Category Archives: Christmas Letters

This website started when I posted my Christmas Letters on the Internet, and it has grown since then. I read my sister’s boyfriend’s Christmas letter back in 1995 and realized that these letters don’t have to be dry, stuffy, or 100% accurate. So remember, next time you write a Christmas letter, throw in an Evil Alien Overlord or fictional alter-ego character– trust me, everyone will appreciate it.

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.

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!

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.”

2013 Christmas Letter

So I was driving down the street in my UPS truck one afternoon in November when a man in a large red truck flew by me, slammed on his brakes, and stopped his craft diagonally in the middle of the street. Before I even had time to stop my vehicle he jumped out into the roadway and started running towards me. He was surprisingly fast considering his hefty girth, red furry outfit, and rather excessive quantities of facial hair. Once he arrived at my passenger side door he looked at me with an odd sense of clarity and focus and yelled, “Omar– it is me, Santa Claus, and I need you to save Christmas!”

“What can I do to save Christmas?” I asked Mr. Kringle.

“This is a little bit embarrassing,” Santa explained, “but I was online the other night and apparently I downloaded a virus on my business computer. It scoured my files for personal information and found the title to my magic Christmas sleigh. I don’t understand all the details, but before I even knew what happened someone had dispatched a specially equipped tow truck to the North Pole to take possession of my most important piece of Christmas equipment. The driver sympathized with my situation but insisted there was nothing he could do since all the paperwork was all in order.”

“That’s not good.” I replied as I realized how stupid and obvious that sounded three seconds after the words left my mouth.

Santa looked at me like that was the most stupid and obvious statement that I could have possibly made at that point in time. Then he took a deep breath and explained how I can help him remedy the situation.

“I went to the North Pole legal department and they did a complete investigation. It turns out that my sled is being stored in a holding facility. If I can’t come up with the payment in the next thirty days the vehicle will be legally transferred to the Russian mob.

“But how can I help? I’m just a UPS driver.” I explained. “How much money do you need to get your sleigh back?”

“That’s the problem Omar. They don’t want money. The only way I can get it back is to give them THE GREATEST CHRISTMAS LETTER EVER WRITTEN! I looked online and I’m impressed with your archive of Christmas letters going all the way back to 1995. But you need to step up your game this year or the holidays will be ruined for the entire planet.

“I’ll get right on it.” I told Santa. “Just let me finish my deliveries, do all my pickups, drive the truck back to the center, unload my air and international packages, park my truck, turn in my paperwork, punch out, drive home, take a shower, eat dinner, play with my kids, and then I’ll get right on it.

While I was saying all of that, Santa had already walked most of the way back to his truck. He looked back at me as he climbed into the cab and yelled “I’m counting on you, Omar!”

Later that evening I sat down at my laptop ready to write the most important story ever with my usual writing aids that included a “party size” bag of Wavy Lays potato chips, a cold two liter bottle of Diet Pepsi, and three full boxes of Sweet Tarts. I fired up my “inspirational Pink Floyd” playlist and went to work. I wrote an amazing letter. It was concise yet detailed, funny yet touching, and inspirational yet not preachy. I was all ready to email it to Santa when a somewhat suspicious Russian mobster looked in my kitchen window. He picked up an unusual piece of electronic equipment. When he pressed a prominent red button on the top of the device all the electronic devices in my house stopped working. He chuckled softly, walked back to his unmarked van, and drove away. I was going to chase him, but I was busy injecting insulin into my body as this writing experience had apparently given me type one diabetes.

So this is not the greatest Christmas letter in the world– this is just a tribute.

In my world 2013 will be remembered most as “the year Omar got his own route at United Parcel Service.” I had spent the previous nine years as a swing driver doing other driver’s routes when they were on vacation or injured. While I enjoyed it for the most part, there are some definite benefits to having a set route. Here, in no particular order, are some of said benefits.  Customers miss me when I’m on vacation. I can tape up photographs of my family on my visor. I don’t drive around looking for addresses. My truck is an automatic. So if you live or work in the area west of I-25, east of Timberline, south of Horsetooth, and north of Harmony in Fort Collins and you order a lot of shoes from the internet you should be expecting to see quite a bit of me in the future.

