Archive for August 2008

Sold!

After buying Grandpa Kent’s car we had three vehicles and only two drivers. Time to sell the Saturn. Nancy and I bought the Saturn in 1996 just after Emily was born. At the time, Nancy was pregnant with Annie. Nancy had been driving a little Ford Colt that she brought to the marriage. It was so small that I couldn’t even fit in behind the wheel and thus had never driven it a single time. Nancy’s pregnant belly forced her to put the seat all the way back and Emily’s baby carrier on the passenger side in the rear. In that configuration there wasn’t even enough room left to carry a load of groceries. My Honda, inherited from Aunt Lori and Grandpa Kent, didn’t have any air conditioning so there was no way that pregnant Nancy would even consider driving it. The solution? Buy a new car.

I think a friend had recommended a Saturn to us and Nancy and I headed to that dealership first. We liked the cars, like our salesman, and liked the fact that Consumer Reports rated that particular model year as a “recommended” car. That was good enough for us. I don’t recall that we even looked at any other car models. We ended up getting the deluxe model – leather seats, sunroof, CD stereo, fog lamps – the works! It was the first car I had ever bought on my own and was the first car I had ever driven with leather seats. The leather proved its worth and has survived countless kids with their accompanying spills and barfs. To this day I don’t regret the decision to get leather seats and will never own a car without leather. Nancy drove the new Saturn while I suffered with the no-air- conditioning Honda until the birth of our third baby after which we couldn’t fit two car seats and a baby carrier in the back and were forced to buy a minivan. I then drove the Saturn for another 7 years up until last week.

I hate buying and selling cars. The act of trying to figure out what your old car is worth is such an ordeal. Back when we sold Nancy’s little Ford Colt, you couldn’t just get online and look at Edmunds.com or KellyBlueBook.com. You couldn’t go to a website that specialized in local car sales like KSL Classifieds or Craigslist. Nope, you had to call up the bank or go find a Thrifty Nickel to figure out what cars were worth. Fortunately, we’ve come a long way since those days. Selling a car is much easier with the Internet but it’s still a pain in the rear.

First we had to decide whether to get the problems fixed or to sell the car with all its warts. The radiator was leaking, the windshield had a huge crack that would never pass inspection, the sunroof was broken, the front fender was cracked, the CD player didn’t work, and the back passenger window would just slide down and not roll back up. I agonized about whether or not we would be able to recoup our repair expenses. A Saturn of similar age and miles sells for scrap/parts for about $450. Saturns without major problems were selling for about $2300 online. I was facing about $1000 worth of repairs. In the end I just did the math and figured it was worth the cost of repairs. Nancy did the leg work in getting the radiator fixed, the windshield replaced, and a new emission/inspection certificate. I decided not to repair the fender, window, or sunroof and just list those problems in the ad. Nancy also did the hard work of cleaning and vacuuming the inside of the car until it was spic and span. Thanks Nancy! I wanted to get rid of the car quickly so I priced it a couple hundred dollars below what similar cars were selling for (even though it had amazingly low miles – only 108,000 for a 12 year old car). Our asking price was $2100. I figured that I would let someone negotiate down to $1800 but I wouldn’t go below that; otherwise, I would have been better off just scrapping it without the repair hassles.

I placed the ad on Saturday night and had my first bite on Sunday afternoon. The guy came out to look at the car and do a test drive. He was pleased with it and said he wanted to buy it but needed to get the money. He wasn’t much of a negotiator on the price. He said “That cracked bumper will cost me some money to get fixed – could you knock off a hundred dollars?” “Sure thing”, I said. $2000 it was. I don’t think he has any intention of repairing the cracked bumper (Saturns have a fiberglass body so they don’t dent – they crack) because you can’t really tell it’s cracked unless you get right up close and look at it. We shook on the deal and he spent the next several days coming up with the dough. He finally coughed up the cash on Wednesday night and I signed over the title and handed him the keys. In retrospect I probably could have listed it for $200 – $300 more and still gotten a few bites on it but I’m just too impatient and nervous and would rather drop the price and be assured of a quick sale than sit on it for several weeks and wonder whether or not it will sell at all.

The only problem was that when he tried to register the car the next day, the DMV told him that the title was messed up and still showed a lien by the bank. Of course we had paid that Saturn off years ago and had a letter from the bank releasing the lien and even had a new title that showed no lien holder but the DMV computers still showed a lien. As far as the DMV lady was concerned, if it was in the DMV computers it was Gospel truth. We had to submit an application for a reissue of title and fax it to the bank and mail it back to the guy and blah blah blah. Fortunately, Nancy is managing that part of the transaction and we should have the title issue cleared up sometime next week.

