2020 Christmas Letter

After writing 25 years worth of these letters, I realized that I always just dive straight in without taking time to introduce myself. My name is Omar Lutfey, and in some dimension of your life, you know who I am. I could be one of your top 5 favorite UPS drivers you see every day at the mall. Perhaps I live in your neighborhood. Who knows– you might even be an AI robot from the future tasked with extracting the last valuable information before the planet is destroyed to make way for a new inter-galactic bypass. Whatever your motives, sit back and enjoy as I detail all of the quirks and features of my latest trip around the sun.

To place things in their proper historical context for future generations, I can’t, with any clear conscience, start this letter with anything but the most polarizing issue of the year: What are all the prime factors of 2020? Despite being completely obvious, in the interests of mathematical rigor I’ll start by pointing out the fact that even my dog could tell me that 101 is the largest prime factor. That, of course leaves 20 to be factored as 225. So there we have it. And, to head off the avalanche of questions in the comment section, the next prime year will be 2027. [NOTE TO READER: if this document hasn’t been wirelessly transmitted into your cerebral cortex and you happen to be uploading this data visually from paper or similar antique medium, please send all comments, along with a self addressed stamped envelope, to the address below.] [NOTE TO AI ROBOT FROM THE FUTURE: In all likelihood the United States Post Office no longer exists, so please disregard.

We started the year off by adopting a whole food plant based diet. (AKA we went vegan.) I honestly think more people would switch to this lifestyle if someone could come up with a better name. The weight I’ve lost and my improved healthification overrule the times I miss the taste of bacon and doughnuts. I don’t generally bring it up in causal conversation because nobody wants to listen to me lecture about what things they should and shouldn’t shove in their own mouth hole. My best guess is that it is like unplugging from the matrix– you will just know when you are ready. Also, on some level, people want to believe they will die a heroic and honorable death involving space lasers, rescuing a large group of people from certain death, and, of course, getting the girl. The reality is everyone will most likely succumb to a highly preventable pedestrian killer such as heart disease or cancer. The odds of perishing while fighting a Marvel villain are statically zero.

Getting back to dog news, Mya’s assimilation process into our family unit is proceeding according to plan. Our last dog, Maury, really loved when I would jump on top of him, grab his nose with both of my hands, stare him in the eyes, and yell “WHO IS IN CHARGE? DAD IS!” To be honest, Mya seems to in no way enjoy this activity so I’ve removed it from my daily to-do list. Now that I think about it, nobody else in the family enjoys it either. Mya’s new favorite movie is “Best In Show” after we let her watch it for her birthday. [NOTE TO READER: please recreate your favorite scene from the movie now.] For some reason it is still not Katherine’s favorite movie, so I can only assume I haven’t forced it upon her enough. I don’t want to give away too much here, but I think it is safe so say that some four legged creature in our house might just be getting a busy bee from Santa this year. As a side note, if I ever end up murdered from a shattered “Best In Show” DVD being lodged in my neck and/or eye sockets, it was TOTALLY my wife.

While I’m by no stretch of the imagination a neat freak, I do make an effort to keep my car fairly clean. After cleaning all of the windows, both inside and out, I had the following insight to share with my children. “I understand that random fingerprints are going to show up on the inside glass near where you sit. However, when they show up in the shape of a smiley face I am forced to conclude it was intentional.” Their uncontrolled laughter proved their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Hey, that turns out to be a wonderful segue into my next topic– performing my civic responsibility of jury duty. Against all odds, my number was called and I was selected to serve on the jury. The biggest lesson I learned is that judging people in my head is a whole lot easier than having to decide what real life consequences should be doled out. Also, I spent a lot of time during the trail wondering why Tina Fey hasn’t produced a full feature length movie of “The Rural Juror” which was prominently featured in the first season of “30 Rock.”

So that kind of wraps things up for this year. I’ve done my best to answer all the questions I think have been silently asked about my existence in 2020. As a sneak peak, here are some new questions which could quite possibly be answered in future letters:

Why do I think Battlefield Earth is a good movie when it literally has the worst recorded score in the history of all movies on Rotten Tomatoes?

Who is going to be the first celebrity to personally respond to being mentioned in any of my Christmas Letters? Related question: Is Jennifer Garner really living on my route incognito? I suspect so, but I value her privacy too much to ask.

Also, why am I missing one UPS sock?

2019 Christmas Letter

Welcome to my 2019 experience! A lot of “things” and “stuff” happened to me this year, and this is my attempt to project said events through the lens of my hopefully witty banter.