This year we decided to tackle remodeling our kitchen. We spent the previous weekend watching HGTV and Katherine and I both felt completely prepared for what lay ahead. After ripping out about half the old cabinetry we discovered that, wow, the makers of those television shows make things look way easier than they are in real life. We also discovered that the order of certain tasks can be very critical when installing a new kitchen. For example, putting in all the new cabinets before the counter tops arrive is generally a plus. Despite numerous setbacks of varying degrees of ickyness we now have a new kitchen which suits our needs much better than the last one.  One more piece of advice for anyone considering this type of project– if you build a large island into your new kitchen it will, from the instant the counter tops are installed, act as a rare earth magnet for attracting random objects from the rest of the house. Either that or I’m getting up and moving everything on to the island in my sleep.

Finally, I thought I would end my letter with the most insightful comment from my Facebook page from the last year:  The older you get, the harder it is to be a prime number.

2011 Christmas Letter

Wow, it is that time of year again.  It seems like just yesterday I started my first attempt to write my 2011 Christmas letter.  Maybe it was, or maybe that was three months ago.  You see I have two kiddos now, so I’ve kind of lost track of time for anything less pressing than someone screaming right next to my ears at the top of their lungs for reasons sometimes totally unapparent to me.  And now that includes several people besides myself.

So the first place to start is the birth of my second daughter, Samantha Rose Lutfey.  Born May 24, 2011, Samantha came into this world with 25% more hair than I had that day.  The surgical team had to rush her off to the neonatal barbershop before they would let Katherine hold her newborn child.  As was the case with Isabel’s birth, I looked stunning in the white sterile body suit I wore during the birthing procedure.  To be honest, I think my perfect figure was a bit of a distraction to some of the nurses.  Either that or they were worried I was going to pass out and topple over some vital and expensive piece of medical equipment.  Who can know for sure?  And for the record I came close to passing out zero times that day, which is one less than my first time around.

The next thing I can remember is competing in the annual Kinetics race.  Held at Longmont’s Union reservoir, my team was named “The Prime Contenders.”  The craft was a slight modification from previous attempts with Styrofoam wheels connected to a bicycle frame.  This year marked a personal milestone in that I actually finished the race.  And I had the support of pretty much nobody in the crowd.  About 79% of the crowd didn’t think my craft would even float in the water.  The remaining crowd watched me in the water and thought my right front wheel (which, to be honest, was hanging on to the rest of the craft in a rather precarious manner) was going to fall off any second now.  And, really, the highlight of the event is witnessing a hastily assembled craft half sink in the middle of the water section.  So to all of those people who keep telling me that PVC pipe is not a good structural material for a kinetics craft, I can now proudly yell out “PVC pipe can be a MARGINALLY ACCEPTABLE structural material, PROVIDED that I don’t hit any unexpected rocks, AND that I don’t make any sudden movements out of the exact center of gravity of the vehicle, AND, WELL OF COURSE IT GOES WITHOUT SAYING that the Kinetics Wizard doesn’t cast any spells of random destruction on any part of my team.”  Or, in short, “Bite me– I made it!”

So I either had a very strange dream and/or was visited by aliens a few weeks back.  To the best of my recollection, here is what went down.

So I’m standing around in a field for no particular reason, and a traditionally shaped alien saucer ship lands nearby.  Two green creatures get out and move towards me.

“Greetings Omar,” one of the aliens proclaims. “We have some information which could be immensely useful to your spices regarding the nature of what you understand to be the cosmos.”

“Hold on,” I replied, “Should I be writing this down or recording this all on video?”

“No need for that, our message will be brief.” the other visitor explained.  “First of all, your scientific community still can’t decide on the nature of light.  Is it a particle or is it a wave?  Nobody has come up with a good explanation that is consistent with real world observations.  So here is the answer:  Light is a particle that travels in a corkscrew pattern.  Technically it is spinning around four dimensions– electical, magnetic, one space dimension, and another dimension you haven’t quite discovered yet.”

“OK, I’ll get the word out.”  I answered. “Anything else?”

