"Life's Little Annoyances: True Tales of People Who Just Can't Take it Anymore" by Ian Urbina

Read the whole book here!

So this was the exact perfect book (yes, I read the whole 185 pages in one sitting) for me last night, when I got up at 12:45 and could not fall asleep until 3:45. It was mindless reading, while hilariously entertaining, and completely distracting.

The book contains examples of every day annoying things, and how various people have dealt with them. The best ones involved a combination of clever passive aggressiveness and profitable inventions.

Examples: Getting back at the roommate who steals the icecream you have hidden and labeled with your name by hiding a layer of salt across the whole thing. Haha!

The guy who went to the bank to deposit a $95,000 fake check, you know, the kind you get in your junk mail? And it cleared. And legally he could have held on to it, but instead he just wanted the bank to admit in writing that they screwed up. He ended up returning the money and writing an off-Broadway play about the ordeal, which lasted many long months. That was funny.

The guys who decided to collect a million free AOL CDs and then go on a road trip to AOL headquarters to deliver them, saying, "You've Got Mail!" I wonder if they ended up doing it.

The guy in the 15 item grocery line who, when there is someone behind him with more than 15 items, counts how many items he has out loud.

The guy who invented the CD case opener.

The guy who invented the Rejection Hotline.

The guy whose wife was annoyed because the waiter would always hand him the bill, even though she was the one to take her credit card out and put it in the carrier thing. His retort to her was always, "Well, I have the penis." This annoyed her a lot. He started signing his credit card in legible cursive: "I have the penis." Twelve years later, his wife saw him do it, and was annoyed. He said that nobody, not one of the restaurants they had been to in the last 12 years had noticed. That's funny.

The guy who was asked if he could be put on hold by Verizon, and he answered, "sure," but then realized the customer service person needed a "yes/no" explicitly stated. So he kept saying, "if you must," or "I guess," until the other person had to confront him on it.

The guy who gets his revenge on the annoying adult video store by honking every time he goes by, which invariably freaks out the customers going in.

The dog owner who made little flags with toothpicks and stuck them in dog turds in the park, to point out how people should pick it up.

My favorite: the guy who got annoyed at the cheesy motivational posters, and started Demotivators and Despair.inc, now a multimillion dollar company! Ha!


"Marcelo in the Real World" by Francisco Stork, read by Lincoln Hoppe

This was the first fiction book on tape I've listened to in a really long time. Except for one or two brief dialogs where it was hard to tell who was talking, the reader Lincoln Hoppe did an EXCELLENT job. So much so that I believe a large portion of why I enjoyed the book was the way he read it. It added so many different dimensions, the way he narrated Marcelo's voice.

I enjoyed the story. There were multiple layers of conflict. Marcelo was a very interesting character with a mild form of Autism. It seemed that Stork knew his stuff when it comes to Autism. But I don't really know because it's not something that I know very much about.

I was afraid for most of the book that there would be some elicit scenes. There weren't. I don't want to give too much away, in case you read it. I will say there were some of the scummiest scum bag of characters in this book, and there is some sexual content as well as some language. I think if this were a movie, it would be easy to make it PG, or PG 13, but you could also make it R. Mostly because movies with more than one or two instances of the f word are automatically R, and this book has several of those. I think Stork used it in a way that added to the story, although it was a bit annoying.

The target audience of this book is unclear. I wouldn't want to read it if I were 16 or younger, certainly not in a school setting. There is way too much blunt discussion of sex. There are allusions to rape. There is also a theme of religion. Marcelo is obsessed with religion. All in all, the religious discussions didn't even really phase me at all; they were interesting but not that crucial to the story.


The conflict was good, the characters interesting (especially Marcelo), but the ending was lacking. It felt rushed and underdeveloped. Also, totally unbelievable. It didn't feel like he ever reached any sort of conclusion with Jasmine, even though that's what the author seemed to want you to believe.

The best part of the story, the part where Stork really succeeded in showing rather than telling was when Marcelo confronts his father about what is one of the most important conflicts in the book, which is Marcelo's realization that people with money get different service than those without. I think this was the climax of the book, when Marcelo asks his dad why Extelle (sp) gets different treatment than Vydromec (sp - hey, I didn't read it, I just listened to it)..

I would recommend this book, especially in audio book format. I don't think my in laws would like it, but probably my sister Sarah would. Maybe my mom would.


