and not really comfortable going outside my little zone. However, if I'm pushed way out of my comfort zone, I'm much more comfortable being socially active and assertive. My hypothesis for this action is that when I'm out of my comfort zone, I'm subconsciously thinking that I've got nothing to lose - that nobody knows me so it's not a big deal if I "mess up" so-to-speak. At the same time, I think it may be that the longer you're in an environment, your typical self starts to shine through and take over. I don't really have a perfect theory. Does this make sense to anyone? Does anyone have similar behavior, or am I really just schizophrenic or otherwise in need of a brain scan?

Posted by charr at 7:55 PM | Comments (4)

October 16, 2006

Smart wipers

I've owned my current car for a bit over 2 years. You'd think I'd know it pretty well. Well, I was both happy and a little embarrassed then to discover a feature I've never known existed: smart wipers. I don't know if there's an official name or anything, but I found out that when my wipers are in intermittent mode, they will automatically slow down in frequency when you come to a stop, and then go back to the set speed when you move again. I'm not sure why I haven't noticed it before except maybe because I usually have my wipers slow enough I don't notice the difference. At any rate, today it was very noticable. Go Honda!

Posted by charr at 1:55 PM | Comments (0)

September 14, 2006

Order of things

So I've had reason recently to think about the order of progression in a relationship. I'm curious to see what you (especially the females) think about the proper order of things when starting out. Oh, and this is meant to be "PG" :).You go out on a first date, you have fun, you go out on a second date, etc. Here are my questions:

  • When do you think the guy should make the first move?
  • When should the guy go for the hand and should the girl be making the hand readily available?
  • When should he go for the arm around the shoulders in the theatre?
  • When should he go for the cuddle?
  • The kiss?

We'll stop there. I have my thoughts but want to hear others'.

Posted by charr at 9:51 AM | Comments (5)

August 30, 2006


I did it! I actually got my Central America pictures posted and all I had to do was take the day off from work. Enjoy, but let it be known that I'm no photographer.

Posted by charr at 8:48 AM | Comments (0)

August 22, 2006

Central America

I recently spent a week in North Central America; specifically Belize and Guatemala. I got back some 8 days ago, but have delayed posting until I can get pictures up. I now admit to myself however that it may be years before I get the pictures up, so I might as well post something now and then some day in the future, I can post some pics. I say years, because if you've been to my home page, you've seen that the photo gallery has been indefinitely under construction.Anyway, the quicky version of the itinerary is this:

  • Day 1: Fly to Belize, get picked up and travel to Orange Walk with Lamanai Riverside Retreat.
  • Day 2: Take river tour on boat down the New River to Mayan ruins of Lamanai, spotting two crocodiles. Walk around Lamanai.
  • Day 3: Drive to Tikal in Guatemala, stopping at the Belize Zoo and at Xunantunich Mayan Ruins. Get stopped by a Guatemalan policeman who demands $50US to get past road block. Swim in the big and warm Lake Peten Itza, possibly picking up a few parasites. Flirt with the cute Guatemalan girls in Spanish while the non-Spanish-speaking companions watch with envy.
  • Day 4: Tour Tikal, one of the largest of the Mayan sites. For the LDS/Mormon crowd, some say this was Zarahemla.
  • Day 5: Take a long and bumpy bus ride to Belize City and the water taxi to Caye Caulker. Meet a couple of very cute British girls. Go swimming alone with the British girls and have a long and interesting conversation.
  • Day 6: Go on a fun snorkeling trip with Ragamuffin Tours, sharks, tuna, and groupers and get my back crispy-fried. Go back to hotel and very grudgingly ask a guy to apply aloe-vera to the back, then try to not move.
  • Day 7: Go scuba diving to the Blue Hole, painfully putting the scuba gear on a burning back, proudly going deeper - at 140' - than you're really supposed to go, and having a cool 340' of nothing below you as you're being circled by about a dozen reef sharks; oh - and briefly, but quietly shiver when you hit some big thermoclines because you repeatedly refused a wetsuit.
  • Day 8: Take the water taxi back to Belize City, go to church in street clothes, get some tasty street food before heading to the airport, probably getting some strange disease in the process, then fly back to SLC, getting home about 1:00 am, exhausted.

