13 Oct 2015 @ 4:56 PM 

CUBS WIN! CUBS WIN! CUBS WIN! The Cubs have hit 9 HR in the last two games against the best pitching staff in baseball and the team with the best record in baseball. I’m now convinced that the Cubs can win the World Series!

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Categories: Cubs, Misc
Posted By: jason
Last Edit: 13 Oct 2015 @ 04 57 PM

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 20 Apr 2015 @ 3:14 PM 

An interesting list of tragedies happens around this time of year

April 14-20: Historically, America’s most tragedy-filled week

Tags Categories: Misc Posted By: jason
Last Edit: 20 May 2015 @ 03 15 PM

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 15 Apr 2015 @ 3:10 PM 

Proud of my new driver license photo. Hopefully this will be the closest I’ll ever come to a mug shot.

driver license photo

Tags Categories: Humor, Misc Posted By: jason
Last Edit: 20 May 2015 @ 03 13 PM

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 27 Mar 2015 @ 2:49 PM 

Kirk Gibson double fist pump!

google fiber slc

Tags Categories: Misc Posted By: jason
Last Edit: 20 May 2015 @ 02 51 PM

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 14 Oct 2014 @ 5:46 PM 

Today I was out on a short bike ride when I heard a pop and felt air rushing past my leg. I knew right away that my tire had just busted.  When I looked I was surprised to see not just a hole in my tire, but a hole in the rim. I have never seen something like that happening before. Any ideas? I had just changed a tube before I went out on a ride. It had a puncture on the outside of the tube. I didn’t find anything inside the tire that may have caused it. I aired the tires up to 120 psi. I had only been riding a few miles when this happened. These wheels are Mavic Ksyrium Elite. Going to be an expensive replacement.

2014-10-14 18.05.212014-10-14 18.06.572014-10-14 17.43.36

Tags Categories: Misc, Status Updates Posted By: jason
Last Edit: 14 Oct 2014 @ 05 46 PM

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 12 Oct 2014 @ 7:30 PM 

We stopped getting Cable TV earlier this year. It was a great decision that we made. We have managed to save money over those months, and we have also managed to do more productive things with our time. Last weekend, Wendy and I took a short trip to St. George, UT. There was a TV in the room. Actually there were two TV’s for some reason I couldn’t figure out. I turned it on, and quickly realized, I have not been missing anything from live broadcast TV, and then turned it off.  This weekend, I watched the last quarter of the MSU football game. Wow, either I had forgotten how bad commercials are, or they have gotten progressively worse since the last time I was subjected to them. I was considering buying this season’s The Walking Dead, but at over $40, it just seems a bit much. The show has not been as good lately in my opinion. Besides, Netflix has all the past seasons on streaming. I can wait until it comes out on streaming if I decide I want to watch it. I have bought the season for Gotham and have been enjoying it. Wendy and I bought and have been watching this season’s Modern Family and Big Bang Theory. They have been OK, but I believe the writers are running out of material. We may not buy their next seasons. Will have to see. Although I have to admit, it is really nice to watch a TV show without having to grab the remote to skip commercials or have to sit through them. On to better things.

Tags Categories: Misc, Status Updates Posted By: jason
Last Edit: 12 Oct 2014 @ 07 30 PM

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 20 Apr 2014 @ 7:58 PM 

I felt the desire to write a little bit about why Easter is important to me.

First off, I’m a Christian, so it should be a no brainer why its important to  me. You know, Christmas and Easter, the two “Christian” holidays where people show up for a church service or mass so they can get OK with God by saying they went to church.

Lots of religious beliefs and theologies have a significant figure that started their movement. LDS has Joseph Smith, Islam has Muhammad, Buddhism has Budha, atheists and agnostics have themselves, and most importantly Christians have Jesus or Yeshua as He was probably known by those who were witnessed to His life.

Here is what Easter is about to Christians. There was this guy named Jesus. He lived mostly in the Galilee region of Israel over 2000 years ago. Why was He important? Well, He claimed to be (and I believe He is) the son of God. The God of Abraham and the Jews as He was know by at the time. There were lots of gods (little g) worshiped and recognized by people in the land those days. Their gods all had names and images.

