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Category Archives: Random Thoughts

Goodbye to the “Green Hornet”

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A 1995 forest green Toyota Camry owned for 15 years by Andrew Lambert and affectionately dubbed “The Green Hornet,” died of natural causes on June 14, 2014 after nearly 20 years of service and 293,000 miles. The Green Hornet will be laid to rest at the local Pick and Pull, where it will continue being of service to the automotive world by donating its parts to surviving 1995 Camrys before being crushed into a scrap metal cube.

Owner Andrew Lambert remarked, “The Camry was like an old friend of mine. Selling it to the junkyard today was kind of like taking an old dog to the vet to be put down. You know it’s the best thing for everyone involved, but it’s still hard.”

Lambert says he recognizes that it’s silly to have an emotional attachment to a “thing”  but he notes that he and the Green Hornet have been through a lot together. “You know, the equatorial circumference of the earth is about 24,900 miles, so my Camry and I traveled nearly nine times around the earth together. I bought it with 72,000 miles and now it has 293,000 miles. That’s quite an accomplishment!”

Lambert was often told that he should upgrade to a nicer vehicle, especially when the Green Hornet’s paint job began to fade and it began to leak oil. “For years, I just couldn’t bring myself get rid of it,” Lambert said. “The car was so reliable and didn’t need very many repairs.”

Lambert fondly recalls his first days of ownership back in August 1999. He and his wife Robin drove the car up to Tony Grove in Logan Canyon with their three month old baby Parley (now 15). “The ride was so smooth and nice,” said Robin. “We were thrilled to upgrade from our two-door Ford Escort named Blue Betty. We felt like we were in the lap of luxury,” she added.

Although quite reliable, the Green Hornet went through its share of internal and external struggles. Once, after a trip to the Home Depot, a can of paint (whose lid wasn’t properly secured) spilled all over the floor in the back seat. Lambert recalls trying to clean up the mess for hours, eventually having to tear out the carpet in that part of the car.

On another occasion, the Green Hornet was rear-ended at at stoplight, shattering its tail light. Lambert pulled over but the other driver drove off, so Lambert and the Green Hornet followed in swift pursuit, eventually jotting down a license plate only to find out later that the perpetrator of the “hit and run” had no insurance. Lambert returned to the scene of the collision and lovingly gathered up the shattered pieces of the tail light. Since a replacement part would cost $150, Lambert opted to superglue the pieces back together again until he had enough cash (months later) to buy a new part.

After four sets of new tires, two radiators, three alternators, three batteries and dozens of oil changes, Lambert says he believes the Green Hornet has saved him thousands of dollars in car payments and repairs over the years. “When I total the $$ I put into the car over the years, including the initial purchase price, my average monthly cost to drive it was $88 per month. Pretty awesome!”

Those who wish to offer condolences to Lambert for his loss or share a memory of “The Green Hornet” may make a comment on this post. Those who are rolling their eyes right now… are justified! 🙂

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Posted by on June 19, 2014 in Random Thoughts

 

A Week without Facebook

Last Sunday night, I challenged my wife to do a week without Facebook. We’re both quite active on social media, and so not using Facebook for one week seemed somewhat daunting. I’ve grown accustomed to checking in multiple times daily through the Facebook App on my phone. I’ve also grown so used to posting 4 to 6 times per week, that whenever something funny, interesting or cute happens to us, I immediately think, “Hey, that will make for a great Facebook post,” followed by the thought, “I wonder how many like/comments I will get.” Kind of pathetic right?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the idea of feeling validated. All of us desire to be liked by others. It’s a very basic human need. I have always had a strong desire for attention, and I’m happiest when I’m performing on stage or when I’m telling a funny story at a social gathering and everyone’s enjoying what I’m saying. Facebook has become a “stage” for me — a place where I can share my story, including the interesting events of my life, the funny things I see around town or hear my kids say, some of my ideas and opinions, along with some frustrations and even some of my failings.

