30 March 2007

The Gateway to Customer Service

I bought a killer 21" Gateway Monitor (FPD2185W) last August. It's been fantastic, with swivel action on both axes, height adjustment and rotation. It's got all the video hookups under the sun and a powered 4-port USB hub. It's been a fantastic ride for the last several months.

I had the monitor in a dual-monitor configuration. I had a lan party last weekend that required me to unhook it and use it in a single-monitor configuration. After hooking it back up in my office after the lan party, I went to re-enable my multi-monitor configuration.

Mind you it was still in single-monitor mode at the time; and the display was showing up on my killer Gateway monitor. When I re-enabled the multi-monitor... the screen blinked, but the other monitor didn't come on. The display was still solely on my LCD (my other monitor is a CRT.)

So I thought to myself, "Self, you should reboot the computer and see if it will go back to normal." I did so, and when it restarted... the display now came up on my CRT and NOT on my LCD anymore.

Playing with settings and uninstalling/reinstalling drivers for an hour didn't resolve anything. All display was stuck on my CRT with no hint of going elsewhere.

So I unhooked the LCD from my computer and hooked it up to Gwen's computer... no DVI love there either... so I swapped cables and still no love...

I decided to check the VGA port instead on the monitor to see if it was the DVI port that was the problem, or the whole monitor had given up the ghost. Well, the VGA worked, so I decided the DVI port was bad.

Enter Gateway support. I got on their website and figured out how to email support. Their first response came in hours and they asked me a few questions. We exchanged emails over the next several hours. I received one from them that agreed the monitor was defective and that they had already scheduled a replacement to ship to my home.

They cross-shipped the monitor to my home (on their bill) through Fed-Ex 2nd Day Air (I'll rant about Fed Ex' LACK OF SERVICE in another post) -- with an extra box to ship my defective monitor back in (also on their bill and also FedEx 2nd day.)

It was incredible... my monitor's DVI port went out on Saturday; I had the new monitor on Wednesday ... the defective monitor will be back to them by Tuesday.

One word... heavenly.

I wish all big companies would learn a lesson from Gateway... This is the way you build loyalty!!!!

I didn't receive any two emails from the same Gateway employee; but every email was signed with their name and badge number; and they were all intelligent, competent and professional; and all were sincerely concerned with getting me taken care of.

If that kind of service keeps up, I'll be recommending Gateway to others for a long time... Thanks Gateway!

28 March 2007

Jordan High Centennial Tickets Go On Sale - 03 April 2007 at 10:00am (Mountain Time)

The time has come for the most excellent and biggest celebration the 100-year old Jordan High School in Sandy, Utah has ever seen.

Friendships will be rekindled, history will be re-lived... history will be made. Classmates will not only reunite with each other; but with their friends from surrounding years that they don't normally see at their class reunions.

Friday July 6th and Saturday July 7th, the Jordan High Centennial Committee and the Jordan Alumni Association present the Jordan High 100-Year Celebration of Life.

I have the wonderful privilege of working with these committees as a member of the Alumni Association Board and part of the Centennial Committee. Hundreds of volunteers are working around the clock to arrange this amazing event.

We're seeking anyone that has ever been involved with Jordan High; teachers, administration, students and all. Please help us spread the word. All of my classmates from the Class of 1991 need to get on our Class Site and make sure if your name is on our missing list that you update your contact information with us...

Tickets go on sale April 3rd at 10:00am (Mountain Time) and will be handled through the LDS Conference Center and the same ticket will be used for admission to both events.

For more details, please visit the Jordan Alumni Association website.

For all the hard work that everyone has put in, I want to say thank you! The Centennial will be a smashing success and all that participate in this special weekend will be so glad they did.

Here's to 100 years of Dear Ol' Jordan High and here's to 100 more! The Beet lives on...

25 March 2007

The Prayer of the Children

Listening to children pray is one of life's greater pleasures.

My youngest, Kimmie is very thankful in her prayers. She always makes it a point to thank Heavenly Father for everyone in our family (as of late, this occurs multiple times in the same prayer...) and then commences with speaking in tongues. Some sort of ultra-cool jibberish starts flowing from her mouth for a few seconds and then a pause, a sly grin, and then more thanking for family members. I don't know if she's just trying to emulate mommy and daddy's long-winded and boring-for-kids prayers, but whatever it is, it rocks.

