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[Comments] (2) Oh brother!: So I have an 8 am class this morning (MBA 627--International Finance) and finally at 8:20 the TA comes in saying that the teacher FORGOT he had this class, so we'll just start on Wednesday. I don't mind getting up early but it was COLD outside. The funny part to me, though, is that it further proves my claim that the MBA program is a joke. I mean, we are graduate students here--professionals. And the dumb teacher can't show up? It's times like these that I am glad I'm a Macc student and not an MBA student..........

[Comments] (1) Taking Care of Business......: So we went to the dollar theater tonight with my little sister and her friend to see The Cat in the Hat. Possibly the worst movie I've ever seen, though doubtful. At least in the top 20. Mom, I would highly advise against seeing it. It's too racey for the kids and too mind-numbing for the adults. However, mom and Rachel, I should inform you that Love, Actually is playing up here at the $1 moviehouse. Unfortunately, we won't be seeing it vicariously for you. Sorry.

But dinner was good. We went to Jacinto's, a quaint Mexican restaurant. The conversation was good as Jodi's boyfriend and her friend's husband joined us. The whole family is keeping our fingers crossed that this boyfriend is "the one"! I don't know if it's the fact that he's a great guy, or the fact that he's not her old boyfriend. He was bipolar, couldn't hold a job, and stalked my sister. This new beau, Franco, is a VAST improvement.

Good Tidings: Finally some good news. My sister Jodi is getting married! I thought I would feel all wierd about it but I am so happy for her. He is a great guy; we knew she'd meet one sooner or later...

I always feels she is so young, but when she gets married in June she'll be just a few months younger than Susie was. Anyway, we are all excited for her!

[Comments] (3) Woe Is Me: Tonight was the banquet for E&Y interviews. That is the firm I really want to work with, so hopefully that goes well tomorrow. Susie came with me and my interviewer was happy to meet her. I have worked my way to the fifth Chronicle of Narnia. I am loving them- thanks mom!

With all the firm stuff and interviews this week, I am lucky that school has slacked off a bit. Of course, I am ahead in ISys, so that really helps.

[Comments] (3) Calling all LA gurus: This is especially for mom and Rachel. So where can I find a website that shows transit (light rai, metro, trains) in LA? If I live in Mission Viejo at my sister's house this summer and intern in Warner Center (Woodland Hills), what options to I have that don't require me to drive on the 405?

[Comments] (5) Happiness is...: Job offers. We were supposed to go to John & Sharon's last night for FHE, but sat in traffic for 45 minutes and were still only in Pleasant Grove. Bummer. But while sitting in the car I got two job offers! The first was from PriceWaterhouseCoopers for their LA office. They are taking Susie and me skiing this weekend at Sundance, and will let me know when my office visit is scheduled.

Then Ernst & Young called. I was really shocked they called because they told me they wouldn't make a decision until after their USC interviews next week. But they called, meaning they like me, they really like me. They are my first choice, because the office is in Orange County, and I went there for a week last summer and really enjoyed it. I fly out February 24.

Still waiting to hear from KPMG. I interviewed for their Woodland Hills office, in an attempt to put us closer to Bakersfield and out of downtown LA. They told me they would let me know later this week. They are my second choice. Anyway, so far so good. It's such a relief!!

[Comments] (2) Taxes really are a beautiful thing!: I did our taxes yesterday. The Fed owes us $200 and the state owes us $400. Plus, PwC finally gave me my $200 check yesterday! So we've got $800 coming (which is interesting considering i have $850 on my credit card due in February). Life sure does work nicely sometimes! KPMG called last night but I wasn't home. I had to work on a Federal Futures Market project until 10:30. Ah, the joys of college life. Hopefully he calls back tonight!!

[Comments] (4) Picturesque: We went to Sundance today for lunch with PwC. It was really good. It was so beautiful up there too. Dang homework--otherwise we could have enjoyed it more. Susie's mad because we parked up above and took the shuttle down to the lodge, and it was really muddy. Luckily I had garbage bags and towels in my car, so the car interior is clean.

It's wierd because it was snowing up there but all clear down here (blue skies). Of course, I guess that's not too wierd. That's normally how it is.

We got a free blanket that says PwC on it. It's huge! It's that sweatshirt type of blanket. It's soooo soft.

[Comments] (3) Groovy Jets: I love my business law class. It is supposed to last 90 minutes twice a week, but he has never kept us longer than an hour. I love teachers who just teach the stuff, limit the anecdotes, and know when enough if enough. I wish all my teachers could be so succinct...

[Comments] (1) Exciting Times: Mom left today, but it was fun to be with the family over the weekend. The Omans are a trip; they are great people. We were quite the lively bunch at Thai Ruby yesterday.

Now Leonard is on his way, we think. Alls we know is that he left Allison's on Saturday, so is lost somewhere between the great plains and Denver, we assume.

Tomorrow I fly out for LA. Rachel is picking me up and we are going to go to lunch before my office visit. Then I fly back on Tuesday, and do it all over again next Monday through Wednesday with two firms at once. I hate flying. Everytime I fly, something disastrous happens. Last time I went to Florida our flight took off but the door didn't shut properly on the plane, so we had to land, and were gorunded until the next day. I missed a biology midterm because of it. My luggage, however, somehow ended up on another plane in Las Vegas. Then there was the mish. My flight to the Kong was cancelled and we all got shipped back to the MTC for an extra day. Leaving the next day was pretty much the most anti-climatic experience of my life. Then coming home from Hong Kong (two years later, mind you, with the fam in tow) we hit a typhoon. So we waited on the plane for two hours while they tried to route us through China but China wouldn't have us so we ended up taking the long way home through the Philippines. Before we could do that, we had to shut off the plane and refuel. That meant no AC for 30 minutes. And in July sub-tropical weather that is as humid as taking a shower, we were all dying. Then there was my excursion to the OC last summer on a firm visit. On the way home I missed my flight because of a terrorist threat. Luckily it got ironed out and they had another flight to SLC an hour later. What adventures await me tomorrow? Only time will tell...

[Comments] (1) Back in the Saddle: So downtown LA is surprisingly nice. I guess when you move away from the financial center into east LA you begin to get scared, cuz we were wandering around pretty late at night and it was like no big deal. And, YEA, cuz all my flights went off without a hitch! It was fun. Coming back to school seems awful boring now-I am excited to go back next week. Hopefully some good will come from all of this.

So has anyone seen the "Quizno's Subs" commercial with the singing rats? One word: Disturbing.

Thanks Rachel for the tour of Santa Monica, as well as Commerce. Hope traffic wasn't too bad heading home...

[Comments] (3) The NOT So Friendly Skies: Well, it happened again. My flight home tonight was delayed over an hour, so I didn't get home until 10:30 pm. But in good news I have received two offers, from both Ernst & Young and PricewaterhouseCoopers. It'll be a hard decision, as these are really the two premier firms. But it's nice to have a job, especially since starting salary is over double my current salary.

In other transit news, I am not a fan of Amtrak or Metrolink. There stations have no attendees, and no signs. So I missed my train because I didn't know what side of the track to be on. By the time I figured it out, the train was gone. It's like five flights of stairs to cross the tracks because they are double decker trains (and the elevator was out of commission). So I did what anyone would do--hopped on the next train headed to Union Station. This one was an Amtrak, not a Metrolink, which was good for me because it makes less stops and I could make up for lost time. However, my ticket was for Metrolink. After the conductor pointed this out to me, he ripped up my ticket in front of our cabin train. I felt like a country bumpkin taking his first unsuccessful steps to acclimate to "city life." But nicely enough, he gave me an Amtrak ticket. Of course, I figured he should. There shouldn't be a price difference in my opinion, when I ended up in the same place regardless.....This convinced me I don't want to commute to LA, making EY the more attractive offer.

In sad news, my dog Traffic died on Monday. My parents had already taken him to the vet by the time I made it there for my flyout, so I didn't get to say good-bye. But I saw him after Alyssa's wedding, so just like a week ago. I am sad, but also haven't lived at home in six years, so I won't really feel the emptiness until I go spend some time at my parent's house and really notice his absence. He was a good dog.