I decided to “unplug” for a week because I felt like I was getting a little obsessive about checking Facebook. I also felt like I was getting a little too needy — too concerned about “cyber validation.” I would base some of my self esteem on how many likes/comments I got on a particular post. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that, but I think it’s not uncommon for people to feel that way.

Now that my week off of Facebook is coming to an end, I’m going to catch up on status updates that I WOULD have posted for the week of June 9-15, followed by five lessons learned during my week off.

Status Updates

Monday
Facebook fast begins today. I’m hoping to get out of the habit of always having to have some input. It’ll be good for me to take a break and learn to be content with my own thoughts during my downtime.

Tuesday
My son James went with Robin and I to the Parade of Homes tonight. He was so excited so see these beautiful homes and looked so cute wearing these blue booties over his sandals that were way too big for his feet. He did get kind of jealous, wondering aloud why WE don’t have a basketball court or a swimming pool at our house.

Thursday
My heart aches for all of those (on all sides) who have been affected by the situation with John and Kate. It’s a VERY complicated situation in which there are no winners.

Saturday
I completed my second triathlon this morning! This one was an Olympic Triathlon at Rock Cliff Campground at Jordanelle State Park and it was twice as far as my first one two weeks ago – and twice as hard. It took me 3 hours and 21 minutes to complete the 1500 meter swim in the cold reservoir (thank goodness for my wetsuit), 25-bike ride (with strong headwinds) and 10K run. The scenery was incredible and the overall experience was cold, exhausting, frustrating and FUN!

2014-06-14 12.23.19

Saturday
Netflix just sent me an email letting me know that Season 7 of Toddlers and Tiaras is now available! I’m not sure why they thought I’d want to know that.

Sunday
Happy Fathers Day! I am so grateful for my wonderful Dad who I will always love and admire.

Dad Portrait

 

Five Lessons Learned from My Facebook Fast

1. Facebook is, by nature, a fairly shallow medium. Yes, there are often conversations that happen on it which get into deeper subjects, but by in large, it is superficial. It’s a great way to stay connected to friends from the past, but not a great way to develop deeper, more meaningful relationships.

2. Most people choose to present their highlights reel” on Facebook and, as such, it is often easy for us to feel that we don’t stack up, that our lives aren’t as interesting or fun as other people’s lives. I think unhealthy comparison and envy are easy traps to fall into when we forget that Facebook isn’t a true representation of reality.

3. I spend too time looking at Facebook. It’s a great way to stay connected and to communicate with friends, but I don’t need to read every single thing in my Newsfeed. The Facebook world will go on without me contributing to it or making sure that I don’t miss anything. I’m thinking that checking in twice a day for 10-15 minutes total should be plenty.

4. Cyber validation is nice (lots of likes/comments), but it’s not really that important. Hopefully something I share will be of some value to my friends — perhaps it will provide a smile/chuckle, a connection between us, a new way of thinking about something. However, my value (and yours) has very little to do with how many people “liked” something and everything to do with how well we’re serving and loving others and trying to make their lives a little better.

5. Connecting online is a blessing, but it can’t be a substitute for human interaction. It’s cool to have a network of friends and acquaintances that you can share your life with. I really enjoy reading about what people I know are doing/thinking. But the deeper relationships require time together. So when I’m together with the people I love, I’m going to be present in that moment. That means putting away the phone and giving my full attention to those around me.

So there you have it. I’ll continue to use Facebook as a servant, but I won’t allow it to become the master.

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2014 in Random Thoughts

 

Anticipation

My daughter Lily turns six on Monday and for the past few weeks, she’s had a paper chain that she made to help her count down the days. Isn’t that cute? I do the same thing. Three weeks from yesterday, Robin and I leave on a trip to Hawaii. I’m counting down the days. Eight weeks from now (give or take a week), we’ll close on our new house and move in. I’m counting the days. And while I don’t have a paper chain, I do have an iPhone app called “Days Until” that I can enter important dates and know how many days until that event. It’s kind of fun and less messy than a paper chain.