“One more thing,” the first alien spoke. “Most people in your scientific community believe in the Big Bang theory based on red shift patterns observed from extra-terrastial light sources.  Did you ever think that the particles are getting slowed down by all the dark matter in the universe instead of everything expanding in every direction?”

“So why are you telling me all this?” I asked, “There are plenty of other humans who would be better equipped to pass on this information.  I’m just a UPS driver.”

“We know– won’t it be funny that you know the truth about the nature of the universe but nobody will believe you due to your chosen vocation?” the first alien explained.  They both started laughing uncontrollably as they moved back into their spaceship and flew away.

Maybe this is what I get for watching the Simpsons’ “Tree House of Horror” and “How the Universe Was Made” right before going to bed.

So now that I think about it, I did get quite a bit done this year.  So here is a list of things I didn’t finish:

Steet performance:  Rounded to the nearest integer, I can safely say I achieved 0% of my goal to create a trumpet, baritone, and tuba comedy street performing group.  Besides a lot of random ideas floating around in my head I still need to acquire all the musical instruments and at least two musically inclined individuals for my team.  And, of course someone who can arrange music would be helpful.  Maybe I’ll make more progress on this in the future.

My 2024 run for congress is another area in which I did not make much progress.  The first step I’m going to take is to shoot Botox into one side of my forehead so that I can do that cool eyebrow raising thing just like Stephen Colbert on “The Colbert Report.”  The next item on the list is to decide my stance on critical issues such as deceptive bacon packaging, Tupperware lid standardization, and, of course, synchronizing with the rest of the world by switching over to the metric system and possibly Esperanto.

So that is about it for 2011.  I’ll leave you with the age old saying from my favorite novelty Christmas song:  What Can You Get a Wookiee for Christmas (When He Already Owns a Comb)?

2010 Christmas Letter

Welcome to my 2010 Christmas Letter.  This year has been crazy busy due to an important new addition to my life at the very end of 2009.  I’m talking, of course, about the new Gateway netbook I received as a Christmas present.  Now I can wirelessly connect to the inter-web from any room in the house.  Oh yeah, I suppose starting off the year with a seven day old kiddo has kept me busy too.

Life with Isabel Grace Lutfey has, among other things, kept us quite busy.  This whole raising offspring experiment has been a completely new experience for me.  I read (OK, maybe quickly flipped through would be more accurate) a few of those “here is exactly how you should raise your child in 413 pages” books, but after a year of being a parent, I’ve come up with my own set of cliff notes.

If the baby you are looking after is exhibiting an error code (such as crying at the top of her lungs without an end in sight) follow these simple steps*:

1. Change diaper
2. Put food in mouth (the baby’s mouth, not your own)
3. Play with

*Please note that the order is important.  Playing with a baby who has a full diaper can have negative consequences.

Getting Isbel to sleep when we want to rest has been a bit of a challenge.  To help quiet her down I’ve been known to sing her songs at night.  I generally start when I’m putting on her bed time clothes by singing her the pajama song.  It goes something like this: You say pajama, I say pajama, pajama, pajama, let’s call the whole thing off.  (note the different pronunciations of the middle vowel sound of the word pajama for proper comedic effect)  After that I move on to the Mamas and the Pappa’s “Dream a Little Dream” and/or the Eagle’s “Take it to the Limit”.  If all else fails I move on to an improvisational version of a song I call, “Daddy needs to get some sleep so he doesn’t accidently drive his UPS truck into a ditch tomorrow.”

Another important thing I’ve learned relates to Isabel’s toys.  These come in two categories.  The first type includes objects that we purchased for the express purpose of being a toy for our daughter.  These include typical things like a big bouncy ball, stackable plastic rings, and the oddly creepy Curious George doll whose head lights up when you squeeze him.  The second type includes objects that we had no intention of Isabel playing with, and, as a matter of fact, we would much prefer that she left alone altogether.  These items include things such as our cell phones, the television remote control, pretty much all the food we store in the lazy Susan, and, much to his dismay, our dog Maury.  Which stuff does she want to play with 94% of the time?

As Isabel just kept getting more and more mobile, we realized that living in a townhouse with roughly 17 flights of stairs might not be the best place to live.  So after a lengthy search we found a house on the west side of Loveland.  It has a nice back yard for Maury and plenty of room on the main floor for everyone to coexist peacefully.  We have spent several weekends painting the inside, but the end of that project is in sight.  While there are always going to be minor projects to tackle, we are more or less settled into our new place.