[Comments] (5) Decisions: I have decided to sign with Ernst & Young, and it's not because it pays more. I have more friends that work there, and there tax program is consulting-based, not compliance-based, like the other firms. Plus, it's in Irvine. PwC is in LA and is such a huge office I'm afraid I would get lost in the shuffle.

With EY I will get a lot of Real Estate clients, which is Partnership Tax, something I enjoy. I'm really excited to go to Florida twice for training as well. Too bad it's still February and I've got to suffer through two more months of school first.

[Comments] (4) Good Times: I called EY and accepted their offer on Monday. Of course, that was the easy part. I still have to call the other firms and tell them thanks but no thanks. I'm dreading that.

It was hard to watch the Academy Awards and realized if I would have signed with PwC, I could actually be there next year. Oh well, LOTR won't be there next year anyway.

My niece Hannah turned 3 on Monday, so we had a little get together on Sunday. My other neice(Ember), who is four, let me play dolls with her. But I kept messing it up because I would put Jasmine and Jafar in the dollhouse and, well, they don't belong there. When I asked her about starting "kindeegarten" next year she blatantly told me that it's Kindergarten, not kindeegarten. And besides, she's going to pre-school. Boy was I given an education by her!

[Comments] (1) Rachel, you'll appreciate this:

The Ernst & Young 2003 Entrpreneur of the Year of is CEO of Whole Foods!

[Comments] (9) : I started the seventh chronicle of narnia. I always get sad when I come to the end of books. Then I have to find a new series to read. Not to mention that books are expensive (well, not as bad as textbooks, but let's not open that can of worms). What shall I read next?

Sometimes I wish I could get Susie to read too. But she reads her scriptures and cookbooks pretty religiously so I guess that's a start. Hopefully she'll really get into it when he start having kids.

[Comments] (2) Bravery: Well, I called PwC today to deline their offer. It was hard to do. They asked me all sorts of questions about why, etc. I tried to be honest and just let them know that it was about "fit" more than anything. It's hard because you don't want to close doors in case something happens. After all, they are a good firm. But EY wooed me over last year at their leadership program. Anyway, they said they hoped I would think of them for full-time; but for now I am really happy with my decision with EY.

[Comments] (3) Good Times!: So today is just one of those beautiful days. The sun is shining, it's in the 50's, and birds are out. Actually the birds were out all morning fighting outside out window. It got so bad that by 7:30 Susie moved to the couch and I just got up and started studying.

Happy Birthday to Rachel! We were gonna call ya at 9:30, but remembered it was only 8:30 and that you were, more likely than not, still sleeping.

[Comments] (1) Yay!: Today I actually went to a devotional, mostly because work was slow. Elder Maxwell spoke about agency. The parts of it I could understand were very well said. I am getting excited for Conference coming up. I always have a goal not to fall asleep, and have succeeded a few times.

[Comments] (1) For Sumana: Hey do you remember my intriguing morgue friend from the wedding? Well, Tim is getting married. I'll let you know the details as they develop, as I am still unsure of the date and locale, etc.

[Comments] (5) My two cents: Never mind

[Comments] (4) : Susie is full time again, because Sheila had her baby. Now we can start to afford stuff again, like new clothes for my internship and these work shirts Susie wanted. Plus, today is Susie's half birthday, so Happy Birthday to you!!!

[Comments] (3) : Let's see, I need to word this so as to be nonoffensive to my reading audience. EY had a dinner reception with interviews for their leadership program this summer (I went last year). It was fun to be on the other side this time, telling interview candidates about EY and all. I rather enjoyed that.

I had a tax final yesterday, thus why I have been neglecting this site. I hope it went well; I will get it back on Monday. Then I have two finals the 12 and 13, with the last two being during finals week. I am excited to have them so spread out this year. And the good news is, I only have to take 12 credits next fall and winter, so that will be a relief next year!

We got a free hotel coupon in the mail for the place we always stay in Nevada when we go to California. It is only good in May, so we are thinking of coming for Memorial Day weekend or something. Susie's really excited.

Besides that, we are just getting ready for Conference this weekend.

[Comments] (1) Easter: it feels like Easter is already over, what with the "kiddie" easter egg hunt we had last Sunday. It was fun to be able to participate with the kids, since we don't yet have any. Of course, Susie was bummed cuz that meant she couldn't help hide the eggs. But we got to occupy the kids by playing tag while the "adults" hid them.

While at my house for the weekend, I spent about two hours cleaning more stuff out of my old room. Every time I go home I throw away more stuff. By the time we leave next summer, I'll have everything gone, so I don't have to move it. It's actually very cathartic throwing away old high school memories that don't necessarily need to be remembered anymore.

Today Susie went to the mall to get a sweater thing for my sister's wedding. Apparently there is going to be a dress code for this one. It just makes me so glad that mine is already over.

In other sad news, Sister Hinckley passed away today.

[Comments] (1) Calling All Drillers: A coworker sent me this. Hope you guys never took math. Bakersfield News!

[Comments] (2) Adventure Walks: Susie and I have been walking the Provo River Parkway. Last week we made it to the duck pond thing down on 500 N and 1500 W. Last night was crossed under the freeway and through a lovely trailer park community. Susie was scared, so we didn't walk very long. But on the way back to the car we saw a beaver in the water. I wanted to go see him and but Susie feels he's not too amicable, so we stayed away and he swam home. But I thought he looked friendly.

[Comments] (2) Blazing the Trail: Today we walked three miles, all the way to the lake. But it was a little anticlimatic in the fact that we didn't go to the lake. We are going to walk part of the lake next time.

Anyway, we kept hearing a noise in the water, and we knew that it wasn't a duck. We thought it might be another beaver, and the thought crossed my mind that it might be a fish jumping. Well, low and behold, it was! I was surprised to see fish jumping in a river, but it was pretty cool.

Classes ended today. I already have three finals over, meaning I only have two finals during finals week, and can get in lots of extra hours at work.

[Comments] (1) : Only one more final to go!

[Comments] (6) Fun Times...: Today in church I sat next to the bishop's wife and one year-old granddaughter. She warmed up to me very quickly and began a process wherein she would pile everything she or her grandma owned on my lap, then take it all off, rearrange it, re-pile it, etc etc etc

The hodgepodge of materials included baby wipes, a sweater, keys, a cell phone, two diapers, two care bears, a kangaroo, a diaper bag, four hymn books, random ward fliers, and a flower thing from her dress. I had forgotten that church could be so much fun!

[Comments] (1) A Real Job?: I can't wait to go work at EY this summer. Today only two of us six supervisors decided to show up to work. I told Kimball, the other supervisor to go to lunch at noon and I'd go at one, so our students wouldn't be left completely helpless. Well, it's 1:15 and I'm starving. Where the @!#$%^*& is he? I'm starving.

Actually Susie's met him and can attest that, irregardless of title, I would be the only supervisor that's really here. I have so much to do and I keep getting interrupted by the entire building saying "So, so-and-so's not here again." You'd think after this many years the incompetence of our department would make their asking unnecessary. But, I guess compared to some other departments, we're still doing awesome. Sad but true.

[Comments] (7) A minor response: Since I can't post a comment to Suamana's website....I'll take you to lunch any time, my treat! But the catch is......COMING TO UTAH!

In other news, my internship has been extended to 10 weeks now, meaning I start June 7, not June 21. It's wreaking some havoc on other plans I had, but I guess it really does beat the alternative (working at the Harms two weeks longer)...

Something Different: Susie and I signed up to clean the church yesterday, and were even there early, though not another soul came. We were sad to miss out on the service, but went to my grandma's early. There we had root beer floats, did a puzzle, ate popcorn, and grandma took us to Arctic Circle for dinner!

We also got a tour of Lehi. My grandma took us to see four of my cousin's new houses--they are really nice. Actually, though, I did the driving, as grandma wasn't really up to it. I'm kinda jealous at two of my cousin's houses; my uncle bought them as an investment and is letting his kids live in them (for quite the discount I am sure, since they all have a lot more schooling to go than I do). Oh well, we like our place as it is, and we are paying for it on our own.

[Comments] (6) : Has anyone read The Da Vinci Code? I am debating whether or not I should...