Top Ten Qualities of the Perfect Librarian

My friend who is a librarian recently wrote a blog post about the most annoying things library patrons do. While I agreed with her on some of the complaints (ex: patrons sneezing on librarians. What???), there were several which I thought would make the list of "most annoying things librarians do". I resisted the urge to blog this list. But today, at the library, I was reminded of these inner complaints that I have been developing for 23 years. Rather than vent my negativity, I decided to rework the list in a more positive light. In the end, it remained mostly negative. I'm pretty sure it will still be offensive to some people. The intention was a tongue-in-cheek, glib tone...mostly.

10. She is approachable. Sometimes, rarely, I will need to ask the librarian a question. When this happens, it is already extremely uncomfortable. Taking ten seconds to look up from the book she is reading to glare at me in annoyance does not qualify as "approachable".

9. She is humble. If I ask a question, she answers truthfully and non-pretentiously, and is not afraid to refer me to someone else. Brevity is a gift of the humble; she does not try to mask her lack of knowledge by long, complex, irrelevant tangents.

8. She is accessible via email or web chat, especially if she is involved in family history research. She responds promptly and her emails are concise and accurate. The best library I have ever dealt with for family history is in Rosenberg, Texas.

7. She lets you use the family history room. Many libraries have an entire back room somewhere that is full of dusty books with local genealogies and family trees. These are treasure troves. The best librarians unlock them and let you use them unsupervised, so you do not have to feel like someone is breathing down your neck. This gives you the advantage of not being embarrassed when their microfilm reader is completely backward from all the other ones you have used in your life, and you look like a fool the first ten minutes of trying to get set up.

6. She lets you put the books away in the book return. Sometimes, when the librarian is scanning in books, she will ask me to just put them on the counter. I don't like doing this because I know, I know she will look at the books I took out, then look at me, and draw some kind of conclusion. I hate wondering what this conclusion may be. If you want to know about the books I read, look at my blog, not the stack of books I'm returning. I only read about 1/4 of them, anyway; the others are for skimming.

5. She never makes comments about your fines. This has only been an issue because my library lets you to continue to check out books even if you have a small fine (up to $25). I have gone one or two days over the limit on some books occasionally. This is human, not a crime against humanity.

4. She does not shush loud people in the children's section. This has never happened directly to me, actually; all of our librarians are sweet angels to babies. But there is frequently shushing of preteens making noise in the children's section. In my opinion, there is an implied "no shh" zone in the children's section which applies to ALL living things therein, not just the under five year old crowd. Obviously, preteens are more annoying than babies; I taught middle schoolers. This is just the truth. And I DO think there should be some areas of the library where silence is enforced. This does not include the children's section. Lighten up!

3. If you are browsing in an area, she stops what she is doing and moves away to let you look at the books. She will be there all day. You will not. She is there to serve you, and the book shelving can wait.

2. She NEVER speaks unless spoken to. Exceptions to this rule include (but are not limited to) exclamations of how cute your kid is or to give you something that you forgot or misplaced. She never asks if you attend the weekly mommy-baby sing times. She never starts a conversation based on the books you have checked out. She does not approach you as you are browsing to ask if you need some help finding something. If I did, I would be asking you!

1. She never, under ANY circumstances whatsoever, makes any comments on the books you have chosen to take out. This includes all verbal comments as well as (but not limited to) body language such as raised eyebrows, glances, slight exhales of breath, etc. If the librarian can follow this number one rule, she is already 99% of the way to being the perfect librarian.



I did not sleep well last night. But I did have a funny dream where
the sya program director when I was in France was totally flirting
with me (ewwww and when did my subconscious think about HIM?) and he
used the subjunctive incorrectly, and I corrected him. Except I still
conjugated it wrong.

Him: "il soit necessaire que nous reconnaitrons"
Me: "il faut que nous reconnaitrions"

Reconnaitrions???? What was I thinking?!?!? And now that I'm lucid,
WOULD that be the subjunctive or not?????


"The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness" by Dave Ramsey

This book is actually the November choice for my Relief Society's book club! That's kind of cool!

So, this was an excellent book. I really enjoyed reading it. I wonder if I would have liked it as much if our finances were different. We are very, very fortunate to not have debt (besides our house) due to wonderful parents and grandparents. I think probably I would have enjoyed reading the book if we had other kinds of debt, but most likely it would have felt a little bit like reading a book about losing weight from the point of view of someone who needs to, instead of someone who feels they are on track, i.e. it would probably have induced a major guilt trip. But I suppose that's a good thing if it motivates you to get your finances straight.