Overall it was pretty fun, though tiring.Some observations about the countries:
  • Belize is levels above Guatemala as far as economy and infrastructure, but still has a long ways to go.
  • Airport service when we arrived wasn't too friendly, but was ok when we left.
  • It appears that someone from the first hotel in Belize went on a website spree with my credit card and I had to cancel it and get a new one. Thankfully, my Credit Union caught the fraud and I didn't get charged a cent.
  • Many, if not most, people in Belize are tri-lingual: English, Spanish and Creole. In Guatemala, most only speak Spanish.
  • People in Belize are pretty laid back. Don't expect punctuality.


You will see up above that I had some credit card problems while down in Belize. I ended up having a new card/number issued and thought that was the end of that. However, thanks to the global nature of the Internet, this blog entry was recently discovered by those who took care of me in Belize and naturally had some concern. We're currently working to see what may have happened, but in case I misled someone to believe that the Lamanai Riverside Resort was at all to blame, I'll mention that they were great to work with. They were personable and accommodating and I would recommend them to others. Plus, as my experience today shows, they are concerned for the welfare of their clients as well.

Posted by charr at 3:53 PM | Comments (2)

August 2, 2006

Fish killer

Either my fish miss me to death, there's some evil fish killer lurking around, or I have really bad fish luck. You may remember not too long ago I posted about my fish luck. In the month or two since, I've lost two more fish. Around the end of June, I bought a Plecostomus to help keep my aquarium clean. It's basically a catfish-like algae eater. It did fine for the few days I saw it, and then I went on a business trip.Because I was forced to stay a week longer than anticipated, my fish weren't properly fed. When I came back, I couldn't find the Plecostomus until I started seeing bits and pieces of him spread around. Looks like he had been pretty well devoured - and I didn't know my Mollies were carniverous. Please bow and give him (or her) a moment of silence.Then yesterday I came home from another short trip to find one of my fish, a hyperactive albino Molly, missing. I then found him (or her) motionless at the top of the tank wedged between the filter and the plexiglass. Another moment of silence please.I don't really know why he died. I didn't leave out tons of food, but going 1 day without food shouldn't be a problem. Maybe he was freaked out from eating catfish. Who knows? Since the fish only die when I'm not around, I figure it's a secret fish killer that comes in when I'm gone. Oh well, tonight I'm getting a roommate to help scare off the demons.

Posted by charr at 1:16 PM | Comments (2)

July 20, 2006

TV addictions

I've kinda gone about the last 3+ years without TV. It's not really a moral thing - just that cable is way too expensive IMO. Plus it's been nice to have time to read (yep - people still do that) and do other things. Before I lost my TV, there were about 3 shows I watched: Smallville, CSI, and Without a Trace. I liked them all. In the last few years, I was also blessed to get hooked on 24 and have seen all 5 seasons. I even did a "24 in 24" party with Season 1. In addition to that I've watched the 2 seasons of Lost and 4 of 5 seasons of Alias.Now that I have my own place, I have a Netflix account and have been catching up on some things. I recently watched 3-4 seasons of Scrubs and I'm currently catching up on Smallville. I just started season 4. I have the first 3 seasons of Seinfeld on DVD at home waiting to be watched, and I'm just wondering if there are any other shows out there I should be "enlightened" with.

Posted by charr at 1:12 PM | Comments (8)

July 17, 2006

Finding new topics

The fact that I have my website as my home page on multiple computers means that I see it a lot. I also see that not much has changed each time I look at it. No mysterious author has created new prose, nor have any breathtaking events been documented. The fact is, I just need to write more. However, things in my life either seem too personal or don't seem substantial enough to write about, so I don't. But I'm thinking I can post more about any number of things. It doesn't need to long and it doesn't need to be deeply profound. So what's on my mind now?Well, I just got back from a 2-week work trip and several people have been welcoming me back and asking me about the trip. My boss told me I need to take more time off. I got excited about a note I recieved from a certain female someone, and I received some stunning and tragic news that a coworker was just killed in Germany. One of the sobering parts of that is that I would have been with him had I not been pulled off the project a little while ago. I can't help but think about what happened and I feel really bad for his relatively young family. Life really is fragile and easy to take for granted. I like to follow the simplistic motto of always being prepared.

