Friday, June 19, 2009

Road Trip

Well, the polls are in, and the masses have spoken. We are cheapskates. Fine. Just because we're living in Jake's brother's basement...I better stop while I have a shred of dignity left. :)

We left Chicago on Monday morning and even managed to avoid traffic. We meant to fill up before we got on the freeway (er, tollway--ew), but forgot. We got off in Naperville thinking that there would be gas stations and the like right off the highway. Uh, no. We drove around for almost half an hour trying to find a place to fill up. Eventually we did find one, filled up, and got back on the road.

For various reasons, we turned south at Des Moines and headed toward Missouri (shout out to Sheri). I will proudly state that I drove that particular stretch, one stretch more than I drove on the drive to Chicago last year. We decided to stop off in Liberty, Missouri to check out Liberty Jail, where Joseph Smith spent over four months in the dead of winter on spurious charges. The jail was torn down long ago, but a very accurate replica has been built in its place.

The ceiling was only 6 feet high, shorter than several of the imprisoned men. The missionary on duty told us some interesting stories, and then we headed back on the road after refilling our water bottles.
Did we mention we did this without air conditioning? We decided to be frugal and only repair the necessary parts before leaving Illinois, specifically the front axles. We could wait for Mr. B to repair the rest. So we drank lots of water and sprayed ourselves down with a spray bottle. Luckily, the weather mostly cooperated and we didn't boil too much. The weather, however, did not cooperate Monday night. We had hoped to get over halfway through Kansas, but we were hit with a massive rainstorm as it started getting dark. Jake is an excellent driver, but even he pulled over for a few minutes. Like most downpours, it only lasted a few minutes, but I was white-knuckling it. Naturally, going 30 slowed us down considerably, and I had a massive headache and upset stomach (which I attribute to the dried mangoes), so Jake kindly stopped off at Hays for the night. We also had two other storms we would have been racing, so I'm very glad we stopped.

The next morning was sunny and warm and was about to get a lot warmer, according to weather.com, so we were up and out just after 8. If you haven't been to Kansas, you're not really missing out. Everything you thought about Kansas is true. Flat. Yellow and green. Empty. See below.


Jake was a real trooper for doing almost all of the driving. Good man. You can see how excited he is.

So. Seven states in two days (Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah). We're at Benson and Sam's house in Kaysville and Jake is already hard at work. I've been helping Sam with various projects and doing some reading. We're happy to be nearer to so many of you. Give us a call and maybe we'll play sometime.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Blogs are for Pictures of Cute Babies

A lesson on brand management:




That's some good product placement... Is that the New Yorker on his belly button? One commenter at MR noted all the wasted space on their faces...

HT: Cowen

Monday, June 8, 2009

Discoveries

Jake and I babysat for some friends of ours Friday night. And by "babysat," I mean that we walked in just after the parents put the kids to bed, sat on the couch and watched The Tale of Despereaux from Redbox, talked with the parents for over an hour when they got home at 10:30, never actually saw any of the three children the whole time we were there, and got a gallon of milk for our troubles. We also flipped through their 70 cable channels, something we haven't done in a year. And you know what? We are not missing a dang thing. During prime-time viewing on a Friday night, we saw snippets of reality shows, LOTS of commercials, an infomercial or two, WWE wrestling (we watched a whole three minutes of that and laughed), and several poorly acted Spanish-language soap operas. Cable would totally be a waste of our money right now.

Which brings me to my next point. Apparently, Jake and I have a reputation among the other LDS Kellogg folk for being the *ahem* most frugal couple. Part of me wears that label with pride; every dollar we don't spend is a dollar we don't have to pay back with interest. On the other hand, I've realized just how cheap we are. We live 2.5 miles away from school (everyone else lives within walking distance) so we didn't have to pay what I consider exorbitant rent. I shop at Food 4 Less and bag my own groceries. I looked online for about an hour today to figure out who had the best deal on a car adapter kit for my iPod, and the only reason we're even getting the adapter (to replace the one that was stolen from our car last August) is so we don't go nuts on the two-day trek across the country next week. I got mad when Food 4 Less got rid of the loose carrots at $.58/lb and made me buy the 2 lb. bag that's $1.53. Have I crossed the line from frugal to total cheapskate? (That's not rhetorical. I posted a poll.) We haven't yet resorted to stealing mayonnaise packets from restaurants yet, but I think I may have encouraged Jake to do something like that to avoid taking a jar of mustard to Utah. Uh oh.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Wacky Weather

It has been June now for six days. The summer solstice, MIDSUMMER, is coming up in two weeks. You know what's happening right now in Chicago? It's 55 degrees outside. The average high for June 6 is 78 degrees. If weather were education, it would be in resource class right now. Jake and I went to the Kellogg LDSSA barbecue for lunch. We could see our breath. Everyone was huddled up by the grill. We're home now. I put on Jake's polarfleece pajama bottoms (thanks, Mom, for getting him those!) and am relying on the warmth of my laptop. You see, the boiler for the radiator was turned off about two weeks ago. And why not? It was the end of May, for crying out loud. Unfortunately, we hit a rather cold snap requiring us to actually put blankets on our bed at night. I guess I'll wait to get to Utah before I break out the flipflops.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Little Innovations of Life

Happy June. Maybe now Chicago will stay out of the 40's at night.

Speaking of Chicago, we had a pretty crazy weekend with seven shot dead in six different shootings. What can I say, it's a crazy violent place. I say the U.S. should pull out now. Chicago has a long history of violence and it's projected to continue. Some say that a "heave" in law enforcement will quell the violence, but I believe this will only add to the problem and increase the number of deaths. A "heave" would only add to the number of guns firing on the street and would paint targets on our brave law enforcement's backs. I encourage each of you to protest the United States' involvement in Chicago by holding up a sign at your state capitol that says, "THE HEAVE HAS FAILED. PULL OUT OF CHICAGO NOW!"

Of course I am kidding, but that would be very funny if a protest were put together to do that....

Business Week has an article worth reading called, "The Failed Promise of Innovation in the U.S." It makes some interesting points that I won't get in to here. However, I did want to make note of a couple other little innovations of our time.

Tyler Cowen points out one of the latest innovations in cheating, corrupted-files.com. With a corrupted file purchased at this site, you can send it to your professor in the place of an assignment that's due. By the time he informs you that the file is corrupted, you have bought enough time to finish your assignment. Clever, but honesty would be a great new innovation as well. For some reason it reminded me of Keith Hennessey's post on the stimulus (brilliant and clear points from a Keynesian economist).

E-cigarettes are becoming popular quite quickly and are causing a kerfuffle among regulators. Electronic cigarettes have no harmful second-hand smoke (just water vapor). Also, it does not deliver tar or any of the carcinogenic substances. It appears that much of the real controversy stems from two issues: a massive loss of tax revenue for states (I find it funny that states got addicted to cigarette taxes. It looks like they will have to revamp their lottery revenues.) and the "public shock" of seeing people smoke indoors. *Cue Mrs. Flanders, "Think of the children."

That's it for now.... I kicked the flu. Now I just got to kick two more finals. Interestingly, this quarter I had to do a couple 30 page papers instead of finals. If you have any questions about the financials and turnaround strategy of Pier 1 Imports, how an airline predicts which passengers will show up or not, or projections for U.S. debt/GDP ratios, I just may be able to help.

Have a great rest of the week and be good.