[Comments] (6) On taxes: Though I don't have the Code with me, it does say in there that we owe taxes. I'll have to look it up when I get home. There was actually a court case (also at home, but I can reference it later) wherein a very liberal man on talk radio said that he would pay $10,000 to anyone who called in referencing that we owe taxes. Anyway, the case sided with the lunatic liberal, because the guy called in the next day, which was ultimately out of context. However, offer and acceptance did exist, and a valid unilateral contract was formed (though the statute of limitation had ultimately passed). I think Warren Burger said it best when he noted that that it is our duty to pay what we owe, but not more or less. I emphatically agree!

I guess I should explain this is a side note to Sumana's recent taxing musings. Though I would be interested to read that book!

[Comments] (4) Guess what Rach?: Today in the BYU paper is an article on the front page about the nine countries joining the EU, with a map and everying. My first thought was "How come Norway's not in the EU?"

[Comments] (9) Enough is enough: We really need to get commenting capabilities on Sumana's page. In relation to your shoe comment, I can't find decent business shoes for under $100. It's a sad story, but it's true. Luckily, they normally last 3-5 years though.

We went to Ceasar's Palace on the way home from B-town and Susie finally got to experience Cheesecake Factory. We tried the Key Lime Pie and it was really yummy. Utah really needs a Cheesecake Factory, so for anyone with the entrepreneurial bug, here's your big opportunity.

[Comments] (3) Oh ye of little faith: These things take time you know? Click me!

[Comments] (1) Sumana: We really need to talk about taxes. Come to B-town this summer while I am doing my intern, since I will be even more prepared to discuss tax choices and consequences in the US system.

I initially was in favor of a progressive system. But I think that is because I don't really make much, so it favors me. The more I study it, the more it seems to hit the middle man I think. Because high-rollers have effectively placed all their income into captial gains investments and/or tax shelters (which are diminishing at least).

But enought of PFP tax planning. The interesting stuff is corporate tax. But that's a whole other can of worms.

[Comments] (2) Coincidences?!?!: I just realized that Susie and I were married on Harry Potter's birthday! I am shocked that Rachel has never mentioned this to us before....

Slow Times: I haven't been able to update because I no longer have a computer. I've been training my replacement at work, meaning that by this point (three more days!) I just sit there and read books. Man is it boring, yet refreshing getting paid to do nothing. Now I know how all my supervisors feel...

But seriously, handing over my job's been easier than I thought. Stephanie, my replacement, does a lot of it wrong, which should worry me, considering no one else in the entire building has ever learned how to do my job. Not that it's her fault, because financials are hard to understand in our outdated database. But I really am just washing my hands of it; sort of a "shoot em all and let God sort it out" mentality. After enough irate customers wanting refunds call, maybe a supervisor or two will try and learn the gist of it all. Apparently my true loyalties do remain elsewhere.

Though I'll probably have to sort it all out come September. Oh well, Ernst & Young here I come.

[Comments] (3) Now that's what I call customer service: Nordstrom, where you get what you pay for (except for exorbitant, ugly Tommy Bahama junk, but I digress already). I bought a new light green (White Sand) dress shirt there like a month ago. Anyway, I washed it last night but I think somebody in our compelx had left some bleach behind in the washer because the collar lost its color. Well, we don't have the receipt anymore, but Nordstrom took it back and gave me a new one. They said if it happens again I am welcome to just get store credit and/or cash back. It's because of this type of policy that I love Nordstrom. You pay the big bucks, but are comforted in knowing that even if you mess up, they'll fix it with a smile.

I cannot believe Aaron's family has had so little death in it. Between Susie's and my family, our children will have little ancestry to gleam off. I only have one grandparent left who is almost 90 as it is, my father is terminally/chronically ill, and I have lost two uncles. That's without mentioning all Susie's losses. Cie la vie I suppose.

[Comments] (4) : I am here in Cal safe and sound. It is nice to constantly have an ocean breeze, as it was so hot driving here. I wore sunscreen the whole trip and felt disgustingly sticky by the end. Tomorrow and Tuesday I have to drive to LA (mer) but after that I can start working the local office (thank goodness).

To keep me busy until then I have been reading The Catcher in the Rye. I find it slow and tedious, though sporadically interesting. I don't on the whole find Holden to be a character I can relate to, like Mr. Cliffsnotes said I would. I find him childish, irresponsible, ungrateful, and idle (a quality I altogether abhore). I do like his little sister though. I hope I can finish it eventually.

[Comments] (2) : The world of public accounting certainly is a busy one. I have had so much to do, but mostly because I had to drive to LA for two days and spend half of my life sitting in a car on the 5, but then I come home and Tyler (the two-year old) won't let me do anything that doesn't involve him. When I get home, he talks to me for like ten minutes, laughing after half of what he says. The sad part is, I have NO idea what he is saying. But he seems to feel we are having a real conversation.

I got my cubicle today, voice mail, and laptop. I also have all of these security measures like a name badge, SecurID that changes passwords every sixty seconds to log in from home on, etc. I have so much to do that I am glad Susie isn't here so I can really get my feet wet and not feel bad. Then when she is here next year, we'll adjust accordingly. Well, gotta go pack for Florida!

[Comments] (1) Thicker Skin?: Everyone keeps telling me how humid it is here, and it is, but it doesn't bother me really. Maybe that is because my skin adapted after two years in the Kong? I'm really not sure.

So far the training has been well. One of my tax professors at BYU is here teaching, so it feels like class (except I am getting paid)! And I even get paid for my flying time here and back.

Today I went swimming for an hour and to a local baseball game. Now I am ready for bed. Although I haven't really felt jet lag too bad, I am pretty sleepy.

[Comments] (4) Coast to Coast: I am ready to go home. I am sitting in my last meeting watching the seconds tick down. But it's been a fun week: I got over 20 hours of overtime, free food, and to go swimming in Florida!

Last night they had a party with free drinks and boy, some people sure did get plastered. It was a new culture for me, esp. explaining that I don't drink. But most people here are pretty professional and keep the drinking to a social level, wherein they are still coherent. Boy I sure do hope my flights home don't get delayed....

[Comments] (6) Today: Well the last two days I have done a lot of client billing. I have also been working on a project extrapolating information from 10-K's to put together information on potential channel 2 (tax only) clients in the Denver area. The client stuff I am probably not at liberty to discuss.

But I always get here before everyone else, so I just sit here until they get here to give me stuff. I begged one of them to give me work yesterday before she left so I'd have something to do this morning, but to no avail. They are all so busy--I wish I was.

Last night I went to the Angel's game. They beat Oakland 6-1, taking first position in the League. It was fun, but the traffic was horrendous. Some days, I feel like my life is just passing me by in a car on the 5....

[Comments] (6) Independence Day: Hey mom, can I come visit you for the 4th weekend? I'll probably come Saturday or Sunday, and stay until Monday afternoon.

[Comments] (4) So Rachel: When are you coming to visit me in OC?

[Comments] (2) I need a hero...: Well, I was one on Saturday. First I became my sister's hero by babysitting her kids so she and her husband could go to the San Diego temple. I was going to go as well, but their babysitter fell through. Then while there my brother-in-law David (who I just found out hates to be called Dave, though my whole family calls him that) called to say his niece was stranded at the OC Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa. So I went and rescued them, including moving their two kids and tons of junk into the suburban. Luckily Tyler was cooperating like a good boy for me.

Well, we followed the tow truck to the dealership and it fell off of its hitch. What a smoky mess that caused. Their poor wheels. Well, four hours later I had dropped them off in Yorba Linda (by braving the 55 and the 91) and made it to the toll road and even picked up pizza on the way home for the kids. What a day!

PS--Justin is having me over to his place Wednesday night.

It's Pay Day!: Gotta love it.

[Comments] (1) Wow: I just sifted through over 70,000 line items in Excel for a client. The file was so big it wouldn't let me fully expand it. I filtered and then filtered my filter, etc, and found over $40 million worth of errors to their billing. It was not fun, but at least I finally did a project on my own that adds client value.

Tomorrow is year end, so I also get to leave an hour and a half early! The accounting gods are smiling down on me.

[Comments] (2) Milestones: Well, I saw Spiderman 2 with my nephews on Friday night. It was kinda slow and predictable in parts, but I will say the subway scene was pretty cool. And the ending rather surprised me. Boy did they set this movie up for another one. I guess overall I would give it 3 1/2 stars (for good acting and mostly a good plot).