Posted by charr at 1:40 PM | Comments (2)

July 3, 2006

EOL at 30

EOL is one of a plethora of business acronyms I've picked up that means End of Life - as when a product has been discontinued and we move on to something else. Well, I turned 30 a few days ago, my first birthday that I wasn't too excited about. Why? Because I'm still single and in the LDS culture, 30 and single is kinda old. I have the feeling that not being in my twenties anymore disqualifies me from potential dates, not that I want to be going out with girls 10 yrs younger than me. Anyway, I've been assured by others and can see for myself that my feelings were unfounded and life isn't over, yet. In fact, it's been a bit of a weird experience in the positive. For much of my dating life, I have not been attracted to girls older than me or even those my age. Why? I don't really know. It's not like I see their age and therefore they're unattractive, it was something subconscious, so-to-speak. But recently, I've met a several girls about 29-31 who I have been attracted to. In fact, I find myself very attracted in a number of ways to the most senior one. I've gone out with a couple of the girls and hope to continue long enough to see if there's anything there. While I still hate dating, I'm happy that there are still possibilities and that the intangible obstacle I encountered before isn't there. Now wish me luck :).

Posted by charr at 6:30 AM | Comments (1)

June 12, 2006

Fishy luck

I've never claimed to be a great fish caretaker, but it still kinda stinks to have that confirmed. You may remember my suicidal Tetra from a while back. Well, he died while I was on a trip several months ago and my brother tossed him out. Then my fish had babies (and yes, those naughty guys were all siblings). They had lots of babies. I kept them for several weeks while I tried to figure out what to do with the ~17 fish in a small 5 gallon container. I finally took a couple of the adults and most of the babies to a pet store that was willing to take them off my hands for free. This left me with 5 fish: 3 adult, mostly black Dalmation Mollies and 2 toddler Dalmation Mollies, one an albino and one that was light with some golden-brown streaks. I tend to let the tank go for 2-3 weeks before I really clean it, which I find to be a pain, although I'll occasionally put in some fresh water and take out some old. Despite this, my fish have seemed relatively satisfied with their environment and I've read that Mollies actually prefer brackish water. Anyway, so fast forward to yesterday when I decided the tank needed a cleaning. The problem was that I didn't want to spend the time to wash all the gravel and everything - so I took what I thought would be a shorter route. I lugged the tank to the sink and carefully tried to dump out the worst water and floaties that had formed. I did this repeatedly while always trying to leave enough water in the tank for the fish to survive, and also trying to keep the fish from leaving with the water. Well, the problem is that my fish can jump. and while they were merrily at the bottom of the tank as I was pouring, one of them zoomed up and launched himself over the edge into the Great Wide Open of the kitchen sink and drain. I thought he was a gonner, but he didn't quite make it down the drain due to the drain guard. I tried to grab him a couple times but he was slimy and squirmy. I finally managed to get him and throw him back in the tank. I finished my water transfer and filled the tank back up, trying to keep an eye on the guy. He seemed pretty lethargic and acting suspicious, but so did everyone else. I think I traumatized them. I mean, how would you like to have your home and air supply just slip away from beneath you?Well, after the other guys started acting normal, the jumper (I think - some of them look alike), still stayed in a corner not moving. Last night I found him face down against the gravel with the gills still moving. This morning he was lying on the gravel, gills still going. I'm sure it's down to a matter of hours before he goes or I help him on his journey to fish-jumping heaven.