I really jumped on the facebook bandwagon this year.  Now I share pictures and insights about my life with a bunch of other people on the internet.  My favorite posts of the year are as follows:

On child care: Isabel would not go back to sleep when I put her back in her crib at 3am. I tried everything to get her to stop screaming, but in the end I had no choice but to charge her with resisting a rest.

On working at UPS: While I’m not a big fan of shaving my face every morning to drive a delivery truck, I think most of the FedEx drivers look like homeless Star Trek extras.

After a two year hiatus, the kinetics race was brought back to life.  After losing the corporate sponsorship, we moved the race from Boulder to Longmont.  While it was a much smaller event than past competitions, the race was a success at showing there are plenty of people in Colorado who want to race crazy human powered contraptions over land and water.  My craft did fairly well this year.  In addition to not suffering any major structural issues, I completed more than half the race before a broken chain considerably slowed my progress.  So I just need to make a few drive chain adjustments before starting the race next August.  Check out for more information on the next race.

I am proud to announce that I am officially a United States of America Patent holder.  After three years, two different laywers, and one big stack of bills, I own the rights to patent number 7,825,545 a.k.a. “Energy Conservation and Control Systems”.  Now I have the next 17 years to do something with it.  Check out for more about this project.

Well, that about sums things up for this year.  It has been quite an adventure starting a family, but I think I’m getting the hang of it.  (as evidenced by NOT A SINGLE visit by family services, the Loveland S.W.A.T. team, or any basic cable reality television camera crew.)  2011 promises to be another eventful year as (SPOLIER ALERT) the sequel to Isabel is scheduled to be released on May 31.  Maybe the second time aroud we will have a better idea of what we are doing.  So, until then keep your head up, the dog out of the toilet, and the kids from sticking metal objects in the power outlets.

2009 Christmas Letter

Hello, and welcome to my 2009 Christmas Letter. For anyone reading this in the future (from when I wrote this), I’ll provide some historical context to help fully appreciate this letter. For anyone reading this while I’m writing this, please stop spying on me. I know how the industry works– radio transmitters in dental cavities, spy satellites tracking my movements from overhead in real time, and, of course, who can forget all the supposedly “free” rectal exams that are only a cover for placing global positioning devices. However, if you are still going to spy on me– even after I very kindly and clearly asked you not to– please feel free to correct any grammatical errors as I’m writing.

Now where was I? Oh, yeah, historical context. It being 2009, the hit movie of this Christmas season is the CGI filled mega-disaster “2012.” The reasoning behind this is obviously is that if the world does end in 2012 as the ancient Mayans predicted, the ticket sales for the film would really be in the crapper along with the rest of humanity if the film were to be released in 2012. The only way to prevent a grisley death would be to follow John Cusack around, since he seems to be the only one with the ability to escape the upcoming doom.

In television news, the most hyped show is the remake of the 1980’s sci-fi show “V.” The original show centered around alien “Visitors” who came to the planet with unclear motives. In a creative writing masterpiece, this time around the Visitors have acquired DNA from our 43rd President and created an army of clones to destroy our civilization. Stay tuned in early 2010 for the exciting first season finale of “W.”

OK, so back to my world. This year has been one of the most eventful times in my life. Katherine and I decided we were both ready to get married and start a family. It turns out that one of those two items requires a lot less effort than the other. (But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself for those who prefer the traditional “chronological” order of storytelling.)

After reviewing our wedding location options, we decided to get married on June 20, 2009. Most of the preparations were quite straight foward. Katherine ordered a dress and I found a nice three piece suit. I’m not sure if I ever documented this, but one of my informal “goals” in my life was to never own a suit. I made it 34 years, but I decided that I would rather buy a suit than rent another tuxedo. And who knows, maybe someday I’ll be a bigwig at UPS and need something other than company issued apperal to go to work each day. Stranger things have happened.

