Monthly Archives: April 2008

Disneyland with Mandi and Kelsey

Mandi and I finally made it to Disneyland today and Kelsey joined us. We had a good time even though we had to cut the trip short to get Kelsey to work by 3. It was pretty hot out there, so it was probably a good thing we didn’t stay all day long and totally exhaust ourselves. We did Space Mountain and Indiana Jones, then got Kelsey’s pass on the way to California Adventure where we hit up Tower of Terror (walked straight into the hotel) and California Screaming. We headed to Fudds after that. Neither Kels or Mandi had ever been there before, so I had to get them hooked!

California ScreamingSpace MountainTower of Terror

I spent the rest of the day at the Dowden’s. We just hung out for a while, then decided to go get some new furniture they had been looking at. A new couch for upstairs and a new kitchen table. It was nice to take a break today and although I am exhausted, I feel much better.

Hot Weddings

It was way too hot to be doing weddings today. Actually, I guess it wasn’t that bad; I’m just not used to it and don’t prefer it. It also didn’t help that I was doing two of them back to back instead of just taking care of one venue. It all went well, although I could tell I was a bit rusty and a bit taxed with the two venues. All went well though. If you know of someone with some sound experience that would be interested in doing sound for weddings and things along those lines, please let me know as we need an extra hand to keep up with demand.

I pretty much wasted the rest of the day away watching TV. On the plus side I’ve caught up on a lot of episodes of Without a Trace and Cold Case and also learned some interesting new facts for me to use as useless tidbits at the next party I attend! There actually was an interesting show on this morning about building a bridge over the Bearing Sea, from Alaska to Russia (or whatever is over there). The big problems are the distance it would span, where it is being built, the cost of such a project and, oh yeah, the fact that it would be hit by glaciers!

I think it is time to cut back the TV and find more useful activities…

why is my hybrid mpg getting worse with time?

I have a 2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid with 35,000 miles. The MPG has decreased from 34.5 mpg for the first 10,000 miles, to 32 mpg by 20,000 miles, and now is 30 mpg at 35,000 miles. My father analyzed the online database for Toyota Hybrid mpg, and found that the median MPG got BETTER with mileage, from 35.4 mpg initially, to 36.1 mpg at 10,000-20,000 miles, to 37.9 mpg at 20,000-30,000 miles.

My MPG matched the reports of others initially at 34.5 mpg, but is now at 30 mpg, WAY below the 38 mpg reported by others.

Do you have any idea what might be going on? Many thanks for any suggestions!

Here is some more information that might be relevant:

I purchased the vehicle mid-January 2007. My driving routine changed in May 2007, but has been fairly constant from there. I am driving in Southern California (San Diego/Riverside County), with my typical commute about 20 miles each way. With errands this typically works out to about 50 miles per day, driving typically the same week to week. On average, I probably do one longer drive each week, to Anaheim or San Diego from Fallbrook, about 80 miles each way.

A plot of my MPG vs. time, with all fill-ups, is here.

A plot of my MPG vs. mileage, selecting only fill-ups after May 2007 that have an average of 50-80 miles per day, to eliminate unusual driving patterns, is here.

Thoughts we considered are:

  • A/C Econo mode was turned off last summer and not turned back on. I always drive with the air compressor running, so there should be no difference for seasons, other than it having to work harder in our “extreme” weather. I’ve run for a few tanks with the econo mode on and have not found any difference.
  • I installed a ham radio antenna on the car in October 2007. No difference in mpg noted.
  • Driving habit change. When I first got the car, I was driving to squeeze every mile out of it possible as it was new and interesting, and eventually the novelty wore off. I have tried driving recently paying more attention to my driving habit, trying to squeeze every mile out of it again, and there seems to be no detectable difference.
  • Bad Oil. Toyota of Temecula Valley put the WRONG oil (higher viscosity non-synthetic) in my car for its first oil change 3/23/07, which was drained and replaced within a few days. There was a really bad dip immediately, but it didn’t cause a permanent decrease in MPG. I would expect any MPG decrease from this to eventually go away with time, and not continue to make things worse.