Posted by charr at 8:45 AM | Comments (2)

June 8, 2006

Stood up

No, I wasn't stood up by a girl. Fortunately, I never have been. But I got stood up by a dive shop. I had a trip to Florida and planned ahead to take a day off and squeeze a little diving in while I was down there. I got a hotel, car and called around to find a good dive shop. I decided to go with Southeast Oceanic Services and talked to the guy two or three times. He said Tuesday (6/6) would be fine. I was pumped.So Tuesday morning I'm driving all over and except for stoplights, things are going dandy. My next hotel even let me check in around 8:00 AM (it usually needs to be after noon), so I could drop off my stuff there. I headed straight to the dive shop after that and was pretty excited. The weather was gorgeous. After I woke up my brother and got the number, I called the guy. On the 4th call, he finally picked up. I was running 5-10 minutes behind and just wanted to tell him I was still coming. That's when he told me something to the effect of "Yeah, I don't think we're going out today." I was stunned. I told the guy I had called multiple times the previous week and he told me again that they weren't going on a trip that day. I was pretty peeved. I mumbled something and then just hung up on him.In that spirit, I recommend against Southeast Oceanic and would tell anyone asking not to cater to them. In the end I did a bunch of frantic driving around and calling and found a shop, Pro Dive, and ended up going with them. They were a little more expensive, but very friendly and seem to know their stuff. I met some cool people out there, found a fishing pole about 25' deep, got pretty close to a large nurse shark, saw lots of fish, and had a good time. The only drawback was that try-as-I-may, my white skin refused to tan.

Posted by charr at 8:11 AM | Comments (2)

June 3, 2006

My house

It's been a hair over 2 months since I bought a house. It's a nice house in a nice location. In fact, it's too nice. It's an investment house, but since I put so much work into designing it, I wanted to live in it for a bit and enjoy the fruits of my labor. Now I need to find a roommate. In preperation for that, I finally took a few pictures and figured I can post them here.

Here's the front of the house:

Here's a pic from just inside the front door.

Here's from the back with some nice mountains in the background:

Here are a few pics of the Great Room (basically kitchen, living room and dining room combined):

Posted by charr at 7:59 PM | Comments (0)

May 27, 2006

Life is short...

I read this quote in an article on hunting Polar Bears in the NY TImes today and immediately liked it.

"Life is short...The last check you write should be to the undertaker, and it should bounce."
By the way, I'm not advocating hunting Polar Bears, but this concept is something that hit me several years ago. I lived much of my life with no life, focused school and work. It wasn't until I had graduated from college several years ago that I started to do things like biking and scuba diving. I've also been very fiscally conservative (some might say cheap or something worse ;)), and finally decided that saving money was good - but for what? Sure I wanted a house, but I learned that sometimes you need to enjoy life. Of course I still insist on fiscal responsibility and living below your means, but it's ok to spend some money once in a while if you have it.

Posted by charr at 8:05 AM | Comments (0)

May 15, 2006

A beautiful monster

I'd like one please.Heather would be proud.

Posted by charr at 6:30 PM | Comments (1)

May 2, 2006


What is this, the third time I'm announcing servers are going down? Well they are because DNS has finally been changed. Hope you don't see much of an interruption.

Posted by charr at 5:40 PM | Comments (0)

April 1, 2006

I've Moved

Well, last Monday I closed on a new house. I started the process of buying/building it a year ago, so I'm happy to have it finished. That happiness is only dimmed by the fact that it will suck over half my income each month - so I'm poor again. Oh, and I'm not excited about the moving process. That said, I have most of my stuff moved. There's just a _ton_ to do though, moving in a furnishing a new house.At any rate, part of that ton is to move the servers. So, the web server will go down for a day or three here pretty soon I think. Also I'm traveling much of the next three weeks, so if something happens to the servers, response time might be slow. But please bear with me. Thanks.

Posted by charr at 8:22 AM | Comments (0)

March 31, 2006

MS150 Update and THANKS

Two entries ago, I wrote about and asked for donations for the MS150. Last night, I surpassed my goal of $200. Please accept my heartfelt thanks to those of you who have contributed to the cause of Multiple Sclerosis. It is a worthy cause and many of you have been extremely generous in giving. THANK YOU!Plus, now that I'm thinking of raising my goal, you can still feel free to donate (and know that the money goes straight to the MS Society, not me) by clicking here:
i_sponsor_me.gifThanks again.