Next on the wedding list was to get rings. I kept my father’s wedding ring in a safety deposit box for the past ten years, and I decided to have the diamond put into a new setting for Katherine. She really likes sparkely things. That, and she found it all romantic and shit. I had my dad’s gold band resized to fit my ring finger.

We had a bunch of flowers at the wedding, but I don’t have any recollection of consulting a flowerist. Either the experience was so incredibly horrible that I’ve completely repressed the memories in the deepest recesses of my brain or Katherine took care of it all without me.

The best pre-wedding planning expericne by far was choosing a wedding cake. In fact, I would recommend to anyone who likes cake to go to a bakery that specializes in wedding cakes and pretend you are getting married. They bring you samples of all their different cakes for you to try. Just eat all the samples and tell them you will be making your decision shortly. Just remember not to go back to the same bakery more than once every few months unless you are commited to creating elaborate disguises and fake personal histories.

Before I knew it, the big moment was upon us. And by that I mean Katherine handed me a home pregnancy test that came back positive. (See, I told you I would get back to this.) These devices have come a long way in recent years– instead of a simple plus or minus, a small computer inside the handle prclaimed, using the man’s voice from AOL mail, “You’ve got a baby-mama.”

The wedding itself went off without any major problems. One of my favorite parts of the evening was the unusual table number scheme we used. It caused a lot of confusion, which is exactly what we wanted. The other highlight was getting to use the microphone during the reception. My friend Brian wanted to hear a song, so I sung the first tune that came to my mind– the “free credit report” pirate song. It went over quite well with everyone that night– my only regret was not getting it on video.

We spent one weekend in November attending a birthing class. In retrospect, I think I didn’t go into the class with the best attitude. I told Katherine that my role in the birthing process was analogous to a father crawling inside the lower cabinets on his back to fix a leaking kitchen sink when the young son comes by and asks the father how he can help. The father looks around and hands the boy a wrench to hold while the dad finishes the job. When the baby gets here my job is to stay out of the way of all the hospital employees and hold any random object that are handed to me. That, and not pass out.

December rolled around and our baby preparations kicked into high gear. Originally Katherine was due December 5th, but after the second ultrasound that date was pushed back to December 15th. Isabel Lutfey finally arrived the night of December 23 after she was forced out of her mama-juccuzzi by the modern marvel known as a C-section. The delivery took place at the Medical Center of the Rockies, and the experice was made as plesant as possible considering what had to be done. The staff in the delivery wing catered to our every need, and they even play “Brahm’s Lulaby” over the public address system when a baby is born. When someone dies, they play an entire CD of William Shatner’s spoken poetry. That was, at least, until it caused an unfortunate casscade effect of wildly premature deaths throughout the building.

We spent Christmas in the hospital and finally came home on December 26. The dog went crazy when we first arrived with our latest addition to the family, but after a few minutes he calmed down after realizing that Isabel isn’t food or toys. I suspect he plans on hovering around her innocently until she is old enough to start dropping food on to the floor. So all in all it has been quite a busy year. I suspect that this latest addition will keep my quite busy, but I am excited to learn how to be a dad.

I thought I would end this year’s letter with a quote from the best 80’s B-movie I watched this year, “Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death.”

Jim (played by a young and, oddly enough, funny Bill Mahr): Bunny, don’t worry! You’ll save me!

2008 Christmas Letter

The days are getting cooler, the political issue rob-calling is winding down, and most stores are busy setting up extensive Valentine’s day promotional material– which means it must be time for me to write my annual Christmas letter. 2008 has been a crazy year with the economy, the presidential election, and, of course, the wonderfully crazy mid-season cliffhanger of Battlestar Galactica which led a shaky alliance between the Cylons and the fleet back to Earth only to see the crumbling remains of New York City. What the frack happened? We have to wait until January 2009 to how that’s going to play out.

The first project I tackled this year was cleaning up some of the loose ends on my entertainment center. A few years back I installed a projector and a large screen in my previously underused living room. This let me watch movies and television on a screen that’s about 10 feet across. Since I had become such an expert in cutting holes in drywall, I decided to add front and rear built in speakers to replace the speakers sitting on the floor. I also closed off the “projection room” with glass to cut down on the fan noise. Finally, I added a picture frame on hinges in front of the electronic equipment to give the room a more finished look. If I ever decide to to move the entertainment center is going to have to stay with the house– I’m pretty sure I don’t have the skills to repair all the drywall damage I’ve created.