There was no image of God, and his name, YHVH, was considered very holy by those who worshiped him. This God is the one who spoke the Universe into existence. You want to understand about power, you have to realize that He only had to speak to make the Universe created as we know it. Some time after man was created, God gave man one simple rule, and then man broke that rule. Not only did he break it, but he lied about it and then tried to say it wasn’t his fault. What a pitiful beginning for man. God’s perfectness and holiness make it so that He can not be around sin. He hates it. So God’s pinnacle of His creation, whom He gave free will, was now awash in sin. The relationship that He had with man was now messed up.

Our pastor gave a great illustration today about sin and relationships. Imagine there is a married couple. Being married is about being in a relationship, sharing, loving, and making a life with your spouse. The relationship God desires to have with man is similar. Imagine that one of the partners of this marriage had a sexual relationship with someone who was not their spouse. The one who was cheated on would be very angry, and would probably not want to be around the one who cheated. There is no act that the cheater could ever possibly do to remove the pain and memory of what was done to the spouse by cheating. It will always be there. This is very similar to how it is with God and man. When we sin, it hurts God in a way that a spouse would be hurt from a cheating partner. There is nothing man can do to heal this divide that sin has caused between man and God. Restoration can only come from the one who was hurt. The only chance the cheater has is that there is faith that the one who was cheated on will offer forgiveness. Without that, the relationship can not continue.

The only thing that could be done to make up for the sins of man was the blood of the innocent. During those times, Jews sacrificed animals, who took the punishment for Jews not being loyal to God with sin.

So back to why this Jesus guy was so important. I’m not going to go into all of the prophecies that the Jews had been taught about the one that God would send to heal this relationship between His people and God. Jesus met those prophecies. More importantly, He lived a sinless life while on Earth. He spent the last three years of his life on Earth in ministry telling Jews and non Jews about repenting from sin, performing miracles, teaching about love, peace, and about God’s coming Kingdom.

During the Passover celebration one night, he was seized by the high Jewish priests and accused of being a blasphemer. This charge could only hold true if he was not the Son of God that he claimed to be. He was sentenced to death as an innocent man on what we remember now as Good Friday. He died a horribly painful death on a cross. After the Roman guards proved that he was dead by pushing a spear through his side, his body was given to Joseph of Arimathea. He owned a stone burial area that he had planned to use for himself. He decided to let Jesus borrow his burial site. On that Friday as the sun was going down, He was lowered from the cross and placed in the tomb (sepulchre) where a large stone was used to cover the entrance. Roman guards were also placed at the entrance to this tomb to ensure that no one would do anything to the body of Jesus as his death was very controversial.

Here’s the best part. Saturday, nothing. Sunday, the stone was rolled away and Jesus arose from the grave. Pretty amazing right? Many say unbelievable. I can’t prove it happened, you can’t prove it didn’t happen, but I have faith that it happened. There is one thing that Christianity has over all other beliefs. Death has no grip on Christians, which means that life on Earth also has no grip on Christians. For us, life is just a short time of waiting to be with God for eternity.

I don’t know if I emphasized it enough, but Jesus was dead. D-E-D dead. He defeated death by bringing himself back to life. I can not do enough to tell you how important that is, and how it is not found with anyone else’s beliefs. There is no place you can go to visit where Jesus is buried, because he is alive. People have an idea of where he may have been buried for those few days. Guess what, it doesn’t matter because it is an empty tomb.

This is just what is so great about getting forgiveness from God. Its a gift. It is offered to us freely, and we don’t deserve it. That is what is called grace (unwarranted favor). There is nothing we can do to earn forgiveness. Any religion that has you do lots of works or has requirements that have to be met to find favor with the one they worship is nothing but pride. Look at me and what I have done to find favor. And better yet, there is only one sin that can not be forgiven by God, and that is not accepting his free gift.

Lots of people think that being a Christian is about following a bunch of rules that God made to kill your fun. No, that isn’t it. Read what I said in the previous paragraph. Its not about what you do. The other popular idea is that if someone was a good person, did enough good things, there’s this heavenly scale God will use to decide if you are going to Heaven or hell. So how much is enough? Both ideas are completely untrue. If anyone tries to tell you otherwise, they are lying. There is nothing you do that earns you favor with God. You can accept what He wants to give you, and that’s it. The Bible has plenty of scripture to tell you about this. If you want to bother looking into it, its there for you to find.