In the end the car selling experience wasn’t nearly as painful as I thought it would be. That’s probably mainly due to the fact that Nancy did all the leg work and cleaning and hassling with the red tape. I probably never would have gotten the car sold if it hadn’t of been for Nancy.

So, to the 1996 green Saturn SL2 I say:
“You served us well through five kids, a trip to Houston, Texas, a trip to San Jose, CA, and innumerable daily commutes. Although you drank oil like a sand dune, your clutch never failed and most importantly your AC never failed. No hard feelings about the time your alternator died and stranded me on the Bangerter Highway. After 12 years and 108,000 miles I believe I got my money’s worth. So long, old friend.”

Summer Catch Up

I home teach a couple in our ward that has a bunch of chickens. Occasionally they bring us a dozen eggs. Several weeks ago we took the youngest three kids over their house to give them a present for their new baby and say thanks. I’m finally getting around to posting some of the pictures I took.

The kids had fun feeding the hens bits of bread and trying not to get pecked by the rooster. At first they were too “chicken” (get it? chicken? I crack myself up) to feed the chickens from their hands and would instead flick bread on the ground for the chickens to peck at. After a minute or two they were holding the bread in their palms and letting the chickens eat right out of their hands.


Domesticated chickens have got to be the among the stupidest animals on the earth. They just look so silly as they run around clucking and pecking at bits of earth that you can’t help but laugh.

Don’t these pictures just capture the essence of a lazy summer evening?

Back to School

Texas and Anne started school this past Monday. Samuel’s first full day was this past Tuesday. Emily doesn’t start until this coming Monday but today she had a practice day at the school. The practice day gives the new wide-eyed seventh graders a chance to find their lockers, find where all their classes are, meet their teachers, etc. without the crush of 8th and 9th graders (we have “Middle School” instead of Jr. High here in South Jordan) that will converge on the school on Monday morning. Nancy walked Emily to school this morning and Emily walked home on her own. The middle school is 1.6 miles from home and lots of parents think we’re crazy for making Emily walk to school. I walked to Skyline Elementary school every day in 4th grade which, by Google Maps calculations, was 1.1 miles from home but had to cross a freeway on and off ramp. I think Emily needs the exercise and it’s good for kids to not get coddled so for now we’re sticking to our guns that she walk or ride a bike to school. Nancy will probably cave a bit in winter and join a car pool but if the weather’s good Emily is hoofing it.

This evening was Back to School night at both the elementary and middle school. Anne didn’t think it was cool to go to Back to School night as a 6th grader and Luppin is still in preschool so they stayed home while Nancy and I took the other kids. We stopped off at the Jr. High and met Emily’s math teacher, her reading teacher, and her science teacher. I asked Emily to pose for a picture by her locker and she begrudgingly agreed (“Hurry up daddy, this is embarrassing!”)


Emily the 7th grader

Next it was off to the elementary school to meet Texas’ teacher and then Sam’s teacher. The kids had fun showing us where they sit, talking to their teacher, and showing us the little papers and projects they had already worked on in their first few days of class.


Texas the 3rd grader


Samuel the 1st grader

I actually enjoyed the middle school Back to School night the most. Not because I have fond memories of Jr. High (Jr. High was a miserable experience for me) but because it is fun to see Emily growing up a bit and seeing her adjust to the 7th grade experience.

Where does my traffic come from?

Tonight I don’t have Bishopric duties so I have a little extra time to get caught up on posts. I also have extra time to get sidetracked on interesting stuff (interesting to me, at least). I’ve been collecting statistics on where traffic originates from when it comes to my blog. The number one generator of traffic to this blog? (Drumroll please…) A website called KeywordSpy.com. The next biggest referrer of traffic? A whois site. Whois is a tool used on the Internet to determine who owns and maintains a particular website. The third biggest? A Google image link to a picture for a Harry Potter film which I removed a few months ago because I didn’t want people to think this is really a Harry Potter website.

What does this all mean? Well, it means that the only people being referred to my site are people trying to find out information about the domain name byufan.net. In other words, it means that not many people actually read this blog. That’s OK by me. The blog is more of a “virtual scrapbook” than anything else and is generally meant for family. After all, why would total strangers be interested in my boring musings and pictures of my kids? Truth be told, my family is probably only slightly more interested than your average total stranger.