It was nice getting Friday and tomorrow off, but even nicer to finally have my first paid holidays ever. Working in my department at BYU, there are a lot of staff. It's frustrating because I do more work than most of them but get none of the perks (paid holidays, etc) so it's been excited to finally enter that level and leave the shackles of student employee behind me for the summer.

For now we are just chilling at mom's. Tomorrow I have to take Susie back to LAX to go home. I already bought my ticket to fly up for our anniversary. I'm glad she was able to fly down, as I am not ready to get on a plane again for a few more weeks.

[Comments] (2) Travels with a Roadrunner: Every night I go running I see these rabbits. I can't help but think they are wild, but then am so surprised that they stick around as man slowly but surely enters their habitat. Last night I had a roadrunner keep pace with me for a good mile. I figured he couldn't possibly fly because he just kept running ahead of me. Finally he did take off a little bit to get ahead of me, but only flew about five feet. I kept waiting for a coyote to show up with some Acme TNT, but to no avail.

I, like Allison, also swam one mile last night. It took me 35 minutes, so I must be really weak. But I was the only one in the pool, which was nice.

The mall scene has been good to me here. Nordstroms, unfortunately, is way overpriced, meaning that once we move here I'll only be able to afford to shop there on Utah excursions. Banana Republic, however, was a pleasant surprise. They actually do put "wearable" stuff on sale down here. I was impressed.

I'm ready to play with Tyler again. I hope they get back early on Saturday!

[Comments] (4) Sand for One: I went to the beach on Saturday. It was a little lonely, but nonetheless relaxing listening to the waves and read with a nice ocean breeze. I got toasted on my shoulders, but nowhere else. They must really be sun adverse.

I got put in the Nursery for the duration of my California time. They have 54 nursery kids in the Ladera ward, so they have four nurseries. I am in the youngest one (so as not to be with Tyler and have him traumatized when I leave in a month). We had an 18-month old there for the first time who cried the whole time except when she had fun wiping grape juice all over my pants. Then another boy got his fingers stuck in the door, and cried for a good half hour. Another boy got his head stepped on and cried and blubbered all over me. Not having any babies in the family at present, I forget how much they drool at that age. Needless to say, I am cured of having kids until 2007 again (sorry honey)!

This week the older boys are going to sports camp all day, and Justin hates it. He was in my room hiding when I can home from running this morning. I assured him that by the time he is 17, he can kiss organized sports good-bye forever, as I have done. I forget sometimes, but it really is tough being a kid having these fears and such. Well, back to Form 3115 and FAS 109.

[Comments] (2) : Nursery went better today. It was only Ruby's second week so I took her to the see dad after an hour. That is long enough to have a child screaming in your ear. And Chris suddenly started crying for no reason. But the other Chris, my favorite, was good the whole time. I talked to the other male leader who loves nursery because it is the only time he sees his son all week. He's a lawyer still putting in his dues, and so is never home.

I can't believe I turn 24 on Thursday. Next year will be the big one, though, and that will be wierd. Thursday I have to go to LA for a tax intern dinner and then to Hollywood to a comedy club, so it's going to be one long day. Last week they took us to an Angels game and that was fun, because it was closer and we beat Boston 8-1.

[Comments] (2) Wastin Time: I have found a reality show I actually like. It's the amazing race, and is on Tuesday nights. It's a pretty cool show, though the first three episodes have kept them in South America. I thought they would do farther away and stuff. But anyway, next week they go to Russia so that should be interesting. I think it would be fun to go on the trip, and not just for the $1M prize money.

[Comments] (6) Melrose Place: I never watched the show, but that area of town isn't so hot. The comedy club we went to there last night was called Groundlings. Apparently a lot of stars got their break there. It was improv and was mostly pretty funny.

For dinner I was torn between steak and salmon. But I went with the salmon because I never get that kind of stuff with Susie (except last Pioneer Day)! I had them substitute my fried polenta for mashed potatoes because I didn't know what polenta was. When the recruiter next to me got her salmon with polenta, I knew I'd made a wise choice. It looked like tofu (even though it's corn meal) and she said it tasted too squishy. For dessert I got berries with creme. It was really good, but sad too, because the raspberries were missing. I for one find it false advertising to offer berries with creme and not include a handful of raspberries. What a travesty. I guess it was a good birthday (even though I was so busy I mostly forgot).

[Comments] (4) Utah Revisited: I can honestly say when I landed in SLC Airport on Friday night that I didn't miss the place. But Park City was nice, as it is a little bit cooler up in the canyon. Justin's condo was fun to explore, especially the new hot tub. And we finally figured out how to turn off the back porch light.

We were supposed to go outlet shopping for moi for my birthday, but we ended up spending my money on Susie instead. Oh well, I still got a cool shirt at Geoffrey Beene.

Sunday at my parent's house I finally got my birthday party. It felt a little odd to be opening presents by myself this year, as we have four or five July birthdays in the family. But I missed the big party since I am in Cal, so I got my own this year.

Now I am back at work, wishing I were instead reading The Da Vince Code. I am trying to save the rest to read on my journey to Florida on Wednesday. Not so much looking forward to this round of training--Florida in August. But I get paid for sitting on an airplane all day and for goofing off in DisneyWorld so I suppose I can't complain too much. For my musings on Brown's Code, see Frances's weblog, where I posted a comment on my thoughts thus far...

The good and the bad: The Bad: Paying for grad school (and college for the first time in my life).

The Good: Having received enough scholarships to cover about 40% of the cost. I don't even remember applying for half of the scholarhips they have awarded me....Oh well, that'll be our little secret.

[Comments] (5) Outside my Bubble: Florida was a lot of fun. I really went out of my way to meet new people and to find groups to go do stuff with. My first night I checked in about 1 am and went straight to bed. Thursday morning I went with the tax guys in my area to "Blizzard Beach." It rained a bit (cuz it's summer in Florida) so that helped keep it cool and keep the lines more bearable. And I didn't get sunburned. They have this one wicked slide that you get up to about 60 mph on. I just closed my eyes and waited to get to the bottom and feel the wedgy.

Thursday night I went to Pleasure Island and watched three OC audit interns get plastered. Needless to say, they got sent home, making our office reputation forever tarnished. They can kiss their full-time offers good-bye. Pleasure Island is an interesting concept...I wonder how Walt Disney would feel about it.

Friday was team building day (EFY for 20 year-olds) and that night we went to MGM. I really wanted to go to the Animal Park, but it closes at 6 and we didn't finish with work until 4. Since I've been to all the parks there, I went with the flow, and the consensus of the group was MGM. We went on Tower of Terror twice, and I finally got to see Fantasmic! It's a little bit different in Florida than in California. For those of you who don't know what Fanstasmic! is, you're missing out. It's a really cool show. That night we went to the pool and hot tub until the wee hours of the morning. I should mention at this point that my roommate from Denver thus far either came home at 6 am or not at all. I didn't complain about having my own room, though.

Saturday was a lot of conference sessions: some interesting, some not. That afternoon another tax intern and I went to the gym there and then went running in the rain. Then we stayed up until 2 am playing cards at the hot tub. Then life got interesting...

My roommate calls at 3 am to tell me to let him in, as he lost his key at Pleasure Island. So around 3:20 I get up to let him in, and in comes some girl with him. Next thing I know they are in their underwear in bed together. Being completely flabbergasted at this point, I now understood where he was all night. Well, I decided to turn the other cheek (literally, because I laid the other way in bed so as not to face them). My resolve was that if I heard any noises whatsoever coming from their bed, I would kick them out. But they behaved. The girl, unfortunately, has serious sinus issues and was snorting all night. When I got up Sunday morning, their were snotrags all over the floor by their bed.

The flight home took me through Cincinatti. I've been to that airport before, but never on a connecting flight. To get to another terminal requires taking a bus across the runway. Strange. Orlando's requires taking a Subway (similar to Atlanta) but not across the runway. On the flight home I saw "Shrek 2." It was like the first one, just ok in my opinion. I really don't understand all the hype about Shrek though. It's not that great.

I've got about 25 pages left in Da Vinci Code. I acutally really like it so far, though one part really confused me. The idea of Christ being married to Mary Magdelene isn't so far fetched to me, but the fact that Dan Brown tries to hint that marriage makes him more mortal than God is something I still disagree with. Word to the wise: Don't read this book in public. People all around me made me recap the story and share their 2 cents about it. I would tell them politely that it doesn't change what the Saviour did for us, and that the book is HISTORICAL FICTION! Honestly, people freak out way too much. I can still be Christian and read a fiction mystery-type novel. Geez...