Emotionally speaking, I invested a large portion of my year applying for a contest to build a more efficient air conditioner. To be honest, a lot of people ask me why I’m trying to build a new type of heat pump. In either a dream or field trip to an alternate vertex of the multiverse I experienced a world where we sucked energy directly from the ground and oceans to power our society. I know, I know—I’m more than just a little bit crazy.

Ok, back to the Global Cooling Challenge. While it didn’t receive much attention in the main stream media Sir Richard Branson made a promotional Youtube video on the subject, and he was on The Simpsons, so it must be legit. I filed a provisional US patent and did my best to complete the application.

So did I win? The quantum goggles I am wearing say that both happened. Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Motors, was made aware of my idea, immediately flew to northern Colorado, confidently walked into the UPS center before all the drivers left for the morning, and carried me off just like Richard Gere retrieved Debra Winger in “An Officer and a Gentelman.”

Also, nobody seemed to care about my idea and I went back to cobbling together cheap Walmart mini-splits and one hundred gallon horse troughs in a continued attempt to show the world how we can save the planet.

Side note– explaining these events following a more Newtonian physics interpretation of cause and effect, I did not win the competition. This branch has been pruned from the time line tree and my eventual encounter with Elon will happen at an alternate set of time/space coordinates.

In less nerdy news, we spent a week this summer to go on a road trip through Colorado. With so much cool stuff in the world to see it can be hard to remember that we have an amazing backyard. By that I mean the state of Colorado– OUR backyard isn’t really anywhere you would want to spend an entire week. We mapped out our path on Google and it turned out to be exactly the same shape as the piece of the dolphin toy that we pulled out of our dog’s mouth before she could swallow it.

Our journey started in Canon City– home to the state’s largest population of incarcerated individuals and shady rafting companies. To be fair almost none of the rafting companies are run by prison inmates. Due to a large snow pack and warm spring weather we got to experience a record water level on the river. I spent the entire trip wondering how we all managed to stay in the raft. By some minor miracle everyone made it through the river safely.

For reasons that I don’t totally understand, the highlight of Montrose was the huge Russell Stover chocolate factory. Ok, I DO understand the need for chocolate, but from a business perspective putting this out in the middle of the western slope of Colorado seems a bit odd. While I did exactly zero research on the subject, I’m going to say that it was put there because someone lost a bet. Despite this, it was a fun place to visit and our kids were able to buy some high quality Halloween candy for 5 cents each– a good deal as long as the cost of getting there isn’t factored into the equation.

Our final destination was Glenwood Springs. I never knew this, but apparently there is an entire amusement park on a nearby mountain top. My favorite activity had to be the laser tag. I know that as a parent I should provide a helpful environment to allow my children to acquire new skills. However, I took this time to completely slaughter everyone at this game. The lesson I taught my kids is the old man isn’t going to go down in laser tag without a fight.

In pet news, we leveled up +1 in the dog department. While budget constraints prevented us from purchasing a new state of the art robotic canine, we did acquire a great used carbon based unit from the local Humane Society. As best we can tell, Mya is a mix between a whippet and a perpetual energy machine. She splits up her free time between sleeping on Kat’s lap and completely freaking out when I come into the house wearing my UPS clothes.

Being that 2020 is just around the corner, I feel an unexplained need to list some of my future sports predictions. This might have something to do with the fact that I’m writing this while watching a football game. Here are, in chronological order, things I believe will happen:

  • 2030: Computers will replace referees in the NFL
  • 2039: Robots will replace players in the NFL
  • 2041: Tom Brady will retire from the NFL shortly after undergoing painful and expensive robot conversion surgery.

To end this year, I thought I would make a list of things I would like to see get done in the future. I gave it the catchy title of “The exponentially increasing in difficulty to do list.” Each item is exactly 17.3 times more difficult than its predecessor.

  • Blink my eyes
  • Get the house cleaned up
  • Build a revolutionary heat pump
  • Transition the world off fossil fuels
  • Rearrange the atoms of the earth and moon into a space craft to escape the eventual death of the sun
  • Escape the prison dimension that we currently understand as “time”

Will any of these actually happen in 2020? Please make sure to take the leap day into consideration when setting up any calculations. I’ll finish things off with the most insightful comment I made all year. “Samantha, stop making now sad.”

2018 Christmas Letter

My name is Teaky, and this year I became the proud cat-owner of the Lutfey family. My modest kingdom consists of big-male-human named Omar, big-female-human named Katherine, two small-female-humans named Isabel and Samantha, one big-male-dog named Maury, and one small-male-fish that I call a tasty snack when the opportunity arises. While the big-humans understand the proper protocol for addressing cat-royalty, the small-humans feel it is completely appropriate to touch me or try to pick me up when I’m preoccupied with critical tasks such as hunting dust particles in the living room. I’ve looked into replacing the small-humans, but apparently there is an enormous amount of paper work needed to be filed with the Human-aine Society. The big-male-dog doesn’t pose any challenge to my authority as he seems to focus on pretending to be asleep 20 hours a day only to pounce on the chance to eat human food left momentarily unprotected.