Posted by charr at 8:12 AM | Comments (0)

March 21, 2006


It's been a long time. In fact it feels like it's been longer than the 3 weeks since I last posted. But anyway, I wanted to mention the MS150. This is a 100 mile bike ride I was persuaded to ride in on June 24th. I've now become more exited about it, and that means I need to beg. You see, this is a charity ride and I have to raise at least $200 to do the ride. I signed up yesterday, and as of this point, I'm 1/8 of the way there, thanks to a guy a work. While I won't go into details, I'm intimately connected with MS, or Multiple Sclerosis, which can be a crippling and debilitating disease. Unlike such scourges as AIDS, MS appears to be unpreventable, but doesn't get all the attention for research grants. All the money raised for this ride goes to the MS Society of Utah to help with research and the care of those with MS. So I need your help! Any donation would be very welcome, and if you're wondering where to donate, you can visit my page here and click on the "Sponsor Me" image in the upper right or just click here:

Posted by charr at 2:45 PM | Comments (0)

February 9, 2006

Traveling man

I've put this in the "My life" category, and indeed, my work and travel has become my life. I did some adding last night, using my SkyMiles history as my guide. I spent at least 97 nights outside of Utah and 119 full or partial days outside my home state. That doesn't include spending the night at my dad's for Christmas and other possible overnight stays I've done. But wow, 119 days! That's practically 4 months. It's no wonder I have no social life.Anyway, even though I've already done heavy traveling this year (been away more than home), things should ease up. I've accepted a new position at work in technical marketing. While it's still customer facing and will have some travel, there likely won't be many trips past a day or two. This is actually bittersweet. I kinda like to travel. I like to see new places. However, I also would like a somewhat plannable life. We'll see if that happens.

Posted by charr at 3:39 PM | Comments (0)

January 30, 2006


I'm slowly catching up on life from my trip. Yesterday, I found one problem as I prepared to go to church - the battery of my car was completely dead. I called a friend and he came and charged me - well, my car battery that is. He helped me again after church. When I got home, I let the car idle for an hour or so to give the alternator time to recharge it and I think it's good now. The bigger problem came in that my car's anti-theft system prevented the radio or clock from working unless I entered in a code, which can be obtained with the radio's serial number. Normally, there is a sticker somewhere in the car (glove compartment, fuse box, etc.) that has the code or S/N on it, but mine did not. I looked all over on Google for a while and that gave me more places to look, but no luck. I found one post that said it would likely charge me $70-$80 at the dealer to get the code back (as they'd have to remove the radio). But I called the dealer and they said it'd be only about $65 (hourly labor rate). While that's still almost criminal, I decided I didn't have a choice. I called again to set an appointment and talked with another guy who said it'd only be around $45 since it would only take about 30 min to remove the radio.I took the car in and they started looking for the sticker and such. Then they started getting some ideas and the guy helping me talked to a number of people and they found out that with my model, they could enter a sequence of numbers into the radio and have the S/N # displayed on the screen. They did that, got me the code, and didn't charge me a cent. Yes, that's right - I went to the Honda dealership; they helped me, and didn't charge a cent. That's nothing short of a miracle.

Posted by charr at 1:53 PM | Comments (1)

January 27, 2006

A month

That's how long I've been on the road, as of tomorrow, when I'm finally coming home. I left the morning of Dec. 29 and will get back the evening of Jan. 28. I haven't even been in the U.S. once this entire year. How's that sound? I didn't find out until last night that I would be coming home either, but I'm kind of relieved. I'm ready for some American food, some Mexican food and some quick food. I've been in France the last 3+ weeks and some of the food is good (I disagree completely with some of the foods like tartare - raw ground beef w/ other junk), but what bothers me the most is there doesn't seem to be the idea of a quick meal. Even a 1-man short meal seems to take a minimum of about 90 minutes and that kills me. They do have a McDonalds and another fast-food chain called Quick, but I don't really care much for those places. Anyway, it'll be good to be back for a bit. I don't know how long that will last - maybe a week, maybe three, but I've spent more than 6 of the last 8 1/2 weeks out of the country and I'm happy to take a breather and see if I remember how to ride a bike still.