My next Christmas-letter-worthy project was to file for a United States Patent. I’ve been kicking around this idea for a remote control holder that shuts off power to the television when not in use. (Many people don’t realize that any electronic device that uses a remote draws power when plugged in but turned off.) So I hired a lawyer who took my idea and transformed it into 30 pages of techno-patent-babble. We would sit at my kitchen table as he explained why he replaced the phrase “electrical switch” with “electronic control device” to make the patent as broad as possible. So now I’m in the process of promoting the idea to various companies. I put together a website at to explain the idea in more detail. If all goes well my 2009 Christmas Letter will describe production of a wacky remote control holder infomercial.

In August Katherine, my mom, and I went on a cruise to Alaska. Since water based transportation options in Colorado are somewhat limited (the canoe ferry down the Colorado river was booked months in advance), we chose to fly to Seattle and get on a boat from there. Coincidentally, we traveled aboard the same ship we were on during our trip to the Caribbean. When we picked our room this time around we decided NOT to be directly under the aerobics room where people gathered at way-too-early hours of the day to jump up and down in unison. Traveling through Alaska’s inside passage in a 14 story mega cruise ship took some getting used to (I’m still not sure exactly why the ship doesn’t tip right over, especially with the two pools, four hot tubs, and the food buffett on the very top), but I did enjoy eating a leisurely breakfast while watching various islands move in and out of my field of vision. We took a scenic train ride in Skagway. It is one thing to watch the History Channel and have them talk about some small foot path that prospectors used during the gold rush, it a much different experience to see it in person. Other highlights of the trip included the optional fire drill and mandatory midnight chocolate buffet.

This year saw the end of my ownership of my Saturn. Since 1996 I’ve driven a hunter green Saturn SC2 coupe. I’ve managed to put 131,000 miles on it, and I decided that if I didn’t sell it soon I would just end up driving it until the last of the plastic body panels decomposed. After looking at all my options, I decided I wanted an all wheel drive car. After looking at all kinds of Subarus, a few Ford Fusions, and even kicking the tires of a Dodge Challenger, I decided on a used 2004 Audi A4 quattro wagon. It is fun to drive, gets decent gas mileage, and, most importantly, the dog likes the big flat area in the back when we take him places. I listed my Saturn on Craigslist and had it sold in two weeks.

I’m still working at UPS. I’m now on year number seven and counting. I am still a driver who covers other driver’s routes when they are sick or on vacation. Each year I learn a few more of the fifty five or so routes covered by the Loveland center. This year’ highlight was when I spent a few weeks working way out in Milliken, Colorado to see what’s going on out there. Short answer: not much. Long answer: nothing, I was exaggerating when I said “not much” for the short answer. I’m not saying Milliken is small– just go to the main restaurant in town, “Jose’s Taco Factory,” and ask anyone there.

So that summarizes 2008 for me. My resolutions for 2009 include watching all the Battlestar Galactica that I can get my hands on, getting out to see the new “Star Trek” movie coming out in May, and, of course, spending a few minutes each day watching my dog race around the house like a maniac. So until next year remember what they keep singing in the “Smokey and the Bandit” movies: We’re going to do what they say can’t be done. We’ve got a long way to go, and a short time to get there.

2007 Christmas Letter

Welcome Humanoid—I, Ertok the Evil Alien Overlord, have been assigned the process of downloading and summarizing recent memories from unit 5d-301, also known as Omar. On a side note, he didn’t seem to enjoy the memory nasal probe. None of them do, which is strange considering how much recreational time these humans spend on digitally probing their own nasal cavities. Sure, the NP-5000 penetrates slightly deeper and contains various sharp, pointy objects similar to a Swiss Army Knife, but otherwise the processes are identical. And really, why am I stuck on this remote planet monitoring meaningless humans anyway? Just because I drank a bit too much space ale last holiday and vaporized the arm of the Assistant Regional Supervisor of Remote Planet Observations? His two other arms remain intact, so as long as he doesn’t plan on a career in professional hyper-circuit-plasma-ball, he should be fine. And trust me, he doesn’t have anywhere near the upper thorax for it anyways. But I digress– commencing download.