It has been brought to my attention that an annual event summarization must be filed with the proper authorities. While in the past this task has fallen to big-male-human, my arrival in the household has clearly altered the structure of authority. Hence I will now be in charge of the annual Christmas letter.

Big-male-human continues with his daily ritual of dressing up in brown clothes, driving away, and returning later in the day smelling of sweat, diesel fuel, and various random dog-units. On days when he stays home he likes to stay in his bedroom well past the completely appropriate wake up time of 7 am. When this happens I have to jump on the bed and stick my nose in his ear to make sure he is still alive. Sometimes he accidentally closes the bedroom door and I have to sit in the hallway and meow to revive him. Fortunately I’ve never been unsuccessful in reviving big-male-human. In a related note, he doesn’t seem to appreciate everything I do to make his life better such as clearly announcing that the sun will be rising in two hours.

My attempts to expand my domain proved unsuccessful when I acquired a small-baby-bunny and deposited him in the office near my litter box. This resulted in much commotion among the big-human units that included significant yelling, texting, and rearranging of furniture. Fortunately small-baby-bunny was quite adept at playing hide and seek, so he was able to avoid capture for more than a day. Unfortunately he received significant trauma when being relocated from his nest and died the next morning. After the small-baby-bunny was disposed of I was not allowed to freely play outside anymore. Hardly an appropriate manner to treat your superior, in my humble opinion.

Wow– this is a lot of work, and these windows aren’t going to stare out of themselves. I hereby delegate this work to big-male-dog.

Hi! This is Maury. The cat told me to finish this letter. I was busy taking a nap, but I’ll make sure to catch up on my sleep tomorrow. First of all, Teaky is totally correct that I spend all my time trying to get food that I know I’m not supposed to have. Have you ever tried the food they give me? A scoop of the same brown pellets in the morning and again at night gets old after a while. Now don’t get me wrong– I scarf it down like I haven’t eaten for a month, but why is it so wrong to want a taste of all the great food in the rest of the house? My proudest moment was getting a chocolate chip muffin from the kitchen counter. Now to be honest, I was pretty sure that Mom’s special silicone muffin wrapper wasn’t food, but I just didn’t want to take the chance. And I don’t know why they made such a big deal about it– she got it back a few days later. I do have to say that silicone slides through my digestive tract like nobody’s business.

Aside from the muffin incident, the biggest thing that happened to me this year was getting sent off to doggie heaven. I made it through so many things such as swallowing countless tiny pieces of so-called indestructible dog toys, constantly running into the corner of the kitchen island at full speed, and leaving half a corn cob in my stomach for six months. I couldn’t, however, survive the diagnosis of “cancer everywhere.” Doggie heaven is great– the toys are the best and everyone loves it when you fart. While, yes, time is an artificial human construct not defined by the laws of quantum physics, I am a good reminder that while it may not always seem to be the case, yesterday is not the same as tomorrow.

So to wrap things up I’ll share a few things I’ve learned over the years. Introduce yourself to everyone who doesn’t look like they could eat you as a snack, be insanely excited when people you know come home, and ALWAYS make a play for the food on the counter.

2017 Christmas Letter

EXCITING CHRISTMAS LETTER ADMINISTRATIVE NEWS BREAK! I’m not allowed to hand out my Christmas letter to my UPS customers anymore. Allegedly someone called the center and complained about the 2016 letter, so now this document is purely an online publication. Happy Holidays!

I know that is pretty lame, but I’m not going to let it ruin my year in review. After considering a few novel approaches for this year’s summary, I decided to write about some random details of my life in extra detail- electron microscope detail. I could start off with my job (still at UPS) my family (we are plus one feline) or my water heater project (still working on it), but I really feel like those stories have been fully flushed out. So hold onto your hats for an in depth look into some rather inconsequential aspects of my life.

Speaking of hats– my UPS Elmer Fudd hat is missing. It looks just like my UPS baseball cap, but it comes lined with a furry material and the ear flaps fold down when it gets snot-freezing cold outside. I think I wore it one day in October, but now it is nowhere to be found. So now I’m faced with the moral dilemma of doing nothing and hope it magically appears in a random place in my house or ordering a new hat and admitting defeat. Anyone who has never lived with a six and seven year old might think the first approach is crazy, but that hat could be in a million unthinkable places in my house.

