Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas with the Family...

After returning to Utah from my last gig of the year in Houston - late Wednesday night... I had Thursday morning to get a bit of backlogged work completed. Then lunch with Joe and Brent at a small Hot-Dog shack by BYU called 'Jdawgs' - Ok... it was a great hot dog - I think Jill even could have eaten one.Then up to Salt Lake City in a massive snow storm to spend the evening with the family - Dinner at California Pizza Kitchen in the Gateway, swimming, and then a movie at Embassy Suites - Jill said it was the best night's sleep she's had in a while - Karrissa thought she could hear me snoring from the room next door... see note above on Jill's comments... ;-)After a hearty Embassy Suites breakfast we headed over to the Gateway - Hansen Planetarium, shopping, etc. before getting a bite to eat and heading home to watch Alysha's dance at the Timpanogos High School basketball games. We got to see my cousin Gerry Garrett who was down watching his boy Nick pay against our team.Saturday was a pancake breakfast - errands - taking the white van over to cousin Jake to drive to Vegas followed by the annual Parsons' Family attendance at the Hale Center's 'A Christmas Story' - I really like the story, and the guy who plays Scrooge is very good. But I could do with less 'musical' and more acting. Then we had Mom & Dad up for the BYU Football bowl game. (The Cougars didn't do too well - but 'didn't loose' in the last second when they blocked the UCLA field goal attempt)
Jill and I went out to Aunt Patty's in Grantsville on Sunday after church to visit with Chad and Cindy and their kids who came down for Christmas. I helped Duane with his old laptop/new laptop to transfer his stuff to the new system.

Christmas Eve was spent running errands and getting the hou
se all ready for company, then over to my sister Janet's house for dinner and the Christmas Eve program. A good time was had by all! - I then did the traditional Christmas Eve Cinnamon Roll baking. This year I followed a recipe from Ryan and used the Breadmaker machine to prepare the dough. They turned out GREAT! I'm going to do that from now on. (that and remember to bake them a bit longer)

My 'Girls' - making a Gingerbread House together. (yes Karrissa is 22 weeks along)

Christmas Morning was also great fun. McKinley got a Fischer Price Kitchen and enjoyed playing with it (not so much with all the boxes and other gifts) - and was a 'hoot' to watch dance to the music her kitchen blender makes. We had so many gifts to open we barely completed them all before all the cousins and family came over for Christmas Breakfast. Jill made her famous Egg Casseroles - I know that name doesn't do justice to how well these taste! Mom brought the 'fruit compote' and some of the cousins 'ponied up' and actually ate the fruit before getting cinnamon rolls!

Jill didn't have to work as scheduled so we had a restful afternoon and then off to the traditional Christmas Day movie - this year it was 'National Treasure - book of secrets' - a sequel a previous family movie day - not bad... totally entertaining.
Whew... not bad for a week home - busy - but enjoyable.

Now it's time to get back to work and catch up on the projects there.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Last Month's Books...

Following up on one of my favorite non-fiction books by this same author "Innumeracy" - this book is a series of vignettes about how the media, especially newspapers, sometimes don't 'get' math at all - and use math and statistics totally incorrectly when telling a story.

I've been into Anne Perry novels for awhile. Last month I started on a new series - Thomas & Charlotte Pitt - and so these make for great airplane reading. Set in the 1850s in England - a combination of Historical Fiction and Murder Mystery. A pretty good read. Obviously...
Based on a recommendation from a blog I keep up with, I thought I'd look into this phenomena that is the 4-hour work week. The author has many good ideas - and I took a lot of notes that will help me in my business and personal life... but this guy is a total egoist - and totally selfish. Not to mention he recommends lying, cheating, stealing, deception, anything to get ahead. Again, many parts useful - but absolutely lacking a moral compass!
Ah, Glenn Beck. In his latest book he pokes fun at just about everything - and logically skewers many of the 'everybody knows...' fallacies. It is more than a bit irreverent - but never really goes too far over the line. I like listening to Glenn Beck on the radio - and this book has more of the same - but with supporting evidence. I have to agree with almost everything in this book. It just makes sense!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Last gig of 2007...

My last bit of work for the year is doing some consulting/teaching work for Memorial Hermann Healthcare systems out of Houston. They too wanted 5-days of time and materials covered in only three - so we are 'cramming' - they do so need more time to assimilate all the knowledge and help them better adapt their networks to these new ideas. But it is the Christmas season and they now have neither the time or the money to invest more or either this year.