Stake Priesthood Leadership Meeting

We had a great stake priesthood leadership meeting tonight. They started out showing the assembly line for an aaronic priesthood holder as this deacon progresses through life to an Elder at goes to the temple and serves a mission. They did an amazing job showing the people involved in the process and what a role each one of them really plays as these children grown up to be the future leaders of our world. It was really touching when they turned their signs (each person wore a sign representing their duties) around to show the impact of one person not fulfilling their calling. One of the recently returned missionaries talked about how he wished he had that kind of support as he was preparing to go.

We talked about home teaching, and I got a much better understanding of the districts and some better ways we can make sure home teaching is being done. It’s not a question of if it was done in a certain month, but rather how it is going. It isn’t something that can be done, it is something that has to continue to be done. I learned a lot about how some of these things function outside of a singles branch which was interesting. I learned that I need to care more for those I am home teaching and those that home teach me. I have a long way to go.

Of course, we also talked about missionary work. Over 50% of the wards in the church (not sure if this is US/Canada or worldwide) have 2 or less baptisms per year! There are wards in our stake with zero. The amazing part is that with 12 baptisms per year, we would be in the top 6% of wards in terms of baptisms. The baptism rate in the US is declining about 1% (not sure of the time period). It is growing in the rest of the world at about 5%, making a net of about 4%. We really need to focus on building the church here as the US has/is/will play a big role in the worldwide church.

I must admit that I was lazy last night and didn’t get anything else done. This morning I got through most of the stuff on my desk here at home, but didn’t get much done in the way of work work. It was nice to have a morning to spent at home since my Saturday will be cut short this weekend with a wedding. I’ve got a lot to get done tomorrow morning, so I need to get to sleep so I can get an early (on time) start. Good night!

Sense of Accomplishment

I feel like I’ve accomplished stuff today. Actually, really just this afternoon, but I’ll start at the beginning. I was uber tired this morning and got a bit of a late start. Would it be fair to blame that on Shelly who was text messaging me way past my bedtime last night? Probably. The office phone was ringing before I even left the house so I stayed around to cover the phones until people got in the office and then headed there myself. I kept myself busy most of the day without letting more than a handful of messages accumulate in my inbox. It is so weird (and incredibly nice) to have no messages left to deal with and I’m finding great success with marking messages for followup on certain days and then filing them.

I left work a bit earlier than normal, after putting in a full day to come home and go for a bikeride. I was having second thoughts as I was getting close to home. I knew I needed to get out there and go, so I made it happen even though I didn’t want to at times. I had a good ride and got to see some cute little baby birds going for a walk. It was nice to take a break and just enjoy nature for a few minutes. Maybe I need to do that more often.

Once I got home, I started cleaning out my closet. The boys mentioned that it would be nice to have another shelf unit and discovered that I had one still at home. It was giving some organization to the closet, but also accumulating junk so I was half happy to see it go. It gave me a chance to clean some things out and rearrange. I think I have a few things that I need to throw away, some to give away and one or two to try to sell. In the process I cleaned up a corner of my room and while it isn’t perfect, it is a huge improvement over what it was. I keep thinking about cleaning, but then tell myself that there is no point if I’m going to move soon and have a whole house to clutter up! Maybe I can get through the stuff on my desk tomorrow night.

Cornbread Cake

Work went fairly well today, nothing too much to report. I didn’t go too crazy this afternoon and made it till about 5:45 before deciding to leave for the Rodriguez’s. I headed over there to crash their dinner party before FHE. We had some great chili bean something or other and then I ran off to FHE. I came back for some cornbread cake mixture which was quite delicious as well.

I was kind of bummed that Mandi and I didn’t make it to Disneyland today. She proposed that we go next Monday which I guess will be fine as well.


I didn’t do much yesterday morning and I enjoyed it. I went to the temple for a 5 o’clock session before our baptistery assignment. I was pleasantly surprised to see the Riders and Mattson’s there. We had a good session.

We had a great turnout for the baptisms, so much in fact that the Riders, Dowden’s and I decided to go to sealings. I had never had the opportunity to do that before. It was interesting to see the process of a sealing and it was amazing to take the place of someone for them to be sealed to their parents. Some of the others in the room with us were doing sealings for their direct ancestors, like parents and grandparents. That was pretty powerful.

