31 July 2008

The Dangers of Costco

I almost died in the Costco parking lot today!

That wasn't what you expected, huh? I imagine that when most of you read the title of the blog you thought, "Heck, yes! I hate going to Costco. It's SO dangerous! Every time I go, I buy stuff in bulk that I really would only want in a smaller quantity. Yet I justify getting more because it's wholesale." Okay, maybe I'm the only one who buys unneeded items at Costco.

But the OTHER reason why Costco is dangerous is because the people who go there are in The Modern Rutt, as I like to call it: they want to pay less for more, they want food to be ready to eat faster, and they don't want to take the time to exercise off the extra calories, so they're either obese or they buy bulk Hoodia pills at Costco. (P.S. I don't recommend looking up obese in google. It's not a pretty picture.)

Back to the point... me! For lunch today I decided to go to Costco because I needed gas in my Toyota Matrix. When I arrived at the Costco gas pump, there weren't many cars in line. I sat idle in the back of the gas area for a bit trying to remember on which side of the car my gas tank was located, when I noticed in my peripheral vision, a large blue mini-van (also typical of Costco) backing up at a speed of about 20mph.

Uh, a little fast for a parking lot Sir/Ma'am! The car was swerving right and left in my direction. I remained in the back of the gas area watching, thinking to myself, "The driver of the mini-van is probably tired of waiting two minutes for that particular two-sided gas pump. Even though all queues are the same length, said driver will probably back up half way into the gas area, since that is how far they would need to back up to get into a new line."

In the amount of time it took me to think this long, but very insightful thought, the car continued to swerve at intense speeds in my direction, NOT stopping half way. Only feet from my car did I recognize this and start to scream. He was definitely not stopping half way. He wanted to come all the way to the back of the parking lot and stop in my driver's-side door.

Now this is going to sound very much like Seriously, So Blessed; but I swear it was only by divine intervention that I was able to stop screaming and honk the horn. Milliseconds after I honked, the minivan was able to halt to a complete stop.... INCHES away from crashing in my driver's-side window. Though there was no damage, let's just say that I was more than grateful that my parents insisted that I have side air-bags when I purchased my first car.

Hyperventilating, I stayed idle in the back of the gas area to regain composure before even thinking about my original task of remembering on which side of my car the gas tank was located. Meanwhile, Mr. Minivan sped his modern-self to a new, shorter line. When I finally had enough strength to put my hand on the steering wheel and press lightly on the gas pedal to bring myself up to the adjacent gas pump, Mr. Minivan came jogging over from his place.

"I'm so glad you honked the horn!" Me too, Mr. Minivan... ... He continued, "I looked back in my rear view mirror and there was nothing back there." That's because you're driving a minivan.

My new cousin-in-law Kyle says that Costco gas causes more maintenance issues in cars than other gas brands. While I'm still waiting for the stats report on that rumor, I'm starting to believe that Costco fuel does add to the danger of store.

P.P.S. Happy 2 Month anniversary to us!

18 July 2008


My husband, Scott, doesn't know his own strength. On Tuesday of this week he flipped open his cellular phone and watched the top half detach from the bottom, wires and all. This happened while he was at work, so when he came home distraught, his little pout begged for sympathy.

I didn't give him much. "Oh, that's too bad, Pookes! Good thing my contract with T-mobile is up in September," I said. His pout didn't like the idea of several months without cellular connection. His poor phone is like a chicken after its head is chopped off... the bottom half still runs. In fact, at 6:30 a.m. the bottom half of Scott's phone called his sister Christie and left a 20 minute static message.

Then, Scott had a brilliant idea! He could use the Bluetooth he had only used before as an ear accessory to initiate calls from his decapitated phone. The picture to the right demonstrates how one might use said
bottom-half-of-phone/Bluetooth contraption.

Exhibit A:Scott chatting with his sister Christie, for real this time.

Scott is now convinced that decapitated phones are the wave of the future. He told me I should get a Bluetooth for my flip phone, and then asked, "If you have multiple Bluetooth devices, do you call them Blueteeth?" Suuuurrre, Scott!

And now for those who are anxious to see pictures of our semi-decorated apartment, I took the following pictures this evening. Ignore untidiness and focus on our new decorative pieces.