This spring I installed a new ceiling fan in our family room. Since we moved into the house seven years ago we have been slowly replacing fixtures from the random/cheap motif the previous owners seemed to have wholeheartedly embraced. We started with the low hanging fruit, and quickly agreed the fan on the vaulted ceiling was the crown peach of the project. OK, so my knowledge of fruit harvesting is a bit thin. I guess the fixtures in the bedrooms were the strawberries since they grow on the ground– you can’t get lower than that. But I’m digressing here. So I came home one day and noticed a fancy new box-o-fan on the front porch. Installing it was pretty straightforward. I followed the instructions and had it working in an afternoon. The only complaint I had– and I seem to see this a lot in my life– is that whoever wrote the instructions had never actually installed the fan. I could have cut the installation time in half by putting the entire fan together first and then lifting it to the ceiling as the last step. So I guess this speaks to instructions on instructions. I think the best approach is to assume the quality of the instructions is adequate at best and for a completely different type of product in the worst case.

In financial news, I’ve come up with a revolutionary device to help the general population save money for retirement– I call it the 401K LOTTERY! Half of the money taken in by traditional lotteries are given to individual states with the remaining assets divided up among the winners. The 401K LOTTERY! (yes, the exclamation point is part of the name, as is it being all in caps.) is run by insanely large banks. Every time someone buys a ticket half of the money goes into their individual 401k and the rest goes to the pool for winning tickets. This method combines the excitement of winning wealth beyond your wildest dreams with the joy of realizing that every day you are becoming a less productive member of society and the only thing that will sustain a declining lifestyle is your meager savings until you eventually die.

Katherine and I played a fun game the other night after the kids went to bed. I would name a city and she would look up online how much it would cost to fly there and how long it would take. I guess it wasn’t so much of a game since there wasn’t a winner or an optimal strategy, but it was still an entertaining activity. The longest trip we found was to Madagascar which costs $3000 and takes the better part of two days. Perhaps your mind went in a different direction when you read “games” and “after the kids went to bed” but when we tried it while the kids were awake one or both of them would interject something along the lines of “BUT I DON’T WANT TO GO TO TOKOYO!” every time we would pick a new city.

This summer I ate lunch somewhere I have not been to in 18 years. It was a small steak house that isn’t too fancy named Wilma and Alberts. Travel directions: fly into Schipol Airport in the Netherlands, take the train west to Haarlem, and walk to the main square. It is right next to the church– you cant miss it. The only slight criticism I have is that it takes an entire day of international travel to get there. Also they don’t open for lunch until 11, so plan accordingly.

OK, I admit that our trip to Europe was a pretty “big” thing we did this year. But I would like to take a moment to explain why Holland is such a cool place. No, it isn’t the cold wet weather or the fast food herring-on-a-stick stands that are littered throughout the towns. It is actually easier to take public transportation than to own a car in Amsterdam. I could see more trains, busses, and trams from the front of our hotel than exist in the entire state of Colorado. While there are many socioeconomic forces at work that are beyond the scope of this letter to explain this disparity of public transportation, I firmly believe that the underlying root cause revolves around parking in Amsterdam. Back in the day when automobiles were making their debut in Europe, the only remaining open space in town was right next to the canals. I could just imagine citizens making a sizable financial investment in a new vehicle only to park slightly outside of the lines and see their pride and joy tumbling into an unpleasant mixture of water, sewage, and herring-on-a-stick litter. I believe this would have a largely negative effect on the car’s resale value.

So that about wraps things up for the year of details. I’ll leave things with a quote I read on the wall of the restaurant where we ate last night:

“At one point in your life you either have the thing you want or the reasons why you don’t.” — Andy Roddick.

Tesla News

When asked how he balances work and family life, SpaceX founder Elon Musk explained how he makes an effort to find common ground. “For example, I spent the last forth of July with my children and we all put our heads together and came up with a system for reusable fireworks.”

Adventures In Europe

The first step in planning a trip to Europe is deciding where to visit. My first idea was to map out an itinerary that faithfully recreated Matt Daemon’s adventures in the first three Borne movies. After closer examination, however, this plan requires travel to four separate continents and would probably not be suitable for small children. Also, to be honest, I don’t think Katherine would be willing play the part of Marie who ends up getting shot and driving a jeep off a bridge in India. Similar logistical issues arose when I considered other movies such as National Lampoon’s European Vacation and Taken.

The scaled down version of our trip took us to Frankfurt, Paris, and Amsterdam which form a equilateral-ish triangle served well by high speed trains.

Since a trip to Europe is more involved than, say, just about any other place I’m ever going to visit, carefully planning what to bring is crucial. While a cooler full of soda and crunchy potato chips might provide a refreshing snack, such an approach might not prove to be cost effective given the current state of airline baggage fees.