My luggage made it home with me, which is always a miracle in my opinion. Feeling tired and lazy, I opted to expense a taxi ride the mile back to the office where I left my car, rather than walk back as I usually do. Well, the taxi driver went ballistic on me because he'd been waiting in line for 2 hours only to get $8 from me. Boy did he make me mad. It's not my fault that I want a taxi and don't need to go across town. At the risk of sounding racial, why is it that most taxi drivers are Indian? I don't mean to stereotype, I'm just curious why that is. One more week and I will be home with my wife again!

[Comments] (4) Reality Strikes Again: So there I was enjoying my last day at work when it email from my Corporate II professor. I have about 30 pages of reading to do before school starts in 3 weeks from now! Whimpers me: "I don't wanna go back." Any takers on a year of accounting educational experience you'll not soon forget in Provo, UT?

[Comments] (5) Viva Las Vegas: I tacked two hours onto my trip home yesterday thanks to California's obsession with the "city of sin." I thought the 15 was only off limits on Friday night, but Saturday morning was equally scary. The worst part was an accident between Baker and the state line, wherein a semi hit a truck, and splashed groceries all over the road. By the time I got there it was all cleaned up on the side of the road. So why did I still wait for an hour to get through it? Because for some odd reason, each car brakes and takes a picture as they pass the scene of the crime before moving on. Man that is so frustrating to me. It's not like buying tickets to the circus, people. Curiosity killed my patience.

The night before I left was the ward's "picnic in the park." I hate going. I try to be an adult and sit with my sister but they just talk about stuff I don't know about, so I usually end up with Tyler on my shoulders the whole time so he can play "hoop" with me. Well, the neighbors, Rob and Robert, wouldn't hear of it. So they took me to an Italian place in Rancho Santa Margarita. They literally go out to dinner every night, as neither of them like cooking. At first I thought it might be a tad akward going to dinner with a same-sex couple whom I hardly know. But it was quite the contrary. They both shared most of their meals with me, leaving no room for my own pesto. And we talked about their cruises to the Caribbean, Alaska, and upcoming one to the Mexican Riveria. Since Susie and I are planning a cruise next summer, I had lots of questions for them. FYI--They said the Caribbean cruise wasn't so great. They invited me to their home for Thanksgiving for Thai food. Yum, thai food.

[Comments] (2) Random Squares: I can tell it's going to be a semester of hills and valleys. Unfortunately, there are some big hills coming up. Oh well, it's nothing I haven't dealt with before. Off to class!

[Comments] (2) : With Grandpa Richardson passing, I too feel like I have lost someone special. My first grandpa died when I was 6, and my second grandpa died almost exactly one year ago. He, however, was 97 at his passing, and had so many grandchildren and great grandchildren (most of whom were so much older than I) that I am not sure if he even really knew who I was half of the time.

But Grandpa Richardson definitely knew me. I was the "Mormon" boy that married his cutest granddaughter. He always had a handful of questions and/or comments just for me every time I saw him. Though B-town is far from my favorite place in the world, I always looked forward to visitng Grandpa while there. I will miss that very much.

[Comments] (1) Human Nature: For ethics class I had to watch Zambardo's Stanford Prison Experiment, as well as Milgram's Yale shock therapy experiment. I think most of all it taught me to think outside the box and not be afraid to say "I'm uncomfortable with this and I am no longer participating." Blind obedience is a terrible thing. I do hope that I am conscience of the choices I make in life and do not simply "go with the flow." I think many of my faith could learn something in this venue. However, if I do disagree with something in life, I have also decided that two wrongs really don't make a right (sorry Homer). Breaking the law to bring about "justice" as a vigilante is inappropriate, I think.

It also taught me a lot about the KKK. Wearing masks really does make people believe that they are something different than they really are. With all of that in mind, perhaps I should be Spiderman for Halloween....

News Flash: Stanford has seriously got a lot of growing up to do. I can't believe the self-proclaimed "Harvard of the East" got away with something this unprofessional. I nomally am not too critical of sports reporters, (as I am guilty of sports apathy) but it was really bad.

In other news, Trust Tax exam tomorrow. Can't hardly wait.

[Comments] (1) Ironic: So it rained all weekend and now my car is clean--compliments of Mother Earth. I knew the world owed me a living....

Susie and I spent the weekend in Park City at Justin's cabin. Someone drained the hot tub, and is now on our hit list. But other than that we had fun. We got fried ice cream, yummy Vietnamese food, and Susie got spoiled beyond belief. Then yesterday we had a party for all the September birthdays in the family. Franko and I played hide-and-go seek with the kids while Jodi and Susie took the high road and talked to the adults. Their loss; I'd rather party with the kids the whole time anyway.

[Comments] (4) Forward Thinking: So what's the deal for Thanksgiving? I mean, who's inviting us where? And for Christmas, since it's our last year in Utah, we are staying here. So who's coming to visit us? Uncle Jon's house is huge now, and there's always the option of a cozy condo in Park City....

[Comments] (16) Sold Out: Michael Moore is coming to Utah. Sorry mom and Rachel, you can't come. It's sold out. But since I'll never see his movie (it's rated R) I do need to at least find out more about his views, I think.

Though I would most likely disagree with his political agenda, I am still thoroughly disgusted with the intolerance levels students display at his coming. Oh well, what can I expect from undergrads anyway?

[Comments] (14) Weekend of Bliss: Well, I finally did the unthinkable (for me, at least). I had a completely homework-free weekend. I don't think I have ever done that before. My test Friday took 90 minutes less than I planned it to, which was a bonus, cuz then the weekend began 90 minutes earlier.

I didn't watch as much conference as is ideal (only about 4 of the 10 hours) but I was busy playing Uncle John with Tyler so that others could enjoy the conference, so I felt good about that. And there's always the Ensign. I was excited to hear them mention the Newport Beach temple that is under construction.

Saturday afternoon we went to the cabin with Grandma June and the rest of the family. I took Tyler and Ember hiking, while the older nephews complained about there being no Nintendo up there. I really hope my kids aren't so into the video game scene. I'm not and neither is Susie, but then I have never ever seen Jamie or David touch the video games either so it must be one of those unexplainable generation gap things. Can't wait to deal with that one. It's an eternal debate between not giving in to letting them waste time with video games, but having my kids always want to be at the nieghbor's, who will more likely than not have them.

Sunday morning I made pumpkin spice muffins for breakfast and Susie made the cream cheese frosting for them. They were a big hit. Each kid ate about five of them. If only mom's chocolate milk hadn't been bad, the meal would have been perfect....

As of today, back into the daily grind already.

[Comments] (7) : You'll never guess who got a perfect score on their estates and trusts test. FYI--be very, very careful how you gift your wealth to others. The taxes are extremely high. That's donkeys for ya.

[Comments] (4) Curses: I only got a 97% on my Mergers & Acquisitions exam. A pox on IRC Section 338 elections.

[Comments] (7) Weekend: We watched the presidential debates while I studied Friday night. Saturday morning we took my Grandma to breakfast at IHOP. I had the pumpkin pancakes. Then we went back to her house. I looked at pictures with her while Susie played the piano. Then we had our eyes examined. Susie and I both have new glasses now. I wish my eyes would settle down, so that I can get Lasik.

Where can I go to read up on John Kerry's proposals? He says Bush is wrong this, Bush is wrong that, but the debates go by so fast that he never gets a chance to explain how he would do it differently. He better not lie to me about taxes....

[Comments] (7) Welcoming November 2: I am excited to vote for President for the first time ever. I didn't vote in Hong Kong--absentee ballots are the stupidest things. Could they make the process more difficult? Only if they turned it over to the IRS's jurisdiction.

I also welcome November 2 because by then my next round of tests will be over. In my major, we are required to have each class for 3 hours a week (hence a three credit hour class). By my teachers reserve the right in our schedules to instruct us for 4.5 hours a week. This leaves them with more flexibilty to do research, go to training meetings with the Big 4, etc. Right now I am hating it. I am being way overworked. But come November 2, the tests end and two of my tax classes go on hiatus until after Thanksgiving. That will be wonderful. Susie and I can go play everyday!