Mandi, my second oldest who caught on to our prayers for protection started a tradition in the children's prayers to say, "Please keep us safe from harm and accident (and purposes)..."

Yes, the prayer of the children is glorious to be a part of. Most of the time they end up sounding like vain repetition, but kids are innocent and have no clue what that even means; so I'm convinced they really mean it everyday... that is until they're saying that same prayer so fast it sounds like they're speaking in tongues as well. Maybe that's where Kimmie gets it from.

The best is, those quiet moments during family prayer, when you know they really have some concerns on their mind; they pause for a moment during their prayer and then ask for something completely unexpected that touches your heart for good. It's those moments where you feel the Spirit touch your soul, and you know that Heavenly Father is hearing them.

Thank God for kids... (you never know, next time you're trying to have one, He'll give you an added bonus like He has with us!)

21 March 2007

Womb Raider - Two Much Fun

It's official! They're twins, and they're housed in a bunk-bed equipped womb.
When this picture was being taken; the top baby (lovingly referred to by the radiologist as "Baby A") had a hiccup and we got to watch its body flail up-and-down in a "break dancing/worm" like movement for a brief second. "Baby B" was just casually kicking it on the bottom bunk (literally kicking the side wall)

They're fraternal and healthy and happy; as are we! We're grateful to know they're growing healthy and strong; and already sapping my dear sweetheart of all her energy ... and food consumption.

You'll note that it appears "Baby A" (aka "Thing 1") is looking face-down at the "bottom bunk" where "Thing 2" is crouched in fetal position, kicking the wall to your left. "Thing 1" looks to have a highlighted jawbone, but I can't tell for sure... this is why I'm a software developer and not a radiologist. "Thing 2" has a jawbone, it appears, as well; but not near as bright as "Thing 1."

Nothing like Dr. Seuss nicknames while they're preparing to enter into their journey into the world. Speaking of names, everyone has been having a ball coming up with what we should name them.

Among the top are:
(If they're boys...)
Jim & Tim (the "Tweebs" from Kim Possible)
Bill & Ted
Wayne & Garth
Mario & Luigi
Smith & Wesson
Bacon & Cheese

(If they're girls...)
Thelma & Louise
Blossom & Buttercup

(If they're a mixed bag)
Pat & Terry
Chris & Kelly

What names do YOU want to suggest?

17 March 2007

Getting Back the Green

So it's St. Patrick's Day... and with the focus being on the color green, I figured I'd share some of our good news.

See, when we first moved into our current home, we were almost debt-free (all we had were Gwen's school loans and a car payment besides the house payment.) It felt nice. As we all experience, things happen sometimes and some forced debt ensues. That stuff is a nasty evil demon bugger to pay off... but I'm happy to announce that, thanks to a generous bonus from work... we nailed down almost all of the rest of our remaining debt. Next month its gone except for our minivan payment and the house and we're doing a Little Green Happy Dance!

For the sake of not making you sick, I'll spare the video clips of said dance. Nevertheless, there is much rejoicing *yaaaaaaaay*

Becoming debt free is an invigorating and wonderful feeling, with emphasis on the word free.

Of course this is just in time to go plunge into bigger house debt, so the dance is again cut short. hehe!

Still, it's quite a feeling of accomplishment to get that crap out of your hair and know that money can go towards the home and children (especially now that we're going from 3 to 5 children!)

So, enjoy the day of green... I know we will. :)

14 March 2007

Confessions of a Father in Training

Why is it that parenting doesn't come with a manual? It's because every child is different; their personality, their needs, employable tactics to help them understand that doing your bidding is best for their well-being (and yours...)

My son is a joy and a delight. He's a bright and clever young man with an incredibly creative imagination and sometimes an insatiable appetite for destruction. This demon side usually comes out when he's involved in an accident that inflicts pain on his person.

As with most children, the knee-jerk reaction is to get uncontrollably angry at the inanimate object that somehow reached out and tripped, punched, slapped, or otherwise committed a felony in attempting to inflict injury on said child. With my son (and now my youngest daughter who is the epitome of older sibling emulation) this is first conveyed by very loudly yelling and/or screaming at the inanimate object with phrases riddled with expletives like "stupid piece of crap" or "fetchin' bastage" -- of course none of which, he learned from me.

