Saturday, February 14, 2015


I just read the article "To Be or Not to Be a Minimalist" by Joel Larsgaard.

He notes that the concept of minimalism has picked up steam lately and has become trendy. The Minimalists blog defines minimalism as a "tool used to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom."

Here's an elevator pitch for minimalism: "Minimalism is a lifestyle that helps people question what things add value to their lives. By clearing the clutter from life’s path, we can all make room for the most important aspects of life: health, relationships, passion, growth, and contribution."

"There are many flavors of minimalism: a 20-year-old single guy’s minimalist lifestyle looks different from a 45-year-old mother’s minimalist life. Even though everyone embraces minimalism differently, each path leads to the same place: a life with more time, more money, and more freedom to live a more meaningful life. Getting started is as simple as asking yourself one question: How might your life be better if you owned fewer material possessions?"

Minimalism is simply getting rid of things you do not use or need, leaving an uncluttered, simple environment and an uncluttered, simple life. It’s living without an obsession with material things or an obsession with doing everything and doing too much.

Moderate minimalism seems healthy to me. The longer I live, the more I enjoy having less “stuff” and putting more of my energy towards the things that ultimately matter, like my family, my community, my church, my God, and my relationships. Although our culture has fallen headfirst over the cliff of consumerism, I believe that experiences are more important than things.

You may not be able to become a minimalism overnight. If you are in financial stress because of all the stuff you've bought, it may take time to dig yourself out of the hole. Debt has worse mental health consequences than a low income. If people in financial difficulties adopted a more minimalistic approach to life, they may find it incredibly freeing. Sit down and make some hard decisions. What can you really do without? Doing without the mental anguish of debt and over-consumption is something that can be incredibly calming in the long run.

Figure out the things that are essential for you and then “cut ruthlessly on things that don’t matter so that you can spend lavishly on the things you love most.” Make sure that your money is being used wisely in ways that affect your life in a positive manner.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Why I'm Leaving Comcast

This is why I'm leaving Comcast:
  • I recently made a change in my service because the customer service person said it would "only change my bill a few dollars--definitely not more than $10."
  • I got my bill, and it was $257, up from $180.
  • I tried to chat online with Comcast to determine why (thinking that would be faster than calling), and I was put into a queue with 180 customers ahead of me. 20 minutes later, I had only 138 customers ahead of me. I gave up and called.
  • After two 30-minute phone calls, they still couldn't give me a satisfactory reason why my bill went up $80.
I'm switching providers, which should save me about $100 a month--$1,200 a year.

And the biggest joy will be in not having to deal with Comcast service reps on the phone!

Listen to this man's experience in trying to cancel his Comcast service (includes audio recording of the rep keeping the man on the phone for an extended period of time as he repeatedly asked why wanted to disconnect).

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Limit on TV Size at Super Bowl Parties

Have you heard that if you plan to have a Super Bowl party, the NFL has rules that you can't use a TV larger than 55 inches or you can be sued?

Not quite true.

In most cases, you must have written permission from the NFL to show the Super Bowl on any screen greater than 55 inches or when the audio is played by more than 6 speakers. But government regulations give a special break for Super Bowl viewing in private residences.

The US Copyright Code Title 17, Chapter 1, Section 110, "Limitations on exclusive rights: exemption of certain performances and displays," allows in-home viewing as long as you comply with the following:

  1. You may not charge your guests (although you can ask them to bring food and drink or kick in a few bucks for snacks).
  2. The TV must be inside your home. If you invite the neighbors over and use a projector to watch the game on the side of your house, it would be considered a public viewing and you would need to get advanced written permission from the NFL. (Mass out-of-home viewing of the Super Bowl is only legal at “sports bars and other businesses that televise sports as part of their everyday operations.”)

Just be glad that the government lets you watch the Super Bowl at all...

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Peace on Earth

The Greek text of the New Testament, as translated by most modern scholars, uses the words epi gēs eirēnē en anthrōpois eudokias (ἐπὶ γῆς εἰρήνη ἐν ἀνθρώποις εὐδοκίας), literally "on earth peace to men of good will."