After deciding what clothes to bring, I told Katherine to make sure everything was washed and would fit into the designated luggage. Our washing machine, sensing the importance of getting our clothes clean, decided to rebel. “The washing machine is broken” is not the text I wanted to receive at work the day before our big vacation. But what fun would that be?

A little home appliance side note here– all I needed to do to fix the washer was to clean out the drain trap. However, the way Whirlpool designed the machine I had to unstack the washer and dryer, tip the washer up, and remove screws on the bottom of the machine just to reach the trap. Thanks Whirlpool for adding several hours to what should have been a ten minute project. Also, I called customer service to have someone come out and help me lift the dryer back on top of the washer but they informed me that… OK, I didn’t actually call, but I fantasized about it. Obviously the entire design is a result of the small appliance repair mafia.

You might not believe what happened on the nonstop flight from Denver to Frankfurt– nothing. We all just sat in our seats and watched a bunch of movies. Being on a plane for 10 hours and crossing 8 time zones did take a toll on us when we arrived. After checking into our hotel in Heidelberg, Germany, we stopped at a local fast food type restaurant called “The Heidel Burger.” No, it wasn’t really called that. This is where Samantha’s body decided, in no uncertain terms, to be asleep.

Our next stop was Paris. We might have enjoyed this city more if I hadn’t been pick pocketed on the Metro. While not any fun, Katherine managed to keep her wallet the rest of the trip. So I was just a gentleman and let her pay for everything the rest of the trip. She did give me a modest cash allowance each morning.

While in Paris we visited the usual tourist destinations– the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triumph, the Soc duh something, and Notre Dame. We also stopped at the Chocolate Museum, a few random playgrounds, and about 5 local bakeries. After hauling our kids on the Metro for three days I really feel like they are ready for anything else life has to offer.

Next town– Amsterdam. Since I had lived in Holland for 6 months back in the day, I really took over the tour guide duties. Our hotel room, I think by total chance, ended up being the coolest room in which we have ever spent the night. It had floor to ceiling windows and jutted out sideways from the side of the building.

We spent one day visiting Haarlem, the town where I lived.  While I generally preferred fast food while on the trip, I did insist that we have a nice steak meal at my old hangout Wilma and Alberts. We also tried to rent bikes to see more of the city, but we couldn’t find bikes with kid’s seats. Side note here– Haarlem is a lovely medium sided town in Holland and Harlem is a much, much, less lovely borough of New York City. I dream of scraping together enough money so I can get out of this shit hole and move to Lovelaand.

We acquired two bicycles with kid’s seats in Amsterdam. We rode around the outer most canal of the city. Most of that time I spent being completely confused about who had the right of way and riding carelessly into the path of oncoming trams. We also took a break at a playground so the kids could stretch their legs. Apparently riding on the back seat doesn’t wear them out too much.

Frankfurt was our final city to visit on this trip. Our hotel was a small hole in the wall with beds made from surplus WW2 mattresses. We all missed this hotel in Amsterdam, but it was too late to turn back. The highlight of this town was a small playground near our hotel. I didn’t think it was that great, but the kids loved it and we ended up going there three times just to keep them happy.

By the time we arrived in Frankfurt I was tired of navigating foreign language public transit systems, so we just walked around places near the hotel. One thing I noticed is that people in Germany don’t jaywalk very much.

So after 10 days it was time to head back to Denver. While waiting for our connection in Washington, DC, Samantha told me, “I’m not tired sleepy, I’m tired complain-y.”

Fixing The Leak

Depending on the outcome of the upcoming Ecuadorian Presidential election, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange may need to find a new place to live. Assange has been living in the Ecuador Embassy in London since 2012 to avoid facing sexual assault charges in Sweden and the possibility extradition the the United States to answer to espionage charges. Guillermo Lasso, a conservative banker has gone on record to evict Assange while government-backed leftist candidate Lenin Moreno vows to let Assange stay.

This explains the flyers appearing near the perimeter of the embassy encouraging everyone to come celebrate the election results with a Guinness World record breaking   “Julian Assange look-alike contest.”

2016 Christmas Letter

Countless people– well, OK, maybe three or four– have been asking about what happened to my 2015 Christmas Letter. Was I abducted by aliens who erased my memories? Perhaps, but I have no way of knowing. Was I too lazy to spend 0.03% of the time I’m on my computer to stop playing Candy Crush and just get it done? That does sound like something I would do. Have I been spending way too much time playing mad scientist in the basement? Highly likely. While the entire population of the universe could spend the rest of the life of cosmos speculating on this mystery, I will now set the record straight.