What’s going on? Where am I? Where is that voice coming from? I have to think about what I did this year? Why does it feel like someone crammed a Swiss Army Knife up my nose? It’s extracting my memories and digitally recording them—GREAT!

I spent a considerable amount of time getting my team ready for the annual Boulder Kinetics race. By team I mean myself, Katherine, and the sprawling mass of Styrofoam, random bicycle parts, and strategically placed duct tape that calls itself home in the two car garage of my house. As many alert readers recall, my first attempt at the kinetics race ended about 5 feet into the Boulder reservoir. This year I actually completed roughly 70 percent of the race. Three things kept me from finishing the race: 1) the paddle mechanism was too deep in the water, 2) I wasn’t exactly in peak physical form, and 3) a previously unknown sea monster was covertly attaching itself to my craft during the water portions of the race, thereby significantly increasing my coefficient of drag. Obviously, I need to spend more time on the last issue.

A few weeks after wrapping up the loose ends at Kinetics, Katherine and I decided to spice up our lives a bit by getting a dog. We discussed our dog needs, looked around at the local animal shelters, and finally decided to adopt Maury—a six month old black lab mix that was too scared to let anyone else play with him. They warned us Maury was what they called a “high energy” animal. I think a better way to describe his situation is to say he smokes crack several times a day. (Side note—our attempts to take a cute picture of Maury holding a crack pipe in his front paws were unsuccessful.) To go along with his high energy, Maury has a perpetual appetite. We feed him twice a day, and he thinks that every meal has barely managed to save him from starvation. Maury also has “jaws of death” teeth. Much like firefighters use the “jaws of life” to open up damaged vehicles, Maury’s teeth are very effective at ripping apart any type of dog toy we throw at him, regardless of any “indestructible” rating on the label. Despite his very active lifestyle, we have found that making him fetch his dog toy down one and a half flights of stairs fifteen to twenty times in a row will somewhat wear him out.

We spent a lot of effort this year deciding where to go for a vacation in November. After shooting down almost all of Katherine’s ideas, I finally agreed on a Caribbean cruise. My main objection, obviously, was that I couldn’t hone my bowling skills while sailing to the Grand Caymans. Thanks to Norwegian Cruise Lines this is no longer a problem. The Pearl, one of their newest and largest ships, is equipped with just about every possible leisure activity known to man—including a fully equipped four lane bowling alley. We flew to into Miami, got on board the ship, and spent five days getting spoiled with great food and entertainment. The highlight of the Grand Caymans was going on a snorkeling excursion where we found ourselves up close and personal with a friendly group of stingrays. On the ship we got to see Second City—a Chicago based comedy improvisation group—on several nights of the cruise.

I can’t, in good faith, write this letter without mentioning the worst crisis this country has been forced to deal with since the Monica Lewinski ordeal. Yes, I’m talking about the ongoing Writers Guild strike. Whose life hasn’t been radically altered now that new movies and television shows have been indefinitely put on hold? Several of my own personal creative ideas will have to wait until the strike is over to see the light of day. Here are a few gems from my computer’s hard drive:

Saturday Night Live News Story: …and now for a special report on Senator Larry Craig, we present Tobias Fünke….

OK, this might need a bit of an explanation here just in case a) you don’t watch as much TV as I do or b) you are from the far, far, future, (perhaps an alien species too far advanced for us to understand) taking a bit of a look-see at our Inter-Web and none of this makes any sense. Actor (adult humanoid) David Cross played Tobias Fünke on the regrettably short lived TV show (primitive two dimensional serial image and sound display device) “Arrested Development” who was, much like the Senator (regrettable evil needed to keep social order), in deep denial about his homosexuality (eww, if it involves old men, hot if it involves attractive college-aged women).

House: Special Billing Unit

Doctor House addressing a group of twenty accountants waiting patiently in the large classroom: “OK, team—my REAL team has, for this fiscal year, seen fifteen patients, saved eleven of them (eventually), and been forced to defend itself in five malpractice lawsuits. Strangely enough, it appears that most of our patients don’t have any insurance to pay for the extensive battery of tests we run with our revolutionary shotgun approach to diagnosis. In order to keep this facility financially solvent, you will find new, creative, and possibly ethical ways to make these deadbeats pay their bills.”