(Left: our cute kitchen table and extra kitchen shelving, Above: Spike in his new home next to our 3 Ls art)

(Left: Our new, big, red, Paris clock and Right: Yes, a picture of our bathroom)

(Left: King-sized guest room which will be cleaner when we have our queen bed in the other room, Right: This image is for Christie. Its coming off the wall when we get wedding pictures.)

15 July 2008

Passion for Business Learning

Anyone that knows me will also knows that I have a passion for business and marketing. In fact, if you were to ask my best friend, Maura, she would tell you about one post-ER drive where I was hopped up on morphine. (I promise, this story is going somewhere) We were driving back to her parents house in Farr West after visiting the hospital, and we passed by one of those electronic bank signs that tell you the time and temperature. I don't remember the phrasing of the ad that was displayed after seeing 2:42 a.m., but I do remember commenting on how and why the advertisement was effective. I ALSO remember Maura and Cole laughing hysterically at me. Only I would be analyzing an electronic bank advertisement in the wee hours of the morning while overpowered by hospital drugs. I can guarantee, though, that my analsis was very insightful.

Knowing that little tidbit of personal information, you may not be surprised to know that I was also entirely intrigued when my BzzAgent FrogPond showed a link to HarvardBusiness.org. Harvard has one of the top MBA programs in the country (of course that would make sense since they are one of the most prestigious schools in the U.S.). In fact, the current president of BYU - Idaho is the former dean of the Harvard Business School. Must be why the Harvard Business program is so excellent! Or it may have something to do with the school's focus on student case studies. In either case, Harvard Business Reviews are known as a great resource in the business world. The publication provides real-time facts and helpful tips to improve your business by studying great businesses and leaders from around the world.

My visit to the Harvard Business Publishing site grabbed me from the start with the home page featured article. This article, written by a certain Jeff Stibel, highlights a contest initiated by Netflix to improve the online, video rental company's recommendation system. Computer geeks universally used complex algorithms in attempt to resolve this problem and win the prize. However, it was not until an unemployed psychologist took on the task that victory was found. The psychologist used his knowledge of the brain to create a program that would more accurately recommend movies that one might enjoy based on similarities to other movie watchers/recommenders. The author of the article compares this discovery to facts in a recent top-seller, Blink (one of my favorite books on marketing and the brain). With such an inspired recommendation system, I am now excited to start my four-month queue on Netflix, given to me and Scott as a wedding present from a very dear and corporate-hot friend!

If you have a chance, you should visit HarvardBusiness.org and see what it has to offer. You may even become just as enthused as I am about brainy Netflix and digital bank signs.

09 July 2008

Empowering Africa

First of all, let me just say that for this blog I learned how to capture a screen shot. I did some web research and found that for Windows systems, keyboards typically have a Print Screen button. I stared at my keyboard for awhile and found that it has a "Prt Scrn" button. Once your screen shows the display you want to capture, all you need to do is press the Print Screen button. You then paste the copied image into an image application and save. The task was slightly difficult as this computer doesn't have a picture application, so I'm quite proud of myself that I was able to successfully upload the image onto my blog.

A couple of months ago I noticed that my friend Shawna Hulme Packer had a message under her chat name, saying that her husband had been gone for weeks and would be home soon. Since she was newly married, I wondered why her husband had been away for so long. She responded to my Google chat to inform me that Ed was in Africa installing merry-go-rounds in village schools to provide power. He was part of a senior capstone group from BYU that traveled to Ghana for the project. I thought the idea was ingenious: converting child-play energy into electrical power to light village school houses in rural Africa! So ingenious, I remember telling friends and family about it.

Today I was reminded of my conversation with Shawna when I saw an article on BYU's webpage about the project in Ghana.

The article explained that a company called Empower Playgrounds had used donor support and BYU manpower to install the playground equipment for village schools in Essam, Ghana this spring. With my interests in Africa and public health, I HAD to go to the website to oggle their technology and mission of the organization. The website is under construction, but you can see a sneak peek of what the site will look like... I'm impressed!

The idea is simple. It's a wonder it hasn't been thought of before. I wouldn't be surprised if we see more kenetic playgrounds being constructed around the world.

For more information, visit http://www.empowerplaygrounds.org/main/.