Friday, December 19, 2014

Seasonal Affective Disorder: Fighting Wintertime Blues

For some, the holiday season is the most wonderful time of the year. For others, shorter days and less sunlight mean wintertime blues, or worse, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
SAD can take its toll on the body, both physically and mentally and this month’s edition of Think Healthy, Prevent, Heal reminds us that indoor workers are especially susceptible. Read on for the causes of SAD as well as some tips and tricks to beat the winter blues.
·        Your biological clock is disrupted: The reduced level of sunlight in fall and winter months may disrupt your body's internal clock and lead to feelings of depression. This disrupts your sleep and can cause chronic fatigue.
·        Reduced serotonin levels: Reduced sunlight can cause a drop in serotonin -- a brain chemical that affects mood. Reduced serotonin levels have been known to trigger depression. 
·        Melatonin levels: The hormone melatonin plays a major role in our biological makeup. Our bodies are designed to manufacture melatonin at night and stop making it when the sun comes out. The change in season disrupts the balance of the body's level of melatonin, which plays a role in sleep patterns and mood. Melatonin is produced when it is dark to help you sleep, so the less sunlight—the more melatonin.
·        Vitamin D “sunlight vitamin” deficiency: Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to depression and fatigue. And it’s from the sun that we naturally get vitamin D. So naturally, when there is a deficiency, it can affect mood, especially in higher latitude areas (north of equator) where there is less sunlight during winter months.
·       Light box therapy: These manufactured light boxes simulate natural outdoor light and have been proven effective as a treatment for SAD.
Vitamins: Taking 2,000-20,000 IU of vitamin D daily has also been proven effective at treating SAD. Those who have a deficiency may need a prescription strength dose. Vitamin B complex supplements also assist with fatigue and other symptoms.
·       Natural sunshine: When the sun is shining, try to go outside even if for only 15-20 minutes. The natural vitamin D will do your body good.    
·       Fish oil: Fish oil contains omega- 3 fatty acids that are proven to decrease SAD. Increasing fish in your diet or taking cod liver oil can go a long way toward combating the winter blues.
·       Exercise: The most effective weapon against SAD is aerobic exercise. Aim for 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week such as walking, riding a stationary bike, or swimming. It’s a great way to get started, and you can work up from there. However, any activity that raises your heart rate helps. So whether you’re doing daily chores near a sunny window or more strenuous exercise outside or weight training, it will do your body good.
Although SAD is very real for some people, your body will take notice of the steps you take to keep it healthy and happy during the darkest days of the year.  

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Happy 12/13/14

Right now, it's 3:16 pm and 17 seconds on December 13, 2014. That means it's 12/13/14 15:16:17.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Emperor Desk

Here's a Christmas gift idea for the executive who has everything. The Emperor Desk is an insanely amazing desk. This model is $6,000:

Or you can get the deluxe model for $21,500:

Here is a video that demonstrates the workstation:

Monday, December 1, 2014

101 Ways to Hasten the Work Online in the Mormon Times

My book 101 Ways to Hasten the Work Online was in the Mormon Times (a section of the Deseret News) over the weekend.

Learn how to #HastenTheWork at

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Last Call for the Book Learning Through Life's Trials

The book Learning Through Life's Trials by Larry Richman is now out of print.

There are still a few copies at Deseret Book, so if you want a printed copy, get them while they last.

It will continue to be available as an ebook.

See more information at

Update: Additional inventory of the printed book is now available.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Progressive Income Tax Explained

This video explains the concept of a "Progressive Income Tax." It is a tale of three similar brothers with three different incomes, but one shared expense. It helps explain the tax system under which we live in the United States.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