I think anticipation makes life more exciting and enjoyable. It’s so fun to have something to look forward to, whether it’s a vacation, the arrival of a new baby or some other important event. A few events that I can remember counting down the days include:

  • My mission call to Brazil in 1993 (I had to wait 24 hours from when it first came in the mail because my dad and brothers were on a scout camp; those were the longest 24 hours of my life)
  • Our wedding day (and night) in 1997  🙂
  • The birth of our first child in 1999 (he was late, as were all our children so our anticipation was heightened)
  • The release of the final Lord of the Rings movie (saw it opening day)
  • The release of the final Harry Potter book (I was there at midnight wearing a black robe – seems kind of silly now)

And now we’re anxiously waiting for our house to be completed. We’re counting the days and trying not to get too impatient. We’ve wanted this for a few years now, and it’s finally becoming a reality. Thankfully, our builder is very good and work on the house has been progressing steadily. There’s something new every time we visit and it’s amazing to think that just one month ago, it was just a foundation. Now the drywall and mudding/taping is done, the roof and windows are on and they will begin flooring and cabinets next week. Work on the exterior (brick and stucco) should begin soon as well. Just 56 more days!!

 
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Posted by on May 1, 2010 in Random Thoughts

 

New iPhone and Bedroom Set

Two weeks ago, I finally gave into and bought an iPhone 3G. I have been wanting one ever since Apple introduced the product in June 2007. But when I realized I could get a refurbished 8 GB 3G for $49 and that the monthly service plan would be discounted by 20% because of my company’s relationship with AT&T, I could resist no longer.

iPhone

I had very high expectations for this phone and so far it has met or exceeded nearly all of those expectations. I love it. It is a life-changing technology. Just like the DVR which gives users so much more control over their TV viewing, the iPhone revolutionizes the way users access and manage data and entertainment. It is fantastic. For example, the maps feature was invaluable on our recent trip to San Francisco. It helped us know where we were at all times and how to get to where we wanted to go. That feature has already proven very valuable for me as I search for clients’ addresses. I’m working to convert my contacts, calendar and To Do lists over to the phone so I have a quick, searchable way to find important information. The apps I’ve downloaded are very useful and the core functions (iPod, phone and internet / email device) are wonderful.

Two downsides:  the battery life isn’t as good as I had hoped. However, after doing some research, I found out that using the 3G network to download data really eats up the battery charge. So I’ve made a few modifications to how I use the phone. I still have to charge it every night, but that’s because I’m a “power user” and use it a lot. The other struggle is managing my minutes. I selected a plan that was as affordable as possible, but it’s required me to modify my phone usage a bit. I have 900 anytime minutes and unlimited calling on nights and weekends. But with Cricket, my old provider, I had unlimited talk time and I used at least 1500 minutes in a month. I’ve coped with that situation by simply using a landline instead of my cell phone if one is available. And I do look at my online minutes usage record every few days to make sure I’m on track not to exceed my limits. So far I’m doing okay. 

In other news, Robin and I finally decided to buy a bedroom set after 12 years of marriage. We’ve been sleeping on a frame queen bed we inherited from my grandmother and have never had a matching set of furniture. Robin recently received a bit of inheritance money from her grandparents and we decided that instead of frittering it away on small stuff, we’d focus on some larger-ticket items, like this:

Bedroom Set

It arrives today and we’re excited. We hope that it won’t look too big for our master bedroom, which isn’t huge. We bought a second nightstand, recognizing that it probably won’t fit in the room. We’ll use it when we get a larger house. We would have liked a king bed, but again, we have limited space in the room. And we’ll still be using the same queen mattress and box springs, so no pillow-top mattress for us just yet. All in good time.

Robin also got some new pots and pans for the kitchen and some new light fixtures for the upstairs rooms. A small spending spree doesn’t happen very often in our family, so this has been pretty fun. We probably should have put the money into savings, but Grandma and Grandpa would have wanted us to get something like that, right?!