So that about wraps it up for the year. And as the snowy weather moves in, here are a few things to consider: wear dry socks, put on plenty of Chapstick, and always remember that the dog can jump the fence in the front yard if he is standing on top of two feet of snow.

2006 Christmas Letter

Two thousand and six– what a year. Some professional football team won the Super bowl, the Democrats won a majority in both houses of Congress, and almost all of humanity was destroyed in an unexpected large-scale thermonuclear attack from a previously unknown Cylon attack force. Hold on—I might be confusing things that happened on television with stuff outside television. Now that I think about it, it was the Cylons who won the Superbowl, and the Dallas Cowboys who destroyed the twelve colonies of mankind.

In an unrelated note, I finished Netflix-ing the first two seasons of the SciFi Channel series Battlestar Galactica. On a whim I added the first DVD to my queue, and after the first twenty minutes I was hooked. I would say it is like crack to me, but I’ve never smoked crack, so something like “high fructose corn syrup” or “partially hydrogenated oils” would be more appropriate to my situation. What’s so great about Battlestar Galactica? (or, as we in the business like to say, BSG) Sure, I’ve always been a Science Fiction geek, but this series is so much more than I expected. I like to think of it as Star Trek with a healthy dose of nuclear annihilation, drug abuse, and (best of all) hot human/Cylon threesome sexual encounters. That, and they aren’t afraid to kill off main characters on a regular basis. Who is going to get thrown out of an airlock this week? Stay tuned!

In more reality based news, I’m still working as a driver at UPS. One of the highlights of the year was delivering a package near the Colorado State University campus and receiving, at no charge, a song sung to me by the entire tri-delta sorority. I don’t remember all the words, but it sounded like a cross between the theme song to “Friends” and that creepy song they force the wait staff sing when you tell them it is your birthday at Bennigans. When the song ended they asked, no, begged me to stay and referee their impromptu sorority wide pajama-clad pillow fight. Before I could answer, however, Sir Gallant and King Arthur broke down the door and dragged me rather unwillingly back to my UPS truck—thus saving me from certain temptation.

With the exception of the entire tri-delta sorority, I seem to have a new woman in my life. Katherine started out as my Kinetics craft assistant, but her ability to deal with my lunatic ravings quickly led to a promotion. This, by any measure, is not an easy task. Our relationship is quite similar to that of Doctor Who and his latest sidekick Rose Tyler. The only difference is that Katherine isn’t blond and doesn’t speak with much of an English accent, and my time-traveling tardus currently lacks any time traveling abilities and is constructed chiefly from a port-o-let acquired from a nearby construction site.

Since Katherine and I both seem to have an unexplained attraction towards shiny objects, we decided to go visit Las Vegas for a week in November. Outside most casinos are elaborate setups specifically designed to capture the attention of nearby pedestrians. If you are able to get past this small army of scruffy looking middle-age men trying to sell time share vacation plans and discounts to various strip clubs, the actual casinos themselves often times have their own form of visual stimulation designed to lure people inside their establishments. Treasure Island has one of the most well known setups on the strip.

Based on a true story (as told by someone on an acid/Viagra trip), things start out with a raggedy, sassy band of exotic dancers who eek out a living on a large sailing ship by plundering passing ships of their Victoria’s Secrets cargo. In their spare time, just like any other pirates of the sea, of course, they dance and sing highly choreographed musical numbers. Neighboring pirate groups know them as simply armed, arrogant, and argumentative, or in pirate talk, “the three Arrrs.” Trouble erupts, however, when they come across a ship of raggedy, sassy exotic male dancers who don’t want any trouble as they are merely on their way to a friend’s nearby houseboat to attend their annual gay pirate party costume party. One thing leads to another, and eventually the matter is settled with a traditional “pirate dance off.” Loud music plays, hips are thrusts in perfect sync, and cannons are discharged until only one boat is left floating.

That about sums things up for this year. So, to anyone planning on visiting remember the saying, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas—especially the dead hooker in the trunk of the rental car.”