Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Our License Plate Saga

From the Archive

It looks like I have some posts I wrote a while ago that I didn't publish. Well here they are now:

It has taken us awhile to get new California license plates on our car. Read further to find out why. Hint: it involves 3 trips to the DMV, 2 smog tests, a trip to the hardware store, and a trip to the body shop. Hopefully you can learn something from our experience.

When we first moved here in September, we didn't know there would be a fee for not getting California plates within a certain amount of days. We didn't even look into it much when we got here because Ricky was busy with his new job, and I was busy trying to get a job. In November, we finally looked into getting our car registered here. We found out that there was going to be a $66 fee for not doing this within 20 days of taking up residency here. We made an appointment at the DMV for a date at the end of December, because that was the soonest available appointment date.  

In order to get our car registered here, we would have to have a smog test done. So Ricky went and had that completed mid-December. We went to the appointment at the DMV the day we got back from Christmas vacation in Utah. There was a long line out the door, and a lady was talking to people in the line one by one to see what each of us needed. Turns out, the computers were down that day, so they couldn't help us with what we needed done. So we scheduled another appointment for another day (which Ricky had to request work off for). 

When we went back to the DMV, there was thankfully no line out the door. However, there was literally nowhere to park, so I dropped Ricky off and was driving around looking for a place to park for like 15 minutes. In that time, Ricky had gotten most of the things taken care of at the desk. I finally came in and just signed a few things. The lady informed us that our smog test was done incorrectly and we would have to have it done again. Apparently, the people that did our smog test saw our Utah plates and did a smog test under their out-of-state requirements, and not California requirements. She said everything else was good, so we could just pay and have our plates mailed to us when our smog test was taken care of. However, they did not accept credit, only debit, cash or check, so we literally couldn't pay during that trip. We didn't know they wouldn't accept credit! The lady was really nice though, and got everything else in order for us. She said to just come back to her desk once we got the new smog test done.

Ricky went back to the place we had our smog test done and let them know what happened. They did another smog test for us, one that met California's standards this time. Then he went back to the DMV and finally got our California plates!

However, when we went to switch out our old plates for our new ones, we realized the screws holding in our back license plate were were stripped. So we went to Harbor Freight and bought vice grips. Ricky used those to try to turn the screw, but ended up breaking off the head of the screw! I then asked on a Facebook page and found someone in the ward who had screw extractors and a drill we could borrow. We tried those, but our screws would still not budge. 

So I ended up calling a nearby Auto Body Shop to see if they could help. It was an unusual request, but they said we could bring the car in. It was a struggle even for the worker there, and took a little while, but he was able to get our screws off. He used a blow torch to heat up the screws, and that's what did the trick. 

Friday, January 1, 2021

Unexpected Places

Sometimes you find yourself in an unexpected place or situation. Like I didn’t intend to go to the birthday party of a six year old today, but here I am. 

Perhaps it is the times we are in. With Covid, I don’t go much of anywhere nowadays. The office (while the bank I work at is online only, the employees are not) and home are the only places I really go. But sometimes I think we need a little variety in life, sometimes we need a little bit of surprise.

When we don’t physically go places, it is harder to find yourself in an unexpected place. It is a little hard to get lost in your own living room. 

When I stopped by to drop off a package, I thought it was just that, to drop off a late Christmas gift. But then I started chatting and pretty soon a party was around me, just like that.  I think it is in moments like that we can break from the monotony of daily life and to something out of the normal.  Let’s hope we can get back to normalcy too, as I think everyone has missed a birthday or two.

Perhaps that's why I haven’t been writing too much for the blog. What is there to say? I went to work and I came home? Sure, that is a bit of an oversimplification. And I do have lots of items to mention here. 

Brooke and I are loving our stay in San Diego. So much so, I think we are going to start looking at buying our own house in the area. It may be quite a process (with real estate prices so high right now). But we will see where the journey takes us. I think I am looking to stay more or less in the same area I am now. One of the perks of working at a bank is access to cheap financing. So with that aspect of the home buying process simplified, I can work on getting a good deal. This is all a topic for my other blog and podcast though.

Well stay safe, wherever you are. 

And oh, Happy Birthday Alice.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Parks and Rec

Prior to Brooke and I getting married, Brooke had like never seen a TV show. OK, maybe I am exaggerating slightly. We did watch a few when we were dating. But prior to that, her favorite TV show was Arthur from PBS… Which must have been from like when she was 7 or something.