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2009 in Random Thoughts, Technology

 

Toyota Trouble

For almost ten years, I have been the owner of a forest green 1995 Toyota Camry. It had 70,000 miles on it and now it has 215,000! That’s a lot of miles over the course of the past decade! I am happy to report that the car has been extremely reliable and has served me well. I bought it when it was four years old for $10,000. It is now probably worth less than $3,000, but it’s been paid for now for about five years. I took it in today for an oil change and left a few hours later several hundred dollars poorer. Yes, it needed some work and I couldn’t put it off any longer. I got new tires, a new CV Boot and axle, as well as front brake service. I looked at my records and realized that I’ve spent about $4,000 on the car over the years, including:

  • Four sets of tires (replaced about every three years)
  • Three batteries
  • Three brake jobs
  • Two radiators
  • Two CV Boots
  • One new axel
  • One alternator
  • One tail light (had to replace it after someone hit me and ran)
  • One new timing belt (replaced more than 120,000 miles ago)
  • Two windshield wipers
  • Various light bulbs, etc.

Pretty much all of those things are general maintenance items. Thankfully, my Camry’s engine has been really good. I haven’t had problems with water pumps or trasmissions… knock on wood. Toyotas are really quite good cars. When I first got it, I thought it was the best car ever. It felt so good to drive after having driven an electric blue Ford Escort with pink swirls on the side (the car my wife brought to the marriage). Now the paint job is fading, the interior is dirty, the upholstry is stained and a big section of the back floor carpet is missing due to an unfortunate paint spill several years ago. (It was a whole gallon of paint that tipped over while we were driving home from the Home Depot; had to just tear out the carpet it was so bad.)

Anyway, would I like a new car? Sure. Someday. But as long as my Camry keeps getting me from Point A to Point B reliably, I will keep driving it. It sure is nice to not have a car payment. Hopefully, I can start saving up for a replacement car and pay cash for it as Dave Ramsey suggests. What kind of car would you suggest? I am partial to Toyotas and Hondas because they are so reliable. But I’m open to suggestions.

 
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Posted by on April 8, 2009 in Random Thoughts

 

Roadshow Heaven or Hell?

Over the past ten days, I have spent just about 25 hours in rehearsals and performances. No, I’m not getting ready to open some amazing show at a local theater, nor am I shooting a feature film. I have been working on our church roadshow event! Yes, I was roped into helping out with our stake’s presentation of mini-plays where members of each ward work together to write scripts and music, create choreography, build sets, design costumes and perform their masterpieces for each other!

Since I have some theater experience, I have been helping with the sound and lighting. Last weekend I got to attend all the dress rehearsals and saw each of the eight roadshows three times. During that rehearsal marathon, I had to smile at the off-key singing, cheesy lyrics, silly choreography, stiff acting — you know, the stuff that roadshows are made of! I recalled the old “Far Side” cartoon that shows a maestro’s version of hell as having to conduct a junior high school band for eternity. Perhaps endless roadshow rehearsals is how wicked actors / directors will be punished in the next life! 🙂

All joking aside, despite the shows’ flaws, they turned out to be a lot of fun. At the performances last night, the kids and adults in each cast really put their heart into it. Cast and audience members alike were having fun. I was impressed.

Our stake cultural arts director arranged for six experienced individuals who came from outside our city to provide impartial judging. The shows were judged on specific criteria and certificates were awarded to the top wards. I thought it was kind of silly to make it a competition, but the organizers insisted that the competition would help bring out the best in each ward. I suppose there may be some truth to that…

Our own roadshow turned out to be quite good.  We didn’t take home the top prizes as judges seem to favor wards who provide live music (not pre-recorded), as well as full production numbers with lots of singing and dancing. Our roadshow was more plot driven and had one main “production” number. We were thrilled, however, when our ward won the award for best script, especially since my wife Robin and I collaborated with individuals in our ward to write it. (If you’ve read Robin’s blog, you know she’s a talented writer.) We also won for best set design. And I was really excited when a member of my deacons quorum, who I had helped direct, won for best actor for the whole stake! Tyler is a naturally talented actor and he was awesome as our main character. The other kids were really good too.