Choosing to sin is choosing to separate yourself from God. Sin causes death. Since God gave us all free will, we all have the option of pushing God away. He’ll even let us spend eternity away from Him if that is what we want. That is hell. Complete separation from God for eternity. You think there is evil on Earth now, you have no idea what it will be like when God completely removes himself from your life. If that is what you want, you can foolishly choose that.

If you want a pretty good book to read about someone trying to proving that Jesus isn’t who He says He is, I’d recommend The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel. The guy was a unbelieving journalist who set to to prove that Jesus was a lie. What he found was different.

Of course if you want to know more about Jesus, just read the Bible.

I believe that Easter is the most significant of the holidays that Christians observe. Some would argue its Christmas because without Jesus being born, he couldn’t have been crucified and raised from the dead. Well, I believe that without Jesus rising from the dead, there would be no need to celebrate the birth of a baby in a lowly little town in Israel.

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Categories: Misc
Posted By: jason
Last Edit: 20 Apr 2014 @ 07 58 PM

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 25 Dec 2012 @ 8:53 AM 

Hello everyone! Hope you are doing great. Time for the annual update. Wendy and I have had some changes go on with more in store for next year.

Around Christmas time of last year, Wendy found out that she had been overpaid by her company for the previous two years. I already wrote an in depth description about it so I won’t go into details. We are now paying it back, and it has had a big effect on our lifestyle, but we are grateful that we still have everything we need.

I swore off an old oath that I would never go back to school again and took two classes at the local institutions for higher learning. Human Physiology and Medical terminology. I needed those classes so I can go to paramedic school. I was also quoted as saying I would never become a paramedic. Sensing a pattern? I will be going to the University of Utah for paramedic school starting this January. The program is sponsored by the Salt Lake City Fire Department. I hope that I will be able to make a good impression on someone during my clinicals there so I have a better chance at getting hired.

I also just finished a fire academy where I earned my Utah firefighting certifications. This will allow me to apply for more fire departments as most of them require that before you can apply with them. We are hoping that once I finish paramedic school this time next year, I will be a more desirable candidate so I can have a better chance of getting hired by a fire department.

During the summer I did a lot of bicycling. I did a fair amount of riding with my neighbor Dean. He helped me to ride farther than I normally do and which helped me to improve my endurance. He talked me into going down to southern Utah with him and some friends to do a century ride. It is called the Deparado Duo. He did the full 200 miles. I was quite content to just do 100 miles. It wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be, but I’m glad to have gotten my first century ride down. Maybe I can do more in the future.

At the end of last year I decided to not drink soda for a year. I am just about to my one year mark with that. Honestly, I don’t really miss it. Unfortunately, when company comes over we don’t have much to offer them other than tea, milk, and water. It was originally a weight control decision, but the more I’ve learned about soda the more I realize it’s really just a good health decision. If you drink more than a few sodas a month, I’d encourage you to try going a year without it just to see what its like.

My parents have put their house up for sale in MS. They haven’t had much luck with getting anyone to buy it, but hopefully someone will come along soon and buy it. Once they sell it, they will be moving out here to UT to be closer to us.

Wendy found out on Mother’s day that she is pregnant. It is going to be a girl, and her name will be Mia June Cotting. June is Wendy’s grandmother’s name. Mia’s expected due date is Jan 20th, about a week after my paramedic school starts. Although I’ve been told that new babies mostly just sleep, I just wish this was going to be easier. We are excited about starting the new phase of our life in parenthood. Wendy and Mia have been doing well and the doctors say everything is how it should be. We feel very blessed with how well things have gone for us.

Wendy still really loves her job doing urgent care for kids. She’s had a pretty busy year, and the winter virus season has now started here in UT. She has a great schedule where she works in the evenings. It is going to work out great once we have Mia here as I will be at school during the day, and then I can be home while she works in the evenings.

We didn’t go on vacations or backpacking trips this year like we have in previous years. This year we just had staycations. We did drive out to CA to visit with my brother and his wife. We took the dogs with us, and it was a nice little get away.

The dogs are doing great. Daisy has taken up catching the frisbee. She’s gotten really good at it and can jump pretty high. Madie just follows her around with a tennis ball in her mouth watching Daisy catch the frisbee.

This Christmas we are enjoying a quiet day at home. I don’t imagine there will be many more quiet Christmases once we have a kido running around the house.