I just took a survey stating that I am more likely to vote for John Kerry (45% for him, 43% for Bush). Hmmm.... But after last night's debates I am feeling a little wary of Kerry. He wants to raise the minimum wage and at the same time increase job growth. It is my understanding, however, that the two proposals contradict each other. Maybe Senator Kerry could use a refresher in Freshman Econ. But over all, I am still an undecided voter.

Now onto my view of taxes vs. tithing. Tithing is a commandment, yet it is voluntary. Tithing is a faith-promoting experience that is all inclusive. You make income, you pay 10% of that income, regardless of whether it entails millions of dollars or only a widow's mite, so to speak. The blessings are the same in magnitude, regardless. We have a lay clergy in the church who support themselves, thus the tithes are strictly for building buildings, supporting missionaries, and overall "furthering the work of God" to us. Tithing is simply to raise funds. There are no deductions in computing tithing owed, AGI, AMT, etc. It simply is what it is.

Then there are taxes. Taxes too are a law, but could be seen as voluntary. For example, the early colonists wrote into law that not filing a tax return can send you to prison. Not paying, however, cannot. This has ties to English common law and the colonist's disgust with pauper's prisons. Taxes are not only a vehicle for raising revenue. They drive social policy. Those in favor of a flat tax are short-sighted. With a flat tax, much of the "altruism" in our nation would shrivel and die. Many individuals and corporations give to charity partly because of the tax deduction. Take that away in a flat tax environment, and you can kiss the United Way good-bye. Credits for environmentally safe companies go away, and the environment deteriorates. Having a graduated rate shows that our country still has a preference to having one spouse (normally the female, though in my family it was my father) stay at home and rear children, because there is a tax penalty, so to speak, for earning too much income. The penalty is an increased rate of tax, when you file jointly.

Taxes are not just to raise revenue. Intent underlies every rule. Thus, taxes are also a vehicle to keep society within bounds we set. That is, unless our elected officials don't follow us. But that's another can of worms.

OK, back to "work."

[Comments] (5) Hmm: I wonder when he'll dump her from the campaign trail, or if he agrees with what she said. "Click Me!"

In other news, the deer hunt starts tomorrow. Why is it that we have to manually "control" this population but we don't have a bear hunt, or chipmunk hunt, etc? Or is this the guise of NRA-happy hunters? I wonder. I was never into guns in scouts. I did the shooting thing every year at camp and never seemed to enjoy it, for whatever reason. But I do like venison.

Tonight we are babysitting the red-head kids Logan and Ember. We are going to a corn maize for some good "spooky" fun and then having a pajama party, with me and Logan in our room and Susie and Ember on the couch bed. hehehe. I'm really excited, but have a lot to accomplish today before I can "play" tonight. Unless someone wants to volunteer to study NOL limitations and 355 divisive spin-offs for me....

[Comments] (6) Sleepless In Seattle: All this cold rain lately has made me really reconsider moving to Seattle in five years. I hate getting up when it's dark and overcast, and feeling like it never got any lighter.

I hear Joe on the tests. I have three this week. But senioritis is kicking in, and I really don't care that much. I registered today for my last semester of school and I gotta say, it felt good.

Anyone have any fun Halloween plans?

All right: It's snowing. Who's jealous?

Man, I volunteered to take my niece and nephew trick-or-treating. It's going to be freezing. What was I thinking?

Pumpkin Butt: See above

Pumpkin Butt: Enjoy this

[Comments] (4) Pumpkin Butt: Enjoy this fun halloween activity on me!

[Comments] (1) Wow: I look like a million bucks huh? I must confess, I wish I could capitalize on it somehow and produce said bucks. But it's true, clothing is my weakness. I have been better at my shopping habits as of late, greatly reducing my buyer's remorse. If anyone out there is truly curious in reducing this economic reality, say so and I'll explain the iterative process.

And no I am not begging for comments this way. I'm really busy right now and only want to explain it if it's worthwhile and/or helpful to the masses.

[Comments] (11) Inflation Pools: Like Alyson, Susie and I also went to the movies last night. And like Alyson, I would have liked to have seen The Polar Express, but Susie wouldn't hear of it. I suppose it has something to do with that old Richardson tradition of telling your child, shortly after leaving the womb, that Santa is indeed a farce. I sincerely hope that is not a Walsh tradition. But I digress already...

We saw The Incredibles and it was really good. I had my doubts about this one, thinking it would be a cliche movie hero movie, but I was proved wrong. We went to the last matinee of the day (5:30) to save $6. Some things in life just outstrip inflation, I suppose. Like medicine and college education, I guess movie making is just one of those items. Though one wonders. For example, for the past 3 or so years, movies have been advertising on screen before the show starts. This brings in revenue. But have ticket prices gone down as a result? No way Jose. I hear in Century City and Hollywood it costs $13 to see a movie. It is $9 in the OC. But Ernst & Young audits a movie chain, so I get discount tickets for $6. I have always wondered, what with Hollywood being so Democrat and all, why the stars have never made some of their features pro bono, as a way to thank the proletariat. I guess that is one of the many Democratic enigmas I am never allowed to understand, as an outsider. I guess since we all still pay the big bucks to see the flicks, that supply and demand still holds true. Maybe Rachel can calculate the elasticity of demand for me, as an econ graduate.

But I digress again. The point: The Incredibles was, well, incredible. It truly lived up to the Disney/Pixar name of its predecessors. I give it two enthusiastic thumbs up; fine holiday fun!

[Comments] (7) For Susie: Susie is mad that no one is posting these days, so I guess I'll say a word or two. First of all, I cannot believe that K-Mart bought Sears. I never really liked K-Mart, but was indifferent to Sears. According to the WSJ (the best newspaper out there), many K-Marts will now become Searses. They won't fool me though; I won't patronize either.

I have been stewing over a Christmas wish list the last few days and, unfortunately, I have all the tangible things I need right now. If anyone can conjure up a way for me to get my degree faster, well, I would be ok with that. But here is my attempt at Christmasosity:

1. Ties (from either Van Heusen, Geoffrey Beene, or J Crew). I am very particular about my ties.

2. Money for my "Susie earned a cruise to Mexico extravaganza" fund.

That's really it, for now at least. I'll keep the world posted as Susie tells me what else I want for Christmas.

[Comments] (3) Good Day: Today was fun. I was in a car accident on Thursday at the intersection of University Avenue and Bulldog. I was turning left at 9:00 pm and had a green turn arrow. Well, you know some pedestrians, they think they can cross the street when they are good and ready (Dostoevsky's Superman complex strikes again) and since it was dark I didn't see him until he was upon me (not literally, thankfully). I stopped in time to give him a dirty look, but the truck behind me didn't. I heard screeching, and then it was bumper cars. Just kidding, but the girl (Jordan) lightly nudged my car forward and left some pretty rubber stains on my bumper. She gave me her info and I went on my way.

Today I went to get an estimate on my damages and learned that rubbing alcohol was all that was needed. I called Jordan to tell her the good news (we didn't file a police or insurance report) and she called back later to thank me profusely for letting her off the hook. Well, of course I should, it was the masked, unnamed pedestrian who is to blame. Anyway, glad to be done with that.

Then Sus and I went to SLC. Susie wanted to go to this soup place under the freeway (which, rumor has it, is run by The Soup Nazi). But they are closed on Saturday. So there we were, in the snow, under the freeway, with a train barreling down on us. I darted us to safety only to end up in Rose Park, the scariest place in all of Utah. The things I'll do for my wife.

Well, we had to settle for eating at the Crossroads Mall, and then went and saw The Testaments. It was a sea of red up there, as the Utah Utes were all decked out to support their BCS-aspiring team. We BYU fans are more discreet this year. Then off to the distribution center. I wanted to buy Mr. Kreuger's Christmas, but Susie forbid it. That movie will always have a soft spot in my life, partly because Jimmy Stewart is in it, and partly because the first time I ever saw it was in Hong Kong in Chinese. It reminded me of what Christmas is like in the states and made me nostalgic and hopeful. Christmas in the Kong is a hodgepodge of eclectic neon lights and confused festivities. My favorite sign is still the one on the side of the mall in Ma On Shan that said Happy Christmas and had chickens dancing in it. I guess I must have missed that part in the Bible story where the chicken-herders came to worship the Lord. Either that or Christmas does come earlier each year, as it was really a quasi-Easter banner. But such is the Asian equation, and we will never know the truth.