The best part was watching these young people come together to accomplish something great as a team. I enjoyed watching many of them come out of their shells as most of them had never had an experience like it. The euphoria of giving a good performance in front of an enthusiastic crowd was evident on their faces. Their hard work over the past several weeks paid off. I think a few lifelong performers were born last night. And that’s pretty cool.

 
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Posted by on March 14, 2009 in Random Thoughts

 

Bringing Order to Chaos

Do you ever feel that you’re constantly battling chaos? What I mean is, does it often feel like an uphill battle to keep your life in order?

I live with four children ages 9, 7, 4 and 1, and my wife and I feel like we are constantly trying to keep our house from reverting to a state of absolute filth. I cannot believe how much junk that we somehow produce. And the “clutter-factor” is astounding — there are so many little toys, hair accessories (clips, bands, ties), books and homework papers to try to keep put away, not to mention all the laundry that is constantly strewn about, both clean and unclean. If Robin and I aren’t constantly working, the house reverts to a pig’s stye in the blink of an eye. Oh, and did I mention kitchen clean-up? Dishes constantly have to be done, the dishwasher ALWAYS needs to either be loaded or unloaded, the counters/table and floors always have to be wiped off or swept/mopped. I’m frequently finding apple cores in diverse places, candy wrappers lying on the ground and used dishes sitting on any available flat surface. Add to that all the shoes and socks that always need to be put away. (Note: if you have an average of three pairs of shoes per family member, that’s 18 pairs for family of six. Wow!) And those 18 pairs of shoes often have a hard time locating their “sole-mates” and finding their way back home. Oh, and did I mention how much I hate trying to match up socks?! It’s horrible. What about disposing of used diapers? That’s always a treat.

So as I write this post, I am a little concerned that you are judging us; that you’ll think we’re sloppy people who do not teach their children responsibility and accountability. Trust me, we’re trying. But we have to constantly nag to get the kids to do stuff, and we both hate to nag. It creates such a unpleasant feeling in the home. So we offer motivation, both positive and negative, rewards and punishments. For a while, we did the “accountable kids” program. But it was hard to keep up with. Right now, we have little mason jars for each child in which “righteous deeds” are rewarded with a quarter that is to be used for their purchasing of Christmas presents for their “secret Santa” (more on that in another post). But that doesn’t seem to motivate them much.

We’re also trying to train them to avoid making messes in the first place with a few simple rules like:

1. If you get it out, put it back.
2. If you mess it up, clean it up.
3. If you put it down, pick it up.
4. And so on…

I take comfort in the fact that everyone has to deal with chaos to some degree. I also take comfort in the fact that everyone in my family situation has a cluttered house, at least occasionally. I don’t care how good you are about keeping things clean and neat, four children WILL mess up your house. Now, I won’t blame all of our messiness woes on the children; Robin and I make our fair share of messes. But we also clean up much more than our fair share. I guess that’s what we signed up for when we decided to have kids.

My goal is to do 30 minutes of work each morning while everyone is asleep. And I usually accomplish that goal, which consists mainly of unloading the dishwasher and tidying up the five main rooms in the house. I don’t do a lot of actual cleaning (bathrooms, vacuuming, etc.), but I feel I make a good contribution. (My wife might disagree since my tidying often consists of picking stuff off the floor and putting it on the coffee table…)

Last night I came home to a beautifully cleaned house. No clutter. Clean kitchen. Kids in bed. It felt (and feels) so good. But I can’t help looking around the house and thinking about how quickly it will degenerate later today, despite our best efforts. I often think of Sisyphus from Greek mythology, who was punished for an offense against the gods by being cursed to roll a huge boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll down again, and to repeat this throughout eternity. That’s how I feel sometimes. As I do the dishes each day, I sometimes wonder if I’ll be doing dishes for the rest of eternity. Will there be housework in the next life? Or will we be able to snap our fingers like Marry Poppins and have the work do itself.

Anyway, I’d better end this post since I’ve already on too long. I’ve got some more chaos to tame!

P.S. What have you found to be effective in the war against clutter/chaos?

 
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Posted by on December 12, 2008 in Random Thoughts