Monthly Archives: February 2008
About one month ago, I got my hands on a new toy — the iPod touch. It has 16 gigs of storage space (sufficient for my needs right now) and plays music, displays pictures and shows videos. These are all things that my 30 GB video iPod does already, so why do I love this little device you ask? Well, it’s not because of the Internet capabilities or the ability to access YouTube videos since those features don’t work unless you’re in a hot spot with an open, non-protected signal.
No, wow factor for my iPod touch is just what its name indicates. The “touch” screen interface. It is so cool. I love it. It’s hard to describe how cool it is to tap, pinch, flick and slide my fingers across its sleek clear face and have this mini computer respond easily to what I want it to do. It’s really awesome. In case you haven’t heard of this sweet new iPod, here’s a quick video for you.
I used my iPod touch daily, and I listen to music, podcasts (NPR’s “Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me” news quiz show is one that I never miss) and other audio files, like LDS general conference talks and audio scriptures. I rarely watch movies on it because I haven’t yet figured out how to convert my DVDs to this format, plus, who really wants to watch a movie on a little screen like that. I have bought a few $1.99 TV show episodes from iTunes, and they work great!
Ultimately, I’d like to have an iPhone which does all of the above mentioned things, but also has a phone, a camera and Internet access wherever there is cell phone coverage. But I just can justify $70+ per month for a service contract. Perhaps someday… (wistful sigh)
For years, my brother Aaron has been trying to get me addicted to the TV show Lost. I resisted his attempts to get me hooked because I was busy with graduate school and didn’t really understand the appeal of a show about a bunch of people stranded on an island.
Well, I finished my MBA about six months ago and my wife got me into Heroes,which I came to really enjoy. At Christmas, I told Aaron that he really needed to watch that show because I knew he’d love it. So we made a pact. He would watch Heroes if I would watch Lost. And we both got hooked.
It worked out especially well for me since I started from Season 1 during the writer’s strike, and now Robin and I are halfway through Season 2. We’re currently recording all the episodes of Season 4 on our DVR, but we won’t watch them until we’re caught up. We started in January with nearly 75 episodes of high-quality episodes, and now we’re about halfway through them. We’re watching them on ABC’s website and also renting the DVDs from Blockbuster. I have to say, it is worth the hype — it’s a very well-written, well-acted show that draws you in and really makes you want to keep watching.
And to be honest, while the stories about their experiences on this strange island are very interesting, the most fascinating part for me is the back stories on each of the characters. Each episode focuses on a different castaway and shows some compelling story that shaped them into becoming who they are. The back stories also always relate to the present situations, so there’s good continuity there. And the storytelling is excellent — I actually really care about these fictional characters. My favorites are Locke, Sawyer and Sayid. Hurley and Charlie are pretty cool too.
I’m sure I’ll be blogging more about this going forward. It’s nice to have some good-quality entertainment that Robin and I enjoy together. Harry Potter mania has now died down for me (until the next movie this Christmas) and “Heroes” Season 2 was cut to 11 episodes with Season 3 episodes not airing until the fall, so it’s great to get “Lost” in this show.
Note: If you haven’t watched Lost before, DO NOT try to start mid-series. Robin and I tried that last year and we watched the first couple of episodes of Season 3. We were “lost” and didn’t really care about the characters because we didn’t start on the journey with them. So do yourself a favor — start from the beginning. You can watch them all for free in HD on ABC.com or you can rent the DVDs. It’s well worth the time and is much better than mindless chatter and crude jokes on late night talk shows!
Okay, so I’ve been investigating this Economic Stimulus package to find out whether I’m going to get any extra money from the government this summer. I’ve searched a lot of websites to determine whether I’m eligible to receive a check and how much they’re going to pay out. Here are a few interesting things that I learned.
First, I learned that some people are not eligible for the “stimulus payment.” According to the IRS’s website, you won’t get a stimulus payment in 2008 if any of the following apply to you:
You don’t file a 2007 tax return.