Today was good. I taught Elders Quorum which I think went well. I could have used more preparation, but I made due with the time that I had.

I’m not sure if Mandi and I are going to Disneyland tomorrow.

I guess I just need to go to bed…

Stir Crazy

I continued my getting to the office plan the rest of the week. I was the first one there Wednesday and Thursday, but I slacked off today and both Tara and Batch beat me there! Today went much better than I was expecting after going stir crazy yesterday afternoon. I was pretty busy most of the day and then left around 4:30. I came home and hung out for a while before Alison and I decided to go to dinner. We were going to go to Benihana’s but were going to have to drive to Anaheim or wait way too late to eat here in San Diego. While driving to Anaheim wasn’t out of the question, I wasn’t sure I wanted to do that, drive to San Diego tomorrow and then back to Anaheim on Monday possibly.

We ended up at Claim Jumper. Shortly after we got there I got a message from Maegan that she was going to come to the bowling thing tonight, so Alison and I accompanied her and Michelle to the bowling alley where we met up with Zach and the crew. Alison and I had made a pact to be home by 10, so we didn’t end up actually doing any bowling, and just watched the first round or so. It would have been fun to see the rest of the game through; I just didn’t want to be out till 11 bowling.

Car Wash

I was up earlier than usual this morning and in the office before 8 am. Things went fairly well, but getting there so early makes the afternoons quite long. I came home this afternoon and washed my car for the first time since at least August. It really needed it, and I still need to devote some attention to the inside, but at least the outside is clean now. Maybe I can get time to do the inside later in the week. As for now, I think it is time for bed, so I can be up again early tomorrow.

Dinner and a House?

Today went well in the office. I kept myself busy and was able to get my desk somewhat cleared off from the huge mess I left there last night after our meetings. I found out what has been going on with Tara and feel that I need to be there in the morning so she isn’t alone there.

I went to the Rodriguez’s for dinner tonight. It was just the three of us and a lot of great food. We had lasagna and some vanilla cake with strawberries. We talked and then went to see their new house. I really like what they’ve got. The location isn’t the first that I would choose, but I guess that’s why they say location is key. It is actually great as they have no one behind them and have some darnkness at night. I could actually see stars looking out their back yard as there were no houses or street lights to get in the way.

We got to talking earlier about houses. Shelly seems to really think that I should get my act together and buy. I expressed my worry about getting a house that my wife wouldn’t like and she said that if the girl doesn’t like it, that should be a sign to move on. I thought about it more later and while I agree on that front, what if the girl is in another state? I would never expect her to move out here. Shelly suggested that if I decided to move I should keep the house here as a rental so that I also had a chance of being able to get back into the California market if I (we) decided to return. I remember my mom having that problem, selling her condo here to buy the house in Arizona and then not being able to afford anything when she was toying with returning to Southern California. So maybe it is time that I get my act together and start house shopping again. I am ready to move and I’m ready to have my own place, so even if they go down a bit more, it may be worth it in the long run. She also mentioned that they offered 50k less than the asking price and the bank took it, so maybe there is hope out there.

We also got to talking at one point about what I was looking for. I thought she meant in a house, but she meant in a wife. I’m not really sure – maybe that is my problem. I don’t think I have ever developed a list beyond piano, faithful, following the counsel of priesthood leaders, good communicator and most importantly someone that can put up with me. Maybe I need to work on that for the next week. I think Lauren S. has a pretty long no no list, maybe I need to start there.

Stephanie’s Farwell

It was a long day today, but it was good. I was at church at 9:30 this morning for an elders quorum presidency meeting. We got done fairly quickly, so I sat around the building reading and working on the website. I spent the time and clicked through all the Sunday School lessons for the year, so they are all posted now. I ended up going to PEC and then we had the block as usual.