Then it was back to the mall, where we had to spend money to validate four hours of parking. So I got Susie a gift in Nordstrom's, and we got Rachel a gift as well. From there, it was off to the Gateway (this fab, upscale outdoor mall that makes one reminisent of Rodeo Drive on a really cold day). It wasn't all that for me, however. There we didn't find anything worth purchasing, and had to pay a $1 fee for the Gateway allowing us to tout their wares. But we did check out the planetarium while we were there, and have decided it is worthy of taking Leonard and Sumana to.

I like downtown SLC. It is clean, relatively safe, and has a nice blend of old school and new school. If only Provo could do that....

Note to Reader: Susie didn't really forbid me from getting Mr. Kreugar's Christmas. She just discouraged it. But it makes the story flow better my way.

One final note to Sumana. I hear you want a necktie? I am intrigued. Give me the details on what you are looking for in this necktie and I may be of assistance.

[Comments] (6) News Flash: I saw a bumper sticker the other day that, though outdated now, was quite catchy. It said: Save the Environment; Plant a Bush back in Texas. Anyway, I thought mom/Rachel/Alyson/Leonard/Sumana/countless others may have liked that.

My old roommate Jake just stopped by to visit. He is at UW in his first year of Medical School. We had a nice long talk (mostly about politics). He said I was the most educated, open-minded Republican he had ever met. I said thank you.

We leave tonight for the OC. My parents left last night and hit snow problems in Cedar City as well as in California that shut Victorville down. But they stayed in Primm anyway. Then this morning there was an oil truck spill in Zzxyx that shut the 15 down. We pray our journey will be less eventful.

This just in: The peppermint bark is a huge success (having passed Susie's rigorous pickiness test). Though she hates peppermint, she likes peppermint bark. Yay! There is still hope for seafood, in some shape and/or form!!

[Comments] (3) Krazy Kwanzaa: We had a very enjoyable Thanksgiving. It was fun to see my family in the OC, where Susie made scrapbooking packets with my sister while I jumped on the trampoline with Tyler. Tyler turns 3 tomorrow so we took him a present. He saw it and was so excited, calling it a "Game Board" over and over. It was actually a golf game, but he mostly seemed to like using the clubs to play Star Wars. A violent toy? I really must learn to analyze every toy better for its potential abuses.

Then it was up to B-town. But we paused only briefly to bid two silly dogs farewell and it was off to the big SF. Everyone kept trying to scare me about the driving, but it honestly didn't seem that bad. (The traffic, I mean; the hills definitely are a bit intimidating). Thanksgiving was fun, but my sickness started that day, so I mostly laid in a warm bed freezing (every time I went downstairs I got so cold).

Friday was a bit warmer and walking along the Golden Gate Bridge would have to qualify as a highlight of a life. It was very cathartic, especially due to some personal stuff I am sorting through right now. I didn't want to leave. If only there weren't noisy cars next to me, it may have been heaven. Kudos to Leonardr for the good times with a great oldie.

Then, since I "had never been to San Fran before," we went to Fisherman's Wharf and to Chinatown. As Leonardr noted, the seafood was nothing to sneeze about. But Chinatown was a nostalgic feast not only for the eyes, but for the olfactories as well. The smells took me back. All that was missing was blood in the streets, and a Hong Kong market it would be. I had a delightful time conversing in Chinese, as well as nibbling on some old Asian favorites from my days of yore.

I drove us home, where I got to experience Pea Soup for breakfast and we recovered mom's purse. Everyone slept the rest of the way so it was just me, the 5, and my thoughts (a rather dangerous thing). We made it home without a hitch until right before the 58 turnoff, wherein the accident of the day occurred. I don't see how anyone could have survived; did you see it in the paper, mom? It's funny how I always grumble about being stuck there until I see the wreckage and then suddenly realize just how grateful I am to be stuck in traffic, and not between a car and pavement.

Well, that was just the beginning of my feeling blessed. On the way home we laughed at all the people on the 15 headed from Vegas to LA, only to literally get what we paid for.

The 15 from Cedar City to Fillmore was pandemonium. Snow, wind, cold, and lots o' cars. I for one am glad for all of the traffic; it made it easy to stay on the road when you could see who to follow. Otherwise, we may have spent the night in an unsuspecting farmer's fields outside of Parowan-agonah-onihah-ites. Wow, those Southern Utah names. All told, we got to go 10 mph for about 4 hours in the dark. Susie's windshield blades stopped working because they were all icy, so I stuck my hand out the window and tried to break it off. Susie did an excellent job navigating the way. Though I did my part in keeping us from getting stuck as well. Susie desperately needed a bathroom but the exit she tried to take had three other cars already stuck on it, so I rerouted us to another, safer station. It was one of those rare times when the road less traveled should stay that way. Traversers of the 15 beware!

Other highlights include visiting Grandma Richardson, teasing Rachel about using mom's walker (sorry, Rach), taking the free tram around SF while some guy smiled at us out of his van window all along the Pier, and being with all of my wonderful in-laws!

[Comments] (5) Never In All Israel: I had my estates final last Saturday, and my Financial final today. Then tomorrow is my ethics final, and I don't have a Strategy final, just a paper due tomorrow. That leaves me with only one final during finals week next week. Hmm, well, I guess I can work and enjoy a 3-week break before diving into my last semester. I'll know how students at other universities feel I guess.

I had to change my BYU password today. I've had my old password since before my mission, and they are just making me change it my final semester here? I am NEVER going to remember that I changed it.

It appears that both the Y and the U are coach shopping. I don't know who would want the job. Honestly, every year your job is on the line, not to mention that your name is daily burned in efigy by a very unforgiving quasi-mob called fans and alumni. Sounds worse than being a Senator!

In conclusion, here is the latest from a Dr. Seuss know-it-all.

Mom, as the resident expert, I would be interested to know if this article is fact or fiction. And to think I thought it was just silliness. (Sorry, you have to scroll to the bottom to read the article, entitled "The Green Side of Seuss." All other articles are little more than Mormon dribble. Read at your own peril).

[Comments] (3) Workin' the Connections: OK, so who here knows someone who knows someone who is related to someone that can get us a good deal on our upcoming cruise/trip to somewhere exotic?

[Comments] (3) Four Funerals and a Service Project in an Angel Tree: Today one of my coworkers went to a funeral. Then as I was driving home for lunch, I saw a funeral in the cemetary. And Susie and I are reading The Christmas Box wherein Mary's little girl died. I guess when we aren't faced with it everyday, we sometimes forget that death is always affecting someone.

But on to happier news....Susie and I have been sponsoring the United Way Sub for Santa again this year in our ward. We went shopping yesterday and have now acumulated gifts for 12 children in our living room. Tonight we deliver them to the United Way, so that the parents can wrap them. It's interesting to see who donates, who doesn't, and who says they will but never come through.

It is also refreshing to see how much people give. My finance professor last year told us that "If you aren't willing to give when you have little, you will be less likely to give when you have a lot." I am happy our neighbors are so generous with the little they have. This project always makes it feel like Christmas.

[Comments] (10) Consipracies among the Women's Movement: So Thursday was my last final. After the test, I decided to celebrate the blessed event with some Susie-less Christmas shopping. Some Secret Santa I turned out to be. Though I was able to acquire one gift on my own, I had to call Susie to ask for help in buying the others.

I wanted to buy her some nice clothes for her job. So I snooped in her closet for pant and shirt sizes, and set off to the mall. Well, her pant size appears, on average, to be a 10, and her shirt size a Small/Medium. So imagine my surprise when, at the two stores I looked at, the shirt sizes came in numbers and the pant sizes came in letters.

What a joke! I think some big shot poo-pah at Calvin Klein or Neiman Marcus (a woman no doubt) decided that it gave her power to confuse men this way. Kinda like the sophisticated, 21st century answer to burning one's bra, so to speak. Well, if I ever meet up with her....

I guess Susie will have to rely on Santa Claus for her lavish presents this year. I'm sure his cronies (the elves) don't conform.