While Occam’s Razor states that the simple explanation is usually the correct one, Omar’s Razor cuts in the opposite direction and claims that everything that I’ve ever read or been told by someone else is automatically assumed to be a highly questionable source and the only way to really solve a problem to disassemble it and examine every single nut and bolt in the highest possible detail. After repeating the process at least seven times I will consider the problem answered subject to my general finite knowledge and limited physical resources.

So here is what happened: Some time in the future I signed up for an online file storage service called the “Infinity Cloud.” While current cloud services store existing files on external servers to help manage valuable work, the Infinity Clould stores every sinlge file you will ever create during your lifetime. So this is the point where you ask “doesn’t that violate the concept of free will, like telling your high school self not to take Stephanie to the Prom because the whole night will be awkward and disappointing?” While I didn’t directly find an answer to this question, I suspect the problem was resolved by including a “you aren’t allowed to tell your younger self to go kill Hitler” clause in the Terms of Service agreement that nobody reads.

So sometime during my lifetime I misfiled some of my Christmas Letters. I’m not sure when 2015 is going to show up, but an interesting side effect from this error is that I have been able to access my 2039 files, or, as I call it, “The Ghost of Christmas Letter Future.”

After writing these crazy letters since 1995 I finally get to write “Woohoo I’m officially retired!” But before I get into reminiscing, would like to take a moment to elaborate on the eight ways my android servant SXY-19 is trying to kill me after she discovered I will be granting her freedom upon my death. Also, the weather forecast was off by 0.1 degrees last Tuesday. What is the world coming to?

So I feel some kind of need to evaluate all of my working years before my memories start to fade an I’m legally obligated to upload the contents of my brain to the Global Observational Device for the overall advancement of the planet.

I must admit my favorite milestone was solving the Travelling Salesman Problem. Who knew that finding the shortest path through a set of cities was such a big deal? While I did let the solution bounce around my head for 20 years before I got around to spending a weekend writing the actual computer code, everyone thought I was the man for solving this 120 year old puzzle. That honeymoon period lasted for exactly three weeks when hackers started to use my work to quickly render all prime number based public key encryption algorithms completely useless. Sure, it plunged the entire world of international banking into chaos for several years, but to my credit the situation did jump start both the quantum communication network and the unique photon security protocol. Does this make me a big a-hole? I’ll leave that for GOD to decide. (I’m referring to the Global Observation Device here and not the other One.)

The other “big” thing in my life was building the “Lutfey Loop.” For anyone that just woke up from a 23 year long coma, I built a little gizmo that sits in your basement and provides all of your reasonable heating, cooling, and electrical needs for both your house and Tesla Hovercar. While the technical term for the process is “creating liquid based temperature differentials and electrical gradients through ultra-efficient ground source heat pumps,” the technology gained widespread acceptance in a scientific paper titled “How The Hell Did A UPS Driver Build This In His Spare Time?” I still remember the day I gathered all the Public Utility companies on the planet on a conference call that went something like this: “Hey, you know all those big networks you have to send electric and gas to everyone’s homes and businesses? Well, I’ve found a better way, so we aren’t going to need anymore.” Boy were they pissed.

While my career choices have included KFC cook, computer programmer, aspiring writer, unmotivated writer, angry at myself for being unmotivated writer, UPS driver, sloth, mathematician, telegraph operator, and professional carnie (just to name a few), people like to ask me “How should I find the ‘thing’ that I’m supposed to be doing?” My approach has always been the following: Imagine you are a cat. Inside an inflatable sphere. With 100 laser pointers. Before you get a chance to take a nap someone carries you to the top of a mountain and gives you a push.

While my Christmas Letters are usually a bit longer, I’m afraid I must cut this one a bit short due to the fact that SXY-19 is approaching me at a high rate of speed with a running chainsaw and bottle of arsenic. Both of these items shouldn’t be needed until Saturday, so I need to either check my schedule or prevent myself from being murdered. Cheers!

Team Infinities

Welcome to the post-race wrap-up for the 37th annual Longmont Kinetics Race! I’m the team captain of team Infinities, but to keep things simple you can call me Infini-tease. I’m the one with the pink hair and the fishnet stockings. The other members of my team include Infini Tea, Infini T, and Infini Tee. The differences, being obvious to everyone, will not be elaborated upon.

Here is the junior team member examining the competitor “We Like Turtles.”

The race starts out with a confusion-inducing loop around the wood sculpture close to the beach.

The water portion of the race really separates the [INSERT DOMINANT NOUN OF CHOICE] from the [INSERT CORRESPONDING SUBMISSIVE NOUN HERE].  Here I am during one of the longer water portions of the race.