Although, the book does have lots and lots of motivational success stories from a wiiiide variety of people, sandwiched here and there. One of the pictures had an LDS family; we could tell (even though it was cropped) because the photo was in front of a temple. That was cool.

The book is not a method book, it's a process book. As in, there was not a lot about the specifics of what you need to do to balance a budget. Instead, it focused on why you should do certain things with your finances, and in what order. Not surprisingly, most of his "baby steps" follow counsel that the LDS Church gives. Actually, the guidance is also pretty much the same as what my non-LDS grandparents would say, too. They are simple, but difficult. It is not a "get rich quick" scheme.

I really like Dave Ramsey. Yesterday I kind of went on a "Dave Ramsey Binge" when I downloaded his "Ask Dave Ramsey" iPhone app, and listened to the calls nearly all day while doing chores or quilting. It was really fun. He's a fiscal conservative, as well as a political conservative, but I kind of think he's more libertarian than republican. Anyway, his talk show style is strikingly similar to Sean Hannity's, so why is it that I find him hilarious and fun to listen to while Sean I find obnoxious and rude? I think it's because the topic of finances is not nearly as controversial. For example, Dave Ramsey sometimes says things like, "You're acting like a FREAKING FOUR YEAR OLD! You need to get off your BUTT and DIG SOME DITCHES!" I dunno, there's something very gratifying hearing the truth told like that, as applied to an individual. I think it gets fuzzier when it comes to politics, though. Like, it sounds more like complaining when a citizen says the same kind of thing about his country. But I digress.

You can learn more about Dave Ramsey's baby steps here.

In brief, they are:
1. Save and maintain a $1,000 Emergency Fund
2. Get out of debt via the Debt Snowball method (pay your debts in order of smallest to largest)
3. Save and maintain a 3-6 month Emergency Fund
4. Save 15% of your annual income towards Retirement
5. Save for college tuition
6. Pay off the home mortgage
7. Build wealth, have fun, invest, and GIVE.

I think the main thing that I learned from reading this book is the advantage of a psychological boost when you focus all of your energy in one sector. I mean, that is pretty much the only "new" "breakthrough" thing. And even then, once you get to steps 4-6, you do them all at once.

The psychology is also applicable to baby step 2, the Debt Snowball. I mean, technically, you would save more money if you paid it off via the highest interest rate to lowest. But you definitely feel better as you accomplish something. I'm glad that he factors the psychology into the plan.

We pay extra on our mortgage now and always have. It's something both my parents and Danny's parents taught us to do. According to Dave Ramsey's plan, we should wait to do this until we have a fully funded Emergency Fund. I'm not sure that we're going to do it his way now, or what, but I can see the advantage of tackling one thing at a time. Either way we go, I checked out an amortization schedule for our mortgage earlier this morning. It was pretty much the most depressing thing I have ever seen in my life.

This book brought up some really great things for discussion between me and Danny, like:
- What constitutes and "emergency"? Are all car repairs an "emergency", or just the really big ones? Does Christmas count as an "emergency"?
First, Christmas does not count as an emergency. It comes around every year at the same time. We have to budget for it. We basically decided that we should start budgeting for some bigger one time expenses that we know will come up. Car maintenance and small repairs that will obviously continue to happen just from owning a car, those are not "emergencies". If suddenly the transmission went out? That would be an emergency. Although we'd probably just sell my car if that happened, because it's not really worth it to replace the transmission!

Does a baby count as an "emergency"? Yes and no, I guess. I mean, we're budgeting for more than what we think the baby will cost, and on top of that we've got some extra insurance. But if the baby were to be born via emergency c-section two months early? I think that would definitely count as an "emergency". Too bad you can't really plan with that!

- If Danny lost his job, how much money would we need to keep us alive for a month?
This was kind of difficult to figure out, especially factoring in private health insurance. It was also kind of emotional to think about, but I'm glad we did. Personally, the thought of Danny losing his job is probably the most terrifying thing to think about ever. It's a LOT less scary now that we have a plan in place, even though it meant having to think about a terrible situation. We should also write a will. One of the funnier myths that Dave Ramsey debunks in the books is this: "Myth: if you write a will, you will die. Truth: you will die, so you should leave a will." Haha.

- According to the recommended category percentages (based on Dave Ramsey and his team's vast knowledge and experience), how does our budget compare?
As in, if he recommends to spend between 5-15% of your monthly income on food, what percentage of our monthly income is spent on food? In looking at this, we discovered that we are doing great. That felt good. Oh yeah, Dave Ramsey totally pays tithing and recommends that everybody else pay it, too, no matter what step you are on! Isn't that so good???