Another interesting thing to look at are the search terms that lead people to my site. The terms “byufan” and “BYU fan” are numbers one and two respectively. The third most common search term is “dry pack cannery” and takes people to this post. Because so many people find my blog by searching for “dry pack cannery” I wonder if I should edit that post and add some links to helpful information about the dry pack cannery? Other interesting terms that led people to my blog:

glasses
“her braces”
camry hybrid worth
qwest
“Broken arm”
why is las vegas so trashy
teeth gracious children
dinosaur inflatables

There were actually many variations on the themes of broken arms, braces, and the Sandy dry pack cannery. I’m not sure if those are the things I would have chosen to be well known for but I guess it’s better than nothing. I’m not sure how the term “dinosaur inflatables” actually led someone here. I hope that person found what they were looking for. I’ve posted about my kids’ teeth but I don’t think I ever called them gracious so I’m not sure how that particular search ended up here. And as for why Las Vegas is so trashy? Well, I guess that depends upon your definition of trashy. Trashy in the sense of sex? That’s easy. As my brother in advertising business always says, “sex sells”. Trashy in the sense of litter all over the freeway and the streets? I’ve never quite figured that one out. If a city wanted to be a tourist mecca you’d think they would devote significant time to cleaning up the litter. If you thought that about Las Vegas you’d be wrong.

First Day of School Nerves?

Tuesday was the first full day of school for Samuel. On Monday night I went to his room to check on him (he has a habit of sneaking out of his room and sleeping in Texas’ bed) but there was no Samuel in the bed:

Someone gave Samuel a little Spiderman tent for his birthday. It’s always sitting around his room among the usual mess so I didn’t really think anything about it being in the middle of his floor. I was just about to go extract him from Texas’ room when I notice something poking out from underneath the blanket on the floor:


Notice anything unusual in this scene?

I opened up the flaps of his little Spiderman tent and, viola! There was Samuel, sound asleep on the floor with his head under the tent and his legs sticking out the bottom.

I guess when the excitement over the upcoming first day of school is too much to take, the floor is the only place a guy can get a good nights sleep.

Yellowstone Trip – Day 1

We take a “big” vacation every other year. Last year we went to Disneyland. Next year we’re going to Washington D.C. This year was a “small” vacation so we decided to stay closer to home. Nancy had never been to Yellowstone before and it’s only a 6 hour drive from Salt Lake City so we figured that would count as a “small” vacation. The first order of business was figuring out a place to stay. I am not a camper. I understand the desire to be in the Great Outdoors but I just don’t understand the attraction of smelling like a campfire and not being able to shower and not sleeping in clean sheets. I also didn’t want to pay for a hotel (this was a “small” vacation after all) so we had to find a place to stay that was 1) close to Yellowstone and 2) had a Marriott with a 2 room suite that we could use Marriott points on. Bozeman, Montana best fit the bill.

Monday morning we watered the garden, did some last minute packing, and set off for Bozeman. On our way out of town we stopped off at a tire store to get the tire pressure checked. The tire man said our two front tires were worn down and would need to be replaced but that it would take two hours. I wasn’t about to sit there with the whole family for two hours at the tire store so I told the guy we would get new tires in Idaho Falls. He said he didn’t even think we would make it that far but I decided to risk it and off we went. When we got to Idaho falls we had lunch at the park next to the Snake River and the Idaho Falls temple. We then went to the temple, saw the visitors center, and chatted with the sister missionaries for a minute.


Idaho Falls Temple

After the temple we headed over to the tire store (same chain) and had the tire man inspect our tires again. He said that our tires were getting worn but were fine and he didn’t think we needed to worry about getting new tires for a few more months. That was good news as I thought sitting in a tire store in Idaho Falls was no better than sitting in one in South Jordan. I guess this is one case where procrastination paid off.

Our trip to Bozeman was uneventful except for one place where there was a traffic jam just north of West Yellowstone. When we got farther up the road we found out the cause of the traffic jam: a big brown bear sitting in a meadow off the side of the road. We slowed down a bit and checked him out but he wasn’t doing much – just being a bear. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the presence of mind to whip out our camera and get a picture.

In retrospect we really regret not getting a picture because so far the number one question we’ve been asked by people about our trip is “Did you see a bear?”

Picture Disaster!

We got back last Friday from a trip to Yellowstone. On Saturday I got the camera to upload the pictures from our trip and the camera was empty! Nothing, nada, zip. The memory card had been erased. I knew for sure there had been pictures on the camera so my first suspicion was that the kids had been playing with the camera and somehow managed to erase all the pictures.

We rounded up the kids and after much finger pointing, yelling, weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth we confirmed our suspicion. The kids admitted to playing with the camera and erasing “only the pictures that they took” yet somehow they had managed to wipe the memory card.

I then set about seeing if there was a way to recover the files off the memory card. I extracted the card, mounted it in our HP printer (so it would show up as a drive letter), and then used a disk recovery utility to scan the card for recoverable image files. Fortunately we were able to recover over 90% of the photos from the trip. There were a few photos missing but the bulk of the vacation was there. There are certain times I’m glad the good Lord decided to bless me with some technical skills. This was one of those times.

Stay tuned for the next few days as we post the stories, photos, and videos from our vacation.