Tomorrow I head home - the last flight of the year 2007. I've got a bit over 85k in Delta miles, and another 35k (plus tomorrow's two flights home) on United. Plus another 10 segments split between AmericaWest, USAir, and Southwest airlines. So I'm probably around 140,000+ miles in the air this year.
It sure would be nice if some company in Utah County would hire me at my same daily rate to NOT fly around the world... he says with wishful thinking...

I followed my children on this one - and went to see the new Will Smith movie "I am Legend" - I really enjoyed it. The 'monster' faces were a bit too much with all the CGI and all - but there were some good parts - I especially liked when the monster 'leader' tricked him with 'Frank' - As I was watching it, I had a bit of deja vu - and realized this was just a remake of a movie I really enjoyed as a kid. The same story line - but with Charlton Heston playing the lead role. It was called "The Omega Man". After returning to the hotel room I looked it up - and yep, they were both from the same original book. You might want to check out this old movie if you liked the new version, you'll probably also enjoy the old one too.

Monday, December 17, 2007

2008 'Thumb' Calendar

I found this great little 'Thumb' Calendar online and thought I'd share it with you. Print it out, fold it over and put it in your wallet and you'll have a single calendar that is good for the entire year of 2008.

Just place your thumbs over the two sides, with the month you are interested in between your thumbs... what shows in between is the calendar you are looking for.

Pretty cool eh?

After you print this out, fold it over, then a cheap way to 'laminate' this is to cover both sides with 'clear packing tape', and trim the excess...

Ok - now I'm done posting for awhile.... whew!

Parsons Family Christmas Letter

Parsons Family Christmas Letter

The Parsons family of Orem, UT had another fine year. We love our house, our Ward, and having Friends and Family come visit!

Lets see – starting at the ‘old man’ – Keith made some changes in his business the end of this year to focus more on the Wireless LAN training he does – though this means even more time on the road. He keeps a blog at for those of you who’d like to see what the family has been doing and what he’s up to on his travels.

The ‘Mom’ – Jill – changed jobs this year and left the research to return to working the Labor & Delivery floor – but this time she’s working with a new set of friends over at Orem Community Hospital. She has finished a couple of semesters of hard work finishing up her BS in Nursing degree on nights and weekends. Just one more semester to go! Yea!

Karrissa (and Joe of course) – moved from Logan to Las Vegas where Joe started in Dental school this fall. We enjoyed having them stay with us in Orem over the summer. McKinley learned to walk while Joe was down at the Air Force Officer’s training. They moved into a great house – have lots of friends – good Ward – and enjoy their life in North Las Vegas. They also have a blog at - another thing – they are expecting #2 daughter in May 2008.

Ryan is back at BYU – living with Brent and some friends in WyView – dorm-like apartments. He is studying Biology and Pre-Med subjects. We enjoy when they come home for Sunday dinners (and to do laundry) – oh, and he works for his Dad part time.

Brent – is a Freshman at BYU – and play long-stick defense on the BYU Lacrosse Team. They have already had a couple of road trips this fall, and looks forward to the Lacrosse season in the spring. Keith and Jill enjoy going to the Lacrosse games – including trips to Virginia and Las Vegas.

And the ‘little woman’ is now almost 16 – Alysha is again a varsity cheerleader at Timpanogos High School – and a sophomore. She has been doing a great job learning to drive (afraid of manual transmissions still…) Enjoys friends, playing, friends, cheer, and friends. I think her goal is to send the most SMS text messages of anyone in the state.

As a family we still enjoy taking vacations – spending time together – and all love having a little grand-daughter to spoil. We look forward to another great year in 2008 and thank hour Heavenly Father for all the many blessings we’ve been given this past year.

May you and yours have a great Christmas Season and a very Happy New Year!

Christmas Letters...

Christmas Letters...

I really like the Christmas letters we receive from family and friends at this time of year. It is nice to remember folks and the memories we shared earlier in our lives and get a tiny glimpse of their lives now.

Jill is so nice to save these for me so they are waiting on my desk when I return from a business trip. It is great!

I also enjoy spending time at my Parent's going through their 'basket' of Christmas letters reviewing lives of our family friends from growing up.

Yep - I just like Christmas time!