Posted by charr at 1:42 AM | Comments (0)

January 2, 2006

Barcelona II

I have more time now, so I'll add to my last post.

  • Again, as in much of Europe, people walk a lot, whether it be walking the frequently visible dog or going to the store or whatever. Like other countries, there are lots of little stores at the bottom of the housing on every street (and there are a lot of streets). Together with consumption of much less fast food (it's just not very available, plus a Big Mac is like 5€). I think this leads to much better health.
  • Children. As opposed to what I observed in France, there are little kids all over in Spain, being walked or pushed by parents. I thought it was nice.
  • Respect of family/elders. Besides the children, I saw quite a few elderly folks out walking and what hit me most was that many of them were arm in arm with a younger person (like one of their children). I thought that was nice.

  • Like in all of Europe, everyone smokes, but...
    • I read that Spain actually smokes more than anyone else, at least in Europe and maybe in the world (I don't quite remember). That was in the NY Times. Also, yesterday a new controversial law went into effect that says smoking is no longer alowed in certain sized public places like taverns and such. The limit is something like 100 square meters. The majority voted for the law, but I've heard lots of grumbling and seen quite a few signs advertising that smoking is permitted in a particular location.

  • Sirens. Holy cow. At least where I'm staying, it seems like the police stay pretty active and they turn their sirens to the loudest level when it's nighttime. In New York, they would just use flashing lights unless a siren was needed in order to cut down on the noise. That's definitely something they should take into account here.
  • My hotel room. The thing is tiny. The bed is quite hard and quite short. There's very little pressure in the water coming out of the shower, and hot water takes like 5 minutes. That said, the girls at the front desk are very helpful, freindly and cute, if I may say so.

Posted by charr at 8:36 AM | Comments (2)

January 1, 2006


¡Bon día! That's not quite Spanish nor French -- it's Catalán, which happens to be the language of choice here in Barcelona. Fortunately for me, the natives also speak Spanish, and I can understand enough Italian to get by with some of the other visitors (many from Italy). I think one of the hardest things is trying to type on this Spanish keyboard. It's different. Anyway, I like Spain and I was going to make some comments like I did with France and Germany, but again, I've mostly forgotten what I was going to say. Suffice it to say that I like it over here and if you have questions, feel free to ask.Hasta luego.

Posted by charr at 9:57 AM | Comments (0)

December 23, 2005

Suicidal Tetra

Besides travel and Alias, I've had a number of other things taking up my time. One of those things is fishkeeping. A while back, a sister called announcing babies. Lots and lots of babies; 26 if I remember correctly. They weren't directly hers though. They were Dalmation Mollies. I took 5 of them and bought a 5-gallon aquarium starter kit and supplies and found a new way to spend money. I was wanting to add a little bit of color to the tank, so I added a very pretty Red-minor Tetra, though this Google image doesn't do justice.Anyway, the fish has never been accused of being too intelligent and is a little too passive. He also doesn't like the tropical fish food I put in the tank (the Mollies can't eat enough). So he's been starving himself and has some odd behavior. I bought some freeze-dried blood worms and it turns out the Tetra actually likes those and even gives the Mollies a run for their money when he feels up to it. But yesterday, he wasn't eating anything again, so I got the bright idea to put him in a Tupperware-like container yesterday, with lots of bloodworms. At first, he just stayed at the bottom and wouldn't eat the worms. I went and watched an episode of Alias and came back to see if he had eaten. The first thing I noticed was that he wasn't in the container. I wasn't alarmed - I just figured my brother had put it back in the main tank and I asked him that. He replied in the negative, so I started to think. I looked down on the carpet and didn't see anything and then looked on the ledge where the tank and temporary container are. There I saw a small lifeless body of a Tetra. I didn't know what to think, but I quickly scooped him back into the container and after a second, he came to life. I stood there amazed for a while. He would have had to jump 3+ inches to get out and this guy doesn't even like to go near the surface. He's as acrobatic as a slug. I was dumbfounded.Anyway, deciding he didn't like that container, I dumped him back into the tank, and watched him. He would twitch and then sink a bit and so on and so forth. He seemed a little better today, but I'm giving him two days to live. Maybe he'll surprise me. Maybe he'll convince me to buy a bigger tank and bring some more Tetras over (not planning on it until my new house is ready in April). At any rate, don't underestimate the desperation of a fish.