[Comments] (3) Revenge of the Couch Potatoes: So I don't ask for much in life. I enjoy sipping hot wassail and watching "The Amazing Race" on Tuesday nights. Susie and I had borrowed Elf from my sister-in-law, and decided we would watch that until 8, and then switch over to our much anticipated reality show.

Except the show was ENDING when we tunred the movie off. Apparently it was moved up an hour to make way for a bunch of Elvis impersonators to sing Christmas carols. The Chinese have the only phrase that adequately portarys my emotions at such a time as this: "GAUCHOA!" These really are the times that try men's souls.

The most infurating aspect of it all was that I missed it for Elf. All I heard from everyone was how funny this show was, and how well Will Farrell did in his debut movie. I don't know who could possibly find his humor funny, excepting some eight year-old who has yet to be exposed to Home Alone or The Three Stooges before. Honestly, the humor was trite, predictable, and way overdone. I didn't laugh the first time Will got hit by a taxi, nor did I laugh the six other times it happened. I didn't laugh when he beat up the "fake" Santa, nor did I laugh when he pulled down his tights in front of his father's wife. I saw every joke coming a mile away, and saw every plot set-up's ensuing ending about 40 minutes into this "show." Give me the good old humor of Ralphie and his Christmas Story anyday. The kid getting his tongue stuck to the pole; now that's comedy!

Now a few words to my favorite Hindu, Sumana: I was saddened that you will be unable to come to Zion next week and bask in her glory. You'll miss Temple Square, cold, inversions without snow, a Christmas present I wrapped myself for you, peppermint bark, and more. But I understand your plight. Customer service. Been there; suffered through that. I did my time for eight months until I was promoted to accounting. Now in my new job, I sit next to the customer service peeps. They bicker and scream and backbite their cohorts who don't take as many calls as they do in a day, work long hours (and holidays), and no one says "Thank You" often enough. My only bit of advice is that you initiate a career move as soon as is humanly possible. I also hope that you make it here before we skidaddle next year.

In closing, Christmas Eve movie this year (now that LOTR is over and Middle Earth is saved) is A Series of Unfortunate Events. I am really getting excited, and am almost done with the eleventh book! And we already have next year's movie picked out: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, hitting theaters December 2005. In an effort to be PC, I will close with a simple Happy Holidays!

[Comments] (3) Ta Dum!: Here are some neat-o pics of my temple!

Also, Sumana, I am very excited to see you researching Mormon doctrine and Mormonisms in general. But just want to remind you that things posted on the web may not necessarily portray the church, as well as an individual or group's perspective on the church. Susie and I are always available to "take your interest to the next level" if you wish. We are just a phone call away! (Or a 10-hour drive away, if you prefer). Maybe we should meet halfway in Reno some weekend.

[Comments] (2) Ebert & John: So. Series of Unfortunate Events, the movie, is highly recommended by this writer. From the very beginning about the happiest elf, to the very ending, including a spyglass society and a bunko marriage, I was enthralled! Jim Carrey did an excellent job in his multiple roles, and did a job of not overshadowing the movie with his witty personality we all so love (or despise, depending on your particular affinity to laughter). Sunny, played by twins, was adorable. She made me laugh; she made me cry; but mostly she made me laugh.

Unlike the first handful of books, the movie was made with the end in mind. It concluded itself like it must, but was open-ended enough for a series to be born. Yes, it's true: A Series of Unfortunate Events could easily turn into a series of movies. We would be fortunate to have it so. For those of you who don't see it, for shame.

Today at work I was trying to think of some fun wintertime activities Susie and I can do, what with it being our last winter in this cold, dark, forboding place we call Provo. Then I stumbled across this article in the Deseret News.

To me, the funnest activities include the sledding with the built-in lift (how ingeneous) and the Day at "Utah Olympic Park." The day includes a run down the bobsled track. But with a sticker price of $200 per person, that is one dang expensive minute. I guess that rules that one out; sorry Susie.

Leonard and mom are on their way, stuck somewhere between Nephi and a hard place as we speak. Though they are Sadie-less, we welcome them nonetheless.

[Comments] (6) Endings & Beginnings: Time to wrap up the holidays in a boring entry. After seeing the printed blog books, I understand that this is really a journal of sorts, and since I can type faster than I can write, I'll "blog" my boring life, if not for perusers of, then for posterity (who also probably do not really care).

So. Grades came out. Four A's and one A-. But the GPA is stuck at 3.90, and will stay there indubitably. GPA's, like the stock market and interest rates, just don't go up these days too much. They can plummet, however. But I am proud of my efforts.

Bought books today for my very very last semester of grad school. Yay! But I only bought half of them, spent over $300, and some of them were used. The cashier noted that buying tax textbooks is almost as painful at paying taxes. I concurred while signing away my Christmas earnings.

In case I never noted this before, I left my old campus job back in November. My boss was affecting my personal life negatively, and my testimony required me to leave. Our neighbor, who also had worked there for three years, left as well. Enough was enough. So since I only had one final during finals week (the others were early), I started a full-time job at Q Comm in Orem. They sell prepaid phone cards at convenience stores for AT&T, Verizon, etc. If a card misprints, I verify the card was never used and refund it. It's a nice job, I can take as many breaks as I want, and it makes me appreciate customer service. I sit next to the two customer service people (they are very understaffed) and what they go through reminds me why I am getting a college education. Actually, one of them has a degree in international studies from BYU, so I guess it really reminds me why I am in school getting a practical, useful education.

Christmas was with the Chadwick clan this year. Highlights included seeing A Series of Unfortunate Events. My family of 15 took up a whole row of seats at Jordan Commons. I also played "Baseball Monopoly" with Justin multiple times, and played it with Tyler as well. Tyler's verson had us using the markers (a pitcher and a batter). I was always the pitcher and Tyler was the batter. I would have the marker pitch every time Tyler said "Pitcher me, John!"

We visited Grandma June, who gave all the grandkids a whole $10 if we came to her house on Christmas Day. And Christmas Eve was spent at Aunt Brigitta's, where I ate as much Swedish bread as I could get my hands on. Susie got to be Santa Lucia and hand out the candy with a candle crown on her head (an old Swedish tradition).

For Christmas I got ties (exciting I know) and a DVD set of Charlie Brown holiday shows. Watching those shows with the kids made me feel like I was 7 again.

My parents bought a trundle day bad for Susie and I to sleep on, but I didn't sleep well any of the nights there (and it had nothing to do with excitement for Santa Claus). I honestly think I sleep better on the floor with the kids.

We also made Christmas cookies, and Ember was so excited to help. I was always trying to get Ember and Tyler to agree on the same game, as they wanted me to be two places at once to play exclusively with them. For New Year's, we are also spending it with Logan and Ember.

Monday night mom and Leonard came. I worked while they were here, with the exception of Wednesday. That day we went to the Soup Kitchen in SLC and to the planetarium at the Gateway. Leonard and Susie looked at the exhibits while I waited in line for 45 minutes with about 600 ankle-biters screaming loud enough to give me a headache. The star show was on a satellite headed to Saturn to take pictures. Apparently it is the first of a mini-series, as the satellite had yet to relay any pictures back to Earth yet. A rather disappointing show, if I do say so, especially at $8 a head. Oh well, it was educational (in a speculative, we really don't know the truth about Saturn, way).

The used book store had a copy of Little Black Sambo, a book we had when I was small. I longed to buy it, but since it is so rare, the children's ten-page picture book was going for 75 bones. I couldn't justify the cost, since one of our children would probably rip it to shreds anyhow. I'll save myself the money and the anticipated ansgt.

Reading about the earthquake and tsunami in Asia has occupied my free time lately. Though I am glad it did not reach the Kong, I am sad to know that so much death and destruction could honestly have been avoided. Susie and I have pledged a meager amount to LDS Humanitarian Aid to help; it's not much, but should help somebody I hope. My prayers go out to those people. At times like this, many reports I have read conclude with the writer contemplating why God would allow such a thing to happen. The only answer I can give is that God does not micromanage our lives, but does take care of us. His work and glory is to "bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of mankind." That doesn't include anything about preserving physical life or pain in this life. I hope those affected can find closure to this catastrophe and find peace in their own timeframe.

It has been a good 2004 and I look forward to embracing a good 2005.

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