Heatheridge Ward - Christmas Party

Zarahemla Jill

We've been working on the Ward Activities Committee (ok, Jill and I *were* the Activities Committee) - but we have another couple to help us, Greg and Lisa Harper. They were a great help, as were many other volunteers who helped us put on a great Ward Christmas Party.
Seating - Table Settings - Decorations - for 180

We spent from 12:00pm to nearly 10:00pm working on Saturday. (Plus about a month of other projects getting ready for the party) I put over 6.5 miles on my pedometer... all inside the church on Saturday, loading, setting up, packing up, garbage runs, etc.

Scenery - Backdrop - Fake Rock Wall - Zarahemlaesque

Place Settings & Decorations

Here are some photos of the event - Journey to Zarahemla - a little 'different' take on the Birth of Jesus (this time from the point of view of the folks in the Americas) - we had lots of people dress up. (Even Jill!!!)

I took photos of various families in costume as part of the activity.

The Program had the Primary Children sing - a Narrator, Samuel the Lamanite speech, DVD clip from 'The Testaments', and Brother Morely sing 'O Holy Night' - then the Bishop finished up with a talk.

Whew! - it's now over...

Minneapolis - Medtronic AirMagnet Training

Monday was a day to catch up on work, and some Christmastime errands for Jill, then off to the Airport for a flight to Minneapolis.

It was 4 degrees late Monday night when I picked up a rental car. Brrrr.
Three days teaching for Medtronic - mostly Help Desk and Desktop Support staff as well as a couple of folks from Network Support. They are an AirMagnet customer and I mostly showed them to use the tools to help troubleshoot Wireless Network problems they've been having. Medtronic is the company that makes most of the heart pace-makers in the world!

One night I had some time and was able to see a couple of movies. The first was August Rush - though universally panned by the critics, I really enjoyed it. I can wholeheartedly recommend this movie to those who like something either sentimental (I'm sure getting that way in my old age) or just like great music. This film has both in abundance.

Then I just had to watch the latest film adaption of a book I've read. I really liked the Golden Compass (and the other books in the Trilogy) - but like always the book was so much better than the movie. Not enough time for character development. The movie is well done, but just a bit disappointing when compared with the original book.

Wednesday night the Midwest Airmagnet sales guy and a contact from Best Buy took me to dinner at Manny's - a 5-star steak house - ranked the best steak-house in the Mid-west. It was pretty good - very expensive - but the food was good. Not even worth the money - but the discussion at the table was entertaining and it turned out to be a pretty good night.

A little adventure on the way home - I thought since I had three large shipping cases of equipment, I'd drop them off at Skycap before turning in the rental car. There was a sign mentioning "Skycap Service Available" - so I stopped - left the car running in the bitter cold, and unloaded my cases. No Skycap showed up (Don't blame him for not wanting to be outside in that cold) - saw a little sign inside the doorway for another "Skycap Service Available" - so I took the cases inside (But I could still see the rental car through the glass doors) and waited for a Skycap to be paged. It took about 4 minutes to compelte the checking in of baggage.

Well, when I got back to the car - a Policeman in a big Suburban behind me came out and gave me a 'dressing down' - about leaving a car un-attended. He was going to give me a $250 ticket for leaving a car with the engine running (a new Minnesota Law) - but I got off with a warning and a mere $34 parking violation. That'll teach me...

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Northern California for Kaiser & Snowstorm

This week I taught a *very* abbreviated version of a 4-day course into a 2-day format for 4 students... then again for another 16 more in Northern California - the first was in Sunnyvale at AirMagnet HQ - and the second two days over in Walnut Creek at a Kaiser Data Center.On the way back to the hotel on Wednesday evening after class I saw this sign... it looked so 'authentic' I had to stop by and have dinner there. Ok, cute idea with the bear and all - but the food was definitely sub-par. But I had to at least try it!I got stuck in a great traffic Jam going through the Oakland tunnel on my way to the airport after class Thursday evening - and 'barely' made it to the flight - I had to leave my rental car at the Valet parking and pay someone to take it back to the rental agency. (Still less money than spending another night in a hotel by the airport)

I like having a Friday back in Utah to catch up on items - this week I was able to run some errands for Jill - work a bit in the office - and run Alysha around.

We did get quite a bit of snow - a little over 6 inches over the last 24 hours. So I did the sidewalk and drive way a couple of times.Jill and I went to her new work (Orem Community Hospital - Labor & Delivery) Christmas party at Pizza Factory - and had some fun trading gifts in a big circle (like 45+ people) - Jill got a great wooden 'advent calendar' with little boxes to store each day's goodie - me, well I got a Pez Dispenser (Princess Jasmine!)