So after getting married, we first watched The Office as I personally had just finished Parks and Rec recently (Well, I guess the whole world had finished it recently in a manner of speaking). Anyways, after The Office and a few other shows, we have finally started Parks and Rec. Now, with the benefit of a few years of hindsight, I am able to see how formative the show was for me in a number of ways. For example, April Ludgate's favorite band is Neutral Milk Hotel and her favorite singer is the lead vocalist of the band, Jeff Mangum. I started listening to the band when I heard this and I still enjoy them to this day. Brooke and I recently finished the season 6 Grand Finale which had the Decemberists in it, which I now enjoy as well.

As I reflect on some of my political leanings, I can see a resemblance between me and Ron Swanson. At the same time, I do relate to Leslie's character. Ron is often more of a caricature of libertarian ideals than a realistic libertarian. At least in my mind. I don't hate the government; it is a very necessary part of our lives. I do think he has a point often. The government's meddling in our daily lives is expensive and unnecessary. But this isn't my political blog. You can read that here.

No, this is just the personal blog, which I think Brooke and I have been neglecting a bit lately. Just a few months ago we were traveling the world. That’s a part of it. But another part of it is a new project I am working on. I am working on a new book. This one isn’t about bitcoin or money or anything like that. No, this book is about me, and some of the journey’s I have been on in life. This book is about some of the people I have met and my experiences interacting with them. I’m still in the writing phase of the book, so it will be quite a while before I publish it. But you will hear from us again soon, in one way or another.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

The Coronavirus Pandemic

Things have escalated pretty quickly with the news of this coronavirus, COVID-19. Last Thursday, the 19th, Ricky and I went to Walmart to get a few more necessities. It was so crowded! It was impossible to stay 6 feet away from anyone! The aisles that actually had stuff in them always had 4-5 shoppers, so you can’t just wait until the aisle is empty to social distance because people are everywhere. Walmart was really stocked with water! It had so much water of all brands all over the place! But we thought we should get a few more rolls of toilet paper, and the toilet paper aisle was turned into an Easter aisle! It was like the toilet paper aisle never existed! So, no toilet paper for us. Gratefully, we have a bidet. Here are some pictures of the empty aisles. It was scary how empty many of the aisles were! There were like three choices of cereal, only canned corn, and absolutely no bread, which is what we came for. Luckily, we found some English muffins and cinnamon raisin bread in the bakery section. 


On Thursday night when we were in Walmart, I got a text that I would not actually be going into work the next day. The preschool I worked at closed, effective immediately. We also heard the news that the whole state of California was to now shelter in place, or stay at home. So, I am now furloughed and Ricky is working at home for the most part. It’s been an adjustment and I feel like I’m just starting to get used to it. We’ve been going on daily walks, which allows us to stretch our legs a little and get some fresh air. We love walking in the canyon that is right by our neighborhood.

Also, Ricky has been busy cracking open our macadamia nuts from our tree and roasting them. They are DELICIOUS!!! I tried to capture it and it's hard to see, but the birds were moving in and chirping like crazy! All types of birds were interested by the nuts - there were finches, pigeons, and even a hummingbird flying around, watching Ricky, and waiting. It was so funny!

How are you guys doing during this strange time?

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

The Bountiful Summer

Recently, my mother wrote a book about my great uncle and my grandfather. I wanted to share some of my experiences living with my Great Uncle Dean. As well as share a link to my Mother’s book.

I wanted to reflect on the summer of 2017 for a little bit. It was a fantastic time for Brooke and me. After I graduated from BYU, we were actually kicked out of our student housing in Provo. My job in San Jose was starting in September, so Brooke and I needed to figure out what we were going to do for 3 months. My great uncle Dean lived in Bountiful, so we got in touch with him and his daughter Becky to see if we could stay with Dean. They were delighted to have us stay. Brooke had recently worked in a mini-retirement home of sorts and helped older people who couldn’t live by themselves. It was a match made in heaven.

At this time, I was preparing for the CPA exam. I set my computer up in the basement, and there I studied continually for essentially the whole 3 month period. I only took breaks during the day to make lunch and dinner for the three of us or sometimes to go to the grocery store.

