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 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.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Highlander_II

 

They made me an offer

Governor of New Jersey and Republican Presidential candidate Chris Christie recently elaborated on his position regarding legalized marijuana in his home state. “Yes, I understand that 58% of the population supports this change, but you have to balance that with the 14% of the state which is directly employed by organized crime. If you were me, which group would you be more worried about keeping happy?”

Wheel of Miss Fortune

I made it through another Kinetics Race. This was by far the “BEST KINETICS EVA” as our team “Wheel of Miss Fortune” was blessed with a good craft, a great theme, and the undeniably best looking women at the entire reservoir.

Omar (team captain) was sporting a full length formal black dress, blonde shoulder length hair, and a collection of tasteful accessories.

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In the interest of full disclosure, Omar concedes he isn’t a natural blonde and is really a dude.

Katherine (support team) displayed a light spring dress and authentic diamond earrings valued at over 3 billion dollars. Katherine and Omar were faced with the dilemma of attending the Kinetics race or celebrating their sixth wedding anniversary. Katherine INSISTED on going to the race in lieu of an expensive romantic dinner despite Omar’s concerns.

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Isabel and Samantha (cute children) tied for first place in the Miss Fortune competition and helped the cause by spreading misfortune to the other teams by yelling they were out of toilet paper.20150620_132155

Our craft did quite well in the race. We completed about 80% of the course in the time allowed. The course was significantly longer than last year while still keeping the two hour limit. Only three teams finished in time. I’m sure this little snafu will be fixed for next year. The bylaws of the kinetics charter require that at least one thing doesn’t go as planned.

At the awards ceremony our team won the “Comic Relief” trophy. I’m so proud of this trophy as there were many other teams who gave me a run for my money in terms of their level of crazy.

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My only regrets from the race was that I forgot to paint my fingernails, I didn’t wear nearly enough makeup, and my dress didn’t show off enough of my muscular UPS driver calf muscles. I won’t make those mistakes next year.

So now I’m beginning my plans for the 2016 race. I’m going to recruit a larger team, build a bigger craft, ratchet up the crazy four notches, and blow the shark team out of the water. literally. Or maybe they will be sleeping with the fishes. Also, I’m pretty sure next year the race won’t be held on my anniversary. Phew!

dragon fire

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.”

Internet Killed the TV star

I showed my kids “Video Killed the Radio Star” on YouTube today. This song has the honor of being the first video ever played on MTV. In a related story, MTV has announced it will play it’s very last music video later on this year.

The “Lutfey Loop” @ lutfey.com

simple house

I finally got around to doing something about my heating and cooling idea this year and I’m calling it the “Lutfey Loop.” It moves heat around from your attic and basement to regulate a home’s temperature with a minimal amount of electricity. You can check it out at:

http://lutfey.com

So how did I manage to get such a short domain name? I was blessed with a short yet unusual last name. I’m sure that is what my Grandfather was thinking about when he moved here from Turkey a hundred years ago.

My goals for this patent are as follows:

  • Save the planet (at least somewhat)
  • Give a TED talk
  • Pitch my movie/TV idea to Joss Whedon
  • Be able to retire from UPS before 2034
  • Have lunch with Al Gore
  • Become well known enough that people bug my sister (one of the few other Lutfeys in the world) about my idea
  • Have enough money to fix the broken cup holder in my car