Posted by charr at 10:16 AM | Comments (0)

December 21, 2005


It's amazing how quickly a month and a half goes by. All that work into a new site and I leave it hanging like a piece of lint on the back of your pants. Or something like that - my similes are a little weak today. But anyway, I've been doing some traveling for work, and I kept thinking of things to say, but had no time or Internet access. Then it was just time and effort to say everything I wanted to say. Now, I've forgotten most of what I had to say so I'm just going to put something up.I got back from a 2 week trip to Germany and France last Thursday. The first week of that was planned, though at the last minute. In that first week, I had 8 flights and a 4-5 hr road trip (going up to 140 mph!). I was asked to extend another week to help with a customer, and ended up being by myself most of that week in France (Je ne parle pas Frances). I said that phrase A LOT. In fact, I don't speak French or German, but it looks like I'll have a little time to practice.Anyway, I first went to a town in the South-Southwest of France right by the Pyrenees. It was quite scenic there with rolling plains of green breaking halfway to the horizon to grandiose, snowcapped mountains. I was only there a couple days and didn't get to see much, but I liked it. I then went to the Dresden, Germany area, which was itself very green (and it was cold!). In fact, it looked like crops were budding in the snow all around - winter wheat or something. There were also those modern windmills everywhere. Apparently, that is a source of controversy as the Green party shut down their nuclear plants and erected these windmills (with much of the former West Germany's money), but these windmills are often idle. Apparently there are still quite a few integration problems there and the East German economy is struggling. It was also here in Germany I realized everyone smokes. One night we had dinner in a windowless cellar, full of smoke. I regrettably probably got a pack or two of secondhand. Yuck!But from the Dresden/Leipzig area, we drove to Munich. I used to think years ago that the Autobahn was a specific highway, but most highways over there have no speed limit it seems. There were four of us piled into a little rental Mercedes 100 series, but we still managed to get up to a speedy 220 Km per hour with power to spare.From Munich, I was to fly home, but was asked to go down to Toulouse, also in Southern France for about a week. That became more "interesting" than planned when I was picked up and told that the person I was going to work with (and have him be my translator) had to be elsewhere that following week, so I was alone in France, not speaking French, and not knowing where the customer was (the cab driver didn't either and didn't speak English). But I survived. The place I was working at was nice enough to have two cute girls drop me off and pick me up by my hotel. Fortunately, many of the French speak some English, but I still don't speak much French.So there's the brief agenda of my trip (I leave again on Dec. 29, this time for about 23 days and I fly in to Barcelona). I wanted to list a few of the pros/cons of life over there that I observed.


  • Many people speak some English
  • Most were quite friendly
  • Great food (with one exception)
  • Lots of good-looking girls (with a major flaw)
  • Everyone is slender (I saw maybe 1% what I would call heavy)
  • Quaint little streets and shops everywhere in Toulouse
  • Chocolate. It's everywhere

  • The flaw: Everyone smokes (in restaurants too) except for a small minority
  • The food exception: Steak. I've been told they have good steak there, and maybe I'm weird, but I don't think I had it.
  • The language - French is tough for me - especially the accent/pronunciation.

I have to say that overall, I did enjoy my trip there.


  • Again, lots of cuties, though not as many as France in my mind
  • No obesity, though many are a little heavier than the French
  • Great food (Bratwurst w/ spicy mustard == yummy)
  • Again, lots of chocolate.
  • People very friendly
  • Beautiful scenery
  • Not as many English speakers, but still quite a few

  • The smoking
  • Other than that, there weren't many that come to mind

I liked Germany.Now, I know there are many political and societal problems in these countries. Both are going through pension crises and France is rife with demonstrations and strikes. But my short time was enjoyable.

Posted by charr at 8:23 AM | Comments (0)