Uncle Dean often had trouble moving around. He really liked to go to the grocery store, but often a trip would take more than an hour. I was prepared for this. In the car I would read the CPA exam textbooks, and in the store I would bring flashcards with me. Any free minute I had was filled with flashcards. Our favorite store was a place we called Market Square (I think it is labeled the NPS store; I don’t know where our name for it came from). There we would buy all sorts of expired or nearly expired food for bargain prices. I really haven’t seen too many stores like it. I don’t know if you can sell expired goods like that in California, where I am from. We also would get lots of produce for super cheap. For example, the Costco salad mixes could be bought for a dollar or less at Market Square (I think it's like 4 times that much at Costco). You would just need to use the food up pretty quick. It was a great chance for me to try out some new ingredients in the kitchen. It was a fun time. On the nights I didn’t cook, we went out to dinner. I think Uncle Dean also really liked to go out to eat. He had lots of restaurants he liked. Some of them his daughter Becky, was understandably not a fan of. So I felt especially good when we were able to go somewhere he wasn’t able to go to normally (Like Chuck-A-Rama).

Somehow, even though Uncle Dean was barely able to walk on his own (with a walker, granted), he was able to live on his own with an association of help from different people. For example, the neighbor Chris would help with the yard work. Uncle Dean’s cousin Eldean would help clean the house. Eldean was quite a character. She was an avid Trump supporter, and would just gobble up propaganda from PragerU and other extreme right wing sources. Sometimes I would try to tell her these crazy conspiracies were simply not true, but she wouldn’t have it. Even Uncle Dean, a lifelong republican, didn’t like Donald Trump. In fact, Uncle Dean was such a republican, I recall once a driver was driving a little fast/recklessly down the street and Uncle Dean said, “must be a democrat.”

There were also nurses that would come from Midas Creek. They would help Uncle Dean put on his compression socks in the morning. It was quite an ordeal. His diabetes caused his legs to swell up quite a bit. They would only come 3 times a week or so, so the other times, Brooke would help.

And of course there was Becky. Becky would come at least once a day, often twice or more. Every night she would help put Uncle Dean to bed. Putting Uncle Dean to bed was also a bit of a task. To end the day, his compression socks had to be removed. I think it was a little easier removing them versus putting them on, but not that much. Uncle Dean’s nighttime pills also made him sleepy, so it was important that he not spend too much time in his chair getting ready.

Once or twice, Brooke and I helped put Uncle Dean to bed. On one of those nights, Uncle Dean slid out of his chair and was on the floor. We had to hoist him up somehow and get him into bed. Uncle Dean was a few inches taller than me, and quite a few pounds heavier, so this was quite a task. Becky, Brooke, and I struggled a bit. On one of the occasions, we had to get John to help, Becky’s husband. John easily picked Uncle Dean up and put him into his bed. The other time, Nick and his girlfriend came and the 5 of us all worked together to get him into bed.

Prior to our arrival, Becky would bring food to Uncle Dean everyday as well. Becky was also often the voice of reason. Sometimes Uncle Dean would want to buy all sorts of crazy stuff. For example, he wanted to buy medical scrubs as pants. I think I may have discouraged him a little, but when we got back, Becky told us he had way too many pants already. So we helped bring them back for a refund.

Ultimately, our time in Bountiful was one of the most fun periods of our married life. I passed three sections of my CPA exam with scores in the mid to high 90s. We bonded with my Great Uncle and Becky and her family.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Moving and a Mini-Retirement

Ricky and I had a wonderful Thanksgiving in Utah, and wish you a happy holiday season!

We have been so behind on our blog posts for some reason. I guess there has been a lot going on lately! For those of you who don't know, we quit our jobs and went on a pretty big vacation/mini-retirement (Here's the announcement video we made to share the news with people). We had both been working really hard at under-staffed jobs and were just really burnt out. I loved my job at the beginning, but it was just time to move on. I was definitely taking work home with me. And Ricky was working like 70-hour work weeks!  Work was literally taking over our lives. So, we needed a vacation. Plus, we wanted to move to San Diego! So we did!

We moved to San Diego shortly after quitting our jobs, we got a little settled, and then headed off on a long vacation. We went to Miami, boarded a cruise ship for our first time, traveled with Norwegian Cruise Line to Key West, Florida and to Nassau, Bahamas. We were supposed to have two more ports but Hurricane Dorian caused our port in Freeport to be cancelled, and the port at Norwegian's private island Great Stirrup Cay was also cancelled. That cancellation was due to the inability to be tendered to the island from the ship because of the wind (Norwegian, you need a dock on your island!). That was REALLY disappointing! We even arrived at the island and saw it and noticed how fun and awesome it would be, and then they announced it was too windy to tender people to the island. We were so sad! But the "at sea days" were actually pretty fun! They had all sorts of activities going on all throughout the day. And yummy food! We loved the food! It was our favorite part! Being on a ship in the ocean and not seeing any land around you is a bit scary, but we were never toooo far out in the ocean (compared to some other cruises where you're at sea for days). It was a good first cruise experience, and we definitely want to go on another cruise again sometime! It is a great way to travel and actually more affordable than I ever thought before I actually looked into it.