101 Ways to Hasten the Work Online

Hasten-Work-book-coverNeed some good ideas on how to ‪#‎HastenTheWork using the Internet and social media? I've compiled some easy, practical ideas into a book titled 101 Ways to Hasten the Work Online. It is an easy-to-read, 80-page book that has 62 color illustrations. The book has 4 parts:
  1. Introduction. It defines "hastening the work" and explains why is it important. It describes how God has inspired men to invent technologies to assist in the hastening of the work in the latter days. Finally, it provides quotes from our Church leaders about using the Internet and social media to flood the earth with testimonies of the Savior and His restored gospel.
  2. Internet and social media basics. This section gives a brief overview of the Internet and provides a quick tutorial on some of the major social media channels (Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, Hashtags, and blogs).
  3. Tips on hastening the work online. A few matters to consider about how to interact faithfully and kindly with people online.
  4. 101 Ways to Hasten the Work Online. This is the major part of the book, listing 101 easy, practical things you can do. Each idea is explained simply in a few short paragraphs.
Here's some encouragement to hasten the work online: Elder David A. Bednar at BYU Campus Education Week, August 2014:
Brothers and sisters, what has been accomplished thus far in this dispensation communicating gospel messages through social media channels is a good beginning—but only a small trickle. I now extend to you the invitation to help transform the trickle into a flood….I exhort you to sweep the earth with messages filled with righteousness and truth—messages that are authentic, edifying, and praiseworthy—and literally to sweep the earth as with a flood. ("To Sweep the Earth as with a Flood")
Church's Handbook 2:
Members are encouraged to use the Internet to flood the earth with testimonies of the Savior and His restored gospel. They should view blogs, social networks, and other Internet technologies as tools that allow them to amplify their voice in promoting the messages of peace, hope, and joy that accompany faith in Christ. (Handbook 2, chapter 21.1.22)
Learn more at, including a list of places you can get the book in printed and e-book formats. I've also worked out quantity discounts for wards, stakes, and anyone who wants to get multiple copies.

Read sample pages from the book.

For continuing ideas on hastening the work, follow the Hasten the Work Online Facebook page.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Good E-mail Etiquette

When writing an email:

  • State the subject clearly and concisely in the subject line. This will help your reader understand the topic, focus on the subject, and prioritize his reading order. 
  • Use direct language and summarize. Most of the time emails are not meant to be fine letters or pieces of poetry, they are just tools to exchange information.
  • Use bullet points or bolded/underlined itemized lists or paragraph titles. This is especially useful if there are different items in your email and if answers/action is expected on them. 
  • The recipient in the To: line is the one who should act/respond. Others in the Cc: line are just informed and are not necessarily expected to reply. In case they do reply, they should ask themselves: “Is the content of my reply going to be of interest and useful to all of the original recipients?” If not, he/she should reply only to the original Sender who will then decide if the new information needs to be shared with everyone. This will prevent the need to delete all the subsequent replies from many recipients that we are not really interested in. 
  • When emailing the same message to groups of people, use the Bcc: line for the addresses. This will prevent being included in multiple replies and it will also prevent your email address from ending up in spam lists that will flood your inbox.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Utah Names

Here's a list of the top baby names in Utah through the years:
Here's a list of unusual baby names:
And below is a humorous video about unique Utah names:

Very Different Names

Want an unusual name for your next child? Check out

Here’s another idea: use the name of a type font. Open your word processor and find names like Arial, Cambria, Calibri, Palatino, Goudy, Gulim, Gadugi, Garamond, Gisha, dotum, Corbel, Bodoni, Iskoola, Latha, Kartika, Lucida, Marlett, Nimala, Perpetua, Verdana, or Vrinda.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

USA Has Pervasive Internet Censorship, Filtering, Surveillance

In doing research for a book I'm writing, I found this interesting map showing Internet censorship and surveillance by country.

How does it feel to be ranked with countries like Russia, China, and North Korea in terms of Internet censorship, filtering, and surveillance?

Source: Wikipedia

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Skechers GoRun - Best Shoes Ever

Seriously. The. Best. Shoes. I've. Ever. Owned.

My feet tend to ache and tire easily. But not with these. They are so light, it feels like you're walking barefoot, but you get the support you need.

I just bought 4 pairs of these Skechers GoRun shoes at the Skechers outlet store for less than $25 a pair. They make my feet feel like heaven. Support and comfort. Breathable.

These  are the best shoes I’ve ever owned in my life. Seriously worth any price.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Don't Ruin Your Vacation

Summer is here and the living is easy. Or it should be. Many of you will travel this season for fun and relaxation. The last thing you need to take home from your vacation is the nightmare of losing your money, credit/debit/ATM cards, and other forms of identification because any or all of those were lost or stolen.

Here are some tips for holding on to your things:

1. Take only what is necessary in your wallet or purse. Remove extra cash, credit cards, checkbooks, and identification (especially your Social Security card) beyond what you need for your trip. That will minimize your losses if your wallet or purse is lost or stolen.

2. Use a credit card and leave your debit card at home. If your debit card disappears, its unauthorized use could result in your checking account being emptied very quickly.

3. Keep your wallet or purse and its contents in a place on your person where you can easily make sure it is with you at all times. That usually means somewhere on the front of your body—not in a back pocket which can easily be picked, especially if you are distracted.

