Category Archives: Life

Photo from Jordan Pines sledding hill

Snow Caving!

I’m laying in a snow cave that was way too hard to get into. I’m up at Jordan Pines campground with my scouts on a winter camp out. Most everyone is sleeping soundly in a tent, but I wanted to be extreme and sleep in a snow cave.

Most years, we build caves under picnic tables , which works well, but can be a bit cramped. This year, I wanted to sleep in a real, non-picnic table snow cave. The campsite that we were assigned had the perfect setup for this.

Someone had carved out a cave under what appears to be a fallen pine tree! The cave was perfectly dug out to fit one adult. All I needed to do is to dig out the entrance a bit because snow had fallen and filled it in a bit. This was perfect!


So, I dug out the entrance, and set up my sleeping bags outside of the cave. Below is the picture of my setup.

My Sleeping Gear

What you see is several layers of warmth: a fleece liner tucked inside of a backpacking mummy bag tucked inside of a large 0 deg sleeping bag tucked under a blanket, all sitting on top some foam pads sitting on top of a tarp (insulation from the ground).

I slid my sleeping gear into the cave. The dumb thing I did was place my backpack in top of my sleeping gear because I way overestimated the size of the cave. I had crawled into the cave first and was pulling the stuff in. The backpack blocked my way out, so I had to push it out, and I thought I was stuck. After some panicked shoves on my pack, I was able to get it back out of the cave and I realized it was best to leave my pack outside of the cave.

After all of this, I figured that I was set. I laid down some cardboard to stand on while I changed into some set clothes. The problem with the cardboard is that it had nice shiny marketing print on one side of the cardboard, which made it very slick. The number one rule for staying warm is to stay dry. In the process of getting dressed, the cardboard slipped and I managed to fall over in the snow, and got my dry clothes all snowy. So much for staying dry. That was dumb.

Once I was in my new clothes, it was time to get into the cave, a task I underestimated. The entrance was so tight, that I couldn’t just slide in. I ended up getting more wet and stuck, but I finally made it into the cave.

Me inside of the snow cave

Here I am inside of the snow cave.

Very tight space

You can see in this picture that there is not much space above me—less than 1 foot.

My view inside the cave

This is what the cave looks like right above me. I placed my phone as close to my face as possible to take this picture.

Now I’m hearing strange noises outside the cave and am kind of wishing I wasn’t alone in a tiny space of a snow cave. I probably won’t sleep much tonight. I also have no idea how I am going to get out. I cannot put my snow boots on inside of the cave. I can barely move in this thing.

Update: I didn’t sleep much that night. Miraculously, I managed to get out just fine and my boots were not frozen!

I think I will sleep under a picnic table next year. That is if I am still a scout master next year.

Salt Lake Temple - Featured

Why I Love Working for FamilySearch

I have my dream job working for FamilySearch. Here’s why I think it is the best:

1. Within the genealogy and family history space, there are so many difficult problems to solve technologically. This keeps things very interesting.

2. I get to work with great people within the FamilySearch organization. Most of the people who work at FamilySearch work at FamilySearch because they have a personal conviction of preserving and connecting to their families. I love that.

3. I get to work with brilliant people from all over the world who are building the future of genealogy systems.

4. I love genealogy and family history. As I continue to research, I keep finding more and more interesting things about my ancestors. I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface and my goal is to become a proficient researcher.

5. The world of genealogy is changing. It is awesome being part of a workforce that is connecting diverse systems, transferring big data, and helping people break through genealogical brick walls.

6. I get an amazing view of Temple Square from my office window. I took the featured image picture with my iPhone 5 from my window.

Salt Lake City in the Snow

A blogging change

After reading  Matt Mullenweg’s post on The Intrinsic Value of Blogging, and after realizing that my blog has been sitting idly these past couple of years, I decided that I would change the way I think about my blog.

From now on, my blog is simply going to be a place for me to write for myself. If the content happens to help someone else, that’s great. Professionally, I sit in an interesting niche which is the intersection of programming and genealogy. Many people find either of those topics to be very interesting. I believe there is a relatively small crowd that finds both topics interesting. And that’s okay. I’m writing for me.

So, if the content of my blog may be changing. Actually, I hope it feels different because it has been stuck in the mud lately. Perhaps I’ll discover some new things about myself and perhaps I’ll find some things to write about that people want to read. I’ll never know until I begin writing more.

At a Crossroads

I’ve recently hit a point in my career where I feel like I am at a crossroads. I’m currently headed down a path that could lead me to fantastic opportunities in Product Management. When I first hired on at familysearch, that was totally the direction I wanted to head. It still may be, but I’m feeling torn because I still really love developing software.

I love getting my brain wrapped around a programming problem, getting in the zone, and delivering something cool. It is strange to say, but it gives me a sense of exhilaration when I’ve solved a really hard problem. It is really hard for me to let go of that.

I feel like I am good at combining together good ideas to solve problems. Sometimes those ideas are big ideas which would need an orchestrated effort from multiple teams of people to pull off. This is where I see excitement in Product Management.

My fear is that I will become consumed working in heavy product/project management tools (like VersionOne) doing busy work and will lose the enjoyment that I find in software development. I also fear that I will become one of those guys who says “I used to program COBOL or Fortran.” Another fear I have us that I won’t be effective enough in persuading others when I run up against opposition. I don’t like conflict, but I know I need to learn to manage it.

We are experiencing innovation like we’ve never seen before. New platforms, databases, devices, protocols, etc. are being released at breakneck speeds which enable us to imagine things that have never been possible before. The question I have to ask myself is: What is the level of influence I ultimately want to have in defining the future? I guess that is why I am still leaning slightly towards Product Management.


Focus: A simplicity manifesto in the Age of DistractionAs a manager, I have often found myself at the end of the day having not accomplished anything except having responded to emails. This has felt really frustrating because there are other things that my team and my boss expect me to do.

I’ve recently discovered a FREE e-book called Focus which has some very useful tips on how to avoid the above scenario.

Some of the the insights that I’ve gleaned from this book so far include:

  • It’s okay to turn off your email, chat clients, etc. — my responses don’t need to be as real-time as I think they do.
  • A lot of my fears around recourse if I don’t respond to e-mail immediately are unfounded.
  • Distractions are okay, as long as they are planned.
  • The need to stay connected with the constant streams of communication (E-Mail, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) is an addiction.
  • There are tools that I can install on my computer to help me avoid distractions during focus times.
  • Disconnecting and truly being “home” after work will really help me live a more fulfilling life. I have already found this to be true.
  • I get more done if I focus on one thing at a time, rather than hop between the constant streams of interruptions.

I’m about half-way through Focus. I’ll likely be posting more on this as I find more interesting things in the book.