Anyway, after the cruise, we flew over to Orlando to experience Disneyworld and Universal Studios Florida. Those were fun! We did a day at Epcot, a day in Animal Kingdom, and a day in Universal Studios. That was definitely enough for us for one trip, but we do want to come back and do the rest of Disneyworld one day!

After Florida, was a stop at my family's home in Utah for a little rest and family time. We also went with my family to Park City! It was so cold, but so fun! After 80-90 degree humid Florida weather, snow in Park City was a bit of a shock to our bodies. Ricky actually was sick with a cold for awhile (which I think he caught in Disneyworld), but luckily we could get a lot of rest in Utah.

From Utah, we flew back to San Diego for just a night, and then walked across the border using the bridge to the Tijuana airport early the next morning. We went with Ricky's friend Fernando and Fernando's brother. We could not have done this trip without them because we literally understood like less than 5% of what anyone said to us. Fernando translated EVERYTHING for us, and Fernando's brother rented a car and drove us all over which was awesome! But traffic was an actual nightmare!!! Traffic in Mexico City is the worst traffic any of us had ever been in!!! It was horrible! Other than that, it was a good trip and fun to see the sights. We saw the Pyramids of Teotihuacan, went to Six Flags Mexico with our Six Flags passes, went to the museum of anthropology, and did a canal ride in Xochimilco. It was fun, but we were all so excited to come back to the states. Our Airbnb didn't really have hot water, so we were excited for hot showers again. Plus, we were sick of the traffic.

Mexico City was the last leg of our big trip, and then we rested awhile and did some work and renovations on our house in San Diego. We haven't quite started new jobs yet, so we drove to Utah for Thanksgiving. Since Ricky was sick during our last time in Utah, we packed this Utah trip full! We caught up with so many friends and family! It was awesome! And it snowed a lot, so that was fun! It was a wonderful trip, but too short. We had to work our travel days around the weather, since we were driving.

We are getting our house festive for the holidays and just wanted to say hi to our followers on here (I did not expect to write this much! wow). We wish you happy holidays! What are your holiday traditions?  How was your Thanksgiving? We absolutely love to hear from you!

If you're interested, here are a few links!

Here is the link to our Youtube channel, where Ricky is slowly getting up our travel vlogs:

Here is the link we use to send easy, custom postcards to our loved ones (if you use this referral link, you get a free 3 dollars, which is enough for your first postcard!):

Here is a referral link that you can use to get some free money to use on Airbnb (I think it's like 40 free dollars towards a stay and 15 free dollars towards an Airbnb experience!):

And here is a link to Rakuten, which we always use when buying things online (especially this time of year) that gives out cash back for all the things you buy (on Amazon or other online retailers). It's a referral link, and you get 10 free dollars if you sign up using it!
(They literally send you a check in the mail - it is awesome!!!)

That reminded me of one more link to share. You guys know about Ricky's podcast, right!? He talks about frugal living. It is legit!

Love you all! Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Mexico city has been an adventure

Mexico City has been an adventure. I'm writing this on my phone in the back of the rental car. Yesterday we went to the pyramids, which was a spectacular sight. I will include a related video once I make it.

There were vendors selling all sorts of souvenirs. Someone even tried to sell me an obsidian dagger. I don't think airport security would have liked that. We also saw some ocarinas for sale, mostly 5 hole pendants which I'm not a huge fan of. Those are mostly just a toy.

Driving back from the pyramids was a nightmare. It took over 3 hours. Google maps said it would take 1 hour and 20 minutes. The last 2 miles took 2 hours. There were police and road closures everywhere. It was the worst traffic I've ever been in. And I have lived in the Bay Area and driven in Los Angeles quite a bit, etc. Mexico City takes the cake.

On the way to the pyramids, we were stopped by the Mexican police. They wanted 6,000 pesos for some nonsense laws they made up on the spot. Brooke and I didn't have any pesos, so my friend and his brother paid 2,000 pesos of the fine and we got out ok. Still, it was pretty upsetting. We had to find a bank to get more pesos.

The place we are staying also lacks some of the comforts of the states. The hot water may or may not work. So far, I have taken one cold shower and one lukewarm shower.

The windows in the building have no screens, so you could just open up the window and jump or fall out if you were so inclined. The apartment is on the 4th floor and there is no elevator, which is the highest I've been without one. Some of the stairways are quite tight and require me to duck. It certainly is an interesting place.