Your net income tax liability is zero and your qualifying income is less than $3,000. To determine your qualifying income, add together your wages, net self-employment income, nontaxable combat pay, Social Security benefits, certain Railroad Retirement benefits and certain veterans’ payments.
You can be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s return. For example, this would include a child or student who can be claimed on a parent’s return.
You do not have a valid Social Security Number.
You are a nonresident alien.
You file Form 1040NR or Form 1040NR-EZ, Form 1040PR or Form 1040SS for 2007.
As to the amount of the stimulus payment, it will be up to $600 for a single person, $1,200 for a married couple that files jointly and $300 for each additional kid in your household that has a Social Security number. (One website said the payment limit is two kids — or $600 — but I didn’t find that anywhere else, so who knows.)
Since this “rebate” is an advance for a new credit which will be included on the 2008 1040 income tax form, it will not affect your 2007 taxes. In April 2008 (this year for 2007’s tax settlement), you will receive what you are owed or you will have to pay what you owe as if the rebate never occurred. This summer you will receive the rebate for the 2008 credit in a separate check (or direct deposit if you choose).
In April 2009 or thereabouts, when you file your taxes for 2008, the IRS will run the calculation for the stimulus rebate credit again. If the results show that you would have received more (due to an additional child, for instance), you will be sent the difference. If your results show that you would have received a smaller rebate, then you get to keep the difference. This is an additional credit. You do not have to pay back to the IRS what you will receive this summer. Receiving this advance will not reduce next year’s refund nor will you owe more federal tax.
Click here to access a very useful calculator that helps you to see how much you’ll likely be getting. You’ll need to have a few numbers from your 2007 Tax Return to use this calculator.
For more details on the IRS’s website, click here.
In another post, I’d like to discuss what the stimulus package means for our economy, what I think about it on principle, and how I may spend (or save) any money I get from it.
So my wife Robin “tagged” me several days ago, so I’m complying as one of my Valentine’s Day gifts to her :-). Here’s a little bit of information about myself, as I’m sure you’re all dying to know.
10 years ago:
In February 1998, I was working for BYU’s NewsNet, which involved writing articles for the Daily Universeand producing news spots for the student-produced KBYU News. (As you can imagine, I loved seeing my name in print and seeing myself on TV — it was a thrill.) I was living with my new wife in a little duplex in Provo (just off the Provo River) and I was serving in an elders’ quorum presidency. We had no children and had just returned from our second trip to Orlando in six months.
5 things on my to-do list today:
1. Have lunch with my friend James at Lonestar Steakhouse
2. Buy chocolate-covered strawberries for my sweetheart
3. Call Blockbuster Online to tell them they sent me the wrong disk
4. Shovel my driveway and walk (Parley helped me with that this morning)
5. Pay monthly tuition for Brianna’s “Sunshine Generation” class
5 snacks I enjoy:
1. Doritos chips
4. Smoked almonds
5. Salt water taffy
(None of these are particularly healthy… d’oh!)
What would I do if I were suddenly made a billionaire?
I would quit my job and buy a large, comfortable home and brand new luxury cars (Lexus or BMW would be nice). I would pay lots of tithing and then I would travel all over the world to see all the things I’ve always wanted to see. (Hopefully I wouldn’t be cursed like Hurley on the TV show Lost.) Finally, I would find ways to use my wealth for good purposes (seriously).