4. Don’t leave extra cash and valuables in your hotel room. Store them in the hotel safe.

5. Don’t leave valuables in a rental car. Keep them in the hotel safe.

6. Make photocopies of your credit/debit cards, financial documents, and other related information that you plan to take with you. If your cards or information are lost or stolen, you can refer to these copies when contacting your credit card company and financial institution.

7. Keep an eye on your surroundings. If something looks or feels suspicious, go with that feeling and protect yourself accordingly.

8. When you return from your vacation, check your accounts online to confirm your transactions are legitimate and were made by you—not someone else.

By taking some simple precautions, you can reduce your chance of being victimized and can enjoy your trip.

Information courtesy of Deseret First Credit Union.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Make a Life by What You Give

"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give." Winston Churchill

Watch the video "60 Seconds That ange How You Think."

9/11 Airplane Account in Gander, Newfoundland

The following is a great story of what happened to passengers and planes who were reroute to the US when airspace was shut down immediately following 9/11.

This is a true account. Read the story below and then check the Snopes website for additional info.

It is almost 12 yrs since 9/11 and here is a wonderful story about that terrible day. It is an amazing story from a flight attendant on Delta Flight 15, written following 9-11.

On the morning of Tuesday, September 11, we were about 5 hours out of Frankfurt, flying over the North Atlantic.

All of a sudden the curtains parted and I was told to go to the cockpit, immediately, to see the captain. As soon as I got there I noticed that the crew had that "All Business" look on their faces. The captain handed me a printed message. It was from Delta's main office in Atlanta and simply read, "All airways over the Continental United States are closed to commercial air traffic. Land ASAP at the nearest airport. Advise your destination."

No one said a word about what this could mean. We knew it was a serious situation and we needed to find terra firma quickly. The captain determined that the nearest airport was 400 miles behind us in Gander, Newfoundland.

He requested approval for a route change from the Canadian traffic controller and approval was granted immediately -- no questions asked. We found out later, of course, why there was no hesitation in approving our request.

While the flight crew prepared the airplane for landing, another message arrived from Atlanta telling us about some terrorist activity in the New York area. A few minutes later word came in about the hijackings.

We decided to LIE to the passengers while we were still in the air. We told them the plane had a simple instrument problem and that we needed to land at the nearest airport in Gander, Newfoundland, to have it checked out.

We promised to give more information after landing in Gander. There was much grumbling among the passengers, but that's nothing new! Forty minutes later, we landed in Gander. Local time at Gander was 12:30 PM! .... that's 11:00 AM EST.

There were already about 20 other airplanes on the ground from all over the world that had taken this detour on their way to the U.S.

After we parked on the ramp, the captain made the following announcement: "Ladies and gentlemen, you must be wondering if all these airplanes around us have the same instrument problem as we have. The reality is that we are here for another reason." Then he went on to explain the little bit we knew about the situation in the U.S. There were loud gasps and stares of disbelief. The captain informed passengers that Ground Control in Gander told us to stay put.

The Canadian Government was in charge of our situation and no one was allowed to get off the aircraft. No one on the ground was allowed to come near any of the air crafts. Only airport police would come around periodically, look us over and go on to the next airplane. In the next hour or so more planes landed and Gander ended up with 53 airplanes from all over the world, 27 of which were U.S. commercial jets.

Meanwhile, bits of news started to come in over the aircraft radio and for the first time we learned that airplanes were flown into the World Trade Center in New York and into the Pentagon in DC. People were trying to use their cell phones, but were unable to connect due to a different cell system in Canada. Some did get through, but were only able to get to the Canadian operator who would tell them that the lines to the U.S. were either blocked or jammed.

Sometime in the evening the news filtered to us that the World Trade Center buildings had collapsed and that a fourth hijacking had resulted in a crash. By now the passengers were emotionally and physically exhausted, not to mention frightened, but everyone stayed amazingly calm. We had only to look out the window at the 52 other stranded aircraft to realize that we were not the only ones in this predicament.

We had been told earlier that they would be allowing people off the planes one plane at a time. At 6 PM, Gander airport told us that our turn to deplane would be 11 am the next morning. Passengers were not happy, but they simply resigned themselves to this news without much noise and started to prepare themselves to spend the night on the airplane.

Gander had promised us medical attention, if needed, water, and lavatory servicing. And they were true to their word. Fortunately we had no medical situations to worry about. We did have a young lady who was 33 weeks into her pregnancy. We took REALLY good care of her. The night passed without incident despite the uncomfortable sleeping arrangements.