We hope you all have a great Christmas and a wonderful New Year.

L-R Daisy, Wendy, Maddie, Jason

L-R Daisy, Wendy, Maddie, Jason

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Categories: Family, Misc
Posted By: jason
Last Edit: 25 Dec 2012 @ 09 10 AM

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 21 Sep 2012 @ 8:02 AM 

Wendy has spent the last couple of summers planting a garden for vegetables for us to eat in our backyard. One of the things she has read about is the idea of using raised gardens. We had been planting a traditional garden at ground level that we tilled up each year and planted. Most of the garden gets populated with weeds during the summer. The idea with the raised garden is that it gets above the normal level of seeds that weeds put out and prevents the spread of weeds into your garden. It also raises the level of the garden making working in the garden easier.

There are kits you can buy to make raised gardens, but with my engineering thought process I decided I wanted to make my own instead. It wound up costing more than I had planned, but I believe that what we have to show for it is pretty good. Most of the kits are made of wood, which are fine, but I don’t believe they will be very durable. I chose to go withstackableblocks like I used to make the retaining wall earlier this summer. The plan was to make two raised gardens that would be wide enough to allow two rows of plants running down them.

We had a big pile of sandy type poor soil from where I cleared out the area for the future tree house. I had dumped that soil in the back corner of our garden. The soil in our garden was good for growing as we had been adding organic matter to it over the last few years. I decided that I wanted to use the poorer soil as filler and put the good soil on top. This turned out to be a lot of work moving all of this soil around.

I started by using our tiller to break up all the top soil in the garden. This let me move the top soil off to the side. After taking some measurements, I began making the path that would go down the middle. I first put down a sheet of weed block material, hoping this will reduce the weeds at ground level. I then put down some gravel to help support the base for the pathway to sit on. I put the paving stones on top of the gravel to create the walking path. Each stone I put a level on to try to keep it level. I used a rubber mallet to pound the paver stones to get them level and to help them settle into the dirt.

Once I got the pathway put down, I started with my foundation for the first garden. I used a square point shovel to get the dirt flattened out. I once again used gravel to help provide a stable base for my foundation. I started with 1 1/2 inch thick rectangular cinder block. I made sure to level each of these front to back. I once again used the rubber mallet to level the blocks and help them set into the soil. Once I had the cinder blocks leveled out I began stacking the blocks on top of it.

I stacked the blocks three high. Each block has a ridge on it that hooks on to the block below it to keep it from moving forward. Once I had the blocks stacked three high (not including the flat cinder block), I began putting more weed block fabric along the inside of the wall. There needs to be something behind the blocks to keep the soil from escaping once water starts getting in the dirt. Otherwise, all the soil will flow out the cracks in the wall.

Once I had secured the weed block fabric around the interior of the wall, I began moving filler soil and top soil into the box. Once this was filled, I put down more paver stones on the outside of the box to make a walking path that went round the side. There wasn’t much space so I had to use a skinny block and I didn’t do much for leveling or keeping out the weeds.

With the first box complete, I did the same process for making the second box

Thankfully we live close to Home Depot as I had to make several trips there to get all the blocks. I have no idea how many I used but I would estimate that it was about 200. The moving of blocks from store shelf, to cart, to car, to wheel barrow, to the garden site was a lot of work. I plan to hook up the soaker hoses to irrigation system in the spring time. Before I put down the paver stones for the middle pathway, I put down a small soaker hose down the length of it. We plan to put down some kind of a moss or ground cover between the cracks in the blocks.

Over all it took about 3 days or so to get it all done. I think it was worth the extra effort as this is a raised garden that isn’t going away any time soon. Now to wait for next spring to fill it with the vegetables that Wendy makes me eat.

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Categories: Around the House, Misc
Posted By: jason
Last Edit: 21 Sep 2012 @ 08 02 AM

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 01 Sep 2012 @ 9:42 PM 

With our first child on the way, I decided that I wanted to build a treehouse/playhouse for our kid(s). My dad built one when I was a kid that was a raised structure on 4 telephone poles raised above a boxed in sandbox. My brother and I spent lots of time out there playing. I want to give my kids the same opportunity.