With the help of my support team I crossed the finish line in 6th place (out of the 14 teams which started the race). For this accomplishment I ranked first place for a solo team.

On the trip back home I realized I was feeling the burn. In addition to my support for Bernie Sanders, I also forgot to apply sunscreen over my fishnet stockings.

There Should Have Been Only One

Executives at Hulu are being investigated for “review inflation” after an investigative journalist recently uncovered a “3 out of 5” star rating for Highlander 2. Scientific investigation on this subject have concluded this movie is as close to “absolute zero stars” as is humanly possible.

Mission Possible

So I’m sitting here in my home on a quiet Saturday morning before anyone else has woken up thinking about things I want to accomplish in my lifetime. Here are a few randomly selected items on my list:

Make a complete list of everything I want to accomplish in my lifetime (so I will know when to stop).
Find a polynomial time algorithm that solves the Travelling Salesman Problem.
Figure out how to rearrange the molecules of our planet into a vessel capable of safely transporting intelligent life out of the solar system before the sun explodes.
Get my daughters to clean their rooms before the sun explodes.

Obviously one of these problems is truly impossible.

So why do I even bother with a list like this in the first place? Or how about I set the bar a bit lower and make my list “stay alive”? The obvious answer is that I like puzzles.

Well, at least it is obvious to me. What makes a good puzzle anyway?

2014 Christmas Letter

I believe it was JP Morgan who once said “You don’t rise to the top by jumping in the kiddie pool.” That, or I just made it up a few moments ago. Fact checking isn’t a strong point in my Christmas Letters. Where am I going with this? Well, this year I decided to bring to reality one of the numerous crazy ideas that are constantly percolating in my head at any given moment.

Anyone who has followed me on Facebook knows how I’m always yammering on about “The Lutfey Loop.” It started earlier in the year when I filed a patent that moves heat from places you don’t want/need it such as your attic and basement to places where it will be more useful like your hot water heater. I made arrangements with a lawyer to write the patent. The process started out by writing him a check for a considerable amount of money while my wife looked at me like I’m crazy. Fortunately I’ve learned that when Katherine thinks I’m nuts I’m doing something right.

While trying to read through the entire patent may cause one’s entire body to melt away much like the Nazis who opened the Ark of the Covenant, there are two basic concepts. The first is to install radiant floor heating on the ceiling of an attic to remove unwanted heat. The second idea is to extract geothermal heat from the floor of a basement to efficiently warm up water.

Since the second part involves less destruction of our house I’ve spent the last few months building a ground source heat pump in my basement. The current incarnation involves two 100 gallon horse troughs, the innards of an air conditioner, and several sheets of Styrofoam insulation. If everything works like I want it to (which has been known to happen from time to time) it should cost less than an electric water heater and be as efficient as a geothermal pump. When I’m not working, being an active member of my family, or sleeping I head down into the basement to overcome technical issues such as I don’t know anything about HVAC and none of the parts are being used for anything close to their original purposes. If anyone does attempt to duplicate my efforts I have one warning– buying an air conditioner, taking out the heat pump and radiators, placing a cinder block in the middle, and taking it back to Home Depot for a full refund is not cool.

Despite my busy schedule, my family competed in the annual Kinetics race in Longmont. For anyone who doesn’t know about this already, you have to build and race a human powered vehicle over land, water and other obstacles. As team “Lego my Eggo” we suffered only minor mechanical issues and managed to finish in the top half of the teams. Personally I think it was my speech about the Canadian Waffle Federation trying to steal our waffles, but in reality it was probably due to my kids dressed up as little waffles. That, and several really good teams had the misfortune of their crafts being upside down in the middle of the reservoir.

In August I took my Audi in for an oil change and I received the wonderful news that my car was ready for a series of expensive and time consuming repairs. I should clarify that this was wonderful news for the dealership. The guy at the counter explained how the modern computer in my car calculates how much money I have to spend on my car and then sends signals to various systems to stop working at the most inconvenient time such as when I want to drive somewhere. He offered to perform all of the repairs at once for a bargain price of 5.5 times the value of the vehicle. As a bonus he offered to throw in a set of windshield wipers at the full retail price of $65. (I’m not making that part up– really.)

I decided to trade in my car before it executed the complete breakdown protocol. Long story short, I decided on a Kia Soul. Mostly I just love all of those hamster commercials. I decided on a 2014 model because in 2015 all cars will be built without steering wheels and be driven by television androids. While I would have enjoyed being driven around by Commander Data, my budget would have only allowed for Twinkie from Buck Rogers. My new car runs great even if it doesn’t garner respect from my coworkers at UPS. The first day I drove it to work one of the other drivers told me that the engine in his personal car is 5 times larger than mine. But hey, it gets me to work every day and the kids love the free hamster from the Kia dealership.