Alyssa, Jim and Stephanie spoke. It was all quite good. i wish I could (and maybe I can) record the talks and play them back later to truly get into them and be able to ponder more on what is said. After linger longer I headed over to Stephanie’s farewell at her house. I thought about when I went to Tara’s farewell and how crazy it was. This didn’t seem quite as crazy and was different. I guess my relationship with each of them is so different that saying farewell is that much different. I’m going to miss Stephanie, possibly more than I miss Tara because Stephanie was right here in front of me. I’ve really enjoyed serving with her and learning from her. I wish that I had been able to get to know her better. I’m appreciative of being able to be a part of her life and am anxious to hear of the good things that she will be doing in Independence.

As I was leaving her house, President Smith drove up and asked if I was coming for her setting apart. I responded that I was leaving, but that I could go back. He asked me to come back and help. It was great being able to be a part of the service and to be in the circle with my hands on her head as she was set apart as a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. That made twice today that I was able to be part of a setting apart. I can’t really describe what I felt/knew while Stephanie was being set apart. I knew that the words being spoken by President Smith were true and that she had been called of God to this specific area to do this work. One may not be able to see the difference, but one minute she was just like one of us and the next she was set apart as a full time missionary of the Church. I’m anxious for the day when I too can have that opportunity to serve.

It was hot at the Dowden’s since their air conditioning was not working well, but that didn’t stop everyone from turning out. It was after seven when I got there and of course there was still food left for me! We had branch prayer there, I spent some time talking with Christina and Brooke and then came home. Now it’s 10:30 and I’m working on getting to bed. I think I’m going to end this, write Tara and call it a night.

Taxes Done

Friday went fairly well at the office, I think. I got in a bit late and then tried to leave a bit early after getting caught up on most things and getting ready for our board meeting on Monday. However, I decided to call the air conditioning people as I was leaving to have them take a look at our unit as it seemed like it was going through these weird multiple stage things and not actually being able to keep up with the demand for cooling. They came out and looked at it and discovered that some safety device was causing problems, so it was removed. Instead of leaving at 4:30, I left at 5:30 and now we have working air conditioning which is a must when it is 90 degrees!

I still made it home in time to get my taxes done, both for the feds and the state. I e-filed and am all done. Had I done it earlier, I could have had my refund earlier, but such is my luck I guess for waiting. I was able to get my mom’s taxes done today so they will be going in the mail Monday. I also spent some time catching up on TV as well as relaxing and doing some chores around the house. We noticed a bad smell coming from the laundry room this afternoon and traced it down to something in the vent for the dryer. As I predicted, a mouse had crawled into the vent from outside the house and since died causing the stench. We removed the two baby mice (presumably the cats got mom somewhere along the line) and somehow or other that got us started on cleaning the laundry room. We went through the cabinets and got things organized and cleaned out.

In other fronts, I’m still suffering from blowing off the driveway this morning. There was so much pollen and dust that had just settled in the area that when I blew it around it just inundated me. I’ve been suffering all day, which has not especially been fun.

Since the laundry room delayed me from getting to Tara’s birthday party, I ended up just staying at home to put the final touches on my mom’s taxes, eat dinner and then watched “Enchanted.” It was a good movie, although it was very predictable. I was still able to enjoy it and able to wonder if there really is such a thing as happily ever after.

St. Paul Temple

It’s late and while I wanted to skip this, I think I should probably just get it going. We finished up the training yesterday spending some more time with Midas and then went outside to hear the Cobra system and some other pieces. We hung out for a while and then I drove to the St. Paul Temple. It was weird with it being in a totally almost invisible location. I couldn’t even see it until I was there and saw it sticking out like a beautiful white temple in the midst of old red brick buildings. Things went well there, although the workers outnumbered those in attendance by well more than I could count and I think they were all gone when I left. The place was deserted, it was really weird, but nice to just sit there all alone.

The flights home went well. We managed to get exit row seats on both flights, which was way better than the seats we had on the first flight in the last few rows. I was getting really antsy on the first flight, but had no where to go. Our flight back to Ontario was mostly empty so it helped that there wasn’t people squished in everywhere.

I slept till 10 or 11 this morning and then went to work. I was actually able to get caught up on most of my email as well as the snail mail and should be able to finish up and get back on track tomorrow.