Once the yelling ceases and the child realizes there is no reactin from said inanimate object; realizing the purposes have not been fulfilled and that feeling of sweet revenge not yet achieved... he, like many, will commence clobbering the inanimate object in order to achieve that feeling.

Quickly the child learns that this only nets them more pain which then cycles into more anger, which is then... you get the idea.

In this particular instance, I was upstairs talking with a friend of mine after excusing my son to bed for the evening. I start hearing banging sounds emanating from the basement; and realizing we need to sell the house in order to acquire more room for our child count which is about to almost double its size in a few months, I immediately want to panic.

Excusing myself and heading downstairs, my son realizes I'm entering the room and stops cold and looks at me like he knows he's in trouble. Now, my knee-jerk reaction is to start laying into him about how he's destroying the abode that we happen to need to sell in the not-so-distant future and how that needs to stop before I'm forced to remove a potential line of future posterity for my family name.

In the midst of the yelling match that ensused neither I, nor my son, listened to a word the other was saying... except the cutting ones I heard about my son wanting to move out becuase I didn't give a crap about him and didn't care to listen to what he had to say.

Little did I know that he'd been bonked on the head by the ladder up to the bunk he sleeps on and was having a reactionary episode in light of that fact. I told my son I wasn't about to listen to him until he calmed down. My lovely, beautiful, nurturing, much more intelligent than I and wonderful wife had entered the scene by this time.

Despite her asking me to mellow out with him, I angrily then left the room to say goodbyes to my friend so I could focus on remedying the screamfest that my wife was now enjoying at several decibels above that of a jet engine. I have to imagine my neighbors were enjoying it too.

After my friend left, I calmly went down into my son's room - where he still esteemed me as his enemy. My wife must have said some special prayers, because my whole demeanor changed as I took a deep breath, climbed up on the bunk and laid down beside my son; and started to talk in a calm voice to him.

It's amazing how much more can be accomplished when both parties involved in the discussion are calm. And it's amazing how much love and forgiveness a child and parent can feel for each other during the calm after the storm.

I think the Gospel of Jesus Christ puts it best:
Doctrine and Covenants: Section 121 - Verse 43
"40 Hence many are called, but afew are chosen.
41 No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;
42 By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—
43 Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;
44 That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death.

I wasn't moved upon by the Holy Ghost to reprove with sharpness - but I did reprove with sharpness... too much sharpness.

Luckily, like I forgave my son, the Lord will forgive me as I repent for yelling at my son and not taking the time to listen to and address his concerns the right way.

Thankfully, my son decided he doesn't want to move out after all, and that I'm still his bud... we had a wonderful chat about multiplication tables and other cool things he's doing at school. I even got to teach him the cool trick with the number 11 when multiplying by 10, 11 or 12.

It's those moments that make parenting worth it... when I can learn a lesson, my son learns a lesson and it's taught in the spirit of love, not anger. I'm just grateful my Heavenly Father is wiser than I and doesn't smite me everytime I make a dumb mistake... cause I make a lot of 'em...

And I'm grateful He has given us manuals to help us in our quest to become better parents to our wonderful children.

It seems children are here more to teach us than we are to teach them at times... God bless the children.

10 March 2007

"Narbacular Drop": Predecessor to "Portal: The Video Game"

I'm really excited about a new puzzle game in the works by Valve Software called Portal.

I found out today from my friend Rich that the game is based on an earlier game made by Nuclear Monkey Software called Narbacular Drop.

Walking through a PortalThe game is incredible and so much fun. Download it, get addicted, then curse the fact that Portal won't be released until late September of this year (or later if the deadline gets moved back.)

The good news... The nice folks at Nuclear Monkey Software have given us a level editor, and their site contains links to a bunch of already created ones for your enjoyment to help tide over until Portal is released.

I highly recommend this and thank those that have put a lot of hard work, heart and soul into such a simple yet incredibly complex game.

Check out the Portal Trailer:

08 March 2007

What If...

"What if there were no hypothetical situations?"