That leaves me to talk about my life as a UPS driver. I’ve been running the same route for almost two years now, so not much changes in my day to day routine. I would like to thank the women at the cookie store who supplement my otherwise healthy lunch with M&M cookies that I pretty much need both hands to hold. Also, I should mention the girls at the Wax Factory who still scare me by saying things like “true dat” and “you should come in for a waxing.”

So that about wraps things up for the year. Now that I’ve written all this down it seems like I’ve had a pretty busy year. If things go as planned I’ll be writing about how I became a hot water heater tycoon in my 2015 Christmas letter. I’ve already started shopping for a monocle and top hat.

I’ll end this with a quote from Meghan Trainor’s “All About the Bass” because 1) my girls make me show them that video every single time I sit down at my computer and 2) it makes me feel pretty even though I’ve added on a few pounds lately: “I’ve got all the right junk in all the right places.”

Lawyer Who

As a new season of Doctor Who is upon us, producers of the show are being tight lipped about episode story lines. Despite the increased security around this topic, the two part season finale will center around the Dalek invading the United States in an attempt to destroy the economy by simultaneously filing 100 million American with Disabilities Act lawsuits to every business which contains structures that are inaccessible to hostile invading alien species unable to go up a few stairs on their own.

Lego My Eggo

It was a good year for team Lego My Eggo. We finished 6th out of 14 teams which means we even exceed our goal of getting the “median award.”

To the best of my knowledge, this was the first year that someone recorded our presentation and posted it on youtube. I still think our Doctor Who Covered Wagon Rap Song was our best all time skit.

From a design perspective the craft did quite well. It had good balance in the water and held together with the exception of the rear bicycle wheel. Next year I’m going to replace the wood frame that connects the frame to the wheel with a metal structure.  Live and learn.

So now our team is spending the next 10 months trying to think of a new theme for the 2015 race. Until then check out the LongmontKinetics.com website for information on the next race.

Stock Up On AOL

In a recent press release, AOL announced their latest plan to turn the company around. “We have come a long way since we revolutionized dial-up service in the 1990’s. Customers take their 4G enabled cell phones and call a local number that connects them directly to an AOL phone line. Once the connection is established, they carefully place the cell phone next to a land line headset connected to a 9 volt battery and a 56k modem (separate purchase required). Now customers can enjoy all the benefits of the Internet without any wires. Our marketing department is very excited about Dial Up 2.0!

Santa Fe

I packed up the family last week and drove down to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Here are some interesting and possibly true and/or false facts about this city.

Santa Fe was founded, according to my daughter Isabel, during the time of dinosaurs. Apparently this was a very busy time that also covered various events such as the creation of the cosmos up until sometime after the time I was born. This claim is supported by the fact that the roads were constructed before the discovery of Euclidean geometry that defined the concept of straight lines. During the initial road building the construction crews ingested liberal quantities of peyote and followed the direction of their spirit guides. This process has led to a series of city streets that curve around randomly, perform loopy-loops, and pass through dimensions that modern day scientists have been unable to recreate. Warning– using Google Maps on your cell phone may very well cause your device to catch on fire.

The city was a pretty quiet place until the arrival of the stucco mafia in the late 1800’s. The city experienced several decades of turmoil until the great drywall massacre of 1847 when the stucco mafia formed an alliance with the wind-catcher union and the trendy restaurant federation. The effects of this epic battle can still be seen today as Santa Fe is best known for endless stucco buildings, people selling wind-catchers for large sums of money built from materials scavenged from the local dump, and a barrage of food establishments which sell strange food on tiny plates that for some reason have to cost way more than seems reasonable.

Well, that about sums up everything I learned last week on vacation. Stay tuned for my next vacation trip blog tentatively titled, “Crap I found in the basement and argue with my wife about if we should throw it away.” I’ll be working on a better title for that between now and August.

Cosmic Error

After reading the dozen tweets from Neil deGrasse Tyson regarding the accuracy of the movie Gravity, I would like to point out a glaring inaccuracy in the title sequence of the television series Cosmos. Even if you could travel faster than the speed of light through the cosmos the stars wouldn’t appear to move relative to one another.  At most you would be able to see one star in the center fly at you as you passed next to it as the rest of the cosmos appeared static. Star Wars and Star Trek are also guilty of this mistake, but I have been unable to reach George Lucas and J.J. Abrams to rectify the problem. Also, they are fictional stories.

Despite this slight issue with the show I would like compliment Mr. Tyson on doing a great job promoting scientific principles to the world at large.