My plan is to make a similar structure as to what I had as a kid. I plan to make some improvements over what we had, but once I get to actually building it, I’ll just have to make sure its not going to be more than I can do. Ireceiveda fair amount of construction experience in Americorps when we worked with Habitat for Humanity. We spent nearly a month in MA framing the second floor of a multi family home. It was a lot of fun, and I learned a lot. We’ll have to see how much of it I remembered. This time, I won’t have a master builder on hand to consult with. But I do have the Internet.

Currently I am still in the planning stages. I have begun doing some work already in getting the area ready for building. The SE corner of our yard is under a shade tree, and it is the area I have chosen to build in. The East side of our yard has a raised flower bed that also acts as a retaining wall as the yard slopes down from East to West. Our neighbors on the East side have a higher back yard than we do. The area in the Southern end of the raised bed looks like a project that was never finished. There’s no concrete retaining blocks like the rest of the bed has, but just sloped dirt withvegetation. I removed the excess dirt andvegetationto bring that corner of the yard to the same height as the rest of our yard. I installed a retaining wall here as I didn’t want to leave an exposed wall of dirt that would just wash away. Also, my neighbor has a small out building in that portion of his yard. I wanted to make sure the ground retained its ability to hold up their building.

Laying the retaining wall

The finished retaining wall

After getting a free evaluation of our lawn sprinklers and knowing that the treehouse was going to be in the line of fire for our sprinklers, I moved the sprinkler heads that were in this area and plan to not water the grass in this corner of the yard as it will one day be covered by the tree house.

Moving the sprinkler heads

Moving the sprinkler heads

In order for me to get an idea of what thedimensionsof what the treehouse were going to be, I had to begin coming up with a idea of what I wanted the treehouse to look like. I began with sketching out on paper what I wanted. I had already come up with ideas in my head, but I needed to put it on paper so things could start coming together.

Once I had this on paper, I needed to get some plans that I could use for building. Thankfully, I took two semesters of AutoCAD when I was in college. It was a long time ago, but I managed to remember some of it. I found a free CAD program calledLibreCADthat allowed me to draw 2D drawings. It is still in development stages, so it has some bugs, but for a free cross platform CAD program I’m not going to complain.

Gettingdimensionsand realizing how they related to the real world was going to be important for me in planning this thing out. First stop, the building codes for my town. Their website said out buildings could be built without a permit as long as they were less than 200 square feet. So that was my starting point. I also knew I had a defined area in width due to the area that I had dug out. One concern that I had to contend with that my flat roofed childhood tree house did not was snow accumulation. Reading around on the Internet helped me to determine that a minimum roof pitch for snow accumulation was a 3/12 ratio (three feet of rise for every twelve feet of length). Armed with all of thisinformationI was able to start making some of my initial CAD drawings. Havingdimensionsfrom these initial drawings helped me see how big the footprint was going to be so I could place my sprinklers accordingly.

I chose to go with 128″ wide by 192″ long with a 32″ porch on the side. Since wall studs tend to come in 8′ heights, I decided to make my tall wall 8′ high. Using my 3/12 ratio for roof pitch, that makes my short wall 4′ high. This is low, but this is going to be for kids, so I think it should be OK. I plan to build everything on 16″ centers for the wall studs, floor joices, and rafters. 16″ centers seem to be a standard. I remember this number from when I was working with Habitat and Internet searches validated this number. Also, when you buy plywood, the edges of the plywood will line up on the center of your timbers when you put them on top.

My reasoning for going with this design also has to do with construction. I helped build roof trusses when we were in MA. There was a lot that went in to that. It was a triangular shaped roof. I don’t remember much about how we did it, so I chose to go with a sloping roof in just one direction. Also, having a high side would allow me to make a climbing wall on one side of the treehouse. I plan to add monkey bars coming off one side of the house. I would at some point like to put in a zip line. We’ll have to see about that, but its on the wish list. Also I want a skylight in the ceiling. I found a library book that talks about putting in a skylight that you can open. A door in the floor of the house will be there. I also plan to put in a loft, nothing more than a wide shelf so a kid could sleep in there if they wanted to.

I don’t plan on starting construction on this until later. I’ve got too much going on with school for the next year or so. But I’m sure this will be a fairly long process. Not just a weekend project.

 

Tags Categories: Family, Misc Posted By: jason
Last Edit: 01 Sep 2012 @ 09 51 PM

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