3 of my bad habits:
1. Biting my fingernails.
2. Not delegating very well.
3. Eating too much.
5 places I have lived:
1. East Millcreek, UT – 1976 to 1985
2. Sandy, UT – 1985 – 1993
3. Sao Paulo, Brazil – 1994 to 1995
4. Jerusalem, Israel – 1996
5. Provo, UT – Midvale, UT and Riverton, UT – 1997 to 2008
5 jobs that I have had:
1. Dishwasher at Rafael’s Mexican Restaurant in Sandy (first miserable job)
2. LDS Church Audiovisual Department (freelancer) and meat department at Macy’s (before my mission)
3. Portuguese Instructor at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, UT (taught over 80 missionaries)
4. Marketing Manager at This is The Place Heritage Park in Salt Lake City (loved this non-profit job)
5. Marketing Manager at Unishippers (great company; recently promoted)
5 things people don’t know about me:
1. I had two career ambitions as a boy — to be President of the United States and to be a famous broadcast anchorman like Dick Nourse or Dan Rather. (Neither of these has panned out…yet; Mitt Romney was simply paving my way to become the first Mormon president; I’m 33 right now and so in two years I’ll be eligible to run. 🙂 I actually no longer have the deisre to do either of these things.)
2. I have never broken a bone or been under general anesthesia in my life; I have never spent the night in a hospital as a patient. (Knock on wood…)
3. I have a thing for Japanese cars and prefer them over American cars. My Toyota Camry is 12 years old and is approaching 200,000 miles. I have done very little maintenance and it has been extremely reliable. As they say, FORD stands for “Fix or Repair Daily.”
4. I’m not really that interested in adult scouting recognition awards. Some people in my stake love to go to “roundtable” and wear all these patches and beads. That just doesn’t really float my boat. I finally broke down and bought a uniform, but I’m not particularly interested in decking it out with patches.
5. I played the main part in a short church video when I was 17 years old — one that is still sold at the church distribution center. It’s called Membership Involvement in Meetinghouse and Grounds Care. (Yeah, I know, not particularly glamourous…) Anyway, a few years ago I was asked to teach a lesson to the Priests’ quorum and the manual suggested that I show that video. So without telling the boys I was in it, I said: “The manual suggests we show this video, so here it is…” When they saw my 17-year-old face on the screen, the young men in the priests quorum hooted with more boisterous laughter than I have ever heard in church before or since. After the surprised laughter died down and the movie ended, one of the boys said to me “Brother Lambert, your hair looks exactly the same as it did when you were our age!” Hey, why mess with a good thing!
Three years ago today my dear father, Kent Lambert, passed away from prostate cancer at the age of 57. Several months before he died, the doctors told him he had six months to live. He lived for seven months, giving us a wonderful, final Christmas together.
Dad was a loving father and a good provider. He was also very much in love with my mother. He set a great example for all his children as a man who loved the Lord, who was totally committed to the gospel of Jesus Christ. I miss him dearly. I miss being able to call him on the phone and talk about the latest gadget (he would have loved the iPhone) or politics (he would have been glued to Fox News during the entire presidential primary this year). Although I take great comfort in my firm belief that families are forever, I still wish every day that he were here with me. I wish he could be here to grow old alongside my sweet mother. But it was not to be…
Anyway, here’s a little look back at his memorable life through some video clips. At the end of the clip, he bears his testimony of the restored gospel.
President Gordon Bitner Hinckley died on January 27, 2008 at the age of 97. I will miss him dearly. He has been a member of the First Presidency for as long as I can remember, and his legacy of faith and good works will live on. He sealed my parents in the Salt Lake Temple in December 1970, and we have felt a great love for him as he has tirelessly ministered to the people of the Church and the world.
Last Friday, I took the opportunity to attend his viewing at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City. I stood in line for over an hour to pay my respects. As I waited, I listened to several of his talks and remembered his incredible life. As I entered the “Hall of the Prophets,” I felt a sweet spiritual assurance that President Hinckley continues to live and is now reunited with his beloved Marjorie, and is enjoying association with other ancient and modern prophets. The most comforting thought for me is to imagine him embracing the Savior Jesus Christ, whom President Hinckley served so well. I shed a lot more tears at the funeral that I expected I would. But they were not tears of sorrow. They were tears of joy that a faithful servant of God has now found peace.
I found a very touching tribute to President Hinckley on YouTube. Enjoy!