- Does the 15% Dave Ramsey recommends you pay towards retirement include company matches?

The answer is no, you just count it as gravy.

- What are we going to do with our credit cards?
We decided to keep them and not use them. Our limits are pathetically low (which is a GREAT thing!), so much that if we did "max" them both out, we would still be able to pay them off each month. I think Danny's is like $200. We had been using them for routine purchases, but we're probably not going to do that anymore. I learned that you spend 18-20% more if you use credit, and I believe it. But they would come in handy if I'm stranded with Jane in an airport and need to buy a plane ticket home or something like that. Or if a situation arose where we didn't have access to a computer. Or if for some reason our credit union's website were down and we HAD to buy something right away. That last scenario has actually happened, so there you go.

The thing is, the plastic factor is not a temptation. I've used a debit card since the age of 15. They feel the same. To me, cash feels like "play" money, because usually when I have cash, it doesn't get accounted for in the budget (due to online banking). I don't think credit cards are inherently evil, but I don't really want to use one regularly. It's not been a temptation yet, and I don't want it to start being one any time soon.

I will say that I think the marketing of credit cards is evil. They prey upon the young, who are usually naive and ignorant. I'm glad that congress finally passed a "duh!" law that says you should verify if a teenager has a job before approving them for a credit card. Side note: I've gotten a credit card offer in the mail pretty much every day for the past two weeks. They just go in the trash.

One final thing about the book, and probably the number one reason I liked it: the Allocated Spending Plan. So, the book doesn't focus on the how, but it does include some budgeting forms in the end. I was super excited when I learned that one of the main forms was something I had already just intuitively started doing. Basically, it's a spreadsheet that helps you "spend" your paycheck before you get it it. But I really like that he has it set up to where each column is a paycheck, which is great because there are lots of one-time bills each month.

I would recommend this book to anyone, but especially to single or newly married people who haven't thought much about their financial future. I would also recommend Dave's talk show; it's funny and good.


My take on Deuteronomy 22:11

"Thou shalt not wear a garment of adivers sorts, as of woollen and linen together."

Some Orthodox Jews still do this today. Apparently, there are people whose career is to examine the fibers of your clothes to make sure you are keeping this commandment.

Here's my personal interpretation of this law. In the time of Deuteronomy, people were much more connected to their clothing. They herded and shore the sheep, and gathered the cotton themselves. They spun the thread. They wove the thread. It was an important part of their lives. If they didn't do this, they wouldn't have clothes.

Lambs and sheep are often symbolic of Christ. The commandment to not mix wool with linen might have reference to the idea that you should not mix the divine with the secular. Perhaps it's a reminder to keep Christ and religious truths pure and separate from philosophies of the world.

Signs Jane can do

I love languages. I took ASL 101 and 102 at BYU. They were really fun. Danny and I decided to teach Jane some signs while she is little.

The reasons Danny and I chose to do this has nothing to do with the desire to be trendy, although Baby Signing's popularity in the past 10 years is really helpful in terms of material available. We're also not in any way fanatic or exclusive about it. We only sign some signs consistently, not every word. And we always say the word as well.

There's a million reasons to sign with your baby. The main reason that motivates me is the thought of having two under two here in not very long. It will be nice to have Jane able to communicate at least a little, so that we can better meet her needs at the same time as the needy newborns'.

Jane's first sign was "milk". We weren't totally sure if she was really signing, or what. And actually, it's still very hard to determine if what she's doing is a sign or just waving her hands. Harder than that is trying to interpret which sign she's doing; sometimes we know she's signing something to us, trying desperately to say something, but we have no idea because it's indistinct and looks just like she's waving her hands.

But here is a list of all the signs that she has, to date, explicitly been able to sign:
all done! (this was a huge development. She just started signing this today, and boy was it helpful!)
good job!

Here are the signs I'm working on with her:
come here
baby - she recognizes this sign, but does not yet do it back

She also says one word - sort of. Whenever she hears or sees a dog, she says, "D-DAH! D-DAH! D-DAH!" over and over and over. It's quite hilarious. I will take her to the dog park sometime, and she will probably be in heaven.

But no, actually owning a dog is totally out of the question in the foreseeable future. I shouldn't say NEVER because I convinced my anti-dog parents to get one eventually...but for now, our family has kids, not pets. Ha, look at the state of my garden and you'll see how responsible I am at caring for non-related living things! Actually, don't, please.