About 10:30 on the morning of the 12th a convoy of school buses showed up. We got off the plane and were taken to the terminal where we went through Immigration and Customs and then had to register with the Red Cross.

After that we (the crew) were separated from the passengers and were taken in vans to a small hotel. We had no idea where our passengers were going. We learned from the Red Cross that the town of Gander has a population of 10,400 people and they had about 10,500 passengers to take care of from all the airplanes that were forced into Gander! We were told to just relax at the hotel and we would be contacted when the U.S. airports opened again, but not to expect that call for a while.

We found out the total scope of the terror back home only after getting to our hotel and turning on the TV, 24 hours after it all started.

Meanwhile, we had lots of time on our hands and found that the people of Gander were extremely friendly. They started calling us the "plane people." We enjoyed their hospitality, explored the town of Gander and ended up having a pretty good time.

Two days later, we got that call and were taken back to the Gander airport. Back on the plane, we were reunited with the passengers and found out what they had been doing for the past two days. What we found out was incredible.

Gander and all the surrounding communities (within about a 75 Kilometer radius) had closed all high schools, meeting halls, lodges, and any other large gathering places. They converted all these facilities to mass lodging areas for all the stranded travelers. Some had cots set up, some had mats with sleeping bags and pillows set up.

ALL the high school students were required to volunteer their time to take care of the "guests." Our 218 passengers ended up in a town called Lewisporte, about 45 kilometers from Gander where they were put up in a high school. If any women wanted to be in a women-only facility, that was arranged. Families were kept together. All the elderly passengers were taken to private homes.

Remember that young pregnant lady? She was put up in a private home right across the street from a 24-hour Urgent Care facility. There was a dentist on call and both male and female nurses remained with the crowd for the duration.

Phone calls and e-mails to the U.S. and around the world were available to everyone once a day. During the day, passengers were offered "Excursion" trips. Some people went on boat cruises of the lakes and harbors. Some went for hikes in the local forests. Local bakeries stayed open to make fresh bread for the guests.

Food was prepared by all the residents and brought to the schools. People were driven to restaurants of their choice and offered wonderful meals. Everyone was given tokens for local laundry mats to wash their clothes, since luggage was still on the aircraft. In other words, every single need was met for those stranded travelers.

Passengers were crying while telling us these stories. Finally, when they were told that U.S. airports had reopened, they were delivered to the airport right on time and without a single passenger missing or late. The local Red Cross had all the information about the whereabouts of each and every passenger and knew which plane they needed to be on and when all the planes were leaving. They coordinated everything beautifully.

It was absolutely incredible.

When passengers came on board, it was like they had been on a cruise. Everyone knew each other by name. They were swapping stories of their stay, impressing each other with who had the better time. Our flight back to Atlanta looked like a chartered party flight. The crew just stayed out of their way. It was mind-boggling.

Passengers had totally bonded and were calling each other by their first names, exchanging phone numbers, addresses, and email addresses.

And then a very unusual thing happened.

One of our passengers approached me and asked if he could make an announcement over the PA system. We never, ever allow that. But this time was different. I said "of course" and handed him the mike. He picked up the PA and reminded everyone about what they had just gone through in the last few days. He reminded them of the hospitality they had received at the hands of total strangers. He continued by saying that he would like to do something in return for the good folks of Lewisporte.

"He said he was going to set up a Trust Fund under the name of DELTA 15 (our flight number). The purpose of the trust fund is to provide college scholarships for the high school students of Lewisporte. He asked for donations of any amount from his fellow travelers. When the paper with donations got back to us with the amounts, names, phone numbers and addresses, the total was for more than $14,000!

"The gentleman, a MD from Virginia, promised to match the donations and to start the administrative work on the scholarship. He also said that he would forward this proposal to Delta Corporate and ask them to donate as well.

As I write this account, the trust fund is at more than $1.5 million and has assisted 134 students in college education.

"I just wanted to share this story because we need good stories right now. It gives me a little bit of hope to know that some people in a faraway place were kind to some strangers who literally dropped in on them.

It reminds me how much good there is in the world."

"In spite of all the rotten things we see going on in today's world this story confirms that there are still a lot of good and Godly people in the world and when things get bad, they will come forward.

"God Bless America... and God Bless the Canadians."