Next week is Minneapolis for a private class with Medtronics.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Amazon Kindle...

Ok, Ok... I'm a gadget lover.

"Hi, my name is Keith and I'm addicted to gadgets..."

It's true. The Amazon 'Kindle' just came out and I had to have one. It *is* part of what I do to make a living - and it's just plain 'kewl'.

So here is my review after just having used it for a couple of days now. (I had to finish my Online Webinar presentation on Thursday before I would allow myself to even take it out of the box - so I have a modicum of self control)

What is it? - the Kindle is an electronic 'book' reader. This uses a special new type of 'electronic ink' on a special surface that is easy on the eyes - (no eye strain like when reading from a computer monitor) - light weight (like a paperback book) - small (also like a paperback book) and holds lots and lots of books. It also has built-in a wireless (cell phone) connection that allows you to view, choose, and purchase books from wherever you are. You can also download your own books, convert Word .doc files and others to view on the Kindle.

There are well over 100,000 books available to read in this format. I quickly purchased 4 books, subscribed to Readers' Digest, downloaded 'Project Gutenberg' texts, and loaded up the LDS scriptures and Sunday School Instructor manuals to my Kindle... and have room for hundreds more!

A couple of screen shots to help explain how this looks and works.

A very nice article on the Kindle and Electronic Books
Connection to the EV-DO Cellular Service
Information on Purchasing a Book Online Wirelessly
Built-In Dictionary to lookup words you don't know while reading
Front View - Can read with hand on the Left or Right
It knows who you are, and what you like on Amazon - Kewl!
The Keyboard is a Sluggish - and the screen is NOT touch-sensitive - you use a scroll wheel

Some additional notes I learned about the 'Kindle':
  • It has a rudimentary Web Browser
  • It can play Audible Books via its speaker or headphones
  • It can play MP3 files as background music while you read
  • You can subscribe to newspapers and blogs to have them ready for you each morning
  • It is very fast - I downloaded the new Ken Follett book in under a minute
  • The keyboard has a noticeable lag

Having lived with the Kindle for a couple of days now, I can say that it serves most of my immeditate reading needs. (Ok, I know have a problem of having too many books with me on a trip - and I have a harder time choosing what to read) For a guy who really enjoys amassing a vast library of books and displaying them on bookshelves... I'm a little frightened of the future having my reading needs covered by electronic books. But we'll see what the future holds.

My final comment on the Kindle... after reading for just a few minutes the 'device' disappears and you are just 'reading' a book. What better compliment is there than the technology gets out of the way...

So if you are still looking for a gift for someone in your life who really enjoys reading... a Kindle is a great way to go!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Dallas --> Home

Since we had snow overnight... I thought I'd show a couple of pictures I took tonight before launching into this week's blog entry. Thanks to Jill and the Boys... it looks pretty nice!Sunday afternoon was a flight down to Dallas - with the rest of the 'returning from Thanksgiving' crowd. But the TSA in SLC Airport did a great job in getting everyone through. Whatever they did - it worked great!

The class in Dallas was at a pretty nice location North of Dallas - Thanks Karrissa - for teaching a new class. This AirMagnet class was a Certified AirMagnet Design class - with 22 students. Way full. But it went well.

After returning - I was all 'stressed' about a 'Webinar' I was doing for AirMagnet on Thursday. This was an hour of teaching/presenting... all online to 300+ folks worldwide. That's not so bad... but I had to prepare something special, and talk without any feedback. The students could hear me, and watch my computer screen, but I couldn't hear any of them. They had over 140 questions posted online after the class. So either I really sparked their thought processes... or I did a very poor job of explaining myself. ;-)

Here is the advertisement for the Webinar (Seminar on the Web)
Friday was spent doing the 'Mr. Mom' thing - Jill was called into work. So I got to take the dogs to the groomer, Alysha to the Doctor, pick up the dogs, take Alysha to the Physical Therapist, and, oh yea... work. We were going to spend the day Saturday with Alysha at a Cheer competition up at Weber - but her team cancelled on Friday night. So we were quite grateful to have our day back. Work - run errands - work at home - help Jill with her FINAL project.

Then have Mom & Dad and Brent over for the BYU Football game against San Diego State - 48-27 - no contest!
Next week is Sunnyvale for two days of Private training for Kaiser then another two days over in East Bay in Walnut Creek.